Fact: benefits are confusing. In this episode, we’ll walk through what you need to know when enrolling in your company's benefits, from 401Ks, HSAs, and even employee ownership. This is your definitive guide to company benefits.
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Welcome to the Work Awesome podcast. This is episode 5 The Definitive Guide to benefits. Today I have Sarah Annalise with me at least. Is our human one of our human resources. Let me start that over at least is one of our human resource business partners at the company, but also our benefits, subject matter expert or SME's. We call them within our company.
Stepping on chords in this episode, let's just quickly go over the description. We're talking about benefits. They are confusing, will walk you through what you need to know when enrolling in your company's benefits from 401K's to HSF, season, even employee ownership. This is your definitive guide to company benefits. So pretty simple. We're just going to talk all about the different benefits that you may come across as as you transition or find a new job at a different company.
So welcome, I haven't taken a breath. I need to take a breath. Welcome Elise and Sarah is virtual with us. Before we get too much further into it, at least. Can you just take a second and describe or I guess give a little background of what your job role is?
For the company, sure, I'd love to. So last summer I transitioned to the HR business partner role, but prior to that I've worked in as the benefits manager for Avian for almost 8 years. So really submerged in the entire benefit.
World, it's really what I, my my specialty was in so I'm still keeping that as I'm moving forward into my new role. However, I'm now diversifying my skill set, but this is a perfect episode for me to talk to because I have a lot of knowledge in this area.
Yes, so yeah like you said, perfect topic for you to talk to. Whenever someone has a benefits problem, they always go to at least if at least has a problem. She goes to the higher ups, but most of the time at least has the answer for us, which is awesome. She's super knowledgeable, which is why you're on this episode.
And then of course we have Sarah. Like I said, our talent Resource Manager virtually joining us. So she's here to talk about all the different stuff, all the different questions and answers that a candidate might have. I say stuff a lot and I'm going to try not to say stuff this season. So if you hear me say stuff and then quickly say something else, it's 'cause I'm trying to like not, say stuff as much. So Sarah is here to talk about answers and questions that candidates might have during the interview and getting into the company.
So the first question I have for you guys, what are the most common benefits candidates ask about? So Sarah, this might be a better question for you. At least I don't know if you have any answers for this, but if you do, feel free.
To jump in, so I think the one that I hear the most is health care followed by paid time off, OK?
So those are the two.
That candidates are really very curious about and they need to know what those benefits are before they accept an offer. Because those really impact their life.
Great deal, they want to make sure that the benefit the medical benefits are comprable to what they are currently receiving and that they're going to have a good good enough PTO package in order to make sure that they are able to have the work life balance that they've been used to.
Sir, I think that's very good point because I think that's probably the number one mistake candidates maybe make is not asking about their benefit package. You have to think of your benefits as part of your total compensation package, so it's very important to inquire about as you're making any career transition you want to make sure, like Sarah said, the PTO is enough. The medical fits into your budget, because if the medical is super expensive or the dental is outrageous and you have kids coming into Orthodontia, that could.
That $10,000 pay increase that your take trying to get go after could be negated by the cost of the benefits. So you definitely want to look at your full.
Package, yet I think we do as a company do a really nice job of this. With that every maybe I'm wrong, but Sarah can correct me every interview you have. You give them like this. One pager of all of our benefits so they get a pretty good idea up front of what we offer.
As a company.
The paid time off might be different for some people, right? So for folks that just joined the company, at least for us specifically, have a lower accrual accrual rate. Is that correct it.
Typically right out of college will offer them four hours of PTO per pay period, and they can negotiate higher. Or if they have some years of experience, then we try to equate that to appropriate tier and then definitely those folks that are coming out of a hole karere.
Level, or you know, retiring from the military or the government? We try to start them on our highest here, understanding that they are developed professionals so.
So that was interesting. I actually didn't know you could negotiate that.
Factor of your PTL. So interesting to find out there, and I think very useful for anyone listening to know anything else about the PTO or common questions. Go ahead, Sir.
Yeah, I would say there's some negotiation, but it's like the salary we do have to make sure that we're being equitable and looking at experience and.
Experience and education and the whole.
Negotiation doesn't necessarily mean you're going to get what you're asking for, but you're at least putting it on the table.
