The Summit of Sustainability Awards
Winner Public Sector Category
City of Twinsburg
What started as an environmental protection program for portions of the Tinkers Creek flood plain and nearby corridor that the city purchased several years ago has bloomed into substantial efforts to conserve financial resources and reduce energy consumption as well as the city’s carbon footprint.
Energy management projects that have been completed include installing energy-efficient lighting at city facilities; replacing windows and doors with energy-efficient products; installing solar heating arrays at the outdoor city pool to save 50 percent in natural gas consumption and heated water expenses; and converting all traffic signals in the city to LEDs.
Water management at the city’s Gleneagles Golf Course now makes use of storm water retained on the property; in addition, organic fertilizer is applied to the fairways and greens. A total of 4,800 trees have been planted in the city since 1995 to help improve water quality, reduce storm water runoff and moderate temperature.
In the winter, city streets receive treatment with beet juice and brine for more environmentally friendly ice control.
Waste paper has been reduced significantly after the city encouraged digital communication and record keeping. Recycling efforts have increased for residents as well, and the resident recycling programs have achieved the second highest rate of community participation in Summit County.
Many other efforts are underway to help the city’s green initiative. The success of the city’s program is directly related to the corporate culture of sustainability adopted by the staff members who remain vigilant in their search for efficiency, sustainability and cost reduction.
The Summit of Sustainability Awards
Winner, NonProfit Category
The Akron Marathon
The efforts of the Akron Marathon to become an environmentally responsible sporting event since it started a recycling plan in 2008 have shown impressive gains each year. The first year, a quarter ton of material was diverted from the landfill and sent to be recycled, and last year, 5.46 tons of material was diverted from the landfill.
Last year, the Akron Marathon instituted other environmental initiatives in its efforts to be certified by the Council for Responsible Sport as an environmentally responsible sporting event. These included calculating the carbon footprint to travel to and from the race by participants, improved management of water supplies, better control of waste management, expanded information about recycling stations, and creative initiatives to reuse or recycle other race day products that may have otherwise been thrown out.
According to the group’s calculations for 2012, carbon dioxide emissions for vehicular and air passenger travel combined to equal 212.8 metric tons. The group can now use this benchmark calculation to help create a plan to reduce the carbon footprint in years to come.
These efforts to reduce the carbon footprint include providing access to public transportation, promoting carpooling, using alternative fuel vehicles and providing mass transit to and from partner hotels and relay exchange zones.
Last year, the organizers also saved 3,344 gallons of water by filling cups for the runners to the half-full level. This was the first year water usage was measured which will offer a baseline for future years.
The Summit of Sustainability Awards
Winner Mid-Size Business Category
Kent Elastomer Products Inc.
In its 53-year history, Kent Elastomer Products Inc. has evolved from a latex tubing manufacturer into a diversified supplier of products ranging from thermoplastic elastomers to non-latex Free-Band Tourniquets.
The company started lean manufacturing in 2006 with an emphasis on continuous improvement. Kaizen practices were the main vehicle, and employees were the drivers for implementing and sustaining these and other improvements.
Since 2008, its Mogadore facility has realized an 84 percent decrease in water usage, a 13 percent decrease in electric usage and it sends 80 percent fewer dumpsters (from five per week to one per week) to the landfill. Total annual savings from these three improvements alone is approximately $26,000.
A wholly owned subsidiary of Meridian Industries Inc., Kent Elastomer builds its business on people — its employees, its customers and the patients who rely on quality products. Kent Elastomer serves a variety of markets including medical, dental, food/beverage, sports/recreation, laboratory and industrial.
The integrity of its people is reflected in its products, which are known for durability and strength. The company is nimble — able to create customized products quickly and to unique specifications.
An innovative approach at Kent Elastomer is employee ownership. The culture change that happened as a result of lean manufacturing is evident by the involvement of employees, their commitment to their jobs and the low turnover rates.
