Subject Matter Minute, Episode #64 – Pet Insurance

The below post is taken from the Video Blog, the Subject Matter Minute. You can view the episode on YouTube if you would like. Find it here: Episode #64 – Pet Insurance

If YouTube is blocked for you or your agency, you can scroll to the bottom of this post to view it from Google Drive. (I would prefer you view it on YouTube, so I know how many people have watched)

You can also listen to an audio version.

Hello, and welcome to another Subject Matter Minute! I hope you enjoyed our beautiful fall weather before it turned on us. It was a great one.

It cracks my wife up, but I still run into you guys out there, you know, where you know me, but I don’t know you? She considers it fame… I keep reminding her that it’s Wyoming fame, so, a pretty small group. But… I was in Cheyenne a week or so ago and ran into a couple fabulous state employees. Wanted to give a shout out to Benoit, who I ran into on the WyDot campus and to Brenda from the Health department who I ran into at the Albany later in the day. Thanks for saying hello, it was great meeting you!

Ok… now it’s time for the serious part of the show. I’ve started getting horrified with my hairline and massive bald spot, and I’m starting to think that it may be time to take it all off…. Down to the skin. I’m curious what you guys think? It’s been a long time since I’ve asked for your input, and this is a very serious matter. A life change if you will. Lemme know what you think in the show comments!

Alright…. Let’s talk about the subject of the subject matter minute now. Today I’m going to talk about a new insurance offering by the state, Pet Insurance. (music)

Before I get started, I want to thank the crew at EGI for looking over my information and making sure I got it right. Like is so often the case, they are the subject matter experts for this episode.

Back when I had dogs, I’m not even sure pet insurance was a thing. And I’m sure I wouldn’t have even considered buying it. However, these days, I think it makes a lot of sense. Pet medical bills are often equal to human medical bills. We have some friends that are currently struggling with the concept of repairing an ACL on their dog for the small sum of $3000. Heck, 20 or so years ago, our dog suddenly lost the use of her back legs. She was paralyzed. So we took her down to Fort Collins and $1500 later, they said there was nothing they could do. She did slowly recover use and regained most of her ability, but that was $1500 back then.

So anyway… the state is now offering pet insurance through Metlife. This is a voluntary benefit, which means that we pay for it out of pocket. It’s also something that can not be payroll deducted. We just have to pay for it on our own…

I honestly have no idea if the rates are better than others out there. It’s a group plan, so they should be lower. But just so you know, I haven’t done any comparisons with individual plans out there. You might want to do so.

So, what do you get?

  • Insurance plans that can cover the entire pet family with no breed exclusions
  • Freedom to visit any U.S. veterinarian and reimbursement up to 90% of the cost of services
  • Family plans covering multiple cats and dogs on one policy
  • 24/7 access to Telehealth Services for immediate assistance
  • Discounts up to 30% and additional offers on pet care, where available
  • Optional Preventive Care coverage
  • Coverage of previously covered pre-existing conditions when switching providers

We control the monthly cost by adjusting 3 components, the amount of coverage, the deductible and the reimbursement percentage. You can have coverage from $500 to unlimited, deductibles from $0 to $2500, and reimbursement percentages from 50% to 90%.

You can see here what’s covered:

The optional preventive care coverage includes things like flea and tick, spay and neuter, heartworm, behavioral training, teeth cleaning and more.

Of course there are some pre-existing conditions that they won’t cover. You can see what these sorts of things are on the Metlife website. The link is in the show notes.

Most of the information that you might need about this is linked in the show notes. There are also very clear instructions for how to get a quote and signup. The quote system allows you to add multiple pets, so it seems pretty handy.

We are currently pet free, but I think that if we were to get back into the pet life, we would definitely look into some insurance. Our paralyzed dog that I mentioned earlier had to use a doggy wheelchair for a while and I remember that being hundreds of dollars. The pet industry knows that pets are family and they certainly charge as if they are!

So check out the new coverage, it may be just what you need to reduce one area of financial stress. That’s it for this episode. Thanks for tuning in and I’ll see you next time… with… or without…. hair.

Subject Matter Minute, Episode #63 – Employee Referral Bonus

The below post is taken from the Video Blog, the Subject Matter Minute. You can view the episode on YouTube if you would like. Find it here: Episode #63 – Employee Referral Bonus

If YouTube is blocked for you or your agency, you can scroll to the bottom of this post to view it from Google Drive. (I would prefer you view it on YouTube, so I know how many people have watched)

You can also listen to an audio version.

Hello, fellow State of Wyoming employees! It’s been a while, eh? I was even repeatedly asked why I had quit doing the Subject Matter Minute. Well, good news, I haven’t. I had a subject that just didn’t come together, so after waiting too long, I had to pivot and find a new one. This is a fun one!

Before I get to it, I wanted to say that I hope everyone was reasonably pleased with their raises? Now, if we could just get to the point of yearly cost of living increases, maybe we couldn’t complain about it anymore, right?? Well, we’ll see…

So being mostly Wyoming-ites out there, I’m guessing a large number of you have probably crashed into some big game on the highway. I almost hate to say it, but I have been lucky and have not. But, as we all know, it’s a fairly common occurrence. Well, unfortunately, my parents clobbered a deer at 60 miles an hour last week. They drive a Subaru station wagon and all the airbags deployed. If you have never had airbags deploy, you need to know that they also deploy a bunch of dust or powder. It kinda seems like your car is on fire. It’s probably not, but just so you know. Well, anyway, my dad was driving and he is fine. I don’t think he was even sore. Unfortunately, my mom was reclining a bit and that extra space may have been the difference. She has a compression fracture in her back. She is able to get around but isn’t supposed to in order to allow for healing. My mom is 80 years old, so being sedentary is not good. And, she’s got some fairly serious pain going on. So… send out some good thoughts to my mom. Hopefully, I’ll have good news in a few months.

Ok, so that wasn’t fun… but the topic today is. I don’t know if you are aware, but the state is having a hard time filling a ton of positions. Well, HR has been trying to figure out ways to attract more people. They are trying to think outside the box. Beyond the marketing tricks… Well, the state, as you may have noticed via an email that went out recently, is now offering a referral bonus for folks who help fill a position.

Before I give you the deets, I want to thank Stefanie Stack of HRD for answering questions about today’s topic. Thanks, Stefanie!

