Hot Topics in Total Rewards

  • 23 Jun 2021 9:01 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Published June 23, 2021 by Emilie Shumway

    Dive Brief:

    • Employers have instituted more flexible and frequent leave allowances in response to the pandemic, according to Mercer’s Survey on Absence and Disability Management. Among the notable trends, 1 in 10 survey respondents now include Juneteenth as a paid company holiday; 61% of respondents offer paid parental leave for birth parents, up from 40% in 2018, while 60% offered paid leave to non-birth parents, up from 41% in 2018. Twenty-percent of respondents offer unlimited paid time off to at least some employees — mainly exempt workers — compared to 14% in 2018.
    • Respondents also reported that compliance with state and local leave requirements has gotten more challenging during the pandemic; 46% said they hired a third party to monitor and help comply with those rules and 23% established a leave policy expected to exceed state and local laws to reduce the administrative burden. More than half of respondents supported the concept of a voluntary federal minimum standard for paid leave.
    • Mercer engaged more than 400 employers for its survey. It will release the complete results in July. 

    Dive Insight:

    The pandemic has caused a rapid evolution in many workplace policies, from remote and hybrid work to mental health assistance to free training and education benefits. Paid leave is no exception, the Mercer survey results show. Employers have seen that companies can continue to function well — even thrive — when employees have wide latitude to balance their personal lives and better manage their health and wellness. 

    More employers offering paid time off for Juneteenth and for parental care (including adoption leave) also demonstrates employers' increased interest in creating an inclusive workplace. Many companies were ahead of the federal government in making Juneteenth a paid day off, noting the importance of the day to their Black employees and generally as a time of reflection and solidarity for their entire employee base. The past year has also brought attention to workers' struggles with child care, with women bearing the brunt of the burden

    It's likely employers' growing embrace of policies like unlimited paid leave is further prompted by a need to attract and retain talent in a worker's market. Close to 1 in 3 employees who responded to a recent survey by Robert Half said they had experienced a "shift in perspective due to the pandemic," and employees have repeatedly asserted their preference for continued hybrid or remote work in surveys over the past year. Unlimited paid time off is one more policy employers can use to show workers they provide a flexible and competitive work environment.

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    Source: HR Dive

  • 23 Jun 2021 8:57 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    New Year, New Vacation Policy? What Colorado Employers Need to Know - KO

    In the wake of the pandemic and the social justice movement, some employers are changing time-off policies – such as providing more leave for new parents, more flexible time-off, and recognizing Juneteenth as a company holiday. Here are a few highlights from Mercer’s 2021 Absence and Disability Management Survey.

    For survey highlights, click here.

  • 23 Jun 2021 8:54 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Published June 21, 2021 by Ryan Golden

    Dive Brief:

    • The U.S. Department of Labor announced Monday a rule withdrawing and re-proposing a portion of a Trump administration 2020 final rule regarding tip pool regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
    • The proposal aims to address situations in which an employee performs both tipped and untipped work, also known as a "dual job." Under the proposed rule, employers would only be able to take a tip credit if their tipped employees performed work that is part of the employees' tipped occupation.
    • Such work would include work that produces tips as well as work that "directly supports" tip-producing work, DOL said, provided the supporting work is not performed for a "substantial amount of time." Work that supports tip-producing work is performed for a substantial amount of time if it either exceeds, in the aggregate, 20% of the employee's hours during the workweek, or is performed for a continuous period of time exceeding 30 minutes.

    Dive Insight:

    Tip regulations have proven to be one of the most active areas for regulatory activity at the federal level, and DOL's announcement this week is the latest in a series of changes and delays.

    When the Trump administration DOL proposed last year an update to the agency's interpretation of the FLSA's tip regs, it addressed the "dual job" issue by stating that employers could take a tip credit for the time a tipped employee spent performing related, non-tipped duties, as long as those duties were performed contemporaneously with, or for a reasonable time immediately before or after, tipped duties.

    The 2020 final rule also implemented guidance from a 2018 opinion letter, in which DOL stated that employers could take a tip credit for an employee's work if the employee's tasks were on the O*NET task list for that tipped job. The O*NET list could be used "as a source of guidance for determining when a tipped employee's non-tipped duties are related to his or her tipped occupation," DOL said in the 2020 rule.

    While the Biden administration subsequently allowed certain components of the 2020 final rule to take effect April 30, it delayed other parts — including the "dual job" component — from taking effect until Dec. 31.

    In order to address the "dual job" issue, DOL's latest proposal marks something of a return to the so-called "80/20" guidance that characterized the agency's approach to tip credits from the late 1980s until 2009, when the administration of former President George W. Bush issued an opinion letter rescinding the 80/20 approach. The Obama administration withdrew the letter and revised the then-existing 80/20 guidance, but the Trump administration re-issued the letter in 2018, effectively withdrawing the 80/20 approach.

    As DOL noted in the proposal to be published June 23, employers and their representatives have criticized the 80/20 guidance for being challenging to administer. For example, the agency cited a comment on a 2019 proposed rulemaking by law firm Littler Mendelson stating that the 80/20 approach "did not include a 'comprehensive list of related duties or even a way to determine which duties were related,'" among other issues.

    Citing district court rulings, however, DOL said it "believes that 20 percent of an employee's workweek is an appropriate tolerance for non-tipped work that is part of the tipped employee's occupation. The Department seeks comments, however, on whether a different portion of the employee's workweek would be appropriate or if another metric would be more appropriate."

    DOL's proposal also defines "substantial amount of time" as "any continuous period of time that exceeds 30 minutes," which is meant to address concerns that the 80/20 guidance did not adequately address scenarios in which employees perform non-tipped, directly supporting work for extended periods of time.

    "Particularly because the proposed guidance provides examples illustrating the type of work that is part of the tipped occupation, including work that is tip-producing and work that directly supports the tip-producing work, employers should be able to proactively identify work that counts toward the tolerance and assign work to tipped employees accordingly, to avoid going over this tolerance," DOL said. "Similarly, a continuous, uninterrupted block of 30 minutes or more is a significant amount of time, and does not require the minute-by-minute micromanaging with which the 2020 Tip final rule expressed concern."

