Yearly Archives: 2020

  • Expansion of Family Medical Leave Act — Affecting Organizations with Five or More Employees

    December 31, 2020

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    Gov­er­nor New­som signed Sen­ate Bill 1383 into law, which will take effect on Jan­u­ary 1, 2021.

    This takes the fed­er­al bill for Fam­i­ly Med­ical Leave, which has been on the books since 1985 for groups of 50 or more employ­ees, and expands it in Cal­i­for­nia down to 5 employees.

     

    Basic Rules

    Any employ­ee who:

    • is work­ing with­in a 75 mile radius of the employer’s cen­tral location;
    • has worked at least 1,250 hours in the pre­vi­ous 12 month period;
    • is enti­tled to 12 weeks of leave where the employ­er will pay the por­tion of the health insur­ance pre­mi­um for which they were respon­si­ble pri­or to the employ­ee tak­ing leave.

     

    The Leave

    For employ­ees to take care of them­selves or any­one in their imme­di­ate fam­i­ly who has a seri­ous health con­di­tion. Imme­di­ate fam­i­ly includes:

    1. Child
    2. Par­ent
    3. Spouse or Domes­tic Partner
    4. Adult chil­dren
    5. Chil­dren of Domes­tic Partner
    6. Par­ents in Law
    7. Sib­lings
    8. Grand­par­ents
    9. Grand­chil­dren

     

    Dif­fer­ences with Fed­er­al Law

    • Expand­ed def­i­n­i­tion of eli­gi­ble fam­i­ly member.
    • Employ­er may not exempt a key employ­ee (some­one in top 10% of pay).
    • Par­ents work­ing for same employ­er used to only have leave of 12 weeks cumu­la­tive­ly. Under the Cal­i­for­nia statute, each employ­ee of the same employ­ee may take 12 weeks.
    • Adds qual­i­fy­ing “exi­gency leave” when some­one is on active duty.

  • How to Improve Your Job Postings

    December 16, 2020

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    A job post­ing is often the first impres­sion a prospec­tive job appli­cant has with your orga­ni­za­tion. It’s impor­tant for that impres­sion to be an infor­ma­tive one. Your job post­ings should con­vey why some­one would want to work for your com­pa­ny, what dis­tin­guish­es your work­place from oth­ers, what’s excit­ing about your mis­sion and vision, what you have to offer, and what the job is and requires. Here are a few ways to get bet­ter results from your job postings:

    High­light the company’s strengths. Part of the pur­pose of a job post­ing is to sell your orga­ni­za­tion to prospec­tive employ­ees. It’s a sales pitch that con­veys your cul­ture and brand. Be sure to include both tra­di­tion­al ben­e­fits (e.g., insur­ance offer­ings, retire­ment plan) as well as less com­mon, more excit­ing perks (e.g., unlim­it­ed PTO, remote work options, prod­uct dis­counts). You should also men­tion com­pa­ny awards, notable achieve­ments, and career devel­op­ment opportunities.

    List the min­i­mum require­ments and essen­tial func­tions of the job. You can also include the full job descrip­tion, if you have the room for it. The require­ments and func­tions you men­tion should be accu­rate and clear. You don’t want to scare away great prospects with unnec­es­sary require­ments, but you also don’t want a lot of unqual­i­fied peo­ple apply­ing for the job.

    Include the pay range. Post­ing the pay range of the job will get you 30% more appli­cants. It will also save you and poten­tial appli­cants a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time by allow­ing them to self-select out of the run­ning if the range is too low for their needs or if it clear­ly indi­cates that you are look­ing for a more expe­ri­enced employ­ee. It will also pro­mote trans­paren­cy and help cre­ate a more equi­table work­place, but it’s not a requirement.

    Ana­lyze the results of pre­vi­ous job post­ing loca­tions, espe­cial­ly if you paid for them. Con­sid­er not only the upfront fee, but also whether you received a good num­ber of appli­ca­tions specif­i­cal­ly from that source. Were the can­di­dates qual­i­fied? Have you ever hired can­di­dates from this source? There’s no sense pay­ing to post job ads that aren’t bring­ing in good candidates.

    Con­sid­er alter­na­tives to where you’ve post­ed in the past. Here are a few options:

    • Over­looked tal­ent pools (e.g., web­sites geared toward cer­tain pop­u­la­tions or groups)—these can be espe­cial­ly help­ful for increas­ing diver­si­ty in your workplace.
    • Com­mu­ni­ty events and job fairs in your area—being able to answer ques­tions about your com­pa­ny and your open posi­tions can help weed out those who may not be a good fit or might not be hap­py in the role.
    • Local schools—many col­leges guar­an­tee a cer­tain job place­ment rate and have an entire depart­ment to help their stu­dents become employ­ees in the indus­try of their edu­ca­tion. Often­times the coor­di­na­tors of these pro­grams will come to you for jobs as well, which is anoth­er direct tal­ent pipeline. Reach out to your local com­mu­ni­ty col­leges or local uni­ver­si­ties and talk with them about any stu­dents that they might have who would fit your job descrip­tion needs. They often also have an inter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tem that can get your job post­ing in front of a lot of stu­dents (or even alum­ni) in a hurry.
    • Pre­vi­ous applicants—even those you inter­viewed who might have been a sec­ond or third choice. You already know they’re inter­est­ed in your com­pa­ny, and you may even have met them face to face. Even if it’s been half a year since they applied, reach out. What’s the worst that can happen?

    By Marisa Stoll

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on ThinkHR

  • 4 Things to Consider When Comparing Medicare Plans

    December 9, 2020

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    Com­par­ing Medicare health and pre­scrip­tion drug plans can be com­pli­cat­ed. Keep in mind these 4 things to make your plan choice eas­i­er with the Medicare Plan Find­er.

    1. Total cost for care. It’s impor­tant to think about your total out-of-pock­et costs, includ­ing deductibles, copay­ments, coin­sur­ance, max­i­mums, and drug costs, that you’ll pay with a Medicare health or drug plan. When you com­pare plans with Medicare Plan Find­er, we’ll explain these costs and help you find plans with the low­est costs. We’ll also auto­mat­i­cal­ly show you plans with the low­est drug and pre­mi­um costs first.
    2. Provider choice. Some plan types have a net­work of providers you’ll have to use if you want to pay less. Medicare Plan Find­er lets you fil­ter your results by plan type, and explains how each plan type lets you choose providers. If you have a par­tic­u­lar doc­tor or phar­ma­cy that you pre­fer to go to, see if that plan has a net­work. If it does, check that your provider is in the plan’s net­work. You might also want to make sure that your plan’s net­work has providers to choose from that are con­ve­nient to you.
    3. Ben­e­fits. Many Medicare Advan­tage Plans include pre­scrip­tion drug, vision, hear­ing, and den­tal cov­er­age. Maybe you trav­el a lot, or spend part of the year in a dif­fer­ent state. If you do, see if your plan will cov­er you when you trav­el. When you use Medicare Plan Find­er, you can view, fil­ter, and com­pare these benefits.
    4. “Over­all Star Rat­ing.” Medicare Plan Find­er fea­tures a star rat­ing sys­tem for Medicare health and drug plans. The “Over­all Star Rat­ing” gives an over­all rat­ing of the plan’s qual­i­ty and per­for­mance for the types of ser­vices each plan offers. A plan can get a rat­ing between 1 and 5 stars. A 5‑star rat­ing is con­sid­ered excel­lent. If a Medicare Advan­tage Plan, Medicare drug plan or Medicare Cost Plan with a 5‑star rat­ing is avail­able in your area, you can use the 5‑star Spe­cial Enroll­ment Peri­od (once a year) to switch from your cur­rent Medicare plan to a Medicare plan with the 5‑star rating.

    Vis­it the Medicare Plan Find­er to start com­par­ing 2021 Medicare health and drug plans now.

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on Medicare.gov

  • Virtual Holiday Parties

    November 30, 2020

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    Build­ing cama­raderie between your employ­ees is essen­tial for employ­ee engage­ment and reten­tion. In fact, employ­ees with close work friend­ships report 50% high­er sat­is­fac­tion with their work, accord­ing to Gallup. Host­ing par­ties for your office this sea­son may not be pos­si­ble, yet they are still impor­tant. We’ve gath­ered some fun alter­na­tive ways to cel­e­brate togeth­er while apart this hol­i­day season.

    IT’S PARTY TIME!

    Gin­ger­bread House Build­ing Contest

    • Mail a box of the com­po­nents to your team ahead of the par­ty date.
    • Host a video call with back­ground music while every­one con­structs their house so they can see the progress of their co-work­ers’ build.
    • Post pic­tures of the fin­ished hous­es on your com­pa­ny Face­book page and take votes for dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories. Your team can share the page with friends and fam­i­ly to try to drum up votes and, in turn, your page will get some new vis­its! Win-Win!
    • Send gift cards to win­ners to online merchants.

    Vir­tu­al Hol­i­day Bingo

    • Mail bin­go cards and dob­bers or stick­ers ahead of the par­ty date.
    • Host a video call and ask your most out­go­ing and beloved team mem­ber to be the bin­go caller.
    • Email e‑card prizes to winners.

    Win­ter Cock­tail Party

    • Mail a “mix-kit” of cock­tail com­po­nents to your team ahead of the par­ty date.
    • Hire a mixol­o­gist to teach via video call how to make a cou­ple of cock­tails with the ingre­di­ents you have sent out ahead of time.
    • *Option­al: take votes on a short menu of cock­tails to see which ones the team is most inter­est­ed in learn­ing how to make.

    Vir­tu­al White Ele­phant Party

    • Some peo­ple con­sid­er a “white ele­phant” gift to be some­thing cho­sen from their home that is still in good/new con­di­tion, a cheap pur­chased gift, or a joke gift. Make sure you deter­mine what type you want peo­ple to give so that every­one pre­pares the same.
    • Have your team pre­pare their gift at their home ahead of time and take a pic­ture of their item. Each per­son should email the pre-des­ig­nat­ed “San­ta” the pic­ture so he/she can pre­pare the game.
    • Pre­pare a Pow­er­Point pre­sen­ta­tion with images of gifts and fol­low the instruc­tions on this site to host the party.

    Gen­er­al Tips

    • Mail “par­ty sup­plies” two weeks early.
    • Make a par­ty playlist and share it before the par­ty to get peo­ple in the hol­i­day par­ty mood.
    • Con­sid­er mail­ing par­ty food such as fla­vored pop­corn, chips, can­dy, and even a meal-deliv­ery gift card for eat­ing dur­ing the vir­tu­al event.

    Even though we are apart this hol­i­day sea­son, there is no need for us to be dis­con­nect­ed. You can still be the “host/ess with the most/est” by prepar­ing the best par­ty for your team. Show them you care by spend­ing the extra time and care to keep your team engaged dur­ing the holidays.

     

  • IRS issues updates on a variety of benefit rules – take effect January 1 | by Jordan Shields, Partner

    November 13, 2020

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    Flex­i­ble spend­ing account Keeps cur­rent allowance of $2,750 annu­al salary reduction
    Keeps cur­rent allowance of $550 for employ­er contribution
    Adop­tion Assistance Amount raised from $14,300 to $14,440
    401k Con­tri­bu­tion Employ­ee amount remains at $19,500
    Health Sav­ings Account Employ­ee con­tri­bu­tion raised from $3,550 to $3,600
    Fam­i­ly con­tri­bu­tion raised from $7,100 to $7,200
    Afford­able Care Act Afford­abil­i­ty thresh­old raised from 9.78% to 9.81%
    Penal­ty for fail­ure to offer is now $2,700
    Penal­ty for lack of afford­abil­i­ty is now $4,060
    San Fran­cis­co HCSO Base increas­es from $2.05 to $2.12 groups of 20+
    Base increas­es from $3.08 to $3.18 groups of 100+
    State Dis­abil­i­ty This is real – the amount to be tak­en from employ­ee pay is increased from 1% to 1.5% — the Paid Fam­i­ly Leave Act went to 8 weeks in July 2020

  • They have a plan – the Republicans have a plan | by Jordan Shields, Partner

    November 11, 2020

    Tags: ,

    We are non-par­ti­san here and would not pre­sume to take sides in the debate over the future of health care in Amer­i­ca.  Mr. Biden said he has a plan but did not elab­o­rate dur­ing the debates, so we are not sure what it is except to con­tin­ue the Afford­able Care Act or make it stronger. Mr. Trump keeps say­ing he has a plan and the Repub­li­can Par­ty has a plan, but they are not pro­mot­ing it…but…Mr. Trump did come out with an “Amer­i­ca-First Health­care Plan” on Octo­ber 4.  Here are the high­lights, which is more of a recap of what Mr. Trump has done since tak­ing office.  There is def­i­nite­ly some plan­ning here:

    • Signed a repeal of the indi­vid­ual man­date in 2017
    • Increased avail­abil­i­ty of short-term med­ical plans (though they’re banned in California)
    • Expan­sion of Health Reim­burse­ment Arrangements
    • Expan­sion of Health Sav­ings Accounts
    • Increased access to tele­health plans fol­low­ing the COVID 19 pandemic
    • More plan options and reduced bench­mark inflation
    • Reduc­tion of drug prices and more gener­ic approvals
    • Reduc­tion of some drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries
    • Repeal of ACA med­ical device tax, annu­al fee on health care providers and Cadil­lac tax
    • Increased trans­paren­cy in hospital/insurance coor­di­na­tion (effect remains to be seen)
    • Announce­ment of four prin­ci­ples to avoid sur­prise med­ical billing
    • Pro­tect­ing indi­vid­u­als with pre-exist­ing conditions
    • Improved access to health plans
    • New orders to sup­port small com­mu­ni­ty and rur­al hospitals
    • Demon­strat­ed ded­i­ca­tion to pro­tect­ing and improv­ing care for those in need
    • Mod­ern­iza­tion of Medicare – but where and what?
    • Sub­stance Abuse Dis­or­der Prevention

    Not sure who did what and when and how, but it’s out there.

  • Data Drop: Workforce Surveys Reveal Effects of Pandemic

    November 9, 2020

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    How 2020 will be remem­bered is large­ly going to be shaped by the pan­dem­ic, both for larg­er soci­ety and the work­place. There is no indus­try that hasn’t been impact­ed by COVID-19 and thus, no seg­ment of the work­force that hasn’t felt its impact.

    We can see this play­ing out in the data we col­lect. Per­haps more than any oth­er cri­sis before it, data is telling its own sto­ry around COVID-19. A fair amount of this data comes straight to our inbox and we reg­u­lar­ly review it.

    Shar­ing is car­ing as they say, so with that in mind, here are some of the lat­est work­force sur­veys that have caught our atten­tion and sta­tis­tics that may help you under­stand and address the issues with­in your own organization.

    Less Screen Time = Better Health

    The folks over at Aet­na Inter­na­tion­al recent­ly sur­veyed 4,000 employ­ees at mid-to-large size busi­ness­es in the U.K., U.S., UAE and Sin­ga­pore about their rela­tion­ship with work­place tech­nol­o­gy and what effect it had on them. While the major­i­ty of respon­dents say that tech­nol­o­gy makes them more effec­tive at their jobs and at man­ag­ing time, par­tic­u­lar­ly at a time where remote work is so com­mon, there was a cost asso­ci­at­ed with their health.

    Employ­ees feel that sit­ting at their com­put­er for long dura­tions have hin­dered their phys­i­cal health with 70% of those sur­veyed agree­ing that they would exer­cise more if they spent less time at their computer.

    Addi­tion­al­ly, 76% of employ­ees feel that reduced or restrict­ed out of hours tech­nol­o­gy use would help them man­age their phys­i­cal health bet­ter if pro­vid­ed by their employ­er. Many find them­selves check­ing their emails and Slack or Teams accounts when they nor­mal­ly wouldn’t.

    The impact goes beyond the phys­i­cal, how­ev­er. The major­i­ty of employ­ees from around the world agreed that the overuse of tech­nol­o­gy in the work­place has had neg­a­tive effects on their men­tal health, with 75% agree­ing that restrict­ing the use of screen time dur­ing the work­day would help them to bet­ter man­age their men­tal health. More than half, 56%, said that the overuse of com­mu­ni­ca­tion plat­forms and inter­nal emails increas­es their stress levels.

    Trust

    Recent sur­veys from JDP asked 2,000 U.S. employ­ees a range of ques­tions about work­ing from home dur­ing the pan­dem­ic. Among the most unan­i­mous respons­es was cen­tered on trust, with 92% of respon­dents say­ing they believe their boss­es trust­ed them. Addi­tion­al­ly, 86% say they feel they have tak­en advan­tage of the increased free­dom work from home provides.

    More than three quar­ters of respon­dents say they are work­ing dif­fer­ent hours and two-thirds say they are more like­ly to work on the week­end now. Dif­fer­ent hours didn’t trans­late to more hours, how­ev­er, with only 33% of respon­dents say­ing they were work­ing more.

    Whose Been Hit Hardest?

    Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics has shown the top careers to be most affect­ed by COVID-19 and it’s a list that won’t sur­prise you. Retail, hos­pi­tal­i­ty, the per­form­ing arts, den­tal office staff and film and TV pro­duc­tion crews have tak­en the biggest hit. Air trans­porta­tion and real estate offices also had notable losses.

    The news isn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly a death sen­tence for the career of peo­ple work­ing in those indus­tries though. The fact is, many of them have soft skills that are becom­ing more impor­tant in a work­force that is tak­ing on a human focus. The folks over at online resume builder Zety per­formed an analy­sis of more than 130 thou­sand resumes cre­at­ed between 2017 and 2019 to find which alter­na­tive career paths were most pop­u­lar amongst peo­ple who held jobs in indus­tries that are now struggling.

    By com­par­ing the soft skills many in those indus­tries list­ed on their resumes to the soft skills need­ed in oth­er posi­tions, they came up with a list of alter­na­tives that might just help some peo­ple get back on their feet. You can see the full list on the Zety blog.

    The Visibility of Productivity

    Every­one wants their employ­er to know that they’re using this time at home to get work done and broad­ly speak­ing, it has shown as data sug­gests peo­ple have been more pro­duc­tive in remote work set­tings. But, accord­ing to recent sur­veys from Pro­doscore, employ­ees are even more open to the idea of pro­duc­tiv­i­ty mon­i­tor­ing than you might expect.

    The com­pa­ny com­mis­sioned the research to put fresh num­bers to trends they had been notic­ing for a few years as work from home arrange­ments gained trac­tion and that were recent­ly ampli­fied in the wake of COVID-19. Pri­or to the pan­dem­ic, around 61% of the sur­vey par­tic­i­pants worked from home at least part time. Now that num­ber has increased to 77%.

    A byprod­uct of this is an increase in the desire to show and see pro­duc­tiv­i­ty by both employ­ees and employ­ers. For employ­ees, the moti­va­tion was clear. They want the mon­i­tor­ing so they can struc­ture their day in ways that have proven to be effec­tive, show­case their effi­cien­cy and have their efforts rec­og­nized. In all, only 10% of respon­dents said they didn’t like the idea.

    The sur­vey was con­duct­ed in July 2020 in part­ner­ship with Pro­peller Insights. It polled 1,000 U.S.-based work­ers across diverse indus­tries and includ­ed a mix of micro, SMB and enter­prise busi­ness­es. Most respon­dents were white-col­lar work­ers (79%).

    The Need for People Data and Performance Communication

    At a time where we talk a great deal about employ­ee engage­ment and expe­ri­ence, ask­ing the ques­tion what employ­ees want can trig­ger a wide vari­ety of respons­es. A recent sur­vey from Reflek­tive sought to answer that ques­tion and arrived at some con­clu­sions that you prob­a­bly already suspect.

    The sur­vey was com­plet­ed by 445 HR pro­fes­sion­als and busi­ness lead­ers and 622 employ­ees. Inter­est­ing­ly, employ­ees indi­cat­ed that they need more coach­ing and want more recog­ni­tion from their managers.

    From HR and busi­ness lead­ers, there’s a great deal of inter­est in employ­ee pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. HR lead­ers indi­cat­ed that they are invest­ed in mea­sur­ing the health of their per­for­mance man­age­ment prac­tices, which will be music to employ­ees ears as it could lead to more of that coach­ing they seek.

    Peo­ple data is a big area of inter­est as 60% of lead­ers agree that peo­ple ana­lyt­ics efforts are more impor­tant to them now than a year ago. Near­ly three quar­ters of those respon­dents believe that they have a firm grasp of why peo­ple leave, but only 50% of them are using ana­lyt­ics to pre­dict employ­ee per­for­mance and turnover.

    Employ­ees also expressed frus­tra­tion with how to acquire feed­back. One-in-four say they don’t know how to request feed­back and 30% say they don’t feel empow­ered to ini­ti­ate those conversations.

    “When tools aren’t used reg­u­lar­ly, employ­ees may for­get what’s at their fin­ger­tips,” Rachel Ernst, CHRO at Reflek­tive said. “On a quar­ter­ly basis, com­mu­ni­cate the process for request­ing feed­back. Addi­tion­al­ly, when man­agers reg­u­lar­ly ask for feed­back, employ­ees will start mir­ror­ing this behav­ior as well.”

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on HR Exchange Network

  • New California Family Medical Leave Law – effective January 1, 2021 | by Jordan Shields, Partner

    November 5, 2020

    Tags:

    Sen­ate Bill 1383 was passed and signed and put into law the Cal­i­for­nia Fam­i­ly Rights Act.

    This Fam­i­ly Leave Act now applies to orga­ni­za­tions with as few as five employ­ees, following.

    Fed­er­al guide­lines.  For larg­er employ­ers, the new law cov­ers addi­tion­al cat­e­gories of leave that go beyond the FMLA that may end up being lay­ered on top of the state law.  For exam­ple, if an employ­ee takes 12 weeks of leave to care for a sib­ling, grand­par­ent, grand­child, or domes­tic part­ner under the new CFRA, the same employ­ee can take an addi­tion­al 12 weeks of leave under the FMLA for their own med­ical con­di­tion or to care for a relative.

  • End of Year Healthcare

    November 3, 2020

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    As the weath­er turns cool­er and shop­ping cen­ters get busier, it’s easy to sur­mise that it’s near­ing the end of the year. Are we all ready for 2020 to be over?! Yes, please! Since we are clos­ing in on 2021, it’s time for you to max­i­mize your health­care plan by tak­ing advan­tage of end-of-year health­care benefits.

     

    HAVE YOU MET YOUR DEDUCTIBLE YET?

    Before you con­tin­ue read­ing, look over your insur­ance plan details and check your deductible amount. Then, check with your HR advi­sor and see where you are with your ben­e­fits per their records and the insur­ance com­pa­ny records to ensure you have all the infor­ma­tion you need regard­ing these details. Now that you have all your ducks in a row, let’s look at some ways to make sure you are max­i­miz­ing your health­care ben­e­fits before year-end.

     

    THINGS TO DO LIST

    • Refill prescriptions—maybe get 90-day sup­plies so they last beyond the start of the new year
    • Sched­ule lab work
    • Sched­ule imaging
    • Vis­it the dermatologist
    • Vis­it the optometrist—get new glass­es or con­tact lenses
    • Sched­ule pre­ven­tive screen­ings like: 
      • Endoscopy
      • Colonoscopy
      • Prostate can­cer
      • Lung can­cer
    • Sched­ule elec­tive surg­eries like: 
      • Hys­terec­to­my
      • Gall­blad­der
      • Joint replace­ment
      • Weight loss
      • Thy­roid
      • Eye
      • Back
    • Go to phys­i­cal ther­a­py for an injury
    • Vis­it your PCP for pre­ven­tive care
    • Vis­it the dentist

     

    THINGS TO CONSIDER

    Before you go whole-hog on sched­ul­ing these appoint­ments, you need to con­sid­er some things first.

    • Think about the addi­tion­al costs asso­ci­at­ed with pro­ce­dures like phys­i­cal ther­a­py post-surgery. You should cal­cu­late the cost of hav­ing the surgery this cal­en­dar year and start­ing PT after the new year begins and your deductible resets ver­sus doing every­thing next year.
    • Many den­tal plans have year­ly max­i­mums so it may be bet­ter to split up some den­tal pro­ce­dures between this year and next.
    • Make sure you stay in your net­work when you sched­ule these appoint­ments or else your insur­ance cov­er­age won’t be as robust as you thought.
    • Use your FSA mon­ey before the end of the year because these funds are “use it or lose it.” 
      • The IRS does give you a grace peri­od of 2 ½ months to spend your money.

     

    BONUS TIPS

    As a cou­ple of bonus tips:

    • Check your plan’s terms about coin­sur­ance so you know if this will come into play even after meet­ing your deductible.
    • Increase your HSA con­tri­bu­tions to max out your account before the end of the year. The IRS, again, gives you some extra time in the fol­low­ing year to keep con­tribut­ing to the pri­or year’s account. But, not max­ing out your con­tri­bu­tion amount means that you aren’t reap­ing the ben­e­fits of this tax-free money.

    Mak­ing sure you are ful­ly uti­liz­ing your health­care plan at the end of the year is a smart move for every health­care con­sumer. Begin cross­ing things off this “To-Do List” today!

  • Three Surprising Benefits to a Virtual Open Enrollment

    October 21, 2020

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    With many enroll­ments being forced to go vir­tu­al this year, you may feel at a dis­ad­van­tage. But, there are actu­al­ly plen­ty of rea­sons to believe a vir­tu­al open enroll­ment could be even more effec­tive for you and your clients.