Here are the deets. It’s simple. Check out the available jobs, and let your friends and family know. There will be a place on their application to put your name down. Boom, 250 bucks in your bank account. Ok, so it’s $250 for permanent positions and $100 for temporary positions. Obviously, they need to actually get hired for us to get the bonus.

Honestly, they don’t need to be friends and family for you to get the bonus! Just as long as you can get your name on their application. Can you entrepreneurs out there figure something out?

There are a few things to know about this. First of all, the person being hired must not have worked for the state in any capacity in the last year, or 365 days. Also, temporary employees (AWEC, TP01s) are not eligible for the referral bonus. The only exception is if a TP01 has been continuously employed for 6 months or more. And finally, the referring employee’s name must be listed on the application.

I don’t know, maybe everyone you know is happily employed? But if not, take a look at the available jobs and let them know. I don’t know about you, but an extra $250 is always nice.

I have some links in the show notes. A link to the referral bonus brochure as well as a link to the State of Wyoming jobs page.

Ok, that’s it for this subject matter minute. I’ve been knocking on wood since my opening remarks about never hitting a large animal on the highway. You guys be careful out there.

Subject Matter Minute, Episode #62 – PMI Evaluation Score/Rating

The below post is taken from the Video Blog, the Subject Matter Minute. If it’s a little hard to read, it’s because it’s taken from the spoken word. You can view the episode on YouTube if you would like. Find it here: Episode #62 – Performance Evaluation Score

If YouTube is blocked for you or your agency, you can scroll to the bottom of this post to view it from Google Drive. (I would prefer you view it on YouTube, so I know how many people have watched)

You can also listen to an audio version.

Hello and welcome to the Subject Matter Minute! And welcome to summer! I think. It rained all day Sunday and really hasn’t broken 70 here in Laramie, but… maybe that’s keeping the mosquitos away! 

So the last episode was on Flexible Work Schedules. I have heard from many of you that this really sparked some conversations. And that is fabulous. It may make some supervisors’ jobs a bit harder, but shouldn’t we all be working towards satisfaction with our jobs? And flexibility is definitely top of the list as far as job satisfaction goes. So keep working on it… 

So, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there is a lot of PMI stuff going on right now. Everyone is finishing up last year’s PMI and now we are starting up the next evaluation period… and all in a brand new system. Gotta love it, right? Please try not to hate on HRD… this WILL make things better down the road. We are going to be just like the other big kids with a system that ties all the essentials together. 

And now… to top all this PMI stuff off, for the second year in a row, a portion of our raises will be based on our PMI evaluation score. And that’s what I want to talk to you about today… our performance evaluation score. (music)

Before I dive into this, I want to thank Rebecca Kouba for being my subject matter expert for this episode. She has been bustin’ her hump making the new Neogov Performance system work for us. Thanks, Rebecca…

So… understandably, there is some confusion out there about the PMI scoring. We have all been raised with the A through F scoring mentality, right? And that makes it hard to see a score of 2 out of 4 as being good. Seems more like a 50%… or an F, right? Well, trust me, a score of 2 out of 4 in our system is good… quite good.

Ok, first of all, let’s talk about how our scores are calculated. As you have heard, we now are being rated on 7 competencies. Everyone is being rated on the same 7 competencies. Each competency rating carries equal weight. In order to get an average, numeric values are associated with each rating. An Unsatisfactory rating is equivalent to a point value of 0, a Growth Necessary rating is equivalent to a point value of 1, a Meets Expectations rating is equivalent to a point value of 2, a Commendable rating is equivalent to a point value of 3, and a Superior rating is equivalent to the point value 4. Each numeric value is used to compute the average or overall score. 

Let’s practice. Let’s say I receive the following ratings: 

Communication: Growth Necessary
Customer Service: Meets Expectations
Judgment and Decision Making: Meets Expectations
Team Player: Commendable
Accountability: Meets Expectations
Professionalism: Commendable
Leadership: Meets Expectations

Now let’s put in the numerical equivalents. (add numbers to the above list)

You add up all the numbers and divide by the total number of competencies…. Which is 7.

So, as you can see, I will receive an overall score of 2.14. (1+2+2+3+2+3+2 = 15; 15/7 = 2.14).

Ok, now let’s look at the chart to see what that average means. You can see that I’m safely within the “Meets Expectations” area on the chart. 

Ok, so as I mentioned before, to many, the score of 2.14 out of 4 seems like a lousy score, and again, to many, the term “meets expectations” doesn’t seem all that good as well.  Well…. Here’s the deal with “meets expectations.” It means that you are a great employee! You are doing what you were hired to do and you are doing it well. 

The actual definition of an overall rating of Meets Expectations at the State of Wyoming is this: Employee is a highly valued contributor who performs all essential functions of the job successfully. Employee consistently sustains an effective level of performance. This individual reliably performs position duties. This individual is comfortable with responsibilities and often is described as the “norm” – a solid performer. Employee is doing adequate work within the scope of their classification.

Again…. A valued contributor! Let’s be honest, this is where most people at the state should fall in the ratings. If everyone at the state got meets expectations, and it truly matches their output, then this organization would be running like a finely oiled machine. Not that it’s not…. 🙂  I just don’t know if it is or not. Depends on who you talk to.

While we are here, let’s explore the other overall ratings to see what they mean. As you saw before, meets expectations is a numerical score of 1.5 to 2.4. You can see where the others line up here. Let’s just say that instead of that “growth necessary” for communication, I rocked a “superior.” Superiors are worth 4 points, so that bumps my score up to 2.6. As you can see that gives me an overall score within the commendable area. Someone who scores as commendable, to put it briefly, exceeds the position expectations, and performs exemplary work within the scope of their classification. 

If I were to have the most motivated year of my life and score an overall rating of superior, that would mean that I had made “outstanding and remarkable contributions constantly.” And that I had “performed at a level that was astonishing and was often working outside the scope of my classification.” 

Ok, let’s go the other direction. If I had scored between .5 and 1.4, I would have a ‘growth necessary’ rating. This means that my work was inconsistent and that I was not quite living up to expectations.

And finally, if I just decided to blow everything off and basically not do my job at all, I would get an ‘unsatisfactory’ rating. Luckily, we have very, very few employees that got this rating last year. 

Just so you know, a large majority of us fall into the meets expectations and commendable area.

If you want more details about the different ratings, I have linked the “rater chart” in the show notes.