“We take pride in being a world class producer of quality products with employees striving for continuous improvement and reducing waste,” says Bob Oborn, president. “We take our stewardship of the environment seriously, and it shows.”
The Summit of Sustainability Awards
Many organizations are realizing that in order compete, they must follow the triple-bottom line model: people, planet and prosperity. Under this ideology, these leaders contribute to their communities by creating a sustainable business plan that helps to redevelop their cities as well as strengthen economic value in the area and increase the health and wealth of its people.
Even before this particular business ideology became known, Mayor Don Plusquellic of Akron introduced a sustainability plan on Earth Day 2009 called Greenprint for Akron. The purpose was to create an environmental partnership to foster a sustainable, eco-friendly community through education and leadership. Since that time, the city has been not only been setting and achieving its own sustainable goals but also encouraging local businesses and nonprofits to do the same.
In order to broaden the spectrum of organizational involvement, Paula Davis and Paul Feezel, members of the Greenprint for Akron Green Ribbon Panel, developed the idea for the Summit of Sustainability Awards program to not only recognize those Summit County organizations that have taken up the sustainability challenge but also to share these best sustainable business practices with all businesses in Summit County and beyond.
These practices can then be emulated by organizations that may not know where to begin on a sustainability plan. Each year the winning applications with coordinating professional videos will be displayed on the program website at www.SummitOfSustainability.org.
The City of Akron, Summit County, Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce and ReWorks were eager to join in on this program and, along with Keep Akron Beautiful, are the founding partners of The Summit of Sustainability Awards.
Now in its second year, The Summit of Sustainability Awards added two Sustainability Symposiums to provide attendees with sustainability mentoring from SOSA 2012 winners and sponsors, energy savings contacts from FirstEnergy and COSE/Dominion, and SOSA 2013 application clarification from SOSA committee members.
SOSA 2013 program applicants were judged on their implementation of business sustainability plans and the significance of their results and metrics when evaluated against the organization’s size and available resources.
Esteemed judges reviewed each applicant’s energy, building, waste and water management, chemical management, purchasing program, environmental awareness and green innovation. Over the following pages, we are proud to recognize the five Summit County 2013 winners whose efforts embody people, planet and prosperity.
1. Winner, Large Business Category -- GOJO Industries Inc.
2. Winner, Mid-Size Business Category -- Kent Elastomer Products Inc.
3. Winner, NonProfit Category -- The Akron Marathon
4. Winner, Public Sector Category -- City of Twinsburg
5. Winner, Small Business Category -- Ms. Julie’s Kitchen
Twelve years ago, EY decided to go global with its Entrepreneur Of The Year awards and establish the World Entrepreneur Of The Year program — and the results have been, shall we say, an international success. The conference, held annually in Monaco, features Entrepreneur Of The Year country winners competing for the World Entrepreneur Of The Year title.
Assembling business leaders from around the world in one place to be honored is a huge accomplishment — the wealth of experience, as well as the variety of successful leadership styles, is outstanding.
Here are some thoughts from the collection of the world’s most accomplished entrepreneurs — innovators, futurists, turnaround specialists and problem-solvers — about leadership styles. ●
“I built the company based on people, not on experience from before. They were willing to learn and try anything. We had a bunch of people who had never done this before. None of us had run companies. None of us had worked in high levels of companies. None of us were from Fortune 500s. Chobani not only became a business that grew, but Chobani was like a school to us, including myself.”
founder, president and CEO
Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 United States
2013 Entrepreneur Of The World
“Early on, the business was centered on me, and I had to make all the decisions alone. Now I share those decisions with my 10 main directors. If there are differences in opinion, I make the last decision.
The other thing is that I have had to ensure that the people who are invited to work here are people with principles, values, integrity, responsibility and passion. If I don’t see a person with passion, they don’t hang around the company very long.”
Lorenzo Barrera Segovia
founder and CEO
Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 Mexico
“I’m a very passionate person, which will never change. When you grow, you gain more experience and the kind of problems you face change. As you grow, you need to grow with your organization.”
Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 Argentina
“In the startup days, you have to be very innovative, hire and retain talent, refine your business as you deploy in the marketplace, and you learn things from it. Today, with a solid track record of business success, I can focus on what’s next and think more strategic and long-term than you’re allowed to in the early days. My style has evolved as the business has matured.”
Chevron Energy Solutions
“Entrepreneurship and leadership is about always having ideas, knowing that it is possible even though everyone says it is too difficult. Maintain the positive and always have new ideas.”
Mario Hernandez, founder and president, Marroquinera
Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 Colombia
“To keep the entrepreneurial spirit and entrepreneurship alive once you've got past the startup base, I think it is making sure people understand why they are there. There are always things you can do to improve your business. You should be rethinking and retooling it every chance you get. The key thing is to make sure everybody in the organization understands the story, where are you going — how are you going to get there? And the belief that you are doing the right thing —people want to know their purpose. Keep the energy going, keep a strong sense of purpose.”
Dr. Alan Ulsifer
CEO, president and chair
Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 Canada
“The skill sets of an entrepreneur involve understanding how to create business. Why not work with kids who need it the most and actually teach them and help them to be entrepreneurs? That’s what is going to grow our economy and create stability where otherwise we’re going to have a lot of social unrest.”
President and CEO
Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship
“I like to be involved. I want to know everything that is going on. But I have to delegate to my team. That was the biggest adjustment for me, and it’s not an easy thing to do. It’s that delegating to others, trusting them and reinventing yourself. Now that we’ve grown, I put more responsibility on my team and rely on my team more than I once did.”
President and founder
SME Entertainment Group
“If someone makes a mistake, what do you do? You laugh with them. You don’t yell at them. You laugh. It just keeps things light and lively and people want to do their very best. You let them know they screwed up, but you also let them know it’s OK.”
National Heritage Academies
Leaders often talk about how the traits of accountability and transparency helped make them who they are, but to retired Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, who served as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for four years under President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, leadership is quite simply how you listen, learn and lead.
It’s not just a coincidence that communication is as important in the war zone as it is in an organization — and that’s where Mullen emphasizes listening to what his team members have on their minds.
Smart Business talked with Mullen about the challenges of being in command:
Q. What do you see as the most important trait that any leader must possess?
A. Integrity. Be true to yourself, and obviously true to your values. The value of integrity intrinsically has been a driver for me since I was a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy. It has served me exceptionally well.
Integrity encompasses being honest, truthful and consistent — both publicly and privately in leadership positions — and representing that in every situation. It is most evident in the toughest decisions you have to make.
Q. And how can you ensure integrity is present in leadership?
A. What I loved about command was the responsibility and authority that came with it. But more than anything else, the other piece was accountability — accountable leadership. That is not just having someone hold you accountable, but having enough strength yourself as a leader to hold yourself accountable.
I just found that even with those decisions that can be very unpopular, if you are true to that value of integrity, even if it may not seem to some to be the best decision, it [integrity] holds you in the best stead as a leader over the long term. And because of that, it becomes incredibly supportive of those very, very tough decisions.
Q. So what can help a leader make those tough decisions more effectively?
A. As a more senior leader, I learned to keep a diversity of views around me. The more senior I got, the more diverse the people, the recommendations and the discussions had to be in order for me to make the right decision.
I had people around me who were willing to say, ‘Hey, this is when you got it wrong,’ as opposed to the opposite, which is isolation, where nobody will tell the emperor [he] doesn’t have any clothes on.
Q. You’ve mentioned the importance of listening to others in order to help you become a better leader. How did you do that?
A. Everywhere I went, whether we had a town hall meeting or we could call an all-hands meeting, I would take questions from the audience. So, for example, when a young enlisted man would give me a question of which I didn’t know the answer, I said, “I don’t know the answer, but give me your email address. I will go research it and get back to you.”