    IMPROVED EDUCATION

    Peo­ple only tend to remem­ber 10% of what they hear and only 20% of what they read. How­ev­er, peo­ple actu­al­ly recall 80% of what they see. As you pre­pare your vir­tu­al enroll­ment pre­sen­ta­tions, make sure you work on inte­grat­ing images to com­mu­ni­cate your mes­sage. An image has a high­er chance of evok­ing an emo­tion­al response in a per­son than a set of words, writ­ten or spo­ken and with that emo­tion comes reten­tion. Lever­age every oppor­tu­ni­ty to use graphs, charts, and images to relay your message.

    GREATER REACH

    As you com­mu­ni­cate with your employ­ees regard­ing edu­ca­tion on ben­e­fits offer­ings or dead­lines for enroll­ment, use a form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion that is nat­ur­al for most people—text mes­sag­ing. Tex­ting for employ­ee com­mu­ni­ca­tion results in a 98% open/read rate and a 45% reply rate. Com­pare these per­cent­ages to basic email open rates of 20% and a reply rate for email of only 6% and you’ll plain­ly see that tex­ting has a far greater reach. So, if it wor­ries you that vir­tu­al enroll­ments will result in less com­mu­ni­ca­tion, don’t let it!

    Anoth­er great way to lever­age this time of vir­tu­al open enroll­ments for the good is to get online with your enroll­ment paper­work by post­ing it all via an online por­tal or com­pa­ny intranet.  Employ­ees can read through the infor­ma­tion at their leisure from anywhere—phone, tablet, or lap­top. They can also eas­i­ly share it with fam­i­ly mem­bers who can read it at their con­ve­nience. More peo­ple will be able to digest the infor­ma­tion than if it had only been avail­able at a phys­i­cal enroll­ment meeting.

    OPEN LINES OF COMMUNICATION

    Work on cre­at­ing a sol­id foun­da­tion of com­mu­ni­ca­tion for the entire year by intro­duc­ing it dur­ing Q4’s vir­tu­al enroll­ment meet­ings. Use your company’s social media to stay in con­tact by post­ing edu­ca­tion­al info­graph­ics, ani­mat­ed videos on health and well­ness top­ics, and invi­ta­tions to webi­na­rs. Then, by the time 2021’s enroll­ment peri­od approach­es, your employ­ees will be con­di­tioned to look at your social media for com­pa­ny announce­ments and you will be set up for suc­cess as you post info on your dif­fer­ent channels.

    Even though open enroll­ment looks stark­ly dif­fer­ent than in years’ past, it does have its ben­e­fits. Improved com­mu­ni­ca­tion, a greater reach, and new, open lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion are all byprod­ucts of this inno­v­a­tive, vir­tu­al envi­ron­ment. What a great surprise!

  • Preventive Care is as Easy as 1–2‑3

    October 7, 2020

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    In a world where virus­es run ram­pant across the globe and health­care costs are sky­rock­et­ing, there is an easy way for you and your fam­i­ly to stay healthy—preventive care services.

    Pre­ven­tive is defined as “used to stop some­thing bad from hap­pen­ing.” Pre­ven­tive care is care that thwarts off ill­ness or dis­ease thanks to reg­u­lar check-ups, coun­sel­ing, and screen­ings. When you sub­scribe to a health plan—regardless of whether it’s one offered by your work or one you pur­chase in the marketplace—most plans will include an array of pre­ven­tive care ser­vices free of charge.  So, where do you start with access­ing these ser­vices? It’s easy!

    Easy as 1–2‑3

    As long as you have sub­scribed to a health plan after 2010, those plan providers are required by law to offer basic pre­ven­tive care ser­vices to you and those cov­ered by your plan with no addi­tion­al copay, coin­sur­ance, or require­ment to meet a deductible. By uti­liz­ing this free resource, you are set­ting your­self up for greater health success—and it’s as easy as 1–2‑3!

         1. Vis­it your doc­tor for annu­al checkups.

    Annu­al exams allow doc­tors to iden­ti­fy dis­ease ear­li­er and man­age chron­ic con­di­tions clos­er. They also help your doc­tor to track any changes in your body over the years so that, should a dis­ease or ill­ness befall you, there is back­ground data from your pre­ven­tive care to refer to as they pre­scribe treat­ment. An easy way to remem­ber to sched­ule these annu­al doc­tor appoint­ments for both you and your fam­i­ly is to plan them around your birth­day each year. This is also help­ful for the doc­tor because as you age, you need addi­tion­al health screen­ings so they can have those rec­om­men­da­tions ready for you at your annu­al appointment.

         2. Stay up-to-date on immu­niza­tions and boosters.

    Just as an infant has an immu­niza­tion sched­ule that the pedi­a­tri­cian fol­lows to bol­ster the child’s immune sys­tem, so do old­er chil­dren and even adults. For instance, before chil­dren enter a cer­tain grade in school, they may be required to have a menin­gi­tis boost­er. Tetanus shots are only good for 10 years so once a decade, you’ll need to get a boost­er for this dis­ease which also may include the diph­the­ria vac­cine and some­times one for per­tus­sis. As you age, you may need the shin­gles vac­cine and oth­er shots for pre­ven­tion of pneu­mo­nia or the flu.

         3. Fol­low a care sched­ule for addi­tion­al age-relat­ed screenings.

    Because you are vis­it­ing your doc­tor annu­al­ly for reg­u­lar check­ups, they will like­ly alert you to any addi­tion­al screen­ings they rec­om­mend.  For instance, women ages 40–44 can begin get­ting mam­mo­grams to help detect breast can­cer. After age 44, it is rec­om­mend­ed they get this screen­ing annu­al­ly.  If you want to be pro-active and keep track of these addi­tion­al screen­ings your­self, there are tools online to do so.

    MyHealthfind­er is a site coor­di­nat­ed by the US Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices. Sim­ply enter your age and answer a few easy ques­tions, and the site will cull a list of sug­gest­ed screen­ings for you.

    Pub­licHealth is anoth­er site with sug­gest­ed pre­ven­tive care ser­vices. They have cre­at­ed a life­time care sched­ule, bro­ken into age brack­ets, with lists of screen­ings rec­om­mend­ed for each age by the Nation­al Insti­tute of Health (NIH).

    Keep­ing you and your fam­i­ly on the right track for health and well­ness is not hard! By fol­low these three sim­ple steps for your health care, you can sig­nif­i­cant­ly affect your health in the future. It’s as easy as 1–2‑3!

  • Telemedicine

    September 28, 2020

    Tags:

    In light of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, the health­care sys­tem in the US has changed. More and more, peo­ple are seek­ing out telemed­i­cine ser­vices ver­sus the tra­di­tion­al brick and mor­tar physician’s office. This trend also includes tele­men­tal health ser­vices as well. So what are the advan­tages of these ser­vices and how are they grow­ing to meet the need?

    Pandemic Launch

    The COVID-19 pan­dem­ic def­i­nite­ly thrust the use of telemed­i­cine for­ward but many health care providers have been using this type of ser­vice for years. What the pan­dem­ic did do is encour­age patients’ use of the tele­health ser­vices already in place. Tele­health is defined as “the prac­tice of com­mu­ni­cat­ing elec­tron­i­cal­ly with a physi­cian, typ­i­cal­ly via tele­phone or video chat.” While our hos­pi­tals and doc­tors’ offices have been over­crowd­ed with very sick COVID-19 patients, use of telemed­i­cine has allowed the bur­den felt in these loca­tions to be less­ened.  Patients call in for rou­tine exams and are many times seen and treat­ed faster than if they came in to the phys­i­cal office location.

    Advantages to Telehealth Services

    Accord­ing to a sur­vey by FAIR Health, there has been a 8,336% increase nation­al­ly in the use of tele­health from April 2019 to April 2020. Advan­tages of this increase and use include:

      • Enabling patients to fol­low shel­ter-in-place restric­tions by stay­ing home and away from hos­pi­tals, except for emergencies
      • Min­i­miz­ing risk to health care work­ers and patients by lim­it­ing expo­sure to the coro­n­avirus and oth­er diseases
      • Facil­i­tat­ing ser­vices for chron­ic patient mon­i­tor­ing, fol­low-up vis­its, ther­a­py appoint­ments and post-oper­a­tive care
      • Employ­ees see the offer­ing of telemed­i­cine ben­e­fits as a huge pri­or­i­ty in exam­in­ing employ­ment options

    Advantages to Telemental Health Services

    Like Tele­health ser­vices, use of Tele­men­tal Health ser­vices have also increased this year. A recent men­tal health sur­vey says that 7 in 10 employ­ees cite the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic as being the most stress­ful time in their careers. Car­ing for chil­dren who are out of school, car­ing for loved ones, finan­cial issues, and stress from job changes are some of the issues that employ­ees are fac­ing. Busi­ness own­ers see the ben­e­fit of tele­men­tal health as their employ­ees’ access these ser­vices in high­er num­bers. High lev­els of stress have been known to result in low­er pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, low­er morale, and high­er absen­teeism. Advan­tages for tele­men­tal health include:

    • The pro­vi­sion of tele­men­tal health ser­vices to patients liv­ing in rur­al and under-served areas has sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduced psy­chi­atric hos­pi­tal­iza­tion rates.
    • Low-income, home­bound seniors expe­ri­enced longer last­ing effects of tele­men­tal health than those who received in-per­son men­tal health services.
    • Men­tal health providers rarely have to per­form any phys­i­cal ser­vices on their patients, so tele­men­tal health is more plau­si­ble than oth­er types of tele­health services.
    • There is lit­tle or no dif­fer­ence in patient sat­is­fac­tion with tele­men­tal health when com­pared with face-to-face men­tal health consultations.
    • Although men­tal health pro­fes­sion­als are in short sup­ply, mobile devices are not.

    There are some sig­nif­i­cant advan­tages to the use of telemed­i­cine ser­vices. Zywave explains, “Vir­tu­al health­care is emerg­ing as a viable solu­tion to help lessen the bur­den on health­care facil­i­ties and staff while still pro­vid­ing indi­vid­u­als with the care they need.” Tele-ser­vices also reach more of the under-served pop­u­la­tion both for health care and men­tal health care. As con­sumers gain con­fi­dence in vir­tu­al liv­ing, the call for telemed­i­cine will also grow.

  • 9 Books Every HR Pro Should Read in 2020

    September 14, 2020

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    Quar­an­tine leaves us with a healthy chunk of time to reassess and spend time with the ones we love. But as quar­an­tine goes on, the work must go on as well and for HR pro­fes­sion­als, that means devel­op­ing pro­fes­sion­al­ly as much as every­one else with­in the organization.

    With all this time on your hands, a nice relax­ing read is not only good for your devel­op­ment, but also your health. To help you devel­op a read­ing list that can fuel your own growth, we’ve pro­vid­ed a quar­an­tine read­ing list of the best HR focused books to read in 2020.

    Enjoy.

    1. HR on Pur­pose: Devel­op­ing Delib­er­ate Peo­ple Pas­sion by Steve Brown

    A well-known thought leader in HR, Brown spends a great deal of time facil­i­tat­ing con­ver­sa­tions about the pos­si­bil­i­ties in HR. In this book, he looks to chal­lenge assump­tions and pre­con­ceived notions about what HR should be and instead chal­lenges the read­er to think of the pos­si­bil­i­ties and tap into their pas­sion for HR.

    1. HR from the Out­side In: Six Com­pe­ten­cies for the Future of Human Resources by Dave Ulrich, Jon Younger, Wayne Brock­bank and Mike Ulrich

    A cast of HR vet­er­ans has put togeth­er a hand­book of com­pe­ten­cies that sets the mod­ern HR pro­fes­sion­al up for a more strate­gic role with­in the busi­ness. The put for­ward the argu­ment that one of the most impor­tant roles of an HR prac­ti­tion­er is to be a cred­i­ble activist, both for the employ­ee and for the busi­ness as a whole.

    1. Gen­er­a­tion Z: A Cen­tu­ry in the Mak­ing by Corey Seemiller and Megan Grace

    When Mil­len­ni­als (Gen Y) hit the work­force it cre­at­ed a shift in expec­ta­tions of employ­ers, work­place cul­tures and the way employ­ers think about process­es and employ­ee rela­tion­ships. Now, a new gen­er­a­tion is enter­ing the work­force and their lifestyles, expec­ta­tions and world view are once again different.

    To man­age the Gen Z demo­graph­ic effec­tive­ly, HR lead­ers need to look at how the way this gen­er­a­tion man­ages mon­ey, pur­sues edu­ca­tion, val­ues their rela­tion­ships and what they want for their careers. This book explores these top­ics in a way that will help HR teams man­age the gen­er­a­tional diver­si­ty of their teams.

    1. Unleash­ing the Pow­er of Diver­si­ty: How to Open Minds for Good by Bjørn Z. Ekelund

    As cul­tures col­lide and the nature of work becomes more glob­al, there are dif­fer­ences which could divide teams if we can’t devel­op a com­mon lan­guage and a cul­ture that high­lights our com­mon strug­gles. In this book, the author unveils a step-by-step pro­gram for com­mu­ni­cat­ing across cul­tur­al lines to devel­op a cul­ture of trust that facil­i­tates greater diver­si­ty with­in the orga­ni­za­tion and the con­struc­tion of glob­al teams.

    1. Tal­ent Wins: The New Play­book for Putting Peo­ple First by Ram Cha­ran, Dominic Bar­ton, and Den­nis Carey

    Tal­ent plan­ning is chang­ing and requires a new way of doing things. This book uses exam­ples from some of the world’s largest com­pa­nies all the way down to Sil­i­con Val­ley star­tups to show how HR can become the part­ner the busi­ness needs to acquire, devel­op and man­age tal­ent that can meet the tech­no­log­i­cal and ana­lyt­i­cal demands of the mod­ern workplace.

    1. Feed­back (and Oth­er Dirty Words): Why We Fear It and How to Fix It by M. Tam­ra Chan­dler and Lau­ra Dowl­ing Grealish

    Good, hon­est feed­back can be dif­fi­cult to take, but as HR lead­ers, col­lect­ing feed­back and being able to pack­age it into con­struc­tive con­ver­sa­tions that fuel employ­ee growth is an art. In this book, the authors take a deep­er look at where neg­a­tive reac­tions to feed­back come from and how to lim­it neg­a­tive phys­i­cal and emo­tion­al respons­es to it. It intro­duces the three F’s of feed­back, (focused, fair and fre­quent) to help ease the ten­sion that some­times accom­pa­nies these discussions.

    1. Pre­dic­tive HR Ana­lyt­ics: Mas­ter­ing the HR Met­ric by Mar­tin R. Edwards and Kirsten Edwards

    Advanced HR met­rics can be dif­fi­cult, but are becom­ing a nec­es­sary part of the mod­ern HR pro­fes­sion­als work as employ­ee engage­ment and expe­ri­ence take cen­ter stage. Being able to pre­dict turnover, ana­lyze and fore­cast diver­si­ty and fine tune employ­ee inter­ven­tions are all key skills dis­cussed in this book. The authors focus on sta­tis­ti­cal tech­niques and pre­dic­tive ana­lyt­ics mod­els that can help improve the HR practitioner’s abil­i­ty to do those things in an eth­i­cal manner.

    1. Tal­ent Keep­ers: How Top Lead­ers Engage and Retain Their Best Per­form­ers by Christo­pher Mul­li­gan and Craig Taylor

    Through six case stud­ies, the authors of this book reveal how orga­ni­za­tions can devel­op and imple­ment employ­ee engage­ment plans that use tac­tics which have shown proven results. Start­ing from the time a new hire walks through the door to years into their devel­op­ment, this sys­temic approach will help HR lead­ers cre­ate a cul­ture that retains and nur­tures employ­ees to grow with­in the organization.

    1. Nine Lies About Work: A Free­think­ing Leader’s Guide to the Real World by Mar­cus Buck­ing­ham and Ash­ley Goodall

    Cul­ture is every­thing, but there are mis­con­cep­tions and lies that per­vade the work­place and cause dys­func­tion. That is the cen­tral tenet behind this book which seeks to iden­ti­fy those lies and high­light free­think­ing lead­ers are able to see through the fog to see the unique nature of their teams and reveal truths about the work­place or what the authors call the real world of work.

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on hrexchangenetwork.com

  • Tips to Maximize Your HSA Benefits

    September 8, 2020

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    Health Sav­ings Accounts (HSA) are great ways to save tax-free mon­ey for med­ical expens­es both in the cur­rent term, and for your retire­ment years. By mak­ing wise choic­es, you can max­i­mize the ben­e­fit of these fan­tas­tic sav­ings accounts. Let’s take a quick look at the basics and then explore some tips on how to make your HSA mon­ey grow.

    What is an HSA? 

    Accord­ing to the web­site HealthCare.gov, a Health Sav­ings Account is a type of sav­ings account that lets you set aside mon­ey on a pre-tax basis to pay for qual­i­fied med­ical expens­es. By using untaxed dol­lars in an HSA to pay for deductibles, copay­ments, coin­sur­ance, and some oth­er expens­es, you may be able to low­er your over­all health care costs. HSA funds gen­er­al­ly may not be used to pay premiums.

    In order to con­tribute to an HSA, you must be enrolled in a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP). A HDHP is defined as a plan with a high­er deductible than a tra­di­tion­al insur­ance plan. The month­ly pre­mi­um is usu­al­ly low­er, but you pay more health care costs your­self before the insur­ance com­pa­ny starts to pay its share (your deductible). A high deductible plan (HDHP) can be com­bined with a health sav­ings account (HSA), allow­ing you to pay for cer­tain med­ical expens­es with mon­ey free from fed­er­al taxes.

    HSA vs Tra­di­tion­al Insurance

    As men­tioned, you are able to open a Health Sav­ings Account when you enroll in your employer’s High Deductible Health Plan. A HDHP is dif­fer­ent from tra­di­tion­al insur­ance in that with tra­di­tion­al insur­ance, you and your employ­er both con­tribute to the cost of your health insur­ance each month—otherwise known as the pre­mi­um. You then have a fixed cost—a “co-pay”—that you pay when you vis­it a doc­tor, pay for pre­scrip­tions, or have a health pro­ce­dure. With a HDHP, the patient is incen­tivized to shop around for low­er cost doc­tor vis­its and pro­ce­dures since they are pay­ing for those costs out of their pock­et at the full amount from the begin­ning until the high deductible amount is met.

    Now, when used in tan­dem, the two com­po­nents of the HDHP and the HSA have the poten­tial to save the insured par­ty mon­ey on their health care expens­es. Here’s how it works:

    1. Con­tri­bu­tion Limits

    Each year, the gov­ern­ment puts a cap on the amount of mon­ey that an indi­vid­ual and a fam­i­ly can con­tribute to their HSA. For 2020, an indi­vid­ual can con­tribute up to $3550 and a fam­i­ly can add in $7100 to their account. In 2021, the amounts both increase: indi­vid­u­als will be $3600 and fam­i­lies will be able to deposit $7200.

    1. Triple Tax Benefits

    When you con­tribute to your HSA, your mon­ey gets a triple tax ben­e­fit. There is a 0% tax on deposit­ed mon­ey, your mon­ey grows tax-free while in the account, and, when used for qual­i­fied med­ical expens­es, you can with­draw the mon­ey tax-free.

    1. Roll-over

    The mon­ey that you deposit into your HSA is yours to keep–forever. If you change jobs, the mon­ey fol­lows you. If you don’t use the mon­ey you’ve con­tributed by the end of the year, it rolls over to the next year with no penalty.

    Tips to Max­i­mize the Ben­e­fits of Your HSA This Year

    Don’t be com­pla­cent to let your tax-free hard-earned mon­ey sim­ply sit in your HSA all year! You can by mak­ing some wise choic­es. Here’s some tips on how to do this:

    1. Do you get a bonus at the end of the year? You can use that bonus mon­ey to bulk up your HSA until April 15 of the fol­low­ing cal­en­dar year. Just make sure you don’t con­tribute more than the annu­al allowed amount or you will pay a 6% tax on the overage.
    2. Once you hit the min­i­mum con­tri­bu­tion amount for your par­tic­u­lar plan, you can invest a por­tion of the con­tri­bu­tions in an IRA account and watch your tax-free dol­lars grow even more! Check with your plan man­ag­er regard­ing the min­i­mum amount required.
    3. There is a once-in-a-life­time allowance for you to move mon­ey over from a tra­di­tion­al or Roth IRA to your HSA. This allows you to kick­start that HSA so that you can begin using that mon­ey for expens­es right away. The annu­al con­tri­bu­tion lim­it still applies to this sce­nario for the indi­vid­ual and fam­i­ly amount.
    4. Long term care insur­ance is expen­sive and you can use your HSA mon­ey to help pay for those insur­ance pre­mi­ums. Again, check with your plan man­ag­er to make sure you are stay­ing with­in the allowed range for using this mon­ey for those premiums.
    5. Final­ly, name your spouse as the ben­e­fi­cia­ry of your account. When you pass away, your spouse will have access to these funds with the same tax ben­e­fits as you did. In fact, your HSA mon­ey can even con­tin­ue to grow tax-free after you pass.

    Find­ing ways to save mon­ey is always a good idea. Find­ing ways to max­i­mize the ben­e­fit of your already saved mon­ey is even better!

  • There’s a mandate? Yes, there is an individual health insurance mandate in California | by Jordan Shields, Partner

    September 4, 2020

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    It began…in Jan­u­ary.  While the ACA man­date was dropped in 2019, Cal­i­for­nia picked up the cud­gel, lit­er­al­ly.  Now they have come up with the form, which is the same as what the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment was using.  Cal­i­for­nia employ­ers, for their part, will fur­nish Form 1094C and 1095C to the State’s Fran­chise Tax Board.  Cur­rent­ly, how­ev­er, the Fed­er­al guide­lines for return­ing these forms allow until March 2, 2021 – but Cal­i­for­nia requires the forms to be pro­vid­ed to the Fran­chise Tax Board by Jan­u­ary 31, 2021.

  • What You Need to Know Before Disciplining or Terminating an Employee

    September 1, 2020

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    The prospect of cor­rec­tive action or ter­mi­na­tion makes a lot of man­agers ner­vous. That’s under­stand­able. For employ­ees, being dis­ci­plined or los­ing their job can be any­thing from mod­er­ate­ly embar­rass­ing to finan­cial­ly dev­as­tat­ing, but it’s rarely a hap­py occa­sion. For the employ­ers, these actions always come with some risk, and there are plen­ty of legal dan­ger zones an employ­er can end up in if cor­rec­tive action isn’t done properly.

    Here are some tips from our HR Advi­sors to help you avoid these pit­falls and make cor­rec­tive action pro­duc­tive for everyone:

    Every­one in the orga­ni­za­tion, but espe­cial­ly those respon­si­ble for dis­ci­plin­ing or ter­mi­nat­ing employ­ees, should under­stand exact­ly what the organization’s poli­cies are. When poli­cies aren’t clear or peo­ple don’t under­stand them, their enforce­ment can become incon­sis­tent and sub­ject to bias. In these cir­cum­stances, dis­ci­pline and ter­mi­na­tion will appear unfair. Worse, they may open the orga­ni­za­tion up to cost­ly dis­crim­i­na­tion claims.

    Man­agers should fol­low con­sis­tent dis­ci­pli­nary prac­tices. Man­age­ment meet­ings are a good time for the lead­er­ship team to make sure they’re using the same prac­tices for dis­ci­pline and ter­mi­na­tion. Incon­sis­ten­cies in the orga­ni­za­tion, as not­ed above, can lead to alle­ga­tions of discrimination.

    Inves­ti­gate alle­ga­tions before you act on them. Some­times, in a rush to cor­rect wrong­do­ing or poor per­for­mance, a man­ag­er will dis­ci­pline an employ­ee after hear­ing only one side of the sto­ry. For exam­ple, a restau­rant cus­tomer com­plains about rude ser­vice, and the serv­er is imme­di­ate­ly ter­mi­nat­ed and giv­en no chance to explain what hap­pened from their point of view. Such adverse actions tell employ­ees they can be penal­ized even if they do noth­ing wrong, caus­ing them to feel resent­ment, fear, and dis­trust. And the man­ag­er can find them­selves in an awk­ward ter­mi­na­tion meet­ing if the ter­mi­nat­ed employ­ee can prove then and there that they didn’t do what they were accused of doing.

    Writ­ten warn­ings are best draft­ed by the man­ag­er and reviewed by HR. An employee’s man­ag­er often has first­hand knowl­edge of an infrac­tion or unac­cept­able per­for­mance, so they’re in the best posi­tion to draft the writ­ten warn­ing. HR can col­lab­o­rate with the man­ag­er by review­ing the warn­ing, ensur­ing that it is fac­tu­al, unemo­tion­al, thor­ough, clear, tied to a com­pa­ny pol­i­cy, and con­sis­tent with how oth­ers have been giv­en writ­ten warn­ings previously.

    Cor­rec­tive action is best done by the employee’s direct man­ag­er. When cor­rec­tive action is deliv­ered by the man­ag­er, it tells the employ­ee that the man­ag­er is invest­ed in the employee’s suc­cess and is will­ing to help the employ­ee improve. Leav­ing cor­rec­tive action to HR tells employ­ees that they’re “some­one else’s prob­lem” and that their man­ag­er may not be ful­ly vest­ed in the company’s poli­cies and prac­tices. It also cre­ates an unnec­es­sar­i­ly adver­sar­i­al rela­tion­ship between employ­ees and HR, which can under­mine HR’s abil­i­ty to make pos­i­tive, com­pa­ny-wide changes.

