Are Low Deductible Health Insurance Plans Really the Best Plan?

It seems like right now so many folks are paying attention to their actual health insurance for the first time! Turns out, when people are dying in a pandemic, we will finally pay attention to what kind of health insurance we have from our employer.

There are basically a few kinds of plans that most folks have in the U.S.:

– Low deductible plan – you pay more upfront, but if you get sick you pay very little in terms of bills overall.

– High deductible plan – you pay less out of your check on a weekly basis, but when you get sick you will end up paying a much larger portion of the bill.

– HSA plan – this plan is less used because it’s confusing but basically it’s a combination of you paying a portion to a savings account which helps you pay for normal healthcare expenses, but also has a high deductible safety net in case something major happens to you, you won’t go broke.

Most people have a bias towards low deductible health plans. Low deductible plans are chosen the most because we fear that what rarely happens. So, we pay a ton of money to have great healthcare coverage, but most of us will never come close to using the coverage we have. Few chose high deductible because we are scared something might happen and we don’t have the money to pay for it. Even fewer chose HSAs, even though it might be the better overall option, but again, we really fear the cost of something bad happens.

This is the basis of almost all insurance, fear.

We almost always choose the most coverage we can get, even when it costs us more in the short-term and long-term. We love safety. We are also, for the most part, really stupid when it comes to math and more specifically statistics. If we did understand basic statistics we would always choose the high deductible plan and put the weekly difference into a conservative investment portfolio. After a decade or two or three we would have this giant mountain of cash, at least about 99.6% of us would!

Fear is a powerful drug.

We buy car insurance and are given options like $250, $500, or $1000 deductible in case we get into an accident. Most of us will choose the lower amounts even those the vast majority of drivers never get into an accident. We buy flood insurance for our houses even when we aren’t in a flood plain because the one hundred year flood plain is a mile away from our house.

So, why am I talking about healthcare deductibles?

We are moving into a high unemployment environment. People are also going to be short on cash, so there’s a good chance when your next open enrollment happens you’ll have more people who will choose a high deductible, cheaper plans. In HR, this pains us greatly, because we want everyone to have the “best” insurance possible.

Why does HR want this? Because we deal with the fallout when someone chooses the high deductible insurance and then something happens and all of sudden it becomes ‘our’ problem to help this employee. So, to not have this pressure, just push everyone to a low deductible.

I’m telling you this is bad advice. HR is giving bad advice. Safe advice, but bad advice, based on math. Real math, not HR math.

 

Are you more productive working at home? #WFH

If you want and like working from home, your answer is “Yes!”

If you hate working at home and can’t wait to return to work, your answer is “No!”

The truth?

Some people can be productive anywhere. You could put them on the moon and they would find a way to get done what needs to get done. Many of us, need a great deal of structure and guidance, and proper motivation.

We have this giant Work from Home experiment going on right now and a lot of HR folks are pointing to this and going, “See! I told you it would work!” But, is it really working?

The problem is what most of us are doing right now isn’t truly working at home. If you are trying to do childcare to co-habitat with multiple people in a house all trying to do work, it’s not really what a normal work at home situation would be.

Pre-Covid most studies on Work at Home were done by folks who had a mission to get more people to work at home, so quite frankly, I think most of those studies are crap. They didn’t really set out to see what situation would be better, only that working from home is better.

One of the main issues we see with working from home is that your real workers, those ten percenters who put in the most work, put in even more when working from home which could lead to burnout of your best talent. So, you might see productivity gains, but it’s not equal across the board. Like most work, the vast amount of gains is coming from folks who already probably gave you the most!

I’m not a work from home hater by any means. I think it’s a great way to add some flexibility for those employees who need it and can actually make it work. To be very clear, that is not all of your employees. The vast majority will not be more productive at home. And those who love working at home the most might actually be your least productive.

So, should you allow your employees who can continue to work from home? I think during a pandemic the answer is yes! I think once this is all behind us, we have to look at productivity in a normal work from home environment and make those determinations on our own.

In the small sample size, I have with my own company I know there are folks who would kill it no matter where they were working, and I have some folks who better get ready to return to the office!

The key to working from home isn’t your ability to actually be able to work at home. It’s your ability to be as good or better working at home as you were working from the office, in a normal business environment. We are not in a normal business environment. So, you working at 40% compacity at home doesn’t mean you’ve proven anything.

