Health and Wellbeing as a Positive Business Strategy

In May 2017, I attended the Positive Business Conference hosted by the Center for Positive Organizations at the University of Michigan. There were a broad range of professionals in attendance including organization development, human resources, and other strategic business functions. I was in “growth and learning heaven” as speakers shared stories ranging from KPMG’s success through helping employees see deeper purpose and meaning in their work to Dr. Mehmood Khan, Vice Chairman; Chief Scientific Officer at PepsiCo, talking about their intensity of focus on innovating for sustainability as a business strategy.

While none of the presenters labeled their presentation “employee wellbeing as a business strategy”,   I couldn’t help but feel each was directly related to and supportive of the idea that taking care of your workforce and the environment they live and work in, is a positive business strategy that is essential to long and short-term organization success.  The more I look around, the more I see evidence that some companies understand this at their core (e.g. Menlo Innovations and Owens Corning).

Many HR professionals chose their professions because they are people people and multi-taskers who get things done.  As a result, we often spend our days focused on the tactical pieces of the puzzle.   Due to the immediate need to keep the wheels on the bus moving it can be tough to find time to consider why the bus is moving in the first place and what role the humans on the bus play.  Even if there is time to think strategically, leadership might not see the Human Resource function as a part of business strategy beyond the tactical necessities.

In an organization where strategic focus tends to be placed heavily on priorities such as quality, customer satisfaction, and growth how can HR play a role in elevating the care and nurturing of the workforce to a strategic level that garners attention and buy-in?  Consider the following…

  • Find out what keeps leaders and other key stakeholders up at night. What do they worry about? What problems do they need help with? I often hear organizations say they don’t like to survey because they fear their inability to give people what they want.   If we don’t take time to seek to understand, it will be difficult to find common ground – an essential starting point to strategic partnership. It will be easier to build interest in workforce wellbeing as a business strategy if you find out what they care about and work your way from there.
  • Be the change you wish to see in the world. Develop a strategic vision for your health and wellbeing strategy that is inspiring and provides direction for your team. Clearly tie vision to the mission and priorities of the organization (i.e. we will support the development and growth of the business by supporting the health and wellbeing of our workforce).  Share it with leadership and employees.  If leadership isn’t ready to pronounce to the world their belief that caring for the workforce is essential to organization success, lead by example and get the snowball rolling.
  • Overcome the fear that taking care of your workforce necessitates a budget, head count and doing more. You are likely already offering a number of resources to support the physical (health plan), financial (401K), emotional (EAP, PTO), social (team building activities), professional (training & development), & community wellbeing (time off to volunteer). Inventory the benefits you offer. Market and highlight the value you provide to your employees – promote them on your website and in internal communications. Show them you care before and while they are working for your organization.
  • Be sure your wellbeing strategy is focused on supporting not “getting” employees to be healthy. Being there for your workforce rather than doing things to your workforce is an essential component of health and wellbeing as a business strategy. Don’t have time/resources for a survey? Ask employees every chance you get – Which of our benefits/resources do you value? What other benefits/resources might you find valuable?   Having an opportunity to provide input gives the employees a feeling…the company cares.

Ask a leader if they are interested in being a successful business in the long run and I’d bet 99% of them would respond with a resounding “yes”.   In reality, human beings are wired for near-term focus – it’s a defense mechanism left over from ancient times (and being ready to fight off random saber-toothed tigers).   As a result, we humans tend to focus on short-terms gains over investment in a healthy future.   The great news is that leadership won’t need to give up the short-term focus, the better news is that through leading by example, expanding your organization’s view of the employment value proposition, and investing in the care and wellbeing of your workforce, business sustainability is strengthened and employees win too – a positive result all around.

Learn more about MMA Michigan:

Find out more & join the conversation on social media! #MMAinsights

Twitter: @mma_michigan


Facebook: @marshmma

We look forward to hearing how we can help!

About Marsh & McLennan Agency – Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC, a subsidiary of Marsh, was established in 2008 to meet the needs of midsize businesses in the United States. MMA operates autonomously from Marsh to offer employee benefits, executive benefits, retirement, commercial property & casualty, and personal lines to clients across the United States.

Achieving Success in HR Leadership

Submitted by: Ulliance

Last month, the Ulliance team joined more than 1,300 human resources professionals at Michigan HR Day to exchange ideas, share best practices and connect with other human resources practitioners from across the state. During one conference workshop, attendees had the opportunity to learn about HR leadership vitality from Ulliance President and CEO, Kent Sharkey.