    Dur­ing a dis­ci­pli­nary meet­ing, a wit­ness can help doc­u­ment what was said and done as well as pro­vide logis­ti­cal details. Not every dis­ci­pli­nary meet­ing needs a wit­ness, though, espe­cial­ly if the issue is a minor one, or it’s a first con­ver­sa­tion about per­for­mance issues. In these cas­es, whether to have a wit­ness present can be left to each manager’s dis­cre­tion. A wit­ness is more use­ful for a meet­ing that is like­ly to esca­late, either due to the nature of the issue or dis­ci­pline, or the tem­per of the employee.

    Fair­ness and cour­tesy can go a long way, even when ter­mi­na­tion is nec­es­sary. No ter­mi­na­tion meet­ing will be pleas­ant, but they’re often more unpleas­ant than they need to be. Good prac­tices here include being hon­est and clear about the rea­son for ter­mi­na­tion, not rely­ing on being an “at will” employ­er to avoid telling the employ­ee why they’re being let go (they’ll gen­er­al­ly assume the worst), and hold­ing the meet­ing pri­vate­ly and at the end of the day so that the employ­ee can clean out their desk and exit the work­place with­out an audi­ence. What­ev­er a man­ag­er can do to help the employ­ee leave with their dig­ni­ty intact will be help­ful in pre­vent­ing future issues with the now-for­mer employee.

    Dis­ci­pline and ter­mi­na­tion can be in the employee’s best interest—allowing bad behav­ior and poor per­for­mance to go on unad­dressed does them no favors. If an employ­ee isn’t doing a good job and is unable or unwill­ing to improve, they’re not help­ing the employ­er, their team­mates, or them­selves by stay­ing in the orga­ni­za­tion. Chances are good that they’d be more suc­cess­ful and hap­pi­er doing some­thing else for some­one else. And that’s okay!

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on thinkhr.com

  • Gamification and Open Enrollment

    August 24, 2020

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    Open enroll­ment sea­son is upon us and many com­pa­nies are choos­ing to host “vir­tu­al ben­e­fits fairs” instead of the tra­di­tion­al “walk and talk” fairs. Open enroll­ment meet­ings have turned into live stream­ing events or record­ed webi­na­rs. Incen­tiviz­ing employ­ee par­tic­i­pa­tion in these areas can come in a vari­ety of ways but the newest trend is gamification.

    Gam­i­fi­ca­tion has been defined as “behav­ior mod­i­fi­ca­tion using tech­nol­o­gy.” It involves reward­ing employ­ee behav­iors that help accom­plish a company’s goals and objec­tives through play­ing some sort of com­pet­i­tive game. For exam­ple, com­pa­ny ABC is hav­ing their open enroll­ment meet­ings online. They want all employ­ees to watch the overview pre­sen­ta­tion by the HR depart­ment as well as view the enroll­ment resources. Through gam­i­fi­ca­tion, the com­pa­ny cre­ates a series of mile­stones on a vir­tu­al game­board. Dif­fer­ent depart­ments are chal­lenged to work their way through the mile­stones and the first team suc­cess­ful­ly com­plet­ing the game wins. The win­ning team receives brag­ging rights and a cash reward. Anoth­er option for this same con­test is that the indi­vid­ual earns a reward for pro­gress­ing through the game­board. This exam­ple isn’t tied to a team-dri­ven com­pe­ti­tion, but instead an incen­tive for the indi­vid­ual to com­plete the open enroll­ment process.

    WHY GAMIFICATION WORKS

    It’s been report­ed that 75% of the total glob­al work­force in 2025 will be made up of mil­len­ni­als.  That’s three out of every 4 work­ers who are very engaged online. Gam­ing in gen­er­al has a large appeal to this age group so tying it to work­place objec­tives results in high­er par­tic­i­pa­tion on the whole. Addi­tion­al­ly, the act of accom­plish­ing a task releas­es dopamine in the brain. This is the neu­ro­trans­mit­ter that caus­es you to feel excit­ed and your brain likes that! In fact, your brain will begin asso­ci­at­ing eupho­ria with com­plet­ing, what one pre­vi­ous­ly thought was “bor­ing”, work. This is called the “reward cycle” and can be achieved through gam­i­fi­ca­tion in the workplace.

    HOW TO IMPLEMENT GAMIFICATION

    Don’t go into this sea­son with the expec­ta­tion that gam­i­fi­ca­tion will solve all your past issues. It won’t. But what it will do is, per­haps, achieve some pret­ty big behav­ior changes like increas­ing the edu­ca­tion lev­el of your employ­ees about what ben­e­fits they receive with their plan. What it won’t do is make enroll­ment delays dis­ap­pear!  So, how do you get start­ed? There are great online sources that offer pack­ages to fit your objec­tives and goals for your com­pa­ny. FinancesOn­line has com­piled a list of the top five most pop­u­lar gam­i­fi­ca­tion soft­ware com­pa­nies. Beyond that, you can sim­ply make a “wish list” of open enroll­ment tasks you want your employ­ees to com­plete and set an award for achiev­ing those milestones—it doesn’t have to be big—make it a tshirt or a depart­ment hap­py hour with a shaved ice truck! Don’t for­get to  cre­ate a sim­ple game­board either online or in per­son for every­one to see the chal­lenges and the rewards.

    Most Pop­u­lar Gam­i­fi­ca­tion Software

    1. Tan­go Card. An all-in-one gam­i­fi­ca­tion plat­form that helps orga­ni­za­tions deliv­er incen­tives to cus­tomers, employ­ees, sup­pli­ers, and part­ners. Our Tan­go Card review offers a detailed walk­through of the product’s capability.
    2. Influitive. A cus­tomer-cen­tric gam­i­fi­ca­tion solu­tion designed to help busi­ness­es reward their loy­al cus­tomers. This Influitive review offers a com­pre­hen­sive tour of the prod­uct features.
    3. Badgeville. A reli­able gam­i­fi­ca­tion soft­ware that bun­dles a cus­tomer loy­al­ty pro­gram and employ­ee incen­tive sys­tem into a sin­gle plat­form. Our Badgeville review will help you learn all about this pow­er­ful solution.
    4. Hoopla. A pow­er­ful incen­tive plat­form that lever­ages live game mechan­ics to invig­o­rate burnt-out employ­ees work­ing in fast-paced envi­ron­ments like tele­mar­ket­ing and call cen­ters. This Hoopla review details its full capability.
    5. Get­Badges. A reli­able gam­i­fi­ca­tion soft­ware designed to help soft­ware devel­op­ment teams incen­tivize teams dur­ing prod­uct devel­op­ment stages. This Get­Badges review will walk you through the product’s features.

    This is the per­fect time to start some­thing new for your open enroll­ment peri­od because the land­scape of the tra­di­tion­al office is all some­thing new. Peo­ple are learn­ing to expect the unex­pect­ed so jump on board and offer them a new way of being reward­ed for com­plet­ing enroll­ment tasks. But, remem­ber, if an employ­ee isn’t already moti­vat­ed to work towards a goal, gam­i­fi­ca­tion isn’t going to make them start.  Gam­i­fi­ca­tion only ampli­fies exist­ing motivation.

  • Making the Workplace a Safe Place to Speak Up

    August 18, 2020

    Tags: ,

    Right now, orga­ni­za­tions across the coun­try are ask­ing them­selves what they can do to make their work­places more inclu­sive, diverse, and equi­table, par­tic­u­lar­ly for Black employ­ees. They’re host­ing con­ver­sa­tions, acknowl­edg­ing areas where they’ve fall­en short, and iden­ti­fy­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for improvement.

    For these efforts to be suc­cess­ful, employ­ees need to be able to speak freely, offer­ing crit­i­cal and can­did feed­back about indi­vid­ual behav­iors, work­place prac­tices, and orga­ni­za­tion­al poli­cies. None of this can hap­pen, how­ev­er, if peo­ple believe it isn’t safe for them to speak up.

    It often isn’t.

    Employ­ees who report harass­ment and dis­crim­i­na­tion, speak can­did­ly to their super­vi­sors, or chal­lenge the sta­tus quo often find them­selves exclud­ed from projects, denied a pro­mo­tion, or out of a job. Accord­ing to a study by the Equal Employ­ment Oppor­tu­ni­ty Com­mis­sion (EEOC), 75% of employ­ees who spoke out against work­place mis­treat­ment faced some form of retal­i­a­tion. Giv­en this real­i­ty, it falls on employ­ers to show their employ­ees that they can report inci­dents of dis­crim­i­na­tion, iden­ti­fy insti­tu­tion­al fail­ures, and rec­om­mend solu­tions all with­out fear of retal­i­a­tion. Pre­vent­ing retal­i­a­tion is part of that. Here are a few oth­er ways to estab­lish a firm foun­da­tion of trust, open­ness, and respect:

    Admit mis­takes and make amends
    Employ­ees will be reluc­tant to hold their lead­ers account­able if their lead­ers nev­er admit fault or acknowl­edge areas for growth. If, how­ev­er, lead­ers show a will­ing­ness to be vul­ner­a­ble and a desire to learn and be bet­ter, they can help put their employ­ees’ minds at ease and more effec­tive­ly solic­it their feed­back. For exam­ple, an employ­er might acknowl­edge that they hadn’t pre­vi­ous­ly made diver­si­ty a pri­or­i­ty for the com­pa­ny, but that going for­ward, they will strate­gi­cal­ly place job ads where under­rep­re­sent­ed job appli­cants are more like­ly to see them, and they’ll iden­ti­fy ways to make the work­place wel­com­ing and inclu­sive. State­ments like this, when fol­lowed by action, open the door to hon­est com­mu­ni­ca­tion between employ­ees and their employ­er. They build trust.

    Reward instead of retaliate
    Cre­at­ing a real sense of safe­ty takes more than pre­vent­ing retal­i­a­tion. Employ­ees need to see that pro­vid­ing can­did and crit­i­cal feed­back is met with appre­ci­a­tion, grat­i­tude, and action from lead­er­ship. In oth­er words, it has to be reward­ed. Employ­ees who iden­ti­fy prob­lems in the work­place or pro­pose solu­tions shouldn’t fear being ostra­cized or hav­ing their career derailed by a venge­ful peer or super­vi­sor. On the con­trary, they should be rec­og­nized as lead­ers in the orga­ni­za­tion (infor­mal or oth­er­wise), giv­en oppor­tu­ni­ties to make a fur­ther impact, and empow­ered to help make deci­sions that ele­vate the work­place, its cul­ture, and its prac­tices. Con­sid­er shout-outs from the CEO, com­pa­ny awards, strate­gic bonus­es, pro­mo­tions, and career devel­op­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties. These show sincerity.

    Tol­er­ate no retaliation
    For some employ­ers, the hard­est part of build­ing trust will be appro­pri­ate­ly dis­ci­plin­ing any­one who vio­lates it, espe­cial­ly if the one being dis­ci­plined is a star per­former or high up in the chain of com­mand. One instance of retal­i­a­tion, if not imme­di­ate­ly addressed, can under­mine months or years of work and ruin even a stel­lar rep­u­ta­tion for diver­si­ty, inclu­sion, and equi­ty. Any retal­i­a­tion, for any rea­son, no mat­ter who does it, must not be tol­er­at­ed. For­tu­nate­ly, swift action to dis­ci­pline the offend­er and pre­vent future instances can help repair the dam­age and restore trust. It shows you’re serious.

    Psy­cho­log­i­cal safe­ty takes time to estab­lish, even in com­pa­nies with­out a his­to­ry of overt retal­i­a­tion. Imple­ment­ing the three strate­gies above, how­ev­er, will lay the ground­work for a cul­ture in which employ­ees feel safe speak­ing up for diver­si­ty, inclu­sion, and equity.

    By Kyle Cupp

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on thinkhr.com

  • Family Caregivers: 5 Tools to Avoid Burnout

    August 10, 2020

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    Accord­ing to the Nation­al Cen­ter on Care­giv­ing, a fam­i­ly care­giv­er (or infor­mal care­giv­er) is “an unpaid indi­vid­ual (for exam­ple, a spouse, part­ner, fam­i­ly mem­ber, friend, or neigh­bor) involved in assist­ing oth­ers with activ­i­ties of dai­ly liv­ing and/or med­ical tasks.”  In the US, 85% of care­givers care for a rel­a­tive or loved one with 42% of those care­givers sup­port­ing an aging par­ent. Since ear­ly 2020, we have seen this vul­ner­a­ble aging pop­u­la­tion fall prey to the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic. As a result, those pro­vid­ing care for this group have also begun to fall prey to this virus’s demise in the form of care-fatigue. We’ve com­piled a toolk­it of some sim­ple resources to help the care­givers that are on the front­line of care for their loved ones avoid burnout.

    5 Tools to Avoid Burnout

    1. Plan Your Communication

    When tak­ing your loved one to any sort of appoint­ment, plan out what you hope to accom­plish while you are there. Make a check­list of what items you want to dis­cuss with the provider. Ask your loved one what they would like to talk about as well.  In addi­tion, keep your oth­er fam­i­ly mem­bers informed about the care you are pro­vid­ing by estab­lish­ing a week­ly check-in whether through email or Face­time or phone call.

    1. Don’t Go It Alone

    Pro­vid­ing dai­ly care can be immense­ly reward­ing but can also be a phys­i­cal­ly and emo­tion­al­ly exhaust­ing job. When the job seems big­ger than you can han­dle alone, do some research into com­mu­ni­ty resources for assis­tance. There are net­works of care­giv­ing agen­cies that can help with every­thing from per­son­al care to behav­ioral issues. Deter­mine what you can afford to pay for ser­vices and pri­or­i­tize those that are most need­ed for you to main­tain your own health.

    1. Self-Care is a Neces­si­ty, Not a Luxury

    Have you heard the say­ing “you can­not fill some­one else’s cup if your own cup is emp­ty”? In order for you to con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing care for your loved ones, you must tend to your own care. This involves tak­ing reg­u­lar breaks through­out the day—maybe for a quick walk or some exercise—to clear your head and refo­cus your ener­gy. This can also include seek­ing out respite care so that your imme­di­ate fam­i­ly can go out for din­ner or even away for a few days. Self-care is a chance to recharge your bat­ter­ies so you are ful­ly able to care for others.

    1. Teach Them Tech

    This may seem like a daunt­ing task, but teach­ing your aging loved one some easy tech­nol­o­gy tips can free up some time in your dai­ly sched­ule for oth­er press­ing tasks. Help them use Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home to check the weath­er or call a friend or even to set alarms and reminders. Anoth­er handy tech tool is intro­duc­ing them to the con­ve­nience and safe­ty of telemed­i­cine. Many elder­ly folks are unsure of tran­si­tion­ing to this kind of care, but with your sup­port, this can be a great resource for their phys­i­cal health appointments.

    1. Prac­tice Positivity

    Frus­tra­tion and fatigue are easy traps to find your­self in when pro­vid­ing care for oth­ers. The way to best com­bat this is through find­ing ways to reframe your thoughts. The author of the Blue Zone series, Dan Buet­tner, trav­eled the world to study the hap­pi­ness of peo­ple in dif­fer­ent parts of the world and found that if you find a bal­ance of plea­sure, pur­pose, and pride in life, you can achieve hap­pi­ness even in tough, chal­leng­ing times. You can change the way you approach the care­giv­ing tasks in your day by seek­ing this bal­ance of the 3 P’s.

    As the “new nor­mal” begins in our world, you can also begin a new approach to your role as a fam­i­ly care­giv­er. Com­mit to using these trusty tools for avoid­ing burnout. They are time-test­ed and will help you achieve the cor­rect, and hap­pi­ness-inspir­ing bal­ance that best serves both you and your loved ones.

    Resources:

    Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion of Retired Per­sons (AARP) “Care­giv­er Burnout: Steps for Cop­ing with Stress”

    U.S. Admin­is­tra­tion on Aging—Elder­care Locator

    Fam­i­ly Care­giv­er Alliance

    Caring.com—Fam­i­ly Care­giv­er Basics

    Care­giv­er Action Net­work—10 Tips for Fam­i­ly Caregivers

  • In Depth: The Future of Work Part 2

    August 4, 2020

    Tags: ,

    The future of work is now. You’ve prob­a­bly heard that being said since the onset of COVID-19 and the growth of remote work. Well, it’s true and as the nature of how work gets done changes, so too does the way HR’s func­tion plays out.

    In part 1, we took a look at cur­rent trends, spoke to experts and focused on the learn­ing and devel­op­ment are­na when it comes to the future of work. In part 2, we’ll dive into oth­er HR spe­cial­ties and con­sid­er how they are chang­ing as well.

    Talent Acquisition

    In addi­tion to tal­ent acqui­si­tion, there are oth­er areas that need some trans­for­ma­tion. That includes human resources itself.

    “It’s absolute­ly crit­i­cal to put in the time to learn new things, espe­cial­ly when it comes to HR Tech­nol­o­gy. Don’t let fear of the unknown, or a lack of under­stand­ing about tech­nol­o­gy scare you away,” Tra­cie Spo­nen­berg, Chief Peo­ple Offi­cer of the Gran­ite Group said.

    And the sta­tis­tics are cer­tain­ly on her side. Accord­ing to a report by Har­ris Inter­ac­tive and Eightfold.ai, those com­pa­nies adopt­ing HR are 19% more effec­tive in reduc­ing the time HR spends on admin­is­tra­tive tasks.

    While we’ve seen con­tin­ued changes to the pro­fes­sion as a result of tech­nol­o­gy, we’ve also seen a real need for HR prac­ti­tion­ers to focus on employ­ees at the same time. HR automation/robotic process automa­tion (RPA) pro­vides the abil­i­ty for the focus to be shared and mak­ing sure goals are met. Some of those admin­is­tra­tive tasks include ben­e­fits man­age­ment, form pro­cess­ing and even employ­ee ques­tions relat­ed to poli­cies and pro­ce­dures. Chat bots are help­ful in this par­tic­u­lar instance.

    Addi­tion­al­ly, automa­tion with the help of pro­vid­ed data can reduce pain points and dri­ve change across the busi­ness. For instance, in a man­u­al process, there is some lev­el of human error that can hap­pen. While errors in automa­tion do occur, it is at a much low­er rate. Automa­tion can be used to auto­mate forms and work­flows that avoid print­ing, sign­ing and scan­ning. It can also auto­mate the dis­sem­i­na­tion of those doc­u­ments to ensure they are deliv­ered to the appro­pri­ate peo­ple. And, it can also help in pulling data, fill­ing out sys­tems and data­bas­es and ele­vat­ing man­u­al data entry.

    “If HR takes the time to auto­mate the rou­tine day-to-day tasks and ‘paper­work,’ we can be free to real­ly dig into strat­e­gy and peo­ple devel­op­ment — coach­ing, train­ing and devel­op­ing our team mem­bers to be pre­pared for the future of work — what­ev­er that may mean to our indi­vid­ual indus­tries and com­pa­nies,” Spo­nen­berg said.

    Remote Work

    In addi­tion to being pre­pared for the future of work as Spo­nen­berg said, HR must keep an eye on where work is going to be hap­pen­ing. There aren’t many places where it’s hap­pen­ing in office build­ings any­more. It’s hap­pen­ing in home offices and pub­lic spaces that can accom­mo­date social dis­tanc­ing. It’s like­ly to stay that way as more and more work­ers have embraced flex­i­ble sched­ul­ing and remote work.

    Remote work has quick­ly become a real­i­ty for many dif­fer­ent indus­tries, but that trend was already occur­ring before the pan­dem­ic. There had already been a 173% increase in peo­ple work­ing remote­ly since 2005. Addi­tion­al­ly, 75% of work­ers say they’re more pro­duc­tive at home.

    Some of the rea­sons giv­en include few­er dis­trac­tions and less com­mut­ing. This presents a fair amount of chal­lenge. A big one cen­ters on engage­ment. Remote work­ers aren’t that much dif­fer­ent from brick-and-mor­tar employ­ees and the con­cerns are sim­i­lar. Remote work­ers, just like those sit­ting in the office, are at risk for leav­ing the orga­ni­za­tion with­in the first year and even leav­ing to pur­sue oth­er oppor­tu­ni­ties to advance. That means they need just as much atten­tion when it comes to engage­ment. In some instances, more atten­tion is necessary.

    Stemming the Tide

    To solve issues relat­ed to the reten­tion of remote work­ers, first think about set­ting expec­ta­tions. The whole point of remote work is not hav­ing to go into the office. As such flex­i­ble work sched­ul­ing is typ­i­cal­ly a piece of the over­all remote work­ing strat­e­gy. To be more to the point – work­ers prob­a­bly aren’t work­ing a 9‑to‑5 shift if they’re off-site. That being said, man­agers can set par­tic­u­lar expec­ta­tions such as times the employ­ee is expect­ed to be “on the clock.” Some peo­ple refer to these as “busy hours” or “office hours.” It’s dur­ing this time remote work­ers should be expect­ed to be prompt in their respons­es to emails and phone calls as well as be avail­able to col­lab­o­rate with the team.

    Sec­ond­ly, these work­ers must be includ­ed and that requires atten­tion-to-detail and tech­nol­o­gy. If a team is meet­ing at the office to dis­cuss strat­e­gy or any­thing for that mat­ter, remote work­ers should be allowed to par­tic­i­pate. They should actu­al­ly be expect­ed to do so. With tools such as Zoom and Skype avail­able, there’s no rea­son they should not be includ­ed in the conversation.

    Final­ly, think about rewards. There’s a mis­con­cep­tion that remote work­ers don’t work near­ly as much as those peo­ple sit­ting in an office. That is very far from the truth. In most instances, remote work­ers work longer hours than those in the office; about 46 hours a week. That being said, it’s impor­tant to reward these work­ers. If they are hit­ting their goals, that needs to be rec­og­nized. That nat­u­ral­ly ties into productivity.

    There is some real con­cern remote work­ers, in addi­tion to alleged­ly work­ing less, aren’t near­ly as pro­duc­tive as their in office coun­ter­parts. Again, that’s a mis­con­cep­tion. Look to CTrip, China’s largest trav­el agency. A pro­fes­sor from Stan­ford stud­ied whether or not remote work was “ben­e­fi­cial or harm­ful for pro­duc­tiv­i­ty.” It took two years to com­plete the study and what the pro­fes­sor found is a pro­found increase in pro­duc­tiv­i­ty for a group of remote work­ers over their in-office counterparts.

    It wasn’t all “sun­shine and rain­bows”, how­ev­er. Those remote work­ers did report an increase in feel­ing lone­ly and many report­ed they didn’t want to work from home all the time. In the end, the rec­om­men­da­tion was to cre­ate a hybrid of sorts; one that bal­anced work­ing from home and in the office.

    Words of Advice

    There is no stop­ping the future of work. In fact, as this report has explained it’s already here. While it is a con­cern for every HR pro­fes­sion­al work­ing today and those who are about to enter the prac­tice, there are words of encour­age­ment to be shared.

    By Mason Stevenson

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on hrexchangenetwork.com

  • Employee Engagement in a Post-COVID Workplace

    July 27, 2020

    Tags: ,

    “When peo­ple are finan­cial­ly invest­ed, they want a return. When peo­ple are emo­tion­al­ly invest­ed, they want to con­tribute.” — Simon Sinek

    The COVID-19 pan­dem­ic has taught us many things. First, it has taught us that empa­thy and kind­ness goes a long way. We’ve learned that as indi­vid­u­als, com­mu­ni­ties, and as a nation, that we can do hard things when we work togeth­er. Final­ly, this pan­dem­ic has taught us that the rela­tion­ship between employ­er and employ­ee is a valu­able one. How much the employ­ee feels val­ued by their employ­er is called “engage­ment.” And this feel­ing of val­ue is one that more and more com­pa­nies are invest­ing in in a post-COVID environment.

    Employ­ee engage­ment is when an employ­ee feels “high lev­els of involve­ment (pas­sion and absorp­tion) in the work and the orga­ni­za­tion (pride and iden­ti­ty) as well as affec­tive ener­gy (enthu­si­asm and alert­ness) and a sense of self-pres­ence.” Let’s dive in and look at some fast facts on this sub­ject and how to increase engage­ment in this new work­space we have found our world occupying.

     

    BY THE NUMBERS

    • 34% of employ­ees and 35% of employ­ers stat­ed they felt engaged in their work in a 2019 Gallup poll.
    • 38% of employ­ees now say they are “high­ly involved in, enthu­si­as­tic about and com­mit­ted to their work and work­place” via a May 2020 Gallup poll.
    • This is the high­est report­ed engage­ment since Gallup began mea­sur­ing this top­ic in 2000.

     

    BOTTOM LINE

    • Unen­gaged employ­ees low­er pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, inno­va­tion, and the bot­tom line.
    • Engaged employ­ees have low­er absen­teeism and low­er turnover.
    • When an employ­ee believes that they are being heard and seen as a val­ued invest­ment, they feel empow­ered to do their best work.
    • Teams that report being engaged in the work­place have 21% high­er prof­itabil­i­ty than those who report being unengaged.

     

    HOMESCHOOL

    • One way to cre­ate engage­ment in the work­place is to pro­mote learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties at home for employ­ees. This can be done in vir­tu­al work­shops for remote workers.
    • If a company’s invest­ment is in learn­ing and devel­op­ment, this shows the employ­ee that their employ­er sees their future as important.
    • Pos­i­tive results of invest­ing in work­force edu­ca­tion include increased employ­ee engage­ment, more inno­va­tion, and increased under­stand­ing of the company’s goals.
    • Remote employ­ees who par­tic­i­pate in a company’s vir­tu­al train­ing report that beyond the edu­ca­tion­al ben­e­fit they receive, they also feel as though they are being equipped with new skills for han­dling stress­ful sit­u­a­tions once they are able to return to work.