    Stakeholders will have the opportunity to submit public comments on or before 60 days after the proposal is published in the Federal Register.

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    Source: HR Dive

  • 18 Jun 2021 5:54 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Emancipation Day celebration in Richmond, Va., in 1905.

    By Tyler Olson , Morgan Phillips June 17, 2021

    President Biden on Thursday signed the bill making Juneteenth, a day celebrating the freeing of Black slaves after the Civil War, into a national holiday. 

    Biden said the day would now be a "day in which we remember the moral stain and terrible toll slavery took on the country," as he signed the bill surrounded by members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Vice President Harris. 

    He again turned back to new voting reforms put in place by GOP-led states, saying the promise of equality would not be fulfilled "so long as the sacred right to vote remains under attack." The room erupted in applause. 

    "We see this assault from restrictive laws, threats of intimidation, voter purges and more."

    "The promise of equality will not be fulfilled until it becomes real in our schools, on our streets and in our neighborhoods, in the water that comes out of our faucets, the air that we breathe in our communities and in our justice system," the president continued. 

    Biden said the nation would continue to work to root out hate, which he said "never ends" but "only hides." 

    "In short, this day doesn't just celebrate the past, it calls for action today," Biden said. 

    The Juneteenth bill passed the Senate unanimously and saw opposition from 14 House Republican lawmakers when it came for a vote Wednesday evening. 

    "There's nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. And it seems to me that this is the most propitious time for us to recognize our history and to learn from it," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said before the House vote Wednesday. Juneteenth is already a state-designated holiday in Texas. 

    "Slavery was a blemish upon our country from its earliest days, and it is a part of our nation’s history that must not be ignored or swept under the rug," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said in a statement after the House quickly passed the Senate's bill. "Juneteenth is an opportunity to remember with solemnity all those who endured enslavement and the trauma still felt by their families and communities to this day, as well as an opportunity to pay tribute to all brave individuals who worked for abolition and emancipation."

    Juneteenth is the anniversary of when Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, arrived in Galveston, Texas, to declare that the Civil War was over and that slaves must be freed. Slavery ended in other southern states before that but because of how far Texas was from the Union's power center around Washington, D.C., and the Northeast, there were not enough Union soldiers to enforce Lincoln's order. 

    Texas first made Juneteenth an official holiday in 1980, and most states eventually followed with at least some form of Juneteenth observance. 

    The House members who voted against the bill are Reps. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.; Mo Brooks, R-Ala.; Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn.; Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.; Ronny Jackson, R-Texas; Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif.; Thomas Massie, R-Ky.; Tom McClintock, R-Calif.; Ralph Norman, R-S.C.; Mike Rogers, R-Ala.; Matt Rosendale, R-Mont.; Chip Roy, R-Texas, and Thomas Tiffany, R-Wis.

    Roy, who recently ran for House Republican Conference chair, said his problem with the bill was related to semantics. 

    "Juneteenth should be commemorated as the expression of the realization of the end of slavery in the United States - and I commend those who worked for its passage," Roy said. "I could not vote for this bill, however, because the holiday should not be called 'Juneteenth National Independence Day' but rather, ‘Juneteenth National Emancipation [or Freedom or otherwise] Day.’"

    He continued: "This name needlessly divides our nation on a matter that should instead bring us together by creating a separate Independence Day based on the color of one’s skin."

    Brooks, meanwhile, said that the end of slavery "ought to be celebrated as much as the 4th of July," according to But he said the date should be the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation or perhaps the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which officially banned slavery, rather than June 19 because of its roots specifically in Texas. 

    Gosar, meanwhile, decried Juneteenth as an effort "to divide this country."

    "Juneteenth is more debunked Critical Race Theory in action. I reject racism. I reject the racial division people are promoting. I voted no because this proposed holiday does not bring us together, it tears us apart," he added. "I cannot support efforts that furthers racial divisions in this country. We have one Independence Day, and it applies equally to all people of all races."

    Rosendale alleged that the bill "is an effort by the Left to create a day out of whole cloth to celebrate identity politics as part of its larger efforts to make Critical Race Theory the reigning ideology of our country."

    "Since I believe in treating everyone equally, regardless of race, and that we should be focused on what unites us rather than our differences, I will vote no," Rosendale added. 

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    Source: Fox News 

  • 18 Jun 2021 5:48 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    President Joe Biden speaks in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Washington. The Supreme Court has dismissed a third major challenge to "Obamacare," preserving health insurance coverage for millions of Americans. Though the court has become increasingly conservative with justices nominated by former President Donald Trump, it nonetheless left the entire law intact Thursday. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

    By MARK SHERMAN | June 17,2021

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court, though increasingly conservative in makeup, rejected the latest major Republican-led effort to kill the national health care law known as “Obamacare” on Thursday, preserving insurance coverage for millions of Americans.

    The justices, by a 7-2 vote, left the entire Affordable Care Act intact in ruling that Texas, other GOP-led states and two individuals had no right to bring their lawsuit in federal court. The Biden administration says 31 million people have health insurance because of the law, which also survived two earlier challenges in the Supreme Court.

    The law’s major provisions include protections for people with existing health conditions, a range of no-cost preventive services, expansion of the Medicaid program that insures lower-income people and access to health insurance markets offering subsidized plans.

    “The Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land,” President Joe Biden, said, celebrating the ruling. He called for building further on the law that was enacted in 2010 when he was vice president.

    Also left in place is the law’s now-toothless requirement that people have health insurance or pay a penalty. Congress rendered that provision irrelevant in 2017 when it reduced the penalty to zero.

    The elimination of the penalty had become the hook that Texas and other GOP-led states, as well as the Trump administration, used to attack the entire law. They argued that without the mandate, a pillar of the law when it was passed, the rest of the law should fall, too.

    And with a Supreme Court that includes three appointees of former President Donald Trump, opponents of “Obamacare” hoped a majority of the justices would finally kill the law they have been fighting for more than a decade.

    But the third major attack on the law at the Supreme Court ended the way the first two did, with a majority of the court rebuffing efforts to gut the law or get rid of it altogether.

