Course Project: Course Project: Benefit Plan Design Analysis

Objectives

The Course Project is designed to provide you with a real-life practical application of an organization’s human resource benefits program. You will create a written analysis of a real-world organization’s benefit plan design with suggested opportunities for improvement that use the concepts and knowledge introduced in this course.
Guidelines

The Course Project must be comprehensive and must adhere to the following analytical stages.

    There are eight parts in this Course Project. Different parts are due during Weeks 1, 4, and 7.
    Papers should be formatted according to APA or MLA guidelines (12-point font, double-spaced, including a cover page, table of contents, introduction, body of the report, summary or conclusion, and a works cited page).
    Even though this is not a scientific-type writing assignment and is mostly creative in nature, references are still very important. At least six authoritative, outside references are required (anonymous authors or web pages are not acceptable). These sources should be referenced according to APA or MLA guidelines.
    Appropriate citations are required following APA or MLA guidelines.
    All DeVry University Policies are in effect, including the plagiarism policy.
    Please post any questions about these papers in the weekly Q & A discussion topic.
    These papers combined are worth 310 total points and will be graded on quality of research topic, quality of paper information, use of citations, grammar, and sentence structure (see the rubrics below).

Milestones/Grading Rubrics

Part 1: Select and Profile an Organization for the Benefit Plan (40 Points)

There are a number of ways in which an organization and benefit plan can be selected. You have the option of looking at your current employer’s benefit plan, that of a previous employer, or one from a random organization of your choice whose benefit plan has a perceived need for either a revision of specific benefits, addition of needed benefits, or an overhaul of its benefits program. Provide a clear profile of your chosen organization as well as the organization’s current benefits program. Present key facts that are important in understanding your chosen organization’s benefits program.
Category 	Points 	% 	Description
Profile 	16 	40% 	Profiles the chosen organization in detail
Benefits Program 	16 	40% 	Provides sufficient details on the organization’s benefits program
Formatting 	8 	20% 	Appropriately formats the assignment in APA format or MLA format; sources appropriately cited in APA or MLA format; appropriate external sources utilized; no typing, spelling, or grammatical errors
Total 	40 	100% 	A quality paper will meet or exceed all of the above requirements.

Part 2: Statement of the Issue (40 Points)

This section should present an analysis of the major benefits issue or issues. It should include a statement of the specific benefit plan you are addressing. Some questions to ask when formulating the statement of issue include the following.

    Have I identified the basic issue or am I dealing with the symptoms?
    What is the point of the paper?
    If I have identified more than one issue, are the issues separate or related?

There are several sources from which the issues can be determined. They include business documents, such as employee surveys and competitive analysis reports; assessment questionnaires that can be created to probe for areas of benefit needs and employee desires; observations of how employees use or do not use their current benefits; and interviews with key management and selected employees to determine benefit issues.
Category 	Points 	% 	Description
Basic issue 	15 	38% 	Identifies the basic issue rather than the symptoms.
Purpose 	15 	38% 	Describes the purpose of the paper and what will be accomplished.
Relationships 	10 	24% 	Describes relationships between major and minor issues to be addressed.
Total 	40 	100% 	A quality paper will meet or exceed all of the above requirements.

Part 3: Literature Review (40 Points)

Address what was discovered in the search of relevant literature, related articles, and the employee benefit text, as well as what was discovered in Part 2. This means not only reviewing theories, concepts, and studies discussed in the text or in class, but also reviewing websites and what other writers have to say about benefit plans. Given the limited number of weeks that a term provides and the number of steps involved in the Course Project following the literature review, no more than 2 weeks should be spent reviewing literature.