     

    RESOURCES

    There are numer­ous blogs and arti­cles and cre­ative edu­ca­tion­al inter­ac­tion sites to keep employ­ees engaged and learn­ing while remote. Below are some fun and cre­ative sites to help you cre­ate your own engage­ment cam­paign for your organization.

     

  • How We Learn

    July 20, 2020

    Tags:

    “Every­one learns dif­fer­ent­ly” is a phrase we have all heard at some time in our edu­ca­tion­al endeav­ors. It may have been over­heard from your par­ents as they explained to your teacher why you have to get up and move all the time dur­ing class. You may have heard it said in high school as a com­mu­ni­ca­tions teacher gave you exam­ples of learn­ing styles. This phrase may have even been said recent­ly as you sat through a lead­er­ship sem­i­nar at work as the pre­sen­ter encour­aged you to speak to the dif­fer­ent learn­ers you will encounter at the office. What­ev­er the case, it’s true! Now, let’s learn!

    Three Types of Learners

    1. Visu­al—This is the biggest pop­u­la­tion of learn­ers out there. A whop­ping 65% of peo­ple say they best learn with visu­al aids. These learn­ers will be the ones doo­dling dur­ing your meet­ing or tak­ing copi­ous notes. They are the group that says, “Don’t read it to me. I need to see it.” Your cre­ative types in the office will most like­ly fall into this category.
    2. Audi­to­ry—Our next learn­ing group (30%) is made up of those learn­ers that need to hear it out loud to retain infor­ma­tion. As you inter­act with and lead your audi­to­ry learn­ers, remem­ber that your voice is impor­tant to their under­stand­ing of the sub­ject mat­ter. Fluc­tu­ate your tone and pitch. Ask open-end­ed ques­tions so that they can ver­bal­ize deliv­ered infor­ma­tion. And, most impor­tant­ly, this group learns best in dis­cus­sions and oral presentation.
    3. Kines­thet­ic—Move it or lose it (their atten­tion). Kines­thet­ic learn­ers make up only 5% of the pop­u­la­tion but they are prob­a­bly the group you notice the most. Why? Because they will be the ones that can­not sit still dur­ing a meet­ing or train­ing. They thrive on move­ment so give them a team chal­lenge to rein­force your train­ing sub­ject mat­ter. Make sure you are also giv­ing this group lots of breaks in your train­ing time.

    How to Make This Work Remotely

    The work­force has dis­played a great abil­i­ty to work remote­ly with a report­ed 17% of com­pa­nies mov­ing to work-from-home orga­ni­za­tions. This work-from-home mod­el does have a draw­back, though, in that it is more dif­fi­cult to train employ­ees with dif­fer­ent learn­ing styles. But this doesn’t have to be the case!

    Help­ful Tips to Train­ing Three Types of Learners

    1. When you are cre­at­ing mate­ri­als for train­ings, make sure you cre­ate things that appeal to all three learn­ers but don’t lean too hard on one style.
    2. Your resources should be eas­i­ly acces­si­ble from a home office (email) and con­tent eas­i­ly digestible. Remem­ber, though, that not all learn­ers can retain infor­ma­tion in writ­ten form so make sure there’s an option for visu­al and kines­thet­ic styles.
    3. Recre­ate the socia­bil­i­ty of the in-per­son office for the remote office. Encour­age online meet­ing web­sites for teams such as Zoom and Skype. This allows your employ­ees the chance to see their cowork­ers face to face and retains camaraderie.
    4. Offer con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion through online train­ing sites such as lessonly.com. This site appeals to the three learn­ing styles by train­ing through video (visu­al learn­er), spo­ken word (audi­to­ry learn­er), and move­ment (kines­thet­ic learn­er: typ­ing, mov­ing mouse, etc.).

    With three types of learn­ers, it is often over­whelm­ing for train­ers as they pre­pare for and deliv­er their edu­ca­tion­al ses­sions. How­ev­er, it is not impos­si­ble! By iden­ti­fy­ing the type of learn­er you’ll inter­act with, you can pre­pare sup­port­ive mate­ri­als that best speak to each group. Visu­al, Audi­to­ry, and Kines­thet­ic learn­ers have one thing in common—they are eager to work and con­tribute to their company.

  • How Leaders Can Set an Example For Remote Employees

    July 12, 2020

    Tags: ,

    For many of us, the expe­ri­ence of work­ing entire­ly from home is a new one. It has required us to rethink the way we work and func­tion as a team. Many of the rou­tines, pat­terns, prac­tices, and process­es we have cre­at­ed over time are no longer effec­tive, and we’ve had to insti­tute new means of col­lab­o­rat­ing, get­ting our work done, and ele­vat­ing the peo­ple around us.

    With all these changes, there’s bound to be con­fu­sion and con­cern among employ­ees about what’s expect­ed of them. For­tu­nate­ly, lead­ers can do a lot to sooth these fears and pro­vide clar­i­ty. Below are a few prac­tices I recommend.

    Delib­er­ate­ly mod­el what you expect to see
    For many employ­ees, work­ing from home dur­ing the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic has meant nav­i­gat­ing a new work envi­ron­ment with new demands, dis­trac­tions, and inter­rup­tions – each of which brings addi­tion­al stress and frus­tra­tion. In these cir­cum­stances, employ­ees need guid­ance on where the com­pa­ny can be flex­i­ble (e.g., work hours or pace) and where they need to toe the line (e.g., com­pa­ny values).

    It’s impor­tant to com­mu­ni­cate your expec­ta­tions, whether ver­bal­ly or in writ­ing, but the most effec­tive strat­e­gy is sim­ply to show employ­ees what you expect. Images are pow­er­ful, and right now they have the pow­er to clar­i­fy and reas­sure. It’s one thing, for exam­ple, for an employ­ee to hear from their man­ag­er that it’s okay for them to take a moment here and there to tend to a child’s needs; it’s quite anoth­er for an employ­ee to wit­ness their man­ag­er tend­ing to their own child’s needs. The for­mer instructs; the lat­ter makes the les­son real. In my own prac­tice, I put 2–3 breaks with my fam­i­ly each day on my pub­lic cal­en­dar, so employ­ees under­stand that tak­ing a few min­utes out of the day to care for your fam­i­ly is not only accept­ed but encour­aged. Show­ing rather than sim­ply telling also empha­sizes the shared expe­ri­ence: We’re all in this together.

    Share your own chal­lenges and cre­ative solutions
    Employ­ees won’t see most work-from-home chal­lenges that their lead­ers face on a day-to-day basis, but know­ing their lead­ers are in the same boat can be both com­fort­ing and con­fi­dence-build­ing. Share with your team the chal­lenges or emo­tions you’re work­ing through, and any per­son­al learn­ings you’ve had about ways to man­age this cri­sis. Your employ­ees don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly have to do things the same way you do — you’ll get bet­ter engage­ment, focus, and com­mit­ment by trust­ing them to find their own strate­gies. The more impor­tant thing is to com­mu­ni­cate that they can be open with their chal­lenges, and that those chal­lenges are legit­i­mate and there’s hope for the future.

    Reach out social­ly and encour­age employ­ees to do the same
    I’ve encour­aged the teams here at ThinkHR and Mam­moth to sched­ule reg­u­lar, option­al social time togeth­er. Mid­morn­ing cof­fee hours and late after­noon hap­py hours have been pop­u­lar. We also recent­ly cel­e­brat­ed our fam­i­lies with a vir­tu­al “Bring Your Kids to Work Day” bin­go game. I host­ed, and we were thrilled to see 50 kids join the call.

    Employ­ees may be hes­i­tant to start or par­tic­i­pate in vir­tu­al social events, espe­cial­ly dur­ing work hours, if they don’t feel the activ­i­ties have their leader’s sup­port. You can set an exam­ple here not only by giv­ing the green light to occa­sion­al fun occa­sions, but also by par­tic­i­pat­ing in them. I try to join one vir­tu­al team hap­py hour each week, and I’m con­fi­dent I get as much or more out of it as our employees.

    I also rec­om­mend reg­u­lar­ly ask­ing your team mem­bers on an indi­vid­ual, unplanned basis how they’re doing and what they may need. Encour­age them to do the same with their col­leagues. We don’t have the ben­e­fit of spon­ta­neous office encoun­ters to strike up con­ver­sa­tions and check in with each oth­er. We all have to be more delib­er­ate about per­son­al inter­ac­tions. As else­where, you can set an exam­ple here.

    By Nathan Christensen

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on thinkhr.com

  • In Depth: The Future of Work Part 1

    July 2, 2020

    Tags: , ,

    The hard­est thing about the future of work is defin­ing the con­cept. The chief rea­son has to do with change. It’s con­stant with new tech­nolo­gies com­ing online at an increas­ing pace and chang­ing the way peo­ple com­plete their work.

    If the data is to be believed, what HR knows about work is quick­ly dis­ap­pear­ing. Korn Fer­ry pre­dicts by 2030 a glob­al human tal­ent short­age of more than 85 mil­lion peo­ple will exist. That’s an aston­ish­ing pre­dic­tion, but changes are expect­ed well in advance of that year. Forty per­cent of today’s For­tune 500 com­pa­nies, accord­ing to Deloitte, won’t exist in 2025. Addi­tion­al­ly, the World Eco­nom­ic Forum pre­dicts 133 mil­lion new jobs will be devel­oped by 2022 through arti­fi­cial intelligence.

    For HR, this data points to a very clear path: pre­pare your com­pa­ny now for the work of the future.

    “The fact is we can guess all we want, but we can’t ever tru­ly know what the future holds,” excites Gran­ite Group chief peo­ple offi­cer Tra­cie Sponenberg.”

    Despite all the dif­fi­cul­ty in defin­ing the future of work and some of the con­cerns that come with it, Spo­nen­berg said there is some excite­ment to be had. Oth­er HR pro­fes­sion­als agree.

    “What excites me most are the new tech­nolo­gies that are going to sup­port employ­ees in mak­ing leaps in speed, agili­ty, effi­cien­cy, pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and over­all per­for­mance,” Andrew Saidy said.

    He’s the vice pres­i­dent of tal­ent dig­i­ti­za­tion, employ­er brand­ing and uni­ver­si­ty rela­tions for Schnei­der Elec­tric. As the dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion of HR con­tin­ues, we’ve cer­tain­ly seen advance­ments in those spe­cif­ic areas. Employ­ees are using more tools that are either dig­i­tal in part or com­plete­ly so. Both help employ­ees increase effi­cien­cy which leads to an increase in pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and per­for­mance. Tech­nol­o­gy has also allowed com­pa­nies to be agile in their approach to work.

    GE Health­care head of glob­al dig­i­tal learn­ing Christo­pher Lind agrees with Saidy say­ing tech­nol­o­gy helps orga­ni­za­tions break all the rules when it comes to con­nect­ing, col­lab­o­rat­ing and expe­ri­enc­ing work. Even so, he acknowl­edges there is still some fear around technology.

    “Instead of being afraid of machines tak­ing our jobs, I believe we should be excit­ed that machines can do the rudi­men­ta­ry things we waste so much time doing, so we can focus on the high­er order things that real­ly dri­ve us,” Lind said.

    Learning and Development

    Despite Lind’s state­ment, there is still some con­cern around the poten­tial loss of jobs to tech­nol­o­gy solu­tions — specif­i­cal­ly around arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence and automation.

    It might sur­prise you to know that’s not an uncom­mon feel­ing to have. There have been con­cerns about tech­nol­o­gy tak­ing away jobs since the First Indus­tri­al Rev­o­lu­tion in the ear­ly 1900s. Here we are 100 or more years lat­er enter­ing the Fourth Indus­tri­al Rev­o­lu­tion and we’re expe­ri­enc­ing sim­i­lar con­cerns. While that’s an under­stood feel­ing, HR needs to help move the work­force away from this type of con­cern and focus more on skilling accord­ing­ly… what is, some­times, referred to as future-proof­ing skills. That’s real­ly the name of the game.

    Dur­ing this par­tic­u­lar rev­o­lu­tion, new indus­tries and roles will be cre­at­ed. For­rester pre­dicts robots, AI, machine learn­ing and automa­tion will cre­ate 9 per­cent of new jobs by 2025. Some of the new jobs expect­ed to be cre­at­ed include:

    • Robot mon­i­tor­ing professionals
    • Con­tent curators
    • Data sci­en­tists
    • Automa­tion specialists

    Nat­u­ral­ly, some will go away. By 2025, For­rester also pre­dicts those same tech­nolo­gies will replace 16 per­cent of US jobs. Most of the impact will be felt on office and admin­is­tra­tive sup­port staff roles as well as roles where work­ers have a low amount of for­mal edu­ca­tion – the so-called “at-risk jobs”. Learn­ing new skills and build­ing on exist­ing com­pe­ten­cies will be cru­cial to com­pa­nies want­i­ng to remain com­pet­i­tive in the cur­rent cli­mate. The chal­lenge there lies in try­ing to fig­ure out which skills your employ­ee will need.

    The data pro­vid­ed gives HR some indi­ca­tion on where to begin. With more robot, arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, automa­tion, and oth­er relat­ed jobs expect­ed in the future, employ­ees should start build­ing their knowl­edge and skill base now.

    While it seems daunt­ing, there is some good news. A World Eco­nom­ic Forum and Boston Con­sult­ing Group report says “95 per­cent of at-risk U.S. work­ers could be suc­cess­ful­ly retrained for jobs that pay the same as or more than their cur­rent posi­tions and offer bet­ter growth prospects.”

    So How Does HR Move Forward?

    Tak­ing employ­ees off-line for weeks to train is pret­ty much a “no go” at this point in the game. Learn­ing and train­ing almost have to be con­duct­ed “on the job” in real­i­ty. This isn’t just a need. Many employ­ees actu­al­ly pre­fer learn­ing on the job. Keep­ing up work­flow and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty is impor­tant to the con­tin­ued suc­cess of the busi­ness. Dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies are using dif­fer­ent meth­ods to accom­mo­date this need.

    Wal­mart, for instance, has auto­mat­ed tasks at their stores such as cus­tomer check­out. That means asso­ciates have more time to train on a mul­ti­tude of con­cepts includ­ing cus­tomer service.

    The depart­ment store giant is using vir­tu­al real­i­ty to sim­u­late dif­fer­ent issues their asso­ciates will expe­ri­ence dur­ing their employ­ment. For instance, VR is being used to sim­u­late Black Fri­day rushes.

    AT&T is tak­ing a dif­fer­ent approach. The com­pa­ny has insti­tut­ed a pro­gram called “Future Ready”. Essen­tial­ly, the $1 bil­lion, web-based ini­tia­tive includes online cours­es through a myr­i­ad of ven­dors and uni­ver­si­ties. This allows employ­ees to fig­ure out what skills they need and train for the jobs the com­pa­ny needs right now and will need in the future. Their online por­tal, called Career Intel­li­gence, allows work­ers to see avail­able jobs, the skills each requires, the sug­gest­ed salary and whether or not the area is expect­ed to grow or shrink in the future. It is career pathing at its best and allows employ­ees to fig­ure out how to get from where they are now to where they want to be and the com­pa­ny needs them to be in the future.

    By Mason Stevenson

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on hrexchangenetwork.com

  • Expansion of what is allowed under High Deductible Health Plans | by Jordan Shields, Partner

    July 1, 2020

    Tags: ,

    The orig­i­nal idea of HDH­Ps was to cre­ate a con­sumer-direct­ed vehi­cle (Health Sav­ings Account), which would “force” pol­i­cy­hold­ers to shop more con­scious­ly for health ser­vices.  Whether that has or has not suc­ceed­ed is always a mat­ter of con­jec­ture and even debate, but what is clear is that there are oth­er ser­vices that did not exist in abun­dance at the time the law was passed.  Now the IRS has pro­posed amend­ments under Doc­u­ment 2020–12213 which qual­i­fies the fol­low­ing expens­es as “med­ical care” for HSA reimbursement

    • Direct pri­ma­ry care arrangements
    • The pre­mi­ums paid for “cov­er­age” with a health care share min­istry are allowed

  • 4 Steps You Can Take to Feel More in Control Now

    June 26, 2020

    Tags: ,

    COVID-19 has upend­ed life as we know it for mil­lions of peo­ple around the world. Many of us—including the young and healthy—are seri­ous­ly con­tem­plat­ing our mor­tal­i­ty for the first time.

    As the par­ent of a tod­dler, with a baby on the way, I’m def­i­nite­ly in this camp. It’s deeply unset­tling to pon­der how this virus has cut short so many lives in the span of just a few months.

    I can’t escape the real­i­ty that I’m not invin­ci­ble and nev­er real­ly have been. Whether it’s an acci­dent, a ter­mi­nal ill­ness or an infec­tious dis­ease, untime­ly deaths hap­pen and none of us are assured a long, healthy life.

    That thought par­a­lyzed me before I decid­ed to take a proac­tive approach to things. The good news is that there are con­crete actions you can take today to pro­tect the ones you love and get some peace of mind dur­ing these chal­leng­ing times. Here are four def­i­nite­ly worth doing.

     

    1. Pre­pare your will. Not even half of Amer­i­cans have a will, which is a legal doc­u­ment that spells out your wish­es for where your assets go and who cares for any minor chil­dren in the event you pass away. If you die with­out a will, your indi­vid­ual state’s laws will decide where your mon­ey and belong­ings go and who takes care of your kids. As if that isn’t bad enough, dying with­out a will gen­er­al­ly delays the process of resolv­ing your estate and can sub­ject it to addi­tion­al taxes.

    Spare your loved ones from this expe­ri­ence with a will. Many peo­ple use a lawyer to draw up a will, espe­cial­ly if they have large or com­pli­cat­ed estates. These days, many lawyers can help you via email, phone and tele­con­fer­ence, so don’t let social dis­tanc­ing stop you from get­ting a will.

    Anoth­er option is to cre­ate a will online. This is a fast and inex­pen­sive option for any­one on a bud­get or with uncom­pli­cat­ed needs. A few pop­u­lar resources include Legal­ZoomQuick­en Will­Mak­er & Trust and Do Your Own Will. (The final option is free!)

     

    2. Cre­ate an advanced direc­tive. An advanced direc­tive is anoth­er legal doc­u­ment you’ll want to lock down. It explains what kind of med­ical care you’d want in the event you can’t speak for yourself.

    The most com­mon types of advanced direc­tives are the liv­ing will and the durable pow­er of attor­ney. A liv­ing will spells out your health care wish­es in the event you’re ter­mi­nal­ly ill and unable to express your wish­es or per­ma­nent­ly uncon­scious. Mean­while, a durable pow­er of attor­ney is a doc­u­ment in which you name a trust­ed per­son to make health care deci­sions for you in the event you’re unable to do so.

    An attor­ney can help you cre­ate an advanced direc­tive or you can cre­ate one for free online using a form from your state. (Check your state’s web­site for its indi­vid­ual form.) If you go the lat­ter route, make sure to check your state’s laws about advanced direc­tives. Some require you to sign them in the pres­ence of a wit­ness, while oth­ers require them to be nota­rized. (And yes, you can now get doc­u­ments nota­rized online through ser­vices like notarize.com.)

     

    3. Look into life insur­ance. If any­one depends on your earn­ings or unpaid labor (I’m look­ing at you, stay-at-home par­ents and care­givers), it’s absolute­ly essen­tial to have at least some life insur­ance in place. From funer­al costs to the mort­gage to every­day liv­ing expens­es, life insur­ance steps in to smooth things over finan­cial­ly if you aren’t in the picture.

    I know the last thing many of us want right now is an added expense. But this is one well worth having—and it’s prob­a­bly a lot less than you think. A healthy 30-year-old can get a $250,000 20-year lev­el term pol­i­cy for just $13 a month.

    Any amount of life insur­ance is bet­ter than none at all, so con­tact an agent today to get a pol­i­cy that works for your life and bud­get. (Like lawyers and notaries, many of them can work with you over phone, email and tele­con­fer­enc­ing tools!)

     

    4. Con­sid­er dis­abil­i­ty insur­ance. Ill­ness­es and injuries cur­tail many people’s careers and life­time earn­ings unex­pect­ed­ly every year. With respect to the cur­rent cri­sis, those hos­pi­tal­ized for COVID-19 often have long roads to recov­ery as well as life­long com­pli­ca­tions. Whether the health chal­lenge leads to short-term or per­ma­nent con­se­quences, it’s hard to stay on top of bills when your pay­check stops.

    This is where dis­abil­i­ty insur­ance can be a life­saver. This “insur­ance for your pay­check” pro­tects your income until you’re able to return to work. Like life insur­ance, there are poli­cies for every sit­u­a­tion and bud­get. Learn about the three main ways to get dis­abil­i­ty cov­er­age.

     

    I’m the first to admit that con­tem­plat­ing these real­i­ties isn’t a fun way to pass the time. But some­thing far worse is know­ing that the peo­ple I love the most would be in a bind if the unthink­able hap­pened. Plus, tack­ling these to-do’s gave me a much-need­ed sense of con­trol dur­ing these unpre­dictable times—I hope it does the same for you, too.

    By Aman­da Austin

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on lifehappens.org

  • Ask the Advisor: Can We Deny an Employee’s Use of Accrued Vacation Time?

    June 23, 2020

    Tags: ,

    Question:

    Can we deny an employee’s use of accrued vaca­tion time?

    Answer:

    Yes, the deci­sion to approve or deny the use of accrued vaca­tion time is up to you, assum­ing you do so in a con­sis­tent and non-dis­crim­i­na­to­ry man­ner. It would be accept­able, for exam­ple, to deny a vaca­tion request because approv­ing it would leave you with­out ade­quate cov­er­age or because the employ­ee asked with less notice than is required by your time off policy.

    You should, how­ev­er, ensure that cer­tain employ­ees are not denied vaca­tion dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly. For instance, if an employer’s admin­is­tra­tive staff (who are all women), or their soft­ware engi­neers (who are all men), are con­sis­tent­ly denied vaca­tion because arrang­ing cov­er­age is dif­fi­cult and dead­lines are abun­dant, this could lead to claims of discrimination.

    If you have “use it or lose it” vaca­tion pol­i­cy, you may want to change it (per­ma­nent­ly or for 2020) to a sys­tem where hours roll over from one ben­e­fit year to anoth­er (up to a rea­son­able cap) so that employ­ees don’t feel like they need to use up their vaca­tion by a cer­tain date or risk los­ing the ben­e­fit. If you already roll over hours, you might con­sid­er rais­ing the rollover cap for this year in response to COVID-19. In any case, be sure to noti­fy employ­ees of any changes to your policy.

    By Emi­ly Schlaudecker

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on thinkhr.com

  • Effective Leadership Begins with You

    June 17, 2020

    Tags: ,

    If you search Mer­ri­am-Web­ster for the mean­ing of “leader,” you will find some inter­est­ing definitions:

    1. Some­thing that leads: such as some­thing that ranks first
    2. A per­son who leads: such as a per­son who has com­mand­ing author­i­ty or influence

    Now, think of those in lead­er­ship in your life. Do they line up with these def­i­n­i­tions of a leader? What about you? Would oth­ers say you lined up with these descrip­tions? Effec­tive lead­er­ship is achiev­able when you work at build­ing the leader-mus­cles in you. Here’s a quick list of the traits that lead­ers pos­sess so you can begin exer­cis­ing these mus­cles in your next lead­er­ship workout:

    1. Self-man­age: Make a list in your plan­ner or phone that out­lines your goals for the week and how you plan to achieve them. You can­not man­age oth­ers if you can­not man­age yourself.
    2. Good com­mu­ni­ca­tion: Many of us have heard the phrase “You have two ears and one mouth so you can lis­ten twice as much as you talk.” An effec­tive leader “knows when to talk and when to lis­ten.” Lead­ers can com­mu­ni­cate com­pa­ny goals and tasks to all lev­els in the orga­ni­za­tion and can gath­er infor­ma­tion from all lev­els by listening.
    3. Account­abil­i­ty: A suc­cess­ful man­ag­er gives cred­it where it is due and is not afraid to take respon­si­bil­i­ty for mis­takes made by them or the team. Shift­ing blame does noth­ing more than under­mine your team. Tak­ing all the praise does the same thing. Lead­ers even­ly dis­trib­ute both in a respect­ful manner.
    4. Pro­mote team­work: When build­ing a team it is impor­tant for the leader to cre­ate a cul­ture of team­work. This is beyond the task of shar­ing work­load, it is also the leader’s skill of team-led prob­lem-solv­ing, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and reliability.
    5. Set clear goals with vision: Good employ­ees can fol­low instruc­tions and com­plete tasks. Good lead­ers share vision and good employ­ees are moti­vat­ed by it. “Vision can be defined as a pic­ture in the lead­er’s imag­i­na­tion that moti­vates peo­ple to action when com­mu­ni­cat­ed com­pelling­ly, pas­sion­ate­ly and clearly.”

    Just as you can­not build strong mus­cles in your body by occa­sion­al­ly going to the gym, you can­not shape lead­er­ship mus­cles by spo­rad­i­cal­ly flex­ing these traits—you have to work them out dai­ly. This means you are doing the hard work of lead­ing a team at all times and as you build your team’s cul­ture of respect and coop­er­a­tion, you will prove your­self to be effective.

