U.S. Employers Expect Health Care Costs to Rise 4% in 2015
Source: Towers Watson
U.S. employers expect a 4% increase in 2015 health care costs for active employees after plan design changes, according to global professional services company Towers Watson (NYSE, NASDAQ: TW). If no adjustments are made, employers project a 5.2% growth rate, putting absolute cost per person for health care benefits at an all-time high. Despite this cost trend, most (83%) employers consider health benefits an important element of their employee value proposition, and plan to continue subsidizing and managing them for both full-time and part-time active employees, according to the 2014 Towers Watson Health Care Changes Ahead Survey. They are, however, continuing to rethink company subsidies for spouses and dependents.
Of particular concern on the cost front is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s excise tax,* which goes into effect in 2018. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of employers said they are somewhat or very concerned they will trigger the tax based on their current plans and cost trajectory. More than four in 10 (43%) said avoiding the tax is the top priority for their health care strategies in 2015. As a result of the excise tax and other provisions of the health care reform law, CEOs and CFOs are more actively engaged in strategy discussions.
This report analyzes data from a recent survey initiative that examined the employment and retirement planning and saving experiences of state and local government workers, as well as their confidence in their retirement income prospects. One-third of public sector employees have been with their current employer for less than 10 years and one-third for 20 years or longer. When considering the future, two-thirds do not expect to leave their current employer anytime soon. Respondents ranked job security, health insurance, retirement benefits, and salary as the most important job elements they would consider in deciding whether to switch employers. The vast majority of state and local employees are covered by a primary defined benefit pension plan and expect to receive retiree health care benefits; one-quarter of these workers reported changes to these benefits over the past two years and one-quarter expect (more) changes in the next two years.
Mobile Conferencing is Changing How We Work (Infographic)
As the workplace has changed thanks to new conferencing and collaboration tools, so has the way employees communicate with their co-workers and clients. Being at work doesn’t necessarily mean being at the office anymore. The same can now be said for attending work meetings. Since nearly every employee has access to a smartphone or tablet, meetings can be taken from home, the beach, an airport—pretty much anywhere employees find themselves.
As the world’s largest conferencing and collaboration provider, InterCall wanted to see just how big this trend has become. We dug into our mobile traffic data to view recent trends and surveyed more than 500 outside, full-time employees to discover their conferencing habits. What we found was that mobile conferencing is certainly a growing trend and employees are taking full advantage of workplace mobility, sometimes in very unique places.
The Shifting Economics of Global Manufacturing: How Cost Competitiveness Is Changing Worldwide
Source: Boston Consulting Group
For the better part of three decades, a rough, bifurcated conception of the world has driven corporate manufacturing investment and sourcing decisions. Latin America, Eastern Europe, and most of Asia have been viewed as low-cost regions. The U.S., Western Europe, and Japan have been viewed as having high costs.
But this worldview now appears to be out of date. Years of steady change in wages, productivity, energy costs, currency values, and other factors are quietly but dramatically redrawing the map of global manufacturing cost competitiveness. The new map increasingly resembles a quilt-work pattern of low-cost economies, high-cost economies, and many that fall in between, spanning all regions.
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Internet of Things Research Study (PDF)
Source: Hewlett Packard (HP)
Suddenly, everything from refrigerators to sprinkler systems are wired and interconnected, and while these devices have made life easier, they’ve also created new attack vectors for hackers. These devices are now collectively called the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT devices are poised to become more pervasive in our lives than mobile phones and will have access to the most sensitive personal data such as social security numbers and banking information. As the number of connected IoT devices constantly increases, security concerns are also exponentially multiplied. A couple of security concerns on a single device such as a mobile phone can quickly turn to 50 or 60 concerns when considering multiple IoT devices in an interconnected home or business. In light of the importance of what IoT devices have access to, it’s important to understand their security risk.
15th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey
Results from the 15th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey show retirement expectations and readiness across generations. The initial report, “Three Unique Generations with Very Different Retirements Ahead of Them: Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials,” offers comparisons among the three generations. The second report, “Millennial Workers: An Emerging Generation of Super Savers,” explores the youngest group of workers and spotlights their strides toward retirement readiness.
Money? Time? Blood? What are Americans Giving? (PDF)
Source: Harris Interactive
Charitable donations rose in 2013, the first growth seen since the 2008 recession. But of course, measurements like this typically track monetary giving – just one of the ways Americans, and people the world over, can contribute to causes they believe in. Broadening the scope to all types of giving, a recent Harris Poll finds that nine out of ten Americans (91%) have made some sort of contribution within the past two to three years, with money only the second most common type of giving (66%), after used clothing (73%).
Just over half of U.S. adults gave food (53%) within that timeframe, while four in ten gave time or labor (41%) and nearly two in ten gave blood (18%). Nearly half (45%) gave some other type of used item, 4% made some other sort of medical or genetic donation, and 7% gave something else entirely.
