January 15th: Friday Roundup

The weekend is calling as another work week concludes.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rate for the country held steady at 6.7% in December.  The number of unemployed persons held stead at 10.7 million.  While these figures are considerably lower than the spike we saw in April, they are still double the pre-pandemic levels we enjoyed last February.    Attached is the Bureau’s new release on The Employment Situation – December 2020, which contains detailed statistics on our current state. 

December bore witness to a continued decline in jobs in leisure, hospitality, and private education sectors.  These losses were offset by some gains in professional and business services, retail trade and construction; sectors which are attempting to rebound. 

Continued high unemployment figures will impact the unemployment tax rates.  This is something we will continue to keep an eye on.  Hopefully, you caught our post earlier this week regarding the anticipated increases in unemployment tax rates in Florida.  

Unemployment Tax Rates in Florida are Increasing

Unemployment often leads to criminal activities.  As COVID-19 diagnosis continue to climb nationwide, so do predatory scams related to the pandemic.  Spreading awareness of these scams is one of the best ways we can help to limit the number of individuals who fall victim.  We hope you saw our post earlier this week sharing recommendations from Regions Bank Treasury Management and the FBI on how to avoid falling prey to these scams.

Regions Bank Treasury Management sends out information on Emerging COVID-19 Scams

Stay safe and have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Unemployment Tax Rates in Florida are Increasing

The Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR) has recently published the attached forecast summary on Florida’s Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund for 2021 and beyond. Suzanne Hurst, Deputy Director of Florida Association of Professional Employer Organizations (FAPEO) offers the following review of these figures.

The Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR) is a research arm of the Legislature principally concerned with forecasting economic and social trends that affect policy making, revenues, and appropriations.

The figures below come from the attached summary provided by the Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR). This document provides historic context, current figures and forecasted figures for benefit charges, collections and rates for Florida’s Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund.  This important information is provided to you for your cash flow planning. 

Unemployment Tax Rates – Minimum Tax Rate

2020 – .10%

2021 – .29%

2022 – 1.15%  (forecasted)

2023 – 1.11% (forecasted)

2024 – .56% (forecasted)

2025 – .10% (forecasted)

Your Florida PEO Lobbyist, David Daniel, is presenting a detailed briefing at a meeting Friday of state-wide business interests about possible solutions to impact of social costs from benefit payments related to the pandemic.  Your FAPEO board has created multiple proposals that could lower rates as early as this year.  We will continue to advocate for common sense solutions that protect Florida’s small employers as everyone struggles during these economic times. 

We will keep you up to date on all developments as these proposals move through the lawmaking process. 

One Week In

The first week of 2021 comes to a close. So far this year is shaping up to be as lively and unusual as the last. We wish everyone a mindful and happy 2021. To that end, we hope you saw our post this week on how to Start the New Year with a Digital Declutter.

Implement a 30-Day plan for building a Digital Declutter.

Step 1: Define your core values (and how technology helps and hurts them)

Step 2: Drop all “optional” technologies for 30 days

Step 3: Track your “technology triggers” and explore other activities

Step 4: Create “operating procedures” for the tools you let back in

Step 5: Actively ignore the rest

5 BEST PRACTICES FOR MAINTAINING A DIGITAL MINIMALIST LIFESTYLE FOR THE LONG-TERM

  1. Spend time alone. Solitude—both physical and mental—is important for thinking clearly. Rather than feeling the FOMO of social media, try leaving your phone at home while you go for a walk.
  2. Don’t click like. Social media and digital communication have become digital versions of fast food–easy to consume yet with little nutritional value. To combat this, Cal suggests you specifically limit the performative aspect of these tools. Yes, you can stay in touch and connect with loved ones. But don’t click ‘like’ or allow yourself to be always available.
  3. Reclaim leisure. One of the reasons we lean so heavily on digital technologies is that we’ve lost our hobbies. It’s easier to scroll through your phone than read a book. Try reclaiming leisure time for analog tasks you enjoy.
  4. Join the Attention Resistance. You don’t have to use all the features on your phone or be constantly connected to social media. As Cal writes, digital minimalists give themselves less ‘entry points’ to distraction. Try deleting social media off your phone. Or treat it like a professional task—something you do as needed and not more.
  5. Imagine you have to pay for every click, swipe, or tap. If you can’t give your time and attention the value it deserves, then give it a monetary value. Ask how your behavior would change if every swipe on Instagram, click of a clickbait-y infographic, or scroll of your Twitter feed costs $1.

Friday Round-up

Happy Friday everyone, and Happy Hanukkah to those of you who celebrate the Festival of Lights!

