Spring Spotlight: Aadil Ikram

We hope these behind-the-scenes employee spotlights give you a better idea of who we are, what we do and what it’s like to work at Spring. Next up we have Aadil: part bartender, part chef and part consultant-in-the-making.

Title: Consulting AnalystSpring Consulting Analyst

Joined Spring in: December of 2015

At work: At Spring, Aadil takes on project management responsibilities and is particularly focused on captive feasibility studies, disability management outsourcing and data analytics. He is also charged with the extremely important initiative of the Friday happy hour drink cart 🙂

Outside-of-work: When not working on client projects and presentations, Aadil loves playing with his dog, Nemo, and golfing when the weather’s nice. He also enjoys cooking and he’s not half-bad; we’ve been lucky enough to try some of his specialty dishes here at the office!

Favorite season: “I like the fall best, because where I come from (Pakistan) it’s only one season throughout the whole year. So experiencing the change in season from summer to fall and watching the leaves change color is really beautiful, in my opinion.”

Favorite flower: “Lilies – don’t ask me why though.” Okay, we won’t.

Favorite food: Aadil’s a big fan of Japanese food, especially traditional sushi. However he’s very adamant about not having avocados in his sushi.

Favorite part about working at Spring: Aadil loves the people at Spring and the teams he gets to work with. He also notes that, “Everyone is very collaborative. The culture is inclusive and everyone’s voice is heard.”

What’s the best vacation you’ve ever taken and why? “My senior year of college, a group of about 35 of us when to the Dominican Republic for spring break. It was the last trip we all took together and it was a perfect, bittersweet closing to my college days.” He’s been adulting ever since.

Why Voluntary Benefits Are No Longer Voluntary for Employers

Are You Missing an Opportunity?

By Karen English, CPCU, ARM and Lai-Sahn Hackett, CPDM

 

Introduction to Voluntary Benefits

Gone are the days of “voluntary” being frowned upon in the workplace.  We are past the stage of employer unease with the concept and the resulting worry about “selling” to employees.  Instead, voluntary benefits have become a welcome addition – some would even say critical – yielding increasingly competitive employee benefits packages that couldn’t be offered without them.

we are at a point where employers welcome voluntary benefits, yielding increasingly competitive employee benefits packages that couldn’t have been reached without them.Voluntary Benefits Dental Insurance

Voluntary benefits are insurance products or services made available by employers, but paid for by employees.   They are typically offered at lower rates than employees can find on their own, and provide a degree of choice beyond an employer’s core benefit offering.  There are a number of insurance carriers that underwrite them with products ranging from traditional life, disability, dental and vision to emerging concepts such as critical illness, identity theft protection and student loan repayment.

Employers like voluntary benefits because they make their packages stronger and tailored to the wants and needs of their specific workforce. Employees like them because they are easily accessible, pre-vetted, discounted and more diverse than traditional benefits. Carriers, brokers and consultants like them because they are a needed extension of employer core offerings.

Employer Need

Voluntary Employee BenefitsIn today’s competitive environment, employers are striving to maintain relevant benefit offerings despite increasing costs and the continuing uncertainty of healthcare reform.  The constant need to attract and retain talent and increase productivity is even further challenged by evolving workforce demographics and degree of consumerism being applied to every interaction. Further, a recent survey found that sixty percent of employees are likely to take a job with lower pay but better benefits, emphasizing the importance of a robust benefits program made possible, in part, through voluntary products1.

However, it should not be looked at with a one-size-fits-all approach. Employers can no longer look across their employee populations and make a short list of benefits that will fulfill their collective needs.  With millennials now equaling the baby boomers in number, and generation X’ers on their way to surpassing both, employers need to think about not only age and gender, but also personas within these segments, such as what is warranted by income and lifestyle2.