Alright, so moving on to the next question. What are some benefits? Some? I'm sorry. What are some uncommon benefits candidates might not ask about? So are there things that you're like you? I wish they would have asked about that in the interview some. Maybe it's something cool that we do as a company that other companies don't do. What are those type of benefits that pop into your head?
Sure, we have a few that are kind of unique.
Even our dental includes or adult orthodontia, which is kind of unique and I don't think people think to ask about that. And then we have some that are a little more lighthearted like our pet insurance folks don't really think that we might even offer that, but it's just something kind of fun to address. The fact that people's pets are so important to their lives.
right on cue.
Just perfect timing, right? I agree with you at least, those are some of the ones that we don't necessarily hear.
Asked about or consider.
I would say lifestyle benefits as well, which would be outside of like what's on our slicks. She, like people don't necessarily to ask if they can get professional certifications through us or if they can flex their time and things like that. So there's a whole like lifestyle side of benefits, so they probably don't think of 'cause they're not on the.
Slick sheet, right? I don't think people necessarily think of those as benefits per say, but they are. Some companies don't allow you to flex time, and some companies are.
Flexible and allow you to do that, so it's definitely things to ask during the interview process. Even even if like you said there on this like she, there may be a chance that they do offer whatever those uncommon benefits are.
So let's talk quickly and I've just a little bit into like health insurance. There's a bunch of different types of health insurance we are. Is it self funded? So let's be honest here. We're today's March 15th. We are recording this on the day of.
The last day of our open enrollment. So like I personally just did it this morning and like look at this, I need to go in there and select my insurance. So can you talk a little bit about that self funding aspect of our our share insurance plan?
To the candidates and the employees, they don't see a lot with the self funding, but what it means is that the company itself is paying for the claims as they are incurring. So if Bobby breaks his leg will get the well. We have a third party that will get the bill and then we'll pay it directly.
And then we have all kinds of safety Nets, so we have the proper insurance is in place. So when you get those like super crazy high claimants, we have insurance that will pick up at a certain threshold, yeah?
I think you actually sorry to interrupt you. I think you actually do a really good job of helping everybody understand what it means to be self funded. So like and you can correct me if I'm wrong here again, but what you'll normally say is something along the lines of, like if you don't have to go to the ER, then don't go to the ER, go to like the urgent care or something that's not going to affect our plan is as much as.
An ER visit so it's teaching.
Employees to be good consumers of the plan. So that's exactly right. If we can teach them how their behaviors drive certain factors on the plan, and then if it's appropriate for them to change their behaviors, then I think it makes sense for them to just know those things. So when we first started into a level funded plan, which is kind of like a step towards self funded, we started seeing some of the data we were able to educate employees on those kind of points like hey our renewal was high because we had like.
20% of people utilizing ER, which is 500 times higher than urgent care or something like that, so you get the data off the planet will get even more data from being self funded that we can use to kind of help steer the plan and help just reduce the cost of the plan. Overall, the best we can.
How about the different types of like so I don't know what any of these acronyms mean, but like HMO or PPO we there's also FSA, which I know is completely different. But FSA HSA say can you like breakdown some of these acronyms for us?
So an HMO and a PPO that's kind of telling you how you can use the plan. So some plans have networks that you have to stay within, like an HMO plan has requires you to use. Basically you have to get authorization to do things on the plan whereas.
But we're more used to on our plan is the PPO, which means that we can go directly to the positions that we want to use without a referral, as long as they are in network will be covered. So just kind of is telling you how you have to use the plan in order for the costs to be covered.
And it is it. I mean, for us were smaller company that we don't have a ton of options, but is it normal for a company to offer maybe either an HMO or PPO? Or is it always just going to be one of the other?
Normally when they have two plans is what you'll see is one is usually an HSA plan, which is a plan that has a very high deductible typically, and then one that has. So basically, you'll usually have two plans, one that you pay less out of pocket on a monthly basis, but then almost nothing is covered off the bat, and then the other one. You would pay more out of pocket for each month, but when you go to your doctor it's like a $30 copay, so that's usually the two different types that they'll offer.
I don't think it's very common to have both an HMO and a PPO plan is usually would set them both up the same gotcha.
So OK, I was just interested to know that.
What about FA FSA and HSA? Say or? What are the differences there?
Yeah, so an FSA, which is what avian has stands for flexible spending account and that one it's. They're both pretax, but the FSA typically is user lose. Of course we have some special contingencies because of kovid this year, but typically there's like a rollover Max and you have to spend it down during the year. Where is an HSA, which is a health savings account.