Forty-Five Percent of Americans Seek Out Organic Foods
A little less than half of Americans, 45%, actively try to include organic foods in their diets, while 15% actively avoid them. More than a third, 38%, say they “don’t think either way” about organic foods.
The journey to digital business is the key theme of Gartner, Inc.’s “Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2014.” As the Gartner Hype Cycle celebrates its 20th year, Gartner said that as enterprises set out on the journey to becoming digital businesses, identifying and employing the right technologies at the right time will be critical.
Gartner’s 2014 Hype Cycle Special Report provides strategists and planners with an assessment of the maturity, business benefit and future direction of more than 2,000 technologies, grouped into 119 areas. New Hype Cycles this year include Digital Workplace, Connected Homes, Enterprise Mobile Security, 3D Printing and Smart Machines.
The Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies report is the longest-running annual Hype Cycle, providing a cross-industry perspective on the technologies and trends that business strategists, chief innovation officers, R&D leaders, entrepreneurs, global market developers and emerging technology teams should consider in developing emerging-technology portfolios.
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The third annual research study by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte probes executives’ views of the social business opportunity and how companies are harnessing its value. The report is based on responses from 4,803 business executives across 26 industries and 109 countries, and incorporates interviews with more than 20 executives and subject matter specialists.
This year’s research indicates that a company’s social business maturity – the breadth and sophistication of its initiatives – is a good predictor of the value derived from social business initiatives. We detail the drivers of that maturity and how companies are using social business beyond the marketing function to transform their organizations and reap greater gains.
Highlights from the 2014 report include:
- Social business is perceived as important both today and in the future
- Employees want to work for companies that excel at social business
- Measurement sophistication is starting to prove the value
- Social business maturity is related to the level of results companies achieve
- Companies can fuel social business maturity by focusing on its three primary drivers:
- Using social business data in decisions
- Having a leadership vision premised on the belief that social can fundamentally change the business
- Moving social business beyond marketing to realize that vision
McKinsey on Sustainability & Resource Productivity — Issue 2, Summer 2014
Source: McKinsey & Company
Articles in this issue
McKinsey on Sustainability & Resource Productivity—Introduction
In this second issue of McKinsey on Sustainability & Resource Productivity, we seek to establish the value of sustainability and to demonstrate how these opportunities can (and are) being captured in a range of industries.
Profits with purpose: How organizing for sustainability can benefit the bottom line
Becoming a sustainability leader requires big changes, but the effort is worth it—in both environmental and economic terms.
The human factor: Amassing troops for the ’resource revolution‘
Companies on the front lines of the resource revolution need to implement creative talent-management strategies.
Riding the resource wave: How extractive companies can succeed in the new resource era
With economic and social expectations rising in resource-rich countries, extractive companies must rethink how they do business.
Brave new world: Myths and realities of clean technologies
Don’t be fooled by high-profile setbacks. The cleantech sector is gaining steam—with less and less regulatory assistance.
Unconventional wisdom: Fracturing enters a new era
Faced with change on a scale not seen in decades, companies must alter their business plans to accommodate unconventionals or else risk irrelevance.
The disruptive potential of solar power
As costs fall, the importance of solar power to senior executives is rising.
Bioenergy in Europe: A new beginning—or the end of the road?
Bioenergy faces challenges in Europe, but there is reason to believe it can make a comeback.
Global Investor Confidence in US Soars for Third Straight Year, According to 2014 Global Venture Capital Confidence Survey
Global investor confidence in the United States significantly increased for the third year in a row, driven by a combination of favorable capital markets, abundant investment opportunities in innovative companies and a strong investor climate, according to the 2014 Global Venture Capital Confidence Survey from Deloitte and the National Venture Capital Association. Moreover, global investor confidence also increased in the United Kingdom, Israel and Canada, but continued to decline in Brazil, China and India, according to the survey.
The Path to Value in the Cloud
Source: Oxford Economics
Cloud computing is fundamentally altering business processes and changing the way organizations interact with customers, partners, and employees. Yet for all the enthusiasm, many companies lack a clear strategy for migration to the cloud and cannot measure their progress. This briefing paper, built on a national survey of 350 business and technology executives, explores how far along companies are in migrating to the cloud—and the challenges they face along the way.
See also: Cloud: The New Engine of Business
Arkansas, Kentucky Report Sharpest Drops in Uninsured Rate; Medicaid expansion, state exchanges linked to faster reduction in uninsured rate
Arkansas and Kentucky lead all other states in the sharpest reductions in their uninsured rate among adult residents since the healthcare law’s requirement to have insurance took effect at the beginning of the year. Delaware, Washington, and Colorado round out the top five. All 10 states that report the largest declines in uninsured rates expanded Medicaid and established a state-based marketplace exchange or state-federal partnership.