In his breakout session, Sharkey shared challenges that HR leaders face on a regular basis. Coaching an employee on poor job performance typically tops the list. He cited work-life issues, such as personal stress, alcohol and drug abuse, family problems and legal and financial issues as also having an effect on an individual’s job performance.

According to the Mental Health America Attitudinal Survey of how employees alleviate stress and pressure, 42 percent of respondents indicated they were more likely to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes and do drugs, while 37 percent stated they took prescribed medications to deal with their issues. Not only are these habits bad for employees, they have a negative impact on productivity and an organization’s bottom line.

Human resources professionals who understand the correlation between stress management and work performance can help their teams achieve success.  How employees view their environment impacts their ability to cope and whether or not they will achieve their on-the-job performance goals. Individuals can’t eliminate or control sources of stress; however, employees can control their reactions to stress and focus on what they can change…their performance at work.

All HR managers should encourage employees to take advantage of their company’s employee assistance program (EAP.) A comprehensive EAP, such as Ulliance’s, can help employees tackle work-life issues that may hinder their job performance. A dedicated counselor can help them address their personal and professional concerns, as well as help find solutions to achieve their goals.

Ulliance is an international service company headquartered in Troy, Michigan. For more than 25 years, Ulliance has been providing human resources services including employee assistance programs (EAP), wellness programs, training programs, organizational and leadership development, coaching, career transition services, and crisis management. For more information about Ulliance, please visit or call (866) 648-8326.



Submitted by:  WJ Cousins & Associates



Much has been written about how to handle the termination of an employee. One thing to always remember is, even when the employee is viewed as easy going and mild mannered, that same employee can turn to violent behavior. The question becomes, what can you do to help ensure a termination does not turn into a violent situation? The answer is preparation and prevention.

But before we discuss preparation and prevention, you must remember when terminating an employee, for whatever reason, you are taking away their ability to make a living. In some cases, you may be adversely affecting their ability to get another position in the near future. This is a stress factor for the employee, which can be compared to the same stress level a person feels when a close loved one dies or a divorce occurs. Because of this, you will need to use all your professional and people skills to correctly handle the meeting. If the situation goes badly it will reflect on you, not only by your management, but also by the other employees in the company. We all know when situations go bad, the “word” travels fast throughout the company.

Therefore, the preparation should begin the moment it is determined the employee has to be terminated.

Recommendation #1: Once the decision is made to terminate an employee, obtain any and all information you can about the employee and what is going on with them outside of the workplace. If you haven’t done so already, work with the employee’s immediate management to determine such things as, does the employee possess guns? What kind of mental or emotional stress might the employee be under outside of work (such as divorce, death, addiction or financial issues)? All these factors can be used to gather information which you can use to your advantage. Remember, the employee may or may not have any idea the termination is about to occur.

If you have obtained information that indicates the employee is prone to violence, or is known to carry a weapon, have plainclothes security professionals near the meeting room. These professionals should have training in de-escalating potentially violent situations. If your company does not have trained security professionals, contact a reputable security or risk management company for assistance.

Also, if you have a positive relationship with the local police, give them a call for advice on the termination and inform them it has the potential to get violent. By doing this, you are giving them advance notice so they can be better prepared to respond.

Recommendation #2: Where should the termination occur? Depending on the circumstances, it may be prudent to conduct the termination process at a neutral or off-site location, such as a lawyer’s office. If the meeting must be conducted on company property, do it away from other employees, such as in an unused conference room in the human resources department. Make sure it is a location where employees are not walking by or gathering for another meeting or lunch.

Recommendation #3: When should it be conducted? There are different schools of thought on this. Some would say it is best to do it on a Friday or just before a three-day weekend. This is not a good idea because as noted above, this can be a life changing event for the employee. The employee will most likely need emotional and legal assistance. If the termination is done just before a weekend, it will be difficult for them to obtain the emotional or legal counseling they may need. Instead, they may turn to alcohol or drug abuse, which only makes matters far worse for everyone involved. Therefore, it is recommended to have the termination on a Tuesday or Wednesday and in the early to midafternoon. This way when the employee is escorted off the premises, the employee has the opportunity to seek the help they may need.

Recommendation #4: Remember, the purpose of the meeting is to advise the employee of the termination, not to debate or give advice. Keep it brief, direct and to the point. If the employee wants to argue, advise them of their options, such as union representation or consulting with a labor lawyer. Depending on the individual and the situation, this entire process should take no more than ten to fifteen minutes.

Recommendation #5: You will need a reputable witness. It is best to have another HR professional or senior manager present. During the termination process, the witness should be seated in a position near the door. By sitting there, the witness can leave the room to get help if the situation appears to become potentially violent. Also, position yourself where you can walk out of the room without getting stuck between the door and the employee. This will give you the tactical advantage to get out of the room if the situation is unresolved or becomes “ugly.”

