Better Together: The Interconnected Nature of Today’s Workforce, Effective Leadership and Organizational Wellbeing

A new approach to the pursuit of better organizational wellbeing is needed in today’s business environment. Operations, finance and HR can no longer function adequately in silos when success requires a strong connection between the company’s strategy and the executive team’s priorities and resources. The CEO’s vision and strategy execution, the CFO’s management of risk and financial sustainability, and the HR leader’s development and implementation of compensation and benefit programs have all become table stakes. When these abilities are closely aligned, they can effectively address the increased costs, shorter decision cycles and higher complexities of managing talent.

To help organizations bring out their better, Gallagher has created an approach to compensation, benefits, retirement and employee communications — Gallagher Better WorksSM — that addresses the interconnected nature of health, financial security, engagement and culture. Key areas of focus include assessing the effects of this relationship on productivity and turnover, and finding opportunities for improvement. From any starting point, any employer can drive progress toward better talent attraction and retention outcomes by promoting innovative, aligned programs.

There is no single solution for attracting and retaining employees that works equally well for all employers, but there is a singular process for filling that void. Coordinated changes in the employee wellbeing investment portfolio, including the physical, emotional, financial and career dimensions, can resolve current challenges and promote the growth of the entire company.

These investments are essential to remaining relevant and gaining ground in the markets for both business and talent. And they need the support of strong HR technologies, solid compliance frameworks and effectively targeted communications.

Managing talent by aligning incentives

Employers focused on growing their businesses are more clearly identifying what needs to be done better. Core to this conversation is a strong workforce planning framework that matches the right employees to the right number of required roles.

These pairings should sync with changing business needs at an optimal level of labor cost and productivity. Often, improvement efforts also involve leveraging an effective balance between base salary and variable incentive compensation. This includes offering non-qualified deferred opportunities to help retain key talent, and addressing pay equity to support the employer brand.

Driving engagement through culture

If the goal is transforming organizational culture into a competitive advantage, strong values and a compelling vision for the future need to be shared with the workforce and aligned with their incentives. Key drivers of engagement include career wellbeing opportunities and personalized, consistent and comprehensive communications that reach employees with the right message at the right time. Transparent commitments to diversity, corporate social responsibility and a respectful workplace are often top selling points for both attracting and retaining employees. A strong culture can also be reflected in a strong employer brand, instilling pride in current workers and capturing the attention of future workers.

Using employee preferences to prioritize total rewards

Competition for today’s multigenerational employees is forcing changes in compensation and benefits plan design. Adding flexibility around the preferences of distinct employee populations produces a total rewards package capable of meeting diverse needs. And customizable options like student loan refinancing and pay-down plans, or voluntary insurance coverage are especially appropriate for the times. They can reduce financial stressors, create risk protection and stretch the value of employee earnings.

Adopting new healthcare models to address costs

More employers are turning to innovative healthcare tactics like telemedicine and cost-transparency tools to guide better employee decision-making, both cost-effectively and conveniently. Meanwhile, disease management programs offer help with chronic conditions, and value-based medical tactics such as designated centers of excellence promote more affordable, high-quality care. There’s also a trend toward reviewing healthcare approaches and evaluating funding strategies to better fit within the boundaries of cost, fees and risk.

Opportunities in a fast-moving, ever-changing global economy wait for no one, but uncertainty about the future is conquered with confidence in the organization’s present leaders, strategies and state of wellbeing. Leadership models are evolving as CEOs, CFOs and HR leaders have begun to plainly see the need to evaluate real-time workforce metrics and employee wellbeing data. And they understand the importance of this process for all areas of current strategy and operational decision-making. When it becomes second nature for leaders to collaborate on linking employee health and engagement with organizational culture and outcomes, employers and employees alike will benefit.

Gallagher is a global leader in insurance, risk management & consulting services helping clients face challenges and providing effective solutions. Our benefits team delivers effective and sustainable workforce strategies that will help organizations optimize one of their largest expenses—healthcare benefits. We make sure employee benefits strategies aligns with business goals and design a strategic benefit package that is sustainable in both the short and long-term, allowing organizations to attract, retain and engage employees for the organization’s wellbeing.

William F. Ziebell CEO, Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc., oversees the strategic operation and management of Gallagher’s global benefits and HR consulting business. He brings more than 30 years of consulting and problem-solving experience to this role. As the chief driver of client-service excellence, Bill continues to guide and inspire top performance across the organization.

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  • Next up: BizConCLE Preview: The Power of Positivity and Diversity in Organizational Teams
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  • BizConCLE Preview: The Power of Positivity and Diversity in Organizational Teams

    Team-focused cultures are all the rage today, but what's the best way to organize such a team at your company? Here's a preview of a workshop session that will examine that topic during this year's BizConCLE.

    Given the team-focused culture that dominates organizations today, it’s becoming increasingly important for companies to put extra thought into how such organizational teams are comprised. More frequently, companies are looking to add diversity in the employees who make up these teams. In fact, a recent HerdWisdom study has found that diverse teams outperform homogenous teams by six times.

