Average Cost for Employee Benefits

Average cost for employee benefits

Running a company is a game of balancing selling a product or service, customer needs, employee happiness, and the needs of a functioning business. It is difficult to manage the finances which is why so many businesses go out within the first years of opening. One unexpected cost that most people do not think about is employee benefits; the only time people really pay attention to it is when they are negotiating their contract. Today’s business world is a very different picture than it was ten years ago, and employee benefits have changed from the basic weeks of vacation and paid sick days. Companies now are offering fitness centers, catered food services, secondary insurance policies, longer maternity and paternity leave, and other wonderful employee benefits, but what does the cost of that look like?

When trying to break down the average cost of employee benefits, we are only going to look at the basic type of package which includes, “paid vacation or sick days, health insurance, life insurance and pension plan contribution”. There are varying statistics based on the business being in the public or private sector, but in general, for 2019, the average employer cost for employee compensation averaged $36.61 per hour worked, per the Employer Costs for Employee Compensation new release text by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If we want to break this down even further, we can see that wages and salaries averaged at $25.12 per hour worked while benefit costs averaged at $11.48 per hour worked; percentage-wise, wages and salaries accounted for 68.6% of the average compensation while benefits were 31.4%.

We can also compare the average cost of employee benefits across civilian, private industry, and state and local government workers. The total benefit cost is much higher for state and local government workers who make an average of $19.20 per hour worked. Private industry workers make about $10.30 per hour and we know from above that civilian workers make $11.48 per hour on average.

These numbers can be broken down further, but we get a pretty good picture of the average amount of money being spent by companies in the United States on employee benefits. The next steps to take would be to look at a comparison of the amount spent over the past few years to see what kind of trends the companies are making in spending on benefits and how we are seeing that manifest.

Stress Management: Address Your Bad Habits

Stress Management: Address Your Bad Habits

During times of stress, it can be all too easy to fall into the habit of shortcuts, self-neglect, and other bad habits. What if, instead of adding new bad habits, we did a little self-assessment and worked to address some existing bad habits?

As most of the country is entering their second month of isolation, self-improvement is a hot topic (along with where to buy toilet paper and how to touch-up your roots). Whether staving off depression and anxiety or trying to fill a suddenly empty day planner, this could be the perfect time to address some bad habits in both your personal and professional life.

Procrastination

Are you a procrastinator, waiting until the deadline is taunting you to even get started, then rushing through and delivering subpar work? That bad habit is likely to cost you career advancement or even your job.

This bad habit isn’t going to go away easily. Start small by beginning each day getting one dreaded task (that you would usually put off) done and out of the way. If you don’t have any small tasks, put in 20 minutes of quality effort toward a larger project. Then sit back and acknowledge your accomplishment.

Poor Email Communication

Oooh, boy. If you’re working from home right now, this is an even bigger issue. When we don’t take care to consider tone and clarity in our emails, it can lead to ruffled feathers, confusion, wasted time, and so very much frustration.

Take the time this week to review/revise your emails before you send them. Check for tone (are you coming across professionally?), grammar/spelling, completeness (did you address all the points?), and clarity (is it detailed, clearly written, organized, and correct?).

Addiction to Scrolling

This is going to be another that is even worse working remotely. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or whatever, turning to social media for escape or a mind-numbing scroll, especially during times of crisis, can become even more addictive.

As luck would have it, there is now technology to protect us from technology! Apps such as Freedom, StayFocusd Chrome extension, and Waste No Time for Chrome and Safari allow you to temporarily block certain websites so you can focus on your work.

Poor Time Management

Do you ever wonder how your colleagues manage to accomplish more in a 3 hour period than you do all day? It might be that they’re super-human…but more likely they’re just better at managing their time effectively.

