Regional Leaders Showcase How Employee Well-being Programs Can Boost Business and Economic Growth

The Chamber’s “The Business Case for Community Health” gathered expert leaders to discuss ways to create a healthier region and its significance for talent and business attraction and retention. The event presented key data on well-being and considered how creating workplace well-being programs can reduce health care spending, improve employee productivity and behaviors, and decrease absenteeism.

People who thrive in all five well-being areas – purpose, social, financial, community, and physical – experience 41% less unhealthy days and are more engaged at work. Businesses who engage in employee health send a strong message to their communities.

“Retaining employees matters,” said Jay Brown, director of corporate social responsibility and economic relations at RPM – The Driving Force in Logistics. “Keeping employees happy, healthy, and productive in their roles will prevent employers from spending money on hiring and training less frequently.”

Resiliency is another crucial element of good well-being and employee retention. Those with higher states of resiliency still feel stress, they are just better at accepting and reacting to that stress, said Cindy Bjorkquist, director of health and well-being programs for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. That’s why our goals as employers shouldn’t be to eliminate stress but help build resiliency to manage it, she said.

Employees working in the health system have a unique challenge surrounding well-being. It’s vital for patient-care providers to make their own health a priority so they are better equipped to deliver a high level of care to others. Otherwise, the results can be harmful.

“It’s the classic airplane example,” said Beth Thayer, director of the center for health promotion and disease prevention at Henry Ford Health System. “You must first secure your own oxygen mask so that you can assist others.”

Seeing the benefits of workplace well-being programs takes patience. When measuring workplace well-being programs, employers should consider a holistic approach, including reviewing specific employee results and the financial return on investment.

“We look at health assessments and achievement scores, of course, but we also think about preventative care, presenteeism, and lower rates of employee mistakes while on the job due to improved well-being,” said Kathy Forzely, director of the department of health and human services for Oakland County.

“There is a difference between outcomes and impacts,” said Brown. “Outcomes are how many people signed up for the wellness program. Impacts are the results you might not see for the next decade.”

Brooks Kushman Named One of Michigan’s Best and Brightest in Wellness

Intellectual property and technology law firm Brooks Kushman has been named one of Michigan’s Best and Brightest in Wellness for the first time.

Best and Brightest in Wellness identifies and honors organizations that excel in making their workplace, their employees and their community a healthier place to live and work through health and wellness initiatives. The winning organizations are evaluated by an assessment tool created and administered by SynBella, the leading wellness provider in the nation.

“We are proud to be recognized among the 101 Best and Brightest in Wellness,” said Mark Cantor, President of Brooks Kushman. “We believe the health and well-being of our employees and community is vital. We look forward to continuing to develop our company culture to create a healthy and positive workplace environment conducive to best serving our clients and the greater community.”

As an award recipient, Brooks Kushman will be honored at Michigan’s Best and Brightest in Wellness symposium and awards gala on October 20, 2016 at The Henry Autograph Collection Hotel in Dearborn.

The Best and Brightest in Wellness provides education, benchmarking, assessment tools and interaction among top employers throughout Michigan all year long. This encourages companies to continue to strive to improve the health of their employees and the greater community making Michigan an even better place to live and work.

About Brooks Kushman P.C.

Brooks Kushman P.C. is a leading intellectual property (IP) and technology law firm with offices across the nation, and represents clients nationally and internationally with respect to protection, enforcement and monetization of IP, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. The firm has more than 90 intellectual property professionals specializing in various technical disciplines, and has a reputation for providing leading IP counseling with a focus on the business objectives of their clients.

Brooks Kushman counts a number of Fortune 100 companies across a variety of industries among its clients. The firm is also recognized by leading legal publications and rankings, including Corporate Counsel magazine, U.S. News & World Report, Law360, Intellectual Asset Management, Managing Intellectual Property, World Trademark Review, and Intellectual Property Today. For more information, please visit

Key Strategies for Recruiting and Retaining Top Talent in a Tightening Labor Market

A new survey by Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. shows that a growing number of employers are revamping their benefits strategies to outmaneuver competitors and become destination employers.