    But simply bringing together a mix of people and personalities isn’t enough on its own to guarantee success. This is a topic that ERC Senior Training Consultant Chris Powers will explore in-depth during his upcoming workshop at this year’s BizConCLE. Ahead of this session, Powers took time to preview some of the themes he plans to address and what attendees will walk away with following his talk.

    Stay positive

    At the end of the day, Powers said no one on the team wants to fail. Everyone wants to do their best work and add value. So, with that in mind, he said it’s important that leaders provide a healthy amount of positive feedback to team members.

    This is important because employees who feel appreciated and valued will want to work harder and they will be motivated to get more of that good feeling they experienced.

    Diversity and fresh ideas

    Diversity is also an important element in high-performing organizational teams. Studies have found that diverse teams are nearly twice as likely to be innovative than those that are homogenous.

    Powers said it’s crucial for companies to prioritize diversity in their workforces and on their teams. Otherwise, he cautioned, it’s easy to fall into group think.

    Putting these different personalities and backgrounds together on one team can be a struggle, however. So, how does Powers suggest that companies overcome this dilemma? During his workshop at BizConCLE on Nov. 1, Powers will outline strategies companies can use to ensure everyone on the team is working as one happy, cohesive unit.

    Don’t miss out on this workshop! Register today for BizConCLE by clicking here. And learn more about why this is a can’t miss event by clicking here.

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  • Next up: COSE WebEd Series: Building A Better Workplace with Policies & Procedures
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  • COSE WebEd Series: Building A Better Workplace with Policies & Procedures

    Learn how to build a better workplace in this webinar presented by Elizabeth A. Crosby from Buckley King.

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  • Next up: BWC Safety, Wellness Programming to be Enhanced as Part of Latest ‘Billion Back’
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  • BWC Safety, Wellness Programming to be Enhanced as Part of Latest ‘Billion Back’

    The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation announced a $44-million investment in workplace safety, health, and wellness. The $44-million spend will extend the existing $15-million Safety Intervention Grant program another two years. An additional part of the $44 million would provide $6 million per year for a health and wellness program for workers at small employers (50 or fewer employees). BWC will contract with a third-party vendor to provide services including smoking cessation, health coaching and chronic disease management.

    The initiative is part of the “Billion Back” rebate plan proposed by the Governor that was approved by the BWC's board of directors last Friday. A BWC budget bill (HB 27) is expected to be approved by the Ohio legislature by the end of June.

    Private employers are reportedly due $967 million and public employers $133 million, including $92 million to local governments and $41 million to school districts. Eligible employers will begin receiving checks in July totaling 66% of premiums for the policy year that ended June 30, 2016. To be eligible for the rebate, employers should ensure their policies are active and in good standing with BWC. Lapses in coverage or outstanding balances might affect rebate eligibility. Employers in COSE’s Group Rating and Group Retrospective Rating Plans would still be eligible for rebates.

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  • Next up: Can Businesses Avoid Minimum Wage Requirements by Bartering Services?
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  • Can Businesses Avoid Minimum Wage Requirements by Bartering Services?

    If you're considering bartering services for the financial benefit of your business, make sure you're following these legal guidelines, as well as these tips to ensuring your business is protected.

    In an effort to protect their bottom lines, business owners give much consideration to the costs of running their day-to-day operations. As part of this consideration, business owners often pay particular attention to staffing requirements and employment expenses. This may result in experimenting with alternative hiring arrangements, such as utilizing independent contractors and engaging in the practice of bartering services. Though hiring independent contractors and engaging in bartering can be effective ways to save on staffing costs, it is incredibly important that those hired are properly categorized and compensated.

    Because the line is often blurred between independent contractors and employees, it is essential that employers understand the difference to avoid trouble down the road. This is particularly true when they are considering bartering services. Employers must also properly report any “income” received as part of the bartering service. Otherwise, the employer may run afoul of minimum wage laws or income reporting requirements and be subject to government investigations and litigation, which can have catastrophic results for the business.

    Is it Permissible for Businesses to Barter Services?

    The idea behind bartering is that an independent contractor offers a business owner goods or services in exchange for something from the business. For example, a gym may offer a contractor a gym pass in exchange for the contractor performing certain repair work at the gym. These situations are often contractual, short-term, and leave each party with a benefit- though actual money does not change hands. Because no employer-employee relationship exists, these arrangements are not generally subject to minimum wage laws.

    The value received from the bartered services or goods, however, may need to be reported by both parties. Barter exchanges (organizations whose members contract with each other to exchange goods or services) are required to file a Form 1099-B for mostly all transactions. Contractors that do not barter through a barter exchange, but who trade services, are not required to file Form 1099-B. However, they may be required to file Form 1099-MISC. Further, if a business owner utilizes bartering, he or she will be required to report the fair market value of goods or services received. Generally, this income is reported on Form 1040, Schedule C, or Form 1040, Schedule C-EZ. (See generally, Accordingly, if moving forward with such an arrangement, the parties should consult with a tax professional to ensure that the value received through bartering is properly reported.

