Employee Benefits

Leveraging Benefits to Fuel Growth

A new study offers comprehensive insight into how employers are leveraging and expanding benefits as part of an overall growth strategy.
By: | August 29, 2017 • 2 min read

The ability to attract and retain the right people from the shrinking U.S. talent pool is heavily dependent upon what employers have to offer, well beyond compensation and health insurance.


The 2017 Benefits Strategy & Benchmarking Study, conducted by Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., provides insight into how employers of all stripes are prioritizing their human capital investments.

More than 4,200 U.S. organizations participated in the study between January and March of this year. The project went beyond the scope of traditional benefits, encompassing goals such as employee engagement, well-being and quality of communications.

Of interest to researchers, employers are increasingly thinking bigger-picture, reflecting a shift that puts growth above cost-cutting.

According to Stephanie Bauman, Area Vice President, Research & Market Insights for Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., 52 percent of employers expect increased revenues within the next two years and 51 percent expect to increase head count, putting recruitment and retention strategies on the front burner.

Stephanie Bauman, Area Vice President, Research & Market Insights, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.

But changing demographics create a wrinkle, leaving employers struggling to create benefits that are universally appealing.

“There is a pressure to offer benefits that are valued by both baby boomers and the millennial workforce and that’s not an easy thing to do,” said Bauman, “Sometimes what they value at that stage of their lives is different.”

Generational shifts also play a big role in the trend toward promoting a sense of personal fulfillment.

“[Millennials] want a career that … has a broader social mission, if you will,” said Bauman.

Of the study’s respondents, 28 percent are already connecting employees to volunteer opportunities and 27 percent are fostering community engagement.

“How do you build a workforce that facilitates deep and meaningful work or relationships?” said Bauman. “That’s something we’ve got to think harder about while trying to attract this newer generation.” &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

2017 Risk All Stars

Immeasurable Value

The 2017 Risk All Stars strengthened their organizations by taking ownership of improved risk management processes and not quitting until they were in place.
By: | September 12, 2017 • 3 min read

Being the only person to hold a particular opinion or point of view within an organization cannot be easy. Do the following sound like familiar stories? Can you picture yourself or one of your risk management colleagues as the hero or heroine? Or better yet, as a Risk & Insurance® Risk All Star?


One risk manager took a job with a company that was being spun off, and the risk management program, which was built for a much larger company, was not a good fit for the spun-off company.
Rather than sink into inertia, this risk manager took the bull by the horns and began an aggressive company intranet campaign to instill better safety and other risk management practices throughout the organization.

The risk manager, 2017 Risk All Star Michelle Bennett of Cable One, also changed some long-standing brokerage relationships that weren’t a good fit for the risk management and insurance program. In her first year on the job she produced premium savings and in her second year is in the process of introducing ERM company-wide.

Or perhaps this one rings a bell. The news is trickling out that a company is poised to dramatically expand, increasing the workforce three- or four-fold. Having this knowledge with certainty would be a great benefit to a risk manager, who could begin girding safety, workers’ comp and related programs accordingly. But things sometimes don’t work that way, do they? Sometimes the risk manager is one of the last people to know.

The Risk All Star Award recognizes at its core, creativity, perseverance and passion. The 13 winners of this year’s award all displayed those traits in abundance.

In the case of 2017 Risk All Star winner Steve Richards of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company, the news of an expansion spurred him to action. He completely overhauled the company’s workers’ compensation program and streamlined its claim management system. The results, even with a much higher headcount, were reduced legal costs, better return-to-work experiences for injured workers and a host of other improvements and savings.

The Risk All Star Award recognizes at its core, creativity, perseverance and passion. The 13 winners of this year’s award all displayed those traits in abundance. Sometimes it took years for a particular risk solution, as promoted by a risk manager, to find acceptance.

In other cases a risk manager got so excited about a solution, they never even considered getting turned down. They just kept pushing until they carried the day.


Butler University’s Zach Finn became obsessive about what he felt was a lackluster effort on the part of the insurance industry to bring in new talent. The former risk manager for the J.M. Smucker Co. settled on the creation of a student-run captive to give his risk management students the experience they would need to get hired right out of college.

The result was a better risk management program for the university’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and immediate traction in the job market for Finn’s students.

A few of our Risk All Stars told us that the results they are achieving were decades in the making. Only by year-in, year-out dedication to gaining transparency about her co-op’s risks and learning more and more about her various insurance carriers, did Growmark Inc.’s Faith Cring create a stalwart risk management and insurance program that is the envy of the agricultural sector. Now she’s been with some of her insurance carriers more than 20 years — some more than 30 years.

Having the right idea and not having a home for it can be a lonely, frustrating experience. Having the creativity, the passion and perhaps, most importantly, the perseverance to see it through and get great results makes you a Risk All Star. &


Risk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, perseverance and passion.

See the complete list of 2017 Risk All Stars.

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]