High Demand Means Rising Tech Prices
For more than a decade, computers and computer hardware prices have been falling at a steady pace as input and production costs fall and technology advances. For example, in just the past three years, desktop computer prices have plummeted 23.6%. Hardware production costs have decreased substantially during this period in response to an estimated 1.7% average annual dip in semiconductor prices and the introduction of new industrial technologies, which have automated the manufacturing process and reduced labor requirements. Meanwhile, the rapid rate at which computer hardware products verge toward obsolescence encourages suppliers to pass their savings on to buyers in the interest of retaining market share and offloading outdated models.
Despite steady drops in prices across the board, IBISWorld has identified four computer hardware products—programmable logic controllers, graphics and accelerator cards, intercom systems, and network switches—whose prices are bucking the trend and are actually projected to grow moderately through 2017. Price growth in these markets, which is largely due to expanding demand, means that buyers should consider procuring the relative products as early as possible to avoid future price increases. Additionally, buyers can leverage their awareness and understanding of market dynamics and buying strategies to reduce their exposure to price growth and make better purchasing decisions.
Top US Industries for Women
It is undoubtedly a good time to be a female professional in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) most recent databook on women in the labor force, the unemployment rate for women was lower in 2012 than it was for men, and 38.0% of employed women aged 25 to 64 earned college degrees that year, up from just 11.0% in 1970. Data from the US Department of Education illustrates this achievement gap: in 2013, more than half of all associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees were awarded to women. The growing female share of college degrees has benefited women in the workforce; in 2011, 28.1% of wives in dual-income families made more than their husbands, marking an increase of more than 10.0% since 1987 (latest available data).
However, workplace conditions have not been entirely rosy for women. The BLS notes that women continue to represent a minority in wage and salary worker unions, and 8.3% of all female military veterans were unemployed in 2012, compared with just 6.9% of male veterans. Employed women work fewer hours per week than men, and more working women than working men live below the poverty line. Even female entrepreneurs and higher-paid working women contend with significant disadvantages in the business world; across all professions, women are estimated to earn only 82.0% of what men earn. In highly paid professions, the gap is even more egregious. For instance, female physicians and surgeons earned an estimated 28.3% less than their male counterparts in 2013.
Nevertheless, women have more opportunities today than ever before. Using its database of more than 700 industry reports, in conjunction with BLS employment statistics, IBISWorld has narrowed down six industries that offer unique employment advantages for women. These industries are characterized by strong growth in revenue and employment, particularly in the number of female workers.
The Bilingual Brain
Hispanics and Millennials are two of the fastest growing and increasingly important consumer groups in the U.S. So it’s no surprise that marketers are eager to understand how to connect with these populations. But to engage with those who fall in both groups, Hispanic Millennials, it is imperative to understand the impact of language in order to optimize messaging for this demographic that increasingly identifies as bilingual.
Research has demonstrated that bilingual speakers have a number of cognitive advantages over their monolingual peers; however, the neurological impact of bilingualism on advertising had not yet been explored. Utilizing Nielsen’s proprietary consumer neuroscience technology, Nielsen, Univision and Starcom collaborated to research unarticulated language preferences and their impact on advertising, answering key questions, such as:
- Does the emerging population of bilingual Millennials respond differently to messaging when it is in Spanish than when it is in English?
- What are the best ways to reach and connect with Hispanic bilingual Millennials?
- How does the language of television programming influence how the advertisement is received by the consumer?
The results confirm that language influences how ads are received and introduces the idea that advertising in Spanish offers a unique advantage for brands striving to connect with bilingual Hispanic Millennials.
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The IMF crisis and how to solve it
Source: Oxford Economics
As the IMF approaches its 70th birthday, this extract from our July UK Economic Outlook investigates the Fund’s Greek programme, one of the most credibility-sapping in its history. We trace the IMF’s role in the programme from its stormy launch to misfiring implementation; the Fund’s half-hearted apology; and its early (and ongoing) attempts to draw lessons and revise its sovereign debt restructuring framework, which appear destined to deliver insufficient meaningful change. A transparency revolution is both necessary and feasible. It worked for central banks in the 1990s. Why not the Fund?
The food-services sector is constantly evolving, as restaurants cater to changing consumer preferences, new lifestyle choices and demographic shifts. The trend toward health consciousness, coupled with an increasing interest in gourmet and high-quality cuisine, is inducing food-service operators to adopt value-added options, such as gluten-free foods, farm-to-table restaurant models and locally sourced produce. Additionally, as time-strapped consumers look to maximize their purchasing power without sacrificing food quality, they will continue to drive demand for niche food-service players like food trucks. Also, the ubiquitous use of smartphones has forced restaurants to cater to consumers that want timely service with minimum effort. Lastly, the changing demographic composition of the United States is giving rise to a wide variety of cuisine choices for US consumers. As a result, ethnic cuisine is expected to play a larger role in the food-services sector over the next five years, as industry players continue to alter their menus to accommodate ever-changing consumer preferences.