Two of the MGU (Managing General Underwriter) partners we work with have announced new carrier partnerships for 2021. Be sure to check out our post on this news via the below link.

MGU Updates: New Carrier Partners for 2021

Also, as we head into the Open Enrollment season for most employer sponsored benefits programs, be sure to check out our post on 2021 Employee Benefit Trends.

Stay safe and healthy this weekend!

Friday Weekly Roundup

Another Friday dawns to bring us the end of another arresting and absorbing week as only 2020 could bring us. 

The week promises to leave us with continued uncertainty regarding the election while the domestic markets sluggishly lay in wait.  Following a clear outcome to the election, NAPEO intends to hold a webinar to discuss how the election results impacts the PEO industry.  Visit https://www.napeo.org/advocacy/what-we-advocate/federal-government-affairs to learn more. 

Meanwhile, the U. S. unemployment rate took a healthy dip as businesses across the globe continue to find their path through the COVID-19 pandemic.  David Altmaier, the Florida Insurance Commissioner, issued an order to the NCCI requesting the rate filing for 2021 be amended from a 5.7% decrease to a 6.6% decrease.  The additional decrease will, no doubt, provide needed relief to many Florida businesses, however the long-term financial impacts to Florida Workers’ Compensation carriers will be something to watch.  Check out our post from earlier this week for more details. https://peocompass.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=6989&action=edit

The Flu Season approaches; with it comes the warmth of family centric holidays and the promise of a bright and shiny new 2021.  As mentors to so many business owners, PEOs are afforded the opportunity to help educate so many workplaces on how to operate safe and healthy environments in the months to come.  Visit https://peocompass.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=6967&action=edit to learn more. 

Happy Friday everyone – may the NFL treat you kindly this weekend! 

A Data-Driven Approach to Hiring More Diverse Talent

by Sandy Cross and Porter Braswell

December 10, 2019

https://hbr.org/2019/12/why-isnt-your-organization-isnt-hiring-diverse-talent

Manop Phimsit/EyeEm/Getty Images

Within 25 years, people of color are projected to be a majority in the United States. As this key demographic rapidly expands, businesses of all sizes across America are realizing the need to hire diverse talent in order to develop products, services, and experiences for a changing population. Further, research shows that companies that have more diverse workforces outperform and out-innovate those that don’t. According to a 2018 McKinsey report, companies in the top-quartile for workforce diversity are 33% more likely to financially outperform their less diverse counterparts.

But while companies understand why they need to have a more diverse workforce, many aren’t sure how to make it happen. The PGA of America was one, and it faced challenging public perceptions. Golf is often viewed as a primarily white sport, which makes it difficult to recruit from underrepresented communities. Historically, there have been many barriers to entry for people of color interested in golf, including financial hurdles to enter training and acquiring equipment. While the PGA of America has historically instituted programs geared toward attracting diverse talent (like the PGA WORKS program, which actively recruits people from diverse backgrounds to apply for fellowships and other pathways of entry), there’s still more work to be done.

Recently, the PGA decided to partner with Jopwell, a career advancement platform for Black, Latinx, and Native American students and professionals. The partnership is one of many the PGA utilizes to identify new strategic ways to engage, recruit, and retain talent from underrepresented communities by having an authentic voice in these same communities.

What the PGA learned is in some ways unique to golf. But there are plenty of lessons for other companies looking to move from wanting to be more inclusive and diverse to actually hiring employees from diverse backgrounds.

To Create Change, Start with Data

Jopwell, after being commissioned by the PGA, collected direct feedback from its community on their perceptions of the golf industry, including barriers to entry and career opportunities within it. (Jopwell’s community is made up of Black, Latinx, and Native American students and professionals who have a profile on Jopwell.com and have opted in to receive Jopwell’s communications.) Jopwell segmented the members of this community they polled based on their self-selected interest in sports, finance, and marketing. (Jopwell offered ten $100 gift cards as incentives for the 476 survey participants.)

The data found that there is more of a lack of awareness about career opportunities in the PGA of America than a lack of interest in golf. This was encouraging, as it validated the PGA of America’s ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the availability of these roles.

Key findings include:

  • When asked to name the main obstacles to why they have not applied for jobs in the golf industry, the aforementioned lack of awareness (27%) and access to contacts in the industry (26%) were cited as the top two reasons.
  • While two-thirds of respondents believe the golf industry is not diverse or inclusive, the majority of respondents also felt that a career in golf could be enjoyable, cool, and rewarding.
  • The PGA of America also discovered there was more they could do to educate people about available opportunities. When asked why they didn’t apply, 51% said they believed a background in golf or business was needed, and 76% were unaware of career opportunities with the PGA of America.
  • However, once it was explicitly stated that the PGA of America wants to recruit professionals from various backgrounds, the likelihood of applying went up from 46% to 64%.