So, during this great Work from Home experiment, do you think you are more productive, less productive, or about the same? Hit me in the comments and let me know what you think!

What does the C-suite want out of an HR Leader?

You may be sitting at home right now, asking yourself this very question! I wonder what my CEO prefers I do in my role. It’s a valid question, and one I find that great HR leaders already know the answer to, because they ask the question, often!

When I wrote my SHRM published book, The Talent Fix, part of the research I did was to interview hundreds of c-suite executives. CEOs, COOs, CHROs, CIOs, etc. I wanted to find out what made a world-class HR and Talent leader versus an average leader. From that research came some definite DNA traits.

It’s fascinating to have these conversations, and one thing I did was pull them away from just talking about their current HR and TA leaders. All that would turn into is a performance review, and they were giving it to me, not the person who needed and wanted it! We delved into the concept of if you could choose the ‘perfect’ leader to run your HR and TA functions, what would that person look like? What would they do differently than all before them?

Here is what your CEO wishes we would do in our role as HR and TA leaders:

1. Provide Data-Driven Solutions.

So often what we provide our solutions based on gut and feel. Solutions that are generated to be CYA and eliminate HR work, while increasing work on our employees. Data-driven solutions are desired by the c-suite because it shows you understand the goals and outcomes of the overall business and you are designing a function that will help meet those outcomes. Old HR used subjective measures of success because those were easy to meet. New HR, better HR, uses the same measures of business success that our c-suite uses to measure actual success.

2. Increase your Executive Presence to become that Executive Mentor.

It’s really lonely at the top! I know, I know, cry me a river for the CEO and her new Mercedes SUV, right!? But seriously, think about the role of CEO. As a CEO you can’t really just go to a direct report and say, “Hey, I need some help, I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing!” That will never happen! But as an HR leader, we have this ability to be that confidant and executive coach for our c-suite, but only if we actually put ourselves into that role! That takes executive presence. The greatest HR leaders I’ve been around in my life, all played this role for their c-suite!

3. Be a Futurist.

Our CEOs believe we are firefighters, first responders at our best. While we love our real-world first responders, being viewed as that by your leader in HR isn’t a good thing. Having to fight fires all day, every day means we can’t figure out how to get ourselves out of the firefight and begin building a better state of being. Our c-suite also believes we do not have the level of technical savvy to even choose our own tech stack, so they choose it for us like we are children. Becoming a futurist, pulling ourselves above the fires, and building a strong understanding of how technology can help every aspect of HR, will put you on another level of HR and TA leadership.

Becoming great at anything isn’t easy. Don’t allow yourself to be told by anyone that it is. It’s something you’ll work towards the rest of your career. I find that super exciting, as lifelong learning and development is what keeps HR and TA new and interesting to me every single day!

I’m an SHRM-SCP. I’ve been certified in HR for over 20 years! I’m proud of the certification and the continual learning I’ve done to increase my skill sets. I recommend you take a look at SHRM Education Spring 2020 Catalog and pay close attention to these programs and e-learning modules:

  • 32 – Consultation: Honing your HR Business Leader Skills
  • 33 – Investing in People with Data-Driven Solutions
  • 34 – Powerful Leaders – Transform your personal brand and executive presence. Strategies for Leadership in HR.
  • 35 – Future of Work Fast Track

Use the code “HRRocks” when registering for a Spring or Summer SHRM Educational Program and receive $200 off until May 15th! (excludes SHRM specialty credentials and SHRM SCP/CP prep courses)

Are We Still Pissy About Unpaid Internships?

Back in the height of the Great Recession (think 2008-2010), when we had double-digit national unemployment numbers. It was dark times, especially for those students who were graduating and those trying to get internships.

Most organizations in hard times cut internship programs. It’s not that they are not important to recruiting, it’s just the ROI drops as unemployment numbers rise. If you have a lot of candidates, it’s tough to spend valuable resources on interns who aren’t really adding much value, if any, to most organizations.

Internships, at its core, is mostly a one-way proposition on the front side. We hire you to get experience. We pay you. We hope you’ll come back and take one of our open jobs and in the future help us be successful. It usually works out, but it’s not a guarantee. In hard times, “not a guarantee” is a hard budget item to get approved!