As the U.S. unemployment rate drops, the battle to recruit and retain top talent has only intensified. Becoming a destination employer is not only crucial for the competitiveness of individual organizations, it also impacts the economy. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are currently 5.7 million job openings. If all of those positions were filled, the nation’s GDP growth rate could significantly increase.

The heightened need for strong benefits and compensation packages is a resonating theme throughout the 2017 Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (Gallagher) Benefits Strategy & Benchmarking Survey, which collected data from 4,226 organizations across the U.S. In its fifth year, the survey examined how employers were using benefits and compensation to differentiate their organization in the war for talent. Notable findings from this year’s research show a growing emphasis on addressing the needs of the whole employee, integrating emotional, financial, social and career wellbeing with physical health.

Shift in Employer Thinking from Wellness to Wellbeing

Historically, wellness programs have focused on improving physical health as an extension of medical benefits. While reducing healthcare costs remains the main driver for offering a wellness program (60 percent), employers also cite investing in the organization’s culture (43 percent) and improving employees’ work experience and satisfaction (37 percent) as other top motivators. This broader, more holistic approach is also demonstrated by the increase in programs now covering financial wellbeing (34 percent), volunteer opportunities (28 percent) and community engagement (27 percent).

“This shift in thinking is one of the reasons we expect 70 percent of organizations will offer wellness programs by 2019,” said William F. Ziebell, President, Gallagher Employee Benefits Consulting and Brokerage. “When employers rebalance their priorities to include benefits like professional development and a workplace culture that promotes employee engagement and total wellbeing, they differentiate themselves in the talent marketplace.”

Leave Policies Play a Role in Employee Attraction and Retention

The need to appeal to younger workers with parental leave policies has prompted a discussion about supporting the total wellbeing of employees as they try to solve the work-life equation. Despite headlines showcasing generous maternity and paternity leave policies, a vast majority (64 percent) of organizations do not offer paid parental leave apart from short-term disability. In fact, only 22 percent offer this benefit to both mothers and fathers.

Retirement Readiness is Key to Higher Productivity and Engagement

Retirement benefits better equip employees for their financial future and give them peace of mind in the present. While it is encouraging that nearly half (48 percent) of employers use auto-enrollment in retirement plans to help employees improve savings, only 37 percent are measuring retirement readiness.
“During every life stage, employees encounter financial obstacles like paying student loans, buying a home, or paying for daycare,” Ziebell said. “These impact retirement savings and can result in employees needing to stay on the job longer than they’d like. An aging population often has higher healthcare costs and limits opportunities for younger employees to advance. So when organizations help their employees identify and manage these financial stressors, it often results in higher productivity and engagement.”

Survey Shows Importance of Taking a 360-Degree View

The 2017 Benefits Strategy & Benchmarking Survey underscores the importance of taking a 360-degree view of an organization’s benefits and compensation strategy, specifically through the lens of employee attraction and retention. Micro and macro-economic factors, such as the tightening labor market and shrinking candidate pool, make it even more imperative. As employers gain a deeper understanding of how these different elements work together, they can see more clearly how to align human resource and organizational strategies to drive better business results.


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 2017 survey, conducted from January to March of this year, aggregates responses from 4,226 organizations across the U.S. Additional survey results can be found at


Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (NYSE: AJG), an international insurance brokerage and risk management services firm, is headquartered in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, has operations in 33 countries and offers client-service capabilities in more than 150 countries around the world through a network of correspondent brokers and consultants.


American Society of Employers (ASE) releases 2016 Healthcare Insurance Benefits Survey findings

The American Society of Employers (ASE), one of the nation’s oldest and largest employer associations, has released its 2016 Healthcare Insurance Benefits Survey. The second annual survey, covering Michigan employers, examines the premiums, deductibles and co-pays of employer-sponsored health plans as well as wellness benefit offerings.