I did that. I went back and looked at whatever their concern was. And some of those concerns generated significant changes in the military, or in the particular service they were in. For me, as chairman, that was a vital part of trying to understand what I was asking them to do, and then taking that feedback and trying to fix the problem that they raised — if it made sense to do it.
A good leader can make such a difference, and create something out of nothing, whereas a bad leader is unable to do that. The ingredient that makes a difference is leadership. ●
Retired Navy Adm. Mike Mullen served more than 43 years in the Navy, having served as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011, and as chief of naval operations from 2005 to 2007. He will be the keynote speaker at the Dec. 5 American Red Cross Hero Awards. Learn more about the Hero Awards at www.clevelandheroes.com.
Saving money on 2013 taxes, health care reform and hiring best practices are among the topics featured in November’s Insights articles
SeibertKeck: How the wealthy can prevent coverage gaps in their personal insurance
Kevin Franczkowski, Client advisor
Accounting & Consulting
SS&G: How wealthy families can centrally manage assets through family offices
Floyd Trouten, Director, Tax
Banking & Finance
FirstMerit Bank: How business owners can profit from expanded, enhanced SBA lending
Tim Dixon, SBA program manager, senior vice president
Brouse McDowell: How to vet a job candidate and reduce legal risk
Karen C. Lefton, Partner, Labor & Employment practice group
Sequent: How dropping health insurance benefits may not save you money
William F. Hutter, CEO
Retirement Planning Services
Tegrit Group: How to prepare for, survive and thrive after a retirement audit
Mike Spickard, CEO, Chief Actuary
Cendrowski Corporate Advisors: How an operational assessment can help an organization identify risk
James P. Martin, CMA, CIA, CFE, Managing director
Novack and Macey: How understanding damages is critical in commercial litigation
Eric N. Macey, Partner
Benefitdecisions: How the DOMA ruling has changed benefit plans
Stephanie Martinez, PHR, Director, HR Services
HealthLink: How to fulfill your Affordable Care Act responsibilities
Mark Haegele, Director, sales and account management
CompManagement: How to get workers' compensation discounts for things you already do
Randy Jones, Senior vice president, TPA Operations
RiskSOURCE Clark-Theders: How to protect your company against cyberthreats
Jayce Stewart, MBA, Commercial Risk Consultant
WTP Advisors: Distributors, software firms, architects, others missing tax savings
Amit Mathur, CPA, Director
Fay Sharpe LLP: Why your U.S. patent won’t help you overseas
John S. Zanghi, Partner
Accounting & Consulting
Skoda Minotti: Moves you can make now to save money on your 2013 tax return
Steve Gross, CPA, Partner
John Carroll University: How to react when you suspect an employee of fraud
Mariah Webinger, Ph.D., Assistant professor of accountancy
Leverity Insurance Group: How to rebuild your business in the event of a catastrophe
Derek M. Hoch, President
CRESCO: How to get the most from your property management services
Eliot Kijewski, SIOR, Senior vice president, CRESCO
Judy L. Simon, CPM, Assistant vice president, Continental Realty
Rea & Associates: How your business can get tax benefits from research activities
Christopher E. Axene, CPA, Principal, Tax Services
Kegler, Brown, Hill & Ritter: How to deal with cybersquatters and other domain name issues
Jeff Nein, Associate
Ohio.net: How to implement cutting-edge VoIP technologies with a dash of caution
Alex Desberg, Sales and marketing director
SeibertKeck: How the wealthy can prevent coverage gaps in their personal insurance
Marc McTeague, President
Crowe Horwath: How to apply accounting rules for related-party transactions
Wayne Williams, Partner
Banking & Finance
First State Bank: How local banks offer better service and drive your hometown economy
Eugene Lovell, President and CEO
Weaver: How forensic accountants and the public sector combat fraud
Trish Fritsche, CPA, CFF, CITP, CGMA, Senior manager, Forensics and Litigation Services
Momentous Insurance Brokerage: How to achieve cost savings by managing workers’ comp claims
Kimaili “Ken” Davis, ARM, Assistant vice president
