Employers need to get smart with healthcare tech, and 9 other key SHRM takeaways

Benefits, including paid leave and flexibility can obviously make a big impact on how people perceive their work culture, and according to an omnibus survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, one out of every five working Americans has left a job due to workplace culture.

Improving company culture to retain talent, boosting student loan benefits and even offering pet-friendly perks were some common themes for employers at SHRM’s recent annual conference in Las Vegas.

To address workplace culture, the HR association introduced Convos & Coffee, a new initiative SHRM launched to help improve and strengthen workplace culture through open dialogue.

In addition to strengthening workplace culture, experts discussed trends in benefits, new products and strategies companies can use to help attract and retain talent. In case you missed the show, here are some key takeaways from the show.

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Paid leave, student loan benefits continue to trend upward
While some benefit programs, such as student loan repayment programs, have grown in popularity, others — including dependent care — have been on the decline, according to SHRM’s annual study. Paid leave benefits also have remained a topic of ongoing discussion in the last several years, with time-off policies for new parents continuing to be a hot benefit and one of the most discussed kinds of paid leave.

Read more on the annual report here.
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Inside PNC’s mental health benefits
PNC launched a mental health campaign leveraging benefits from its well-being program, Living Well, which focuses on employee finances, life and health.The program was formed in 2010 in collaboration with ComPsych, an employee assistance program provider, said Liz Harrington, vice president and health and wellness strategy manager at PNC. PNC ramped up its mental health campaign by promoting a diverse group of vendors and benefits on its Living Well platform. Some of the benefit offerings include coaching, on-site well-being centers, an EAP and on-demand remote behavioral healthcare, via its partnership with Teladoc.

Read more on PNC’s mental health program here.
The annual performance review is ‘straight-up dead.’ But what comes next?
That “antiquated” model from the 1960s is “straight-up dead,” and yet aspects still remain throughout corporate America, said Doug Dennerline, CEO of HR software firm Betterworks. Instead, companies should focus more on setting achievable goals for workers to reach.

Read more on performance strategies here.
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The cat is out of the bag: Pet-friendly perks are a must-have
With millennials making up the majority of the workforce today, and that majority having a high likelihood to owning a pet, benefit managers have a real opportunity to engage with this demographic through pet-friendly policies and benefits, said Anthony Sharett, president of Nationwide Pet Insurance.

According to a study sourced by Nationwide, 72% of employees would decline a job offer with another company at similar pay to work in a pet-friendly environment.

Read more on pet-friendly perks here.
In the face of tragedy, benefits can make all the difference
While there is no easy way to deal with trauma in the workplace, HR executives need to practice compassion, said Lisa Murfield, HR manager of Tampa-based law firm Hill Ward Henderson. This includes reviewing policies, procedures and benefits to ensure they are an effective resource for workers struggling with a loss or traumatic experience.

Offerings such as bereavement leave, employee assistance programs, wellness programs, healthcare policies, paid time off and long and short-term disability may all be effective ways to help an employee who is struggling with a loss — if those benefits are working correctly, she added.

Read more on benefits strategies here.
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A 55-year-old intern? Why older apprentices may be the answer to the talent gap
Another SHRM initiative is the widening of the talent pool employers are hiring from, such as the formerly incarcerated to older workers.

And to help train this talent, apprentice programs may be an opportunity to help get employees up to speed. “We oftentimes think about apprenticeships for young people, but what about the 55-year-old who needs to work or wants to work an additional 20 years and needs to learn the new coding language?” said Johnny Taylor Jr., SHRM’s CEO.

Read more on apprenticeships and hiring practices here.
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Martha Stewart says workplace culture is a recipe for retention
TV personality and businesswoman Martha Stewart, who said it’s important to value and invest in employees if employers want to retain them. That's especially important since companies are challenged to find workers with unemployment remaining low and the war for talent raging on.

“You have to take it upon yourself to make sure everybody is in a good place,” she said. Good leaders in your HR departments prioritize listening, she continued. They will learn, accept change and focus on developing employees and your workplace culture.

Read more on Martha Stewart’s engagement strategies here.
Employers need to get smart about evaluating health tech solutions
There are a number of technology companies that have emerged to address healthcare challenges — including Accolade, HealthJoy, Castlight Health and Vitality. But overburdened HR executives often struggle to sift through the offerings and find one that best fits worker needs.

Michael Serbinis, founder and CEO of health technology company League, advised employers look for solutions that are easy-to-use, accessible and personalized.

Employers should target tools that focus on the whole employee by helping them find the right care, receive personalized help and drive smart decision making about their health. It’s also imperative to find a solution that employers can use to engage workers beyond open enrollment, is easy to administer and provides technical support, Serbinis said. Traditional solutions just don’t cut it anymore.

Read more on healthcare tech here.
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Why onsite clinics worked for Land O’Lakes
In 2015, Land O’Lakes decided to make a move to positively impact the well-being of its nearly 10,000 workers. The employer — which is known for its dairy products — wanted to address gaps in care for diabetes, depression and obesity among its population.

In response to these health risks, the Minnesota-based employer determined the best course of action was to redesign its wellness program. Emily Maher, director of benefits at Land O’Lakes, said the company’s first step was to launch an onsite health clinic.

The clinic provides primary and urgent care, health and wellness services, physical therapy, flu vaccines and medication dispensing to about 1,800 eligible lives, she said.

Read more on how that onsite clinic helped the dairy maker here.
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Compliance conundrum: 10 key issues impacting HR
In recent years, a number of changes have rapidly changed the way HR works, as transformations in society, government, culture, technology, communications and the legal landscape impact employers and the workplace.

From the #MeToo movement to a growing emphasis on paid leave and new pay equity laws, HR managers have their hands full. Lori Kleiman, president of HR Topics, identified 10 issues as some of the biggest challenges for human resource professionals.

Read more on these compliance issues and how employers can approach them here.