If the situation becomes tenuous, tell the employee you must go because you have another appointment, and exit the room as quickly as possible. Then call security for assistance.

Recommendation #6: Be prepared to escort the employee off the premises. Never do it alone! Always be accompanied by another management type person. This individual should walk behind you and the employee so as not to attract too much attention. This will allow them to act as a witness and call for assistance should the situation become tenuous or violent.

Recommendation #7: There are several options regarding what to do with the employee’s belongings. One is while the termination process is ongoing, a person from management can go to the employee’s office, cubicle or locker to gather up any articles of personal nature, such as family pictures and memorabilia. These items should be placed in a cardboard box and can be given to the employee as they exit the premises. The fired employee should be told that an inventory of their work area will be conducted and any additional personal items found will be forwarded to them at a later date.

Another option is to wait until the termination is over before doing a thorough inventory of the work area. After collecting inventory, all the personal items of the fired employee can be boxed up, and the box(es) can then be delivered to the employee by security or sent via mail.

Recommendation #8: Prepare yourself for the interview. In your own mind, you should be rehearsing possible scenarios that could occur. Not only potential violence, but what if the employee has an emotional breakdown or demands to see your superior or just tunes you out and sits and stares. What are you going to say or do? Be prepared to handle almost any scenario imaginable. It is always a good idea to consult with your legal department to know what to say and what not to say to the employee.

Recommendation #9: Have any and all documents related to the termination in either an envelope or manila folder. If a severance package is being offered, make sure the paperwork will be easily understood by the employee, especially if the package is offering a financial incentive or extended benefits. Go over all the paperwork and provide an explanation for each document. Due to the emotional stress of the situation, the employee will probably not grasp everything you are saying. To assist with this, the paperwork should contain a phone number that the employee can call if they have any questions or concerns.

Recommendation #10: Remember to always be professional and display a positive attitude during the process. This may assist in alleviating some of the stress from the employee. At the time of the termination, it may be difficult to remember this, but the employee is a human being. Treat and address them with respect. This may help diffuse a potentially bad situation before it even starts. It will surely be important if there is any subsequent litigation.

These are some brief recommendations that will assist you in the event of terminating a potentially hostile employee.

For additional information, contact Bill Cousins at or 248-783-7190.


                                               A team

Posted By: SHRM                                           
Federal Legislative Alert

We need your help! Please e-mail your U.S. Representative and ask him or her to VOTE YES on the comp time bill, H.R. 1180.

In February, Representative Martha Roby (R-Ala.), introduced the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017 (H.R. 1180) also known as the “comp time” bill. The proposal will remove a federal restriction on the private-sector and help Americans better address family and work needs. H.R. 1180 would permit – but would NOT require – private-sector employers to offer employees the choice of taking overtime in cash payments as they do currently or in the form of paid time off – or comp time.

The House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held a legislative hearing on H.R. 1180 on April 5th.  SHRM members Leslie Christ, Chief Resource Officer for WellStone Behavioral Health, and Crystal Frey, Vice President of Human Resources for Continental Realty Corporation, testified at the hearing in support of the bill. H.R. 1180 is expected to go before the full House of Representatives for a vote the week of May 1st.

SHRM supports H.R. 1180 and we need your help! Please e-mail your U.S. Representative and ask him or her to vote “YES” for H.R. 1180 when the proposal goes to the House floor. Read SHRM’s position paper on the comp bill.

E-mail your Representative’s Washington, DC office using SHRM’s Policy Action Center by following these fast and easy steps:

  1. Visit SHRM’s Policy Action Center
  2. Fill out your contact information (be sure to enter your home mailing address since the system will correctly match you to your federal congressional district).
  3. Personalize the template email language to include your message with your own story.
  4. Click “submit.”

It is critical that Representatives hear from employers in their congressional districts over the next five days leading into the week of May 1st. That’s why we are asking you – HR professionals, to e-mail your House members and express support for the comp time legislation.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 requires that hours of work by non-exempt employees beyond 40 hours in a seven-day period must be compensated at a rate of 1 1/2 times the employee’s regular rate of pay.  In 1978, Congress passed the Federal Employees Flexible and Compressed Work Schedules Act, which changed the FLSA to allow compensatory time for federal employees.  In 1985, comp time was extended to include state and local agencies and their employees. H.R. 1180 would simply extend this important benefit to the private sector. 

