Faced with Record-Low Unemployment, More Employers Are Investing in Employee Benefits Rather than Reducing Costs

ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill., November 1, 2018 – Attracting and retaining talent remains the number one operational priority of 60 percent of employers according to the forthcoming 2018 Gallagher Benefits Strategy & Benchmarking Survey. That figure has increased two percentage points from 2017, and is in sharp contrast to the 37 percent of employers who ranked controlling benefit costs as the top priority, a figure that declined six percentage points from 2017. And nearly half (45 percent) of employers chose not to increase employee cost sharing of healthcare benefits.

“While keeping a lid on costs is always important, we are seeing a clear shift in the market as employers are having to compete more aggressively for talent in the face of the lowest unemployment rate in nearly 50 years,” said William F. Ziebell, President, Gallagher Employee Benefits Consulting and Brokerage. “Today’s workforce is comprised of five very different generations, meaning it is no longer good enough to simply offer standard medical coverage and a competitive retirement plan. The 2018 Benefits Strategy & Benchmarking Survey uncovered best practices that address employees’ total wellbeing, which will positively impact organizational retention and recruitment efforts.”

Employers Taking a Holistic View of Employee Wellbeing

The Benefits Strategy & Benchmarking Survey found forward-thinking employers are taking a more holistic view of employee wellbeing and developing strategies that both engage and appeal to their team. For example, more than half of employers (55 percent) now provide a telemedicine component, allowing employees to virtually connect with clinicians. That is an increase of more than 100 percent from 2016, when just 24 percent of employers utilized telemedicine. In addition to saving employees time, telemedicine has been shown to reduce expenses for both employers and employees.

The report also found employers are looking for ways to reduce medical expenses by encouraging their employees to live healthy lifestyles. The most popular physical wellbeing benefits include flu shots, tobacco cessation programs, health risk assessments and biometric screenings.

Because financial stressors can negatively affect productivity, financial wellbeing proved to be another area of interest for employers. More than six out of ten employers (62 percent) now offer employees access to financial advisors and nearly half (47 percent) provide financial-literacy education to help employees make better saving and spending decisions. The research also showed 43 percent of employers are taking steps to gauge employee retirement readiness, compared to previous years (33 percent in 2016).

Identifying and Changing Benefits Based on Employee Preferences

Because the tightening labor market has made it easier for top employees to leave their jobs voluntarily, more employers are tweaking existing benefits or adding new offerings. The goal is to provide employees with more choices that will better fit their own lifestyles and needs. Examples include:

• Health Benefits Choice: More than one in five employers (22 percent) now offer employees three medical insurance plans, and 13 percent offer four or more options.

• Tuition Assistance: Nearly half (46 percent) of employers provide tuition assistance, which is up from 42 percent in 2017. The most common tuition reimbursement amount totaled $5,250 annually per employee.

• Life Insurance: Nine of ten (89 percent) employers said they now offer employees life insurance, which is a five percent increase from 2017.

• Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): 70 percent of employers provide access to EAPs, which is an 11 percent jump from 2017.

Small Segment of Employers Fully Engage Employees around Workplace Benefits

Given many employee rosters include a multigenerational workforce, it has become increasingly important for employers to offer benefits that appeal to each segment of their workforce. Surprisingly, just 13 percent of employers said they have a comprehensive communication strategy to guide how they collect and share benefits information with employees, and most (74 percent) noted they have a communication strategy for just some of their benefits and wellbeing offerings.

“More than half of employers (59 percent) expect to increase their headcount over the next two years. That will be a challenge considering there are currently more job openings than individuals to fill those positions,” Ziebell said. “As a result, employers must get smarter about working within their budgets to offer benefits and compensation packages that engage their teams. At the same time, it will be imperative for organizations to clearly communicate the offerings and measure their effectiveness. The days of ‘set it and forget it’ in regards to compensation and benefits are over.”

For more information about the 2018 Benefits Strategy & Benchmarking Survey, visit: www.ajg.com/NBS-2018.

###

ABOUT GALLAGHER
Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (NYSE: AJG), a global insurance brokerage, risk management and consulting services firm, is headquartered in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. The company has operations in 34 countries and offers client service capabilities in more than 150 countries around the world through a network of correspondent brokers and consultants.