Market Response

In recognition of these needs, insurance carriers have expanded their capabilities beyond what are typically core employer-paid benefits to what are often referred to as supplemental employee-paid benefits that can either be stand-alone or structured as buy-ups to core plans.  This expansion has opened up possibilities for employers, as they are no longer subject to a subset of specialty carriers and brokers with limited and often self-serving products. They instead can turn to over twenty3 of the most recognized life and health carriers to fulfill the widespread needs of their employees.Voluntary Benefits Trends

These carriers are partnering with employers, brokers and consultants to design voluntary programs that will resonate with employee populations.  Whether it is employee health, wealth, security and/or personal needs that an employer is looking to address, the products that can respond are broad, appealing and growing.  Considering the category of health, for example – accident, critical illness, dental and hospital indemnity are among the most common voluntary benefits offered4.  Within the category of wealth – optional disability, financial counseling and student loan repayment are highly popular. With respect to security, identity theft protection is projected to be the fastest growing voluntary benefit and within the personal sphere, pet insurance is following suit5.

How to Get Started

If you are grappling with how to find that happy medium for your workforce, taking the following steps will give you a start.

1. First and foremost, assess what your employees are interested in. At this point of conducting employee surveys and/or focus groups, you aren’t making any promises, just trying to listen and understand which voluntary products would be more valued than others.Voluntary Benefits Prices

2. Armed with this information, consider what your population can afford. You may find, for example, that six voluntary products are of most interest to your workforce. This doesn’t mean that employees can afford to buy all six.  In fact, we find that no matter how many are offered, employees purchase no more than three voluntary products at any given time6.

3. From here, think about resources to enroll and administer voluntary benefits. You may already have a technology platform you will want to leverage, or existing relationships with a set of carriers and enrollment firms that can help streamline the process.

Employee Benefits Communications4. Lastly and most importantly, contemplate not only how you will communicate their availability, but ultimately why employees should consider them. Employee education is critical to the reception of voluntary benefits, and the value proposition or “need” has to be clear for a benefit to even be considered7. This need should ideally be developed and communicated prior to the enrollment period, not during enrollment when the employee has likely already made up their mind and is not as open to processing new information.

Conclusion

In closing, the world of voluntary benefits looks very different than it did even five years ago. This shift is a result of a variety of factors including the rising costs of healthcare, changing workforce demographics, the increasing customizability of services in general, and the growing challenges presented by recruitment and retention. We are at a moment in time where stakeholders – employers, employees, carriers, brokers/consultants and more – are aligned and where there are great options for all parties.  The opportunities are endless and can be considered as a short-term strategy for now, with a longer-term view established based on the initial roll-out results.

 

Sources:

2016 Aflac WorkForces Report, op.cit
Pew Research Center, Millennials Overtake Baby Boomers as America’s Largest Generation, April 25, 2016
3 Spring Consulting Group and Gen Re Voluntary Pulse Market Update, 2016
4 Spring Consulting Group and GenRe Voluntary Market Pulse, 2016
5 Willis Towers Watson Voluntary Benefits Survey, 2016
6 Spring Consulting Group and GenRe Voluntary Employee Pulse, 2015
7 Spring Consulting Group and GenRe Voluntary Employee Pulse, 2016

 

Spring Spotlight: Michelle Chivian

What is it we do over here? Consulting, actuarial services, health insurance – that’s all well and good, but who are we? We’re looking to clear things up and put some faces to our name, especially since we’ve been blooming with new team members lately. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the Spring team. Next up is Michelle.

Spring Consulting Group CareersTitle: Executive Assistant

Joined Spring in: December of 2014

At work: Michelle is pretty much Karin Landry’s (Spring’s Managing Partner) right-hand person. While she is dedicated to making sure all runs smoothly in Karin’s crazy busy work life, Michelle has also embraced the opportunity to help the entire company. She takes on certain office managerial responsibilities (i.e. we have her to thank for our monthly birthday lunches and birthday celebrations!) and enjoys being here to assist in whatever might come up.

Outside-of-work: When not here coordinating a myriad of logistics, Michelle loves to cook and travel. She and her husband have a passion for wine, having both worked in the industry, and enjoy going out for wine dinners as well as staying in with a home-cooked meal. Wine and food: the perfect pairing. Michelle is also quite the jet-setter – she’s heading to Paris this summer and heads out to Napa Valley about once a year!