The Working Families Flexibility Act would amend the FLSA to allow private-sector employers to provide compensatory time to employees. Employees would have the choice of taking overtime in cash payments, as they do today, or in the form of paid time off from work. Just as with overtime payments, paid time off would accrue at a rate of 1 1/2 hours for each hour of overtime worked.  Employees would be able to accrue up to 160 hours of comp time per year, although an employer could choose to “cash out” the comp time after 80 hours after providing the employee with 30 days of notice.  An employer would also be required to cash out any unused comp time at year’s end at the regular time and a half rate.

For questions regarding compensatory time and Rep. Roby’s comp time bill, contact Patrick Brady, SHRM’s Senior Government Affairs Advisor, at or 703-535-6246.

If you encounter any issues contacting your member of Congress, please contact Meredith Nethercutt, SHRM’s Senior Associate, Member Advocacy and A-Team Program Director, at or (703) 535-6417.

BEWARE: Your Personal Assets May Be Exposed

Fiduciary May Blog.png

Could you be personally responsible for the mismanagement of your employee’s benefit plans?

If your company sponsors an employee benefits plan, and if you have responsibility for or are involved in any way with the management of that plan, then you are most likely considered a fiduciary and may have more liability than you realize. Under ERISA law, as a fiduciary, you are putting your personal assets at risk if an employee files a lawsuit related to their benefit plans due to a breach of duty.

According to Seyfarth Shaw’s Workplace Class Action Report, The 10 largest ERISA class action settlements exceeded $1.75 billion in 2016. These lawsuits are very real and can cost millions of dollars to defend and settle. So how do you know who is a fiduciary and how do you ensure that employee benefits are handled responsibly while protecting the fiduciary and their personal assets?

Understanding who is a fiduciary?

Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), any individual who manages an employee benefit or pension plan is considered a fiduciary. This encompasses the plan sponsor, trustees, plan administrator, investment manager, consultants, and actuaries, to name a few. A fiduciary’s status is based upon the functions performed, not just the person’s title. Fiduciaries have important responsibilities and are subject to higher standards of conduct because they act on behalf of participants in a retirement plan and their beneficiaries. If a plan participant sues for a breach of fiduciary duty, a fiduciary, on an individual level, may be personally liable to restore any losses, thus putting their personal assets at risk.

What are the responsibilities of a fiduciary?

Fiduciaries have important responsibilities and are subject to standards of conduct because they act on behalf of participants in a group health plan and their beneficiaries. These responsibilities include:

  • Acting solely in the interests of plan participants and beneficiaries
  • Carrying out their responsibilities prudently
  • Following plan documents
  • Holding plan assets if the plan has any in trust
  • Paying only reasonable plan expenses

The duty to act prudently is one of a fiduciary’s primary responsibilities under ERISA. It requires expertise in a variety of areas. A fiduciary may want to hire someone with that professional expertise and knowledge to carry out those functions. Prudence is centered around the process for making fiduciary decisions. Therefore, it is wise to document decisions and details on the basis for those decisions.

What are the consequences of a fiduciary breach?

In addition to being held personally liable for a fiduciary breach, you may also have to restore plan losses.  The Department of Labor will assess a civil penalty against you and depend on the case, you may be subject to criminal penalties.

How can you protect yourself from a lawsuit?

The only way to protect your financial assets against lawsuits regarding employee benefit plans is with Fiduciary liability insurance.  It will defend and pay, where required, for the settlement and judgments arising out of the employee benefit plans that are governed by the ERISA statute.

Do not confuse Fiduciary Liability Insurance with a Fidelity bond.  Fidelity bonds are required by ERISA and only protect the plan against dishonest acts, not mistakes or breaches of duty.  Without having fiduciary liability insurance, fiduciaries may be forced to pay out of their own pockets to make good to plan losses resulting from a breach.


Learn more about MMA Michigan:

Health & Benefits | Troy              Property & Casualty | Livonia
(248) 822-8000                                   (734) 525-2463

Find out more & join the conversation on social media! #MMAinsights

Twitter: @mma_michigan


Facebook: @marshmma

We look forward to hearing how we can help!

About Marsh & McLennan Agency – Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC, a subsidiary of Marsh, was established in 2008 to meet the needs of midsize businesses in the United States. MMA operates autonomously from Marsh to offer employee benefits, executive benefits, retirement, commercial property & casualty, and personal lines to clients across the United States.

Spring Cleaning – Making Your ERISA Compliance Sparkle

Author: Ann Marie Olszewski, Senior Account Manager, Marsh & McLennan Agency | Michigan

As the weather warms up, you’re probably thinking about starting fresh with a thorough spring cleaning. But look past your closets and windows to your ERISA compliance requirements! For many employers, the plan year renewed on January 1, so this may be the optimal time to address issues that escape your notice during busier times of the year.