Ok… that’s it for today. I hope this helps clear up some confusion, and helps some of those that didn’t feel so great about their evaluation ratings. Now go out and finish up last year’s PMI and get next year’s started!

Subject Matter Minute, Episode #61 – Flexible Work Schedule Policy

The below post is taken from the Video Blog, the Subject Matter Minute. If it’s a little hard to read, it’s because it’s taken from the spoken word. You can view the episode on YouTube if you would like. Find it here: Episode #61 – Flexible Work Schedule Policy

If YouTube is blocked for you or your agency, you can scroll to the bottom of this post to view it from Google Drive. (I would prefer you view it on YouTube, so I know how many people have watched)

You can also listen to an audio version.


Hello! Good to see you all again, I know it’s been a while… There were a couple of possible topics that weren’t quite ready for primetime, and my involvement with the implementation of our new HR software, Neogov, has kept me pretty busy, so, yeah… it’s been a while. Please forgive me. 🙂

If you missed it, the last episode was on our vision benefits, which was a redo since some numbers and coverage had changed since the first recording 5 years ago. Check it out if you haven’t…

I’m curious how many of you out there are early-morning folks? I have definitely become one. I find the morning coffee time to often be the best time of the day. Well, this past winter, a group of friends and I have taken the early morning thing up a notch. It has pushed my quiet coffee time to even earlier, but in the end, it really feels even better. We got up to at least 2-3 days a week of early morning cross-country skiing at Happy Jack. Leaving around 6 and getting back about 7:45. No matter what the weather situation was, we always feel great after the ski. Got to see some amazing sunrises, forests of frost, and snowstorms, and got into some pretty good shape.

And since the interstate was closed so often this year, we also discovered the Wyoming Travel Authorization Program, or W-TAP through WYDOT. This allows you to drive on closed roads in certain situations. It’s fabulous for getting to Happy Jack. You might want to check it out…

Anyways, cheers to all of you early morning people!

Alright, let’s get started on today’s subject… today we are going to talk about the state’s policy on Flexible Work Schedules. (music)

The reason I’m going into it now is because it recently changed. I’m not going to go into the changes because, honestly, who cares! It is what it is now…

So, I’m just going to say upfront that if you are a full-time employee, the policy basically allows any sort of schedule as long as your 40 hours fall within the “official workweek.” The official workweek is Saturday to Friday.

Of course, having said that you know that this, or any change to your schedule, would need to be approved by your supervisor and agency director.

Also, there are a few exceptions to the rule of staying within the “official workweek.” One of which is the ability to do the Phoenix schedule. I had never heard of it before reading this, but a Phoenix schedule is when you work 4- 9 hour days, say Monday through Thursday, and then work an 8-hour Friday every other week. So basically taking every other Friday off. This is allowed even though it falls outside of the “official workweek.” You are still averaging 40 hours a week with this schedule.

There are a few other exemptions to this which you can find in the Compensation Policy, Chapter 5, Section 6.

But again, if you stay within the official workweek, and your supervisor and agency director approves it, the policy allows you to have pretty much any work schedule you can dream up.

Now all employees, non-exempt or exempt, are expected to work the agreed-upon weekly schedule, however, sometimes things come up and hours fluctuate. As mentioned, non-exempt employees can flex time within the same workweek. But they can only flex time within the same workweek because they are eligible for overtime after working 40 hours. However, because exempt employees are paid on a monthly salary, and don’t get paid for overtime, they can flex time outside the workweek within the same month. So, they can work 50 hours one week and 30 the next, for example.

If you go read the policy, which you can find in the show notes, you will see that it goes through all the details. It talks about eligibility and that it’s a case-by-case situation that must work for both the employee and the state.

It defines 5 different types of flexible work schedules. I’m not going to define those for you, because what it ends up meaning is exactly what I’ve described to you. You can do most anything.

So, if you want to use the correct word when you go to your supervisor about this; variable, alternative, extended, compressed, or phoenix, then check out the policy.

And actually, you will need to know the correct term to fill out the Flexible Work Schedule Agreement which you can find on the A&I website on the HRD Policies and Procedures page… or in the show notes. 🙂 So, you will need to get approval and fill out the agreement to make this happen.

I think it goes without saying that flexible work schedules can be canceled at any time by management, although they will give you 14 days notice. Also, any changes to a flexible work schedule must be approved by your supervisor and the agency director. And finally, this can be considered a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.

I think that this new policy is very forward-thinking of the state. Whether it has been kinda forced by a lack of recruitment ability…………. Doesn’t matter. 🙂 It’s still awesome.

So, if you have a schedule that works better for you, works for the state, and works for your supervisor, talk to him or her and give it a go! Who knows, you might be able to squeeze in more activities like xcountry skiing with a different schedule!

Ok, that’s it for this episode! I’m starting to get a little sleepy since I was up at 5:00 this morning. See ya next time.

Subject Matter Minute, Episode #60 – Vision Benefits 2023

The below post is taken from the Video Blog, the Subject Matter Minute. If it’s a little hard to read, it’s because it’s taken from the spoken word. You can view the episode on YouTube if you would like. Find it here: Episode #60 – Vision Benefits 2023

If YouTube is blocked for you or your agency, you can scroll to the bottom of this post to view it from Google Drive. (I would prefer you view it on YouTube, so I know how many people have watched)

You can also listen to an audio version.

Hello All, I hope you all had a fabulous holiday and that you got to use some of that hard-earned vacation time! I took on a challenge during the holiday season. A buddy of mine and I installed a new steering rack in my 2004 Toyota Camry. This is no small task. That’s why the shops wanted to charge around $2000 to get it done. Well, I bought the part, and with a little help from our friend, YouTube… we got it done. Quite a feeling of accomplishment! My buddy is a bit more confident in the auto repair arts, so he convinced me that we could make it happen, and by golly, we did. You gotta love YouTube, right?

So, I started making this show 5 years ago. Time flies… And because of that, I decided that I really needed to go through all the episodes to make sure that the information was still correct, and correct anything that wasn’t. So, for some things, that means completely removing, or hiding, the video. For instance… we no longer use Saba Talentspace for our performance evaluations. I had several videos showing the online processes for that software. So, I’ve now hidden those. Some just have small tweaks that I can add a new voiceover with some text or something to highlight the small changes. Others are just going to have too many changes to deal with without completely redoing them. 

Well, episode #1, longevity pay is still the same, nothing has changed. We still get $40 per month added to our pay for every 5 years of service. Check out the episode that started it all. 

