10 top EBA stories of 2016
Two types of stories dominated the attention of the Employee Benefit Adviser audience in 2016: the details hidden inside benefit plans and how to implement them, and the saga of disruptive IT firm Zenefits. Of the Top 10 stories of 2016 that appeared on, three focused on the benefit technology upstart and its rocky year, while others focused on the nuts and bolts of benefit policy.
10) The common workplace practice that’s costing employers billions
Research by the U.S. Travel Association found that employees who choose not to use their paid time off could potentially cost an employer close to $52.4 billion annually due to lost revenue, employee termination or resignation, and hiring and training replacements.

To combat this problem, employers need to train employees to be backups for other employees who are responsible for a specific task in the event that person is out of the office for a period of time.

Read the story here.
9) Mercer launches ‘HR on demand’ consulting service for small business
In May, global consulting firm Mercer announced it was launching an HR-on-demand service for small to midsize businesses. The site, MercerPeoplePro, enables benefit managers and other HR staff to ask questions and get connected through the site with the appropriate Mercer consultants. The hourly rate is $250 and new users get their first hour for free.

Read the story here.
Millennial Chart 6Apr
8) Millennials disrupt traditional benefits for modern priorities
As businesses continue to bring in young talent, employees are replacing archaic programs for wellness and college loan assistance.

Seventy-three percent of millennials (those born in 1982 or later) are concerned about meeting their monthly living expenses and financial obligations, compared to 67% of Gen X and 63% of baby boomers, according to MetLife’s most recent Employee Benefit Trends Study.

This is leading many employers to seek out alternative benefit programs that will assist with the modern day problems millennials are facing, which in turn will attract and retain young employees.

Read the story here.
Zenefits logo
7) Zenefits announces product launch: ‘Small business has been left behind’
In mid-October, Zenefits unveiled a new line of product offerings, including HR app integration capabilities with 17 partner companies, a wide release of its payroll app in California and HR guidance and services, among others.

Everything in the company’s past has been a prelude to Z2, as the new product offerings are called, said David Sacks, Zenefits’ CEO, who in December announced he was stepping down as CEO. “Small business has been left behind in terms of HR tools available to them, until quite recently,” Sacks said. “We want to fix that.”

Read the story here.

Parker Conrad
6) Zenefits CEO resigns amid regulatory compliance issues
In February, Zenefits said Parker Conrad resigned as CEO, citing “inadequate” processes and regulatory compliance.

Zenefits hired an accounting firm in December 2015 to conduct a review of the company’s licensing procedures, Sacks wrote in a memo to employees. “The fact is that many of our internal processes, controls, and actions around compliance have been inadequate, and some decisions have just been plain wrong,” Sacks wrote in the memo. “In order for us to move forward as a company, we cannot seek to hide or downplay the problem.”

Read the story here.
5) Benefit pros predict Trump’s healthcare, retirement moves
Despite the surprise victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, only one story about the candidate’s win cracked the EBA Top 10. This story was a roundup of reaction from benefit industry leaders who weighed in on what the new administration means for the Affordable Care Act and health insurance in general.

As Shan Fowler, senior director of product strategy at Benefitfocus, said after election day, “Strategically, a Trump win may put Paul Ryan and House Republicans in the driver’s seat of healthcare reform. Trump, like Nixon, doesn’t seem overly interested in healthcare reform except as retribution against Obama and Democrats.”

Read the story here.
4) IRS clarifies integrated HRA rules
Attorney Alden J. Bianchi analysed the federal government's new guidance issued to clear confusion about when an HRA is considered integrated with a group health plan, which could have major implications for employers.

Read the story here.
Social Security Admininstation Getty.jpg
3) Average retiree will see Social Security benefit decrease
The Social Security Board of Trustees is pushing for a 0.2% increase in the cost-of-living adjustment for retiree benefits in 2017, CNBC reports. The Medicare Board of Trustees has also issued a report that calls for a 22.3% increase in the Medicare Part B premium. The proposed increases could result in reduced benefit payouts because of automatic premium deductions from retirees' benefits. Retirees on Social Security who earn an income below the national average will not be affected by the increase in Medicare Part B premiums under the Hold Harmless Act.

Read the story here.
Zenefits SF office
2) Zenefits reduces workforce by 250 employees
Zenefits announced in February that it would reduce its workforce by 250 employees, or about 17% of the total. The benefits firm positioned the cuts, which were made almost entirely within the HR tech firm’s sales organization, as part of its effort to refocus its operations on small businesses.

Calling it a “reduction in force,” Zenefits co-founder and then-CEO David Sacks wrote in an internal memo that “Within the sales organization, we are eliminating the Enterprise team (although some members will be offered other roles). We are also making a large reduction in Sales Development Representatives (SDR), the organization that prospected for the largest accounts.”

Read the story here.
1) Boeing’s retirement plan soars to new heights thanks to asset size, plan design
The top EBA story of the year looked at the top retirement plans of large-scale U.S. firms. September’s “Boeing’s retirement plan soars to new heights thanks to asset size, plan design” revealed that the aerospace giant was among the top three 401(k) plans based on asset size with more than 1,000 actively enrolled employees, according to research from data analytics firm miEdge.

IBM Corp. led the list, with Wells Fargo in third place. The Boeing Company Voluntary Investment Plan boasts around $47 billion in assets under management for its 165,000 workers worldwide. “We are hovering at about 93% or 94% 401(k) plan participation, up from 87% in 2010, so we’ve made progress,” said Dimitra Hannon, Boeing’s director of well-being and retirement strategy.

Read the story here.