Eudaimonia – February 2019

Happy Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New year to everyone, this year being the year of the Pig.

According to https://chinesenewyear.net/zodiac/pig/:

The Pig is the twelfth of all zodiac animals. According to one myth, the Jade Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which they arrived to his party. One version states the Pig was late because he overslept, another that a wolf destroyed his house and he had to rebuild his home before he could set off (sound familiar). Either way, the Pig arrived last and became the twelfth zodiac.

The Pig is associated with the Earthly Branch (地支—dì zhī) hài (亥), and the hours 9–11 in the night. In terms of yin and yang (阴阳—yīn yáng), the Pig is yin. In Chinese culture, pigs are the symbol of wealth.

Their chubby faces and big ears are signs of fortune as well.

Private Health Insurance Reforms

The April 1 Private Health Insurance regulatory reforms are already making waves for its members. With skewed news articles providing scattered information, it’s hard to know exactly what is changing and how it will affect consumers.

With the changes rumored to increase retail rates between 3%-5% more than the standard increase, it has become a huge advantage for employers to have a corporate health insurance plan in place.

To help you and your staff, here is an overview of what will be changing starting 1 April.

Clearer Categorisation

To make choosing and comparing health insurance easier, 4 categories will be the standard across the market: ‘Basic’, ‘Bronze’, ‘Silver’ and ‘Gold’. There will also be ‘Bronze Plus’, ‘Silver Plus’ and ‘Gold Plus’. These offer a slightly higher level of cover (or include additional services such as pregnancy) than the standard equivalent.

The reason for the change is to require insurers to group certain treatments together, offering ‘like for like’ products across funds. In theory, this should make it easier for members to pick a product and fund that suits their needs. Due to the new groupings, however, there may be instances where a treatment that was covered in a member’s plan has been categorised as being a ‘higher’ level and is no longer covered. For example, according to this Choice.com article, “budget cover policies currently include all cancer surgery – the new Bronze cover policies include only some cancer surgeries.”

In order to understand exactly how the categorisation changes affect your personal situation, we would encourage you to speak directly with your fund. You can also read more here.

Removal of some Natural Therapies

Following a review from the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer (CMO), the following natural therapies will be removed from all products across all health funds:

Alexander technique, aromatherapy, Bowen therapy, Buteyko, Feldenkrais, Western herbalism, homeopathy, iridology, kinesiology, naturopathy, Pilates, reflexology, Rolfing, shiatsu, tai chi, and yoga.

The CMO determined that there was “no clear evidence demonstrating the efficacy of the excluded natural therapies”.

The aim is that by removing these therapies, the member will not be paying for something that the CMO has determined doesn’t improve health, resulting in a potential premium decrease for the member.

Read more here.

Optional Reforms:

Higher Excess Options: To encourage more people to join funds, higher excess options can be made available at a lower premium. Maximum permitted excesses for private hospital insurance will be increased from $500 to $750 for singles and from $1,000 to $1,500 for couples/families. Read more here.

Discounts for Young People: For every year a member is under the age of 30, insurers may offer a discount of two percent on the premium. In other words, a 29-year-old can get a discount of up to two percent, a 28-year-old four percent and so on, up to a maximum of 10% for 18- to 25-year-olds. If a member stays on the same policy, they can keep the full discount until they are 40. Note, that if the member changes funds then this may affect the discount. Read more here.

Accomodation Benefits for Rural Australians: This reform provides support for members who live rurally and are required to travel further for treatment. Read more here.

Note: Private Health Insurance funds are not required by law to incorporate the Optional Reforms. Speak with your fund to find out if they will be adding these to their products.

If you provide either subsidised or voluntary private health insurance to your staff, lean on your private health insurance provider to educate staff about these changes.

Let’s Spin the Workplace Wellness Prediction Wheel!

It’s already February (where did January go?!), but we wanted to spend some time talking about what you might see in wellness trends for 2019. There are many sources that have ‘the top 10 trends for the year’ describing what they believe will be important to employees and employers in the wellness space for the next year. I’ve consolidated these and highlighted some of the most commonly mentioned trends below:

1) Tackling Burnout – A recent Gallup survey found that 23% of employees reported feeling burned out at work very often or always. A number as high as this is a cause for concern for employers, but how do we mitigate this? Forbes says about encouraging employees to disconnect, putting phones away, taking time for self care. As employers this means setting boundaries with emailing/contacting staff outside of standard business hours, allowing employees to actually have time to ‘unplug’.

2) Getting on the Kombucha bandwagon – One benefit that employers find easy to provide to staff is snacks. However, these snacks are often not the most nutritious and employees are starting to care more about what employers provide. While we don’t expect companies to have Kombucha in their fridges, we would expect to see a trend to move to healthier options, like yoghurt, fruit, hummus and rice crackers. It’s no secret that ‘we are what we eat’, so a healthier workforce means a more productive one.