Episode #2 was/is Vision Benefits. As I went through it, I tried hard to come up with ways to patch it up, but besides the changes, the episode just wasn’t all that great at covering the benefit. So… today, I’m going to redo the episode on Vision Benefits. (music)

While I mostly got my information from the VSP brochure, (which is linked below) I did, of course, have Employees’ Group Insurance look things over and make sure I didn’t misspeak or leave anything out. So thanks to this month’s Subject Matter Experts, the whole crew down at EGI.

So, the first thing to know about our vision benefits is that these are voluntary benefits. This means that the state does not pay for them, we do. We don’t have to have them. They are voluntary. So, I hope that I can help you decide if this benefit is for you or not. I will say that just an eye exam at our doctor costs $242.00 without insurance. Right now, at current rates, the most an individual employee, paying for coverage only for him or herself, (not paying for a family) the most they will pay is just a smidge over $100 a year. So, the math works out. 

One other thing to know upfront… There is both a waiting and a commitment period. If you don’t select vision when you are first hired, or if you drop it, you have a 1 year waiting period before you can sign up. Also, once you have selected it, you must pay for the coverage for a year.

The covered components with our vision benefits are eye exams, glasses, and contacts. A new addition since I last covered this is something they are calling Essential Medical Eye Care. I’ll go into that as well. 

As far as your exams, glasses, and contacts go, there are two different plans to choose from. Cleverly named Plan B and Plan C. It’s anyone’s guess where Plan A went. First I’ll cover what both plans give us and then I’ll cover the differences. Both plans give you a $10 exam every 12 months. Ok? So, it’s a $10 copay. That’s for the basic exam. Both plans also now have what’s called “essential medical eye care.” This covers additional exams and services beyond routine care to treat immediate issues from pink eye to sudden changes in vision or to monitor ongoing conditions such as dry eye, diabetic eye disease, glaucoma, and more. Each exam will require a $20 copay.

Both plans will get you a set of prescription glasses for a $25 copay. Actually, there are 3 different scenarios. If you just want frames, you pay a $25 copay. If you just want lenses, you pay a $25 copay. And again, if you want full glasses (frames and lenses) you pay a $25 copay. It’s always just going to be one copay. 

But here is where the two plans split. With Plan B you have a $170 allowance for the cost of the frames. This means that after the $25 copay, VSP will cover up to $170 of the cost. With Plan C, you have a $190 allowance. Then… because frames can be quite expensive, you will get a 20% discount on the amount above the allowance for both plans.

Ok, and here is another difference between the two plans. With Plan B, you can only get new frames every 2 years… so 24 months. With Plan C, you can get them every 12 months. So, if you have a small child that’s good at snapping your frames, you may want Plan C. Or if your style preferences change more than they should, again, get plan C. 

Now, this difference is just with the frames. You can get new lenses every 12 months with both plans.

So to sum that up a bit… you pay a little bit less with Plan B, monthly, and you get a little bit less. 

Keep in mind that the lenses that are fully covered are fairly simple lenses. There are a whole bunch of “lens enhancements” that are going to cost you more. VSP claims that you get an average of a 30% discount on these, but they can really add up quickly. The best way to deal with this, if you are trying to keep your costs low, is to log in to the vsp website at and see how much they cover for things you might want. Might even make sense to bring that list so you know how much each of those add-ons that they are selling you cost. Cause they will ask.

Ok, next is contact lenses. There is no copay for contacts, and the same allowances apply. So for plan B, you get a $170 allowance and for plan C you get a $190 allowance. You can get the allowance every 12 months for both plans. 

If you want to, you can also get non-prescription sunglasses instead of glasses … with the same allowances and time periods. So, every 2 years for Plan B and every 1 year for Plan C. So, if you take care of your glasses, and/or your eyes don’t change too much, you can get some nice sunglasses instead. 

There are a few other benefits, like discounts for laser corrective surgery and higher allowances for special (ie. expensive) frames that they are partnering with, discounts on additional pairs of glasses, etc…

Like most things insurance, you will need to use an in-network provider. You can find your providers on the VSP website. I’m going to give you a quick tour of that in a minute.

Please keep in mind that this video is being created at the beginning of 2023. Prices and numbers will change. The easiest way to find the current cost of the vision coverage is on the a&i website. You can find that info below. 

Once you have vsp coverage, the best way to see what you benefits are, and to see if you are eligible for new glasses, or whatever, is to login to the vsp site. I’m going to show you that now: (quick site tour)

This is the VSP website – First time here you’re probably going to need to create an account otherwise you log in. That brings you to your dashboard. One thing you need to know here is that you can switch members here. Right here it says switch member if you have family coverage you might want to look at somebody else’s coverage. I’m not going to switch but I’m going to show you how… shows you the drop-down of my family. I’m not going to do it I’m going to bag out and I’m going to look at just for me. 

There are a lot of things you can see here… your benefits, your most recent doctor, your claim history, you can manage your account, and all that. I’m not going to show you everything but I’m going to show you where you can look at your benefits so you have an idea of what kind of coverage you have, where you are at in the timeline, and all that. I’m going to click “view your benefits” …you can also switch your member in here again, but you’re going to have to “review your benefits” now to get to this area.

This area basically shows you everything I have said in this video.  You can go down through here and see where you’re at and what your coverage is. My exam… I’m eligible on February 1st so I’m not quite eligible, my co-pay is only ten dollars all right, frequency every 12 months.  This is actually a contact lens exam which I did not mention in the video but that might cost up to sixty dollars to get that done… if you’re already getting contact lenses you won’t have to do that. The retinal screening is also something I didn’t mention but it’s that thing we’ve all dealt with where you can either get a free one by dilating your eyes or you can get the fancy one and that can cost up to $39. Now we’re down here to what I was talking about… the prescription lenses. I’m eligible for my lenses every 12 months, $25 copay.

Here are all the enhancements that I mentioned.  It says here you should expect to pay no more than the following costs. This is what I said you might want to print out or write down and take with you because they’re going to ask you “do you want this, do you want that” and you’re going to go “uh uh I don’t know” so bring that along and at least you’ll know how much it’ll cost you if you do. Frames $25 copay for just the frame… I’m in Plan B so it’s every 24 months… I have a 170 dollar allowance for that. You can also click here if you want to get some much more expensive frames… you’ll get a higher allowance for that. If you keep going down you can get contacts instead of glasses, you can see what your coverage is… this is the Essential Medical Eye Care that I mentioned. It says that I’m eligible, the co-pay is twenty dollars per office visit, and then it continues on. Shows you that you can get an average of 15% off of Laser Vision Care and so on. This is a great place to come see if you’re due for an eye exam, if you’re due to get glasses, and to see all the benefits that you have with VSP.

