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Coming Soon! 2016 Iowa Employer Benefits Study©

Newest Study Coming Soon!We are very pleased that 1,014 Iowa employers have responded to our 2016 Iowa Employer Benefits Study©! This number met our goal of having 1,000 organizations participate in our 18th annual survey. The results of this study will be available in late September.

To put this response into meaningful perspective, the 2015 Kaiser/HRET Employer Health Benefits Survey, a highly-regarded national survey, reported 584 respondents in the Midwest region that consists of 12 states (including Iowa). In other words, our survey has 74 percent more respondents — in just ONE state! This means that we are able to accurately report the specific benefits offered by Iowa employers using extremely credible data.

As we prepare to release our 18th Study, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The Overall Summary of the 2016 Iowa Employer Benefits Study© will be available for download from our website.
    • Employers who participated in the 2016 Survey will be sent an invitation in late September to download this report using a specific pass code.
    • Employers who did not participate in the 2016 Survey will be able to download this Overall Summary for a small fee.

We will also be updating our benchmarking program – Lindex®  allowing employers to compare their specific benefit offerings with other Iowa employers. Lindex® was developed with simplicity and intuitiveness in mind. In addition to learning how your benefits package compares with other Iowa organizations (using pertinent criteria such as employer size and industry), employers will be able to learn their individual Lindex® score and how their total benefits package compares to Iowa norms. There are some very sophisticated aspects about this benchmark program that will be extremely helpful to employers of all size and industry!

Our 2016 Iowa Employer Benefits Study© and/or Lindex® benchmarking program will be available for purchase in late September.

How can employers determine their Lindex® score?

You can either contact DPLB to learn more or visit with your authorized-benefits consultant to develop your Lindex score. If your consultant does not currently participate in the Lindex program, have them contact DPLB to learn how!

Please continue to visit our website to learn when our:

  • 2016 Iowa Employer Benefits Study© is available for download
  • Lindex® benchmark program has been updated with fresh 2016 survey data

An easy way to stay informed is to subscribe to this blog.

The Value of Employee Benefits…
It’s a Passing Parade

Portland Grand Floral Parade 2016

Portland Grand Floral Parade 2016

On the eve of receiving our new 2016 Iowa Employer Benefits Study survey results, I once again have a great deal of anticipation about what this data may reveal. At this point, I only know that 1,014 randomly-selected employers responded to this survey which continues to exceed our annual goal of 1,000. A big ‘thank you’ to all organizations that took the time to participate in this annual work!

Offering workplace employee benefits has been happening for decades. From the employee perspective, receiving various workplace perks is a staple expectation when being interviewed and ultimately hired by most employers. In fact, recent research conducted by staffing and HR service company, Randstad US, shows that jobseekers most value salary, employee benefits, long-term job stability and a pleasant work environment.

Employers, for their part, offer employees and jobseekers a cadre of benefits they believe to be highly-valued by their mainstream targeted ‘audience.’ But it is extremely important for employers to dissect their intended audience by gender, age groups (e.g. generation), location, race and other factors that will help clarify the benefit ‘value’ employees desire. By not doing so, a disconnect will eventually occur, resulting in a large chasm of a wasted investment that is costly, both in terms of money and desired human capital.

Conducting biannual employee engagement surveys may eliminate much of the guesswork that employers have when trying to predict which future strategies to embrace. I suspect that a healthy chunk of employers put their human investment strategies on cruise control assuming that the desires of employees five or ten years ago will still apply in today’s world. Most often, they do not.

Much like a New Year’s Day or Fourth of July parade, a perpetual flow of people (and floats) coming and going will not be replicated again. In a similar fashion, so does the employment pool that organizations continue to encounter.

One example on how employers respond to the ‘new parade’ of employees can be found through three employers: Aetna, Fidelity and PricewaterhouseCoopers. All three have launched their own student loan matching programs for employees who are pursuing undergraduate and/or graduate-level degrees.