Los Angeles/Orange County
Woodbury University: How non-profit financial practices can boost for-profit businesses
Kenneth Jones, Vice president for finance and administration, CFO
Los Angeles/Orange County/Northern California
Banking & Finance
California Bank & Trust: How to enhance sales with merchant services
Jan Mitrovich, Manager, Treasury Management, Merchant Services
Ropers Majeski Kohn & Bentley PC: How to weigh the pros and cons of SIRs vs. deductibles
Michael T. Ohira, Partner
Montage Insurance: Unlocking health care reform: A look at the individual mandate
Tobias Kennedy, Executive vice president
Human Resources Outsourcing
TriNet: How the process of attracting and hiring employees has changed
Mary Oslin, Manager, Talent Acquisition
Accounting & Consulting
Moss Adams LLP: How fair value reporting is hitting your company’s books
Bryan Cartwright, Financial services assurance partner
California State University, East Bay: How more market oversight delivers better investment in private equity
Sinan Goktan, Ph.D., Assistant professor of finance, College of Business and Economics
Sensiba San Filippo: How health care reform demands a strategic approach from businesses
Bill Norwalk, Tax partner-in-charge
Wealth Management & Finance
Mosaic Financial Partners: How personality styles affect performance and team synergy
Ricci M. Victorio, CSP, CPCC, ACC, Managing partner
Ropers Majeski Kohn & Bentley PC: How civil cases can be settled with alternative dispute resolution
Brock R. Lyle, Partner
Banking & Finance
Bridge Bank: How to discover resources available to California businesses
Gloria Ferguson, Senior vice president, market manager, Corporate Banking Division
Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth: How the JOBS Act makes it easier for companies to raise money
Mark L. Skaist, Shareholder, co-chair, Corporate and Securities
ECBM: Transparency in purchasing benefits, the time has come
Matthew R. Huttlin, Vice president, Employee Benefits Division
Comcast Business: How Ethernet helps businesses realize cloud computing potential
Kevin Conmy, Regional vice president, Business Services
Semanoff Ormsby Greenberg & Torchia: How letters of intent provide a road map for business transactions
Peter J. Smith, Member
Accounting & Consulting
Kreischer Miller: How business owners are paying key employees for performance
Tyler A. Ridgeway, Director, Human Capital Resources
First Commonwealth Bank: Business development in a male dominated energy industry
Megan A. White, Vice President, Regional Manager
SMC Consulting: How design firms add certainty, cost efficiency to office furniture selection
Kelly Colamarino, Interior designer
ChamberChoice: How to create flexible, employee-centric benefits that reduce overhead
Ron Carmassi, Sales executive
UPMC Health Plan: How population health management delivers better, lower cost outcomes
Dr. Marc Manley, M.P.H., Vice president, Population Health Management, UPMC Insurance Services Division
Brown Smith Wallace: How the ACA and the end of Bush-era cuts affect tax strategy
Cathy Goldsticker, CPA, Partner, Tax Services
Businesses in certain industries frequently overlook the Interest-Charge Domestic International Sales Corporation (IC-DISC) provisions of the tax code, which encourage U.S. manufacturing and exporting. The incentive essentially reduces the top federal tax rate on income from certain qualified goods and services from 39.6 percent to 20 percent.
“Because it is thought of as only a manufacturer’s incentive, many companies in certain eligible industries have never heard of the IC-DISC, or have summarily dismissed the incentive,” says Amit Mathur, CPA, director at WTP Advisors.
Rob MacKinlay, president of Cohen & Company, says, “Distributors, as well as industries that produce certain products and services, repeatedly overlook the IC-DISC. We have helped many of these companies realize that they are indeed eligible for the significant and easy-to-implement savings from this federal incentive that does not disrupt business operations whatsoever.”
Smart Business spoke with Mathur and some of the top accounting firms in the region about the IC-DISC and some of the industries that frequently miss, or underutilize, the valuable incentive.