It is critical that those completing questionnaires, being interviewed, or providing information in any other manner be assured that their responses will be kept in the strictest of confidence and will not be discussed in whole or in part to any member of the organization or outside the boundaries of the classroom. It is recommended that you begin your literature search by accessing Keller’s Online Library. While you may use information obtained from HR-related websites, you must also obtain information from current scholarly journals, business publications, and newspapers. Ten or more outside resources or references are required.
Category 	Points 	% 	Description
Academic Resources and Relationships 	20 	50% 	Identifies academic quality resources; identifies why resource is quality and explains the benefit of the resource and how it supports the resolution of the issue; shows relationships between different sources.
Presentation and Review 	12 	30% 	Presented in a manner that tells a story and ties individual sources together; explains how the literature review relates to issue identified in the company.
Formatting 	8 	20% 	Appropriately formats assignment in APA format or MLA format. Sources appropriately cited in APA or MLA format; appropriate external sources utilized; no typing, spelling, or grammatical errors.
Total 	40 	100% 	A quality paper will meet or exceed all of the above requirements.

Part 4: Issue Analysis (40 Points)

Here we are bringing Parts 2 and 3 together. This section should provide a detailed analysis of the benefits issue that was identified in Part 2. A major objective is to clearly illustrate how the concepts of the course and gained knowledge of benefits are being used, as well as to show what was learned from the literature review. Show that you are applying course material.
Category 	Points 	% 	Description
Analysis 	20 	50% 	Describes issue analysis and relates to previous discussions from literature review.
Apply concepts 	20 	50% 	Describes how concepts from the course help identify the true issue.
Total 	40 	100% 	A quality paper will meet or exceed all of the above requirements.

Part 5: Issue Solutions (40 Points)

Create a developmental strategy. Offer several solutions or options that are appropriate for the benefits issue or issues. The solutions should follow logically from the analysis. The expected outcomes, positive and negative, should be addressed.
Category 	Points 	% 	Description
Logical Solution 	20 	50% 	Develops a logical solution based on the literature review and class information.
Pros and Cons 	12 	30% 	Identifies all feasible solutions and provides pros and cons of each.
Formatting 	8 	20% 	Appropriately formats assignment in APA format or MLA format; sources appropriately cited in APA or MLA format. Appropriate external sources utilized. No typing, spelling, or grammatical errors.
Total 	40 	100% 	A quality paper will meet or exceed all of the above requirements.

Part 6: Solution and Its Implementation (40 Points)

This segment should outline your recommended solution to the identified issue. The solution will be one or a combination of the solutions provided in Part 5. This part should be specific, stating what benefit plans are recommended, timing for implementation, and in what sequence. It includes not only what should be done, but also how it should be done. A specific solution should indicate what benefit is most appropriate for the issue and how it will be implemented in the organization. Some questions to keep in mind when writing the solution section include the following.

    Has an awareness of the problem of implementation been addressed?
    Have you been too general?
    Do the solution and implementation address the issues identified earlier?
    Does your solution take into account the identified pros and cons?
    How will you evaluate the effectiveness of the implemented benefit plan?
    What process checks or procedures will you put in place to institutionalize the improvement?
    Was the realism of your proposed action plan assessed? For example, are there adequate time, money, and other resources for your solution? 

Category 	Points 	% 	Description
Addressed Problem and Solution 	20 	50% 	The problem was adequately addressed; sufficient detail is provided in the solution.
Plan and Measurement 	12 	30% 	Sufficient detail is provided in the solution; it identifies how success will be measured.
Formatting 	8 	20% 	Appropriately formats the assignment in APA format or MLA format; sources are appropriately cited in APA or MLA format; appropriate external sources are utilized; no typing, spelling, or grammatical errors,
Total 	40 	100% 	A quality paper will meet or exceed all of the above requirements.

Part 7: Justification (40 Points)

This section of your analysis should, using course knowledge and concepts, tell why your solution and implementation would work. A major objective is to clearly show how you are applying course concepts and content to arrive at a workable solution and implementation for the issue identified. Some questions to ask when writing your justification segment include the following:

    Have you applied the appropriate course material?
    Do you support your conclusions and recommendations with appropriately referenced facts, quotes, readings, and class activities?
    Does your justification recognize the pros and cons identified earlier?