    Trump’s appointees — Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — split their votes. Kavanaugh and Barrett joined the majority. Gorsuch was in dissent, signing on to an opinion from Justice Samuel Alito.

    Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the court that the states and people who filed a federal lawsuit “have failed to show that they have standing to attack as unconstitutional the Act’s minimum essential coverage provision.”

    In dissent, Alito wrote, “Today’s decision is the third installment in our epic Affordable Care Act trilogy, and it follows the same pattern as installments one and two. In all three episodes, with the Affordable Care Act facing a serious threat, the Court has pulled off an improbable rescue.” Alito was a dissenter in the two earlier cases in 2012 and 2015, as well.

    Like Alito, Justice Clarence Thomas was in dissent in the two earlier cases, but he joined Thursday’s majority, writing, “Although this Court has erred twice before in cases involving the Affordable Care Act, it does not err today.”

    Because it dismissed the case for the plaintiff’s lack of legal standing — the ability to sue — the court didn’t actually rule on whether the individual mandate is unconstitutional now that there is no penalty for forgoing insurance. Lower courts had struck down the mandate, in rulings that were wiped away by the Supreme Court decision.

    With the latest ruling, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that “the Affordable Care Act is here to stay,” former President Barack Obama said, adding his support to Biden’s call to expand the law.

    Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton pledged to continue the fight against “Obamacare,” which he called a “massive government takeover of health care.”

    But it’s not clear what Republicans can do, said Larry Levitt, an executive vice president for the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, which studies health care.

    “Democrats are in charge and they have made reinvigorating and building on the ACA a key priority,” Levitt said. “Republicans don’t seem to have much enthusiasm for continuing to try to overturn the law.”

    Republicans have pressed their argument to invalidate the whole law even though congressional efforts to rip out the entire law “root and branch,” in Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell’s words, have failed. The closest they came was in July 2017 when Arizona Sen. John McCain, who died the following year, delivered a dramatic thumbs-down vote to a repeal effort by fellow Republicans.

    Chief Justice John Roberts said during arguments in November that it seemed the law’s foes were asking the court to do work best left to the political branches of government.

    The court’s decision preserves benefits that have become part of the fabric of the nation’s health care system.

    Polls show that the law has grown in popularity as it has endured the heaviest assault. In December 2016, just before Obama left office and Trump swept in calling the ACA a “disaster,” 46% of Americans had an unfavorable view of the law, while 43% approved, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll. Those ratings flipped, and by February of this year 54% had a favorable view, while disapproval had fallen to 39% in the same ongoing poll.

    The health law is now undergoing an expansion under Biden, who sees it as the foundation for moving the U.S. to coverage for all. His giant COVID-19 relief bill significantly increased subsidies for private health plans offered through the ACA’s insurance markets, while also dangling higher federal payments before the dozen states that have declined the law’s Medicaid expansion. About 1.2 million people have signed up with since Biden reopened enrollment amid high levels of COVID cases earlier this year.

    Most of the people with insurance because of the law have it through Medicaid expansion or the health insurance markets that offer subsidized private plans. But its most popular benefit is protection for people with preexisting medical conditions. They cannot be turned down for coverage on account of health problems, or charged a higher premium. While those covered under employer plans already had such protections, “Obamacare” guaranteed them for people buying individual policies.

    Another hugely popular benefit allows young adults to remain on their parents’ health insurance until they turn 26. Before the law, going without medical coverage was akin to a rite of passage for people in their 20s getting a start in the world.

    Because of the ACA, most privately insured women receive birth control free of charge. It’s considered a preventive benefit covered at no additional cost to the patient. So are routine screenings for cancer and other conditions.

    For Medicare recipients, “Obamacare” also improved preventive care, and more importantly, closed a prescription drug coverage gap of several thousand dollars that was known as the “doughnut hole.”


    Associated Press writer Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar contributed to this report.

  • 27 May 2021 7:59 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    The Great Resignation of 2021: Are 30% of workers really going to quit? - TechRepublic

    by Veronica Combs in Digital | Transformation  on May 25, 2021

    There is a pent-up demand for change among workers and managers need to spell out flexible work options ASAP, experts say.

    Masks and life via Zoom are not the only things people are leaving behind now that headlines about vaccination rates are replacing COVID-19 case numbers. People are ready to leave both pandemic restrictions and their current jobs behind in 2021, according to several surveys. 

    The numbers range from 26% to 40%. The Microsoft Work Trend Index found that 40% of people want to change jobs this year. A survey of workers in the U.K. and Ireland put the number at 38% and a similar U.S. survey found 26% of workers are planning to leave their current job over the next few months. 

    It's easier, of course, to want a new job than to actually go out and get one. J.P. Gownder, a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, said managers should be careful when interpreting survey data on intentions, particularly for large decisions like leaving a job. 

    "Leaving a job often requires some combination of finding a new job and overcoming the inertia of staying with the old one," he said. "But I think we are at an inflection point at which many people are reconsidering the particulars of their lives and of work-life balance."

    As more offices plan the great reopening, there is still a lot of uncertainty about what the work week will look like. Brian Kropp, chief of research in the Gartner HR practice, said that companies should expect a bumpy launch and months of experimenting.

    "The re-entry into the new hybrid will be messy and uneven and filled with problems," he said.

    Kropp sees two ways for company leaders to respond to the uncomfortable early days of the hybrid approach: 

    1. We know this approach is right so let's learn from this and get better.
    2. This is too hard and we're going back to what we're familiar with.

    The risk is that executives will decide that defining the hybrid workplace is too difficult and revert back to old habits. Kropp said that all of the data shows that employees are higher performing and more productive in hybrid work settings.

    "The mindset of some folks is that it's impossible to collaborate unless you're in the same room with people," he said. "If that's what you think, then you have to believe that zero collaboration has occurred over the last 14 months and that's obviously not true."

    Are more people really quitting now?

    The short answer is that it's too soon to tell, but the number of people quitting in the information sector was up in March. The overall quit rate is back to what it was before the pandemic. The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes the Jobs Opening and Labor Turnover report monthly which details openings, hires and separations. The total separation rate includes quits, layoffs, discharges and other departures. 

