Back Button
Menu Button

The Iowa Employer Benefit Study© – An Iowa ‘Natural Resource’?

This week, Data Point Research (DPR), the research organization that I have partnered with for over 20 years, will send out the first invitations to Iowa employers to participate in this years’ Iowa Employer Benefits Study©. I’m looking forward to learning what this year’s findings will reveal to us – especially after taking a one-year sabbatical in 2017.

This study has become a two-decade ‘project’ for DPR and myself. In 1999, the first year of this study, I contacted Andrew Williams, president of DPR, to learn how we could conduct a randomized survey that would provide the necessary methodologies to reflect results of the entire employer community in Iowa. Taking this approach, we felt, was the safest and most efficient method to survey enough Iowa employers WITHOUT having to survey them all. DPR has proven to be a trusted partner to extract the benefits information. And, from this work, Iowa employers have come to depend on our annual results to benchmark their benefits with other similar employers.

Benchmarking our survey results continues to serve as a top tool used by leadership in Iowa organizations. It supports informed decision-making when identifying cost-effective employee benefits. Benchmarking helps:

  • Human Resource and finance leaders make benefit choices with confidence, and track progress over time based on using empirical evidence, rather than ‘gut feel’ or opinion.
  • Provide clear evidence of opportunities for employers to improve on cost-effective employee benefits, given the size and industry in which employers operate.
  • Place employers ahead of the pack on trends that develop in the Iowa marketplace.

The industries we track for employers are varied. Depending on the number of survey responses, the industries may include:

  • Overall – All industries combined
  • Finance, Insurance and Real Estate
  • Government and Public Education
  • Healthcare and Social Services
  • Manufacturing
  • Retail
  • Other Services
  • For-Profit only
  • Not-For-Profit
  • Government Only – Bargained
  • Non-Public – Bargained
  • Public Schools – Bargained
  • Trucking

We also distinguish results by employer-size (based on number of employees), because, after all, size does matter a great deal when it comes to breadth and scope of employee benefits.

The Iowa Study has been particularly relevant to Sue Bennett, compensation and benefits manager at Kirkwood Community College. Sue recently commented:

The Iowa Employer Benefits Study© has been extremely valuable over the years in reviewing the competitiveness of our employee benefits package. Other benefits studies provide data on a nationwide basis, but having data specific to Iowa is more useful. The most beneficial aspect of the survey is the ability to extract data based on industry type and size.

I have always believed in the importance of having empirical evidence to share with benefits consultants and their employer clients. Most recently, I received another ‘testimonial’ from John Monaghan, partner at PDCM Insurance, a Waterloo benefits consulting organization. Over the past decade, John has loyally applied our study results with his clients by using our benchmarking data to successfully guide them through the benefits decision-making strategies he employs.

If you are a benefits consultant or Human Resource professional, the Iowa Employer Benefits Study© should be considered one of Iowa’s best natural resources. For over 10 years, my clients have used the data in the study to develop benefit programs without guesswork. So often, benefit decisions that cost millions of dollars are made with a gut feel. This study provides the data to take the guesswork out and make sure every invested dollar counts. It provides the information to build a True benefits strategy.

John finished his comments with this:

My clients have made the adjustments to better attract and retain employees through the data provided by this study.

I am truly humbled by Sue and John’s comments. To me, ‘natural resources’ are items that people can use which come from the natural environment, such as oil, natural gas, other minerals, soil, forests and timber, etc.

When people, who are unfamiliar with my work, ask what I “do for a living,” I will sometimes jokingly tell them that I am both an “archaeologist and inventor.” They will then quizzically look at me and ask, “How so?” My response is simply, “I’m similar to an archaeologist because I dig for items that are not readily available for the public to find, and I’m like an inventor, because once this treasure has been found and exposed, I convert it into something usable for others.”

A natural resource for Iowa? I’m unsure about that, but my gloves are now back on my hands and I have begun the digging process to unearth the next treasures buried below the surface. Stay tuned as to what we may find!

To learn more, we invite you to subscribe to our blog.

2015 Iowa Employer Benefits Study© Has Begun!

17 Year Anniversary - Iowa Employer Benefits Study1999 – quite a year!

What were you doing 16 years ago? Were you working at the same organization, perhaps with a different job description and title? Possibly still in high school or college? Maybe beginning a new family, or about to become an empty-nester?

