It’s time for another entry in GuideSpark’s ongoing series of updates about the relevant policies and programs of the health care reform law that may have an effect on employers all over the U.S. Today, we will take a brief look at the new requirement to report the value of employer-sponsored group health plans on W-2 tax forms.
As of January 31, 2013, all employers must report the cost of the medical coverage they provide on each employee’s W-2 form. Despite this new reporting requirement, including these costs on W-2 forms does not mean health care coverage coverage is taxable. The value of the employer’s contribution to medical insurance will continue to be excluded from an employee’s income for tax purposes.
Customers often rollout the content we create for them when HR activity is at it’s peak at during open enrollment. Important information, like changes to medical benefits or new services, can get lost in the noise. We provide tips and suggestions for how to make key information stand out, and then use our reporting tools on the back end to see how well our suggestions worked. As an example, one of our customers saw their results jump over 200% based on advice from one of our top notch Customer Success team members. We asked this representative what we suggested.
Sounds like common sense, doesn’t it?
Brain synching at work
Take a complex topic or message, break it down into smaller segments that are less overwhelming and easier to absorb. It’s a basic presentation strategy that enables your viewers to internalize both key messages and important details quickly. Deliver your message by video and you’ll have an easily digestible benefits education vehicle that your employees will love.
In our new whitepaper, Top 5 List: Why You Should Use Video To Communicate Complex Benefits, we introduce how video can be utilized to explain a complex employee benefit in smaller, very tangible segments. We discuss other benefits of video, like brain synching and compelling visual support. You will also learn how GuideSpark customers have used employee benefits videos to explain more involved benefits such as the switch to HRA/HSA plans and how Maternity Benefits work.
Have you ever watched a video to learn how to close a baby stroller, lose your love handles, shop for a blender or invest in the stock market?
Nearly everyone with a computer has turned to online video at some point as a key source for information, especially when it comes to complex subjects. Unlike long detailed documents, online video provides a quick and easy way for viewers to understand complex topics and ideas in a format that is easy to watch and absorb.
Smart companies are taking advantage of this trend by leveraging online video to effectively communicate with consumers, but what about with employees?
Keeping employees engaged and productive at work is an uphill battle when they’re stressed out by personal finance. Two recent surveys show that HR professionals and employees alike think employee preoccupation with money issues has grown worse in the past 12 months, with damaging consequences.
Employee financial stress is harming productivity at work
In January the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) questioned HR professionals about how employee work habits were impacted by personal financial anxiety. Of the negative effects financial stress has on employees, HR professionals cited these as the top problems:
- The ability to focus on work (47%).
- Overall stress levels (46%)
- General productivity (26%)
Health and Financial Benefits, New Employment Orientation and Open Enrollment Covered
GuideSpark’s brilliant Content Development team has designed five new demo videos to give you a better idea of how you could be using video to engage your employees on benefits-related topics. All of these topics are covered in the GuideSpark Benefit Video Library.
- High Deductible Health Plan with Health Savings Account (HSA) – shows employees how HSAs can be a good way to get the right health benefits while saving money.
- 401(k) – discusses contribution matching, traditional vs Roth, investment options and more.
- Making Your Money Work – covers basic information on Credit Scores, how they affect financial wellness and how to improve them.
Delivering consistent messaging is not just good communication, it saves time and money. This is surely an obvious statement, but how well do you implement it in your organization?
- Are your informational events well attended?
- Is everyone who wants to attend able to do so?
- Do your support call numbers rise after a series of seminars?
- Are many of the questions about confirming facts or clearing up discrepancies between presenters?
- Do you feel that live seminars are an efficient use of resources?
With employee benefits videos, you can ensure that the same clear message is delivered to all of your employees–regardless of what location they work out of, what shift they’re on or whether or not they (or their family decision maker) can attend your seminar.
Everyone watches online videos. They’re easy, entertaining and informative. But they aren’t just for fun. Video is more than just a fad. It’s an improvement in how we communicate.
Traditional methods of HR communication—including long and confusing plan documents, time-intensive on-site seminars, and jargon-filled emails that are usually ignored—simply aren’t engaging today’s workforce. Yet, the more we require employees to be benefits consumers, the stronger our need for effective, engaging communications. HR Departments that incorporate video into their benefits communication can enhance overall employee engagement, use HR resources more effectively and achieve ROI on key benefits programs.
When we meet with HR professionals, one of the first discussions we have is just how much has happened in the world of communications over the last 5 years. Sure, most of the innovation has occurred out on the consumer web but we have always maintained that it’s only a matter of time before the more mainstream trends make it into the enterprise.
Employee Communications Trends
We obviously think that video is an important consumer trend for employers to embrace in their employee communications strategies. Another consumer trend that you may be tired of hearing about at this point – social networking – is the latest to gain enterprise adoption. There are two companies in this space that have created a sort of Facebook for the enterprise that are growing at impressive rates:
Wellness Programs Call for Better Benefits Communications
Wellness programs are all the rage this year. But what’s the point of a program that employees don’t understand and, therefore, don’t use? Midwest Business Group on Health has done some research evaluating employee engagement in health benefits and wellness programs.
What they found: Employees still do not understand their benefits. Part of the reason why employees are having trouble meeting their wellness goals is a lack of good communication and resources. MBGH found, “Most employees and dependents don’t fully understand what health care benefits are available to them nor do they fully comprehend the summary plan description (SPD) or what requirements they need follow to achieve incentives (i.e. premium differentials) that may be part of the benefit plan design. As a result, communications efforts frequently go unnoticed, are ignored or misunderstood by the employee.”