During the Great Recession the idea of offering “Free Internships” was being used by many organizations and a lot of people lost their minds!

“You have to pay people for the job they do!” “All Interns should be paid fairly!”

Basically, this all went away pretty quickly because the economy took off and we got to the point where we weren’t just paying interns, we were competing for interns and developing all kinds of programs and incentives for interns because talent was so scarce.

The argument wasn’t really solved, it just disappeared because it was no longer relevant. Well, say hello to my little friend! The Free Internship concept is back! Thanks, COVID!

Let’s talk a little bit about our current internship situation!

  • Most organizations have canceled internships for this summer. There will be significantly fewer internships for the summer of 2021, as compared to summer 2019
  • As unemployment rises and layoffs grow, more will cancel these programs.
  • New graduates who can’t find jobs, need experiences to build their resumes.

Should we offer Unpaid Internships? 

YES!!! 1000% YES!!!

Now, let me explain. If you can afford to pay your interns, but be a dick and not pay them! If you can’t afford to pay interns, but you can afford to give students and graduates valuable experiences, give them those experiences!!!

I never understood the argument that you must pay interns for their time. I did student teaching as part of my undergrad degree. I worked a full semester as a teacher and I paid full tuition and never got a dollar for that work! My wife is a Physical Therapist and she did many practicums (medical internships) where she had to pay for school, work full time without pay. Many professions have this happening.

We turn a blind eye to these examples and just believe it’s part of getting that degree, but it’s truly no difference. The reality is, the experience you get, the ability to put that brand on your resume and have a professional reference is very valuable. So, working for free almost always works out for the best for those who take on those experiences and give it there all.

For the record, I have paid my interns. I will pay my interns this year. But, I can’t tell you I’ll always be able to pay interns. At that point, I have a decision to make. Not have interns, which only hurts those kids who need an internship, or have unpaid interns. I’m completely comfortable having unpaid interns, as I know the value it gives those individuals.

I’ve gotten questions recently about unpaid internships, as I hear so many people canceling their internships for this summer. “Can we have an intern work remotely and be unpaid?” Well, it’s not officially an employee, but if you want to “mentor” a student, and that student what’s your mentorship, nothing is stopping you from helping that person out!

Understand, if you aren’t going to pay someone, you get what you pay for. But, I also truly believe that a student who says, “Hey, I can give you twenty hours per week to learn the business” we have a moral obligation to help these students out in a time of crisis!

Okay, hate me in the comments – but we need to be open to Unpaid Internships!

Would you choose to live at your job 24/7 for a month? These workers did!

40 employees of Braskem America in Marcus Hook, PA unanimously decided they would lock themselves in their plant for 28 straight days, so they could safely make N95 masks for healthcare workers. Day and night, they worked, ate meals with each other, and slept at the plant to ensure there would be no spread of the virus to the products they were making.

The workers spent 12-hour shifts making polypropylene and a non-woven fiber in N95 masks, hospital gowns, and sanitary wipes.

Braskem has given the workers “enhanced employee compensation” for their work.

They were provided an onsite kitchen and supplies to sustain them as they operated the manufacturing facilities in isolation, according to Braskem.

Workers got TV breaks and drive-by visits from family during the 28-day period.

You might be thinking to yourself, “Well, I would do the same thing!” Especially given that most of us have just spent a full month or more with our families in lockdown in our houses! And I believe many people would have sacrificed as these employees did for the betterment of the healthcare workers who desperately need this PPE.

But don’t kid yourself, I’m sure this was an emotional decision for many! It’s not like the workers of a manufacturing facility do this on a normal basis. Most probably don’t travel for work, so they see their family and friends every single day. Going a month without that contact had to really difficult! I don’t like going for three days without seeing my dog!

The HR person in me loves this story and also knows that somewhere out of this probably comes a wedding, or bad breakup, or a baby! You just don’t keep 40 people together for 28 straight days, day and night, and not have some stuff go down! If HR has taught me anything, it’s humans will be humans!

I know the reality of this situation is this company was doing what companies do. Because of a crisis, they have a very short-term opportunity to make some great money and in the process help healthcare workers, help their employees, and help the stakeholders of that organization. It’s a win-win-win all the way around. It doesn’t stop this being a great story and we need all of those we can get!

