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John Sumser presents the interbiznet Bugler

interbiznet presents The Bugler

January 10, 2007

Push vs Pull (Spam 3)
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2006 Top Ten Series:
      Amitai Givertz,       David Hurst,       Scott Dow,       Kevin Wheeler,                   Hank Stringer,        Tim Driver,         Steve Levy,       Martin Snyder,
      Don Ramer ,          Hans Geiskes .
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Reveille and Hyperbole:
Workscape, Inc., experts in outsourced benefits and compensation solutions, announced it has teamed with WebMD, the leading provider of health information, to provide an integrated solution that helps employees make more informed benefit, treatment and provider decisions.

TempWorks Software, a leading provider of innovative technology solutions designed for the staffing industry, announced the latest release of its web portal product. WebCenter fx, a complete ground-up rebuild that replaces the old WebCenter product, was designed using entirely new technology and features the integration of the TempWorks Applicant Portal and Job Board, Notifications Services, an exciting new interface and an extreme depth of functionality.

DLA Piper unveiled a new and innovative web-based resource for lawyers and human resources professionals: uKNOW. uKNOW is the culmination of a project to promote global knowledge sharing and enable clients to access basic legal and business information about multiple jurisdictions. The site provides detailed advice for conducting business around the world and calls upon DLA Piper's global capabilities in employment and labor law. For a demonstration of uKNOW, please contact Amanda Green at

The California Association of Employers announced its merger with the Valley Employers Association. The new, larger organization will be called the California Employers Association. This month, the two associations will begin blending their resources, with all operations being handled from the California Employers Association's headquarters in Sacramento. Both associations specialized in handling unemployment insurance claims, labor commissioner hearings, union negotiations, trainings and human resource consulting. introduces its new "Team Relationship Management" service. It allows teams to collaborate, communicate, and manage team interactions no matter where they are, using only a broadband connection.

Splash Media, a media and technology company formed to create and deliver rich media content programming for viewers with passionate interests, announced its partnership with xTrain, an online video based training company. xTrain provides expert instruction in graphic and web design, as well as digital photography and digital art. xTrain recruits only the top experts in each field to provide online training.

Deck Chairs:
Michael Pennell has joined Buck Consultants' Honolulu office as Director in the Retirement practice. Pennell joins Buck after serving as an independent actuarial consultant for the past nine years. Prior to that, he worked as a Consulting Actuary with Deloitte & Touche. With nearly 25 years of consulting experience, his expertise includes defined benefit plan design, actuarial valuations, pension administration, and QDRO's.

You Should Know:
Building talent key to city's future
BRIGHT FUTURE: Mayor of Preston Coun Bill Tyson with staff and apprentices at the construction training centre City education chiefs are hoping homegrown talent from a new construction training centre will help build a brighter future for Preston.

Apprentices at the state-of-the-art training centre, at Preston City Council's Argyll Road depot, will get the chance to gain much-needed qualifications in bricklaying, joinery, plastering and painting.

Bosses at the centre, a partnership between Preston City Council, Preston College and the North West Learning and Skills Council, hope those skills will be put to use in regenerating the city.

Malcolm Clarke, director of Preston College's business services, said: "There is a shortage of these types of skills but the construction industry is a lucrative, career option. (The Citizen)

Apple Reinvents the Mobile Phone -- and Itself
Carl Howe (Blackfriars Communications) submits: The following are my notes from this morning's keynote. by Steve Jobs at Moscone Center West in San Francisco. I've consolidated the five parts I wrote on my cell phone into this single, more comprehensible version. Quickly, the keynote can be summarized as follows: Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL - News) has reinvented itself into a consumer electronics companies, reaching beyond computers to introduce Mac OS X-powered TV content media centers and cell phones. And it is serious enough about that reinvention to change its name to Apple, Inc. That by itself should indicate how big a change this is.

Collaboration with publishers, software developers, educators and learners drives development of new technology.
As technology continues to evolve and change the way people learn and acquire information, the Education Products Group at Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT - News) is committed to developing products that support discovery and lifelong learning. By using technology to impact education, the goal is to help people realize their potential. This commitment to technology is manifested in a new set of tools from Microsoft that will allow the education community to create and assemble materials that help increase discovery and will engage learners at their own pace and in their own learning style. This set of tools, which is currently code-named "Grava," will be unveiled at this week's British Education and Training Technology Conference (BETT) in London.

"Grava" is being developed to provide publishers, software developers, educators and learners with the tools they need to be more efficient and effective in building and using educational material. "Grava" will allow for rich content creation and will transform static educational content into engaging multimedia learning experiences that can be customized to the unique styles of every learner in the classroom. "Grava" is designed to help publishers build enhanced materials for less money and fewer resources, shortening the content creation life cycle, thereby increasing efficiency and reducing costs. In addition, educators have the power to modify their existing materials, providing them with maximum control over the instructional content creation process, which can result in time savings and the ability to provide personalized learning. (Yahoo Bizz)

Deep Release:

Google Debuts at Number One on FORTUNE's 2007 List of ''100 Best Companies to Work For'' Genentech and Wegmans Food Markets drop down to No. 2 and 3 respectively

Google makes its debut in the number one position on FORTUNE's 10th annual "100 Best Companies to Work For" list. At Google you can enjoy free gourmet meals; do your laundry; drop off your dry cleaning; get an oil change and get a massage all onsite. Work is such a cozy place that it's sometimes difficult for Google employees to leave the office, which is precisely how the company justifies the expenses, none of which it breaks out of its administrative costs. Engineers can spend 20% of time on independent projects—no wonder Google gets 1,300 resumes a day. "It's easy for Google's people to be energized, though, when their company is so stinking rich that it continues to ooze cash even while lavishing benefits on its staff," says FORTUNE's Adam Lashinsky. "Just eight years out of the garage, Google will surpass $10 billion in sales for 2006," he adds. The full list and related stories appear in the January 22 issue of FORTUNE, available on newsstands January 15 and at on January 8.