There are plenty of time management tips and techniques out there, many of which can be used in concert. Try them out and see what works for you. Some favorites include:

  • Pomodoro Technique. You’ll be amazed what you can accomplish in 25 minutes if that’s all the time you give yourself. This technique also forces you to take regular breaks, which is good for productivity.
  • Make a to-do list for the next day at the end of your workday. Stop wasting time trying to figure out where you left off and what you need to accomplish.
  • Find your productive time frame and time block.
  • Batch your work. Instead of bouncing from application to application, take a page out of manufacturing’s handbook and batch similar tasks together.

As you work on your bad habits, remember that while it takes 21 days to form a new habit, it takes much longer to break a bad one. You’ll have setbacks and bad days, and those are to be expected. So take baby steps and focus on the progress.

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Stress Management: Add Some Mindfulness to Your Day

Stress Management: Add Some Mindfulness to Your Day

Our professional lives can be stressful on a good day. Add to that a global pandemic, economic downturn, “quarantine schooling” your kids, and throwing everyone into remote work and you have a recipe for extreme stress levels.

As we journey through Stress Awareness Month, I want to invite you to try out a variety of stress management exercises and find something that helps you to let go and center. One of my favorite techniques is practicing mindfulness.

Mindfulness, as defined by Lexico, is “a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” Exercises in mindfulness don’t require a lot of time and are perfect for sprinkling throughout the day. So set your pomodoro timer and check in with yourself at least once an hour with one of these exercises.

Zentangle

Have you seen these all over Instagram? Zentangle has gotten very popular in recent years and for good reason! You don’t have to be an “artist” and all you need is pen and paper. No fancy supplies, no mess or setup.  My favorite way to work is by creating sections (boxes, blobs, meandering lines, whatever) and filling each with a different pattern. You don’t have to complete it all at once. Take a break and just fill in one section.

Use repeating patterns to fill in (no decisions necessary). Notice how your pen glides over the paper – is it smooth? Does it catch? Notice the smell of the ink. Just allow yourself to be consumed by the process. There is no room left in your mind for worry and stress.

Stretching/Yoga

We all know that stress leads to tension, so make sure you’re taking regular breaks to stretch. We’re not talking about increasing flexibility, contorted yoga knots, or balancing sessions here. This is about slowing down, taking care of our muscles, and letting go of the tension. In the words of one of my favorite yogis, Adriene Mishler, Find What Feels Good.

One of the key tenants in mindfulness, however, is to acknowledge but not judge. So when you go to touch your toes and your lower back makes you want to cry, don’t get negative. Just slow down and breathe into your muscles to help them relax. Acknowledge all your body is doing right now and give it some grace.

Body Scan

In line with stretching/yoga comes the body scan…and this one should maybe happen every half hour when we are stressed. It doesn’t have to take long as a check-in, but a nice, long body scan can be incredibly relaxing.

Calm has an excellent guided body scan available, but the gist is just to check in with each part of your body, notice how its feeling, and relax any tension you find. As with the yoga, no judgment (this is a good lesson in changing what we can and accepting what we can’t).

Breathing

We all probably know that a nice, deep breath can help us re-center, but somehow that seems to be the last thing we think of when we’re feeling overwhelmed. And even when we do think to do some deliberate breathing, it can be hard to truly slow it down and deepen your breathing without a little outside help.

Calm, again, has come to the rescue with this simple animation. Spend a minute or so with it every hour and feel your heart rate and stress levels lower.

Mindful Observation

Mindful observation can be a tricky one, because it’s building self-discipline. You don’t need any tools or helpers, and that is part of the struggle! You are simply relying on yourself and your own ability to focus.

Pick an object, any object. Study it. Look at that object as though you’ve never seen it before. Notice the colors, shading, variegation. Notice the textures. How does it feel in your hand? Is it smooth, rough? Light, heavy? Warm, cold? What does it smell like? Take in all the nuances and details you possibly can.

Spoiler alert: you will get distracted. Your mind will wander. That’s okay. It’s not a competition and the goal is progress, not perfection.

Practice Gratitude

One of the best ways to combat stress is with gratitude. Afterall, it’s simply putting negativity up against positivity.

