Stop, Look and Listen: What Your Employees Really Want in Their Benefits Package

From ChamberChoice and Smart Business Pittsburgh

In today’s job market, employers are finding it increasingly difficult to offer their employees what is of top importance to them — money. This results in the need for employers to get creative when it comes to recruiting and retaining top-notch talent. Where salaries fall short, many employers bolster their benefits packages in conjunction with other incentive-based offerings, says Rob Higginbotham, finance and HR director at JRG Advisors.

Here’s the million-dollar question: What matters most to employees?

Smart Business spoke with Higginbotham about the key areas where employers should pay attention in their employee benefits.

How much does money matter?

Probably without question, the most important factor for any employee is salary. After all, we all want to be paid what we are worth, right? The reality is we are all worth more than simply what a dollar amount reflects, but salary negotiations are a big component to attracting and retaining quality employees.

As an employer, you must pay your best and brightest, and give no reason for these employees to polish up their resumes. Pay attention to the compensation standard in your industry and region. Know what your competitors are paying. And by all means, do not hesitate to proactively talk about compensation with transparency and clarity.

What needs to be included in a comprehensive employee benefits package?

Providing access to a good benefits package that meets the needs of your employees is a worthwhile investment that pays dividends. Although health insurance ranks as the primary concern for employees, providing added benefits to your program goes a long way to strengthening the overall compensation package. Consider including short- and long-term disability insurance, life insurance, dental, vision and voluntary benefits like critical illness, cancer riders, and tuition savings and reimbursement plans. Sponsoring a retirement savings plan is a benefit that can separate your company from the competition, too.

A well-rounded benefits program fosters healthy and productive employees. It bolsters employee morale and demonstrates that you care about your employees’ health, well-being and future potential.

Where does work-life balance come into play?

Your employees’ work-life balance is a crucial factor when it comes to accepting a new job or leaving a current job. Plain and simple, overworked employees develop resentment and that can lead to burn out. There are only so many hours in a day. The more time an employer demands, the less quality time an employee has to spend with his or her family or to pursue interests or hobbies that are critical to his or her well-being.

The balancing act for employers is enabling employees to have lives outside of the workplace, while ensuring that the job gets done. More companies are beginning to offer flex-time schedules, job sharing and unique paid time off plans to help employees achieve the proper work-life balance.

What’s important to understand about career development and providing purpose?

Employees need to know they have opportunities for advancement within a company because it increases the likelihood of loyalty and dedication. If an employee feels stagnant, bored, overlooked or underappreciated in their position, chances are they will actively seek a job opportunity elsewhere. Provide on-going training programs and help employees further develop their skills. Senior management can motivate employees with open dialogue, a chance to work on a new project and constructive feedback, too.

Employees want jobs that provide them with a sense of purpose. In other words, a company’s goals and its measurement of success must be defined by more than financial earnings. Many employees find a great deal of satisfaction working with a company that aligns with their own values, a company that is socially responsible and aims to have a positive impact on society.

Employers can also foster a sense of purpose by taking the time to acknowledge employees, celebrate their achievements and reward hard work. After all, we all want to grow personally and make a meaningful difference.

Members Celebrate and Enjoy Frosty Valley’s New Facilities at Ribbon Cutting and Business After Hours

What may be an all-time record for attendance at a ribbon cutting (the Chamber doesn’t keep such records) became some of the first people to see the brand new Iron Fork sign on the front of the Frosty Valley clubhouse on Wednesday afternoon, July 18, as the management, staff and new ownership at Frosty Valley showcased its new public restaurant and Barn at Frosty Valley with a ribbon cutting and subsequent Business After Hours.

Following the ribbon cutting, which kicked off the late-afternoon festivities, attendees had an opportunity to enjoy drinks and food from the Iron Fork in the adjoining spacious Iron Room, as well as the outdoor patio, where there was live music all afternoon. Some attendees also made their way over to the packed Iron Fork restaurant following the event for a larger meal. There was also a tour of the new Barn at Frosty Valley, the area’s newest banquet facility, which can seat up to 300 people for events such as weddings, corporate events and other similar types of gatherings. 