Category 	Points 	% 	Description
Pros and Cons 	8 	50% 	Recognizes pros and cons from solutions.
Conclusions 	16 	30% 	Conclusions are adequately supported.
Course Materials 	8 	20% 	Course material is applied appropriately.
Formatting 	8 	20% 	Appropriately formats assignment in APA format or MLA format; sources are appropriately cited in APA or MLA format; appropriate external sources are utilized; no typing, spelling, or grammatical errors.
Total 	40 	100% 	A quality paper will meet or exceed all of the above requirements.

Part 8: Reflection (30 Points)

Think about this assignment and write a well-thought-out reflection statement about how this assignment influenced your thinking about benefits.
Category 	Points 	% 	Description
Reflection Statement 	24 	80% 	Reflection statement is substantive and detailed: your thoughts on the project overall, actions taken, choices made over the course of the project, what learning and growth have occurred, your thoughts on the role of a project like this in developing professional understanding and competency.
Formatting 	6 	20% 	Appropriately formats assignment in APA or MLA format. Sources are appropriately cited in APA or MLA format. Appropriate external sources are utilized. No typing, spelling, or grammatical errors.
Total 	30 	100% 	A quality paper will meet or exceed all of the above requirements.

Best Practices
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The purpose of an introduction or opening:

    Introduce the subject and why the subject is important.
    Preview the main ideas and the order in which they will be covered.
    Establish the document’s tone.

Include in the introduction a reason for the audience to read the paper. Also include an overview of what you are going to cover in your paper and the importance of the material. (This should include or introduce the questions you need to answer on each assignment.)

    Body of Your Report—Use a header titled with the name of your project. Example: The Development of Hotel X—A World Class Resort. Then proceed to break out the main ideas. State the main ideas, state major points in each idea, and provide evidence. Break out each main idea you will use in the body of your paper. Show some type of division such as separate sections that are labeled, separate group of paragraphs, or headers. You would include the information you found during your research and investigation.
    Summary and Conclusion—Summarizing is similar to paraphrasing but presents the gist of the material in fewer words than the original. An effective summary identifies the main ideas and major support points from the body of your report. Minor details are left out. Summarize the benefits of the ideas and how they affect the subject.
    Works Cited—Use the citation format as specified in the Syllabus.

Additional hints on preparing the best possible project are as follows.

    Apply a three-step process of writing: Plan, write, and complete.
    Prepare an outline of your research paper before you go forward.
    Complete a first draft and then go back to edit, evaluate, and make any changes required.
    Use visual communication to further clarify and support the written part of your report. You could use example graphs, diagrams, photographs, flowcharts, maps, drawings, animation, video clips, pictograms, tables, and Gantt charts.

The following are best practices that should be used in preparing this paper:

    Cover Page:Include your name, who you prepared the paper for, the course name, and the date.
    Table of Contents: List the main ideas and sections of your paper and the pages on which they are located. The illustrations should be included separately.
    Introduction: Use a header on your paper. This will indicate that you are introducing your paper.
    Subtitle each section: Use the section titles to indicate in the body of your paper each individual section (i.e., Statement of Issue, Literature Review, Issue Analysis, etc.). Each section should be clearly marked.
    Body of Your Report: Use a header titled with the name of your project. Example: “The Development of Hotel X— A World Class Resort.” Then proceed to break out the main ideas. State the main ideas, state major points in each idea, provide evidence. Break out each main idea you will use in the body of your paper. Subtitles will help divide each individual section; separate group of paragraphs; or headers. Include the information you found during your research and investigation.
    Summary and Conclusion: Summarizing is similar to paraphrasing but presents the gist of the material in fewer words than the original. An effective summary identifies the main ideas and major support points from the body of your report. Minor details are left out. Summarize the benefits of the ideas and how they affect the subject.
    Works Cited: Use the citation format specified in the Syllabus.

Additional hints on preparing the best possible project include the following.