Favorite season: “People might hate me for saying this, but I love winter! I love the snow and the freshness of the air. I like taking walks on the beach with no one else there – not to mention my birthday’s in the winter too!” Well, Boston is a great place for winter-lovers (they do exist).

Favorite flower: “I love hydrangeas – especially antique hydrangeas which are super colorful and blossom in the fall.”

Favorite food: Michelle comes from a big Italian family, so it’s no surprise that her favorite food genre is Italian. While she likes going out to eat, she actually prefers her own cooking, and especially loves her homemade meat sauce.

Favorite part about working at Spring: “The uncertainty of what each day will bring – in a good way. Every day is a new challenge and that’s fun and exciting to me.” Michelle loves working with Karin, who she notes is both kind and funny. Overall, Michelle likes that she is always busy and enjoys being able to help.

If you weren’t here at Spring doing a wonderful job, what would you be doing? “I would probably be doing volunteer work with Dana-Farber, at the children’s hospital. It’s an amazing organization and ultimately how I’d want to spend my time. Oh, and traveling the world too, of course!”

Spring to Present at VCIA Annual Conference

Captive InsuranceThe Vermont Captive Insurance Association (VCIA), established in 1985, is the world’s largest trade association for captive insurance. In addition to various networking and educational opportunities throughout the year, the VCIA also brings together over 1000 global captive experts and professionals once a year at their annual conference in Burlington, Vermont. Spring, an active member of the organization for over a decade, is proud to be sponsoring and presenting at this year’s conference, which will take place from August 8th to 10th.

Among the event’s impressive and educational lineup of speakers will be our very own Partner, Teri Weber. Teri’s presentation, “Cyber Security and Captives (Part 2): How to Stay One Step Ahead“, will take place on Wednesday, August 9th from 3-4 PM and will focus on some of Spring’s recent survey results regarding the integration Cyber Insuranceof cyber and captive insurance. Teri will discuss current benchmarks and trends related to the funding of cyber insurance through captives and give advice for those who may be considering this approach. If you’re a captive expert with cyber security concerns (doesn’t everyone have those nowadays?), you’ll want to join us for this session.

The conference will also address issues like:

  • Captive governance best practices
  • Tax updates
  • Health care benefits captives
  • Maximizing your captive
  • & more

But we’re not just speaking at the VCIA Annual Conference, we’re sponsoring too! So please be sure to stop by booth #2 and pick our team’s brains on all things captive insurance. Until then, you might be interested in our recent white paper: Funding Medical Stop-Loss Insurance in Captives: What You Need to Know.

Spring to Present at DMEC Annual Conference

ADisability Managements the DMEC (Disability Management Employer Coalition) celebrates its 25 anniversary, Spring is celebrating its 9th year in a row attending the DMEC Annual Conference. This year’s event will be held from July 31st to August 3rd in Anaheim, California and will bring together over 700 professionals in the employee absence and disability management fields. As a regular DMEC sponsor, Spring is thrilled to continue its involvement in and support of the organization – one of our Partners, Karen English, is on the DMEC Executive Advisory Board and another Partner, Teri Weber, will be presenting at this year’s annual conference.

Teri will be joining the Vice President of Benefits and the FMLA/Disability Manager – both of Memorial Sloan Kettering – in a presentation entitled “Accommodation…It’s Not Just Return to Work.” The ADA Compliance discussion, which will take place from 8:30-9:30 AM on Thursday, August 3rd, will focus on innovative employer trends when it comes to the ADA. Teri will explain how to go above and beyond mere compliance (and why you should) and institute a more comprehensive, proactive disability model involving additional stakeholders. If your company is looking to be a thought leader in this realm, be sure to join!

Other topics addressed at the conference include:

  • Mental health at work
  • Paid parental leave (especially during Trump’s presidency)
  • Employee productivity & retention
  • Workplace violence
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Informal care-giving
  • Handling complicated FMLA requests
  • Drug abuse in the workplace
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Mobile approaches to compliance
  • Early disability intervention
  • & more!