  • Too Big to Fail? No…Haven may no longer be that for those hoping to solve the medical care cost crisis | Jordan Shields, Partner

    June 11, 2020

    Tags:

    They said they couldn’t lose.  With the com­bined pur­chas­ing pow­er of their three com­pa­nies, the right moti­va­tion, a high­ly vis­i­ble CEO and mon­ey to make it hap­pen, Haven is a not-for-prof­it, health­care-focused enti­ty cre­at­ed to reshape health care.  Instead, its shape has been affect­ed by changes of its own.  Jeff Bezos of Ama­zon, War­ren Buf­fet of Berk­shire Hath­away and Jamie Dimon of JPMor­gan Chase all start­ed Haven in Jan­u­ary 2018, deter­mined to find a way to con­trol the run­away costs of health care.  In June 2018, Atul Gawande, a renowned sur­geon and pro­fes­sor at Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty, was appoint­ed as chief exec­u­tive offi­cer of Haven Health­care.  There was no way this could miss.  Even when they formed the com­pa­ny, the share price of health insur­ance com­pa­nies and phar­ma­cy ben­e­fit man­agers across the indus­try dropped.

    On May 13, how­ev­er, Dr. Gawande resigned abrupt­ly, though odd­ly stayed on as Chair­man, while anoth­er top exec­u­tive left after just eight months.  This amid the fact that no one has real­ly heard how Haven is going to make the impact it promised.  So far, since launch­ing its first health insur­ance plans in Novem­ber, it has giv­en 30,000 JPMor­gan employ­ees access to plans oper­at­ed by Cigna and Aet­na for 2020. Those plans are designed to inform employ­ees about the true costs of care and ser­vices in order to bring costs down.  Not exact­ly as earth-shak­ing as promised.

  • While Shelter in Place Tightens, Some Regulations Loosen – Cafeteria Plans | Jordan Shields, Partner

    June 9, 2020

    Tags:

    The IRS has issued two notices which give employ­ers more flex­i­bil­i­ty with Flex Plans.

    None of this is required, but these changes are per­mit­ted in the cur­rent plan:

    • Employ­ees who pre­vi­ous­ly waived par­tic­i­pa­tion may enroll off anniversary
    • Employ­ees who did not include depen­dents pre­vi­ous­ly may now do so
    • Employ­ees may drop cov­er­age for them­selves or their dependents
    • Employ­ees may change the amount they have set for Depen­dent Care Plans
    • For non-cal­en­dar plan years, may extend claims sub­mis­sion peri­od to Decem­ber 31
    • If there is a car­ry­over plan in place for Health­care FSA, employ­er may increase the car­ry­over lim­it from $500 to $550 to the sub­se­quent year

  • Mental Health Exercises for a Strong Mind

    June 8, 2020

    Tags: , ,

    When some­one says they want to get healthy, you nat­u­ral­ly think of phys­i­cal health. How­ev­er, we do have the abil­i­ty to do a mind work­out so that we are men­tal­ly fit. We’ve col­lect­ed some exer­cis­es to help you build your men­tal-mus­cle-strength and, in turn, build a strong and healthy body.

    Anx­i­ety dis­or­ders are the high­est report­ed men­tal health issue in the US with 42.5 mil­lion Amer­i­cans claim­ing to suf­fer from this ill­ness. We can only assume that now, due to the state of the world in the mid­dle of a glob­al pan­dem­ic, those num­bers will be increas­ing. It’s nat­ur­al to feel stress, anx­i­ety, grief, and wor­ry dur­ing a cri­sis. But, rather than camp out in those feel­ings, it’s a bet­ter choice to work out of those feelings.

    Let’s get to work and train our brain to be healthy.

    1. When you feel anx­i­ety or stress grow­ing, take reg­u­lar breaks from what­ev­er is caus­ing that stress. Go for a walk. Do breath­ing exer­cis­es. Turn up your music and sing and dance. If you like to gar­den, go out­side and get your hands in the dirt!
    2. Make healthy food choic­es. What you eat has an impact on how you feel. Car­bo­hy­drates increase sero­tonin, which is known to con­tribute to feel­ings of well­be­ing and hap­pi­ness. Pro­tein increas­es alert­ness and fruits and veg­eta­bles feed all the cells of your body and help with reg­u­lat­ing your mood.
    3. When you think pos­i­tive­ly, you act pos­i­tive­ly. Keep a grat­i­tude jour­nal to help you focus on the things that you appre­ci­ate in your life. Prac­tice the art of ran­dom acts of kind­ness. When you help oth­ers, it not only ben­e­fits the receiv­er, but also the giv­er! Speak pos­i­tive­ly to your­self and to oth­ers. Your words car­ry so much weight—make sure they are filled with the right kind of load.
    4. Lim­it your expo­sure to news and social media if you find these are areas that bring you more unease than joy. Con­sid­er only watching/reading the news once a day. The same idea goes for check­ing in on social media since you can so eas­i­ly go down a Face­book bun­ny trail that leads to neg­a­tiv­i­ty. You can even choose to fol­low those sto­ries that you know will bright­en your thoughts like John Krasinski’s “Some Good News.”
    5. Con­nect with those who lift you up. We all have that friend whose nat­ur­al bent is to be neg­a­tive. This is not who you want to have speak­ing into you. Instead, seek out those friends that are nat­u­ral­ly great encour­agers and let them fill your emo­tion­al tank. In the same vein, when you need help, speak with trust­ed author­i­ties like your pas­tor or coun­selor or those sug­gest­ed through your work’s Employ­ee Assis­tance Program.

    As you bulk up your mind with healthy thoughts, you will find your body fol­lows suit. Men­tal health requires the same ded­i­ca­tion to good habits and choic­es that phys­i­cal health does. And, when you make dai­ly deci­sions to think on those things that are good and noble and uplift­ing, your strong men­tal health will car­ry you through the rough patch­es of life with­out let­ting you down.

  • Data Drop: The Latest Workforce Surveys for HR Professionals to Read

    June 3, 2020

    Tags: , ,

    It’s an inter­est­ing time for the work­force as big changes are in store for every­one across the spec­trum of the pro­fes­sion­al land­scape. Every indus­try has been impact­ed COVID-19 and the con­tin­u­ous evo­lu­tion of the sit­u­a­tion, the econ­o­my and the work­place means that data and our under­stand­ing of all these things is shift­ing with it.

    More reli­able than the data itself some­times is peo­ple thirst for more of it. We love our num­bers and there are no short­age of peo­ple look­ing to pro­vide it. Luck­i­ly, a good amount of that data ends up in our inbox!

    So here are some of the lat­est work­force sur­veys that have caught our atten­tion and what sta­tis­tics you need to know as you look to address the issues with­in your own organization.

    People Feel Isolated, but Want to Stay Home

    Accord­ing to a recent sur­vey from Finance Buzz, around half of remote work­ers say they feel iso­lat­ed, but less 20% of them want to go back to the office.

    The perks of remote work are becom­ing clear to employ­ees, with the abil­i­ty to work from any­where, flex­i­bil­i­ty of sched­ule and time saved from not com­mut­ing prov­ing to be the most uni­ver­sal of the bunch.

    But at the same time, in addi­tion to feel­ings of iso­la­tion, employ­ees are find­ing it hard­er to build rela­tion­ships with co-work­ers, they strug­gle to sep­a­rate work time and per­son­al time and they aren’t get­ting enough face time with their lead­ers. Most of the issues can be addressed sim­ply by com­mit­ting to the prin­ci­ples that make oper­at­ing remote­ly different.

    “Remote work is not tra­di­tion­al work which is sim­ply con­duct­ed in a home office instead of a com­pa­ny office,” says Dar­ren Murph, Head of Remote for Git­lab. “There is a nat­ur­al incli­na­tion for those who have not per­son­al­ly expe­ri­enced remote work to assume that the core (or only) dif­fer­ence between in-office work and remote work is loca­tion (in-office vs. out-of-office). This is inac­cu­rate, and if not rec­og­nized, can be dam­ag­ing to the entire prac­tice of work­ing remotely.”

    Employers are Ready to Return Workers, but at What Pace?

    Dyke­ma, a nation­al law firm for busi­ness­es, sur­veyed employ­ers ask­ing about their plans to return employ­ees to the office. One thing that became clear is their intent to do so. But what was less clear is how they plan to do it.

    Accord­ing to the data, 58% were plan­ning to phase employ­ees back into the office over the course of a month. Mean­while, 21% want to get things back up and run­ning much quick­er than that, and anoth­er 21% say they won’t reopen until all Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) guide­lines have been met.  Only about half of all respon­dents have estab­lished a cri­te­ria for which employ­ees will return to the office.

    How Prospects are Prepping for Your Interview

    Employ­ee screen­ing and back­ground check ser­vice, JDP, released a new sur­vey look­ing at how can­di­dates pre­pare for job inter­views and the results reveal how vital it is to man­age dig­i­tal assets and the organization’s reputation.

    On aver­age, prospects spend around sev­en hours research­ing a com­pa­ny before tak­ing an inter­view. As you might expect, they start by exam­in­ing the com­pa­ny web­site, search engine results for the com­pa­ny name, LinkedIn and Glass­door. Aside from look­ing at your rep­u­ta­tion, they want to know who your cus­tomers are, what kind of lead­er­ship the orga­ni­za­tion has, who your com­peti­tors are and last but not least, the finan­cial health of the company.

    Around 64% look to research the per­son who will inter­view them. Their biggest fears include speak­ing in front of a group, not know­ing how to answer a ques­tion and look­ing ner­vous. Despite this, 63% do not do a mock inter­view with someone.

    Automation is Expected Post COVID-19

    It’s no sur­prise peo­ple believe automa­tion is on the way, with research show­ing that the biggest believ­ers fall into the 35–44 age group, accord­ing to research from glob­al busi­ness process out­sourc­ing firm SYKES. The sur­vey showed that in all, around 59% of par­tic­i­pants believe that COVID-19 will lead to more automation.

    The find­ings expand upon pre­vi­ous research from SYKES that has shown peo­ple don’t fear automa­tion tak­ing their jobs. A Novem­ber report found that 73% of Amer­i­can work­ers said the idea of humans and automa­tion work­ing togeth­er inter­est­ed them and 68% said they would be more like­ly to apply to work for a com­pa­ny invest­ing in new automa­tion technologies.

    By HR Exchange Net­work Edi­to­r­i­al Team

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on hrexchangenetwork.com

  • How to Support the Mental Health of Your Employees During COVID-19

    May 25, 2020

    Tags: , ,

    The COVID-19 pan­dem­ic has tak­en a toll on everyone’s men­tal health. Peo­ple have expe­ri­enced finan­cial hard­ship, addi­tion­al chal­lenges with child­care and school can­cel­la­tions, job loss, reduced hours, sick­ness, and grief. The future is uncer­tain, and the present is extra stress­ful. And to make mat­ters worse, many of the net­works and prac­tices that peo­ple use to sup­port their men­tal health are cur­rent­ly unavail­able due to social distancing.

    In this envi­ron­ment, where peo­ple are increas­ing­ly anx­ious and may be social­ly iso­lat­ed, it’s even more impor­tant that man­agers sup­port the men­tal health of their team mem­bers — both those who are com­ing into the work­place and those work­ing from home. High stress can quick­ly destroy trust, inhib­it empa­thy, and break down teams — each of which makes it more dif­fi­cult for peo­ple to do their jobs. For­tu­nate­ly, employ­ers can pro­vide some sup­port. Here are some things employ­ers can do to help employ­ees man­age stress and tend to their men­tal health:

    When pos­si­ble, give employ­ees a lit­tle extra time to slow down and rest
    Employ­ees may need a moment to breathe or a day to regain their peace of mind, and they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for time to take care of them­selves. The abil­i­ty to occa­sion­al­ly func­tion at a medi­um (or even slow) pace should be built into per­for­mance expec­ta­tions so that employ­ees can avoid burnout or breakdown.

    Offer PTO, men­tal health ben­e­fits, and flex­i­ble sched­ules if appropriate
    In some cas­es, employ­ees who want to get the men­tal health care they need can’t afford it. Los­ing pay from a missed work shift might be too great a hard­ship, and effec­tive treat­ments might be finan­cial­ly out of reach. These finan­cial hin­drances can exac­er­bate con­di­tions like anx­i­ety and depres­sion. In oth­er cas­es, employ­ees can afford the time off and the treat­ments, but they can’t make reg­u­lar appoint­ments work with their sched­ules. If you can offer paid time off, health insur­ance ben­e­fits, or flex­i­ble sched­ules, these can help employ­ees get the care they need.

    Offer an Employ­ee Assis­tance Pro­gram (EAP)
    An EAP gives employ­ees access to expert, con­fi­den­tial assis­tance for sub­stance abuse issues, rela­tion­ship trou­bles, finan­cial prob­lems, and men­tal health con­di­tions. These ser­vices are offered through an out­side provider that con­nects employ­ees with the appro­pri­ate resources and pro­fes­sion­als. These pro­grams enable you to pro­vide pro­fes­sion­al assis­tance to employ­ees while allow­ing them con­fi­den­tial­i­ty at work. EAPs are also inex­pen­sive, cost­ing between just 75 cents and 2 dol­lars per employ­ee per month.

    Make rea­son­able accom­mo­da­tions when possible
    If an employ­ee informs you that they have anx­i­ety, depres­sion, or anoth­er men­tal health con­di­tion, and they request an accom­mo­da­tion, you should begin the inter­ac­tive process to deter­mine what rea­son­able accommodation(s) you can pro­vide in accor­dance with the Amer­i­cans with Dis­abil­i­ties Act (ADA). The ADA applies when an employ­er has 15 or more employ­ees, but many states have sim­i­lar laws that require employ­ers to make accom­mo­da­tions at an even low­er employ­ee count. You can learn more about the ADA on the HR Sup­port Center.

    Cre­ate dig­i­tal spaces for friend­ships to grow
    Lone­li­ness in the work­place can be a seri­ous issue, with sig­nif­i­cant neg­a­tive effects on both employ­ees and the work­place. Right now, with many employ­ees work­ing from home, it’s hard­er to spot signs of it. Employ­ers can facil­i­tate friend­ships and con­nec­tions between employ­ees by set­ting up vir­tu­al chat pro­grams and video con­fer­enc­ing apps.

    Employ­ees also need to be reas­sured that it’s fine for them to take a lit­tle time dur­ing the work­day to reach out to oth­ers about non-work mat­ters and par­tic­i­pate in vir­tu­al games and oth­er fun group activ­i­ties. Man­agers can set the tone by par­tic­i­pat­ing in fun chats and activ­i­ties and encour­ag­ing employ­ees to join in. Help­ing employ­ees fos­ter friend­ships is not only the right thing to do, it can also reduce turnover and increase engagement.

    Pro­mote good men­tal (and phys­i­cal) health in the workplace
    Healthy habits are impor­tant for every­one to prac­tice. Con­sid­er set­ting time aside dur­ing the week or month for employ­ees to par­tic­i­pate in activ­i­ties like yoga, med­i­ta­tion, and mind­ful­ness that devel­op and strength­en these habits. If you aren’t famil­iar with these prac­tices, solic­it the help of your employ­ees. One or more of them may know a lot about these activ­i­ties and be able to assist you in set­ting up a work­place pro­gram or mod­i­fy­ing a pro­gram for employ­ees cur­rent­ly work­ing from home.

    Make use of addi­tion­al resources
    Dur­ing this time, employ­ees might ben­e­fit from this three-page list of sev­er­al vir­tu­al recov­ery resources from the fed­er­al Sub­stance Abuse and Men­tal Health Ser­vices Admin­is­tra­tion and this COVID-19 resource and infor­ma­tion guide from the Nation­al Alliance on Men­tal Illness.

    By Kyle Cupp
    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on thinkhr.com

  • Well, well, well – it’s not just the physical but the fiscal – employers using Financial Wellness | Jordan Shields, Partner

    May 21, 2020

    Tags:

    The num­ber of employ­ers offer­ing Finan­cial Well­ness pro­grams is expect­ed to near­ly dou­ble with­in the next few years.  The head of client man­age­ment for Mass­Mu­tu­al, says, “finan­cial well­ness has become a huge pri­or­i­ty for employ­ers across the coun­try as Amer­i­cans strug­gle with man­ag­ing a wide vari­ety of finan­cial issues from pay­ing down cred­it card debt and han­dling emer­gency med­ical expens­es to sav­ing for retire­ment and plan­ning for long term care”

    • 86% char­ac­ter­ize finan­cial well­ness pro­grams as important
    • Chief moti­va­tion of 90% of those offer­ing is that they “real­ly care about their employees”
    • 80% feel finan­cial well­ness is on the cut­ting edge of ben­e­fit offerings
    • 47% said an effec­tive pro­gram should address an employee’s full finan­cial picture
    • Most pop­u­lar pro­grams (all over 75% approval): retire­ment, finan­cial plan­ning and retire­ment tools, pro­tec­tion prod­ucts (e.g. life insur­ance), access to a finan­cial advi­sor for finan­cial or retire­ment planning

  • Tools for the Remote Workplace

    May 19, 2020

    Tags: , ,

    The tra­di­tion­al work­place of phys­i­cal offices and desks has changed. The new nor­mal we are all expe­ri­enc­ing is the remote work­place. While some are adjust­ing to this change with­out any grow­ing pains, some may find it dif­fi­cult to tran­si­tion. Fol­low these tips to help man­age your time in this new space.

    SET UP A PHYSICAL WORKSPACE

    You don’t need to have a home office with a door and desk to have a work­space in your home. Grab a space at your kitchen table or a card table in a cor­ner or even a lap desk on your couch. Make this ded­i­cat­ed work­space the place you do all your work. Doing so cre­ates a famil­iar loca­tion where your brain knows you do your work.

    SET A ROUTINE

    Just as you had a rou­tine for the nor­mal work week, you need to set up a rou­tine for your home-based work week. This can get tricky because the things that you would nor­mal­ly do to get ready for work like take a show­er, get dressed in work attire, eat break­fast, and dri­ve to work may not hap­pen any­more. The folks at Entre­pre­neur said it best when they said, “Now when you wake up, you’re already at work.”  You have to work at set­ting up a rou­tine so you can accom­plish your work goals from home. Set an alarm and wake up at a sched­uled time. Set a time that you begin and end work. Take a lunch break. Make sure you sched­ule in some breaks through­out the day as well.

    SET GOALS

    Look at your work and set goals to have it fin­ished. This may look like a list of pri­or­i­tized tasks so you stay on sched­ule. Goals can be dai­ly or week­ly or task ori­ent­ed. By set­ting these goals you set a sched­ule for your­self and you can fol­low this out­line towards their com­ple­tion.  Goals also help you elim­i­nate dis­trac­tions like the TV being on, look­ing at your phone, or surf­ing social media by requir­ing you stay focused on work to achieve them.

    SET UP CONNECTION TIME

    A remote work­place does not mean an iso­lat­ed life. Work to stay con­nect­ed with your co-work­ers in cre­ative ways. Have a park­ing lot hap­py hour in your cars or in camp chairs to recon­nect with your office mates at social­ly dis­tant lengths. Office Zoom calls allow you to see famil­iar faces all at once. When you stay emo­tion­al­ly con­nect­ed with your co-work­ers, you cre­ate a cul­ture of sup­port in your office and that’s some­thing we all need!

    Dur­ing this uncer­tain time in all of our lives, there are tools to help us. Keep­ing up with work tasks and stay­ing con­nect­ed to oth­ers helps pro­vide the sta­bil­i­ty that we all crave in this moment. Make sure you keep these tools handy!

  • Life Insurance is experiencing a death in understanding, comprehension and utilization | Jordan Shields, Partner

    May 19, 2020

    Tags:

    Accord­ing to AIG, sev­en in ten Amer­i­cans say life insur­ance will pro­tect their abil­i­ty to live a long, finan­cial­ly secure life, but 51% of the respon­dents either do not have life insur­ance or are unsure if they do   Par­tic­u­lar findings

    • 28% don’t know the val­ue of their own work­place pol­i­cy and 25% don’t know the val­ue of their own indi­vid­ual pol­i­cy – and 42% of spous­es don’t know the val­ue of an employ­ee work­place pol­i­cy and a sim­i­lar 25% don’t know the val­ue of their partner’s policy
    • A major­i­ty don’t under­stand how term life insur­ance works
    • Life insur­ance is not thought of to address ill­ness con­cern, with 88% of respon­dents not know­ing the cost impli­ca­tions of a pri­vate nurs­ing home room, with 75% not know­ing that per­ma­nent life insur­ance may be used to cov­er such costs

  • How to Increase Employee Engagement? Let them engage themselves with voluntary plans | Jordan Shields, Partner

    May 15, 2020

    Tags:

    A nation­al firm released a study show­ing that employ­ers could see a reduc­tion of up to 8% in employ­ee turnover when employ­ees are enrolled with at least one of five spe­cif­ic ben­e­fit cat­e­gories.  The study includ­ed 4 mil­lion employ­ees of 450 employ­ers.  The pri­ma­ry ben­e­fits of “ben­e­fit” are:  acci­dent, crit­i­cal ill­ness, hos­pi­tal indem­ni­ty, iden­ti­ty theft pro­tec­tion and pet insurance.

  • Things you thought you knew but now you have others who agree with you – HR Studies | Jordan Shields, Partner

    May 13, 2020

    Tags:

    Accord­ing to a local sur­vey by a major staffing firm, the top five busi­ness chal­lenges are

    • Tal­ent acqui­si­tion and management
    • Tal­ent retention
    • Abil­i­ty to man­age growth
    • Process improve­ments

    Accord­ing to a nation­al HR mag­a­zine, quot­ing East­bridge Con­sult­ing,  the top issues are

    50% say it is retain­ing key talent
    42% say it is devel­op­ing lead­ers and suc­ces­sion planning
    37% say it is improv­ing the employ­ee experience
    31% need to dri­ve cul­ture change
    21% say their main con­cern is man­ag­ing health care costs

    That same mag­a­zine asked “do you feel your HR depart­ment is staffed appro­pri­ate­ly to han­dle its work­load – 55% said NO

  • At least one carrier is warning of the catastrophe that follows the crisis | Jordan Shields, Partner

    May 11, 2020

    Tags: ,

    Amid con­cerns about the num­ber of cas­es we may final­ly expect from COVID 19, not much has been said about the cost.  One esti­mate shows the charges for a hos­pi­tal­ized patient to be a nation­al aver­age of $75,000.  Cal­i­for­nia, of course, would be high­er than the nation­al aver­age and, giv­en the size of our pop­u­la­tion, would have high­er than the nation­al aver­age num­ber of COVID cas­es.  Now comes an esti­mate from Cov­ered Cal­i­for­nia that they expect to see a 40% increase in pre­mi­ums due to the total cost of the pan­dem­ic.  That may over­state the case, and there is, of course, blend­ing, but let’s say that the pan­dem­ic will have a pric­ing impact.

  • 5 Tips for Building Trust When Employees Return to Work

    May 6, 2020

    Tags: , ,

    The day where peo­ple return to nor­mal rou­tines around work doesn’t seem as far off today as it did just a few weeks ago. As politi­cians itch­ing to “re-open” the world look at ways to revive nor­mal­cy, com­pa­nies now have to do the same as they con­sid­er oper­a­tional needs and employ­ee safety.

    As the work envi­ron­ment shifts back toward what it was, what HR teams will find is that a new nor­mal must now exist. Pro­ce­dures that were once an after­thought, such as how the break room was cleaned, are now top of mind for every­one from entry lev­el employ­ees to the C‑suite. Hav­ing the trust of your employ­ees that the work­place is safe for them to return to is para­mount to productivity.

    And it isn’t just dur­ing a peri­od of time when the virus sub­sides tem­porar­i­ly. The last­ing impact of the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic is that even after a vac­cine is devel­oped, it will alter the way peo­ple view the clean­li­ness of pub­lic spaces and the ameni­ties at their dis­pos­al for things such as wash­ing their hands or cleans­ing shared sur­faces, be it a meet­ing room table or door handles.

    There is a lot more to con­sid­er than sim­ply reas­sur­ing every­one that the facil­i­ties are clean and that the com­pa­ny is doing the best it can to assure everyone’s health. There are cul­tur­al aspects of day-to-day busi­ness to address as well as impli­ca­tions for the organization’s rep­u­ta­tion to con­sid­er. As an arti­cle from the Soci­ety for Human Resource Man­age­ment notes, job can­di­dates inter­viewed in the future will ask how the com­pa­ny han­dled this sit­u­a­tion and “about the orga­ni­za­tion’s busi­ness con­ti­nu­ity plans, pan­dem­ic-spe­cif­ic plans and oth­er coro­n­avirus-ori­ent­ed practices.”

    HR depart­ments have a sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenge ahead, but not one they should shy away from or feel over­whelmed by.

    “I think this is the begin­ning of the most excit­ing peri­od we’ve ever been part of,” Eric Tori­gian, Vice Pres­i­dent and Assis­tant Gen­er­al Man­ag­er of Glob­al HR for Ake­bono Brake Cor­po­ra­tion USA told us on a recent episode of the HR Exchange Net­work pod­cast. “Peo­ple are going to fig­ure out how to pour their pas­sion into it. The world has been get­ting ready for this for a while. We’ve been mov­ing to an online world, a gig econ­o­my, toward remote work groups. In the next 20 or 30 years, this world is going to change a lot and peo­ple are going to come back to this time and ask ‘who were the peo­ple that made the dif­fer­ence?’ I think they’re going to look at HR peo­ple and say they’re the ones who led us through this.”

