Human Resources

Overworked & Understaffed

Recession erodes employee morale and leaves staffs stretched thin.

April 01, 2011
/ PRINT / ShareShare / Text Size +

Wellness programs

To promote consumers’ involvement in their health-care decisions—which also reduces health-care expenses in the long run—regulations regarding wellness programs are included in health-care reform. Wellness programs provide a way for employers to lower the cost of health insurance coverage and reduce expenses, due to a decrease in absenteeism and presenteeism.

Employers can receive premium discounts of up to 30% of the cost of coverage for offering wellness programs to employees. Employers also can offer increased incentives to employees for participating in their wellness programs and for meeting certain health targets.

For employers whose programs meet the PPACA conditions, employees can receive up to a 20% rebate of the portion they pay for the total health insurance premium, the amount they pay in cost-sharing, and co-payment waivers. Employers must offer an alternative to employees who have physical or medical limitations that prevent them from participating or from meeting the health targets.

Employers also must meet requirements regarding wellness program structuring. Employers, for instance, are required to pay the entire cost of implementing a wellness program. And employers can’t assign any copayments or cost-sharing to their wellness initiatives.

Employers also are required to evaluate their wellness programs. The Department of Health and Human Services will provide assistance and resources to help with the evaluations.

Health-care plans

Because of the costs and reporting burdens of complying with the PPACA, many expect to see significant growth in consumer-driven health plans (CDHP). In the next 10 years, CDHPs could be more prevalent than preferred provider organization (PPO) plans. Premium increases under CDHPs are typically lower than those of PPO plans. In addition, CDHPs provide a way for employers to avoid the Cadillac tax.

Some employers offer their employees only a CDHP, or a CDHP along with a PPO. In general, employers offer CDHPs in conjunction with HSAs or health reimbursement arrangements (HRA). With these savings plans, the employer and/or the employee place a specified dollar amount in the plan.

Both HRAs and HSAs tend to encourage consumers to explore all options and corresponding costs. Benefit design, however, affects this likelihood. Consumers are less likely to question tests or treatment if their out-of-pocket expenses are low, and more likely to consider all angles of the test or treatment before going forward if the plan has high deductibles or out-of-pocket expenses.

The main difference between these accounts is
that HSAs belong to the employee and HRAs belong to the employer. The employer and/or the employee contribute money to an HSA, whereas only the employer contributes to an HRA. As such, the money not used in an HSA accumulates from year to year. On the other hand, the money left over in an
HRA rolls over at the employer’s discretion, and
goes back to the employer if the employee leaves the organization.

Health-care coverage and other benefits, wages, and working environment all contribute to the morale, and hence the productivity, of employees. To attract and retain peak performers, your credit union will need to be creative and flexible in administering all three.


Flexibility can increase productivity

Flexible work arrangements—such as telecommuting, flexible hours, and mobile technology—help employees achieve work/life balance, which increases morale. Flexibility also helps employers attract, reward, and retain peak performers.

Another benefit of providing flexibility is that it can make up for low wage increases. As a reflection of the slowly improving economy, both the incidence and the percentage of pay raises are slowly growing. Compensation experts, however, predict that annual wage increases won’t return to the “old norm” of 3% to 4%. Instead, the “new norm” will be wage increases of 2% to 3%—and incentive plans.

“Workplace flexibility helps businesses succeed and employees thrive by giving people an integral role in deciding how, when, and where they do their best work,” according to“That means higher productivity and employee engagement, lower turnover costs, and more innovation.”




  1. 2011-2012 Credit Union Environmental Scan
  2. 2011-2012 Complete Credit Union Staff Salary Survey Report

• U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

Post a comment to this story


What's Popular

Popular Stories

Recent Discussion

Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

Your Say: Who should be Credit Union Magazine's 2014 CU Hero of the Year?

View Results Poll Archive