ABOUT THE BENEFITS STRATEGY & BENCHMARKING SURVEY
Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc., the employee benefits consulting and brokerage operation of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., developed the Benefits Strategy & Benchmarking Survey to provide employers with insights into how their peers are addressing benefit and human capital challenges. The 2018 survey, conducted from January to April of this year, aggregates responses from 4,241 organizations across the U.S. Additional survey results can be found at www.ajg.com/NBS-2018.

Detroit Regional Chamber Launches “Let’s Detroit” Talent Attraction and Retention Tool

LetsDetroit.com engages talent by connecting them to their peers through a website, one-of-a-kind texting function, social media and events.

DETROIT, Sept. 20, 2018 – With 36 percent of Michigan college graduates leaving the state within a year of graduation, the Detroit Regional Chamber and its partners created Let’s Detroit to attract and retain the talent to Southeast Michigan. Using a website, “Text a Detroiter” function, and social media engagement, the platform aims to achieve three main objectives: improve the narrative around Detroit and Southeast Michigan, increase the number of graduates retained, and cultivate an innovative, engaged and culture-focused business community to drive economic prosperity.

“Regional businesses have continued to indicate the No. 1 issue they have is attracting and retaining talent,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “Let’s Detroit will increase retention of talented professionals fleeing to cities like New York City, Chicago or Los Angeles by helping them connect to the Detroit region, in a way they will respond to.”

Let’s Detroit showcases local ambassadors in several focus areas and creates a platform for others to connect and find their community. There are texting and employment ambassadors that are the voices representing the Detroit region to their peers. These individuals are the young professionals and others who are immersed in their communities and want to help others get connected.

  • Employment ambassadors are people currently engaged with a Southeast Michigan professional industry group willing to connect with users about their field of work via LinkedIn, Twitter, email, or potentially text. Users will reach out to ask questions, get advice, and how to expand their network.
  • “Text a Detroiter” ambassadors are people who love to text and want to share knowledge about their communities with others. Texting ambassadors select topics they want to talk about (i.e. networking events, nightlife, places to eat, etc.) and users connect through a protected, third party number to ask questions, get recommendations and learn.

The Chamber conducted global and local research on what successful regions are doing to retain and attract talent and it revealed key findings that led to Let’s Detroit:

  • Human resource professionals need help attracting talent to the region.
  • Young professionals don’t want to be marketed to; they want to make a difference in their communities; and they need an “in” to help navigate career, social and other aspects of the region.
  • Talent in Southeast Michigan cares most about their career path, as well as other quality of life aspects like regional transit, placemaking and recreation.

To ensure the process was collaborative, the Chamber brought together a talent retention working group of nearly 100 public, private, nonprofit and grassroots organizations across Southeast Michigan to provide insight and feedback throughout the process.

The launch of Let’s Detroit was generously supported by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). In addition, The Department of Talent and Economic Development (TED) is an active partner in the development of Let’s Detroit in coordination with their statewide “Choose Michigan” initiative. Through this effort, Let’s Detroit can serve as a wireframe for other regions in the state if they want to implement a similar talent strategy. To continue to be successful, the Chamber is seeking additional support for the Let’s Detroit platform. Please visit LetsDetroit.com to explore and learn more.

 About Let’s Detroit

Let’s Detroit was created by the Detroit Regional Chamber to retain the young talent leaving the state. Using a website, texting communication, and social media engagement, the program aims to achieve three main objectives: improve the narrative around Detroit and Southeast Michigan, increase graduates in Southeast Michigan, and cultivate an innovative, engaged and culture-focused business community to drive economic prosperity. Let’s Detroit was launched to help achieve the Chamber’s goal of increasing postsecondary education attainment in the region to 60 percent by 2030. Explore at LetsDetroit.com.

About the Detroit Regional Chamber

Serving the business community for more than 100 years, the Detroit Regional Chamber is one of the oldest, largest and most respected chambers of commerce in the country. As the voice for business in the 11-county Southeast Michigan region, the Chamber’s mission is carried out through creating a business-friendly climate and value for members, leading a robust economic development strategy, and convening Michigan’s most influential audience at the nationally unique Mackinac Policy Conference.