Ok! Hopefully I’ve helped those trying to decide if they want vision or not and also helped some of you out there that need a refresher on our vision coverage. I’m going to keep going through the early Subject Matter Minutes to see what other ones need to be redone, so keep an eye out for the next email. Also… don’t forget that you can learn anything on youtube! Alright, thanks for joining me on the subject matter minute, I’ll see ya next time.


Subject Matter Minute, Episode #59 – Open Enrollment Changes 2023

The below post is taken from the Video Blog, the Subject Matter Minute. If it’s a little hard to read, it’s because it’s taken from the spoken word. You can view the episode on YouTube if you would like. Find it here: Episode #59 – Open Enrollment Changes 2023

If YouTube is blocked for you or your agency, you can scroll to the bottom of this post to view it from Google Drive. (I would prefer you view it on YouTube, so I know how many people have watched)

You can also listen to an audio version.

Hello and welcome to the Subject Matter Minute, I’m Matt Nagy, thanks for joining me! I started putting this episode together last week when the weather was still perfect. Has everyone else been enjoying the most perfect fall ever? It may be coming to an end now, but, I can’t believe I had to work last week. There should be a “perfect weather” holiday. Right? (maybe that’s a good retention strategy the state could consider?) anyways… I digress…

Speaking of nature… I want to show you guys a little video of my wife’s office in Steamboat. The quality is really poor, but you’ll get the idea. (Bear Video) The whole family! I guess they were trying to make an appointment! It would be cute except I just read the article about those two wrestlers who were attacked near Cody. If you haven’t read it, search for it… it’s quite a story.

Ok, now that I told you to go outside to enjoy the weather and then basically told you to stay indoors, cause, well, bears…. Let’s get to the content!

As you SHOULD know… we are nearly halfway through Open Enrollment for 2023. And while a month ago might have been better, now still seems like a good time to talk about a few open enrollment changes. (music)

So… open enrollment starts on October 1st and goes through the end of November. This is the time that you can add, drop, and/or make changes to the benefits that we all get through Employees’ Group Insurance. The changes that we make take effect the following year. So the changes we make now are put in place for the 2023 calendar year. While you can go view your benefits on the portal, nothing needs to be done if you aren’t making any changes. However, don’t forget that flex medical and daycare has to be enrolled in each year if you wish to participate.

It seems like for me, the only thing that I sometimes change is the flexible spending account amount. Although I did drop short-term disability last year as I figured I had accrued enough sick leave to cover the short term.

  • Otherwise, you can go in and change your health insurance deductible,
  • elect or drop preventive dental and/or the optional dental (if the 3-year waiting rule is met),
  • you can elect or drop basic and voluntary life insurance (in limited amounts and possible underwriting),
  • elect, drop or change your vision plan (if waiting period/commitment period met),
  • elect or drop ambulance coverage (if waiting period is met),
  • elect or drop short term disability or long-term disability,
  • elect flexible spending accounts for 2023 .
  • and finally, add, drop, or change dependents where appropriate. (documents may be needed!)

There are some small changes that will go into effect in 2023. If you recall, vision insurance had a waiting and commitment period of two years. This meant that if you didn’t elect it when you first were hired, or you dropped it, you had to wait 2 years to get it. It also meant that once you elect it, you had to keep it for 2 years. That period has been reduced to 1 year.

The benefit for optional dental has been increased from $1500 to $2000 per calendar year. So if you have optional dental, delta dental will pay up to $2000 for things such as crowns. This is a good thing for me, as my teeth are all sorts of cracked up!

Also, the maximum you can use for the medical reimbursement went up from $2700 to $2850. So, if you are always maxing that account out, you can bump up your monthly amount a bit.

Please keep in mind that I, by no means, have gone through all the details. Sometimes documents are needed, and sometimes you need one thing to get another. There are other waiting periods. But those are details that I’ve gone through in other Subject Matter Minutes, I’ve put links to the appropriate ones below. I have also included a link to a video taking you through the entire portal open enrollment process below. Of course, if you have real questions, important questions, please contact EGI. (contact info on screen)

Finally, please don’t wait until the last minute to get this done. EGI business hours are Monday – Friday 8 am-5 pm, so while we can submit an online enrollment until midnight on 11/30, if you experience any errors or technical problems, there is no way to get assistance after hours. Alright? We are given 2 months to get this done, so get in there and make it happen.

Alright, that’s it for today! But before I go, I want to give a shout-out to Travis McGinnis of Big Piney. It was great chatting with you at the UW football game the other night! It’s great meeting cool state employees like you. Now, everyone… go outside before winter hits…get on your bike, go on a hike, sit on your porch… wait, unless there have been bear sightings nearby.

Subject Matter Minute, Episode #58 – ESS Software Update Introduction

The below post is taken from the Video Blog, the Subject Matter Minute. If it’s a little hard to read, it’s because it’s taken from the spoken word. You can view the episode on YouTube if you would like. Find it here: Episode #58 – ESS Software Update Intro

If YouTube is blocked for you or your agency, you can scroll to the bottom of this post to view it from Google Drive. (I would prefer you view it on YouTube, so I know how many people have watched)

You can also listen to an audio version.

Hello and welcome to another Subject Matter Minute! It really is fun doing this show, and by far, the best part is running into you guys on the street. Not a month goes by without someone recognizing me and chatting me up a bit. All you guys are so nice to me and positive about the show. Honestly, I’m lucky to get regular feedback from you, cause I know that doesn’t always happen for folks, and I really hope that somebody is giving you the love out there for what you do for the state. So, know that, at least, I appreciate you and I know that you work hard regardless of the positive feedback, or lack thereof that you get.