    Though bartering of services is permissible in certain situations, in employer-employee relationships, employees are always entitled to be compensated for the hours they work. The U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Supreme Court require all employees subject to the FLSA to be paid at least the federal minimum wage. (See DOL Fact Sheet 13).  Similarly, Article II.34(a) of the Ohio Constitution requires every employer to pay their employees at least minimum wage. Notably, Article II provides that “[w]here an employer is found by the state or a court to have violated any provision of this section, the employer shall within thirty days of the finding pay the employee back wages, damages, and the employee's costs and reasonable attorney's fees. Damages shall be calculated as an additional two times the amount of the back wages…” Accordingly, failure to comply with these minimum wage requirements can be costly to the business owner.

    The wages paid pursuant to this rule must also be in the form of monetary compensation. Specifically, Ohio Revised Code § 4111.01, also known as the Ohio Minimum Fair Wage Standards Act, provides that a “wage” is “compensation due to an employee by reason of employment, payable in legal tender of the United States or checks on banks convertible into cash on demand at full face value, subject to the deductions, charges, or allowances permitted by rules of the director of commerce under section 4111.05 of the Revised Code.”

    The only statutory exception to the Act is a provision allowing an employer to deduct the reasonable cost of furnishing the employee board, lodging, or other facilities. See R.C. 4111.01 and R.C. 4111.02; Manifest Sols. Corp v. Watkins, No. 13CV-894, 2014 Ohio Misc. LEXIS 18000, at *16 (Oct. 6, 2014). However, this exception does not extend to bartered services.

    In short, bartering with employees is a violation of the minimum wage requirements under Ohio law. Further, incorrectly designating an employee as an independent contractor when utilizing bartering services can result in significant damages and/or fines to the employer if the employee is not adequately compensated. If the impermissible arrangement occurred over a prolonged period of time, or involved many employees, the result could be devastating to the overall success of the business.

    How Can Business Owners Protect Themselves When Considering Bartering Services?

    Because business owners can be subject to severe fines and/or sanctions for mislabeling their employees when bartering, they should meet with an attorney to ensure that they are properly categorizing their staff and complying with minimum wage laws. If they are bartering with a properly categorized independent contractor, then the business owner will not have to pay minimum wage for such services. Instead, they will be bound by the contractual agreement, and may have to file other tax forms to account for the value received from the services. In such situations, it is recommended that the business owner meet with a tax professional to ensure that the income received from the arrangement is adequately reported.

    For more on the importance of properly classifying employees and contractors, see How to Avoid a Giant Bill by Misclassifying Employees as Independent Contractors

    This article is meant to be utilized as a general guideline for bartering for services. Nothing in this blog is intended to create an attorney-client relationship or to provide legal advice on which you should rely without talking to your own retained attorney first.  If you have questions about your particular legal situation, you should contact a legal professional.

    Mark Turner and Cindy Menta can be reached at and or by phone at 440-571-7773. 

    Are your policies and documents protecting your business or getting you sued? Check 10 areas of your business for legal risks and get instant feedback from experienced attorneys right now by taking a short online quiz at Or schedule a confidential, no-cost CM6 Vulnerability Check with Gertsburg Law Firm. CEO Alex Gertsburg will walk you through the minefields in your documents and key processes and tell you how to fix them yourself. Call 440-571-7774 or e-mail to schedule your CM6 Vulnerability Check today. Explore the full CoverMySix legal audit suite at

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  • Next up: CareerBoard Partnership to Provide Exclusive Benefits for COSE Members
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  • CareerBoard Partnership to Provide Exclusive Benefits for COSE Members

    The Council of Smaller Enterprises and CareerBoard are partnering to provide exclusive access to an online recruiting site that will provide quality applicants to COSE members through job posting and distribution products that maximize value and reach.

    The new site—which can be accessed at—features intelligent technology that will do far more than wait for a quality candidate to search and find a job. Available jobs will be actively marketed to more than 400,000 potential candidates.

    “We know that talent drives organizations,” says CareerBoard President Richard Padgett. “This is a unique opportunity in that COSE is well known as an organization intensely focused on the needs of small business owners and there are job candidates who are specifically looking for that type of employer. This is an outlet for those business owners who don’t have a department dedicated to attracting talent to reach those people.

    The site is based on tried and tested CareerBoard software that delivers more than 1 million applications every month and has been specifically enhanced for COSE to provide features expected on a leading job site. The addition of proactive features such as smart alerts and behavioral intelligence tools, CareerBoard ensures qualified job seekers across the country and local employers find each other. And, with 40% of all U.S. job searches taking place on mobile devices, the enhanced COSE mobile site fully supports the needs of today’s job applicants.

    COSE and CareerBoard are also pleased to offer a special, discounted rate for COSE members. COSE’s small business members are able to place a 28-day ad for just $175 or a one-week ad for only $50.

    “There are no excuses for not being able to hire that next person who will be able to help you grow your business,” says COSE Executive Director Steve Millard. “We’re making it very easy for you to put together the right staff.”

    CareerBoard has been an online job board recruiting local talent for employers and a consistent source of local employment opportunities in Northeast Ohio since 1997. This partnership provides a cost-effective local online recruiting solution that is capable of delivering quality candidates in every job category. For more information about CareerBoard, visit

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