Regardless of whether results of surveys like this are surprising or expected, having accurate data is fundamental to any inclusion and diversity effort. Many people anecdotally have a hunch about what the barriers that prevent diverse candidates from applying are, but gathering actual data points motivates, validates, or disproves decision-makers, and empowers leaders to take action. Many other companies are facing similar challenges in modernizing and diversifying their workforces and would benefit from taking time to hear from the candidates they’re trying to reach.

Then Translate Data into Action

Using these findings, the PGA of America and Jopwell developed a plan of action to lay the foundation for lasting change around hiring. The three key steps are to improve accessibility, increase awareness, and create systems of accountability.

Step 1: Improve accessibility. It’s important for companies to consider barriers to entry and what can be done to break them down. They must take steps to ensure diverse candidates are part of the pipeline of consideration for new hires. To address these issues, the PGA of America is now:

  • Featuring PGA WORKS fellowships, scholarships, and career exploration events — as well as PGA of America Headquarters internship and full-time career opportunities — more prominently on its digital and social media platforms.
  • Centralizing job postings on one website rather than having them scattered across a variety of web pages based on the focus of the position.
  • Dedicating resources to growing networks and reaching the community where it is looking for jobs (Jopwell, Black Enterprise, LinkedIn, etc.).

Step 2: Increase awareness. After ensuring that job opportunities are accessible and distributed widely, the PGA also asked itself: What are we doing to educate diverse candidates about the opportunities that are available? Are we reaching this community where they are in ways that speak to them authentically? Resulting actions include:

  • Using PGA of America and PGA WORKS social media channels to tell the stories of current diverse employees and PGA members and how they have navigated their careers.
  • Engaging in strategic partnerships with major multimedia partners, like Black Enterprise and Sports Business Journal, who have a strong presence in the traditionally unengaged golf communities.
  • Ensuring there are diverse faces and vocal champions of diversity at the top leadership levels.
  • Increasing visual representation of people of color in golf careers. For example, Golf: The Jopwell x PGA Collection, an album of authentic stock photos, was developed as a resource for both the PGA of America and the general public to use to highlight the existing diversity in the game and business of golf and has now received over 19 million views.
  • Attending career fairs and highlighting the fastest growing job areas within the industry to diverse audiences.
  • Creating high visibility events, such as the PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship, where each year approximately 200 student-athletes from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and other institutions serving underrepresented populations compete. Athletes also have the opportunity to explore internship and entry-level employment opportunities with the golf industry’s leading employers at a career expo before play begins.

Step 3: Create systems of accountability. Systems and processes must be put in place to help change a culture. For example, if you get a wave of applicants, do you have the right interview channels set up to quickly move them along? If you say you are open to candidates without a background in golf, does everyone interviewing the candidates know that? Some steps to take:

  • Put systems in place that help propel candidates through the application funnel, such as fixed candidate-review timelines and a process for pivoting candidates to other appropriate open roles.
  • Understand who the key stakeholders for decision-making in the hiring process are and secure buy-in for diversity recruitment from the top using data.
  • Set interview and top-of-funnel goals for candidates from underrepresented backgrounds. Make sure those goals are shared throughout the company, and that people are working toward them together.
  • Share, track, and report progress toward goals with hiring managers.

The PGA of America and Jopwell both understand that change doesn’t happen overnight. Yet, armed with the right data, new ideas, and a plan for steps to take, the two organizations are excited to continue breaking down barriers to entry and inviting people of all backgrounds to explore opportunities in the golf industry. We hope the lessons learned through our data and the action items outlined can help other companies that are attempting to attract diverse talent, too.

Sandy Cross has been a member of the PGA of America team since 1996. She currently serves in the position of Chief People Officer and is charged with enhancing a values-based culture. Cross also oversees the Human Resources and Inclusion & Diversity Departments.

Porter Braswell is the CEO and cofounder of Jopwell, the leading career advancement platform for Black, Latinx, and Native American students and professionals. Launched in 2015 with fellow former Wall Street analyst Ryan Williams, Jopwell has facilitated tens of thousands of connections between its community and 200+ partner companies across dozens of industries.