Highlights of the ASE 2016 Healthcare Insurance Benefits Survey:

• At 91%, the most widely used plan type among respondents was a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO), which offers employees greater provider options. Only 33% of surveyed companies offered a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan.
• In 2016, the median in-network PPO plan deductible (in high deductible plans) for employee-only coverage in non-unionized companies was $1,875, up from $1,750 in 2015. Median deductibles for employee plus family coverage increased by $250 to $3,750. Changes in health deductibles among traditional plans (i.e. those without high deductibles) were mixed. In-network deductibles among traditional PPO plans decreased slightly for employee only and employee plus family coverage. Decreases for those plan types were between $100 and $200 for employee-only and employee plus family coverage respectively. However, among HMO plans, the median deductibles increased $250 for employee-only coverage and $500 for employee plus family coverage.
• Among non-union firms, the average employer premium percentage for employee only and employee plus family coverage for consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs), plans that typically combine high-deductible health insurance with tax-advantaged accounts, was 80%, down slightly from 82% in 2015. For traditional PPO plans, the median employer premium for both union and non-union organizations was consistent with 2015 at 82%. For traditional PPO plans, the median employer premium for both union and non-union organizations was maintained at 80%.

In response to a survey question regarding healthcare cost containment strategies, the following are among those noted:

• Increase the employee’s cost share of health insurance: Nearly 40% of organizations responding either increased the employee’s share prior to 2016 or plan to do so this year.
• The implementation of additional formulary tiers for prescription drug coverage: In looking at a traditional PPO in 2015, 22% of union organizations used four or five tiers; in the 2016 survey findings, that number rose to almost 24%. In non-union organizations, 94% of organizations reported using three tiers and above in the 2016 survey, up from 88% in 2015.
• The creation or expansion of wellness programs: Union organizations offering screening activities, preventative interventions and health promotion activities increased more than 10% from 2015; there was also an overall increase in the percentage of union organizations offering cash or cash equivalent incentives for wellness activity participation as opposed to a premium discount or contribution to an HSA/HRA.

The ASE 2016 Healthcare Insurance Benefits Survey findings were announced by ASE President and CEO, Mary E. Corrado.

“This survey serves as a resource employers can use to ensure they are effectively competing in the marketplace,” Corrado said. “Healthcare remains a substantial investment for both employers and employees. Employers are adjusting their health plans and associated premium, co-pay and deductible expenses in a manner that ensures affordability for both the employer and the employee.”

Background information on the ASE 2016 Healthcare Insurance Benefits Survey:

• 229 organizations from across Michigan participated.
• Organizations with 50 to 499 employees nationally made up more than 60% of the survey sample, while organizations with more than 500 employees nationally represented nearly 22% of the sample. The remaining 18% of the sample come from organizations with fewer than 50 employees nationally.
• A variety of industries are represented, with manufacturing or goods producing organizations representing 51% of the survey sample. The remaining 49% are represented by trades and services organizations.

To obtain a copy of ASE’s 2016 Healthcare Insurance Benefits Survey, contact ASE’s Compensation and Benefits Surveys department at or 248.353.4500. This survey is available free of charge to ASE-member survey participants, $225 to ASE members and $1,350 for non-members.

About the American Society of Employers (ASE) – a Centennial Organization

The American Society of Employers (ASE) is a not-for-profit trade association providing people-management information and services to Michigan employers. Since 1902, member organizations have relied on ASE to be their single, cost-effective source for information and support, helping to grow their bottom line by enhancing the effectiveness of their people. Learn more about ASE at

Millennial Engagement in Health


Jonathan So, Senior Director of Health Care Initiatives, recently served on the panel focused on Millennial Engagement in Health and Wellness in the workplace at the 2015 Employer Healthcare & Benefits Congress in Orlando.  The session, which was was moderated by Vic Villanueva of the ROC Group, centered on the opportunities and challenges in engaging Millennial employees (those born between 1980 and 2000) in their health and wellness benefits. Jonathan’s comments centered on the need to get this population engaged as they will represent 50% of the workforce by 2020 and have no established behavioral patters when it comes to interacting with the health care system.