Ok, let’s get to it. Before we start, I want to thank Kris Quick and Eydie Trautwein of the Auditor’s office for getting me the information and alerting me to the upcoming Employee Self Service software updates. (music)

The Auditor’s Office utilizes software that most of us are familiar with for accessing things like our pay stubs, W2s, pay details, pay deductions, and more. Known as ESS or Employee Self Service or for managers, manager self service. A large portion of us also uses it to track our time with the timesheet feature. Well, as we all know, while it’s totally functional, it’s not the prettiest thing to look at and it’s somewhat lacking in intuitiveness. Right? Well, as part of an upgrade to the Auditor’s payroll and financial system, we are getting an upgrade to these portals, as well. The biggest changes are that the system “looks” more modern and is easier to navigate, and there is now only one portal or login. Meaning you no longer have to log into separate websites for manager self-service and employee self-service. This new single website will be public facing meaning you can access it on any internet connection.

We are giving this overview to you a bit early, as the project’s go-live date isn’t until March of 2023. I can sense the anticipation out there!

So, all the information you have access to now like paystubs, W2, and benefit details will still be available in the new system.  But you should be able to find the information more quickly, because of the improved navigation.

One of the things I’m looking forward to most is the coming improvements in the timesheet and leave request portion of ESS. For example, we will be able to freeze columns while we scroll across the timesheet and I’m being told that the ability to copy from a previous timesheet has been improved.

Managers will see some improvements as well! You will have greater access to your employee’s information, including being able to view current as well as historical timesheets, employee emergency contact info, and assignment details. Timesheet and leave request approvals have been simplified, which includes the look of the timesheet being the same for the manager as the employee. Now, I’m not a manager, so I’m just assuming that these are improvements for you guys. 🙂

Here are a couple of screenshots of what the new home pages will look like for the employee and manager roles in the system. Each role will have a navigational video embedded right on the home page so you will have access to these resources, regardless if it’s a weekend or after hours. 

In the top left of the screen, you will see a 9-square grid of quick links that will take you directly to the most used pages or resources. Then surrounding the 9-square grid will be an assortment of widgets to assist with approvals, profile information, and calendars.

Employee Role View

Manager Role View

Again, these changes will not go into effect until March of 2023. Over the next six months, the State Auditor’s Office will be sending out further communications and videos to help prepare everyone for the change. Kris and Eydie, who I mentioned earlier, are very excited about the new look and feel and added functionality of the system, and hopefully, it will help us all out while we are in there, navigating through all of our financial info.

For more information, contact the State Auditor’s Office at (307) 777-7831 or go to their website here:

That’s it for this subject matter minute… Like I mentioned at the beginning… I’m looking forward to running into more of you guys out on the street, so don’t hesitate to say hello! See ya then!

Subject Matter Minute, Episode #57 – Introduction to NEOGOV

The below post is taken from the Video Blog, the Subject Matter Minute. If it’s a little hard to read, it’s because it’s taken from the spoken word. You can view the episode on YouTube if you would like. Find it here: Episode #57 – Introduction to NEOGOV

If YouTube is blocked for you or your agency, you can scroll to the bottom of this post to view it from Google Drive. (I would prefer you view it on YouTube, so I know how many people have watched)

You can also listen to an audio version.

Hello and welcome to another Subject Matter Minute, I’m Matt Nagy, thanks for joining me! So there’s been a new development in the Nagy family recently. (felt like it was time for an update) Due to the physically debilitating nature of Dental Hygiene, which is what my wife does, she decided that she needed to reduce her hours. Unfortunately, that didn’t work for the Dentist she had been working for for the last 10 years, so she started looking around. We found that there were a ton of jobs available in Colorado. Like most sane people, we love Steamboat and Tanna was able to snag a great job there. So, yeah… she’s commuting to Steamboat now. Kinda crazy, I know! She works 3 days a week, which means she leaves early morning Tuesday and comes back to Laramie Thursday evening. The only reason we can pull this off is because we have some friends who have a second home outside of Steamboat and for a nominal fee, they let Tanna stay there two nights a week. She loves it, so what can you do? It’s our new reality. 

Alright… for this episode, I want to thank HRD’s very own Jared Hanson for helping me out with the information. Thanks Jared, as always! Today we are going to talk about a new suite of software by a company called Neogov.

So, what is Neogov? All of us have, obviously, applied for a job at one point or another for the State of Wyoming, right? Well, if you did so in the last 10 years or so, the website that you used is Neogov. Neogov is the current system utilized to build job postings, advertise jobs, and collect applications. The system is managed by the Department of Administration & Information – Human Resources Division, but is obviously used by many more. Up until this point, this is all Neogov has been used for. Well, after a tedious RFP process, the state’s use of Neogov is expanding.

Some of you may recall a few years ago, hearing something about the Government Efficiency Commission. This commission was tasked with identifying opportunities in state government that could increase efficiency and reduce costs. As a result of these efforts, many recommendations were made – one of which was consolidating HR systems. All of us are familiar with the PMI system, Saba Talent Space. This was the system we had been using to complete performance evaluations. This video is not about that process – I know we all have mixed feelings about that. Instead, this video is to prepare you for some upcoming changes in PMI and other areas as a result of HRD’s efforts to consolidate systems. 

So, what does all of this mean to you and I? You may have seen something from your HR team during the PMI Planning Phase about Saba Talent Space going away. This is indeed true. As I mentioned, HRD completed multiple RFPs over the course of the last year –and– Neogov was selected as the vendor, not only to use them for what we have been using them for… recruiting, but also for conducting performance evaluations. As we speak, the PMI Continuous Improvement steering committee group is meeting to discuss changes needed with PMI and how these can be incorporated into the new Neogov system. In the meantime, PMI is on hiatus. (I’m guessing some of you look a little too happy) Look for more information to come from the committee as decisions are made.

I’m sure that this means more training to come. One of the hats I wear (besides this amazing show) is training, so yes, sadly for many of you, I enjoy creating training. As many of you supervisors remember from the previous PMI training.  The part that I’m most excited about, and that you guys might be the least excited about is that Neogov will be providing the State of Wyoming a new learning management system. This is where trainers put training. It allows trainers to build courses and conduct statewide or agency-specific training. This won’t change how you access certain training. ETS still has its own training platform and many agencies offer job-specific training utilizing a variety of platforms. So, this won’t be a one-stop shop…at least initially… we hope to eliminate some training platforms over time. HRD is building a training unit that’s part of HR Centralization so there will be more workforce development and HR compliance training available in the future. Once built, these opportunities will all be found in Neogov.

The changes that include Neogov don’t stop there. Other modules that are in the plan include onboarding and eforms. I’m sure everybody has had a different experience, positive or negative, as it relates to onboarding. This is something that HRD hopes to improve with HR Centralization. Neogov should make the process more efficient and hopefully make the experience a positive one for all the new employees. 