To give you a nudge about events during that particular year, here are a few top highlights:

  • The world’s population exceeded six billion. (In July 2015, it is projected to reach 7.325 billion.)
  • People worried about Y2K and the millennium bug (remember all of that?)
  • Columbine High School Shootings (Colorado)
  • Dr. Jack Kevorkian was found guilty of second-degree murder for giving a lethal injection in a case of voluntary euthanasia
  • Internet and mobile phones around the world opened up new opportunities for successful entrepreneurs
  • Dow Jones Average – 11,497
  • Interest rates at year-end (Federal Reserve) – 8.50%
  • Cost of a gallon of gas – $1.22
  • Cost of U.S. postage stamp – 33 cents

Without question, much has happened since that final year of the 20th century!

Now, in 2015, our organization begins its 17th year of the Iowa Employer Benefits Study© – a feat that I never imagined possible when we first began the Study in 1999. Just last week on April 30, Data Point Research, the firm we use to perform this research, began the process of contacting randomly-selected Iowa employers to become survey participants. Our desired goal this year is to survey 1,000 employers, which means that we will have surveyed over 12,000 Iowa organizations since 1999!

If your organization has been invited to participate in this year’s survey, I highly encourage your involvement. By doing so, this September you will receive a unique link via email to download a complementary electronic summary of the survey results – a $300 value!

During this time of year, Iowa employers have an on-going anticipation – an opportunity to participate in this trustworthy and credible resource on employee benefits offered within this state! Many thanks in advance to those organizations who participate in our annual survey. Without having this assistance, our survey would not be possible.

Please know that our firm is Rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau. Should you have any questions about the 2015 survey, please contact me directly.

To stay abreast of employee benefits and healthcare issues, we invite you to subscribe to our blog.

Mental ‘Rubber Ball’ Continues…and a BIG ‘Thank You!’

Mental Rubber BallIt all began in 1998 – and it wasn’t my idea.

About three years after starting David P. Lind & Associates, my first and only associate at the time, Brad Johnson, walked into my office and sat down across from my desk and asked, “Do you have a few moments?” I must admit, I did not know what to expect from this unanticipated dialogue – and I was a bit nervous.

“Sure.” I said.

For the next couple of hours, we had a discussion that I will never forget. Brad had an idea, and he wanted to knock the concept around like a rubber ball in a racquetball court. In addition to the floor, it hit all four walls and the ceiling countless times and it was virtually impossible to contain its’ kinetic energy after each subsequent surface smack. The idea was growing legs quickly!

From this experience, came my first big lesson in business: Never underestimate ideas that come from your employees. In fact, ALWAYS encourage suggestions and new approaches that may seem too big at the time. After giving the idea(s) the necessary attention, time and dialogue, allow it (them) to simmer and then revisit the concept with additional levity and a fresh perspective. Then, if appropriate, ACT!

Brad’s idea was a simple one. “Why not perform an employee benefits study in Iowa to help our clients (employers) benchmark their benefit plans to other employers locally?” His suggestion was basic – yet brilliant!

Another lesson? Don’t spend a great deal of time looking at your competition. Instead, watch what people actually do, observe what they use, how they see, feel, hear, touch and interact with every aspect of a product or service. Then move on it.

In the 16 years since my game of mental ‘rubber ball’ with Brad, we have completed 16 annual employee benefits studies, and surveyed 12,460 employers. During that time (1999-2014), Data Point Research, Inc. has served as the backroom ‘engine’ for undertaking this survey process. I am grateful for the work they do and the professionalism they consistently demonstrate on behalf of my organization.

Scott Woodruff of Majestic Limousine Services

Scott Woodruff of Majestic Limousine Services

As in 2013, we offered a special incentive to employers who took part in this year’s survey. Participants were automatically entered into a random drawing for one of two iPads. This year’s winners are Amy Hanson of Prairie Lights Books (Iowa City) and Scott Woodruff from Majestic Limousine Service (West Des Moines). Both recently received their iPads and were gracious to allow me to use their names within this blog. Thank you, Amy and Scott. Again, congratulations!

And a big thanks to the other 1,000 organizations who participated in this year’s survey! If your organization was one of this year’s survey participants, an email was sent to you on September 17, 2014, with a unique link to download your FREE copy ($300 value). If you missed this email, please check your Spam or Junk email folders. Otherwise, please contact us.

For the record, kinetic energy has taken that simple rubber ball into new, unexplored surfaces outside the racquetball court. No telling where the ball will eventually go!

To learn more, we invite you to subscribe to our blog.