Can distributors, brokers use an IC-DISC?
Distributors of U.S.-made products are eligible for IC-DISC benefits on those goods that are exported. Since many distributors have been told that they do not qualify for the ‘Domestic Production Activities’ deduction, which does indeed require manufacture by the taxpayer claiming the deduction, they have assumed that they aren’t eligible to use an IC-DISC.
“While the exported goods must be finished in the U.S., both the final manufacturer as well as the distributor that does the actual exporting are eligible to use the IC-DISC. Unfortunately, both parties often miss out on the opportunity,” says Jim Bowen, tax partner at Bober Markey Fedorovich.
Are architects and engineers entitled to claim savings under this provision?
Architectural and engineering services furnished in connection with foreign construction projects and facility expansions can qualify for IC-DISC benefits.
“Regardless where the architectural and engineering services are performed, and even if the project never comes to fruition, such services are eligible,” says Pete Chudyk, senior tax shareholder at Maloney + Novotny.
Can software firms save with the IC-DISC?
Licenses and sales of software programs used abroad, as well as in Canada and Mexico, may be eligible for IC-DISC benefits.
Mike Luxeder, tax director at Libman Goldstine Kopperman & Wolf says, “Software companies should examine where their products are ultimately used. The IRS recently clarified its position that software sales, licenses and royalties can indeed qualify for the IC-DISC.”
How might recyclers use the IC-DISC?
Recycled products, as long as they undergo the requisite amount of U.S. manufacturing and are ultimately exported, can be eligible for the IC-DISC. The IC-DISC tax regulations consider any product to be manufactured in the U.S. if at least 20 percent of the costs to produce the product are related to U.S. labor and factory burden. This includes labor related to destroying, cleaning and treating scrap or waste materials such as metals.
How can food producers and growers get the benefits of this tax provision?
Products that are ‘manufactured, produced, grown or extracted’ in the U.S., and are ultimately exported, are eligible for the IC-DISC. Ohio’s chief agricultural exports, such as soy and corn, are often missed. Raw, processed and semi-processed foods, livestock, pelts, etc., are also eligible.
Many farmers and ranchers, particularly those selling through certain cooperatives, are just now starting to realize the opportunity to participate in the tax savings from the IC-DISC.
If you’ve passed over the IC-DISC before because you’ve bought into the notion that this incentive is only for manufacturers and exporters, you may be losing money. There are many industries that can draw a benefit. However, it’s advisable that you contact a specialist to help your business navigate the complex rules. ●
Insights Tax Incentives is brought to you by WTP Advisors
Population health management is becoming an increasingly popular concept for health care organizations. Population health management — defined as an approach to health that aims to improve the health of an entire population — goes far beyond the concept of only treating patients in need of immediate care.
“Population health management helps health care delivery organizations better manage all aspects of health, from wellness to complex care,” says Dr. Marc Manley, vice president of Population Health Management for UPMC Health Plan. “Population health management has the ability to deliver better health outcomes at a lower cost.”
Smart Business spoke with Manley about population health management and how it will affect health care results and costs.
Why is population health management getting more attention now?
Population health management is gaining more attention because the fee-for-service model is going away. Hospitals, health care systems and physicians understand that they are living in a world that increasingly rewards those who meet quality objectives for their entire population, not just those who present themselves for care.
Population health management also shows the promise of delivering better health at a lower cost by creating an integrated system of care, rather than forcing consumers to figure out how to make their own way through the current health care system.
Aren’t many factors that influence the health of a population beyond the scope of any care organization?
There are many factors that influence the health of a region: environmental factors, economic factors, the social structure, etc. But many health care organizations are already involved in community efforts to improve health. In a lot of ways, population health management complements these organized efforts by addressing factors that impact an entire population. Population health management also puts added emphasis on reducing health care delivery inequities.
How does population health management impact providers?
