Category Archives: Benefits

Why are more people doing gig work? They like it

Source: Cheryl Carleton, The Conversation, March 29, 2018

….The share of Americans doing everything from accounting to driving as independent contractors rose from 10.7 percent in 2005 to 15.8 percent in 2015, according to a study by economists Lawrence Katz at Harvard University and Alan Krueger at Princeton University. The trend was more pronounced among women, they found, rising from 8 to 17 percent.

Based on my prior research regarding labor markets and job satisfaction, I wanted to know if this number was rising so fast partly because Americans enjoy the flexibility these jobs offer….

….The approximately 3,600 people in this nationally representative sample included workers holding down regular jobs, as well as independent contractors and self-employed workers with some degree of control over their schedules. It also included contract employees lacking autonomy and flexibility, such as those working for temp agencies or with on-call obligations.

We also contrasted job satisfaction for employees in managerial or professional roles with workers in blue-collar occupations, and checked whether there were any differences for men and women.

As you might expect, we found that people with more control over their schedules and who could choose to some extent which tasks they would take on are significantly more satisfied with their work than their peers who hold regular salaried jobs – despite losing out on benefits and security…..

Retirement Planning Decisions: Choices Between Defined Benefit and Defined Contribution Plans

Source: Susannah Bruns Ali, Howard A. Frank, The American Review of Public Administration, OnlineFirst, Published April 12, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
As states move toward offering defined contribution retirement plans as an alternative or addition to traditional defined benefit pensions, they need to consider the preferences and long-term consequences for different groups of employees. This study looks at which plan employees choose when given the option of either a defined contribution or defined benefit plan. The strongest driver of that choice is education level where the most educated prefer defined contribution plans and the least educated stay in defined benefit plans. A unique contribution of this study is that we include region of origin as a study and determine that cultural differences influence plan selection. The study also explores the role of sex, age, and tenure. Challenging other studies on financial planning, these findings indicate that sex and age are not significant factors. This research was conducted using data from more than 4,000 employees from Florida International University and an interview with HR professionals. By understanding retirement preferences in a more nuanced way, we can better craft our approaches to retirement security and financial literacy training in public sector organizations.

3 Game-Changing Wellness Trends

Source: Alexander Alonso, HR Magazine, Vol. 63 no. 3, April 2018
(subscription required)

Use of personal data and customized programs could help elevate employees’ work performance….

….While companies that have robust participation in wellness activities are indeed likely to have better organizational outcomes than those that don’t, is that really because of employees’ improved health? The answer is no.

Rather, wellness is a part of defining culture and articulating an organization’s values—a healthy workforce among them. For employees, the programs drive a greater understanding of the company’s culture by linking the culture to their personal outcomes. After all, good health at its core is about workers’ quality of life…..

What Would You Do For A Raise? | 35% of Americans Would Give Up the Right to Vote

Source: Mike Brown, LendEDU, April 3, 2018

….But, just how far would the average worker go to get a bigger paycheck? Would they do something drastic like breakup with their significant other? How about something a little more watered down (for some at least) like giving up watching Game of Thrones? To gauge how far Americans would go to receive an immediate 10 percent raise in their annual wages or salaries, LendEDU asked 1,238 respondents a series of “would you rather” questions where they had to weigh making a steep sacrifice in order to get a nice pay bump…..

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A Third of Americans Would Forfeit Their Voting Rights For a 10% Pay Raise, Says Study
Source: Jennifer Calfas, Time, April 5, 2018

More than a third of Americans would give up their right to vote for a 10% annual pay raise, according to a new survey.

Pause for a second to let that sink in.

The peculiar findings come from a survey conducted by LendEDU, an online student loan marketplace, that polled 1,238 working Americans. In exchange for the hypothetical pay bump, about 35% of these employees said they would sacrifice their voting rights for life. In addition, just over 9% of respondents said they would give up their children’s (or future children’s) right to vote for life for the make-believe raise.

Examining the Impact of Federal Employee Wellness Programs and Employee Resilience in the Federal Workplace

Source: Stephanie A. Pink-Harper and Beth Rauhaus, Journal of Health and Human Services Administration, Vol. 40, No. 3, Winter 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The term “family-friendly” has been broadened to “employee-friendly” to encompass employees who may not benefit from traditional familial benefits. This change in terminology, focusing on employees in a general sense, has not necessarily resulted in policies that are beneficial to a dynamic, diverse public service. As demographics and lifestyles of federal government employees change, human resource policies will need to adapt to meet the needs of this population. This research explores the impact that employee-friendly policies (i.e. family, health, and socio-economic) have on the employee, and the workplace environment. This project attempts to bridge the gap between the theory- driven creation of employee-friendly policies and the practice of beneficial policies that employees will take advantage of. Results suggest that as demographics of the public service change, the need for human resource practices to be modified becomes even more apparent to achieve an appropriate work-life balance. In order to address these challenges, this work offers policy recommendations for increased levels of job satisfaction, which focus on benefits useful in improving federal public servants’ wellness.

Understanding Decisions in State Pension Systems: A System Framework

Source: Gang Chen, The American Review of Public Administration, Vol. 48 no. 3, April 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
State governments establish pension systems to provide retirement benefits to public employees. State governments as sponsors, state legislatures as policy makers, and public-sector unions as representatives of public employees may exert considerable influence over the decisions made in pension systems. This study applies a system framework to examine these influences. It focuses on four decisions in pension systems: benefits, employer contributions, employee contributions, and the asset smoothing period. The findings show that changes in the short- and long-term financial conditions of a state government have different influences on pension decisions, and that legislatures and public employee unions play important roles that affect these decisions.

The investment industry threatens state plans to help workers save – States wrestle with impending retirement crisis as pensions disappear

Source: Jared Bennett, Center for Public Integrity, April 2, 2018

…..Since 2015, Oregon and four other states ­­— California, Illinois, Connecticut and Maryland — have set up these so-called “auto-IRA” programs overseen by the state. Nine more states are considering similar programs this year, among them New York, Missouri and Pennsylvania.

But the investment industry is standing in the way, aggressively deploying trade groups and raising the specter of legal threats to stop the proliferation of these plans. Behemoths such as the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce oppose the plans because they argue the private sector already provides options for workers like Kono. But many small businesses, such as Annastasia Salon, find the private plans too expensive.

The industry’s lobbying efforts look to be winning, as proposed state-run retirement plans are languishing in statehouses around the country…..

The Funded Status of Local Pensions Inches Closer to States

Source: Jean-Pierre Aubry, Caroline V. Crawford and Alicia H. Munnell, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, SLP#58, January 2018

The brief’s key findings are:
– Since 2001, the aggregate funded status of local pension plans has lagged behind that of state plans, but the gap has been closing recently for two reasons.
– First, local plans continue to receive more of their required contributions than state plans and are a bit more likely to use stringent funding methods.
-Second, in recent years, local plans have earned stronger investment returns than state plans, perhaps partly due to a lower allocation to alternative investments.
– Despite this progress, many local plans – like their state counterparts – still face significant funding challenges.

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