3) Get Flexible with Wellness – A trap that some companies fall into when implementing wellness initiatives, is not asking staff what they actually want and then providing stale, ‘off the rack’ style benefits. Surveying staff is an easy way to understand what is important to them and then rolling out initiatives that can be flexible or tailored to specific subsets of your workforce. The Well+Good Wellness Trends Report outlines the need to allow for employees to experiment with wellness; to provide a benefit for a month to keep things fresh and allow for staff to follow interesting wellness trends.

If you are interested in surveying your staff and implementing creative wellness solutions suited to your employees’ needs, reach out to us!

Financial Industry Prepares for Hayne’s Royal Commission Report

Yesterday, the financial industry heard from the Royal Commissioner, Kenneth Hayne, as he delivered his final report on the banking royal commission. An ABC news article reported that banks are expecting both the Government, the opposition and the regulators to use Hayne’s report as a blueprint for a better banking system and commit to making the changes. Hayne’s recommendations are reported to ensure that customers come first and ethical banking is implemented.

An article from Canstar also described what the royal commission report may mean for super, insurance and home loans:

Superannuation implications – raised consumer awareness of engaging with superannuation, fee changes in light of the fee for no service scandals and enforcements on underperforming low cost MySuper products.

Insurance implications – minimum standards requiring insurance providers to focus on contract certainty and harsher penalties for wrongdoers. APRA will also be pushed to enforce these regulations more than ever before. The royal commission report will emphasise the importance of protection and claim service in regard to insurance premiums instead of price.

Home Loan implications – APRA and ASIC will have a tougher stance on lending standards ensuring potential home owners have the capacity to repay their home loan. The report will tighten the reins in home lending due to overaction from banks having to assess applicants’ regular discretionary expenses leading to slower lending growth.

Feed Team Fun with FebFast

This February provides a wonderful opportunity for employees of any workforce to band together, take positive actions towards their health and most importantly lend a helping hand to those in need.

This is all possible through participating in the annual Febfast which is the ‘pause for a cause’ from alcohol, sugar or something of your choice for the month of February in support of disadvantaged young people aged 12-25 across the country.

Workplaces who wish to get the most out of their employees as well simultaneously create a positive working environment should encourage employees to take part. A core reason for this was identified in the December issue of Eudamonia in the ‘six traits that make for a stand-out workplace’. On top of the list was having a sense of purpose; that is, the belief that the actions taken by employees may lead to a positive impact on the world.

Initiatives such as Febfast will certainly achieve this. Following a month of withholding from habits that may adversely affect an individual such as alcohol, junk food, and even excessive amounts of social media can be transformative. Participants from previous years have stated that they “feel mentally sharper, sleep better and are more productive at work” as a result of the fast.

Register yourself or your team today! It’s not too late to get started!

Does your 7 year old understand finances?

Kids are growing up in a fast-growing tech savvy world, meaning they have the resources for great financial success. When discussing the importance of preparing the next generation for adulthood, many focus on educating their children to give them opportunities in the workforce – but it is uncommon that children actually understand how to manage those finances.

The most imperative part in preparing kids for adult financial challenges is understanding earning, spending and saving. An article from Netwealth highlighted that Australian students have an average score of 504 out of 800, when being tested on their ability to apply their financial knowledge to manage real-life situations and make decisions about money. This performance was much lower than from 566, four years ago. The article also delineates that children start developing attitudes and financial habits by the age of 7, meaning financial education needs to start from a very early age.

So what exactly should we be teaching?

  • The concept of value and exchange: Try using notes and coins instead of your credit card to create the link between money and spending.
  • The importance of budgeting: Draw up a simple spreadsheet of household expenses to give children a sense of your family budget
  • Good financial decision making: Give your children a ‘piggy bank’ so they can understand the value of money and learn to decide when to spend, save or share those finances.

Educating kids about finances from when they are young will assist society build a money smart generation and help ensure that your children have the right skills for their financial future.

When you wish upon your CEO…

Providing incentives through bonuses is a time tested method to encourage excellence in your employees’ work. But for a CEO in a Boston based Marketing firm, a standard cash bonus just wasn’t cutting it. Instead, CEO Robert Glazer asks all of his employees to submit ‘wishes’ throughout the year, at the end of which, Glazer picks 10 that he grants.

So far wishes have spanned from Glazer providing a specialised coach to train a group for an upcoming marathon, to paying for flights for an employee visit her grandmother in Greece. In one remarkable example, Glazer even hired a private investigator to help find a woman’s long lost brother who had been given up for adoption.

By granting wishes, this creative CEO boosts morale, rewarding staff with incentives that employees care about and adding real value to their lives.

If your company granted wishes, what would you wish for?

We should all be a bit more like Cookie Monster…

We hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Eudaimonia and we’d love to hear your feedback.

James McFarland

Stanford Brown

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