You can basically almost treat it as a savings account for the future for future medical, so you can fund it to the Max and keep it growing every year. Also, think Hsas, you can invest the dollars and so the dollars can continue to grow like a 401K, so they're very interesting and they're very advantageous. But in order to have fun in order to use an HSA, you have to be choosing the plan that goes with that, which is typically.
The very high deductible plan on avian isn't at a point where we have been able to split that risk just yet, so we do know the value of Hsas, which is why we kind of have the FSA is kind of a step towards that, but you'll see a lot of retired folks basically banking their Hsas to use in retirement when medical costs are extremely expensive at that stage, so you can even use it to pay for your own care for.
So when you're you know you need to get a retirement home or something like that.
So you could like start saving now. Basically for when you retire. Yeah, that's interesting. Cool hey podcast listeners, I just want to jump in and say. First of all, thank you for listening to this episode of the work. Awesome podcast If you aren't following us on social media, please head over to Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn. Wherever you get your content from and make sure you're following so that you have the latest updates on blogs, on new videos on new episodes coming out all on the work. Awesome network if you haven't.
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Sarah, anything to add about? Maybe questions that candidates might have about the health side of insurance?
No, I don't think I have any too much to add it. Just make sure that you understand kind of what what Elise was explaining. Make sure that when you're going in you understand the type of plan and the costs involved and what they cover.
The other thing I want to mention since we do work with a lot of transitioning, military and even retired military, we offer Tricare, is that correct we?
Have our Tricare supplemental. OK yeah, it's typically for the folks at where you have to have access to Tricare, so typically you're retired from the military or keeping your Tricare plan. But maybe you have a family member with a chronic condition and then you're hitting all your out of pocket. Max is on the Tricare plan then it would make sense to pick up that supplements going to pick up some of those.
Extra costs that might not be covered. Yeah, other thing to know about anybody that's on Tricare and typically retired government as well. Your plan is always going to be richer with the Tricare or retired government than what typically anybody can offer you. At least in this area.
OK, I just wanted to bring up that quickly up and I just noticed while we were talking and this has nothing to do with what we're talking about. But as I point like this way, it's 'cause where we were can sit the base that we work out of is right behind me so I normally and like we work for the government and then point over my.
Shoulder, because that's literally where it.
Is sidenote alright, so let's talk about some of the you mentioned. A couple of them already of the other offerings we have, so we offer something called ID Watchdog. We offer Aflac, which I think we can.
Talk for a little while about and then we offer pet insurance, which is interesting. ID watchdog is like making sure that if you get hacked or your security your Social Security number is leaked or anything like that, that you're pretty much immediately alerted. Is that correct?
Yes, so all of those are in the world of what we call voluntary benefits. So it's just the extra offerings that companies typically have outside of that, like medical, dental, vision, benefit pool.
And then Aflac is one that I want to quickly talk about because I think a lot of people don't realize the benefits of it.
So Affleck is, like you said, a voluntary insurance that we offer, but it's especially useful if you're planning to go on maternity leave. Is that what I understand?
Yeah, so Aflac is a supplemental insurance. So you're basically preparing for things that might occur in the future. An I'd say we try to educate people on the family planning side because it's the one thing that you can anticipate happening typically. So with Aflac they can exclude or they do exclude pre-existing conditions.
So anyone that's using the policies for family planning, they have to grab him at least nine months before they deliver a baby, but they're really helpful because, well, they have two or our plan has two that are helpful. One is the short term disability, so we offer company short term disability, but employees can choose to also pick up the Aflac short term and then they basically are stacking the policy's on top of each other. So they're getting basically a double benefit, which is super helpful. And then the other one is. I think it's the hospital.
Choice policy, which basically pays out upon admission to the hospital and with childbirth typically, I mean it's personal choice, but typically you deliver in a hospital and so you know. Again, you know that you're going to have at least a one or two day admission, which would pay out a certain dollar amount.
Yeah, I think paying attention to those voluntary or supplemental insurance is is very important. It might look like just an additional cost like it's taken out of your paycheck, but.
Like you said, if you're planning, if you're doing some family planning, Affleck won't allow you to just pick it up the day that you have your kid or your baby. I guess, sorry, I'm not a father or expecting, so I don't have the right terminology, but.