    Apply a three-step process of writing: Plan, write, and complete.
    Prepare an outline of your research paper before you go forward.
    Complete a first draft and then go back to edit, evaluate, and make any changes required.
    Consider using visual communication to further clarify and support the written part of your report. You could use example graphs, diagrams, photographs, flowcharts, maps, drawings, animation, video clips, pictograms, tables, and Gantt charts.



















Homework

Please find an article related to government-mandated benefits (unemployment, social security, medicare, etc.) as discussed this week in class. To help locate your article, you can utilize the DeVry University library through THE|HUB, or you may locate the article through your own source. The article should be from a current professional source that you would read as a manager in the benefits field. It should be a source that you would feel comfortable taking forward to your employer.

Once you have located and read your article, please complete a review of the article. The article review should consist of the following.

1. It should include a summary of the article (two to three paragraphs maximum). Why was the article written about the topic at the current time? This should be completed in your own words and review key points of the article. You should not repeat the article in your summary.

2. How does this relate to the learning for the week in class? What laws and concepts are covered that would help you in the area of benefits? How could you further elaborate on the concepts in the article?

3. Based upon the article, what recommendations would you provide to the business community (an employer) from reading the article?
The article review must be completed in the APA format and utilize proper grammar. Points will be deducted for papers without a reference page (see rubric for assignment criteria). The paper should be a 1,000–1,500 word count, not including title or reference pages. The article will be graded based upon the Benefits Rubric. Submit your assignment to the Dropbox located on the silver tab at the top of this page. For instructions on how to use the Dropbox, read these step-by-step instructions or watch this



























Homework

Please find an article related to healthcare programs. To help locate your article, you can utilize the DeVry University library through THE|HUB, or you may locate the article through your own source. The article should be from a current professional source that you would read as a manager in the benefits field. It should be a source that you would feel comfortable taking forward to your employer.

Once you have located and read your article, please complete a review of the article. The article review should consist of the following.

    It should contain a summary of the article (two to three paragraphs maximum). Why was the article written about the topic at the current time? This should be completed in your own words and talk about the key points of the article. You should not repeat the article in your summary.
    How does this relate to the learning for the week in class? What laws and concepts are covered that would help you in the area of benefits? How could you further elaborate on the concepts in the article?
    Based upon the article, what recommendations would you provide to the business community (an employer) from reading the article?

The article review must be completed in the APA format and utilize proper grammar. Papers without a reference page will receive 0 points. The paper should be three to five pages in total. The article will be graded based upon the Benefits Rubric.
Submit your assignment to the Dropbox located on the silver tab at the top of this page. For instructions on how to use the Dropbox, read these step-by-step instructions or watch this



























V
Homework

Please find an article related to pension programs. To help locate your article, you can utilize the DeVry University Library through THE|HUB, or you may locate the article through your own source. The article should be from a current professional source that you would read as a manager in the benefits field. It should be a source that you would feel comfortable taking forward to your employer.

Once you have located and read your article, please complete a review of the article. The article review should consist of the following items.

    Write a summary of the article (two to three paragraphs maximum). Why was the article written about the topic at the current time? This should be completed in your own words and should talk about the key points of the article. You should not repeat the article in your summary.
    How does this relate to the learning for the week in class? What laws and concepts are covered that would help you in the area of benefits? How could you further elaborate on the concepts in the article?
    Based on the article, what recommendations would you provide to the business community (an employer) from reading the article? 

The article review must be completed in APA or MLA format and utilize proper grammar. Points will be deducted for papers without a references page (see the rubric for assignment criteria). The paper should be 1,000–1,500 words, not including title or references pages. The article will be graded based on the Benefits Rubric.
Submit your assignment to the Dropbox located on the silver tab at the top of this page. For instructions on how to use the Dropbox, read these step-by-step instructions or watch this



















WEEK1


Benefit Plans (graded)

Employer-sponsored benefits reflect the culture and business of the organization, and plans should be crafted and selected accordingly. Think about your current (or former) organization's benefit plan. Did it help to improve the quality of your work, as well as your personal life? Why or why not? Was it a generous benefits program or were there specific benefits you felt should have been included?