In  one question centered on busting stereotypes regarding millennials, So said, “I think that many regard millennials as not being loyal to their employer. So a lot of employers don’t want to invest in their young talent who may leave for another job at any time.  I actually think that this generation is one of the most loyal.  If you gain their trust and give them opportunities to grow, they will run through walls for you.  They are your biggest and loudest champions, but they can also be your most vocal detractors. They smell inauthenticity immediately and you can lose them just like that.  Its a population you need to win over every day.”

Another question was in regards to busting health care myths.  So said, “The need to get a CEO involved in health are is a huge myth.  Millennials couldn’t care less about whether the CEO is participating in the walking program. The people who need to be involved is the frontline managers because they are the ones who operationalize the culture in your organization.  They are the key to the success or failure of any initiative.  This is especially important with millennials because the oldest millennials are now 35.  They are or will represent most of an organizations front line supervisors within the next few years and if they are jaded, everyone else will be too.”

Jonathan managed to snap a selfie with the panel just before they exited.

To learn more about the Employer Healthcare and Benefits Congress, you can follow this link:

If you would like to share your experiences with millennial engagement at your organization, contact Jonathan So at

Wellness and Collaboration at Core of Plante Moran’s 2013 Healthcare Outlook

Southfield, Mich., Feb. 28, 2013 – Fundamental shifts in health care, above and beyond reforms included in the Affordable Care Act, will need to be re-examined in 2013 according to a new report from Plante Moran, one of the nation’s largest certified public accounting and business advisory firms.

In its latest healthcare industry outlook, Plante Moran identified five key dynamics that the entire healthcare value chain, specifically employers, patients, payors, suppliers and providers, must embrace in 2013 to stabilize and sustain the healthcare system in America.

“Although there is consensus that the current healthcare model is unsustainable, the commitment to drastic change is low. That itself has to change,” said Matt Weekley, national healthcare practice leader at Plante Moran. “Americans have to assume greater responsibility for their wellness and become better educated consumers of medical care. Similarly, the healthcare industry has to collaborate to reduce inefficiencies and defects.”

Plante Moran’s five-point formula includes:

• Wellness: With a greater emphasis on wellness and preventative medicine, more costly acute and post-acute services can be better avoided. This focus requires patients to make healthy choices and wellness part of their routine and will require healthcare systems and professions to invest in preventative health programs and personnel.

• Collaboration: The future of healthcare delivery lies in “patient-centered medical homes” that focus on treating the “whole person.” Bringing primary care physicians, behaviorists and social workers under “one roof” eliminates cost outliers and increases efficiencies. This transformation from an “event” centered healthcare system to a focus on healthy lifestyles requires coordination and collaboration among doctors, insurance companies and patients. The healthcare industry will also utilize technology, such as smart phone applications for EKGs, ultrasounds and telemonitoring of chronic conditions, to drive down costs.

• Pricing transparency: In 2012, approximately $2.7 trillion was spent on health care for 320 million people. That’s approximately 18 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product and is 50 percent more than most developed countries. The future requires patients to be active consumers; employers to move to high-deductible, defined insurance plans that provide greater flexibility and personalization; insurance companies to provide more retail-pricing models; and providers to bundle services.

• Success metrics: Success will not be measured by how many tests, admissions, surgeries or procedures are performed, but by how many people choose one medical service over the services of another. Payors, such as insurance companies, will be charged with keeping the total cost of delivering health care per capita at or below the rate of inflation. For patients, the success metric is very simple, “Am I leading a healthier lifestyle? Am I managing my own wellness plan?”