So, my question for you today is, would you be willing to spend 24/7, for a month with your co-workers and your co-workers only!? Working, eating, sleeping, side by side? Hit me in the comments!

I loved that one of the workers being interviewed said one of the things they took for granted was being able to work next to someone and sit down to eat next to someone and not have to be six feet apart or even worry about that. When they came out into the ‘real’ world they realized they took stuff like that for granted.

It’s not Unlimited PTO or Accrual! Both are flawed, but I have a Plan! (The Sackett PTO Plan!)

Okay, I promise, after this post, I’ll stop talking about this subject!

I will tell you when I started this conversation over a tweet my friend Matt Charney put out, and a subsequent viral LinkedIn post on the same subject, there are clearly two very opinionated sides to this issue!

Side Unlimited PTO (UPTO):

  • There’s nothing like the idea of being able to just take time off when you want and not having to worry if you have the ‘time’ or not saved.
  • Yes, we know the data, and it says on average people use less time, but that’s my choice.
  • If you work at a company with a great culture and leadership, this is the only way to go. It’s a beautiful day and I want to take my child out for a picnic, but oh, I only have five days left for the year, I better save those. That choice sucks.

Side Accrual:

  • UPTO folks are idiots that don’t understand this is a scam that benefits companies, not employees.
  • Accrual is better because if I decide to leave the company the company has to pay me the time that I’ve banked.
  • When I take accrued time off it feels earned, thus I don’t feel like I need to work while taking the time off.

The Facts about Paid Time Off (PTO):

  • Any PTO plan sucks if you work in a toxic culture where you feel stressed to take time off.
  • Unlimited PTO is a fallacy. No organization is going to let you take off the entire year of work paid and not fire you. Grow up.
  • If your reason for liking a plan is that it’s nice when you leave the organization. That plan is a broken benefit for the organization.
  • Every employee should feel comfortable to stay at home when they are sick. Meaning, they will get paid and not feel pressure to show up and risk getting others sick.
  • There is no perfect PTO plan because we all value our time differently.

What’s the better PTO Plan?

Here’s what we know. Making a statement like, “Why don’t we just act like adults” shows me you don’t have a clue about how complex this issue is. The pandemic basically killed the standard UPTO plans moving forward. “Oh great, you offer UPTO!? So, like during a pandemic you’re going to keep paying me fully for three months!?” Um, well, not exactly…

You can say Accrual is the way to go, but the vast majority of folks said the only real benefit for Accrual is that it’s a termination insurance policy. So, that doesn’t work either! If the goal of PTO is to make sure people take time off to recharge and be healthy, saving it for when you get fired isn’t a good plan!

Here’s the Sackett PTO Plan to save America:

  1. If you are sick with a communicable disease, you must stay home until you are released to come back to work by a medical professional. We all have the ability to use Teledocs now, this isn’t difficult. The company will continue your pay. If you can work from home and have the ability while at home recovering there is an expectation you will do what you can. (You’re an adult, right?)
  2. If you take care of someone else and they are sick and need your care the company will cover that cost of you staying home and taking care of them. Again, Teledoc, show me that this is real and we are all good, take care of your loved one.
  3. You must take three weeks of vacation per year, minimum based on your plan/organization/FTE status/etc., in increments you feel are necessary for your lifestyle. So, low end you get three weeks, high-end is up to organizations and your ability to negotiate.
  4. You will get “X” number of holidays paid for – let’s not get silly no one needs Arbor Day off, and yes, we’ll give you your birthday off paid.
  5. You will get automatically 2 weeks no-fault termination/leave pay, at a minimum based on your level of position, when you leave the organization. Whether we fire you or you decide to leave on your own, makes no difference. No reason to “save” our vacation time any longer.
  6. There is no carryover of vacation time from year to year. Want to take a month off to travel around Europe? Be a great performer and you shouldn’t have a problem.

Did we cover everything? Sick time is covered. We will force folks to take time off for wellness. You get paid holidays. You get money to leave. If you perform really well, you get flexibility.

I think this is a plan that I would feel like I’m being taken care of by my employer. Yes, it’s expensive, but so is finding and training great talent. Could someone take advantage of this plan? Yes, and I would fire them. For the record, that usually stops others from trying to take advantage.