    The most recent report for March 2021 shows job openings were up while the other two metrics were unchanged. The quits rate was similar to the February number at 2.4%. The number of people quitting their jobs voluntarily went up in two sectors— accommodation and food services (+63,000) and information (+16,000). 

    The quits rate is the number of quits during the entire month as a percent of total employment. The overall number has not changed dramatically over the last five years. The rate was 1.5% in March 20202.3% in 2019 and 2018 and 2.1% in 2017.

    Overall, the seasonally adjusted separation rate for nonfarm jobs has been between 4% and 3.5% for the last 15 years while the quit rate has been at about 2% over the same time period, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the percentage of quits to total separations went up every year from 2010 to 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor. 

    LinkedIn found that the IT industry has one of the highest turnover rates among all industries, sharing the top of the list with retail at 13% turnover in 2017. 

    In its 2019 Retention Report: Trends, Reasons and A Call to Action, the Work Institute found that the top three reasons for leaving a job were career development, work-life balance and manager behavior. The report also found that voluntary turnover was up 7.6% over 2017 and that preventable reasons for leaving were also trending up. 

    What's causing this desire for a new job?

    Gownder sees several forces behind this predicted wave of resignation. First, Forrester's data shows that 53% of employees want to keep working from home. Although Forrester research suggests that 70% of companies will adopt a hybrid work schedule, not every organization will do so and not every job will qualify. 

    "So a number of people are rethinking office life altogether," Gownder said. 

    Second, Gownder noted that the pandemic has created two distinct financial realities for workers, with some people unemployed or behind on rent payments, but other people having increased their savings. People can use this financial cushion to make a career or location change.

    "People with means are able to rethink their entire work/life paradigm," he said. "Some will even want to work in so-called Zoom towns, fully remote in a more rural area, permanently." 

    Lindsay Lagreid, senior adviser for the Limeade Institute, said that people have had a lot of time over the last year to think about what role they want work to play in their lives. 

    "People have been thinking about who built this system of work and why it works for some but not all people," she said. "People are thinking about sacrifices they had made previously, and hearing, 'We want to go back,' but thinking about how 'back' didn't work well for me."

    Lagreid sees this critical thinking about work as part of the conversations about social justice over the last year that questioned many of society's established systems.

    "This has been a deeply reflective experience and it is striking this very moral nerve with people," she said. "A dismissive and top-down approach is not going to work anymore."

    She sees this transition period as a chance to make work more humane, compassionate and caring.

    "The research does not support the 'OK, on June 14 everyone is back in the office' approach that we've been seeing so much of," she said.

    Lagreid said that she sees a lot of oversimplifying in the hybrid office discussion.

    "The way I hear it is 'Back five days a week 9 to 5,' or 'I will never see you again until the end of time,'" she said. "The reality is that for each employee, it will change every day."

    Lagreid said that all the research she has seen shows that productivity for the vast majority of workers has stayed the same or gone up over the last year of remote work.

    Kropp sees pent-up demand for changing jobs after months of uncertainty due to the pandemic combined with the hiring that's going to occur as the economy grows. He expects turnover rates to go up but not at a dramatic rate.

    "There's a risk of significant turnover if we do nothing but there's a lot that we can do," he said.

    What managers can do to keep more employees from leaving

    Kropp said that the first thing employers should do is to eliminate as much uncertainty as possible about the rules for flexible work hours.  

    "One thing you can do right now to minimize the risk of turnover is to be very clear about flexibility," he said. "And if you're not offering flexibility, you'll have a turnover problem."

    Gownder suggests holding listening tours, focus groups and town halls to understand the drivers of retention and churn and the high points and the pain points of the employee experience.

    Before doing any listening tours or surveying employees about what they want, senior leaders have to be frank about what the options really are for the company's hybrid work options, Lagreid said. 

    "Let's not give people a blank canvas and then tell them they only get three colors to color with," she said. 

    She said that trusting employees and providing flexibility and autonomy in setting work hours are the best tactics for retaining employees.

    "Let employees choose where they can best do their work and be intentional about how you're going to use time together," she said. "If your work is collaborative, bring everyone in on Thursday, order lunch, and then do brainstorming."

    Gownder also recommends adopting an "office + anywhere" hybrid work policy with employees in the office one to three days per week.

    "Give employees a reason to come to the office, not just mandate it," he said.

    Kropp said companies should be ready to experiment over the next 12 to 18 months to find the hybrid design that works best for their companies. He recommends a set of philosophies as opposed to rigid policies.

    "If you create a set of philosophies and principles, then employees know the rules and can adjust," he said. 

    He recommends creating a framework for employees to let them know about what sort of work they need to be in the office to complete.

    "You don't want to surprise employees with 'Oh, I'm supposed to be in the office for that,'"  he said.

    Finally, managers should think about what makes for a great employee experience because that is a driver of retention.

    "Making sure people have autonomy to do their jobs, are given the tools to do so effectively, and understand their purpose in the grand scheme always help retain top talent," Gownder said.

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    Source: TechRepublic

  • 25 May 2021 10:33 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    By Sean Brown, Susan Lund, and Sven Smit | May 24, 2021

    Accelerating trends in remote work, e-commerce, and automation mean that more people will need to change jobs and learn new skills. Are leaders ready to guide the shift?

    A new report from the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) indicates that up to 25 percent more workers than previously estimated may need to switch occupations. This episode of the Inside the Strategy Room podcast looks at how the COVID-19 crisis has permanently changed workplace conditions and skill-set needs and how corporate leaders can prepare for this future. Susan Lund, an MGI leader and expert in global labor markets, is joined by her report coauthor Sven Smit, cochair of MGI, who helps leading companies develop strategies for growth. An edited transcript of the discussion follows. You can listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotify, or Google Podcasts.

    Sean Brown: Susan, you have led MGI’s work on the pandemic’s impact on the global economy. How does this research fit into that broader effort?