Where was I going with that point now, so making sure that you're already on that plan nine months ahead is super important. The last one of these voluntary insurance is an we touched on a little bit already is the pets insurance, so it's kind of cool that we offer this. It helps with vet bills and if your fur babies ever have problems at home.
Do you wanna? I don't know too much about the plan, so do you want to just give a quick?
Brief overview of it. So we have the nationwide pet insurance plan and basically how they advise you to work. It is that you go to your vet and have your regular care and then you just turn in the paperwork after to be reimbursed. They don't recommend telling your vet that you have the insurance because sometimes the vets will take advantage of that 'cause they know that you're getting reimbursed so they're a little more. They might add a few little things on.
I don't know if that's true, but that's what I heard in the benefits world. So you just kind of run it on your own and then reimburse. But it's really nice because there are we have two benefits that we have, the with Wellness and without. So with Wellness you have some of the known. It's obviously a more expensive policy because you know you're going to get vaccines and reimbursed for them and then the without both of them also cover all the emergency stuff. And that's where the policy is really pay off. So if your dog gets a cancer diagnosis or.
Is injured in accident or something? Those typically those claims are thousands of dollars, and so the pet insurance is really going to come into.
Pay off really there, yeah?
Sarah, anything that you want to touch on as far as voluntary or supplemental insurance is.
So I think one of the things to also are considerations to also pay attention to is some of the benefits are pre tax.
So, so they were taken out before the tax. You know, before the taxes are taken out, so that when you're looking at the costs you know, take that into consideration as well.
And we talked a little bit about people transitioning, you know, maybe they've had another career and they have benefits that they're taking from that initial karere. As Elise said, there are some that we probably won't match, but we have. There are some that are a great benefit, so don't discount that. Make sure that you're listening to what is available so that you can make an educated choice.
I know I think our dental benefits are great from my experiences. Just my experience. So so if you have them from another from another source, just make sure that you're doing what's best for your family and really pay attention to the information that's offered because.
Maybe looking at the cost and the offerings can give you a good idea of which plan is the best for you.
Here at AVN we actually benchmark all of our benefits, so we look at them compared to our competitors and our region and things like that. And like Sarah mentioned, our dental benefits do always overperform what our competitors are typically doing. So that is one of our really rich benefits, but we always make sure that all of our benefits are in line with at least the minimum of what our competitors are doing.
Right, I think the dental one is my favorite because I get for cleanings a year.
A lot of people don't know that.
Yeah, I go in.
Every three months and get myself a cleaning, it doesn't mean you get to see the dentist every time, but at least you're getting that hygienist work done, which is really nice.
Alright, so let's move over to retirement benefits. So this is like 401K.
That kind of world. What's normal for a company to offer in the retirement area?
401K is really interesting to me. It is typical that the employers will offer some kind of match. What's unique to avian is we're offering what's called an NEC or NONELECTIVE contribution, so we do 3% here at avian and what's unique about it is it doesn't matter if you're participating or not, you're getting the 3%. Does take three months to get started here at Avian into that benefit.
But once you're in, you're getting 3% of all your compensation. So the other thing that's tricky about 401K's is you really have to pay attention to how the company is spinning the benefit. So we like the 3% 'cause it's really straightforward. It's not a match, not dependent on what you're doing. If Bobby Smith comes in right out of college and doesn't isn't thinking about a 401K, it's set up for them, so it makes sure that they're starting to do something. But what some companies love to do is kind of spin the verbiage and it kind of drives me crazy. So what they'll do is, they'll say.
We match 10% and then in the fine print it'll say up to the first like $500 of the employee. It's like really tricky how they spin the words so it can sound really, really good, but it'll be like up to the 1st 5% of your compensation for the first so many months or whatever.
Interesting, so just.
Pay attention to if they are offering or what seems like a crazy high percentage matching. Make sure it's on your total compensation or understand what that really works out to be right so.
Definitely understand if there is.
Qualifying language like you have to be there the last day of the year, or there's.
You know certain.
They can, they can block it out by age by if you're full time versus part time, they can put in all kinds of contingencies on what a participant has to meet in order to be considered a participant, yes.
Exactly, read that fine print and make sure he fully understand how to participate. If you're interested in it.
Sorry, I understand the vesting schedule as well.
