Produced by Unum, the HR Trends podcast tackles complex human resources management topics and employer best practices in the new world of work, with a particular focus on improving the employee experience, workforce wellness, digital transformation and workforce technology. We talk with industry experts, innovators and HR trendsetters about how employers attract and retain top talent. Tune in to explore what role benefits play in a labor market turned upside down, how HR compliance is evolving and what the future of work means for employers, people managers and employees. To learn about us and access other resources, visit HR Trends at unum.com.
Transforming the leave experience through real-time data connectivity
Curt Burghardt and Denise Ferguson, Unum HR leaders and people analytics experts, explore how real-time data connectivity with leave and absence information transforms efficiency, transparency and downstream processes for employers managing leave in Workday.®
People analytics is more than just basic reporting. [03:49]Real-time connectivity simplifies leave processes. [06:42]Simplicity saves time and creates a better experience. [08:33]Connectivity helps solve the challenge of intermittent leave. [10:24]WORKDAY and the WORKDAY logo are trademarks of Workday, Inc. registered in the United States and elsewhere. All other brand and product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.
Vice President, People Delivery Group, Unum
In his role as Vice President of the People Delivery Group at Unum, Curt Burghardt drives how the organization leverages cutting-edge technology to transform the employee experience — among our own employees and in close partnership with key business partners and customer facing initiatives. Curt lives in Portland, Maine with his wife and their two children. He has lived across the United States — from Hawaii to Boston and several places in between, including Chicago, San Francisco and Denver — during his previous roles with both Walgreens and United Airlines.
Assistant Vice President, People & Communications Technology
Denise Ferguson is the AVP of People & Communications Technology. She joined Unum in April of 2015 as the AVP of HR Technology. Her responsibilities include enabling strategy through the use of cutting-edge technology and delivery of the technology roadmap for human resources, diversity and inclusion, corporate social responsibility and corporate communications. Prior to her role at Unum, Denise was the Senior Director of Human Resources Information Systems for Smith & Nephew. Before moving into dedicated technology roles, Denise held various functional HR roles in recruiting and compensation, and served as a HRBP and HR Manager for RSA Security, Inc. in Bedford, Massachusetts. Denise earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Boston University.
Reinventing benefits for younger generations | Unum
New research from LIMRA and EY shows that workplaces have reached a “generational tipping point.” Millennials and Gen Z employees now make up the majority of the workforce — and are on pace to constitute 60% by 2031.1 These younger workers (42 years old and under) have different benefit preferences from the Baby Boomers and Gen X cohorts for whom benefits have traditionally been designed, and greater needs when it comes to benefits education and enrollment. LIMRA’s Kimberly Landry joined John Stibal from Unum and Michael Stachowiak from Colonial Life to discuss how HR should react to this profound generational shift.
A much broader view. According to Landry, LIMRA’s second annual Benefits and Employee Attitude Tracker (BEAT) study shows that younger employees still want core benefits above all else. But they also want their benefits package to include a wider variety of supplemental health, wellness, mental health and other benefits. “The benefit programs of the future need to be more customizable and provide more options for employees to pick and choose from,” says Landry. [02:02]More choice means more confusion. As employers offer a larger number of benefits, they will need to increase their efforts to educate younger benefit consumers, according to Stachowiak. Stibal agrees that education is important to making informed decisions because with choice, “your employer is not making the decisions for you any longer.” [04:00]More benefits are more important. According to the LIMRA/EY Harnessing growth and seizing opportunity: 2023 Workforce Benefits Study, employers and employees both assign a high degree of importance to a fairly long list of benefit options. To compete effectively for talent, employers need to show that their benefits portfolio contains a wide range of choices to fit employees’ differing needs. “About half of the employers in our survey told us they expect to be increasing the number of benefits that they offer in the next five years,” Landry says. [06:30]The biggest change since last year? Importance of leave. Employer perception of the importance of paid family and medical leave benefits jumped 26% over last year, as shown in the LIMRA/EY study. “Paid family leave sounds simple, but it’s really, really complicated for employers,” says Stibal. Between complying with multiple federal, state and local leave laws and creating a good experience for employees administering leave is a challenging issue for employers. Employers may want to outsource [A1] leave management to a carrier who can provide a good combination of technology and human support. [13:00]How does all this factor into enrollment? As employers offer more benefits and as employees need more education, it’s important to be mindful about how you roll out your benefits enrollment. Some best practices:Spread communication out over time in a drip campaign instead of bombarding employees with an overwhelming amount of information all at once. Talk about only one or two benefits at a time, so employees can pay equal attention to all their options. Communicate more about brand-new or unfamiliar benefits. Encourage employees to start enrolling early in the enrollment window, so they have time to ask questions and make informed decisions. [27:12]
Leave’s new look: 2023 trends HR should know
Two new reports illustrate that employee expectations are high and getting higher. A March 2023 Unum survey shows that 87% of employers recognize that their employees expect more from them in terms of care and understanding.1 And the latest “BEAT” study from LIMRA shows that employees overwhelmingly value paid time off and other leave and insurance benefits, even more than flexible work schedules.2 In this episode, two of the foremost U.S. leave experts — Unum’s Ellen McCann and Angel Bennett — discuss the implications for employers in this tough post-pandemic labor market.
Employers are catching up. [01:47]Diversity is driving change. [04:30]Complexity is here to stay. [06:03]Paid leave is getting hotter.[07:11]Employers can’t do it alone. [09:40]Companies that outsource free up time. [10:37]Care impacts the bottom line. [14:38]One key message? [17:28]Read the full show notes here.