    Susan Lund: We have been studying the long-term impact of COVID-19 after economies reopen, and that includes the jobs, skills, and workforce transitions that will be required. We looked at eight countries that represent different levels of income and economic development to get a global perspective. The first thing we found is that physical proximity matters. We measured proximity metrics for 800 different occupations, from how close interactions with people are to the frequency of those interactions to whether the work is indoors or outdoors. We found that the disruptions will be highest in four arenas: on-site customer interaction, such as in retail; work in leisure and travel, including restaurants and hotels; indoor production and warehousing, which includes factories; and computer-based office work.

    Notice that these categories cover a lot of low-wage, hourly, frontline service jobs. This will be a very different dynamic than what we saw in the past with technology and automation, where service jobs were largely not affected and, in fact, people who were displaced from offices or manufacturing sites could find work in that sector.

    Sean Brown: Are there other trends beyond the impact of the pandemic affecting the future of work?

    Susan Lund: The disruptions are coming from three broad sets of trends. First, COVID-19 accelerated a shift to remote work and virtual meetings. Even after the pandemic, most companies are planning to continue some form of work from home. Additionally, McKinsey’s Travel, Logistics & Infrastructure Practice estimates that 20 percent of business travel may be permanently replaced by virtual meetings, although the same will not be true for leisure travel and tourism. The second big group of trends relates to e-commerce and other digital transactions, from restaurant delivery to telemedicine. All these activities surged in 2020, and many new users have found electronic channels both convenient and efficient and plan to continue using them. Third, there is automation and AI, with companies using technology to adapt to the new realities and planning to implement more technologies in the future.

    Sean Brown: On the point about remote work, what kinds of jobs will continue to be done remotely, and which do you expect to return to work sites?

    Susan Lund: Any activities done on a computer by yourself can be performed just as effectively at home as in an office. However, activities such as negotiations, onboarding new people, brainstorming, and coaching benefit from in-person interaction. When we added it all up, we found that 20 to 25 percent of the workers in advanced economies could work from home three to five days a week [exhibit]. It is still a minority, but that is four to five times as many people as worked from home before the pandemic, so this would have profound implications for what the office will look like. It will be a space used much more for collaboration.


    The more advanced an economy, the greater its potential for remote work.

    We strive to provide individuals with disabilities equal access to our website. If you would like information about this content we will be happy to work with you. Please email us at:

    Another trend in the United States and Europe, which we are not sure will continue after the pandemic, is people moving out of high-cost city centers to suburbs and smaller towns. You see it both in office-vacancy rates and residential rents. That would reverse a decade-long trend in the opposite direction. Some companies, although a distinct minority, are talking about a work-from-anywhere model in which employees could live wherever they choose. Others are considering more distributed footprints, with smaller offices and satellite locations closer to where people live to reduce commute times.

    Sean Brown: How will the large-scale embrace of digitization during this crisis affect the workplace in the future?

    Susan Lund: When we surveyed 800 business executives around the world last summer, two-thirds said they plan to use more automation and AI as they reimagine the next normal. That includes digitization of employee interactions, including remote work, but also a big uptick in the digitization of consumer channels and supply chains. COVID-19 was a massive disruption to supply chains, and it showed that supply-chain management was shockingly analog, which leads to problems such as executives not being able to tell when shocks are coming.

    Sean Brown: With all these shifts, do you anticipate major employment growth in some occupations and big drops in others?

    Susan Lund: We see big growth in healthcare jobs, and that is due not only to COVID-19 but aging populations and higher consumer incomes in countries such as India. STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] professionals is another growth category, especially for people who design and maintain technology. Creative and transportation jobs will also grow. Transportation was projected to be flat or decline slightly over the next decade with the introduction of autonomous vehicles, but delivery and e-commerce trends are now generating pretty strong growth.

    As for declines, the biggest categories in terms of the sheer number of jobs are customer service and sales. We see continuing automation in factories and warehouses eliminating jobs. Food service is another area of decline. We have not seen much automation there, but the pandemic has had a number of knock-on effects, such as people not going to the office and out for lunch and not traveling for business. And lot of food-service demand is generated by travel and being away from home.

    People in those declining occupational categories—it’s more than 100 million in the eight countries we studied—will need to be retrained into some of the growing occupations. The challenge is not only the large numbers but the jumps they will need to make are much higher than in the past. Traditionally in Europe and in the US, people would go from, say, a food-service job to a hotel job and then maybe to a retail job. That would now mean moving from one declining occupation to another. We will need to figure out how to help them transition to different career pathways. This will disproportionately affect women—four times as many as men—and people without college degrees, as well as young people and ethnic minorities.

    Sean Brown: Where do you expect the resources for this needed retraining to come from so people can move into higher-wage and higher-security jobs?

    Susan Lund: Many large employers are creating those upward career paths—for example, taking the best low-wage employees and putting them through management or digital training. But some companies and sectors will simply see lower head counts, and that is where educational institutions and governments need to step in. One thing we learned over the past five years is that short-term training programs can teach individuals the minimum skills needed to get a job, such as to the lowest level in nursing, in a matter of weeks. To move up to registered-nurse status takes more education, but at least somebody can start on that upward career path.

    Sean Brown: Sven, what are the implications of all these findings for companies trying to reimagine their workforces in the postpandemic era?

    Sven Smit: The most important new factor since COVID-19 is proximity. It is now a consideration in where we work, how we work, what skills we need, and what organizational culture we need. Culture may be the factor people are most concerned about. Can you maintain a corporate culture when people work remotely? More than 70 percent of executives tell us they expect to continue some form of hybrid remote work, where you allow full-time or part-time work from home for selected staff. Some companies are migrating training or related events to online models, reducing the time staff will be expected to travel, and subsidizing the cost of setting up robust work-from-home arrangements.

    [Proximity] is now a consideration in where we work, how we work, what skills we need, and what organizational culture we need.

    Sven Smit

    Companies first need to assess the potential for remote work. Anything that has to do with processing information, performing administrative duties, updating knowledge and learning, or routine communication with clients could shift to remote models. COVID-19 has taught us that some things we thought were best done in person we now find can be done remotely. For example, there is a lithography machine for which service people require ten years of training. When the pandemic hit, these people could not travel, and the work had to be done remotely. People without the skills of these professionals could be successfully guided through virtual reality and remote tools. As a result, the availability of the machines went up.

    Sean Brown: What work practices in particular do you think businesses should try to hang on to?