If you’re lucky enough to be able to attend the 2017 DMEC Annual Conference, you’ll hear from speakers from companies like GlaxoSmithKline, American Electric Power, T-Mobile, Starwood Hotels and Nike, among many others. Additionally, Spring is a proud event sponsor, so be sure to stop by booth 314 and say hello to our team in between networking receptions and MLB baseball games!

In the meantime, you might be interested in reading our white paper: Managing an Absent Workforce: A Guide to the Family Medical Leave Act.

Spring at the DMEC Compliance Conference

In an industry with regulations that are constantly changing, it’s important for professionals in the Benefits and Absence Management fields to come together and make sure everyone is up to speed. As such, we were happy to be able to attend the DMEC (Disability Management Employer Coalition) FMLA/ADA Employer Compliance conference in Minneapolis earlier this month. Spring has a long-standing relationship with the 25-year old DMEC, having presented at and sponsored many of their annual events since 2008. One of our partners, Karen English, sits on the DMEC Executive Advisory Board and as such was excited to be able to make it to Minneapolis for the event.

Topics addressed at this year’s compliance conference included increasing FMLA access to paid family and sick leave, the importance of documentation, how to make sure employees are also aware and adhering to the FMLA, how to go above and beyond the ADA instead of doing only what’s required, how to deal with intermittent leaves, how to impact or reduce leave and various other issues.

The Spring team will also be attending and sponsoring DMEC’s Annual Conference in Anaheim, CA from July 31st to August 3rd. If you’ll be there too, be sure to stop by booth #314 and say hello!

Spring to Sponsor NEEBC’s Annual Employee Benefits Summit

Spring is excited to be sponsoring the New England Employee Benefits Council (NEEBC) annual summit and trade show again this year. NEEBC, with over 1,350 members to date, has been bringing together HR and Benefits professionals from the New England area since 1979 – providing ample educational sessions and networking events so that everyone can learn and grow from one another. Spring has been a proud partner of NEEBC for about ten years, staying actively involved with events and programs. As one of our partners, Teri Weber, sits on the NEEBC board as Vice President of Programs, we have enjoyed a close relationship with the organization for many years and are happy to be sponsoring their upcoming conference.Employee Benefits New England

This year’s Annual Employee Benefits Summit and Trade Show, themed “Riding the Winds of Change: Strategies for Success” will take place on Wednesday, May 24th at the Newton Marriott. Several Spring team members will be in attendance to support the organization, take advantage of its informational sessions, and meet with both familiar and new faces within the industry. Speakers will include the Managing Director of Tuckson Health Connections, the VP of Total Rewards at BJ’S Wholesale Club, a Health Economist from Harvard Medical School and several others. Sessions will cover a range of topics like behavioral health financial wellness.

If you’ll be joining us and other industry professionals at this year’s NEEBC Summit, please be sure to to stop and chat with a Spring team member – we’d love to meet you!

 

 

 

 

Spring Spotlight: Nick Frongillo

The term “consultant” is fairly vague, the term “actuary” is fairly confusing, and the term “captive insurance” is fairly unknown among many crowds. We’re looking to clear things up and put some faces to our name, especially since we’ve been blooming with new team members lately. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the Spring team. Next up is Nick.

Title: Actuarial AnalystActuarial Services

Joined Spring in: May of 2014 – just celebrated his 3 year springversary!

At work: In case you’re thinking, “what the heck is an actuary?”, here’s what Nick is focused on at Spring: pricing work for our clients, including reserving for health, disability and life insurance.

Outside-of-work: Nick is a huge Boston sports fan so he spends a fair amount of time keeping up-to-date on our beloved teams. But he doesn’t just watch them – he also plays in a recreational basketball league when he’s not here crunching numbers.

Favorite season: Summer. He’s glad we’re finally feeling the first lasting glimpses of warm weather around here.

Favorite flower: “Let me Google kinds of flowers really quickly…okay, a tulip I guess.” Men.

Favorite food: Seafood. He picked a good location for it.

Favorite part about working a Spring: “I like that our smaller size gives me access to the partners and executives that I might not have elsewhere. I’ve learned a lot in a short amount of time as a result of such exposure.”

Do you have any unreasonable fears? “I really hate snakes!” We can’t say that’s unreasonable, but okay, noted.