Workers’ Compensation Capacity for Professional Employer Organizations (PEO)

Workers’ Compensation has long been a foundational pillar in the product offering of the PEO model.  Not all carriers are up to the task of offering this line of coverage to a PEO, however, mostly due to the actuaries and legislative complexities and rules that are different by State.  In no State, statute insurance regulations and actuarial rules (NCCI, WCIRB, etc.) actually integrate.  While there are added levels of complexity for carriers to administer and service PEO clients, especially with regard to master policies, there are many reasons our carrier partners have dedicated themselves to this space.  PEO workers’ compensation programs consistently enjoy lower loss ratios and shorter claims development trends that non-PEO monoline comp.  Most PEOs are sophisticated risk management and underwriting organizations with a commanding understanding of how to manage and implement a profitable workers’ compensation program.  Typically, PEOs offer robust loss control and prevention guidance to their client companies; assisting small business with attaining much safer work environments than they would otherwise be able to achieve.  They also employ internal claims management staff who are dedicated to ensuring their injured workers are treated thoroughly and expeditiously, providing the best possible outcome for all parties.  For these reasons, carriers who decide to entertain PEOs as clients are rewarded with reliable, profitable, long-term carrier/client relationships.

Recent movements

This space continues to evolve.  The last 12-18 months has borne witness to many marketplace adjustments as each carrier strives to find their ideal niche within the space.  Key Risk Insurance Company (a WR Berkley Company) is a powerful new addition to this elite club.  Having been working in the comp space for nearly 35 years, they entered the PEO arena just this year, bringing with them an impressively diversified portfolio with over $2 billion in financial prowess and an A+ (Superior) AM Best rating.

Current players

A workers’ compensation program can be structured in a few different ways, depending on the needs, client makeup and financial positioning of the PEO.  For this reason, it is very important that any given PEO has the right carrier partner at their side.  Typically, these programs can be broken up into two main categories, Guaranteed Cost and Loss Sensitive.  A Guaranteed Cost program can offer a PEO a clear and understood total liability.  Pricing is based on 100% coverage of all approved exposures and rates are understood from the onset of the policy through policy expiration.  Guaranteed Cost programs, however, can have more restrictive underwriting and jurisdictional limitations than a Loss Sensitive program.  There are many different ways to structure a Loss Sensitive program.  In general, these programs are splitting the total anticipated claims costs between the PEO and the carrier; this cost is an unknown, however our predictive pricing models have come a long way in nailing down actual program outcomes.  Benefits to this model include broader underwriting guidelines and more competitive pricing.  These programs can tie a PEO’s assets up for an extended period of time, however, as collateral is held by the carrier until all claims for a given policy term have fully matured, which can take years.  

Impacts of COVID-19 on Workers’ Compensation Market Appetite

The advent of COVID-19 has brought about major changes to the marketplace for all workers’ compensation carriers, not just PEO partners.  Many carriers have issued a moratorium on covering any healthcare exposures.  Others are now adding jurisdictional considerations to these risks, with exclusions applying specifically in presumptive states.  Some carriers have added additional underwriting requirements for industries with residential delivery exposures, such as requiring a deductible to cover smaller frequency issues such as dog bites.  Nearly all carriers have added additional pandemic screening questions to their underwriting requirements to include supplemental applications, especially for front line industries such as restaurants, nursing homes, home health and retail.  This is likely a change which will endure long after this current pandemic passes. 

These market adjustments aside, PEO carriers continue to remain engaged and enthusiastic about their PEO clients.  That being said, PEOs should look closely at their composition of clients and take care to place high risk or high exposure entities outside of their master policies as makes sense in an effort to protect their experience modification and loss sensitive positions.

Call to Action

Every PEO carrier is as different in their approach to thriving in this industry as is every PEO.  How do you know your PEO workers’ compensation program is placed with the best carrier partner to cater to your needs and methods of operations?  Thankfully, this industry has been graced with the benefit of the lifelong dedication of some really brilliant minds to help answer that question.  My mentor, Paul Hughes, for example, has successfully created 7 workers’ compensation insurance programs specific to PEO over the past 19 years.  Under his guidance, these programs have rendered nearly $2 billion in workers’ comp placements for PEOs to date, with no signs of slowing down. 

If you would like to better understand all market and program offerings available to your PEO, we would love to help.

Paul Hughes321.217.7477phughes@libertateins.com
Sharlie Reynolds305.495.5173sreynolds@libertateins.com
David Burgess321.436.8214dburgess@libertateins.com

NAPEO White Paper on How PEO Clients Fared in the First Months of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Comparative Analysis

Laurie Bassi and Dan McMurrer
McBassi & Company
September 2020

The National Association of Professional Employer Organizations has completed a comprehensive review of the impacts a PEO partnership has had in benefiting small businesses during the first few months of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The full report can be reviewed at the following link:

https://napeo.blob.core.windows.net/cdn/docs/default-source/white-papers/2020-white-paper-final.pdf?sfvrsn=992b2bd4_16