• Responsibility: Healthcare reform is leading back to an era of more individual responsibility, when insurance was considered to be for catastrophic coverage only and individuals picked up as much as 75 percent of healthcare expenses (compared with 25 percent today). Employers will be able to attract and recruit staff based on how much they subsidize defined insurance plans. Providers will have a greater focus on quality over quantity.

“Data has made it clear for a while that health care was on the frontier of disruption and in need of transformation. But when you listen to people at the grocery store or coffee shop talk about how to care for a loved one, the issues take on more urgency. Health care is a very personal issue for consumers, but it is also a very essential piece of a healthy, thriving economy. ” Weekley said. “Our nation, its businesses and its families, are looking to health care to bring back our competitive edge. To accomplish this goal, real cuts in the cost of care delivery will need to be re-engineered into the care process.”

The full report can be downloaded at

About Plante Moran
Plante Moran is among the nation’s largest certified public accounting and business advisory firms, providing clients with tax, audit, risk management, financial, technology, business consulting, and wealth management services. Plante Moran has a staff of more than 2,000 professionals in 21 offices throughout Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois, with international offices in Shanghai, China; Monterrey, Mexico; and Mumbai, India. Plante Moran has been recognized by a number of organizations, including FORTUNE magazine, as one of the country’s best places to work. For more information, visit

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Tenth-Annual McGraw Wentworth Survey to Benchmark Michigan Benefits Trends, Employers’ Plans for Health Care Reform

Troy, Michigan, January 21, 2013 – In 2014, key elements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) take effect, including employer “play or pay” mandates, mandatory coverage requirements for individuals, and health exchanges. Michigan organizations and human resources professionals are focusing on managing health care benefits costs while also adapting to and complying with the law. McGraw Wentworth, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC company, has launched its tenth-annual Southeast Michigan Mid-Market Group Benefits Survey to provide employers with benchmarking and trend data to use in developing their 2014 benefits plan strategies, including how to best navigate Affordable Care Act requirements. Results and analysis will be released in May.

More than 550 southeast Michigan organizations are expected to participate in the free survey. The 2013 Mid-Market Survey includes new data points to address the changes in employer-sponsored health care. The resulting analysis will:

  • Highlight whether Michigan organizations plan to continue offering group health coverage under health reform.
  • Benchmark how organizations intend to address the 30-hour work week, affordability test, auto enrollment rules and availability of health exchange.
  • Examine the use of cost control strategies such as defined contribution plans, consumer driven health plans (CDHPs), cost-shifting, and spousal surcharges.
  • Track organizations’ wellness initiatives, their use of incentives, and outcomes measurement.
  • Review PPO, HMO and CDHP plan costs and co-pays for southeast Michigan employers.
  • Identify the region’s TrendBendersTM, high-performing organizations that have kept average cost increases at less than 3% over the past two years.

”Health Care Reform is prompting all employers to examine their business models, to delve deeper into their workforce and benefits management strategies,” said Rebecca McLaughlan, Managing Director, McGraw Wentworth. “This survey is an important tool that helps midsize organizations understand health care cost trend and provides them with an objective overview of how their industry and regional peers intend to adapt to ACA.”

Mid-sized employers with 100-10,000 employees in southeast Michigan — including manufacturing, technology, service, government, education and not-for-profit organizations — benefit from the extensive survey analysis. Participants are invited to attend an informative survey results seminar at which they will receive a tailored report benchmarking their organization against industry peers and the entire dataset. All data will be confidential. Interested organizations should call Ryan Bowers at (248) 822- 6231 or visit

McGraw Wentworth, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC company, is an award-winning group benefits consulting and brokerage firm based in Troy, Michigan. The company counsels clients on how to structure their group benefit programs and provides strategic planning, utilization review, benefit design, employee communications, compliance assistance and related services. The firm is supported by Marsh & McLennan, the premier global provider of advice and solutions in risk, strategy and human capital.