Media contact: Kelly Weatherwax, kweatherwax@detroitchamber.com, 313.596.0360

 

Detroit’s Adult College Students: ‘It’s Never Too Late to Go’

For the region’s 690,000 adults with some college education, no degree or credential, returning to school can seem daunting, especially for individuals saddled with debt. Recognizing the need to grow Southeast Michigan’s talent pipeline, Detroit Drives Degrees is working with regional leaders to increase access among adults to pursue postsecondary educational opportunities for high-quality credentials, two-year and four-year degrees.

Detroit Drives Degrees hosted its Leadership Council meeting in June, bringing together leading representatives in higher education, business, government, philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. This meeting focused on adult talent and how adults can find their way back to and complete postsecondary education.

Working on a Dream

For Bob Ellis, a real estate agent and Macomb Community College (Macomb) student, returning to school was a big life decision. Raised in a working-class family, Ellis said college was never encouraged. But after a series of setbacks in his 40s, he realized he wanted to improve his life and follow his dream of getting a degree. Ellis returned to school to enhance his skills and follow his passion to help people.

Ellis struggled early on in college, as he lacked the necessary reading comprehension and study skills required at the college level. It wasn’t until he was placed into a student cohort that he was able to excel, learn study habits, and feel part of a community. Ellis transferred to Wayne State University (WSU), but faced higher tuition bills and a sense of uncertainty about his chosen degree path. He’s put his college attainment on hold while he saves money and further explores career opportunities after he obtains his degree.

Tiffany Treadwell returned to college after a career in retail with companies like Apple and Shinola. Treadwell said through her sales experience, she developed an interest in advocacy and human resources. Committed to return to school to obtain a bachelor’s degree but with few financial resources, Treadwell applied for a job with the university to take advantage of WSU’s tuition-free policy for employees. The transition back to school was challenging and although she used WSU’s tutoring programs, she didn’t meet the academic requirement for her first semester. Determined to continue, she used her advocacy skills and appealed her case to the Provost’s Office. She’s now back on-track, working and in school, as well as helping the university improve their systems for re-engaging adult students.

Both Ellis and Treadwell shared their story as part of a panel discussion moderated by David Scobey, director of the national initiative, Bringing Theory to Practice. Bringing Theory to Practice encourages and supports colleges and universities in developing sustainable campus cultures that support engaged learning and discovery, civic purpose, well-being, and preparation for a meaningful life.

A second panel moderated by Melanie D’Evelyn, director of Detroit Drives Degrees, featured Dawn Medley, associate vice president for enrollment management at WSU, Scott Anderson, vice president of human resources at Comcast, and Scobey. Focusing on the roles that institutional leaders play in an adult’s education, panelists discussed the importance of changing the learning practices that are in place, and rules that could potentially leave behind adult students due to grades or unpaid debt.

Finding Your Way Back to School

Businesses are encouraging adult education through tuition reimbursement. Comcast offers tuition reimbursement to employees and research by the Lumina Foundation showcases the return on investment for employers. WSU now offers one of the most innovative strategies in the country to re-engage adult learners. As announced at the 2018 Mackinac Policy Conference, WSU created the Warrior Way Back program for returning students. Warrior Way Back relieves past student tuition balances of former students who did not graduate.

Detroit Drives Degrees is also working to improve opportunities for adults to further their education, by focusing on creating a community of leaders that can be used to learn from each other to continue to create opportunities for adults to continue to pursue their degree. Detroit Drives Degrees is also developing a formal compact among higher education partners and others to better track and measure components of the talent pipeline, like reducing the percent of the adult population with some college, no degree.

To learn more about the Detroit Drives Degrees Leadership Council visit: www.detroitchamber.com/detroit-drives-degrees/leadership

Southeast Michigan’s New Online Platform to Give Businesses the Tools to Attract Talent

Research shows that 36 percent of college students left Michigan within a year in 2017. For a region positioning itself to lead the world in technological innovation, the talent problem can no longer be ignored.

To stop the flow of individuals leaving and attract new talent, the Detroit Regional Chamber will launch a new strategy this fall. The strategy is a collaborative project of the Detroit Regional Chamber and Detroit Drives Degrees, an economic development initiative of Forward Detroit focused on increasing the number of adults in the region with a postsecondary degree or credential.