Dropping from first place, Genentech is in the No. 2 spot for both the overall list and for Best Medium-Sized Companies. This biotech leader has uncommonly loyal staffers. "Wild horses could not drag me away," says one employee. And Wegmans Food Markets who has been on FORTUNE's list all ten years moves to the No. 3 spot.

Rounding out the top ten are:

    The Container Store (No. 4) where sales employees are paid 50% to 100% above industry average;
    Whole Food Markets (No. 5) pays 100% of health coverage for their employees;
    Network Appliance (No. 6), where 95% of employees have flexible schedules;
    S.C. Johnson & Son (No. 7), which offers discounts at its newly expanded child-care center for families making under $60,000 per year;
    Boston Consulting Grp. (No. 8), where a push to hire more women resulted in a 25% rise in female consultants from 2004;
    Methodist Hospital Sys. (No. 9), sent employees a $250 gift card for use at Chevron stations when gas prices soared and
    W.L. Gore & Associates (No. 10), which prefers to promote from within.
About 1,500 companies contacted the Great Place to Work Institute or were recruited to participate. (Any company that is at least seven years old with more than 1,000 U.S. Employees is eligible.) The deadline for applying for next year's list is March 31, 2007; for an online nomination form, go to

Deeper Release:

Congress Enacts Health Savings Account (HSA) Reform Package to Expand HSA Enrollment On December 9, 2006, Congress passed the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 (H.R. 6111), which President Bush signed into law on December 20, 2006 (Public Law 109-432). The Act includes an expansion of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) that will make them more attractive to individuals and employers. (The box below summarizes the changes to HSAs.) This Spotlight discusses the implications of the HSA expansion and what employers may want to do in response.

The implications of the Act's HSA provisions include the following:

  • Because HSA contribution limits will be increased to the statutory maximum, instead of being limited to the amount of the deductible in the High-Deductible Health Plan (HDHP), HSAs are likely to become more attractive as a health care savings tool. In addition, as long as the HDHP deductible is more than the statutorily required minimum ($1,100 single, $2,200 family in 2007), employers no longer have to take the amount of the deductible into account when deciding whether to fund the HSA, and in what amount.
  • As HSAs become more attractive and flexible, employers with other individual account plans, such as Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs), may be more interested in transitioning into an HSA environment. However, if an employer intends to allow employees to roll HRA funds into an HSA, it should stop to consider that the HRA, which can be a paper account, would have to be fully funded in order for the funds to be transferred into an HSA, which is a funded, trusteed arrangement. This would effectively convert an HRA from a notional promise to pay into a funded account.
  • Earlier release of HSA and HDHP annual limits will allow employers more time to plan for HSA implementation as part of open enrollment.
  • With new comparable contributions that allow greater employer contributions for non-highly compensated employees, employers may look at plan designs that take advantage of a HDHP and provide employer contributions targeted to lower income employees.
Employers that offered an HSA-related option for 2006 should immediately review the new law to decide whether any changes are required or desired to their existing HDHP/HSA plan option. Some possible action items include:
  • If FSA grace periods have presented a problem for the first quarter of 2007, review the new rules and see whether the new rules adequately address any concerns.
  • Notify employees about the new higher contribution limit and how it will affect their HSA.
  • If an employer contribution is made, either through a cafeteria plan or after-tax, review whether they wish to modify their contribution. Keep in mind modifications to the comparable contribution rule that permit employers to favor non-highly compensated employees. Also, think about how much employer contributions should be made for new hires, in light of the new rule allowing mid-year hires to contribute for the full year.
  • Assure that payroll systems are modified in light of the new rules.
  • Employers may also want to consider asking the FSA or HRA administrator to take a "snapshot" of the account to record the balance as of September 21, 2006. This will assure that if the employer decides to permit a rollover of the balance, an accurate amount will be known.
Employers should keep a careful eye out for fast guidance from the Internal Revenue Service or Treasury Department. Agency representatives have informally announced that they realize guidance is necessary to help employers implement some of these rules, particularly those associated with rollovers between accounts. It is even possible employers may be allowed to re-open their 2006 enrollment in light of the new rules.

Employers considering an HDHP/HSA option for 2008 should review the new law and consult with their benefits advisors as to whether the new flexibility around HSAs, particularly contributions, makes sense for them. Employers that adopted consumer-driven plans with an HDHP/HRA option prior to 2004 should review whether they wish to continue the HRA or provide for a rollover into an HSA. To discuss the implications of the HSA provisions in the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 for your organization, contact your Segal/Sibson consultant or the nearest Segal/Sibson office. Guide to Top Specialty Boards Guide to Top Specialty Boards Guide to Top Specialty Boards
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January 25, 2007
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February 6, 2007
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February 13 -16, 2007
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February 20 - 21, 2007
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