Business After Hours provide regular opportunities to build business relationships while learning about the services offered by other Chamber members. The next Business After Hours will be held at the Ronald McDonald House of Danville, located at North Academy Ave. and Trembulak Way on the Geisinger campus, on Wednesday, Aug. 15, from 4:30-6:30 p.m.


Businesses Encouraged to Weigh in on Impact of Tariffs

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

Has President Trump’s decision to raise tariffs on goods from certain countries had an impact on your business, or do you foresee a future impact?   If so, we want to hear from you.

Per our international trade and exporting policy, our organization has traditionally advocated in support of public policy and initiatives that promote free and fair trade, open investment, and regulatory cooperation. Late last month, we signed on to a U.S. Chamber-led letter in support of legislation that would require the President to submit to Congress any proposal that seeks to raise tariffs under the auspices of defending national security. The letter raised concerns that unrestricted use of the laws regarding the levying of tariffs – as has been done with the recent steel and aluminum tariffs – could result in retaliatory tariffs from America’s largest trading partners and allies, which would have serious negative economic impacts on the United States.

Comments can be directed to PA Chamber Government Affairs Director Alex Halper via email or call 717 720-5471.

Member News – July 18, 2018

Member News

  • The Bucknell SBDC will host its annual Celebration of Small Business breakfast, which will also mark a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Bucknell SBDC, tomorrow morning, July 19, from 8-10 a.m. at the Elaine Langone Center’s Terrace Room on the 2nd floor on the Bucknell campus. Business owners, legislators, economic development partners and startup enthusiasts are invited to join the SBDC for breakfast to recognize the entrepreneurs and leaders of the region. Special presentations will include the U.S. Small Business Association Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Eastern PA, the Product Innovator of the Year and the Charles H. Coder Entrepreneurial Leadership Award, named for the Bucknell SBDC’s founding director. Register online or call 570-577-1249.


  • Community Options, Inc., a provider of residential and employment support to people with disabilities, is seeking individuals interested in serving on a new business advisory committee for Community Options’ Bloomsburg office. Community Options’ mission is to promote the integration of persons with disabilities within the communities in which they reside, enabling them to become viable and contributing neighbors, employees and citizens of the community. The purpose of this committee is to discuss and implement ways to help the organization better integrate into the community and bridge the gap between the community and the individuals it serves. If you may be interested in serving on this committee, or for questions, contact associate executive director David McConaghy at 570-638-6007 or email. The next committee meeting is scheduled for Thursday, July 26 at noon at Community Options’ Bloomsburg office, located at 1117 Old Berwick Rd.


  • If you’ve ever wanted to take the Millennium Falcon into hyperspace, stand beneath a 15-foot AT-AT walker, or tour an Ewok village, come to LCBC Church Columbia-Montour any weekend in July. This month, all LCBC campuses throughout Central Pennsylvania transform their space into movie sets and this year the Columbia-Montour campus, located at 2421 Columbia Blvd., Bloomsburg, will be featuring Star Wars. Experience life-size, interactive movie scenes beginning at 6 p.m. each weekend throughout the month of July. Attendees will be able to: Take photos with Darth Vader, stormtroopers, Princess Leia or racing speeders through the forest of Endor; test drive from the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon; see a 15-foot-high animated AT-AT and walk through an Ewok village; and converse with a life-size R2D2 and interact with BB-8! For more information, contact LCBC Church at 570-784-2132 or visit


  • Bloomsburg University will present an exhibition of photos from a soldier who served in the Vietnam War. Titled “Blaine Cooper: Images From a Local Soldier in Vietnam,” the exhibition will take place on Friday, July 27, from 6-8 p.m. in the Gallery at the Greenly Center, located at 50 E. Main St. in downtown Bloomsburg. This event is free and open to the public, and complimentary light refreshments will be provided. Cooper will then be part of a speakers’ panel from 6:30-8 p.m. For more information regarding this event, contact Bob Heckrote, Office of Military and Veterans’ Resources, at 570-389-4696 or email, or graduate assistant Briann Halpin at 570-389-3858 or email


  • A special health, wellness and career event for veterans will be held on Thursday, Aug. 2, from 4-8 p.m. at the Berwick Christian Church, located at 701 East 5th St., Berwick. A light meal will be provided and there will be representatives from Columbia County Veterans Affairs, Geisinger Health Plan’s wellness team, Commonwealth Health – Berwick Hospital Center, other local employers, as well as an art display and sale by a local veteran. There will also be two speakers: Chris Coppola, MD, author of A Pediatric Surgeon in Iraq, and Tom Neal, CEO of Berwick Hospital Center. Reserve your spot by calling 570-204-3930 or 570-752-5523. 