Gathering Best Practices for Talent Retention

This past year, Detroit Drives Degrees connected with more than 1,000 people within the region to conduct local surveys and interviews. Research revealed that half of employers recruit out of state but lack the tools to promote Michigan and Detroit. Additionally, Michigan rarely is on the radar of young talent. While young people’s perceptions of Detroit are changing, they rely heavily on feedback from peers.

Greg Handel, the Chamber’s vice president of education and talent, shared that the strategy will help fill a void by establishing a centralized location for people looking for more information on the city and region. Through the strategy’s various components, it will better promote all that Detroit and the region has to offer – from a booming restaurant scene, to fun outdoor events. The strategy is focused on driving economic development by retaining and attracting talent across Southeast Michigan and aligns with Detroit Drives Degrees’ goal to increase the regional postsecondary attainment rate to 60 percent by 2030.

The recruitment strategy has three main objectives:

  • Improve the narrative and global perception of Detroit and Southeast Michigan
  • Promote “brain gain” by increasing graduates in Southeast Michigan by 1 percent annually
  • Cultivate an innovative, engaged and culture-focused business community

“Talent is the fuel for the region and contributes the most to economic growth and prosperity,” Handel said.

Showcasing Detroit’s Reinvention

A panel featuring three ambassadors for the strategy including Darvell Powell, president of Black Young Professionals of Metro Detroit; Tim Robinson, director of operations at Lenawee Now; and Dana Williams, manager of public affairs at DTE, agreed that giving prospective talent the ability to learn about the region and connect in an authentic way will pay dividends for businesses.

“When people aren’t connected, they aren’t going to stay around; they need to feel included and engaged in the city,” said Powell.

To learn more, contact Sarah Craft at scraft@detroitchamber.com.

Daniel Little Receives Inaugural Award for Excellence in Education and Leadership

The Chamber, through its Detroit Drives Degrees initiative, presented Daniel Little, outgoing chancellor of the University of Michigan-Dearborn (UMD), its inaugural Excellence in Education and Leadership award during the 2018 Mackinac Policy Conference. The award recognizes impactful leaders that play a role in growing the region’s higher education graduates.

The award was presented by Richard Rassel, chairman at Butzel Long and Detroit Drives Degrees Leadership Council co-chair. Rassel expressed his appreciation for Little’s legacy of higher education stating, “he brings a unique value to the students.”

Little, who has served as university chancellor since 2000, stepped down in June. Little also serves as a professor of philosophy at UMD and a professor of sociology at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. As Leadership Council co-chair, Little raises awareness on the importance of developing the region’s workforce to grow the economy and positively impact the lives of Detroiters.

Rassel said Little is a selfless leader stating, “while he has always been passionate about raising the profile of his own institution, University of Michigan-Dearborn, he also has remained loyal to a vision of universities and community colleges collaborating together on behalf of the region. This is the spirit that undergirds Detroit Drives Degrees. Without any ego but with tremendous skill and a leadership style marked by inclusivity, Chancellor Little has left an enduring legacy.”

Prior to presenting Little with the award, Greg Handel, vice president of education and talent for the Detroit Regional Chamber, announced the award will be given every year and dubbed it the Dan Little Award in Excellence in Education and Leadership, adding that Little “set the bar very, very high for future awardees.”

On accepting the award, Little emphasized the important work of Detroit Drives Degrees and the value of higher education.

“It is an honor to have served as co-chair of the Detroit Drives Degrees Leadership Council. The work of the Chamber and its partners is critical for our state, region and the Detroit Drives Degrees students who now have a brighter future,” he said.

Business Leaders: Education Reform and Job Creation Will Help Michigan ‘Live Long and Prosper’

Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah and Education Attainment Manager Melanie D’Evelyn spoke at the Michigan Solutions Summit on Thursday, March 22 to share insight on the Chamber’s ongoing efforts towards education reform, job creation, and talent retention in metro Detroit. The event was hosted by Business Leaders for Michigan and Bridge magazine.