    Sven Smit: If there is one thing I will remember from COVID-19, it is how fast we moved. We went to remote learning in five or ten days. In telemedicine, we went from 10 percent to 80 percent for first-line contact in five days. We moved at an incredible pace because the crisis forced rapid decision making in flatter, faster organizations in small agile teams, with very dynamic talent reallocation. It saw five years’ worth of innovation in five weeks, and that could continue if we keep those practices. If we held on to even half of them, how much faster would we move into the future? That might be one of our greatest opportunities.

    Sean Brown: How has technology helped business leaders gain this agility and speed in decisions?

    Sven Smit: Machine learning and AI have enabled more virtual assistance and remote operations management than we have ever seen, and they work. Here is an example: sites need to be inspected by auditors with functional expertise and that involved travel for in-person visits as well as managers’ time on the site. It turns out that if you digitize all the site data so it can be inspected by the auditors virtually, the visit need not happen, since the purpose of the visit was to get the data.

    Sean Brown: All this new technology requires new skills, but those skills may not just be technological but social and cognitive. How should business leaders assess the skills that their workforces will need?

    Sven Smit: Companies need to do the homework of classifying the tasks all their employees perform so they understand how much their workforce will change. That is not day-to-day or annual workforce planning; it is a strategic workforce assessment at a fundamental level of each task that can be automated and when. We will have to do that work the same way we did to adapt to lean manufacturing and centralization of global business services.

    Sean Brown: What kinds of skills or tasks do you see particularly rising in importance?

    Sven Smit: The key is a lifelong learning aspiration and a growth mindset, as well as comfort with change, which is not natural for most people. Others are creativity, critical thinking, social intelligence, and then skills in software design and big data analytics. There is a mismatch now of skills and needs that will require significant retraining efforts, as Susan mentioned, and companies cannot rely on the market or the education system to solve it.

    Sean Brown: How trainable are those social and creative skills? Can you teach people to have emotional intelligence?

    Sven Smit: You can do some of this training by leveraging AI and simulating conditions that give people exposure to situations they otherwise would not have. Most people intrinsically have creativity, social intelligence, and communication capabilities—their jobs may simply not tap into them.

    Sean Brown: You mentioned the shift to faster decision making. Has that need for speed reduced collaboration and consensus building in organizations?

    Sven Smit: I don’t think consensus or participation need to go down when you move fast. However, you have to set a deadline for decisions. The important things are transparency and that you have heard everybody. I don’t think engagement went down during this crisis; it probably went up.

    Susan Lund: Many companies have found that operating via videoconference has actually fostered consensus because you see colleagues at home. A dog barks, or a child walks in, and people have gotten to know each other in more personal settings. It’s also less hierarchical. On videoconference, the CEO may be in the bottom left of the screen rather than sitting at the head of the table in a conference room. These shifts have enabled many companies to build closer, stronger-knit executive-leadership teams. The challenge is retaining that. If we move to partial remote-work situations where some people are in the room and others are not, how do we make sure that does not create a two-tier culture?

    If we move to partial remote-work situations where some people are in the room and others are not, how do we make sure that does not create a two-tier culture?

    Susan Lund

    Sean Brown: What kind of hurdles do companies need to overcome to make their workforces more agile?

    Sven Smit: One is the adaptability to what has been an avalanche of change. For example, the army decouples planning teams from execution teams, and that accelerates adaptability. You also have to make the challenge clear to employees. Some companies have literally said, “In three years, we need to reach this destination. Ninety percent of you will have different jobs, and the other 10 percent probably will not be working here. But the 90 percent of you can acquire those new skills, and here is your training program.” I believe people are more adaptable if they know where things are heading, so you need to be intentional and transparent about the journey and give people the tools and time to adapt.

    Sean Brown: It sounds like corporate leaders have hard work ahead to figure out what workforce transitions they will need. How should they get started?

    Sven Smit: You need to work on two fronts. There is a technical aspect where you literally take your current workforce and your expected future workforce and go skill by skill to understand the capabilities you will need in various areas. Then there is the design of the journey, the training investments and managing the change.

    Susan Lund: There are technology tools to help you assess your starting point. What skills does your current workforce have? What are their tasks and roles? Individuals then have to refine that and say, “I’m good at econometrics but I’m not good at basket weaving.” That is then married to your vision of how technology will transform your company and which business units will be the future growth drivers.

    Sean Brown: As executives plan the future of their workforce, what are the main questions they should ask themselves and their teams?

    Sven Smit: There are six questions that can help executives go through the challenge structurally. How can you reconfigure the workforce and the workplace to increase agility, raise productivity, and empower workers while maintaining the culture? Are you positioned to leverage technologies and take advantage of the long-term trends accelerated by them? What are we doing to close the skill gaps? Are you clearly and transparently communicating your plans and supporting workers in making transitions? Are you supporting their lifelong learning? And finally, are you leveraging ecosystem partners to increase the effectiveness of those efforts?

    On the last point, don’t only look at your own company but at other companies in the region that could be part of the solution. I have seen some great examples of collaboration between regional or national governments and multiple companies to take a statewide or countrywide view of the future of work and try to clear some of the skills mismatches between companies.

    Sean Brown: What about this new future of work is each of you most excited about?

    Sven Smit: We are in this “and” world. For example, we are having quick meetings through technology and we can make in-person meetings much better. In that, we are learning something from the crisis.

    Susan Lund: The silver lining is that companies have refocused on their employees’ experience, and I think that will continue. That bodes well for a more enjoyable future workplace for everyone.


    Susan Lund is a partner in McKinsey’s Washington, DC, office, and Sven Smit is a senior partner in the Amsterdam office. Sean Brown, global director of communications for the Strategy and Corporate Finance Practice, is based in the Boston office.

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    Source: McKinsey & Company

  • 25 May 2021 8:43 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    BY DAN WITTERS | May 6, 2021 


    • Black workers are more likely to stay in unwanted job for benefits
    • Half concerned that the rising cost of care will outpace ability to pay
    • Most Americans support government role in some cost-containment measures

    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- One out of every six adult workers whose primary health insurance comes from an employer are staying in jobs they might otherwise leave out of fear of losing their health benefits. The fear is even more pronounced among Black workers and those making less than $48,000 a year. These results are based on a new study conducted by West Health and Gallup.