    Leadership Considerations

    To help you man­age cur­rent and future employ­ee expec­ta­tions, here are 5 tips for man­ag­ing your teams’ return to the workplace.

    1. Get the Tim­ing Right

    The gov­ern­ment telling every­one to get back to work isn’t like­ly to inspire faith in a lot of peo­ple giv­en how things have been han­dled so far and the fact that social dis­tanc­ing has been as effec­tive as it has. There are many peo­ple who would hes­i­tate to return to a nor­mal work­ing envi­ron­ment in the near future and rush­ing them back ear­ly will like­ly under­mine any good will accrued in facil­i­tat­ing remote work and estab­lish­ing improved engage­ment prac­tices dur­ing this period.

    The first thing to con­sid­er is the sit­u­a­tion in your local area. The num­ber of new cas­es in the city and state will dri­ve per­cep­tion among your employ­ees. Even if num­bers are on the decline, a return may be seen as jump­ing the gun, par­tic­u­lar­ly for large com­pa­nies with big­ger per­son­nel footprints.

    Once you decide to put things in motion, spend time dis­cussing team needs with man­agers to deter­mine which teams can remain remote and which ones are required to return. Then, assem­ble your oper­a­tions staff and devel­op a plan to cre­ate safer phys­i­cal spaces.

    Final­ly, engage with your employ­ees to find out how they’re feel­ing about a pos­si­ble return to the office through sur­veys and town halls. Doing so and incor­po­rat­ing their con­cerns into your strat­e­gy will go a long way toward build­ing the type of trust nec­es­sary to main­tain a good rep­u­ta­tion with your employees.

    1. Facil­i­tate Social Distancing

    Social dis­tanc­ing isn’t going any­where any time soon. This means restau­rants will like­ly have to re-think seat­ing arrange­ments, clean­li­ness prac­tices and per­son­al pro­tec­tive equip­ment and test­ing for staff before they can re-open. That may mean lim­it­ing the scale of busi­ness and chang­ing the way peo­ple flow through the every part of the building.

    Offices will have to con­sid­er whether desks spaces are sep­a­rat­ed enough to com­ply with social dis­tanc­ing stan­dards and retail oper­a­tions will need to con­tin­ue lim­it­ing the flow of peo­ple into their stores for the time being.

    How com­pa­nies react and com­mit to this new nor­mal is going to deter­mine how well they main­tain morale and what the reac­tion of return­ing work­ers to phys­i­cal loca­tions will be. For new hires, see­ing a com­mit­ment to social dis­tanc­ing will reas­sure them that they’ve joined an orga­ni­za­tion which has their health and well­be­ing top of mind.

    1. Cul­ture of Cleanliness

    There is always a lot of talk about cul­ture in HR, and in the wake of this pan­dem­ic, that is like­ly going to have to change as well. But as Tori­gian not­ed in our dis­cus­sion, teach­ing peo­ple how to be respon­si­ble around each oth­er and avoid the spread of the virus is a chal­lenge for both orga­ni­za­tions and soci­ety as a whole.

    “That’s not just some­thing that’s good for busi­ness, it’s some­thing that is going to be required in the new world,” Tori­gian said. “We’ll learn how to do it and we’ll get real­ly good at it.”

    This means chang­ing social norms. For exam­ple, ban­ning hand­shakes in favor of greet­ing tech­niques that respect per­son­al space and safety.

    Beyond that, HR teams have to con­sid­er what mech­a­nisms are in place to ensure clean­li­ness, such as hand-wash­ing sta­tions and require­ments for dif­fer­ent roles. Which employ­ees require per­son­al pro­tec­tive equip­ment, for exam­ple, is a key consideration.

    Addi­tion­al­ly, using com­pa­ny resources to ensure safe­ty will help employ­ees feel the orga­ni­za­tion is doing every­thing in its pow­er to pri­or­i­tize their health and there­fore, will be more ded­i­cat­ed to doing their part. Care pack­ages with cleans­ing wipes, hand san­i­tiz­er, gloves, tis­sues and oth­er items they can use to stay safe is one small act that could go a long way toward inspir­ing confidence.

    1. Career Tran­si­tions

    Busi­ness­es are bound to oper­ate dif­fer­ent­ly from here on out and with that comes some new real­i­ties. Peo­ple who have tra­di­tion­al­ly been in office may no longer be required to be there and some, unfor­tu­nate­ly, will not be required at all. That, how­ev­er, does not mean those peo­ple must be cut loose.

    Now is an ide­al time for com­pa­nies to engage in career map­ping exer­cis­es to bet­ter under­stand the capa­bil­i­ties and inter­ests of their employ­ees. There is already talk of mass efforts by some in gov­ern­ment to retrain much of the work­force for posi­tions that can be done remote­ly and for careers that offer dif­fer­ent prospects going for­ward than what they’ve expe­ri­enced in the past, but that is some­thing that may be bet­ter led by HR pro­fes­sion­als than gov­ern­ment programs.

    1. Invest in Employ­ee Wellness

    It may seem an inva­sion of pri­va­cy at first, but giv­en the impli­ca­tions for your staff as a whole, mon­i­tor­ing on-site employ­ees’ health and well­ness is a mat­ter of pub­lic safe­ty. Some pub­lic health experts say that office build­ings and pub­lic spaces such as bars and restau­rants can­not be re-opened until there are test­ing meth­ods that can be done quick­ly and accu­rate­ly to deter­mine if some­one is car­ry­ing the virus.

    We’re like­ly a ways off from that being a pos­si­bil­i­ty for many busi­ness­es, but oth­ers are already putting mea­sures in place to con­duct tem­per­a­ture checks at entrances and get­ting cre­ative as they find solu­tions for social dis­tanc­ing buzzers and one way routes through shared spaces so that peo­ple don’t cross paths or come face-to-face with one another.

    As an arti­cle from Bloomberg not­ed recent­ly: “The way we work, shop, trav­el and eat in 2020 – and prob­a­bly beyond – is being plot­ted out in board­rooms around the world.”

    Mean­while, office spaces may have to be redesigned, mov­ing away from the open floor plans that have been trend­ing for sev­er­al years and toward cubi­cles with high walls so that employ­ees have more iso­lat­ed spaces.

    To get ahead of these issues, now is the time for orga­ni­za­tions to begin dis­cussing what their path for­ward is and con­sid­er how much risk they are will­ing to take on in bring­ing employ­ees back to work. What improve­ments need to be made to san­i­ta­tion pro­ce­dures, ven­ti­la­tion sys­tems and the struc­ture of the work­place are all things that need to be evaluated.

    By HR Exchange Net­work Edi­to­r­i­al Team

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on hrexchangenetwork.com

  • CBD: Fact or Fiction?

    April 27, 2020

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    The cannabid­i­ol (CBD) mar­ket in the Unit­ed States has tak­en off like a rock­et. Some pro­jec­tions have this mar­ket reach­ing $16 bil­lion by 2025. After years of singing its prais­es for treat­ing, albeit ille­gal­ly, a myr­i­ad of health issues, sup­port­ers of cannabis have seen an uptick of main­stream sup­port in the last 2 years with the legal­iza­tion of this herb in many states. The exact truth about its ben­e­fits is still under review. Let’s dive a lit­tle deep­er into this trend­ing topic.

    HISTORY & STATISTICS

    The first use of cannabis can be traced back as far as 500 BC as a Chi­nese phar­ma­copeia. Made from the hemp plant, CBD does not pro­duce the hal­lu­cino­genic after­ef­fects of its pop­u­lar cousin, tetrahy­dro­cannabi­nol (THC) derived from the same plant. In fact, CBD must con­tain less than 0.3% THC. In 2018, Pres­i­dent Trump signed the Farm Bill which allowed farm­ers to legal­ly grow hemp. Since this vic­to­ry, the CBD mar­ket has def­i­nite­ly been amped up and its use has become so com­mon­place in our soci­ety that you can find a CBD store (or two or ten) in every city.

    • More than 60% of users claim CBD is being used to treat their anxiety.
    • Oth­er wide­spread uses for CBD are for depres­sion, sleep dis­or­ders, and PTSD.
    • In 2018, the FDA approved the first CBD prod­uct, called Epid­i­olex, to treat those with rare seizure dis­or­ders Lennox-Gas­taut syn­drome and Dravet syndrome.

    FACTS

    Users of CBD speak to its ben­e­fits in treat­ing anx­i­ety issues. With its wide­spread avail­abil­i­ty, con­sumers can find it in lotions, baked goods, and even make­up.  Because of this preva­lence in the mar­ket­place, the FDA and FTC are quick to squash claims that are unfound­ed in tri­als. Here are the facts:

    • CBD can come in vary­ing meth­ods of delivery. 
      • Tinc­tures: con­cen­trat­ed herbal extracts sus­pend­ed in alco­hol or vinegar
      • Oint­ments
      • Vap­ing oils
      • Oil: extracts from seeds or flow­ers or stems of hemp put in a base oil to aid absorption
    • The exact amount that can safe­ly be used in a day is unknown.
    • Side-effects include: drowsi­ness, diges­tive issues such as diar­rhea, and irritability

    FICTION

    There is only one FDA approved use of CBD and that is for rare cas­es of epilep­sy. So, when you see health claims for oth­er than that use, they can be false.

    • NOT proven to be a treat­ment for cancer
    • NOT with­out con­se­quences. Seri­ous side-effects can cause seri­ous dam­age to your health.
    • NOT proven to bat­tle COVID-19.

    The use of CBD def­i­nite­ly has its sup­port­ers and detrac­tors. When mak­ing a deci­sion about its use, it is help­ful to weigh the pros and cons and seek the truth. One thing is for sure—CBD is a swift­ly grow­ing mar­ket with high demand.

  • A Financial Lifeline You May Have Forgotten About

    April 22, 2020

    Tags: ,

    So much has hap­pened in the last few days and weeks that I feel like months have passed. Social dis­tanc­ing is now on everyone’s lips. And the goal is noble: flat­ten “the curve” and pre­vent more peo­ple from get­ting sick from the Coronavirus.

    The impact, though, is being felt in so many ways by so many peo­ple: Schools are closed and par­ents need to stay home to take care of their chil­dren and can’t work. Restau­rants, bars and local retail shops are shut­tered, and all the peo­ple who own those busi­ness­es or work there or sup­ply them are in finan­cial per­il as well. Many, many peo­ple are not only wor­ried about get­ting sick, but wor­ried about whether they will have a job to return to and if they can pay their bills in the meantime.

    But I want to shine a light on a finan­cial lifeline—a solution—you may have for­got­ten about. Per­ma­nent life insur­ance. Many peo­ple buy it for its life­time pro­tec­tion. It’s often a “set it and for­get it” solu­tion. But the beau­ty of this finan­cial tool is what it does while you aren’t pay­ing atten­tion to it: It accu­mu­lates cash val­ue. Money—money that you can tap now to help tide you through this finan­cial uncertainty.*

    Mike Jaap owns a suc­cess­ful recy­cling busi­ness. When the last major finan­cial cri­sis hit, he thought his busi­ness was doomed. For­tu­nate­ly, his finan­cial advi­sor had helped him put a per­ma­nent life insur­ance pol­i­cy in place, which he was able to tap to see him through that tough finan­cial time and keep his staff employed. In essence, his life insur­ance saved his busi­ness. You can watch his sto­ry here.

    If you cur­rent­ly have a per­ma­nent life insur­ance pol­i­cy (not a term pol­i­cy—click here to under­stand the dif­fer­ence), con­tact your insur­ance agent or finan­cial advi­sor and talk through how you can tap into that mon­ey. You can often access it in days. Or you can con­tact your insur­ance com­pa­ny direct­ly as well.

    You may not remem­ber the con­ver­sa­tion you had with your insur­ance agent or advi­sor when they talked you through the ben­e­fits pur­chas­ing per­ma­nent life insur­ance. But I can tell you with 100% cer­tain­ty that one of the rea­sons they want­ed you to have this cov­er­age is so that right now, in a time like this, you could access that money—that cash value—to be OK finan­cial­ly. They did their job well then, and you can enjoy the ben­e­fit of your good finan­cial deci­sion now.

    [*Keep in mind that if you with­draw or bor­row­ing funds from your pol­i­cy, it will reduce its cash val­ue and death ben­e­fit if not repaid.]

    By Faisa Stafford

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on lifehappens.org

  • The Cause of Disengagement | California Employee Benefits Group

    April 13, 2020

    Tags: , ,

    For decades, employ­ee engage­ment has been the gold stan­dard in mea­sur­ing the way employ­ees inter­act with the busi­ness.  In today’s world, espe­cial­ly where the coro­n­avirus is con­cerned, it’s not just about the inter­ac­tion but also the lev­el of com­mit­ment to the com­pa­ny.  While all human resources pro­fes­sion­als would like to believe their employ­ees are com­mit­ted to their orga­ni­za­tion, the sta­tis­tics sim­ply don’t paint that type of picture.

    Over the last two decades, Gallup reports the per­cent­age of employ­ees dis­en­gaged at work has aver­aged 70 per­cent.1  And it’s been cost­ly.  Dis­en­gaged employ­ees have 18 per­cent low­er pro­duc­tiv­i­ty with prof­itabil­i­ty being 15 per­cent low­er.2  When put into dol­lars and cents – “an active­ly dis­en­gaged employ­ee costs their orga­ni­za­tion $3,400 for every $10,000 of salary, or 34 per­cent. That means an active­ly dis­en­gaged employ­ee who makes $60,000 a year costs their com­pa­ny $20,400 a year!”3

    So, what’s the answer to increas­ing engage­ment across the enter­prise and, in doing so, increas­ing pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and profits?

    Disengagement and Engagement

    The Causes

    Defin­ing what employ­ee engage­ment is, in real­i­ty, is crit­i­cal to under­stand­ing its ben­e­fits and its chal­lenges.  Gen­er­al­ly speak­ing, every HR pro­fes­sion­al has a dif­fer­ent def­i­n­i­tion but all include the basic com­po­nent that an engaged employ­ee is one who com­mits to the orga­ni­za­tion and gives of him or her­self freely to the suc­cess of the company.

    Engagement

    But what caus­es employ­ee engage­ment?  Let’s take a psy­cho­log­i­cal approach.

    The term was first coined by psy­chol­o­gist William Kahn in a 1990 study titled Psy­cho­log­i­cal Con­di­tions of Per­son­al Engage­ment and Dis­en­gage­ment at Work.4  In the piece, Khan stud­ied two dif­fer­ent work­places:  a very struc­tured and for­mal archi­tec­ture firm and a casu­al sum­mer camp.  From his obser­va­tions, he defined engage­ment as “the har­ness­ing of orga­ni­za­tion mem­bers’ selves to their work roles; in engage­ment, peo­ple employ and express them­selves phys­i­cal­ly, cog­ni­tive­ly, and emo­tion­al­ly dur­ing role performances”.

    Addi­tion­al­ly, Kahn out­lined three psy­cho­log­i­cal con­di­tions that allow engage­ment to exist:

    1. Mean­ing­ful­ness – Is the work mean­ing­ful enough to the employ­ee that he/she engages with their full-self?
    2. Safe­ty – Is the work envi­ron­ment such that a per­son can bring their full-self with­out fear of criticism?
    3. Avail­abil­i­ty – Is the employ­ee men­tal­ly and phys­i­cal­ly able to express their full-self in the work environment?

    Kahn fur­ther stat­ed those indi­vid­u­als who are ful­ly engaged with the orga­ni­za­tion will take own­er­ship of their work and will be loy­al to the orga­ni­za­tion.  Addi­tion­al­ly, he said engage­ment isn’t a con­stant.  Any num­ber of expe­ri­ences can cause engage­ment to change.

    Of course, Kahn’s orig­i­nal def­i­n­i­tion has changed some­what over the three decades since it was first coined.  As pre­vi­ous­ly men­tioned, engage­ment has become more about the employee’s will­ing­ness to go “above and beyond”5 to ben­e­fit the organization.

    “Peo­ple are want­i­ng to feel that invest­ment from their orga­ni­za­tion and that does­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly mean it has to be a mas­sive thing, but they want it to feel like it’s a two-way street,” Christo­pher Lind said.  He’s the Head of Glob­al Dig­i­tal Learn­ing for GE Health­care.  “It’s not so much a ‘you’re here to serve the employ­er’ thing.  Peo­ple are look­ing for that part­ner­ship. ‘I’m here to serve you.  You’re here to serve me.  And how are we meet­ing in the middle?”

    Disengagement

    Under­stand­ing how engage­ment works is only half the bat­tle.  For HR to move the nee­dle and make sig­nif­i­cant improve­ments, there needs to be an under­stand­ing of what can cause disengagement.

    A key indi­ca­tor of dis­en­gage­ment is apa­thy.  Oth­er fac­tors occur when there is a lack of:

    • Auton­o­my
    • Com­mu­ni­ca­tion
    • Flex­i­bil­i­ty
    • Devel­op­ment
    • Trust
    • Per­son­al and/or Work­place Challenges

    While it’s not an exhaus­tive list, it is a very real pos­si­bil­i­ty one or more of these can exist with­in an orga­ni­za­tion.  The chal­lenge lies in try­ing to fig­ure out how best to address each con­sis­tent­ly and constantly.

    If we were to rank these fac­tors on a spec­trum of dif­fi­cul­ty where 10 is the most dif­fi­cult and one is the least dif­fi­cult, it might look some­thing like this:

    As you notice, not a one of the fac­tors is eas­i­ly over­come.  Per­son­al and/or work­place chal­lenges are dif­fi­cult because some of those sit­u­a­tions are not inter­nal.  They are exter­nal and com­pa­nies are in a lim­it­ed posi­tion of pow­er when it comes to impact­ing those fac­tors.  Apa­thy isn’t far behind, but it is often a symp­tom of those per­ceived chal­lenges.  If a per­son is hav­ing an issue at home, it may present itself as a lack of inter­est or enthu­si­asm at work.

    Now, that’s not to say human resources or lead­er­ship can’t offer some ways of deal­ing with these issues.  In some instances, a well­ness ben­e­fit can be of use i.e. coun­sel­ing of any type be it emo­tion or legal.

    When it comes to auton­o­my, there is often a dis­con­nect about what this actu­al­ly entails.  It is not:

    • Work­ing in iso­la­tion with­out supervision.
    • Allow­ing employ­ees to do what­ev­er they like, but rather employ­ers cre­at­ing guide­lines that put bound­aries around employ­ee autonomy.
    • Work­ing with­out a net, but rather employ­ers pro­vid­ing a pic­ture of what suc­cess looks like and tips on how to achieve it.

    It’s more about pro­vid­ing the means by which employ­ees have the lat­i­tude to make their own deci­sions and employ­ers pro­vide both the tools and the guide­lines to help employ­ees suc­ceed.  Suc­cess often leads to engagement.

    Auton­o­my is often the result of trust.  Lead­ers who trust their employ­ees allow them to be more autonomous.  But trust goes both ways.  From a dis­en­gage­ment stand­point, the employ­ee who feels they are not trust­ed by lead­er­ship at any lev­el will be less like­ly to give of them­selves.  Trust with­in this con­text can also mean the employ­ee does not feel the com­pa­ny has his or her best inter­est at heart; that they are seen as noth­ing more than a num­ber rather than a person.

    Com­mu­ni­ca­tion ranked low­er than some might con­sid­er, but its dif­fi­cul­ty lies in the mes­sag­ing.  Any­one can send an email, make a phone call or share some­thing on social media.  It’s the con­text of the mes­sage; what are you as a com­pa­ny, as an HR pro­fes­sion­al try­ing to con­vey to the employ?  How is the employ­ee per­ceiv­ing that mes­sage and act­ing upon it as a result.

    From the employ­ee per­spec­tive, it’s about com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the orga­ni­za­tion about any num­ber of things be it needs or desires.  Some­times that com­mu­ni­ca­tion is of a sen­si­tive nature.  How is that com­mu­ni­ca­tion han­dled?  If it is han­dled poor­ly, the employ­ee will dis­en­gage.  If it is prop­er­ly han­dled, the trans­la­tion is often an increase in engagement.

    Flex­i­bil­i­ty presents unique chal­lenges as it is often relat­ed to sched­ul­ing and work­ing envi­ron­ment.  Can an employ­ee work dif­fer­ent hours to com­plete his or her job and func­tion at the same pro­duc­tiv­i­ty lev­els as oth­er mem­bers of the team?  Flex­i­bil­i­ty is also crit­i­cal in today’s envi­ron­ment espe­cial­ly when con­sid­er­ing work-life bal­ance.  Can a par­ent still get their child to soc­cer prac­tice on time and pro­vide great ser­vice to their employer?

    Final­ly, we come to devel­op­ment.  Devel­op­ment is not easy.  Not by any means.  The chal­lenges often lay in meet­ing peo­ple where they are, but also what they desire.  There are also chal­lenges in mak­ing sure that learn­ing presents a return on investment.

    Impact on the Business

    Employ­ee engage­ment con­tin­ues to be one of the most impor­tant met­rics an orga­ni­za­tion can track.  It is, after all, not just a check box issue.  It requires con­stant and con­sis­tent atten­tion.  Oth­er­wise, human resources runs the risk of see­ing gaps in engage­ment lead­ing to an increase in disengagement.

    Employ­ees aren’t sim­ply look­ing for a 9‑to‑5, Mon­day through Fri­day job.  They want to be involved, com­mit­ted and enthu­si­as­tic.  An orga­ni­za­tion that cre­ates the right envi­ron­ment can con­tin­u­ous­ly feed those employ­ee needs.  In return, the orga­ni­za­tion sees con­tin­ued growth and suc­cess with­in their industry.

     

    by Mason Stevenson
    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on HR Exchange Network

  • Stop — Stay Home — Start Something

    April 7, 2020

    Tags: ,

    We are see­ing so many changes to our work, per­son­al, and social life due to the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic. While these changes can seem daunt­ing and the obsta­cles they cre­ate insur­mount­able, this can be a time of healthy change. There is always the chance for good to hap­pen when you stop, stay home, and start something.

     

    STOP

    Are you some­one that peo­ple would describe as con­stant­ly “on the go”? Do you always have a list of to-dos in your head and not enough time to do them? If so, stop. Take the gift of this cri­sis to stop run­ning around and work­ing to check off the box of every task on your list. Slow down. Stop. Rest is impor­tant to your over­all health in that it allows your body to restore deplet­ed ener­gy. It also boosts your cre­ativ­i­ty and pro­duc­tive­ness because it decreas­es fatigue and brain fog.  Not being pulled in a mil­lion direc­tions will actu­al­ly boost the qual­i­ty and quan­ti­ty of work you can accom­plish. Turn this neg­a­tive sit­u­a­tion into a pos­i­tive by slow­ing down and re-centering.

     

    STAY HOME

    One big take­away from this quar­an­tine is that we have all become quite aware of the mas­sive amounts of time we have spent away from our home and fam­i­ly. Whether it be long hours at work, kids’ sports prac­tice, kids’ music lessons and con­certs, social­iz­ing with friends, or a mix­ture of all of the above, we may be real­iz­ing now just how lit­tle time we’ve spent inside our four walls. Now, our gov­ern­ment is ask­ing us to stay home for the sake of flat­ten­ing the curve of COVID-19 cas­es. Many cities have tak­en this a step fur­ther and have “shel­ter in place” orders restrict­ing the amount of time cit­i­zens are out­side of their home to only essen­tial tasks. These restric­tions help lessen the chance of the virus spread­ing and assist our health­care sys­tem by not over­whelm­ing our hos­pi­tals and health­care work­ers as they care for the sick. Help your fam­i­ly, your neigh­bors, and your work­place and stay home dur­ing this season.

     

    START SOMETHING

    It is so easy to look at our cur­rent sit­u­a­tion in the world with COVID-19 and to only feel fear and see restric­tions. But, now you have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to flip the switch on those feel­ings and choose to find the good dur­ing this quar­an­tine. Remem­ber when we were all going to start knit­ting, or scrap­book­ing, or pho­tog­ra­phy? Go find those things and start them again! How about that idea you’ve had for years about start­ing a fam­i­ly game night? Tonight’s the night to start! Ever caught your­self say­ing “well, back in my day we knew how to <insert long lost basic skill here>” to your kids? Start teach­ing them about that skill whether it’s sewing or typ­ing or laundry!

     

    NOW

    Now is the time to begin see­ing the good in this sit­u­a­tion. You can do it. Don’t let this time slip away and feel like it’s been wast­ed. Stop rush­ing. Stay home and keep every­one healthy. Start some­thing good and mem­o­rable in your house. Don’t waste this glob­al crisis—use it for a pos­i­tive out­come in your life. – use it as a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to slow down, stay home, and start some­thing new!

  • Walmart acts smart – and does medical care their own way – in their store | Jordan Shields, Partner

    April 7, 2020

    Tags: ,

    Sean Sloven­s­ki is the Wal­mart pres­i­dent for U.S. health and well­ness, a $36 bil­lion divi­sion that already fills over 400 mil­lion pre­scrip­tions and oper­ates 3,000 vision cen­ters.  Wal­mart was the first phar­ma­cy to offer pre­scrip­tions for as lit­tle as $4, and then began cut­ting its own health care costs with part­ner­ships like the Cleve­land Clin­ic and offer­ing free health screen­ings.  Now they have opened large health cen­ters in the Atlanta area, with flat fees promi­nent­ly dis­played, for den­tal, med­ical and eye care, X‑rays, hear­ing checks and some diag­nos­tic test­ing.  “We have tak­en advan­tage of every lever we can to bring the price of doing all of this down more than any hos­pi­tal or group prac­tice could human­ly do…our goals, just like in the stores, is to get the prices as low as we can.”  Wal­mart says their mod­el low­ers the cost of deliv­er­ing ser­vice by about 40%.

