January HR News Roundup

diverse employees interacting

Our January roundup of HR news features information on benefit trends for 2019, how to improve meeting quality, what to do when a favorite team member leaves your organization, and more. Take a look!


Benefit Trends for 2019

Wondering what will win the benefits popularity contest this year? According to a recent SHRM article, six trends will be central in 2019. First, if you’re part of a large organization, you may soon be able to offer health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), which would give your employees the opportunity to purchase their own coverage, rather than using the group coverage your organization sponsors. Employers will also start to create direct contracts with doctors and hospitals in an effort to offer value-based care. Paid parental and caregiver leave, as well as mental health benefits, will likely get a boost. Employees will look for greater personalization in voluntary benefits. And finally, technology will expand to incorporate decision-making tools and make life easier for employees.

Creating a Culture of Curiosity

When Zander Lurie became CEO of SurveyMonkey, he wanted to know what customers valued about the company’s offerings…and what made employees excited to come to work. The resounding answer? Curiosity. Lurie’s recent article in the Harvard Business Review dives into how his company celebrates that curiosity as part of their culture. They have town hall meetings, where they answer a question of the week chosen from employee surveys. Their peer recognition program rewards those who speak up. And one of the highest forms of praise comes in the format of a hashtag — #greatquestion. Lurie regularly talks with employees of all levels, sponsors company hackathons, and embraces diversity, among many other things, to create and maintain this culture. “When curiosity ebbs, people lapse into routine and complacency, which exposes a company to disruption,” he wrote. “To prevent that, managers should continually emphasize how important curiosity is—and reward people for developing it.”

Are Your Meetings a Time-Suck?

Do you know what your employees really think about meetings? According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, research shows that 90 percent of people say they daydream during meetings, while 73 percent report using the time to do other work. This isn’t to say that meetings can’t be effective — they certainly can serve to bring employees together and spur the organization’s drive and energy. “So the goal should be not to kill all meetings but to eliminate the ineffective or unnecessary ones and improve the quality of those that remain,” wrote the author. How? Do an objective assessment based on your own observations and others’ feedback. Then, focus on preparation (a mission and agenda items) and facilitation, and reassess.

Do Your Employees Bike or Scoot to Work?

Getting to work means enduring the commute — and that doesn’t necessarily mean sitting in a car. Many have turned to other methods of transportation, such as riding bikes and electric scooters. As bike and scooter rental and sharing services increase in popularity, you might want to consider adding them to your commuter benefits. Consider the risks first, says SHRM. Workers should sign waivers releasing the employer from commute-related liability. You’ll also want to be clear about whether (or more likely, not) commute time counts as work time. Finally, make sure to be inclusive. “Some workers with disabilities may not be able to use bikes or scooters,” a Texas attorney told SHRM. “Therefore, the employer may want to provide a comparable benefit, such as reimbursement for ride-hailing services up to the value of the scooter or bike services.”

Maintaining Morale When a Favorite Team Member Leaves

You dread the thought of a favored team member’s resignation. But it happens. And it’s important to keep morale high among everyone else when it does. What can you do? A recent Harvard Business Review article has three tips. Vocalize appreciation for the departing employee and everything he or she contributed — this will help you connect emotionally with others on the team. Be available for questions…and be transparent with your answers; this will help your team feel more comfortable with the transition. Finally, check in with the team to get their feedback on what’s going well, what needs to change, and what to look for in a potential new hire to fill the open spot. “Your role is to ensure that the work can still be completed,” writes the HBR author, “but also that the team can navigate the social change with ease.”

Written by: Jeannie Krill

January 31, 2019

About the Author

Jeannie Krill at Bright Horizons

As a former Bright Horizons preschool teacher, Jeannie has seen what child care means to clients firsthand. She also offers a view from the Millennials camp, cluing us into what’s challenging today’s largest demographic, and what they really want. She holds a BA in Psychology from Valparaiso University.