The following is not a complete list, but may help you to get started with your compliance check:

  • Have you distributed Summary Plan Descriptions (SPDs) to plan participants? You should have an ERISA-compliant SPD for each of the benefit plans subject to ERISA. In most cases, the insurer (or plan administrator, for a self-funded benefit) will provide you with a booklet for participants. However, it may not satisfy all of the content requirements under ERISA. You can use a “wrap” document to fill in those gaps, and to provide additional pertinent details to participants.

Perhaps you are already distributing the SPDs to employees enrolled in the component benefit plans. But do you also provide SPDs to individuals covered under COBRA, or to children covered because of a court order? They are also plan participants, so they need access to the same written information.

  • Are the correct COBRA notifications being sent when necessary? Most employers outsource COBRA to a third-party administrator (TPA), so check with that organization on their practices. For example, the initial notice of COBRA rights should be sent to new plan participants, such as new hires who enroll for medical, dental and/or vision coverage. However, this notice should also be provided if an employee first elects coverage mid-year or during annual enrollment, or if a spouse is newly enrolled. If your TPA was not contracted to send this particular notice, then it will be your responsibility as the employer to make sure it is mailed out.

There are other COBRA-related notices, such as the election notice when a plan participant experiences a COBRA-qualifying event. Make sure your TPA is informed of such events in a timely fashion, and mails the notice within 14 days of such notification.

  • Are plan participants receiving the various required notices? To make it easier, it’s best to include the following notices with your new hire and annual enrollment materials, such as in a benefits guide received by all eligible employees:
    • Employer CHIPRA Notice. The employer must provide this notice annually to all employees, regardless of their enrollment or eligibility status. You can use the model notice created by the Department of Labor (DOL). (Please note: This notice is usually updated biannually, at the end of January and July.)
    • Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA) Notice. This must be provided to individuals enrolled in the group health plan. It should be distributed at enrollment, and then annually thereafter.
    • Notice to Employees of Marketplace Coverage Options. This should be provided to all new hires, regardless of whether they are eligible for benefits. You can use the model notice created by the DOL, but will have to add some information applicable to your medical plan.
    • Notice of Special Enrollment Rights. This must be given to employees at or before the time they become eligible to enroll in the group health plan.

  • Do plan participants receive a copy of the Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) for the medical plans available to them? You should provide SBCs for each available medical plan to employees who are enrolling for coverage for the first time, such as new hires. Otherwise, employees must receive an SBC for at least the medical plan in which they are currently enrolled, at the time of annual enrollment. If an employee requests an SBC during the year, a copy should be provided within seven working days.

  • Are you filing an annual Form 5500 for your ERISA health and welfare plan? Plans with 100 or more participants are required to file a Form 5500 by the end of the seventh month following the last day of the plan year. If you have not been filing, take advantage of the DOL’s Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program to reduce your risk for heavy penalties. Don’t wait for a DOL audit to comply, when the fines will be much higher.

Again, this is not an all-inclusive list of an employer’s requirements under ERISA. However, it is a good starting point, which will help to keep your plan clean and refreshed!

 Learn more about MMA Michigan:

Find out more & join the conversation on social media! #MMAinsights

Twitter: @mma_michigan


Facebook: @marshmma

We look forward to hearing how we can help!

About Marsh & McLennan Agency – Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC, a subsidiary of Marsh, was established in 2008 to meet the needs of midsize businesses in the United States. MMA operates autonomously from Marsh to offer employee benefits, executive benefits, retirement, commercial property & casualty, and personal lines to clients across the United States.

Replace & Repeal

MMA Blog

The proposed legislation to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues to dominate news coverage.  We thought you would appreciate a summary of MMA Michigan’s review and thoughts on the issue.

The proposed “repeal and replace” legislation is called the American Health Care Act (AHCA).  It has been passed by several committees and recently scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).  The CBO score showed the AHCA would increase the number of people without health insurance by 24 million by 2026, while slicing $337 billion off federal budget deficits over that time.