  • Medicare for Fall – elections in Colorado may push the states do what the feds can’t | Jordan Shields, Partner

    April 3, 2020

    Tags: ,

    Col­orado law­mak­ers are prepar­ing a vote on a state-spon­sored health plan that would com­pete with pri­vate insur­ance and offer low­er pre­mi­ums. The gov­er­nor has the idea of reduc­ing health care costs at the top of his agen­da, cre­at­ing an Office of Sav­ing Peo­ple Mon­ey on Health Care. Col­orado fol­lows in the wake of Wash­ing­ton, which already has a pub­lic option, and joins Delaware, Mass­a­chu­setts and New Mex­i­co who have their own pro­pos­als. Colorado’s
    state-spon­sored plan would start in 2022 and tar­get the 7% of the pop­u­la­tion that buys their own health insur­ance, with pre­mi­ums 11–17% below mar­ket. The state will tar­get hos­pi­tal costs in a trans­par­ent man­ner, replac­ing car­ri­er nego­ti­a­tions, and also lim­it car­ri­er prof­its and their bud­get for admin­is­tra­tive expens­es. Hos­pi­tals are not hap­py and have pro­posed their own idea that would lim­it total health care spend­ing with­out inter­fer­ing in the pri­vate­ly nego­ti­at­ed rates between insur­ers and hospitals.

  • 8 Creative Ways to Move More When You’re Stuck at Home

    March 30, 2020

    Tags: ,

    The lat­est coro­n­avirus, COVID-19, con­tin­ues to be a major source of con­cern. Sports teams have can­celled sea­sons, com­pa­nies are urg­ing employ­ees to work from home and social dis­tanc­ing is in full swing — all of which has anx­i­ety at an all-time high. One way to help calm your nerves: exercise.

    “It can help reduce ten­sion and ele­vate mood by releas­ing endor­phins, as well as nor­ep­i­neph­rine, sero­tonin and dopamine,” says Alexan­dra Kreps, MD, a board cer­ti­fied pri­ma­ry care physi­cian and internist at Tru Whole Care in New York City. “It can also work to sta­bi­lize mood and reg­u­late sleep.”

    Plus, it’s “a proven strat­e­gy to help improve, strength­en and main­tain a good immune sys­tem,” says Per­cell Dug­ger, a cer­ti­fied strength coach and founder of GOODWRK. Some­thing we can all ben­e­fit from right now.

    But with gyms and stu­dios clear­ing out and more folks find­ing them­selves quar­an­tined — either as a pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure or by doc­tor’s orders — you may feel it’s inevitable that your work­outs will fall by the way­side. To make things more com­pli­cat­ed, you may now be work­ing from home full-time while also tak­ing care of your kids.

    For­tu­nate­ly, stay­ing active at home does­n’t have to be com­pli­cat­ed or take a long time. We tapped fit pros for a cou­ple of cre­ative ways to get mov­ing with­out risk­ing your health — or the health of those around you.

    1. Dance It Out

    Put togeth­er a playlist of your favorite songs — “ones that get your heart pump­ing by just lis­ten­ing and that zap you into your own men­tal music video,” says Ivy Ledon, an instruc­tor at 305 Fit­ness — and dance like no one’s watching.

    Not only has cut­ting a rug been shown to improve car­dio­vas­cu­lar health, fight the effects of aging in the brain and improve your bal­ance and sta­bil­i­ty (which can low­er the risk of falling and get­ting injured), it’s also just plain fun!

    “Music is a uni­ver­sal lan­guage,” says Ledon, not­ing that 305 Fit­ness cur­rent­ly offers free online dance work­out videos. And if your lit­tle ones are home from school, an impromp­tu dance par­ty keeps them active and enter­tained, while help­ing them expend pent-up energy.

    2. Take a Squat Break

    Who says you need to be at the gym to drop it like a squat? You can do them pret­ty much any­where. Plus a March 2020 study from the Pro­ceed­ings of the Nation­al Acad­e­my of Sci­ences found that squat­ting, which is a nat­ur­al and func­tion­al move­ment pat­tern, not only offers high­er lev­els of mus­cle activ­i­ty than sit­ting but may also help reduce some of the asso­ci­at­ed health risks (think car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, dia­betes, obe­si­ty, etc.)

    In oth­er words, a squat break may be just what the doc­tor ordered. Try while brush­ing your teeth, says Vic­to­ria Brown, a senior instruc­tor at Soul­Cy­cle. Con­sid­er­ing the Amer­i­can Den­tal Asso­ci­a­tion rec­om­mends brush­ing your teeth for two min­utes twice a day, that’s a nice chunk of time to tar­get every mus­cle in your low­er body, includ­ing your quads, ham­strings and glutes, while you prac­tice good oral hygiene.

    3. Strike a Pose

    Whether you’re a yogi or not, when anx­i­ety is high, yoga should be a go-to. Here’s why: It’s a proven stress and anx­i­ety buster. All you need is a mat or towel.

    Faheem Mujahid, a cer­ti­fied yoga teacher, per­son­al train­er and mind­set coach, sug­gests try­ing the fol­low­ing two pos­es while you’re on lock­down. They get your whole body involved and engaged your entire kinet­ic chain from head to toes, which if you’ve spent mul­ti­ple hours hor­i­zon­tal, is like­ly needed.

    Move 1: War­rior I

    Why? Strength­ens the legs, opens the hips and chest, and stretch­es the arms and legs

    Start with your feet about four feet apart, right in front of left, turn­ing the toes of your back foot out to a 45-degree angle.
    Keep­ing the back leg straight, bend your front knee, mak­ing sure it’s stacked over the right ankle. Keep your hips and shoul­ders square to the front.
    Reach your arms straight up along­side your ears and bring your palms togeth­er to touch. Gaze up.
    Hold for three breaths, then switch sides.

    Move 2: Crow Pose

    Why? Strength­ens the core, arms, back, wrists and inner thighs.

    Stand with feet wider than hip-width apart. Bend your knees and low­er your tor­so between legs.
    Place your hands on the floor, scoop in your low­er abs and lift your hips high, plac­ing your knees into your upper arms.
    Trans­fer your weight into hands, tip for­ward and slow­ly lift one foot off the floor, fol­lowed by the oth­er, tuck­ing them in towards your butt.
    Hold for three breaths.

    4. Combine Cooking and Calisthenics

    Since you’ll like­ly be spend­ing more time in the kitchen, use that time to do some leg lifts while you’re whip­ping up a healthy meal for your­self and your family.

    “By lift­ing your leg either to the side or behind you in an arabesque while you’re cook­ing, you can tone your glutes and out­er thighs in a fun way,” says Rob­bie Ann Dar­by, a cer­ti­fied per­son­al train­er and cre­ator of RAD Experience.

    Look­ing for more of a chal­lenge? Dar­by sug­gests adding a mini resis­tance band around your thighs or ankles to inten­si­fy the exer­cise so you real­ly feel the burn.

    5. Walk This Way

    Whether you’re tak­ing con­fer­ence calls while work­ing from home or Face­Time-ing with your friends, make the deci­sion to simul­ta­ne­ous­ly move your feet. Walk the length of your home, around the kitchen table or even up and down the stairs if you have them.

    Research shows it can boost your mood, ener­gy and immune sys­tem. And all you need is at least 20 min­utes. That’s two 10-minute calls or four five-minute calls, which is total­ly doable, and much bet­ter for you than sit­ting on your behind.

    6. Get Creative With Furniture

    Your house is full of non-tra­di­tion­al work­out equip­ment just wait­ing to be used. Dar­by likes to head to her couch for killer core work. Her move of choice: V‑sits. “When you do this exer­cise on the couch, which is cushy and there­fore unsta­ble, you get an extra burn.” It’s a great way to make your Insta­gram scrolling ses­sions more productive.

    Move 1: V‑Sits

    Lie on your back on the couch with legs and arms extended.
    Simul­ta­ne­ous­ly lift your tor­so and legs, bring­ing your hands and feet to touch. Hold.
    Slow­ly low­er back down to the start and repeat.
    Aim for 3 sets of 10 to 15.

    Anoth­er go-to for Dar­by: barstool (or chair) push-ups and dips. “Upper-body work using a place where you usu­al­ly rest your low­er body nev­er felt so good,” Dar­by says.

    Move 2: Incline Push-Ups

    Get into a high plank with your hands rest­ing on a barstool or chair. Hands should be slight­ly wider than your shoulders.
    Engage your abs and low­er down until your chest near­ly touch­es the stool. Hold.
    Push back to the start.
    Try to knock out as many as you can in 45 seconds.

    Move 3: Dips

    Posi­tion your­self between two barstools — a hand on each one — or at the edge of a chair, hands posi­tioned behind you.
    Low­er your hips between the stools, so that legs are bent and thighs are par­al­lel to the floor; arms should be straight.
    Bend your elbows and low­er your body toward the floor until your arms form 90-degree angles.
    Push back up to start and con­tin­ue for 45 seconds.

    7. Crush Calories With Chores

    Being con­fined to your home gives you the oppor­tu­ni­ty to turn mun­dane tasks into exer­cise oppor­tu­ni­ties. “Try moun­tain climbers, dri­ving your knees up, while hold­ing a plank posi­tion with dust rags under the balls of your feet or split lunges while you vac­u­um,” Brown says.

    Move 1: Moun­tain Climbers

    Press up into a high plank posi­tion like you’re about to do a push-up, with hands beneath the shoul­ders and your body in a straight line from head to heels.
    Bring your right knee into your chest, engag­ing your abs at the same time.
    Return your right knee to start­ing position.
    Bring your left knee into your chest, then shoot it back, switch­ing legs at your desired pace.

    Or if you’re tired of watch­ing those dirty clothes pile up and need to do a load of laun­dry or two, con­sid­er a round of biceps curls with the laun­dry deter­gent. “Try dif­fer­ent angles,” Brown says. “Down the cen­ter, hinge at your hips and curl toward your oppo­site shoul­der, then stand tall and curl out to the side.” You arms will thank you.

    Move 2: Biceps Curls

    Stand and hold weights in each hand, palms fac­ing up and about shoul­der-width apart.
    Keep­ing your elbows glued to your sides and your chest upright, raise the weights up toward your shoul­ders. At the top of the motion, focus on flex­ing your biceps.
    Slow­ly low­er the weights until your elbows extend ful­ly at the bot­tom with­out locking.

    If you’re feel­ing extra ambi­tious and have decid­ed to not only wipe down your shelves but also final­ly col­or coor­di­nate your books, use this as a moment to work your core. “Fill up a week­ender bag with books and do Russ­ian twists on your car­pet or yoga mat,” Brown says.

    Move 3: Russ­ian Twists

    Sit down on the floor with your knees bent.
    Keep your abs con­tract­ed and twist your tor­so to the right, bring­ing your arms out to the right as well.
    Rotate back through cen­ter, then twist to the left.

    8. Take a TV Break

    There’s like­ly to be a lot of tele­vi­sion watch­ing over the next few weeks. Each time a com­mer­cial comes on, Dug­ger sug­gests pick­ing a few exer­cis­es — sit-ups, planks, push-ups, lunges, etc. — and doing 20 sec­onds on and 20 sec­onds off until your show starts up again.

    More of a Net­flix-and-chill type? Either work out dur­ing the show or tell your­self you’ll do a dumb­bell com­plex in between episodes. That involves per­form­ing a series of move­ments that com­ple­ment each oth­er back-to-back in a cir­cuit with­out putting the weight down, Dug­ger says. Try this one:

    5 bent-over rows
    5 Roman­ian deadlifts
    5 cleans
    5 stand­ing presses
    Do 5 rounds total

    Move 1: Bent-Over Rows

    Stand with your feet hip-width apart, a slight bend in knees, and a dumb­bell in each hand, palms fac­ing in.
    Hinge at hips and low­er your tor­so slight­ly, allow­ing your arms to hang down.
    Keep­ing back flat, squeeze your shoul­der blades and bend your elbows, pulling weights up to the sides of your ribs.
    Slow­ly low­er arms back to the start.

    Move 2: Roman­ian Deadlifts

    Stand with your feet hip-width apart with a slight bend in your knees, hold­ing a dumb­bell in each hand out in front of you.
    Hinge at your hips, push­ing your butt back as you low­er the dumb­bells down.
    Squeeze your glutes, ham­strings and core, dri­ving your feet into the ground to rise back to standing.

    Move 3: Cleans

    Stand with your feet shoul­der-width apart in a slight squat, hold­ing a dumb­bell in each hand at sides, palms fac­ing in.
    Dri­ving through your heels, explode up and flip your wrists so they face for­ward, bring­ing the weights to your shoulders.
    Straight­en your legs to stand tall.
    Pause, then low­er weights to your sides to return to the start.

    Move 4: Stand­ing Presses

    Stand with your feet shoul­der-width apart, a dumb­bell in each hand, arms bent slight­ly, hands slight­ly wider than shoul­ders, palms fac­ing your body.
    Press the weights straight up, twist­ing them so your palms face for­ward at the top.
    Reverse motion to return to start.

    No weights? No wor­ries. Dug­ger says you can use filled gal­lon water jugs, soup cans, heavy books or bags filled with things from your cab­i­net or even fruit (think apples or oranges).

    By Roza­lynn S. Fra­zier, CPT

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on livestrong.com

  • Remote Work Challenges for HR

    March 23, 2020

    Tags: ,

    It’s been said the ongo­ing COVID-19 (coro­n­avirus) out­break has cre­at­ed the largest remote work exper­i­ment ever devised.  In fact, there are many recent­ly doc­u­ment­ed cas­es where com­pa­nies have asked at least some of their employ­ees to work from home.  Three of those com­pa­nies are Ama­zon, Twit­ter and Microsoft.

    Remote work, of course, is not some­thing new.  In the past, remote work has been large­ly reserved for cus­tomer ser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tives but that’s changed now with remote work being a real­i­ty for many dif­fer­ent indus­tries across the board.  There’s been a 173 per­cent increase in peo­ple work­ing remote­ly since 2005.  Addi­tion­al­ly, 75 per­cent of work­ers say they’re more pro­duc­tive at home.  The reasons:

    • Few­er distractions
    • Less com­mut­ing
    • Low­er instances of office politics

    The coro­n­avirus aside, there are some real chal­lenges for HR when it comes to look­ing after a remote work­force.  Chief among them is the strat­e­gy for keep­ing those remote employ­ees engaged the company.

    Remote Work

    Employee Engagement

    Employ­ee engage­ment is not an easy thing to accom­plish.  By and large, it real­ly depends on the type of orga­ni­za­tion and the type of work­ers typ­i­cal­ly employed by said orga­ni­za­tion.  What works for one doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly work for the oth­er.  When a com­pa­ny then adds remote work­ers into the mix, one can see how it gets more dif­fi­cult to see suc­cess in a strategy.

    In some ways, it’s easy for human resources to devel­op this idea remote work­ers don’t need engage­ment.  The oppo­site is actu­al­ly true.  Remote work­ers tend to be very pro­duc­tive.  Most sta­tis­tics back up this claim.  A sol­id remote work­er is typ­i­cal­ly described as:

    • Self-Dis­ci­plined
    • Adapt­able
    • Flex­i­ble
    • Strong com­mu­ni­ca­tors
    • Inde­pen­dent
    • Con­fi­dent
    • Reli­able

    Even with all of that said, remote works want to feel like they belong with the com­pa­ny.  It’s imper­a­tive they believe they are impor­tant and val­ued mem­bers of the com­pa­ny cul­ture and its com­mu­ni­ty.  Remote work­ers, just like on-site work­ers, are sus­cep­ti­ble to cer­tain trends such as leav­ing the orga­ni­za­tion with­in the first year and leav­ing to pur­sue career advance­ment opportunities.

    Facilitating Remote Work

    All of that said, there are things com­pa­ny lead­ers and man­agers can do to set the engage­ment of the remote work­force on the right path.

    1. Expec­ta­tions

    The whole point of remote work is not hav­ing to go into the office.  As such flex­i­ble work sched­ul­ing is typ­i­cal­ly a piece of the over­all remote work­ing strat­e­gy.  To be more to the point – work­ers prob­a­bly aren’t work­ing a 9‑to‑5 shift if they’re off-site.  That being said, man­agers can set par­tic­u­lar expec­ta­tions such as times the employ­ee is expect­ed to be “on the clock.”  Some peo­ple refer to these as “busy hours” or “office hours.”  It’s dur­ing this time remote work­ers should be expect­ed to be prompt in their respons­es to emails and phone calls as well as be avail­able to col­lab­o­rate with the team.

    1. Inclu­sion

    Nor­mal­ly when the word inclu­sion is used, it’s in con­nect­ed to diver­si­ty.  In this par­tic­u­lar instance, the focus is not on the inclu­sion of work­ers from any oth­er per­spec­tive than the fact they are part of a team.  If a team is meet­ing at the office to dis­cuss strat­e­gy or any­thing for that mat­ter, remote work­ers should be allowed to par­tic­i­pate.  They should actu­al­ly be expect­ed to do so.  With tools such as Zoom and Skype avail­able, there’s no rea­son they should not be includ­ed in the conversation.

    1. Rewards

    In a lot of instances, brick-and-mor­tar employ­ees tend to think remote work­ers don’t work near­ly as much.  That’s actu­al­ly a mis­con­cep­tion.  In most instances, remote work­ers work longer hours than those in the office; about 46 hours a week.  That being said, it’s impor­tant to reward these work­ers.  If they are hit­ting their goals, that needs to be recognized.

    Productivity Case Study

    One area where com­pa­nies tend to cringe when it comes to remote work is in pro­duc­tiv­i­ty.  There are some real fears pre­sent­ed from lead­ers with respect to work­ers not being as pro­duc­tive when work­ing from home as com­pared to those brick-and-mor­tar employ­ees.  Some of it, like it or not, stems from the need some lead­ers have with respect to see­ing their direct reports work.  Is this fear found­ed or unfound­ed?  If the results of one case study (and sev­er­al oth­ers) are to be believed, the answer is def­i­nite­ly unfounded.

    Look to CTrip, China’s largest trav­el agency.  A pro­fes­sor from Stan­ford stud­ies whether or not remote work was “ben­e­fi­cial or harm­ful for pro­duc­tiv­i­ty.”  It took two years to com­plete the study and what the pro­fes­sor found is a pro­found increase in pro­duc­tiv­i­ty for a group of remote work­ers over their in-office coun­ter­parts.  It was­n’t all “sun­shine and rain­bows”, how­ev­er.  Those remote work­ers did report an increase in feel­ing lone­ly and many report­ed they didn’t want to work from home all the time.  In the end, the rec­om­men­da­tion was to cre­ate a hybrid of sorts; one that bal­anced work­ing from home and in the office.

    In summation

    Here’s what we know.  Right now, there are some 26 mil­lion Amer­i­cans who work, at least part of the time, from home.  And that num­ber is only going to grow.  Accord­ing to a report from Buffer, 99 per­cent of employ­ees say they want to work from home some of the time for the rest of their careers.  Addi­tion­al­ly, IWG says their research indi­cates 80 per­cent of work­ers would choose a posi­tion with flex­i­ble work over one that didn’t offer the benefit.

    It can only be hypoth­e­sized the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic will con­tin­ue to push employ­ers to test the bound­aries of remote work­ing.  In doing so, they will have to take a very hard look at their cur­rent employ­ee engage­ment strate­gies to ensure work­ers still feel con­nect­ed to the orga­ni­za­tion and each oth­er.  While it’s not the sin­gle most impor­tant thing when it comes to con­tin­ued prof­itabil­i­ty, espe­cial­ly in an econ­o­my rocked by a world­wide coro­n­avirus out­break, it will go a long way to ensur­ing com­pa­nies can con­tin­ue deliv­er­ing on busi­ness promis­es and sup­port­ing the bot­tom line and the com­pa­ny workforce.

    By Mason Stevenson

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on hrexchangenetwork.com

  • California Law Review – you MUST have seen all of this | Jordan Shields, Partner

    March 17, 2020

    Tags: ,

    Min­i­mum Wage:  $12 (under 25 employ­ees) or $13 in Cal­i­for­nia.  But beware that many munic­i­pal­i­ties have filed their own (notably Petaluma, San­ta Rosa, Berke­ley, Emeryville, Oak­land, Rich­mond, San Jose and San Fran­cis­co), which are high­er or accord work­ers greater rights (usu­al­ly sur­round­ing health insur­ance).  Note, too, how to count telecom­mut­ing and thresh­olds for com­mis­sioned salespeople.

    San­ta Rosa     $14 or $15 as of July 1, 2020

    Petaluma         $14 or $15 as of Jan­u­ary 1 and rais­ing one dol­lar Jan­u­ary 1, 2021

    Sono­ma          $14 or $15 on Jan­u­ary 1, 2021

    Over­time for Agri­cul­tur­al Work­ers – with splits for under 25 and 25 or more employees

    Lac­ta­tion – all Cal­i­for­nia employ­ers must meet min­i­mum guide­lines for pro­vid­ing a safe and secure place for moth­ers lac­tat­ing.  Employ­ers with less than 50 employ­ees may request an exemp­tion.  There are also rules against dis­charg­ing employ­ees with these rights.

    Harass­ment Train­ing – now applies to all com­pa­nies with at least five employees

    Inde­pen­dent Con­trac­tors – this is a big one, and com­pli­cat­ed – but basi­cal­ly insti­tutes rules regard­ing who is an inde­pen­dent con­trac­tor in Cal­i­for­nia.  Fair warn­ing – almost no one is.

     

  • Dental Health Benefits You Can’t Afford to Lose

    March 16, 2020

    Tags: ,

    Did you know that a healthy mouth and good oral hygiene can actu­al­ly reduce your like­li­hood of oth­er seri­ous dis­eases? Your mouth is more than just a gate­way to enjoy­ing deli­cious food. Your mouth is an indi­ca­tor of your over­all health. Let’s chew on the facts about den­tal health and what it can mean for the rest of your body.

    Gum Dis­ease = Warn­ing Sign

    Decayed teeth and gum dis­ease are more than just unattractive–they are a report card on how the rest of your body is doing. Inflam­ma­tion of your gums can first show up as bad breath. From there, this warn­ing sign can point to more seri­ous car­dio­vas­cu­lar prob­lems like blocked blood ves­sels and even ele­vat­ed stroke risk. Think your dia­betes is under con­trol? Think again if you have the warn­ing sign of gum dis­ease. Check with your doc­tor if you feel like you just can’t get your swollen and bleed­ing gums to heal. Uncon­trolled dia­betes is linked direct­ly to the inabil­i­ty to fight infec­tions like those gum issues. Final­ly, the warn­ing sign of gum dis­ease has also been tied to high­er risk for arthri­tis and even cog­ni­tive issues like slow­er ver­bal recall and slow­er abil­i­ty to per­form sub­trac­tion problems.

    Oral Bac­te­ria = Major Health Risk

    Bac­te­ria buildup in your mouth leads your body towards major health issues. Endo­cardi­tis is an infec­tion of the inner lin­ing of your heart cham­bers and can be traced back to oral bac­te­ria that is left unchecked and enters the blood­stream. These same bac­te­ria, left unchecked, can start major heart issues as coro­nary dis­ease, clogged arter­ies, and stroke. Pneu­mo­nia has been caused by bac­te­ria from your mouth being pulled into your lungs. And pre­ma­ture birth and low birth weight can be the result of peri­odon­ti­tis in the birth mother.

    Tips to a Healthy Mouth

    While the end result of poor oral health can lead to dis­ease, the way to avoid this scary path­way is by prac­tic­ing these good den­tal habits.
    • Brush your teeth twice a day. If you are unable to brush, chew sug­ar-free gum or use on-the-go tooth­brush­es like the Col­gate Wisp.
    • Make sure you use flu­o­ride tooth­paste to strength­en weak spots and exposed roots.
    • After brush­ing, use mouth­wash to rinse away any left­over food particles.
    • Replace your tooth­brush every 3 months. Frayed bris­tles are not strong enough to remove food from between teeth.
    • Sched­ule reg­u­lar den­tal vis­its for both clean­ings and exams.
    • Adhere to a healthy diet that is low in sugar.
    • Avoid tobacco.

    Under­stand­ing that good den­tal health leads to good over­all health is key. Con­verse­ly, poor den­tal habits have been shown to lead to every­thing from minor infec­tions to major dis­eases. When you take care of your teeth and gums the ben­e­fits to your over­all health are innu­mer­able. Fol­low the tips out­lined here for good den­tal health and your body will reap the ben­e­fits for years to come.