Yeah, so Speaking of vesting, I don't want to spend too much on 401K 'cause I think this next topic is more important employee ownership. So this is something specific to avian. Obviously other companies are employee owned as well.
Can we quickly? We're going to have an entire podcast focused on employee ownership, but can we give a quick overview of what that means for us in the type of benefits that we see out of?
It sure so employee ownership or we call it our ESOP plan. It's basically another qualified retirement plan, so if you were to pull up like for example our 401K plan and put it beside our ESOP plan and read all the long boring verbiage, there's a lot of similarities between the two because they're both following the.
IRS code and things like that, but what it is is basically a personal growth tool. The ESOP is all about the employee really, so it's in a way for the employee to have a second qualified retirement plan. They're not deferring any of their own funds into it. The funds grow based on receiving share allocations and the company's success. So as the company continues to grow and be more successful than the share values continue to increase and you have this little nest egg, that's kind of growing off to the side.
It's pretty exciting, yeah?
It's very exciting. There's tons of stories out there about companies starting at basically startup level and growing into these massive corporations and people getting huge payouts. It is important to note that those payouts come when you retire and not necessarily when your company is making all this big money.
So that's one of the ways they mimic the 401K plan is you can't really access it until you're over retirement age, and if you were to access the funds, you would have tax penalties if you were.
Right non retirement age so.
Like I said, we're going to have an entire episode on Employee Ownership Center. Did you want to add anything about that topic?
So I think just looking at the benefit package that the employer is presenting can really speak a lot about the culture that company has and how they take care of their employees.
And then the last list I have here is just things outside of benefits, so these are not the enrollment benefits, but like the I don't even know how to categorize these. The things that are happening that you might not realize are happening or the things that the company offers that fall under like special events or things like that. So my list includes flexible working hours which we've talked a little bit about already Wellness programs which you do have and I'll let you talk about them in a second are enrichment events which I don't know. What falls under. Richmond events I would think like company like.
Sort of culture events, yeah, which again we do? Do we do do?
Subsidized travel, which is interesting. I read a little bit about that and I can try to explain it. Volunteer days. Paid volunteer days so time off that is dedicated to volunteering for organizations and then training and development so the majority of these we actually offer the one that we don't offer paid volunteer days. There are companies that I've seen that do have that benefit.
So we haven't ever done that, but we have. I've seen us raffle off.
An extra PTO day, so we've had a couple of people win some that way, so maybe we'll get there one day, definitely so almost want to call those the cultural benefits. Yes, exactly all the extra stuff, and this is really, I think, what can make or break a job because it also helps you connect to people. So if there, especially in this Tele work world, as we start to return to the new norm, I'm predicting that a lot of employees will stay Tele work, but will be able to resume.
Our holiday parties in our summer picnics and those are going to be the events where you get to connect with your employees and build relationships. Even the volunteer days. It's a good day to connect with others, so you definitely want to kind of ask about those sort of cultural benefits in your interview process as you're getting to know the company to understand what they're offering. They can be a lot of fun and it can really.
Change your lifestyle. Depending on what the company is offering.
Yeah, one of the things that I like that we do quite often are these Wellness programs. So unfortunately I haven't ever had like opportunity to participate in some of these Wellness programs. And that's my own fault. There's no one else's fault, but we do things like we've done yoga before. We've done a whole like fitness bootcamp before. We have a garden outside that. Elise does a great job of tending for every year. So yeah, we do a lot of the stuff on this list.
Training and development we offer so we have.
We give the opportunity for employees to kind of submit paperwork and say hey I want to go to this training or this conference or or whatever it is that will benefit their job in some way. So definitely it's like you said, those cultural benefits that don't. They're probably not on that one pager that we give out, but they add up in the long run.
Any last minute? Oh, by the way, kind of things Sarah, or at least that you want to talk about.
Thanks, I think at least did a great job of really covering kind of the gist of everything and and giving a good explanation. Thank you, Elise.
Yeah, and like I said at the beginning at least is our expert on benefits. So yes, she talked a lot during this episode, but that's because she is the one that knows all this stuff.
So if there's nothing else to cover, let's wrap it up on the next episode we are talking about employee ownership. Title is employee ownership going all in, so we'll go and do a deep dive into what that means for our culture. What that looks like at the company level and talk a little bit more about how the technical sides of it work too. So thank you both for joining me today and I will see everybody next time.
Thanks and it was a lot of fun.