The AHCA still has a number of hurdles to cross before it can potentially be signed into law.  However, it is important to understand the basic provision included in the AHCA.  You’ll find a summary of the major provisions below:
You’ll find a summary of the major provisions below:

  • Employer mandate penalty goes to $0 as of 2016
  • Individual mandate penalty goes to $0 as of 2016
  • Premium tax credits on the public exchanges (as we know them today) go away as of 2020
  • Cost-sharing reductions on the public exchanges go away as of 2020
  • Individuals who get tax credits in error must repay ALL of it for 2018 & 2019 (today there is a cap on how much to repay)
  • Most taxes are repealed as of 2018
  • Cadillac tax stays alive but doesn’t start until 2025
  • New premium tax credits for individuals begin in 2020, based on age ($2,000 – $4,000), but not available for individuals with a modified adjusted gross income of $75,000 individual or $150,000 joint filers
  • Simplified reporting (on a W-2) coming, date TBD
  • H.S.A. contribution limits increased to match MOOP as of 2018
  • Repeals Medicaid expansion as of 2020
  • Non-Medicaid expansion states eligible for “safety net funding” 2018 – 2022
  • The small group & individual markets will be subject to  a continuous coverage provision as of 2019 (and for Marketplace special enrollment periods in 2018) – individuals with more than a 63 day gap in coverage in the prior 12 months will be subject to a 30% increase in premium for the next 12 months – this means certificates of creditable coverage will probably make a comeback
  • Small group & individual plans won’t have to conform to the Actuarial value / metal tiers as of 2020
  • Small group & individual plans age bands go to 5:1 (from 3:1) as of 2018

What is not included?  Taxation of health benefits.  Does this mean we are off the hook?  Not necessarily, it just means taxing benefits isn’t in this draft language.  We need to consider that both repeal & replace AND tax reform are both major priorities for the administration in 2017.

Are these provisions final?  Probably not.  It still has a long way to go before it could become law and anything can change.  The Senate parliamentarian needs to approve these provisions as acceptable under reconciliation.  Also, expect a lot of opposition, especially to repealing Medicaid expansion and the age determination for tax credits.

Until any changes are final, we will need to stay the course as the ACA is still the law of the land and compliance is required.  As this continues to unfold, we’ll be sure to be in touch with timely updates.  In the interim, we hope this is helpful.

MMA Michigan, as always, is on top of this issue. To speak with one of our experts, call (248)822-8000.

Learn more about MMA Michigan:
Health & Benefits | Troy                   Property & Casualty | Livonia
248-822-8000                                      734-525-2463

Find out more & join the conversation on social media! #MMAinsights

Twitter: @mma_michigan


Facebook: @marshmma

We look forward to hearing how we can help!

About Marsh & McLennan Agency – Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC, a subsidiary of Marsh, was established in 2008 to meet the needs of midsize businesses in the United States. MMA operates autonomously from Marsh to offer employee benefits, executive benefits, retirement, commercial property & casualty, and personal lines to clients across the United States.

Happy, Healthy Employees Mean Better Business

How a full-service Employee Assistance Program
benefits your employees, their dependents and ultimately, your bottom line.

When people come to work feeling positive and stress-free, they’re at their most productive. That’s when they’re generating the best results for your business.

This is where you want your people to be, and where an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help. By giving employees access to free and confidential services such as short-term counseling, financial and legal consultation, family support services, and online resources, employers assist their staff professionally and personally … so business can operate at its peak.

There are many choices when it comes to selecting an EAP. And just like any benefit selection, price does matter. But so does the mental and physical health of your employees, and the program’s impact on your organizational efficiency and medical spend.

Take a look at a typical embedded EAP (usually part of your Group Life or Disability Plan) and a full-service one to discover the difference for your organization:

Utilization: ensure you offer a program your employees use, are happy with and your organization can afford
A full-service EAP like the one available through New Directions has a utilization rate between 5 to 8 percent and can be used by the employee as well as the employee’s dependents. An embedded program generally has less than 1 percent utilization rate, and is limited to the employee only.  A full EAP ensures an employee’s life challenges are addressed with up to six free counseling sessions per issue for free. Ann embedded program may only cover crisis situations.

Support: prepare your supervisors with the tools they need to be successful and keep good people
To set an organization up for success, an effective EAP designates a liaison, and provides orientation and ongoing consultation. Full-service EAPs like New Directions’ recognize that supervisors are the heart of an organization’s success, so a formal program for performance issues, organizational training, a dedicated website and regular communication is available. These resources help guide managers through the challenges of the management experience. In contrast, embedded EAPs tend not to provide custom support, resulting in lower program engagement and satisfaction.

Inclusive services: provide the best, robust services in one program
If your employees experience a critical incident, you want a program that helps them get back to their regular routine as quickly as possible. And if you have a DOT/SAP challenge, be sure you’re conforming to regulations and ensuring safety. Organizational training and managing employee performance issues are also a priority, and something you want to do well. All of these services are included with the New Directions EAP, unlike embedded programs.