There are many different ways to practice gratitude: journaling, meditation, affirmations, etc. Showing your gratitude is a great method, as well, and could make a considerable impact on others during this time. So take some time to reflect on all you have to be grateful for during this time.

Coloring

Just like the zentangles, coloring can be extremely therapeutic. Try limiting your color palette to just a handful of colors to cut back on decision-making, which we’ve all been doing enough of.

Enjoy creating something superfluous. Be in the moment and let it consume you.

Mindful Eating/Drinking

A favorite, especially when so many of us are indulging for comfort, is mindful eating and drinking. Consume that treat slowly and experience every nuance. How does it feel in your mouth? Notice the explosion of taste as you bite into it.

It may sound crazy in our busy society, but slowing down to notice these little things will have a profound effect on your outlook, gratitude, and attitude.

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How Much Do Companies Spend Training Employees?

How much do employers spend training employees

Training employees is one of the most important parts of running a business. This can make or break how well your company functions and the amount of revenue you make. Since it is so important, how much should be spent on training employees? How do you balance the amount spent on training with the amount that they will bring in?

Every December the Association for Talent Development releases a report of the average amount spent on employee training by businesses in various industries and sectors. The latest report on the average company spending for the year on training employees shows that there has been an upward trend in direct learning expenditure. In fact, 2018 was the sixth year in a row to see that pattern and the number of employee learning hours has maintained a healthy increase as well. The Association for Talent Development published that in 2017 there was an average of $1,296 spent by companies on training each employee (2018 State of the Industry). Despite our leanings toward technology as a society, almost half of employee training is still done in-person or in a traditional classroom training.

It is also important to look at not only the average cost of training but also the average amount of time that employees are being trained for. The trend for number of hours has been increasing in correlation to the amount spent with the average hours for 2017 being at 34.1 hours, the same as in 2016, 33.5 hours of training in 2015, and with 32.4 hours in 2014 (ATD Releases 2016) (2018 State of the Industry). It makes sense that the number of hours would increase with the amount spent, but it is surprising that the hours with in-person training remained the same.

We are seeing that employers are putting more into training as the years go by. What does this say about the business world? Are we seeing this increase because of unavoidable inflation of overall spending and costs? Or, does this have anything to do with a trend to spend more time training employees? It has been shown that spending more time training can help with the onboarding process and employee productivity, so these numbers could be a good sign of measures taken to prevent employee turn over. Knowing these statistics can be especially useful when making future decisions and should be monitored to see how your company compares to others in your industry.

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Stress Management: Take Time to Reconnect

Stress Management: Take Time to Reconnect

April is Stress Management month – how appropriate! As we juggle sudden changes, additional responsibilities, isolation, and possible job loss, it is important to check in with your mental health and manage stress levels. One way is through conversation.

Take some time to reconnect with your professional contacts. With Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, Facebook Messenger, and so many other platforms out there, you have plenty of avenues for a virtual coffee date (and most people are itching for some human interaction). Just remember that these are professional contacts, so you’ll need to get dressed (pants, too!) and have a clean space behind you!   

This time for reconnecting will probably look a little different than your standard networking conversation. Most people’s figurative cups are feeling pretty empty right now, so make sure you are doing something to fill theirs.

Do:

  • Check in with how they are handling the situation.
  • Share your healthy coping strategies and commiserate on the difficulty of being thrown into remote work with no warning or preparation.
  • Share technology tips if you have them!
  • Really listen to hear, not just to respond.
  • Enjoy some human interaction – no agenda.

Don’t:

  • Complain about everything.
  • Tell them how easy they have it or how much harder it is for you. We are all struggling right now.
  • Make it strictly about work. We all need some water cooler talk.

So clean up that “workspace”, get dressed, and fill your calendar with some virtual coffee dates.  Nurture your relationships, build community, and we’ll all get through this together.

