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So far GEA Staff has created 20 blog entries.

Implementing a Succession Plan to Sustain Your Business

All Fortune 500 and small businesses need to ensure that they have the talent necessary to effectively lead their organizations in the future. The irony is that larger organizations with significant talent pools tend to have succession plans while smaller organizations don’t.

One of the most significant contributions leaders can make is ensuring their business’ continuity and sustainability – by having employees who are willing and capable of filling each key position with a plan for doing so when the need arises.

Through a Succession Plan an organization addresses – for each of its key positions – questions such as:


  • What the organization would do if it had to fill the position tomorrow 
  • Whether there is, at least, one successor who could immediately perform the duties of each position 
  • If there is no successor ready now, what will need to be done to enable the best internal candidate to be ready and by when 
  • Can the organization afford to wait, or would it be better to recruit a replacement

  • During Talent Review Succession Planning meetings, the leadership team in a disciplined fashion
  • Asks each leader to report on the status of the Individual Development Plans for each of their ‘A’ Players and High Potentials
  • Ensures that each ‘A’ Player and High Potential is receiving regular coaching and is actively involved in opportunities that will help retain them while accelerating their development

Not having a Succession Plan can be costly and sometimes disastrous. It’s expensive to recruit, interview, select, on-board and train a replacement – and significant opportunity costs are incurred when a key position is not being performed. While Succession Planning increases the levels of engagement and performance of ‘A’ Players and High Potentials – the talent most needed in the future.
By Pete Tosh, Founder of The Focus Group

Open Enrollment – 8 Questions to Ask Your Broker

By Jennifer Carsen

The NCAA has March Madness, and HR has its own brand of Fall Madness: open enrollment. It’s a busy and stressful time for practitioners, but a good benefits broker or consultant can mean the difference between a successful, smoothly executed process and months of frantic nail biting, confusion and muddled deadlines.

What’s the best way to find the right benefits partner? And how does HR best leverage and maximize that business relationship?

Businesses first must clarify their own needs and priorities, according to Donna Miracle, executive human resources consultant at HR Strategy Group.

“[A]re you a startup that will be growing rapidly? Are you an organization with a workforce that is virtual and spread across the country?” she said to HR Dive in an email. “In the marketplace today, brokers are looking for ways to differentiate themselves. Some are focusing on technology, others wellness, others employee engagement, etc. What is most important to your organization? What value added service will be the most beneficial to your employees?”

8 Interview Questions

Once an employer is clear on the top priorities, research is crucial. Shelley McLean, principal at OneDigital Health and Benefits, said it’s important for employers to interview multiple firms and ask a lot of questions.

Miracle suggested employers seek out a broker that specializes in employee benefits — you don’t want it to be their “other thing,” she noted via email. “Just as you would want a professional accountant, you want a professional broker.”

She advised handling the broker selection process like an employee interview, with prepared questions such as the following:

  • Describe for me the renewal process with your firm. When should I expect to begin the process? What information will you need from me and when? How do you approach the marketplace? What tools do you have in place to help us make a decision?
  • How does your firm handle problems? Is there a team assigned to our company? Can employees contact your firm directly?
  • How often should I expect to hear from your firm before and during the renewal period?
  • What resources do you offer to help us stay informed about changes and reporting requirements?
  • How often should we expect your firm to be in touch with us when we are not in the renewal season?

McLean offered these questions to ask:

  • Do you provide the backbone to look at a benefits package with a holistic approach? How will you bring that to my employees?
  • What resources do you provide outside of benefits? Is there an expanded footprint?
  • How are you, consultant, going to help us build a strategy?

Both McLean and Misty Guinn, director of benefits & wellness at Benefitfocus, mentioned the importance of long-range, multi-year strategic plans.

“When creating 1- 3- or 5-year strategic plans, can the broker help map out the strategy? Can they help model different plans with a variety of voluntary solutions to meet the overall budget number from the CFO? These tools and modeling capabilities should be a deciding factor and can be a great asset when presenting your benefit plan designs to your executive team,” said Guinn via email.

McLean noted that a data-driven strategy is a key differentiator: “Everyone can say they have data, but do they have data that can provide an actionable plan, and understand what the data means?”

It’s also important to find a broker that knows the days of cookie-cutter benefits are over. “Employers should find a broker partner that offers creative solutions to make sure the company is maximizing their current offerings through plan designs and carrier programs and offer new solutions as part of the overall benefits strategy, rather than just another shiny toy to add on top of the benefits package,” said Guinn.

U.S. Department of Labor Issues Final Overtime Rule


WASHINGTON, DC – Today the U.S. Department of Labor announced a final rule to make 1.3 million American workers eligible for overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

“For the first time in over 15 years, America’s workers will have an update to overtime regulations that will put overtime pay into the pockets of more than a million working Americans,” Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Patrick Pizzella said. “This rule brings a commonsense approach that offers consistency and certainty for employers as well as clarity and prosperity for American workers.”

“Today’s rule is a thoughtful product informed by public comment, listening sessions, and long-standing calculations,” Wage and Hour Division Administrator Cheryl Stanton remarked. “The Wage and Hour Division now turns to help employers comply and ensure that workers will be receiving their overtime pay.”

The final rule updates the earnings thresholds necessary to exempt executive, administrative, or professional employees from the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime pay requirements, and allows employers to count a portion of certain bonuses (and commissions) towards meeting the salary level. The new thresholds account for growth in employee earnings since the currently enforced thresholds were set in 2004. In the final rule, the Department is:

  • raising the “standard salary level” from the currently enforced level of $455 to $684 per week (equivalent to $35,568 per year for a full-year worker)
  • raising the total annual compensation level for “highly compensated employees (HCE)” from the currently-enforced level of $100,000 to $107,432 per year
  • allowing employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) that are paid at least annually to satisfy up to 10 percent of the standard salary level, in recognition of evolving pay practices
  • revising the special salary levels for workers in U.S. territories and in the motion picture industry

The final rule will be effective on January 1, 2020.

The increases to the salary thresholds are long overdue in light of wage and salary growth since 2004. Nearly every person who commented on the Department’s 2017 Request for Information, participated at listening sessions in 2018 regarding the regulations, or commented on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking agreed that the thresholds needed to be updated for this reason.

The Department estimates that 1.2 million additional workers will be entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay as a result of the increase to the standard salary level. The Department also estimates that an additional 101,800 workers will be entitled to overtime pay as a result of the increase to the HCE compensation level.

A 2016 final rule to change the overtime thresholds was enjoined by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas on November 22, 2016, and was subsequently invalidated by that court. As of November 6, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has held the appeal in abeyance pending further rulemaking regarding a revised salary threshold. As the 2016 final rule was invalidated, the Department has consistently enforced the 2004 level throughout the last 15 years.

More information about the final rule is available at

The Wage and Hour Division’s (WHD) mission is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the Nation’s workforce. WHD enforces Federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor requirements of the FLSA. WHD also enforces the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, and a number of employment standards and worker protections as provided in several immigration related statutes. Additionally, WHD administers and enforces the prevailing wage requirements of the Davis Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act and other statutes applicable to Federal contracts for construction and for the provision of goods and services.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.