Most clinicians already recognize the limitations of traditional care in keeping people healthy, and they’re looking for ways to be more effective. But preparing for population health management requires a significant change for providers.
Providers will no longer be rewarded for doing more, but rather for producing quality outcomes more efficiently. Providers need to assess the health of their entire population across the entire spectrum of health — that includes those who are well, and who can stay well by getting appropriate preventive services. Those who have health risks need help changing their health behaviors in order not to develop the diseases for which they are at risk. For those with chronic conditions, providers can prevent further complications by closing care gaps and working on health behaviors.
Technology will have a key role in population health management, as it can help to assess and stratify patients and target interventions to the right people.
What are the objectives of population health management?
Population health management strives to keep a patient population as healthy as possible, thereby minimizing the need for costly interventions such as emergency department visits, hospitalizations, imaging tests and procedures. In addition to being less costly, it redefines health care as being more than just reactive sick care. By considering the needs of an entire population, population health management systematically addresses the preventive and chronic care needs of every patient.
What is essential to make this work?
First of all, it will require those of us involved with health care to think in new ways and be willing to try new things. It will also require new financial arrangements in health care that reward positive health outcomes, not more services. And there must be a strong technology foundation, including Web-based tools for patients and providers, and data systems that support analytics across a wide spectrum of inpatient, outpatient, post-acute and community services. ●
Insights Health Care is brought to you by UPMC Health Plan
Workplace dynamics continue to change. Regardless of industry, employers need to set themselves apart.
“With more women in the workforce, a divorce rate of 50 percent creating more single parents, and a significant increase in mobile or remote employees, the need for a competitive and employee-centric benefits package is critical,” says Ron Carmassi, a sales executive at JRG Advisors, the management arm of ChamberChoice.
“A package that includes voluntary benefits will help attract and retain quality employees, while at the same time reducing overhead and improving morale. A win-win scenario,” he says.
Smart Business spoke with Carmassi about how your company can use voluntary benefits to create flexibility for employees, while saving money on benefit premiums and underwriting.
What are voluntary benefits?
Voluntary benefits consist of a variety of insurance products offered at the workplace through the convenience of payroll deduction. They can be added to your current benefits package.
Employers might offer a mix of products including critical illness, cancer, accident, disability, life, pet, auto, homeowners insurance and more. Employees then have the flexibility to choose the coverage that fits their personal needs and budget.
What is the value of voluntary benefits?
The needs of each employee vary based on family and financial dynamics. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for benefits in today’s work environment.
Full-time employees still expect their employer to provide some level of health insurance. However, they are looking for additional offerings to protect themselves and their families. One employee may have a need for pet insurance. Another may have young children and find peace of mind in an accident plan. While another has a family history of cancer, thereby finding great value in a cancer policy.
In addition to choice, voluntary benefits offer a one-stop shopping experience, making it easier for employees to purchase insurance that typically is not offered at the workplace, such as auto and homeowners. These types of benefit packages also often have discounted premiums and/or reduced underwriting.
What is the future of voluntary benefits?
There is a marked increase in the number of employers offering a defined contribution model, which provides a complementary platform for voluntary products. A defined contribution or cafeteria-style approach offers choice among medical, dental and vision benefits and also includes a variety of voluntary benefits.
The defined contribution model allows employers to identify a specific dollar amount or ‘defined contribution’ for each employee, typically by coverage tier. Each employee selects benefits based on their individual needs. Any costs in excess of the defined contribution allowance are the responsibility of the employee.
The defined contribution model gets away from the one-size-fits-all mentality and allows employees greater choice while offering the employer more budget certainty.
How can business owners get started with adding voluntary benefits to their benefits package?
Voluntary benefits are a great way to enhance your benefits package, differentiate from competitors and increase employee satisfaction — all with little or no impact on your budget.
Work with your advisor to decide what voluntary product offering makes sense for your team and educate your employees on the advantages of these voluntary benefits so you both can reap the rewards. ●
Insights Employee Benefits is brought to you by ChamberChoice