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Spring Cleaning: Tidy Up Your Social Media

Spring Cleaning: Tidy Up Your Social Media

Well, Spring has officially sprung…along with COVID-19 turning all our lives upside down. I’ve seen so many people taking advantage of the quarantine by organizing their homes, starting messy house projects, and digging into the yard work. Who is ruthlessly scrubbing away at their professional life though?

During your excessive hours on Facebook and Twitter, trying to feel some human interaction, make sure you are tidying up your public profiles and keeping them appropriate for public consumption.

93% of hiring managers check the social media profiles of every candidate prior to making a final hiring decision. What would yours say about you (especially right now), and how do you put your social media to work for you all while remaining authentic?

According to Jobvite’s 2017 Recruiter Nation Report, the biggest red flags when researching a candidate tend to pop up in a social media search. When recruiters are browsing your profiles, we’re looking for indicators of your personality and whether you’ll mesh with the company culture. And let’s be real, we’re also looking for any indicators that things aren’t what they seem.

    So, what are some of the biggest red flags?
  • 61% of recruiters are turned off by marijuana use in the last year (although the attitude toward marijuana use is changing as more states legalize it, and this number has decreased 10% in the last year).
  • 51% shudder at your political rants.
  • 48% are judging your spelling and grammatical errors. After all, clear and effective communication is an important quality for any candidate.
  • 35% are turned off by alcohol consumption.
  • 19% roll their eyes at showing off wealth. Not having wealth, but showing it off.
  • 16% might rethink their decision if you’re showing too much skin.
  • 12% will start to question what’s going on if you have a limited social presence.
  • -7% are done with the selfies.

In general, I would strongly suggest you just lock down your Facebook and Twitter privacy settings and keep LinkedIn completely professional. Anything you’re sharing publicly should be something you’re okay with grandma seeing.

So, what should you make sure is visible? Work samples, accomplishments, volunteer/community work, and anything that shows you’ll be a good team player who is nice to work with. While you’re at it, add a little polish to your LinkedIn profile by getting some strong recommendations from past/present managers, clients, and co-workers!

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How Working Out Increases Productivity

How Working Out Improves Productivity

In order to be productive in the workplace, one must be driven, alert, and focused. Working out can help boost employees' drive, alertness, and focus, among other things.

Increased Alertness and Energy

Working out increases blood flow to the brain, which can sharpen the senses. Thus, sharpening increases alertness, making employees more prepared to start their next big task. Exercising also gives you more energy, making employees feel more awake and ready to go when at the office.

Improved Mental and Physical Health

Exercising greatly improves one’s mental health, by helping to curb feelings of anxiety and depression. The process of working out sends out chemicals that improve mood and relieve stress, making it much easier to focus on the tasks at hand. Working out has the obvious physical benefits of getting one healthy and in shape, but it also helps prevent illnesses and infections, through increased immunity. This means that employees will be able to take less sick days as they will be overall much happier and healthier

How to Succeed When Working Remotely

How to Succeed When Working Remotely

And just like that, people everywhere have been thrown into working remotely.

The oh-so-coveted remote position brings its own wealth of struggles that people often don’t realize until they are mid-battle. How do you stay on-task with so many distractions around? How do you self-motivate? Who is going to keep you in the loop? What if you get lonely? What if your kids barge in on your conference call?

At Reach Your Destination and our sister company, TDM & Associates, we know all about working remotely, so we thought we’d share some of our favorite tips for success when working from a home office.

Julie Blodgett, Senior Search Consultant at TDM, has been working from a home office for over 20 years. Her expert advice is:

  • Try to separate yourself as best you can from the hub of the house.  It’s always nice if you have a door on your office to close when needed.
  • Make your work area as comfortable and inviting as possible.
  • Stay focused on your work task - you can always tackle laundry, dishes etc. after work hours.
  • Take a walk during lunch and get some fresh air!
  • Try to keep to your normal schedule for starting and ending as well as lunch and breaks.