  • National Night Out will be hosted in Berwick, Bloomsburg and Danville on Tuesday, Aug. 7. This national event is an opportunity to community members to interact with law enforcement and first responders and learn about what they do and safety in the community. In Berwick, the event will be held from 5-8 the Berwick Borough Building parking lot at 1800 North Market St. In Bloomsburg, the event will held at the Bloomsburg Municipal Airport, located at 301 Airport Rd., Bloomsburg, from 6-8 p.m. Danville’s event will be held from 5-7 p.m. at Washie’s Playground, located at 99 Faust St., Danville. 


  • Wild For Salmon will host its annual Fishtival on Saturday, Aug. 25 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at its retail location at 521 Montour Blvd. (Rt. 11), Bloomsburg. This annual celebration of the return of the fishermen after another successful fishing season will feature samplings as well as several other vendors, including Turkey Hill Brewing


  • In celebration of its 25th anniversary, Camp Victory will hold a special free family fun day for the community on Sunday, Sept. 9, from 12-3 p.m. Its swimming pool, climbing wall and zip line will be open and there will be hot dogs, ice cream, drinks, an arts and crafts project, a moon bounce, wagon rides and live music. For more information, visit the Facebook event page

Chamber Board Opposes Proposed Overtime Rule Changes; Public Comment Period Extended

The Chamber’s Board of Directors has submitted comments to a state agency opposing proposed changes to overtime eligibility for employees. A statement to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) calls the proposed new rules “excessive and burdensome”. Following a recent extension, employers now have until Wednesday, Aug. 22 to submit their own comments.

To recap, the changes unveiled recently by the PA Dept. of Labor and Industry include a wage threshold for “exempt status” that is more than double the current rate set by the federal government.  There would also be significant revisions to so-called “duties tests,” which are also used to determine eligibility.  Finally, the rule would establish an automatic update to the salary threshold every three years beginning in 2023.  Similar changes were proposed at the federal level a few years ago and decried by many employers, nonprofit organizations, human service agencies and others as financially nonviable and likely to cause unwelcome changes to workplace culture and morale as employees are forced to be shifted from salaried to hourly status.  Following the outcry, the proposal was ultimately struck down by a federal court.

The Columbia Montour Chamber and Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau Joint Governmental Affairs Committee recommended the following statement to the Chamber’s Board of Directors:

“The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce represents nearly 400 employers from the Columbia and Montour County area. The Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce opposes the proposed changes to the Commonwealth’s overtime eligibility rules for employers as they are excessive and burdensome.

As proposed, the salary threshold for overtime eligibility would more than double in approximately three years. Many employers, particularly small businesses and non-profit organizations, simply do not have the resources to adjust in that period of time. These rules are likely to result in disruptions in business services, and perhaps the number of positions available.

While the intent of this proposal is to benefit employees, market conditions are driving up wages and benefits for employees in many sectors. The government should allow the free market to provide all but the most basic health and safety conditions for employees. These proposed rule changes would be an excessive intrusion into that free market system.”

A 30-day extension has been granted to submit comments to the IRRC regarding the proposed changes. The PA Chamber of Business & Industry had coordinated a coalition letter requesting the extension. Comments can be sent via email: reference IRRC Number 3202.

Additionally, a free webinar is being offered on Thursday, July 19. Want to learn more about how the proposed new rules could impact your employees and your business’ bottom line?  Sign up today for a free webinar that will explore the consequences of the overtime changes.  At 11 a.m. on Thursday, July 19, employment defense attorney Joshua C. Vaughn will cover the breadth of these changes; how employers can start planning for compliance; which employees will be eligible for overtime under the new standards; how to convert their status from salaried to hourly; and more.