The More You Learn the More You Earn
D’Evelyn outlined Detroit Drives Degrees’ plan to increase the percentage of postsecondary degrees in the metro Detroit region to 60 percent by 2030. Currently, about 40 percent of Detroiters hold a postsecondary degree.

“Detroit Drives Degrees’ goal is to create an education compact and collaborate with different sectors (nonprofits, higher education, philanthropy) toward reaching a common goal,” D’Evelyn said.. “We want the public to hold us accountable.”

The compact’s work has already begun. Wayne State University (WSU) Provost Keith Whitfield announced at the summit that the university is creating a program that allows adults who left college to re-enroll without paying back the full amount of educational debt they accumulated. The idea is that the university will absorb some of that debt to encourage adults to focus on completing their degrees.

Whitfield also announced that WSU is investing in academic advisors to help current students succeed and building partnerships to offer more paid internships to students. Both Whitfield and D’Evelyn are hoping that other universities will see the benefits of these innovations and create similar programs.

Regional Collaboration Will Drive Job Creation
After D’Evelyn’s discussion on educational reform, Baruah, along with Dave Egner, President and CEO of the Ralph Wilson Foundation, and Kim Trent, Wayne State University Board of Directors sat on a panel to discuss how job creation and talent retention fit into the regional improvement puzzle.

Baruah addressed several roadblocks that currently hinder business growth and investment in the region that would, in turn, produce prosperous jobs to retain educated Michiganders. One such roadblock is a lack of connected, reliable regional transit.

“What is preventing regional transit? Essentially, two things: one, change is an issue of culture. People in Michigan love cars and grew up in the auto culture, and they don’t want that to change,” Baruah said. “And the second big issue is a lingering sense of distrust between Detroiters and suburbanites. People don’t want to pay higher taxes for a system they don’t think they’ll use.”

Aside from transit, the lack of qualified talent was another issue Baruah cited as preventing Detroit from attracting new business. He emphasized the region’s need to invest in talent, encourage people to go into the skilled trades, and repurpose money used to incarcerate non-violent criminals to reintroduce these individuals into Michigan’s workforce.

Both D’Evelyn and Baruah emphasized that collaboration between the public and private sectors is what will drive education reform, job creation and talent retention for the state and region. By working together, Detroiters can create a region where everyone can prosper.

Help Detroit Drives Degrees Attract and Retain Talent in Southeast Michigan

Talent retention and attraction is a main focus of Detroit Drives Degrees (D3) initiative, following college (access) and graduate (success), keeping homegrown talent in the region is important to boost the economy and improve our communities. Unfortunately, only about 40 percent of graduates currently remain in Southeast Michigan post-college to start their careers.

The D3 talent working group consists of leaders across Southeast Michigan working in talent retention, attraction, and placemaking. The main mission of the group is to increase the amount of educated talent living in the region so the working group focuses on retaining existing residents with postsecondary degrees and attracting new talent to the community.

To get a better picture of existing talent strategies, challenges, opportunities and community assets, the working group launched a public survey this week. The survey asks if you are a longtime resident, newcomer, boomerang, ex-pat or college student to take the survey which outlines a series of questions for each group of people. For example, longtime residents can expect to answer questions about their community’s hidden gems, comment on their connection to changes happening in Detroit and share ideas about how residents can get connected to their community. Newcomers, on the other hand, can expect to share their experience moving to the region and how they embraced their community.

In addition, we ask that everyone share the questionnaire with friends, family, colleagues and neighbors so we can collect perspectives from a diverse group of people representing all corners of the region.

The survey closes on Friday, May 19 and results and key ideas will be promoted following so everyone can benefit from the information we collect. The working group will dive deep into the results and create a strategy to improve talent retention and attraction outcomes. We’re hoping to collect impactful and creative ideas from the survey so we need YOU to participate!

Can you help spread the word? Feel free to use the text below to promote via email or social media.

How can the region better keep existing residents and attract new ones? Take this survey to share your experiences and ideas https://goo.gl/forms/Yx3w74LoxIBBsSuC2 @DetroitChamber #D3Talent #DetroitDrivesDegrees

Want to get involved? Feel free to contact me at scraft@detroitchamber.com.

And don’t wait! Take the survey right now.