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Virtual Employee Benefits are Coming - Are You Ready?
Liza Lidke, CEO of Lidke & Associates, Inc.

Technology is heading all of us down new paths - virtual offices, teleconferences, and work-at-home options are changing the way many employees think about their jobs and their employer. How are you doing in keeping up?

Some consultants are catering to the needs of the new employee who corresponds each morning via e-mail rather than over the coffee machine. The one who uses faxes and modems and telephones to keep up on office matters.

Now companies are starting to offer many benefits via these same modes of communication, saving you time, money and confusion. The virtual office employee doesn###t need to feel left out, and neither does the small satellite office located somewhere USA or somewhere/anywhere around the world.

Come take a look at a new model of Employee Benefits which is geared toward self-development, self-dependency, and self-support. These benefits help build a stronger, more educated, and more self-sufficient workforce than ever before. The program is called the Family Feast of Benefits because it allows employers to serve up a virtual benefits feast designed to feed the whole family! This Feast meets many areas of individual and family needs not currently met under a regular (health insurance and retirement plan type) benefit package.

Employers are expressing concerns as the workforce continues to shrink. Where will the new workers come from? Will the new workforce be prepared to meet the demands of today###s fast-paced world? What is your company doing to develop existing employees?

The Family Feast of Benefits provides a new way to look at benefits. It provides continuing support in three major categories; post-secondary education, mental/emotional health and physical wellness. If a company hires a lot of first-time workers or people returning to the work force from Welfare - these components are a must. Supporting individual employees and their families can create a big advantage. Employees will be less stressed, feel better about themselves and be more loyal to their employer.

Here###s how the Family Feast can work. Employees and family members can get support in a number of areas over the Internet and through personal contact. Employees can enroll in existing benefits and have access to personal development support for themselves and their families. Options of support include resources and assistance in planning for higher education for employees, spouses and children. People learn how to go back to school while still keeping their current jobs. They can explore changing careers and learn how to better direct and encourage their children to go on to school after high school graduation. Topics such as picking a career, visiting a campus and applying for financial aid are discussed in detail. It###s like having your own personal educational counselor. This spells new opportunity.

For mental and emotional support an Employee Assistance Plan is offered which provides guidance and direction in the privacy of the home. Articles and self test options are available for depression, burnout, drug and alcohol addictions, parenting concerns and supervisory issues. Topics of grief and crisis management are also available. Just type in your questions for a reply from a trained professional. You are no longer left alone.

You have self-help options and direction to stay mentally well and help balance a stressful life.

Wellness in the physical sense is also addressed. You can complete a wellness screening and read articles on specific healthy lifestyle topics addressing issues of personal concern. Does this sound like a pipe dream?

The availability of such a program is already here. Employers just need to wake up and choose to support employees at this "advanced level" of family concern. There are also children services and elder care support services offered within the on-line program. An on-line bookstore makes access to resources readily accessible. Employees are really supported from the cradle to the grave. Everyone wins.

A comprehensive package will include an on-site library, on-site Internet access, bulletin boards, workshops, and consultations. Everything is provided in one comprehensive package. As this concept catches on you could find yourself feeling a new loyalty to your employer. If the employer cares for you - that###s good. But if the employer cares for you and your family, that###s great. A whole new era of employee benefits is about to unfold . Will your employer be included or left behind? This is innovation whose time has come, a virtual benefits package that cares!

For comments or additional information on the Family Feast of Benefits respond to Liza Lidke, CEO of Lidke & Associates, Inc. A woman-owned, family-friendly benefits consulting firm established in 1987. Her personal e-mail address is lidkel@ix.netcom.com.