Have a better PTO plan? Hit me in the comments!

Also – don’t forget to check out the HR Famous Podcast where Kris Dunn, Jessica Lee and I debate this topic. They got it wrong and I got it right!! Well, maybe…

Performance Feedback for a New World

Channeling my inner Seth Godin today…

It really is a choice.

Either you can decide to perform the job you have, or you can decide to work someplace else.

Either you believe this is the right company for you, or you can decide it’s another company.

Either you treat your coworkers as peers, or you are welcome to go treat someone else’s employees like crap.

Either you follow our rules, or you will follow someone else’s rules.

Either you make a positive contribution to the organization, or you make me make a choice about your future.

Earning the right to work here isn’t hard; it’s just a simple choice that you control. Losing that choice is up to you until you make it up to me.

Josh Bersin Academy Launches New Remote Work Program!

As some of you know, I’m a Senior Faculty Member of the Josh Bersin Academy (we like calling it JBA for short!). It’s a great digital on-demand learning program for HR pros and leaders, with a really active international community. Currently, over 8,000 professionals in the academy and growing.

We are announcing a new program – the Remote Work Bootcamp!

“It is designed to help HR professionals, your teams, and your organizations get to the heart of these changes together as you navigate THIS public health crisis. But it will also help you develop new practices and habits that will improve the way you and your organization work remotely, long after the crisis has passed.” 

The 5 Field Manuals for this program include:

  • Remote + HR
  • Tools + Rules
  • Space + Routine
  • Trust + Relationships
  • Uncertainty + Resilience

Because JBA knows so many of us have current budget restraints, they are reducing the cost to $25/month for all the programs, or a full annual fee for $250. It’s a great deal to help improve yourself and your team.

What we learned during the Great Recession was that it became harder to find jobs. It became harder to get promoted. Those who put in the extra development and education put themselves in a better position to get the job and get the promotion.

What I really like about JBA is not only the great learning that takes place, but it’s the network you build with others in our community. This isn’t some static watch a couple of videos and move on type of course work. There’s a group of peers you go through each course with and the number is small enough where you can really work and learn from each other.

I recommend a lot of technology solutions and it’s rare that I recommend a learning opportunity. Go check this out and make the decision for yourself and your team. I was really surprised at how many full HR teams are going through this together!

 

Your “New” Most Valuable Employees!

What happens after you test positive for COVID-19, go through the illness and come out on the other side? Freedom! That’s what!

Like most viruses, once you have that virus your body builds up an immunity against it, and you are highly, like getting hit by lightening highly, unlikely to get the COVID again, no matter what you read on that red-state political site you read! Again, science.

This being the case, for the next 12-18 months, we are going to see some strange things happen socially and in our workplaces.

We are going to have employees who can come back to work in any situation and not have to worry about catching the virus, but can still pass it on to others if they aren’t still following sanitizing protocols. They can go to the movies, to the bar, out to eat, with almost no worry for themselves.

Maybe we’ll even give them a card they can show the police so these post-covids can gather together and without the worry of being arrested or disbanded. Or put make them wear a red letter on their clothes… We’ll watch them outside having fun as the rest of us who haven’t had the virus stay sheltered and isolated.

The reality is we would be naive to not understand the value of someone who has already had the virus and is now back to normal health-wise. We employees will be to do things right now, and guess what? You won’t be able to choose which employees you get in this capacity! It might be one of your best, or it might be one of the ones you wished you had fired.

These employees will be able to travel out to your clients. Go visit customers. Work on the shop floor next to each other and somewhat get their lives back to normal. Those who are pre-virus healthy will have to assist these folks from afar in the best way we can.

Think about the biggest dip-shit you have on staff right now. Now, imagine your biggest customer has this big project and they are telling you that you must have someone onsite come and meet with them, and don’t send anyone who can give us the COVID. Okay, great, we’ve got Marty who spends most days in the bathroom looking at Memes now being the face of the organization to our most valuable client.

Could happen. Is Marty ready? Are you ready? Do you even know which of your employees will be on this list? Are you tracking them and do you understand their importance?