    Staying in Unwanted Job for Health Insurance Benefits, by Race/Ethnicity and Annual Household Income

    Are you currently in a job that you want to leave but don't because you are afraid of losing your health insurance benefits? (% Yes)

    All U.S. workers 16
    Black workers 21
    Hispanic workers 16
    White workers 14
    <$48,000 28
    $48,000-<$90,000 19
    $90,000-<$120,000 12
    $120,000-<$180,000 10
    $180,000+ 10
    West Health-Gallup Healthcare Survey, March 15-21, 2021 (n=3,870)

    Overall, Black workers (21%) are more likely to say they would stay in an unwanted job for purposes of keeping their health benefits than White workers (14%), a statistically significant difference. As such, Black workers are an estimated 50% more likely to be staying in their current job for this reason than are their White counterparts. Hispanic workers (16%) are not statistically different from either of the two groups. And workers in households earning under $48,000 per year are nearly three times more likely to stay in an unwanted job for the health benefits than are workers living in households earning at least $120,000 per year (28% to 10%, respectively).

    This survey was conducted by web from Mar. 15-21, 2021, with 3,870 adults, ages 18+, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia via the Gallup Panel, a probability-based, non-opt-in panel of about 120,000 adults nationwide.

    Concerns Run High That Rising Cost of Care Will Outpace Ability to Pay

    With millions of workers staying in unwanted jobs for the health benefits, concerns run high among all adults that the rising cost of care will persist to the point of being unaffordable. Recent research showed that 18% of U.S. adults -- an estimated 46 million persons -- could not afford quality healthcare if they needed it today. New results estimate that around 135 million adults are worried that they will eventually reach this point -- if they haven't already.

    Over half of survey respondents are either "concerned" or "very concerned" that the cost of healthcare services (53%) and the cost of prescription drugs (52%) will continue to rise in the future to the point that they will no longer be able to afford them. Black and Hispanic adults have modestly elevated concerns about the rising costs of healthcare compared with White adults. Forty-two percent of respondents, in turn, report concern that they would not be able to pay for a major health event, including 49% of Hispanic adults and 47% of Black adults.

    In comparison, 25% are concerned about losing their home, and 29% of workers are worried about losing their jobs.

    Concerns Over Potential Life-Changing Events, by Race and Ethnicity

    How concerned are you with each of the following? Very concerned, concerned, not very concerned, or not at all concerned? (% Very concerned/Concerned)

    U.S. total White adults Black adults Hispanic adults
    % % % %
    The cost of healthcare rising until you can no longer afford it 53 50 59 59
    The cost of prescription drugs rising until you can no longer afford them 52 51 59 53
    Not being able to pay for a major health event 42 40 47 49
    Losing your job (workers only) 29 26 40 37
    Losing your home due to your inability to pay for it 25 20 37 32
    West Health-Gallup Healthcare Survey, March 15-21, 2021 (n=3,870)

    Majorities Support Government-Led Cost Control Measures

    The survey found substantial support for the federal government to play a bigger role in reducing the financial burden of healthcare on individuals and families via selected approaches. Such support is nearly indistinguishable among those with government-run or private insurance plans or those with no insurance.

    About three-quarters favor setting limits on prescription drug price increases (77%), capping hospital prices in areas with few or no other hospitals from which to choose (76%) and negotiating lower prices for some high-cost drugs without lower-priced alternatives (74%). Another 65% support placing government limits on prices charged by out-of-network care. Those with private insurance were just as likely as those on public health plans (including Medicare and Medicaid) to favor government intervention.

    Public Support for Proposed Government Cost Control Measures in Healthcare, by Insurance Status

    To what extent do you agree or disagree that a stronger role for government is needed to contain costs in the following situations? (% Strongly agree/Somewhat agree)

    U.S. total Insured by private plan Insured by government-run plan All insured Uninsured
    % % % % %
    Allowing the federal government to set limits on drug price increases 77 77 77 77 72
    Capping prices for hospitals in certain markets with limited or no competition 76 76 75 76 71
    Allowing the government to negotiate prices for certain high cost drugs that have no competitors 74 73 76 76 71
    Establishing limits on prices charged by out-of-network care 65 66 63 65 60
    West Health-Gallup Healthcare Study, March 15-21, 2021 (n=3,870)

    The proposals generally have bipartisan support, even though Republicans are less likely than Democrats and independents to support a stronger government role. This includes majority support among Republicans for all proposals except for establishing limits on prices charged by out-of-network care, for which 81% of Democrats, 64% of Independents and 43% of Republicans strongly or somewhat agree with government action.

    Agreement levels for the remaining proposals are:

    Allowing the federal government to set limits on drug price increases:

    • Democrats: 91%
    • Independents: 74%
    • Republicans: 63%

    Capping prices for hospitals in certain markets with limited or no competition:

    • Democrats: 89%
    • Independents: 76%
    • Republicans: 59%

    Allowing the federal government to negotiate prices for certain high-cost drugs that have no competitors:

    • Democrats: 88%
    • Independents: 73%
    • Republicans: 58%

    Overall disagreement with the proposals is comparatively low, ranging from 11% who report that they strongly or somewhat disagree with capping prices for hospitals to 15% for establishing limits on out-of-network care.


    Approximately 158 million people, or more than half of the U.S. adult population, receive health insurance via their own employer or the employer of a household member. As such, the 16% of workers who are remaining in their jobs for the sake of their benefits will frequently extend to other individuals other than themselves, bolstering their reluctance to seek out other work. The higher levels of these sentiments among Black workers and those in lower-income households underscores the disproportionate role that employment plays in needed health coverage for some Americans.

    High healthcare prices are likely fueling the problem. In the past five years, the average insurance premium for a family of four has increased 22%, and in 2020, premiums increased more than wages. The generally high agreement with several proposals for government action designed to contain the cost of various forms of care is understandable, particularly so as those with insurance are voicing support at levels that match those without it. Such sentiment could bolster the Biden Administration politically as it prepares to release a number of health policies intended to strengthen the Affordable Care Actexpand Medicaid, and allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices.

    ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** 

    Source: Gallup, Inc.

  • 25 May 2021 8:39 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Program also includes short-form technology and business certificate programs, high school completion

    By Daniella Genovese | May 13, 2021

    Waste Management Inc. is eliminating the burden of college expenses for its employees and their families. 

    The company's Your Tomorrow program, in collaboration with Guild Education, offers employees and their "eligible dependents" the ability to chose "from a full range of education options, including earning a college degree" at no cost to them. 

    Nearly 36,000 full-time employees nationwide will have access to more than 170 fully funded programs, the company announced Thursday. 

    This includes undergraduate and graduate degrees and will also cover the cost of short-form technology and business certificate programs as well as high school completion.

    The education and training programs focus primarily on business, technology, science and mathematics, which directly ties into the needs of the business, according to Waste Management. 

    An employee walks toward a garbage collection truck in San Leandro, Calif., on Feb. 12, 2018. 

    An employee walks toward a garbage collection truck in San Leandro, Calif., on Feb. 12, 2018.  (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

    Competency in these areas will be "critical to the future of WM’s business" where employees are asked to operate "technology-enabled fleet and equipment and enhance the customer experience." 

    The program "supports the reskilling and retention of existing talent, while also helping to attract new talent to equip the business with a skilled workforce for the future," according to Waste Management Chief People Officer Tamla Oates-Forney. 

    However, employees won't be the only ones benefitting from the education and upskilling benefit program.

    "[The program] will soon help our team members eliminate the financial burden of providing for their dependent’s education as well," Oates-Forney said. 

    Later this year, benefits-eligible dependents, which include nearly 34,000 children and spouses, will be allowed to enroll in educational programs for the following year. 

    Waste Management said this is the first time a company has extended education opportunities "at this scale." 

    In doing so, Guild Education CEO Rachel Carlson said Waste Management is "setting the standard for how organizations can creatively invest not only in their employees, but also those employees’ children and families, in a way that ties to their company strategy."

    The program is one of a handful of incentives the company announced as part of its hiring push to fill essential frontline driver and technician positions across North America. 

    The company will be holding "career day" events on May 21-22 in an effort to fill the positions. To persuade job seekers, the company said the positions will come with a range of new employee benefits aside from the Your Tomorrow program, including flexible work schedules and sign-on bonuses. 

    "Through our Career Day events, we hope to attract new team members that want to evolve their career and will take advantage of this new benefit program," Oates-Forney said. 

    ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** 

    Source: Fox News

  • 25 May 2021 8:37 AM | Bill Brewer (Administrator)

    Mental Health Telehealth Visits Rapidly Increase During the Pandemic

    Well before the pandemic, provider payments have been paid at the same reimbursement rate as in-person visits since 2013.

    May 10, 2021

    MINNETONKA, Minn. — Medica members accessing mental health care through telehealth technology has increased by 2,515 percent since the pandemic began in March 2020. Meanwhile, Medica's network of providers offering mental health care via telehealth has increased more than sixfold in the same period.

    "For six years, Medica has understood the value of telehealth services for providing mental health care and has been paying providers for these visits at the same rate as in-person visits," said John R. Mach, M.D., Medica's chief medical officer. "When it became clear to us early in the pandemic that telehealth care was particularly well-suited for taking care of our members' mental health needs, we worked quickly with our provider partners to build a more robust network to support our members."

    In the first quarter of 2020, early in the pandemic, Medica processed approximately 650 telehealth claims for mental health. During a similar time stretch spanning late 2020 to early 2021, Medica had processed 17,000 claims.

    An analysis of mental health telehealth claims provide some insight to the effect of the pandemic. The top three conditions treated by telehealth were anxiety, depression and trauma (which includes diagnoses for post-traumatic stress disorder, acute stress disorder, adjustment disorder and reactive attachment). For those conditions, approximately 70 percent of claims were telehealth visits.

    A breakdown of mental health telehealth claims for all conditions shows that people ages 35 to 49 used this service the most when seeking mental health care, followed by those ages 27 to 34. For those claims, women outnumbered men by a 3:2 ratio.

    In the first few months of the pandemic, the number of Medica's in-network providers offering mental health services through telehealth increased from 5,500 to 39,800 nationally. In Minnesota, the number increased from 3,841 to 7,130.

    A key factor in the network expansion was that Medica, with its behavioral health vendor, fast-tracked the onboarding process for providers who wanted to offer telehealth visits. Medica also worked with providers to quickly move visits to a virtual setting to minimize care interruptions as patients were more hesitant to have face to face appointments during the pandemic.

    "At a time when people's mental health was drastically impacted by the pandemic, we were pleased that Medica stepped up to ensure continued — and enhanced — access to mental health treatment through telehealth," said Sue Abderholden, executive director of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Minnesota. "On behalf of NAMI Minnesota, we appreciate Medica's commitment to payment parity because whether it's in person or through telehealth or even telephonic, mental health professionals deserve fair reimbursement for the important care they provide."

    Paying Telehealth Visits at the Same Rate

    Medica has reimbursed mental health visits via telehealth at the same rate as in-person visits since 2013.

    Medica Mental Health Pandemic Experience

    "Payment reimbursement at the same rate regardless of delivery mode is one of the reasons Medica was able to respond so quickly to our members' needs for mental health services through telehealth," Mach said. "Providers who were perhaps on the cusp of providing the service already had an incentive in place and they quickly saw the value it would bring to their patients."

    The future of mental health by telehealth

    Medica has placed a priority on ensuring its members have access to mental health care in the setting that is most comfortable for them. To ensure they have access to the highest quality providers, Medica will continue to reimburse these visits — office and telehealth — at the same rates.

    About Medica

    Medica is a non-profit health plan headquartered in Minnesota. The company serves communities in the heart of America by providing health care coverage and related services in the employer, individual, Medicaid and Medicare markets. It operates in Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

    Medica's vision is to be trusted in the community for our unwavering commitment to high quality, affordable health care. Medica's annual report, which includes the organization's community involvement activities, is available online.

    ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** 

    Source: Medica

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