Eforms is document and workflow management software. It is HRD’s hope that manual forms can be converted into an electronic format using this software. Yes – it’s about time! 

Unfortunately, I don’t have a sneak peek for you at this time (that will be a future SMM), but if you are interested in learning more right now, feel free to visit (I put some links below) They have a full list of all their products and some good reading material about the modules mentioned. 

Again, this process has just started. As timelines and other expectations are established, they will be shared. In the meantime, if you have any feedback about HR systems or processes used in the past, please let someone on your HR team know. We will be using Neogov for many years to come and are hopeful that this system will work for everyone, not just HR- employees, supervisors, everyone. 

Alright, I gotta go. I promised my wife that I would telework from Steamboat this week – she’s been missing me a bit – so I got to get my pile ready as we leave at 5:30 in the morning.

Oh…. one last thing. There are two fabulous state employees out there that are getting hitched this weekend. I want to say congratulations to Seth and Laura! Can’t wait to celebrate, and sweat, with you guys in the 98 degree weather of Thermopolis! Bye everyone…

Subject Matter Minute, Episode #56 – Pre-Retirement Checklist

The below post is taken from the Video Blog, the Subject Matter Minute. If it’s a little hard to read, it’s because it’s taken from the spoken word. You can view the episode on YouTube if you would like. Find it here: Episode #56 – Pre-Retirement Checklist

If YouTube is blocked for you or your agency, you can scroll to the bottom of this post to view it from Google Drive. (I would prefer you view it on YouTube, so I know how many people have watched)

You can also listen to an audio version.

Hello and welcome to the Subject Matter Minute! I appreciate you!

My last episode was on the upcoming raises. Well, you should all now know how much you got. I’m really hoping all of you fabulous, hard-working state employees were pleasantly surprised with what you got. I had low expectations, so that helped. (giggle) But I was pleasantly surprised. Now let’s cross our fingers that there is more money in the next couple of years to add to that and get us closer to the mid-point of our pay grades. Remember that even though it hurts, high gas prices can be good for state employees!

Alright, before I get started, I want to give a shout-out to a couple of state employees that I met at the Laramie Brewfest during Jubilee Days. Hello to Lisa of DFS and Tasha of Game and Fish. You guys are a hoot! My wife and I had a great time drinking with ya and cracking ourselves up! Am I right?? 

Ok, let’s get down to business. We’ve all heard the expression, “the great resignation,” right? You might even be sick of it right now, but…. Apparently, a ton of people are getting out of the game. And while right now, due to the state of the stock market, might not be the best time, if you are ready and thinking about it, WRS has a pre-retirement checklist to help you get there. …and I’m very envious of you. 

Before I hit that checklist, I want to hit a couple of items that are the same, both for folks that are retiring and folks that are just moving on to another employer. Of course, we hope that never happens, but we realize it’s going to happen from time to time. First of all, whether you are retiring or just moving on, know that HR will be in touch. Not only because I’m sure there are probably a few things you need to return, but because they also want to hear from you. In fact, most will conduct what’s referred to as an exit interview – this is your chance to be honest with HR about why you are leaving. Regardless, along with an exit interview, there are a couple of items in the Personnel Rules and the Compensation Policy that pertain to retiring.  

Chapter 11 of the personnel rules, which covers separation, goes over notification procedure, rescinding notification, and failure to notify. So first of all, when you decide that you are leaving the state and/or retiring, you need to provide written notification to your supervisor specifying the date and time of your resignation. Of course, you want to do it as far ahead as possible, and the rules mention that if you notify with less than 2 weeks, without good reason, you will not separate in good standing. This only matters if you want to go back to work at the state. Still, it’s kinda rude to give less than two weeks’ notice. Also, if you change your mind before the resignation date that you set, you can change it with the approval of the agency head. So if you are getting cold feet, or the stock market is doing even worse, you can push it back. 🙂

The Compensation policy goes over how you will be paid for the leave you have accumulated when you retire. First of all, you will be paid for all of your annual leave… at your hourly rate. For sick leave, you will be paid for 50% of what you have, but only up to 480 hours. So if you have an ungodly amount of sick leave, you are still only going to get a max of 480 hours. 

Longevity pay is an interesting one. First of all, you will get longevity pay for the month that you quit/retire no matter how many days you work that month. So, you work 2 days, you get your longevity pay for that month. Second, you also may get what’s referred to as a Longevity Payout. This combines your annual and sick leave paid out and applies the number of hours as if they were hours worked. So… if your annual and sick leave balances add up to an equivalent of a month’s time, or several months, you will get longevity pay for each of those months.

Also, you will get paid for any comp time you have remaining.

An exempt employee will get paid for any unused Paid Time Off.

And finally, if you have any other type of leave accrued, use it before you leave or retire. You will lose those hours. So, leave like wellness, personal, or admin leave.

And one little fun tidbit here… if you get paid out for your annual and sick leave and then decide you can’t stand retirement and get rehired within 31 days of your retirement, you will have to pay all that money back. So…… don’t do that.

Ok… so that covers the personnel rules and compensation part of retiring. Now let’s hit this checklist that WRS puts out. It’s approximately 8 things to do before you reach your retirement date.

At 6 to 8 months from retiring, you need to request an estimate of your pension benefits. You can do that on the website or you can give them a call. Now, if you are planning to retire on the “earliest date for unreduced retirement benefits” then WRS says you need to contact a Benefits Specialist for final verification of the Rule of 85 date within 3 months prior to terminating your job. … just to make sure you got it right. You can find your earliest date for unreduced retirement benefits at the bottom of page 1 of your statement. 

Next… if you are planning to keep the state insurance, health and dental, through EGI, then you need to contact EGI 3 months out from retiring. 

You should also consider social security and medicare. If you are eligible for social security benefits and want to start receiving them when you retire, apply approximately 3 months before. Go to or contact your local Social Security office to do this. If you are Medicare age eligible and wish to apply for Medicare, those benefits can also be applied for at: (Click on Menu at the top and click Medicare under the Benefits section).

There is another option for your annual and sick leave benefits. You can defer them into your 457 deferred compensation plan. If you decide to do this, after careful consideration, a completed final Deferral Authorization of Accrued Leave Payouts Form must be submitted to WRS the month before your last working day. The form is on the WRS website.