Post-Covids will have their run of the world for a bit. They’ll be extremely valuable to every employer. While we might have high unemployment for a bit, can you imagine those forward-thinking companies who are out there hiring all the post-covids?

Who would have thought that a major skill in the modern workforce would be simply your ability to survive!?

My Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) and other Comms You Don’t Want to Read!

No one cares!

I had an HR peer send me a note this past week. They were a little frustrated with all the COVID communications that have been coming out from everyone. She was a bit snippy with me. The basis of her message was like, “Stop it! We get it! You’re doing something! We are all doing something! Do I really need to know what you’re doing!?!”

Here’s the list of places I need to know what you’re doing in regards to COVID:

  • Hospitals and other medical facilities I might have to use. Tell me what I should do in case of…
  • Grocery stores – when the F is the toilet paper going to be back in stock!?
  • My work – Do you want to come in, stay home, am I getting paid, etc. (I don’t care if you’re paying your employees, that’s up to you and your employees. OH! Wait! You’re doing the humblebrag thing…okay, good for you, you’re paying your employees currently and are constantly evaluating the situation…)
  • Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, Xfinity, etc. – we’re still good right because I’ve got 500 channels on cable and nothing is ON!!!!!!!!
  • diet Mt. Dew factory – I’m ready when you need me, just pick up the bat phone and I’m there. Need to keep the lines running No. Matter. What.

Seriously, is it just me, or did every organization in the free world lose their minds when it comes to communications, PR, and marketing over the last seven days!?!

I can just imagine the comms war rooms as everyone nitpicked every single word that was going to be used in the most important communication that would ever be sent in history of mankind, around what you were doing to ensure your customers dry cleaning didn’t fall through the cracks and you didn’t kill your employees to ensure said customer had clean, crisp shirts while sitting at home watching Love is Blind during the apocalypse!

My lawn service sent out communication! Thanks, Jimmy for letting me know you won’t lick the kids and old people while continuing my lawn service during these trying times.

The best/worst of this is the marketing that is happening right now. I sent out a tweet condemning the HR Tech world for their crappy marketing during this time and hundreds of people liked it and three people (all of whom had crappy marketing go out) said I wasn’t being fair and if we have products that can help, we should be letting people know right now.

Oh, that’s why you are giving a 20% discount with the coupon code #CoughFreeWorkFromHome for your work-from-home job board! I get it, you have a business to run and you need to sell your product. The problem is, your buyer (HR and TA pros) are in the biggest firefight of their life right now and your sales pitch looks cold and heartless, and the timing sucks. Give them a week and then pimp away.

But, all that being said I thought it was vital I inform all of you about my Coronavirus (COVID-19) plan:

Dear Readers, 

As a shared service that this community relies on daily, ‘we’ here at the Tim Sackett Project are deeply committed to the health and wellness of our readers during this time. We plan to keep you updated on our ongoing efforts to ensure the well-being of this community. 

All of our blog posts are currently open, and we do not expect a lapse in service, unless Tim drinks too much while working from home and misses a deadline, in which, we will guarantee to re-run some crappy post of his from four years ago. 

We are closely monitoring updates from the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Grammar Society of America, and local public health offices. If anything changes, we’ll immediately notify every single person in the world. 

What are ‘we’ doing:

– Increasing the frequency with which we clean our blog posts. Every time some reads a blog post, we quickly pull it down, scrub it clean of your dirty internet germs using a space-age disinfectant that is designed for internet use only. The normal reader should not see any difference in your reading experience. 

– All employees of the TSP are required to wear gloves while typing each blog post. 

– To ensure that ‘all’ of our employees of the TSP are fully taken care of during this challenging and trying time, we will be sending ‘all’ employees on a fully paid trip to the Cayman Islands upon clearance from the proper government agencies that it is once again safe to travel to the Cayman Islands. 

How to Keep Yourself Safe: 

– Wipe down and disinfect your keyboard before clicking on any TSP post or before reading said post. 

– Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol or wash your hands until they bleed with soap before entering any hot tubs to read the TSP. 

– Consider gloves and face masks as an extreme preventative measure as you actually aren’t coming into contact with anything, except ideas, when reading a blog post. 

‘We’ will continue to keep you updated with thrice-daily emails. If you have any questions please forward them to tim@timsackett.com email address because it’s the one I don’t monitor.