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The HR Specialist: Compensation and Benefits

Health insurance and flextime aren’t the only perks employees consider benefits. Most of the companies that won “Best and Brightest” awards from the National Association for Business Re­­sources earned accolades from their employees for these offerings:

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Pressured to demonstrate that they’re responsible stewards of tax dollars, states have begun to experiment with variable pay for government employees. Indiana is pointing the way …

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Sears Holdings has publicly vowed to increase its hiring of veterans by 10% over the next year. Sears’ senior VP of human resources is a Navy veteran, who says as more military members return from active duty, U.S. employers have an obligation to support them, especially by offering jobs.

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After its research showed that consumers respond well to pitches that involve playing games, marketing firm Upstream Systems has “gamified” its own search for job candidates.

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Premium penalties tied to health problems are on the rise, according to a study by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health. In 2012, nearly 40% of larger employers plan to penalize employees who don’t participate in wellness programs, or for not meeting certain health goals.

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Human resources departments with small budgets can turn to a growing variety of free and low-cost mobile and web-based applications to increase efficiency and cut costs. The apps are available in several areas of HR, including hiring, benefits, attendance and performance reviews.

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For everything else that contributes to employee satisfaction, most people wouldn’t do their jobs free. Compensation is a critical tenet of the employment contract. If you’re committed to attracting and retaining excellent employees, you had better be prepared to answer these questions about your compensation practices.

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How much your organization pays for unemployment in­­surance is based, in part, on how many of your former employees have successfully filed claims against you. Under­standing who is eligible for unemployment benefits and who isn’t can go a long way toward keeping insurance rates low. It starts with how you terminate an employee.

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The average pay raise will be modest this year—around 3%—compared to about 4% from 2005 to 2008, just before the economy tanked. Here are a dozen pay trends to consider as your organization weighs how to structure compensation in an age of diminished expectations.

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The City Colleges of Chicago has ended its practice of allowing em­­ployees to “cash out” sick days when they quit their jobs. The policy applies to administrators and nonunion employees hired after Jan. 1, 2012, and is a first change resulting from a comprehensive review of benefits ordered by the school’s chancellor last fall.

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