Access: ensure convenient and timely care is available for your employees
The need for support can happen anytime, to anyone. That’s why a full-service EAP connects people with care 24/7/365, includes dependents, and is available in-person, online or via phone. Plus, an appointment is generally available within three days or fewer. This is different from embedded programs, where only phone support may be available only during business hours, and appointments aren’t available until weeks after an issue is identified. 

Provider network: provide the best care for where you employees live, work, and play
With a full-service EAP like New Directions, a warm, supportive voice greets employees when they call. Each of these experts is ready to connect your employees with Master’s level, experienced specialists across the United States. This is unlike the recording you may get with an embedded program, which may only offer generalized clinical support with limited providers in key areas.

Promotion: keep the program top-of-mind so you receive the results of its use
Placing EAP materials in the hands of your employees is a key step in getting them to use the program and find success. With New Directions, you can co-brand promotional materials, receive custom communications based on your employees’ needs and gain access to a robust website. A limited program may not include any materials at all, making it difficult to find the helpline phone number or even let employees know it’s available.

Data: measure the success of the program so it stays a strong piece of your benefit portfolio
Each year, you consider which benefits make the most impact for your employees and the organization’s portfolio. To help, New Directions’ EAP provides quarterly utilization reports and consults with an account manager to see where the program is making the most difference. A review of high-risk cases lets you know where you can invest more effort in your employees’ health. A claims analysis shows you where the EAP helps reduce medical spend. Little to none of this is available with an embedded program.

Learn more about the New Directions EAP difference by visiting

Founded in 1995, New Directions helps people live healthy, balanced lives.

The fast-growing health care company provides managed behavioral health services, employee assistance programs, student assistance programs, organizational consulting, and health coaching to large regional health plans, Fortune 100 companies, employers and labor groups. For more information, visit


Planning For Retirement – Your New Daily Life

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Financial security is a key component of a happy retirement, but how you choose to spend your daily life throughout retirement is critical as well. Retirement can mean different things to different people. Some look forward to pursuing new interests, while others want time to relax. Whatever your future holds, one thing is certain – a secure retirement requires thought and careful planning, and it’s never too early to start.

As you begin to think about retirement, take the time to consider some important questions.

  • What issues, interests and causes are you passionate about?
  • Where and how do you want to contribute?
  • What will be your legacy?

Retirement can be a time to discover new and creative outlets and passions, and do the things you never had time to do while you were working. On the other hand, you may choose to work full-time, part- time, as a consultant, or on a volunteer basis. Many people work in retirement to keep their benefits, maintain a stream of income, or simply because they enjoy working. Retirement planning is a time to consider all options that will bring you fulfillment.

Many newly retired also embrace the opportunity to return to the classroom, to find new skills or discover new talents. After a time of learning and exploration, some experience a renewed desire to work and pursue new opportunities and challenges. Some start their own business, and others take on an “encore career” – one that makes good use of your well-developed skills and talents, and provides you with the opportunity to apply them in a new setting that has a social impact, or makes a difference. If, for example, you worked in the corporate world, you may want to use your skills in the non-profit world.

You might also consider a learning experience combined with the adventure of travel. One very popular option, Elderhostel ®, offers learning adventures that combine travel with an educational experience for older adults.

When you leave the working world and turn your attention toward family, friends and hobbies, the desire to contribute in a meaningful way becomes a priority. Volunteering is a great way for you to stay involved and make a contribution. The right volunteer experience can provide you with an opportunity to make new friends, gain recognition for your contributions and add more structure to your days.

This new phase of life should be seen as an adventure and a time to reinvent yourself. Planning and transitioning can take time, and involves testing out different pastimes, jobs and projects. Getting support from peers and loved ones in your life will take on a special significance as you begin to sort out all of your choices. The shift to retirement can be a welcome change of pace and yet it can be challenging to create enough structure to find a sense of satisfaction. Take a realistic look ahead and plan carefully to help achieve your retirement goals.

Helpful Websites

The AARP’s Web site has numerous articles, links, and calculators related to retirement finances, housing, health care, lifestyle, including civic engagement through volunteer opportunities and working in retirement.

Civic Ventures is dedicated to the active engagement of retirees. The Web site is home to several different programs that provide useful information about transitioning into the second half of life. You will find resources on lifelong learning, encore careers, opportunities for community involvement and the organizations that support these initiatives. There are several useful booklets available, including The Boomers’ Guide to Good Work: An introduction to jobs that make a difference.

Elderhostel is a not-for-profit organization offering educationally based travel packages specifically designed for people over 55. You may reach ElderHostel by calling 800-454-5768.