Stephanie Swilley, Search Consultant at TDM and Resume Writer with RYD, has been working from home for 10 years and currently has two children under 10 underfoot with school closures. She suggests:

  • Follow the 80/20 rule. Especially if you have young children at home, you can’t expect your workday to be just like in the office, so focus your energy on the 20% of your work that yields 80% of your results.
  • Use time management techniques like Pomodoro to keep yourself on-task. I’m not like Julie – the laundry and dishes are going all day long! But I set timers and take care of those while I’m taking my breaks from work.
  • Take time to socialize. Call a friend from the office to catch up (and make sure you’re in the loop on everything at work). Remote work can be very isolating.
  • Over-communicate. Be as clear as possible and don’t assume anything in your emails because you won’t run into each other at the water cooler and clarify later! Also, keep as much in writing as possible because it’s harder to follow up on things you forget when you aren’t in-person.
  • Disconnect. This is still a big struggle for me, but do as much as you can to “leave” at the end of your workday. Your brain needs the break to be able to be productive the next day.

And our biggest piece of advice: give yourself some grace. Transitions are hard anytime, but a transition that comes along-side a pandemic will always be harder. And your kids probably will do something to embarrass you during this time.

Wishing you all good health, much sanity, and extra rolls of toilet paper in the coming weeks!

Spring Cleaning: Spruce Up Your Resume

Spring Cleaning: Spruce Up Your Resume

As I made my way around my little town this weekend during this “False Spring”, it was invigorating to see everyone outside cleaning up flower beds, airing out rugs and houses, cleaning windows, and all manner of other Spring Cleaning activities! This month we’re working to bring that energy into our professional world, and a quick sprucing up of your resume is a great way to do so!

When is the last time you looked at your resume? So many people ignore that little document for years at a time, only pulling it back out when it’s time to look for a new position. That sets you up for so much extra work, though!

Pull out your resume this week (try to do this every 3-4 months) and give it a readthrough.

Did you find typos that have you mortified that you’ve sent that resume out for applications?

Time away from a document can give you a fresh set of fresh eyes. This break should allow your brain to read your resume as if it is new information, actually processing what is written rather than what it assumes will be there.

Does it accurately reflect your career objectives or goals?

Our career goals are constantly evolving as we grow in our professional life, so a resume you wrote 3 years ago may no longer be relevant to where you are now. Spring clean it with some tweaks to keep it growing as you do.

Do you have new projects and key accomplishments that you can add?

Now is the time to add details to your resume, while they’re fresh in mind and you still have access to the data! Add project details, quantifiable results from your work. Don’t overlook the feedback from your employee evaluation either! Positive feedback can be incorporated into your resume to validate skills (especially soft skills)!

Dedicate an hour to your resume this week and get to sprucing!

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The Power of Grit: You Do Not Have to Be the Smartest in the Room, You Just Have to Try the Hardest

The Power of Grit: You Do Not Have to Be the Smartest in the Room, You Just Have to Try the Hardest

The winner of the race is not always the fastest runner, it is not always the most prepared, nor the one with the best shoes, but it is always someone who finished. Perseverance (aka stubbornness) is one of the most overlooked character traits in the hiring process, but it is one of the most important indicators for success on the job. This is especially true of high stress, high risk, and high return potential jobs. It is almost a cliché that the higher the value the harder it will be to do. Achieving great results usually means several cycles of failure, retrospective, and retry. Well-known inventors and entrepreneurs all have stories of failure, usually several times before succeeding. It is not the vision to dream which is hard, it is the courage to see your dream shattered, learn from it, and dream again that achieves greatness.

Some of the best advice I was ever given: there is nothing more devastating than a life with no failures because that is a life waster. Go ahead and grieve, it is natural, but then take a look at the situation. Learn from the failure; that is the only important thing to do. Trying again is not necessary unless you decide on a different path to take. Remember Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result.

A certain amount of wisdom is required to recognize what is really possible and what is not. Usually, though, the reason we failed is that we really did not think and act early enough or insufficient quantity, and sometimes the reason for that is because we really did not care. So look carefully at why you think you failed, and plan what you can do about it.

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