Beginning in 2017, Aetna’s full-time employees will qualify for matching loan payments of up to $2,000 per year, totaling $10,000 per student. Part-timers will receive half of this amount by pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees from accredited institutions.

According to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), about 3% to 4% of all U.S. companies contribute to employees’ student debt payments to help soften the financial burden they increasingly face. About 71% of college graduates carry student loan debt, totaling $1.3 trillion of student debt in this country. A need clearly exists to help alleviate financial hardships and new approaches must be pursued.

Our annual study’s purpose is to survey employers about the key benefits they offer at this particular point in time. It allows employers to compare their benefits with the mainstream. However, the juxtaposition of organization culture and employee attributes can allow any organization to stake a claim on having a competitive advantage when attracting and retaining their most prized asset – the employee. To do this, the organization will need to account for what is most important and valued by their employee population.

So enjoy this year’s parade, but be ready for upcoming attractions that may appear in the next one.

To stay abreast of employee benefits and other tangential issues, we invite you to subscribe to this blog.

Even if We Study, We’re Going to Repeat a Grade

Kris Jensen Assistant Vice President and HR Director at Merchants Bonding Company

Kris Jensen
Assistant VP / HR Director
Merchants Bonding Company

Kris Jensen is this week’s guest blogger. Kris is the Assistant Vice President – Human Resource Director at Merchants Bonding Company, located in West Des Moines.

I’m not going to tell you that things will get better because I’m an optimist. I’m going to tell you that things are going to get better because Americans have been through all of this before. You sense that I’m telling you the truth because subconsciously you can hear the references to The Great Depression, the corruption of leadership reminiscent of Boss Tweed, or the modern day carpet bagging that brought the mortgage and credit markets to a halt. We are not just watching history repeat; we are struggling to accept our roles in creating today’s reality. And no one generation knows the way into the future. All our dilemmas and solutions are the result of generations colliding or collaborating for centuries.

Strauss and Howe, consultants turned sociologists, have written prophetically about how society, over the past seven centuries, enters a new era – a turning – every two decades or so. These turnings come in cycles of four, each cycle spanning the length of a long lifetime.

  • The first turning is a HIGH – an upbeat era of strengthening institutions and weakening individualism where a new civic order is established
  • The second turning is an AWAKENING – a passionate era of spiritual upheaval when the civic order comes under attack from a regime with new values
  • The third turning is an UNRAVELING – a downcast era, strengthening individualism and weakening institutions, the new order strengthens as the old order decays
  • The fourth turning is a CRISIS – a decisive era of secular upheaval and inner awakenings as the new order replaces the old order

Sound familiar? Since the 1950’s these eras have been unfolding for us as people changed how they thought about themselves, the country and their future. The last American High occurred after World War II. The Boomers heralded the recent Awakening with the Consciousness Revolution from the 1960s to the early ’80s. The Unraveling Culture Wars debuted with Reagan’s presidency and Generation X, ending with the startling series of events of the last five years. Can you possibly doubt the fourth turning? After all, aren’t we looking to Generation Y as our guide to the next High? Any wonder there is the constant rhetoric of Change – the new order urging the replacement of the old civic order. Fourth turnings are characterized by the decline of social order just when the demand for order is on the rise.

For those that are quickly calculating in their heads, in 2005, we embarked on the decades of the most current Crisis. I can’t grant you a reprieve since history doesn’t move backwards. We can only move forward with the understanding that we can’t have another HIGH without an Awakening, an Unraveling and a Crisis. These patterns are foreseeable. In hindsight, we could have prepared. But with the crisis upon us, be assured that “The Fourth Turning is when the Spirit of America reappears, rousting courage and fortitude from the people.” I urge you to see the world events that are and will continue to unfold with the framework that Strauss and Howe so meticulously documented in their 1997 book, The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy. More importantly, I urge us to act with their vision knowing that “the course of our national and personal destinies will depend in large measure by what we do now, as a society, and as individuals.” All of the generations listening to each other and working together.