Finding and hiring the best people can be very challenging in today’s labor market. So what is the best way to tackle the challenge? The best way is to develop a three-prong strategy designed to differentiate your business from your competitors for people:

  1. Determine where and how you will source potential candidates
  2. Determine what you will offer (pay, benefits, and other rewards)
  3. Develop an onboarding program to protect your investment

Where and How to Source Candidates

There are many ways to source candidates, starting with your own company website. Whether you post your job openings or not on your website, individuals interested in applying for a job with your company will go to your website. Your website is your calling card. Make sure it is up to date, accurate, and attractive.

Social media is a very popular method for sourcing candidates today, for example, Linkedin, Instagram and Twitter. External jobsites are also popular, such as Indeed, Glass Door, Zip Recruiter, CareerBuilder, and Craigslist. Another resource is professional associations when recruiting for professional positions. In addition, employee referral programs are a low-cost way to find viable candidates. Open houses and job fairs are effective and give a potential candidate the opportunity to learn about your company and the position and interview on the spot. Another very effective way to find people is to establish strategic relationships with other organizations that can refer candidates to your company, such as local high schools, technical schools, colleges, and churches.

What You Will Offer Candidates

Before sourcing potential candidates, know how best to compete in your labor market by leveraging the reasons why an individual would want to work for your company versus another company. Ultimately, your strategy should include pay and benefits as well as other rewards that are highly valued by candidates, for example, opportunities for career development, time off, flexible work schedules, recognition, and a positive working environment and culture. By taking a strategic “total rewards” approach and branding it, you will optimize your competitiveness within your local market.

Retaining Your Best Employees

Retention starts with hiring the right individual for the right job. Before you hire, document the major functions of the job, education and experience required, and the skills, competencies, and knowledge required, then develop a list of relevant interview questions that include behavioral, situational, and general questions. Do background and reference checks as appropriate for the job. Once hired, implement an onboarding program. Onboarding programs do not have to be expensive – just effective. For example, have the employee meet with others with whom they will be working, do regular check ins and feedback sessions with the employee, assign a “buddy” to whom the employee can ask general questions, and so on. A good onboarding program in addition to a solid total rewards strategy will go a long way to protecting your time and money investment in hiring.

In our most recent blog we reported that Governor Baker had proposed four Massachusetts insurance market reforms to help close a $600 million shortfall in the MassHealth budget for 2018. One of the reforms would have assessed an employer with 11 or more full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) $2,000 per FTE not covered by the employer’s plan. The budget put forth by the House, however, does not include Governor Baker’s proposed assessment. Rather, the House plan calls for the administration to hold public hearings to obtain more input from businesses before implementing any assessment.

We continue to hear that Governor Baker is open to compromise. Your PS&A team will update you on the proposal as new developments occur.

To make up for a $600 million shortfall in the MassHealth budget for 2018, Governor Baker has proposed four Massachusetts insurance market reforms, one of which would bring back a fair share contribution requirement for employers with 11 or more full-time equivalent employees (FTEs). Before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law, the Massachusetts Health Care Reform law required an employer to pay $295 per full-time employee unless the employer met certain coverage offer requirements. However, the requirement was repealed in 2013 to align with the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate and other requirements taking effect in 2014.

Under Governor Baker’s proposal, the employer contribution would be $2,000 per FTE not covered by the employer’s plan, unless the employer provided “adequate coverage” and at least 80 percent of its FTEs were enrolled in the employer’s plan. If passed as proposed, the effective date would be the first day of the plan year beginning on or after January 1, 2018.

Adequate coverage is defined as $4,950 for full-time employees (i.e., 35 hours per week) for employer health coverage or a contribution to an HRA ($4,950 or another amount determined by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue). There is no additional requirement for spouses and dependents.

FTEs would equal the total number of employee hours of work performed by employees with one at least one month of service per quarter divided by 500, with a maximum of 500 hours counted per employee. When determining FTEs and an employer’s fair share contribution, temporary and seasonal employees and interns would be excluded. However, employees under age 26 who opt for coverage under a parent’s employer’s plan would be included. The formula for determining FTEs was designed to not incent employers to shift more full-time employees to part-time. If an Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandate applies, an employer would be credited for any federal penalties it pays before being assessed for the state employer contribution.

The table that follows shows how the employer contribution would be calculated assuming each employer has 20 FTEs comprised of 18 full-time employees and 4 part-time employees.

In addition to the fair share contribution, Governor Baker has also proposed the following to close the MassHealth budget gap:

  • Caps on certain health care provider rate increases, the elimination of certain facility fees charged for services, a moratorium on new health insurance coverage mandates, and the ability for small businesses to offer employees a choice among a range of insurance through a new Connector small business platform (In general, the effective date would be July 1, 2018, except for the new
  • Connector small business platform, which would be effective January 1, 2018.)
  • Submitting a waiver for relief from ACA employer mandate to simplify health care administration burden for employers
  • Continued controls for the sustainability and program integrity of MassHealth

Governor Baker’s proposal is causing a great deal of concern among some businesses. The Associated Industries of Massachusetts opposes the reinstatement of the fair share contribution, stating on its website that the “proposal to impose a $2,000-per-employee tax on some employers is an unfair way to close a deficit in MassHealth.” There are also many questions on how the $2,000 fair share contribution would actually work. We understand that the Governor is open to considering other options that would close the MassHealth gap.

The information provided on Governor Baker’s proposal is from the Masschusetts Insurance Market Reform, Affordability and MassHealth Sustainability document prepared by the Executive Office of Health & Human Services, January 26, 2017. To access the full text, visit

Your PS&A team will keep you informed of any new developments regarding the proposal.