Difference Makers Series: The care opportunity with Megan Rapinoe
Megan Rapinoe is the captain of the U.S. National Women's Soccer Team, an Olympic gold medalist and two-time World Cup champion. On March 2, she was named in TIME’s 2023 Women of the Year list of extraordinary leaders working toward a more equal world. In this episode, Megan joins Unum leave expert Ellen McCann for a frank and lively discussion on pay equity, inclusive leave policies and other ways employers can demonstrate care for employees facing challenging times.
The call to “be more.” After the national team’s second World Cup victory in 2019, Rapinoe challenged everyone to “step outside of yourself, be more, be better, be bigger than you’ve ever been before.” Applying this to the HR context, she said it is a charge to make an impact on your organization and on the lives of your employees. [02:46]The rise of the care opportunity. Employee needs and demands for support from their employers are growing, and are key drivers of attraction and retention. According to Ellen, leave is critical in this equation: “Companies focus so much on employees at work. What about those times when our employees can’t come to work?” [07:33]The importance of inclusive policies. Employers show caring by implementing leave and benefit policies that are inclusive and equitable, addressing the needs of all caregivers and relationships, not just parents and children. [11:19]Pay equity as a signal of caring. Equitable pay shows employees that employers care about them as individuals. [12:18]Pay equity as a driver of attraction and retention. In a still-tight labor market, employees have new power to negotiate pay. The pay-equity fight won by the U.S. National Women’s Soccer Team has had far-reaching effects on the environment worldwide, and women are more aware than ever of what they deserve and what they require. [19:32]Steps to an effective pay-equity program. Think through where your company has been and where it wants to go, identifying areas where it is still falling short and why. Apologize for mistakes in the past. Make pay equity an authentic priority and act to fulfill your promises. [23:39]The importance of the employee experience. Caring and inclusiveness extend to the experience employees have while accessing the benefits you provide. [29:18]Featured speakers
Chief Equality Officer, Trusaic
Megan Rapinoe is a difference maker on a global scale. She is the captain of the U.S. National Women’s Soccer Team, an Olympic gold medalist, and a two-time World Cup champion, renowned for her activism. In February 2022, after a lengthy legal battle led by Rapinoe, the U.S. National Women’s Soccer Team reached a historic equal pay agreement with the U.S. Soccer Federation, which included $22 million in back pay for the players and the promise of equal pay going forward. Today, Megan Rapinoe is Chief Equality Officer for Trusaic – a leading workplace equity company focused on advancing social good by solving HR's most complex challenges across people, data and analytics.
Assistant Vice President, Leave Solutions, Unum Group
Ellen McCann serves as a leading expert in applying benefits and benefits technology to power modern solutions to more effective employee leave programs, stronger regulatory compliance and enhanced digital HR transformation.
Read more about Megan Rapinoe, one of TIME’s 2023 Women of the Year, at https://trusaic.com/megan-rapinoe-partnership/. For more information about Unum, visit https://www.unum.com/employers/solutions
The Difference Makers: Belonging at Work
Belonging is one of the most important aspects of the employee experience in today’s world of work. We talk to two powerful HR leaders, Khady Gaye of United Airlines and Kimberly Bowen of Unum, on how you can help create a culture of genuine care.
The good, the bad and the ugly: Improving the employee leave experience
Leave has never been more important to employees than it is right now. But HR has also never had more on its plate. Listen as Unum leave experts discuss the policies, practices and technology that can make the difference between a best-in-class employee leave experience and one that misses the mark, putting your attraction and retention efforts at risk.
· A perfect storm. Rising employee expectations, a tough labor market and increasing legal complexity are creating a perfect storm for leave management professionals. HR’s role has become increasingly strategic, and they can’t spend time being bogged down in managing administrative tasks. [02:52]
· Emerging importance of employee experience. Nationally, employers have shifted from focusing on paid leave to making the leave experience easier and more personalized. [05:35]
· Bad experiences work against your recruitment and retention goals. If you have great policies, but people don’t know about them or you make it hard to use them, that’s a bad experience. Education and ease of use are critical to success. Employers also need to have holistic policies that address their entire employee population, instead of just focusing on families with children. For example, caregiving needs are growing for employees with aging parents. [07:32]
· Combine self-service, planning tools and human interaction for the best experience. Compliance is important, but don’t forget that every leave represents a challenging life event for employees.[10:15]
· Look for ways to take the burden off HR’s shoulders. The result will be higher retention and more people returning from leave ready to work. [14:06]
Assistant Vice President, Leave Solutions, Unum Group
Ellen McCann serves as a leading expert in applying benefits and benefits technology to power modern solutions to more effective employee leave programs, stronger regulatory compliance and enhanced digital HR transformation. In this role, she combines more than 30 years of employment law experience with practical knowledge of the complexities of leave and accommodation management to help develop and create solutions that enable employers to address the challenges of leave and accommodations. She is an acclaimed national speaker on leave management issues including FMLA and ADA, and is a certified trainer for SHRM and CE credit.
Assistant Vice President, Leave Tech Solutions, Unum Group
Miyuki Iwahashi drives the product strategy for new enhancements for Unum Leave Logic – an industry-leading leave education and planning SaaS solution – and supports initiatives for Unum’s rapidly expanding solutions business. In this role, Miyuki interacts with employers, employees and partners to understand how technology solutions can enhance the employee experience and revolutionize the future of leave in the workplace. Prior to joining Unum, Miyuki pioneered innovative employee programs, including a redesign of an employee-centered leave program and was recognized for her work.