Benefit Planning Process (graded)

As part of conducting a benefit plan needs assessment, a human resource professional must consider the organization’s business strategy, as well as its compensation philosophy. What do you think is the next step that should be taken? What are some of the possible outcomes of a benefit plan needs assessment?






WEEK 2



Role of Government (graded)

Other than the mandates of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) and a few other ineffectual reporting and disclosure requirements, benefit programs were practically unregulated by the federal government before the major shift that came with the enactment of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974, which was primarily aimed at traditional defined benefit (DB) pension plans but applicable to other employer-sponsored retirement and benefit programs. What is the government’s current role in regulating the administration of employee benefits? Do you think there is too little or too much government intervention? Why?













WEEK 3




Healthcare Cost Management(graded)

Many Americans benefit from the investments in healthcare; however, the recent cost growth, coupled with the economic downturn and rising national deficit, has placed a great strain on the financial systems used to finance healthcare, including private employer-sponsored health insurance coverage and public insurance programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid. What is the responsibility of individuals for the cost of their care? Are health savings accounts and high-deductible insurance policies an approach that should be expanded? What are the concerns for low-income individuals?









Consumer-Driven Healthcare (graded)

Consumer-driven healthcare has become popular over the past few years as employees seek tax advantages and cost savings on healthcare. What are some of the key features of a consumer-driven healthcare plan? Does your company currently offer any of these plans? If so, are you taking advantage of them? Why or why not?














WEEK 4


Life Insurance Plans (graded)

A major concern for most employees is caring for their families in the event of the employee’s death. Many employers provide life insurance for employees. Does your organization offer a group insurance policy? If so, what is the basic plan design of your organization’s life insurance policy, and for how much are you covered? How do you value this benefit in relation to the entire benefit package and why?



This section lists options that can be used to view responses.




Disability Plans (graded)

In addition to replacing household income when an employee either retires or is no longer working, he or she may also carry some type of income-replacement plan in the event they become disabled. Does your current (or former) employer offer disability coverage for employees? What are the specifics of your coverage? Do you feel the need to purchase supplemental disability insurance? Why or why not? How do you value this benefit in relation to the entire benefit package and why?















WEEK 5



Rules and Regulations (graded)

Discuss some of the legislation that helps to manage retirement plans. What are some examples of laws that have been put into place to protect employees? What are these laws purposed to do?





Retirement Plans (graded)

Why should an organization consider implementing a company-sponsored retirement plan for its employees? What would be some of the available options in choosing the right plan? Do you think employees would favor a specific plan? If so, which plan would they favor?














WEEK 6






Paid Time Off (graded)

Some employers combine all paid time off, such as vacation, sick leave, holidays, and personal days, into one large bank of time, typically called paid time off (PTO). Discuss your organization’s current paid leave program. Does your organization have a PTO bank or several categories of leave accrual? What do you think would be the pros and cons of a PTO bank versus a traditional leave plan, including sick time and vacation?



This section lists options that can be used to view responses.










Work-Life Benefits (graded)

What are some of the flexibilities your organization allows to assist employees with achieving a good balance between work and life responsibilities? Do you think more can be done? If so, describe your perspective on what specific work-life benefits you would like to see implemented and how they would be beneficial to employees and the company.










WEEK 7




Benefits Communication (graded)

Does your current (or previous) organization have a strategy in place to communicate its benefits plan to employees? If so, how effective is it, and what can be done to improve it? If not, what are your thoughts on putting a benefits communication plan in place? Would it be beneficial?












Benefits Administration and Cost Controls (graded)

Insurance providers and employers alike are searching for techniques and strategies to help control their benefits costs. Has your organization been able to find ways to improve your benefits program or add new benefits without adding a heavy cost burden to your department or your employees? Will your organization’s budget for employee benefits be growing, staying the same, or potentially shrinking over the coming year?