Something to Live For: Finding Your Way in the Second Half of Life

Richard Leider and David Shapiro

Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, July 2008

The Wall Street Journal Complete Retirement Guidebook: How to Plan It, Live It and Enjoy It

Glen Ruffenach and Kelly Greene

Publisher: Three Rivers Press, June 2007

For more information regarding Financial Education for your Employees contact:

Cherri Smith
MetLife – PlanSmart

Leased Employee Hurt on the Job… Am I covered?

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Leasing employees has become an increasingly popular option among medium and small businesses that are looking at innovative ways for handling personnel matters, including payroll and benefits, and overall reducing their costsThe main benefit of leasing employees is that the leasing firm frees the company from administrative responsibilities associated with human resources and workforce management, so you are able to focus your attention on your business and meeting your business goals.

Leasing agencies promise to reduce expenses in a variety of areas, such as single business tax, unemployment taxes, workers’ compensation premiums, health insurance premiums and administrative expenses in managing employees.  Although the savings can appear attractive, extreme caution must be used when considering this option and it’s imperative to understand the risks you may be taking.

What could happen if my leased worker is injured on the job?

  • The leased employee or their family could make a claim against you.
  • A claim can be made against you by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier that insures the leasing agency.
  • An insurance company who provides employee benefits to the leased worker could make a claim against you seeking to recover what they have paid.
  • A claim can be made against you by an automobile insurer attempting to recover medical bills that they paid for the leased employee if they were hurt while using the company vehicle.
  • The leased employee could make a claim against you under YOUR workers’ compensation policy on the basis that they were really employed by you.

Doesn’t my workers’ compensation policy cover this type of claim?

  • No, the leasing company provides workers’ compensation for the leased worker.

Because the leasing company is providing the payroll services, the injured employee is paid under the leasing company’s tax ID number.  Your workers’ compensation carrier would deny the claim because based on the tax ID number, the leased employee does not match your tax ID number, thus is not considered an employee of your company.

If my workers’ compensation carrier denies the claim, I can just submit the claim to my commercial general liability carrier because the injury occurred on my premises….RIGHT?

  • Your CGL carrier would deny the claim. The CGL policy specifically excludes injury to an “employee” and the policy defines an “employee” as including a leased worker.

What are some of the consequences if the leased employee or others make a claim against me?

  • You will have to pay significant legal fees to sort it all out, and most of the costs cannot be recovered even if you win the judgement.
  • If you fight the lawsuit and lose, you could face an uninsured judgement that is substantial and would be disastrous for your company.
  • When your workers’ compensation carrier realizes you have a leased employee due to the submitted claim, it will likely charge you for those employees as if they were your statutory employees. This would be calculated according to your workers’ compensation rate with those additional employees and added on to that premium. You can be audited for this going back as far as three years.

I still want to have leased employees.  How can I protect myself from these pitfalls?

Solution #1:  Name your entity as an Alternate Employer

Have the leasing agency add you as an alternate employer as an endorsement to its workers’ compensation policy.  This will allow the leasing agency’s workers’ compensation policy to apply to you, the alternate employer, as if you were an insured under the leasing agency policy.

The workers’ compensation insurer for the leasing agency will not ask your workers’ compensation carrier to share the loss if you are name as an alternate employer.  This should block your carrier from asking for any additional premium from you when your policy expires.

Solution #2: Your CGL policy can add an endorsement which would remove the leased employee exclusion

Request that your insurance carrier add a leased employee endorsement that removed the leased employee exclusion onto your commercial general liability policy.

The advantage of having this endorsement is that your commercial liability carrier will pay for the legal fees to sort this out and pay judgments against you, if any.

Recommendation: Require the leasing agency to provide you with the following proof:

  • A copy of the actual alternate employer endorsement adding your company as the alternate employer on their workers’ compensation policy.
  • A certificate of insurance providing evidence of the coverages required in the leasing agreement.
  • Evidence that they have put an administrative system in place that will ensure that they verify each year that the alternate employer endorsement form has been renewed.

Leasing employees may be the solution to some of your administrative and human resources responsibilities and the best fit for you and your business.  However, it is not a strategy without risk.  Do your research, understand the different types of alternative work relationships, your employment laws, and legal obligations to avoid the unnecessary exposures and expensive problems in the future.

Learn more about MMA Michigan:

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Twitter: @mma_michigan


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We look forward to hearing how we can help!

About Marsh & McLennan Agency – Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC, a subsidiary of Marsh, was established in 2008 to meet the needs of midsize businesses in the United States. MMA operates autonomously from Marsh to offer employee benefits, executive benefits, retirement, commercial property & casualty, and personal lines to clients across the United States.