Speaking of the 457 Deferred Comp plan… you should think about this account as well. Everyone should at least have a little bit in there as they match $20 a month… right? Ok, well, first of all, you don’t have to do anything with it right away. But if you do want to start withdrawing funds, go ahead and contact WRS about it. And just so you know, you will be required to start taking distributions from your 457 account in the calendar year that you turn 72.

And finally… 2-3 weeks before retiring, you can submit your pension application. Please make sure that your termination date is submitted and set before you do this. You may submit your pension application by logging into your pension account or by printing off the pension application from the website.

If you are getting close to retirement, first of all, I envy you sooooo much. But secondly, there are a ton of things to consider! Hopefully, this gives you an idea of the state-related things that you need to think about. But, no matter what, I would get on the phone with WRS to make sure you are checking all the boxes. 

Alright… thanks for watching! Keep enjoying this fabulous summer and I’ll see you next time!

Subject Matter Minute, Episode #55 – Market Adjustment (Raises!) Process

The below post is taken from the Video Blog, the Subject Matter Minute. If it’s a little hard to read, it’s because it’s taken from the spoken word. You can view the episode on YouTube if you would like. Find it here: Episode #55 – Market Adjustment (Raises!) Process

If YouTube is blocked for you or your agency, you can scroll to the bottom of this post to view it from Google Drive. (I would prefer you view it on YouTube, so I know how many people have watched)

You can also listen to an audio version.

I know us long-timers have been uncertain as to whether we would see another raise again anytime soon. But this is good news! Raises are coming and they are coming soon. I’m going to give you the background information and the timelines of this process. And since the state could use the same process in the future, this episode should be somewhat evergreen…. If you are watching it in the future.

First of all, the process to get us July raises began years ago. A&I HRD  currently uses 6 different salary surveys that are vetted and published yearly. Each year when the surveys are published, A&I HRD compares our current pay tables and actual employee pay to the relevant labor market which consists of other states and private entities. So, we are trying to compare apples to apples here.

If we look at a timeline over the course of the last two years, it may shed a little more light as to why it is not uncommon for the data to be up to 2 years dated by the time raises take effect: 

  • 2020 – market data was collected and published towards the end of the calendar year. 
  • 2021 (spring) – A&I HRD performed its market analysis and submitted proposals to the Governor.
  • 2021 (fall) – The Governor reviewed these proposals, compared these to revenue forecasts submitted by the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group (CREG), and made a recommendation to the Legislature. 
  • 2022 (spring) – The Legislature made adjustments and approved the compensation package for pay increases. 

Ok, next I want to break down some of what HRD’s market analysis looks like and how it led to the proposal that was eventually adopted. 

Each year a bunch of turnover metrics are tracked and published. Employees write letters relating to issues with pay. HRD also sent out the Employee Satisfaction Survey. They look at recruitment data and how long it takes to fill a position once it is advertised. They also look at vacancy rates, and how many positions sit vacant because we are unable to fill them. Market data and the cost to move employees to the new market rate is calculated. All of this is compiled in the Workforce Report which can be found on A&I’s website (refer to SMM #51).  Given the severity of the current market lag, HRD took this information a step further and compiled a 157-page document on Compensation Facts. This was sent to the JAC last December to support the paytable movement and pay increases for employees.

So, in this document, instead of looking simply statewide as HRD often does in their published documents, each agency had its own highlights which allowed directors to speak to the legislature about pay issues in their agency. This seemed to help.

At the time the Compensation Facts book was published, the Executive Branch was $97.8 million dollars per year behind the 2020 market in employee pay. We work on a 2-year biennium, which means to move employees to the 2020 market rate would have been an ask of almost $196 million dollars. So HRD created a more realistic plan to try and get employees closer to the market without breaking the bank. The first step –   move the pay tables to the new market rates. The second step –  implement the Market Merit Matrix. The Market Merit Matrix allocates a percent increase to an employee based on our performance and the relationship of our pay to MPP, or midpoint, of the pay grade. The last time a matrix was implemented was in 2015! 

 With support from the Governor’s Office and the Legislature, the Executive Branch was ultimately awarded $37.2 million in General Funds to adjust employee compensation.

So how do we not know exactly what each employee’s raise is today? Well, we don’t. Our workforce is anything but static. The first step is to move the pay tables to the 2020 rates from where we are currently, which are 2017 rates. The State Compensation Policy requires each employee to be paid at the minimum (at least) of the pay grade for their job. So we must first move each employee that is behind the paytable minimum to that new minimum.  

Once everyone is at the new minimum, the market merit matrix is implemented. Because the workforce is constantly in motion with new hires, transfers, and terminations, HRD had to implement a cut-off date of April 1st… meaning our pay and position details as of April 1st will determine the increase. (If you experienced a job change or pay change after April 1st, please consult your agency HR to see if you are eligible for a matrix increase.) Here’s what the matrix looks like without the actual percentages in it. Here is where the percent raise will be once the table is finished. So, the yellow fields on top numbered 7 through 1 are an individual’s position in the range based on the percent of market. So… bottom 10% here, all the way to the top 10% here. The performance aspect of the matrix, rows 0-14, are based on the employee’s PMI score from the 2020-2021 review period. 

As you know, we only see a word score at the end of our evaluation… so, “meets expectations” or “commendable.”  The decimal point figures in the matrix come from a background calculation that takes the total number of points awarded on the PMI and divides them by the number of scored competencies. This allows incremental improvement in work areas to be reflected in pay. 

As an example, let’s say a non-supervisor gets the following scores on their 6 competencies. Each has a point value associated with it. You add those points, divide by 6 (because there are 6 competencies) and that is your score with a decimal point. A supervisor would do the same but would add up 8 competencies and divide by those 8. 

The next big question you are probably interested in, is when we will know what our raises will be? HRD is working to allocate the matrix dollars and will send out individual letters with our matrix details, percent raise, and new pay rate by the end of June. . Our raise (or market adjustment 🙂 is effective July 1st – this means that you will see the difference in our July paycheck… so at the end of July.

Please know that HRD’s work does not, and has not stopped with this allocation and the matrix they are building. As noted before, HRD performs a market analysis each year. The Joint Appropriation Committee (JAC) has made employee compensation an interim priority topic for further discussion this year. This means that even as these raises take effect, discussions on employee pay are ongoing and happening in the background which… who knows…may lead to more good news in the future.