Knowledge is a Key to Freedom

June 27, 2022

Sheyla Rodriguez will enter Yale University this fall. She has a bright future, but it took a long journey for her to arrive at this point.

She and her family left Cuba when she was eleven and within days stood at the border between Mexico and the United States. They left a repressive dictatorship to live in a nation where freedom and opportunity are available to all people. She is now a permanent U.S. resident and is graduating from Chula Vista High School in California with a 4.6 grade point average.

Always studious, Sheyla made excellent grades, but felt cut off from the world during the COVID lockdown. Despite living with loving and supportive parents, she could not spend time with classmates in person or have extended conversations with teachers. Gradually she slipped into depression, her classes felt like a burden, her self-image suffered and she lost her passion for the future.

Then she learned about Upward Bound. This program, offered through the U.S. Department of Education and administrated by Lutheran Social Services of Southern California, helps students develop the skills and motivation to complete high school and succeed in postsecondary studies. At least two-thirds of the participants are first generation college students from low-income families.

Sheyla said Upward Bound helped her in three ways:

  1. The instructors in the required college-level courses she took during summers inspired her with their passion for learning;
  2. Her new friends in the program felt like an extended family; and
  3. Upward Bound strengthened her with a hope for her future.

Her parents work in a local hotel, her dad as a house man and her mom as a housekeeper. They have loved and supported their daughter in every conceivable way. Her father’s mantra has always been, “Knowledge is a key to freedom.” Graduation day at Chula Vista High School will be a celebration for the entire Rodriguez family. Sheyla is the valedictorian of her class!

Lutheran Social Services of Southern California is a member of Lutheran Services in America, a national network of 300 Lutheran health and human services organizations that reaches one in 50 people in America each year.

Learn more about Lutheran Social Services of Southern California.

Highlight Great Benefits, Keep Great People

June 27, 2022

It seems every employer in the nation is up against the same challenge — employee retention. And the obstacles are mounting. Vaccine mandates, COVID-19 exposures, and quarantines continue to unravel an already stressed workplace. These once-new business challenges are no longer novel, and leaders are on the hunt for innovative ways to take care of their teams and drive tenure among their staff. One solution that many are turning to is marketing the culture, perks, and benefits of their own companies.

Studies show that when employees feel cared for by their employers, they’re more likely to stay. Among employees who felt their companies cared about them, 60% planned to stay three-plus years while 90% said they’d spread the word that their companies are great places to work.1 Consider this testimonial from a Portico health plan member: “Our new insurance through Portico is so robust… our social worker couldn’t believe all the help we got – me either!” This member went on to share how fortunate she feels about having comprehensive health benefits that will cover medically necessary home care needs for her husband after he’s discharged from the hospital (e.g., skilled nurse visits, home health aides).

Reasons Employees Leave

Before we take a deep dive into what today’s employees want most, we should understand why employees look to leave in the first place. The truth is, the reason people look to jump ship often varies. However, the pandemic has certainly caused more people to reevaluate what’s most important.

Benefits as a Retention Tool

It’s easy to get wrapped up in turnover reports and the often-high cost of training. Remember, sometimes the easiest way to get employees to remain on the job is right in front of you, nestled in the many benefits you’re already providing. Companies who can boast long employee tenures often use their benefits packages as a hook to keep staff engaged.

As a leader, you’ve likely worked hard to provide employees with a full suite of benefits that supports their personal needs and professional development. Don’t be quiet about it — now is the time to sing their praises!

What Today’s Employees Want

According to recent research by Robert Half, the fact of the matter is, two out of three workers are confident they can find another job easily. Among its survey findings, respondents confirmed that the most desired benefits for today’s employees include:

  • Health benefits
  • Paid time off
  • Retirement plans
  • Dental benefits
  • Life and AD&D insurance
  • Vision care services

In addition to having comprehensive employee benefits, today’s workforce has become accustomed to flexible work schedules. They don’t want to see perks like this go away.

Well-Being Benefits Are a Must

Also, among job seekers’ top priorities are what’s known as “well-being benefits,” a category of employee benefits that can include support for employees in the financial, mental health, social, physical, and career arenas.

Here at Portico, we want to help you touch on all of these important areas as you show you care for your employees. Our well-being programs include:

  • The Being academy is an educational platform covering topics like longevity, purpose, resiliency, and so much more.
  • Mental Health Programs: Learn to Live is an online mental health program to help with stress, anxiety, depression, and more, in addition to our Employee Assistance Program.
  • Online health and fitness classes from Burnalong.
  • Chronic condition prevention from Omada, a virtual program to help with weight loss and reducing risk for chronic disease.
  • Virtual therapy for joint pain from SWORD that provides help for relieving chronic back, joint, and muscle pain at home.

As you promote your well-being programs and benefits, don’t forget to take generational differences into consideration — not all age groups desire or need the same benefits.2

Figuring Out Next Steps

So what are employers to do? Get creative. Review benefit offerings and determine which ones will have the most impact on employee retention in your organization.

Some “out of the box” tactics for promoting key benefits may include:

  • Hosting monthly lunch and learn sessions or quarterly benefit fairs to shine the spotlight on specific programs and benefits.
  • Creating an employee ambassador program, where your best internal promoters may be the employees themselves.
  • Sharing personal stories in newsletters or blog articles about how benefits have impacted your employees.
  • Communicating about employee benefits via your intranet, employee newsletter, or town hall meetings.

If you’d like to learn more about how Portico’s benefit programs can help you attract and retain your employees, visit porticobenefits.org or contact Ross Eichelberger, VP of Business Development, at 612-752-4062 or REichelberger@porticobenefits.org.

1Hamilton, Kelly M. M.S., Sandhu, Reetu, PhD. Hamill, Laura, PhD (2019). The Science of Care. Limeade. Retrieved February 10, 2022, from https://www.limeade.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/LimeadeInstitute_TheScienceOfCare_Whitepaper_Web.pdf

2Meister, Jeanne (2021). The Future Of Work: Offering Employee Well-Being Benefits Can Stem The Great Resignation. Forbes.com. Retrieved February 10, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeannemeister/2021/12/16/the-future-of-work-offering-employee-well-being-benefits-can-stem-the-great-resignation/?sh=3190e6c45a1f

Portico assumes no responsibility for the content, claims, representations, or accuracy of the material contained in the web link sites. Portico does not endorse the content of the sites or the organizations sponsoring the website.

Portico Benefit Services maintains the ELCA Medical and Dental Benefits Plan (which includes the ELCA post-retirement medical benefits obligation), ELCA Retirement Plan, ELCA Retirement Savings Plan, ELCA Disability Benefits Plan, ELCA Survivor Benefits Plan, and ELCA Flexible Benefits Plan. Portico also maintains two group retirement plans for ELCA-affiliated social ministry organizations – the ELCA Master Institutional Retirement Plan and the ELCA 457(b) Deferred Compensation Plan. Plan member rights under the plans are governed by the plan documents, which are the full, legal descriptions of the plans. If any information herein is inconsistent with the corresponding plan document, the plan document is the controlling document.

This article was originally published by Portico Benefit Services.