Showing posts from October, 2005

A Mid Year Health Insurance Update

September is mid-year for our healthcare plan. We are fully insured with United Health Care (UHC). We moved to a fully-insured plan two years ago after many years of more-or-less paying our own medical claims. In being quasi "self-insured" we saved the cost of insurance, paying only actual claims and administrative fees (about 16% of annual cost). The bad news was that we were on the hook for almost all the medical expense. This program lost us money for years, as an employee group this small cannot spread the risk over a large enough group of people to absorb a catastrophic health claim such as might arise from a terminal cancer, severe auto accident, or heart surgery. With the move to full insurance, we track financial performance through "claims to premium" ratio. This is short-hand for how much in medical claims UHC pays as a percentage of the monthly premium we pay them. At mid-year, our paid claims were 81% of our premium. Add to that about 16% administrative

HR Automation

Over the past five years we've made great progress from mostly a pencil & paper system to something that resembles modern automation. This year we're working hard on two initiatives that we believe will make our work more efficient and help turn about one position from clerical work to more value-added work such as training administration. Our two projects, both on the verge of full implementation, are the R recruiting and A utomated E mployment system (RAE) and ADP iPay. RAE is a home-grown, full-blown recruiting solution written by Ray Ritz, an outside programmer, under the direction of Nick VanMaarth in IT. The project was shepherded in HR by Jack Leichty and Kristie Cantrell who do the majority of the company's recruiting. Several months in development, the system quietly went live last Friday. We're cleaning up data from the conversion of our old database to the new system, but soon applicants using our on-line employment application will see pre-screening q

We Need Craftspersons

Last Friday we held a joint reception to both graduate our first ever class of Nelson Leadership University (NLU), our accelerated development program for high-potential staff, and to welcome and kickoff our second NLU group. The first group started as a class of 40 selected from 67 applicants, of whom we graduated 24. This year's group consists of 24 participants, six of whom were carried over from NLU 1 since they started late as alternates to the program. That meant that we had only 18 new slots available, so the competition to get in was tougher this year. As a result, I've spent much of this week meeting with both people who made it into the program, and people who didn't get in, to talk about their futures. Through these discussions a theme has emerged that I hope you'll agree is worth sharing. Namely, before you can be a leader in a work group, you have to understand the profession represented in that group. In other words, you need to be a knowledge leader, or