    Want to edu­cate oth­ers on the ben­e­fits to good den­tal health? Check out these resources:
    World Oral Health Day—March 20
    Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Prevention
    Amer­i­can Den­tal Asso­ci­a­tion—Print­a­bles and Activ­i­ties for Children

  • Taxing Issues continued – whither will the ACA wither when the Supreme Court rules? | Jordan Shields, Partner

    March 10, 2020

    Tags: ,

    The biggest con­tro­ver­sy, and the item that pushed the ACA over the goal line, was Chief Jus­tice Roberts sid­ing with his lib­er­al col­leagues and approv­ing the law, based on dis­put­ed log­ic that likened the man­date penal­ty on indi­vid­u­als to a tax, and thus sub­ject to fed­er­al approval (and Supreme Court affir­ma­tion).  When the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment decid­ed to elim­i­nate the penal­ty, they also elim­i­nat­ed the Supreme Court jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for ACA con­tin­u­a­tion.  That was upheld in a recent US Court of Appeals deci­sion (Fifth Cir­cuit), say­ing the man­date is now unconstitutional.

    Now the states who joined the orig­i­nal suit and the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives have filed two peti­tions ask­ing the Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue imme­di­ate­ly for both its con­sti­tu­tion­al posi­tion and the ACA via­bil­i­ty if the man­date is struck down.

  • Employee Burnout in 2020

    March 10, 2020

    Tags: , ,

    For a long time, employ­ee burnout has been dis­missed. In some instances, it’s been writ­ten off as employ­ee lazi­ness or sim­ply an employ­ee being con­trary. That, how­ev­er, is no longer the case.

    In 2020, HR pro­fes­sion­als are going to have to deal with it as a real­ized syn­drome and one that is becom­ing more preva­lent in the work­place. By going unman­aged, it has become an issue for com­pa­nies all over the world. And if the trends are to be believed, it’s going to con­tin­ue to go as a prob­lem in the years to come. The impact is over­whelm­ing. Accord­ing to one arti­cle, in 2019 there was an increase in stress and burnout inci­dents report­ed. The result had an impact on work­place cul­tures actu­al­ly caus­ing them to decline.

     

    Employ­ee Burnout
    Impact on Workplaces

    Employ­ee burnout cas­es have increased to the point where the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion has offi­cial­ly rec­og­nized it as an occu­pa­tion­al phe­nom­e­non. In fact, the WHO has includ­ed it in the 11th Revi­sion of the Inter­na­tion­al Clas­si­fi­ca­tion of Dis­eases. The hand­book describes burnout as “a syn­drome con­cep­tu­al­ized as result­ing from chron­ic work­place stress that has not been suc­cess­ful­ly managed.”

    “As work becomes more inter­twined with tech­nol­o­gy and work becomes more portable, the bound­aries of per­son­al time and work time are get­ting blurred,” Vishal Bhal­la said. He’s the Chief Expe­ri­ence Offi­cer for Park­land Health and Hos­pi­tal Sys­tem. “It’s impor­tant HR doesn’t puff its chest up and pre­tend it doesn’t exist and actu­al­ly address it.”

    Why? Bhal­la says it can impact so many things in the work­place and out­side of it.

    “Burnout impacts safe­ty issues. It impacts turnover. And there are many social effects because indi­vid­u­als who expe­ri­ence burnout tend to numb them­selves by indulging in things one should not indulge in and they even­tu­al­ly end up hurt­ing them­selves or oth­ers,” Bhal­la explained.

    Gallup recent­ly sur­veyed more than 7,500 full-time employ­ees about burnout. 23 per­cent of those work­ers said they felt burned out more often than not. An addi­tion­al 44 per­cent report­ed feel­ing burned out some­times. To put that into con­text, near­ly two-thirds of full-time work­ers are deal­ing with burnout at some point while at work.

    As a result, those employ­ees were near­ly three times as like­ly to start look­ing for anoth­er job. Addi­tion­al­ly, Gin­ger, an on-demand behav­ioral health provider, says 50 per­cent have missed at least one day.

     

    Caus­es of Burnout
    Bhal­la said any num­ber of things can lead to an employ­ee expe­ri­enc­ing burnout. Some­times, it has to do with the rela­tion­ship between the employ­ee and his or her man­ag­er. It can also be tracked back to instances of bul­ly­ing or dis­crim­i­na­tion. Anoth­er big com­po­nent to employ­ee burnout is the employ­ee doing more than his or her fair share of work. Bhal­la says this relates to, for exam­ple, the time it takes for the com­pa­ny to replace a mem­ber of the team that was pro­mot­ed, left the orga­ni­za­tion or was ter­mi­nat­ed. In most sit­u­a­tions, the team is expect­ed to pick up the slack. That can lead to stress which can ulti­mate­ly trans­late into burnout.

     

    Con­clu­sion
    So how does HR solve for the problem?

    “We can lever­age tech­nol­o­gy. We can lever­age cul­ture work. We can lever­age engage­ment because the oth­er end of the spec­trum is an engaged team mem­ber,” Bhal­la said. He also point­ed to design think­ing as an option.

    “It’s more incum­bent on HR to take care of their peo­ple well. There are a lot of resources that are avail­able for us to be able to impact burnout.”

    Cre­at­ing a work­place where an employ­ee is excit­ed to come to work can help curb the pos­si­bil­i­ty of an employ­ee devel­op­ing burnout. In real­i­ty, no one is immune, but cre­at­ing an envi­ron­ment where employ­ees feel hap­py, engaged and moti­vat­ed along with hav­ing the tools they need to suc­ceed goes a long way.

    By Mason Stevenson

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on hrexchangenetwork.com

  • Trust in God – All Others Pay Cash – the government goes after faith based plans | Jordan Shields, Partner

    March 3, 2020

    Tags: ,

    The con­cept is sim­ple, just like insur­ance.  Get a group of peo­ple in a com­mon pool to pay pre­mi­ums, col­lect­ed for the pur­pose of pay­ing them back in claims.  The prob­lem is it is not insur­ance, and there is a notable absence of pro­tec­tions against a run on the pool.  Chris­t­ian cost-shar­ing min­istries that enroll indi­vid­u­als are now fac­ing scruti­ny from sev­er­al state reg­u­la­tors who believe that their claims about claims are not what they seem, and may lack the finan­cial resources to allow faith to func­tion.  Yes, the pre­mi­ums are low­er than what is found in the mar­ket, but so are the pro­tec­tions, with either inter­nal or exter­nal caps and, of course, faith in the finances of the min­istry group hold­ing their mon­ey.  State reg­u­la­tors in New Hamp­shire, Col­orado and Texas are doing some inves­ti­ga­tion on the prac­tices, promis­es and real­i­ty of what is being offered.  Wash­ing­ton State has fined one of the larg­er health shar­ing min­istries, Trin­i­ty Healthshare, $150,000 and banned it from offer­ing its prod­ucts to state res­i­dents.  Neva­da has sent out a warn­ing, with the Depart­ment of Insur­ance say­ing “they may seem entic­ing because they may be cheap, look and sound like they are in com­pli­ance with the ACA, when in real­i­ty these plans are not even insur­ance prod­ucts.”  Texas has brought suit against Aliera Healthcare.

  • March Madness 2020: The Ball is in Your Court

    March 2, 2020

    Tags: ,

    March Mad­ness is upon us, and there is no avoid­ing it. Selec­tion Sun­day, when the NCAA Divi­sion 1 Men’s Bas­ket­ball Com­mit­tee announces which 68 teams made the 2020 tour­na­ment, is March 15th. Games begin with the First Four on March 17th and 18th and cul­mi­nate with the Final Four April 4th and the 2020 NCAA cham­pi­onship game on April 6th.

    While this annu­al event can impact pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, employ­ers may find that the pos­i­tive effects it has on team engage­ment and cama­raderie out­weigh any neg­a­tives. Con­sid­er these facts from both sides of the coin:

    • An esti­mat­ed $1.9 bil­lion is lost in work­place pro­duc­tiv­i­ty dur­ing a typ­i­cal March Mad­ness tour­na­ment. (Chal­lenger, Gray & Christmas)
    • Employ­ees will spend 25.5 min­utes per work­day on March Mad­ness, for a total of 6 hours spread over the 15 work­days when games will be played. (OfficeTeam) This includes time spent by 76 per­cent of employ­ees who admit to check­ing scores dur­ing work hours and 53 per­cent who watch or fol­low sport­ing events on their com­put­ers while at work. (Rand­stad)
    • As much as $3 bil­lion will be bet on work­place brack­et pools dur­ing March Mad­ness this year. (Ford­Har­ri­son) About 40 per­cent of work­ers say they have par­tic­i­pat­ed in col­lege bas­ket­ball brack­ets in their offices, with an aver­age of $22.44 con­tributed to the pools. (Rand­stad)
    • Near­ly 9 in 10 employ­ees said par­tic­i­pat­ing in NCAA brack­ets at work helped build team cama­raderie, and 73 per­cent said they look for­ward to going to work more when they are part of an office pool. (Rand­stad)

    So how can an employ­er embrace the fun of March Mad­ness while enforc­ing the rules it may push the lim­its of? Whether you view the tour­na­ment as a minor dis­trac­tion that cre­ates an oppor­tu­ni­ty to boost morale, or as a poten­tial pit­fall of legal lia­bil­i­ty, missed dead­lines, and dis­sat­is­fied cus­tomers, the ball is in your court. Here are five ways to max­i­mize the pos­i­tive aspects of March Mad­ness while min­i­miz­ing disruptions.

    1. Have fun: Make it clear to your employ­ees that you want them to enjoy work and March Mad­ness while not let­ting the tour­na­ment put a full-court press on their work. Encour­age employ­ees to wear their favorite team’s cloth­ing and/or dec­o­rate their work­space in their team’s colors.
    2. Watch togeth­er: Put tele­vi­sions in break rooms so that employ­ees have some­where to watch the games oth­er than the inter­net. That way, con­nec­tiv­i­ty is not slowed and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty lost even for those not par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Mad­ness activ­i­ties. Pro­vide snacks for the viewers.
    3. Be care­ful with brack­ets: Orga­nize a com­pa­ny-wide pool with no entry fee to avoid eth­i­cal or legal issues sur­round­ing office gam­bling. Give away a com­pa­ny gift to the pool win­ner that is not cash. Keep the brack­ets post­ed and updat­ed in the break room.
    4. Be flex­i­ble: Allow work­ers to arrive ear­ly so they can work a full shift and still leave in time to see big games that over­lap the end of their shift. Con­verse­ly, allow­ing employ­ees to delay their start time the morn­ing after big games may help reduce absenteeism.
    5. Fol­low the rules: Review applic­a­ble com­pa­ny poli­cies — such as gam­bling, use of per­son­al elec­tron­ics and com­pa­ny com­put­ers, and work and break hours—with your employ­ees before engag­ing in any March Mad­ness activ­i­ties at work, so it will be clear to all what is con­sid­ered acceptable.Determine how March Mad­ness fits with your busi­ness cul­ture and cus­tomer deliv­er­ables. If employ­ees are get­ting their work done, cus­tomers are hap­py, and the biggest prob­lems are reduced inter­net band­width or a lit­tle more noise in the cubi­cles or lunch­room for a cou­ple of days, it’s noth­ing but net. (See what we did there?) Decide how you’ll be play­ing this before the open­ing tipoff and the Mad­ness begins!

    By Rachel Sobel

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on thinkhr.com

  • Let the dismantling continue – the ACA | Jordan Shields, Partner

    February 25, 2020

    Tags: ,

    The mas­sive Fur­ther Con­sol­i­dat­ed Appro­pri­a­tions Act, passed in the wan­ing days of Decem­ber, made sev­er­al sub­stan­tive changes to the Afford­able Care Act, a goal Pres­i­dent Trump first trum­pet­ed in his cam­paign and has con­tin­ued to pur­sue since he began his office term.

    • Repeal of the Cadil­lac Tax — a clas­sic case of “now that we have it, what do we do with it” giv­en that it was going to charge many med­ical plan pol­i­cy­hold­ers a tax for hav­ing a “rich” plan.  Rev­enue was sup­posed to pay for ACA reduc­tions, so now what?
    • Repeal of the 2.3% med­ical excise tax (will the man­u­fac­tur­ers reduce their pric­ing by a com­men­su­rate amount?)
    • Repeal of the Health Insur­ance Pre­mi­um Tax (HIT) after 2020 (which car­ri­ers have been pass­ing along two pol­i­cy­hold­ers since it was imposed – and now?)

    There is no waiv­er or end to the PCORI (Patient Cen­tered Out­comes Research Insti­tute) tax, though no one is quite sure what the insti­tute is doing.  This only applies to self-fund­ed plans.

    It is also appar­ent that the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, fol­low­ing an exec­u­tive order filed ear­ly in the term, has no inten­tion of pur­su­ing any fur­ther action on dis­crim­i­na­tion testing.

    The repeal of the three tax­es, designed to pay for ACA cov­er­age expan­sion, result in a col­lec­tive loss of $373.3 bil­lion over ten years.  No replace­ment for the rev­enue is suggested.

    There is also some­thing in the bill regard­ing “sil­ver load­ing” which deals with allowances for the pre­mi­um tax cred­it for those who qual­i­fy for the sub­sidy.  The pre­mi­um for the sec­ond low­est cost mar­ket­place sil­ver plan is used to deter­mine the cred­it allowance.  As a result, car­ri­ers loaded the cost of the sil­ver plan, despite the actu­al actu­ar­i­al con­sid­er­a­tions.  If sil­ver load­ing were pro­hib­it­ed, it is spec­u­lat­ed that car­ri­ers would spread the load among all med­ical plans.  The expect­ed increase was 11% for non-sil­ver plans with a 5% reduc­tion in sil­ver plans.

  • Service Animals in the Workplace | California Benefits Advisors

    February 24, 2020

    Tags: ,

    In 2020, many peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties use the emo­tion­al and phys­i­cal sup­port pro­vid­ed by a ser­vice ani­mal. This means that the work­place has seen an increase of these ser­vice ani­mals over the last decade and there­fore the work­force needs to be edu­cat­ed on this chang­ing envi­ron­ment. Let’s take a look at what con­sti­tutes a ser­vice ani­mal and the accom­mo­da­tion of such in the workplace.


    Amer­i­cans with Dis­abil­i­ties Act

    The Amer­i­cans with Dis­abil­i­ties Act (ADA) pro­vides a frame­work of pro­tec­tions for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties in the work­place. Title I of the ADA pro­hibits employ­ers from dis­crim­i­nat­ing against poten­tial can­di­dates and employ­ees with dis­abil­i­ties. In fact, Title I out­lines that the work­place must make “rea­son­able accom­mo­da­tions” for this spe­cif­ic group of peo­ple. “Exam­ples of rea­son­able accom­mo­da­tions include mak­ing exist­ing facil­i­ties acces­si­ble; job restruc­tur­ing; part-time or mod­i­fied work sched­ules; acquir­ing or mod­i­fy­ing equip­ment; chang­ing tests, train­ing mate­ri­als, or poli­cies; and pro­vid­ing qual­i­fied read­ers or interpreters.”


    “Ser­vice Ani­mals” Definition

    Accord­ing to the Depart­ment of Justice’s revised Title III of the ADA, a ser­vice ani­mal is now defined under Title III as “any dog that is indi­vid­u­al­ly trained to do work or per­form tasks for the ben­e­fit of an indi­vid­ual with a dis­abil­i­ty, includ­ing a phys­i­cal, sen­so­ry, psy­chi­atric, intel­lec­tu­al or oth­er men­tal dis­abil­i­ty. Oth­er species of ani­mals, whether wild or domes­tic, trained or untrained, are not ser­vice ani­mals for the pur­pos­es of this def­i­n­i­tion. The work or tasks per­formed by a ser­vice ani­mal must be direct­ly relat­ed to the individual’s dis­abil­i­ty.” Cur­rent­ly, a “ser­vice ani­mal” can also include anoth­er species of helper: a trained minia­ture horse. Of course, there are lim­i­ta­tions to what a work­place can accom­mo­date in terms of minia­ture hors­es and the employ­er would make those lim­i­ta­tions known if approached with the need of a per­son with a horse as their assistant.


    Accom­mo­da­tion Requests & Documentation

    When an accom­mo­da­tion is request­ed on behalf of a dis­abled can­di­date or employ­ee, the employ­er must con­sid­er the request. How­ev­er, the employ­er is sim­ply required to assess and sug­gest options for the rea­son­able accom­mo­da­tion for the employ­ee. Some exam­ples of job accom­mo­da­tions may include installing a ramp or mod­i­fy­ing the lay­out of a work­sta­tion. Tech­nol­o­gy accom­mo­da­tions may be pro­vid­ing sign lan­guage inter­preters at events or pro­vid­ing screen read­er soft­ware. The ADA does not specif­i­cal­ly address or require the inclu­sion of ser­vice ani­mals in the work­place. So, if the employ­er has a no-ani­mals-in-the-work­place pol­i­cy and is asked to allow a ser­vice ani­mal for an employ­ee, the employ­er must con­sid­er mod­i­fy­ing this pol­i­cy but is not required to mod­i­fy it. A “rea­son­able accom­mo­da­tion” for an employ­ee does not always equal their “pre­ferred accommodation.”

    As for doc­u­men­ta­tion for ser­vice ani­mals in the work­place, the ADA does allow for an employ­er to request med­ical doc­u­men­ta­tion for the need for the dis­abled per­son to need this accom­mo­da­tion. It also allows for the employ­er to request proof from the employ­ee that the ser­vice ani­mal is appro­pri­ate­ly trained to assist them and that it is trained to not dis­rupt the work­place under nor­mal con­di­tions. It is worth not­ing that an “emo­tion­al sup­port ani­mal” is NOT clas­si­fied as a “ser­vice ani­mal” by the ADA unless it can per­form a spe­cif­ic task, such as sense when an anx­i­ety attack is about to hap­pen in the case of some­one with PTSD and the ani­mal helps avoid or les­son that attack.


    Conclusion

    Every work­place should have writ­ten poli­cies on rea­son­able accom­mo­da­tions for dis­abled employ­ees. Of course, there is no way to include all pos­si­bil­i­ties and so the poli­cies can include the lan­guage of con­sid­er­a­tion of requests on a case-by-case basis. The key to this pol­i­cy is that those who are in charge of assess­ing accom­mo­da­tion requests must be will­ing to tru­ly con­sid­er the accom­mo­da­tion of ser­vice animals.


    Resources

    Need help? Check out these resources on work­place accom­mo­da­tions for those with disabilities:

    Office of Dis­abil­i­ty Employ­ment Policy

    FAQ about Ser­vice Ani­mals and the ADA

    Employ­er Assis­tance and Resource Net­work on Dis­abil­i­ty Inclusion

    Job Accom­mo­da­tion Network

  • No Gym Required for These (Financial) Fitness Tips

    February 20, 2020

    Tags: ,

    If you’re like me, your social-media feeds are jammed with head­lines about get­ting “healthy and fit” in the new year. Of course, they’re refer­ring to diet and exer­cise and com­mon res­o­lu­tions to drop pounds and work out more often.

    But it’s just as impor­tant to be con­cerned about your finan­cial fitness—where you can also drop some bag­gage and get some strength train­ing with­out going near a gym. (In fact, if you have a sub­scrip­tion to a gym mem­ber­ship but aren’t going, that’s one finan­cial fix you can make right now.)

    Here are some tips to con­sid­er for any age:

    IN YOUR 20s:

    Work­out: Have a por­tion of each pay­check deposit­ed into your sav­ings account, or take advan­tage of bank pro­grams that “round up” or have oth­er auto­mat­ed sav­ings fea­tures. Trust me, you won’t feel this burn.

    Diet: Start mak­ing cof­fee at home or at the office instead of going for expen­sive lattes. Few­er calo­ries, and more mon­ey in your pock­et. This is a good time to con­sid­er get­ting life insur­ance (whether you are sin­gle or attached) as it is less expen­sive the younger and health­i­er you are.

    You also need to con­sid­er dis­abil­i­ty insur­ance, which pays you a por­tion of your salary if you are sick or injured and unable to work—because who would pay your bills if you couldn’t? Your work may offer this as an employ­ee ben­e­fit, so check with your HR depart­ment to find out if you have it and what it cov­ers (short-term, long-term dis­abil­i­ty, etc.)

    IN YOUR 30s:

    Work­out: You prob­a­bly have a retire­ment pro­gram at work or some oth­er pre­lim­i­nary retire­ment plan­ning in place. If you don’t, start.

    If you do, why not increase the amount you divert into retire­ment by a per­cent­age point each year—equaling your com­pa­ny match per­cent­age, if they have it, is a good target.

    Diet: You may not have got­ten life insur­ance beyond what you have through your work­place, but now is the time to con­sid­er an indi­vid­ual pol­i­cy that you own. Remem­ber, when you leave a job, you typ­i­cal­ly lose that life insur­ance offered through your work­place. And, giv­en that life insur­ance through the work­place usu­al­ly equals one or two times you salary (or a set amount like $50,000), it’s no longer going to cut it if you have a grow­ing family.

    If money’s tight, as it often is with a grow­ing fam­i­ly, lin­ger­ing stu­dent loans, and per­haps a mort­gage, a term life insur­ance pol­i­cy can pro­tect you through the lean years. But don’t over­look the long-term ben­e­fits of a per­ma­nent life insur­ance pol­i­cy. The cash val­ue can be tapped lat­er for needs that may arise. Plus, there’s noth­ing that says you can’t have a com­bi­na­tion of both.

    Also, con­sid­er an indi­vid­ual dis­abil­i­ty insur­ance pol­i­cy that you per­son­al­ly own and fol­lows you through­out your career. If you’re rely­ing on work cov­er­age, know that it goes away when you leave that job, and often these poli­cies have bare-bones coverage.

    IN YOUR 40s:

    Work­out: Do you have a finan­cial pro­fes­sion­al help­ing you out? Nav­i­gat­ing the ins and outs of a grow­ing invest­ment port­fo­lio can be tricky as you move through your career and want to use tra­di­tion­al or Roth IRAs, and the tax ben­e­fits of var­i­ous plan­ning strate­gies. This may also be the time that you can add a per­ma­nent life insur­ance pol­i­cy, if you haven’t before, which allows you to accrue cash val­ue and obtain ben­e­fits that extend lat­er into your life.

    Diet: If you’re still car­ry­ing extra debt at this point, it’s time to get that paid down. Tack­le high­er-inter­est debts first, and cel­e­brate each paid-off card or loan with … a big­ger pay­ment to the next one on the list.

    IN YOUR 50s:

    Work­out: Max out your retire­ment con­tri­bu­tions, espe­cial­ly once your kids are through col­lege. This is also a good time to start research­ing things like long-term care insur­ance, and to make sure that your invest­ment port­fo­lio is built in such a way that you can reach your goals.

    Diet: It may be very tempt­ing to take on a new debt now: some folks want a vaca­tion home, or the time may be right to start a busi­ness. But beware of any super-risky moves that can spell cat­a­stro­phe with lim­it­ed time to recoup loss­es, or that leave you with unex­pect­ed bills.

    IN YOUR 60s and beyond:

    Work­out: Eval­u­ate your Social Secu­ri­ty sit­u­a­tion against your retire­ment port­fo­lio to deter­mine the best time to retire. Under­stand the “liv­ing ben­e­fits” of your life insur­ance poli­cies and how annu­ities may help you cre­ate a retire­ment income stream that you can’t outlive.

    Diet: Is it time to down­size? It can be hard let­ting go of “stuff” so that you can go from that four-bed­room house to a two-bed­room con­do. But the finan­cial ben­e­fit of doing so may sur­prise you—plus there is less to clean and take care of (not to men­tion the ease of jet­ting off at a moment’s notice with no need for some­one to look after your home.)

    A lot depends on fac­tors like your rela­tion­ship sta­tus, your career path, whether you have kids or not, and what your long-term goals are, and these can change at any time in our lives.

    The long and short of it is that just as when it comes to “health and fit­ness” goals, you’d get an annu­al phys­i­cal. Need to know if you’re finan­cial­ly fit? Talk to an insur­ance pro­fes­sion­al or finan­cial advi­sor today.

    By Helen Mosher

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on lifehappens.org

  • Eat Your Way to a Healthy Heart

    February 10, 2020

    Tags: ,

    Each Feb­ru­ary we focus on ways to improve our heart health in hon­or of Amer­i­can Heart Month. This year we want to help you by turn­ing your atten­tion to the foods you eat and how to make smart choic­es with our “This or That” challenge!

    Below you will see two foods to choose between. Your goal is to choose the food that is the health­i­er option. Answers can be found at the end of the challenge.

     

     

    Diet Soda vs Car­bon­at­ed Water 

    Skip the drink with the high lev­els of arti­fi­cial sweet­en­ers and choose car­bon­at­ed water! Diet drinks have been linked to symp­toms of meta­bol­ic syn­drome. Some symp­toms of this include high blood pres­sure, high blood sug­ar, and low­er than nor­mal HDL cho­les­terol lev­els. Pour your­self a glass of car­bon­at­ed water and put a slice of fruit in your glass instead!

     

    But­ter vs Olive Oil

    Pour on the olive oil to main­tain good heart health. But­ter is full of high amounts of sat­u­rat­ed fat. But­ter is also known to raise the bad cho­les­terol lev­els in your blood. Olive oil and even canola and sun­flower oils con­tain heart healthy mono- and polyun­sat­u­rat­ed fats.

     

    Sweet Pota­to Fries vs French Fries

    Warm up your new Air Fry­er and start cook­ing sweet pota­to fries with a lit­tle olive oil. French fries are full of fat and salt and a study linked eat­ing 2–3 serv­ings of fries a week to a high­er chance of an ear­ly death.

     

    1 oz Salt­ed Nuts vs 1 oz Pota­to Chips

    Pass the pecans, please! When you choose nuts over chips, you are also choos­ing your health. Reg­u­lar nut snack­ers are 14% less like­ly to devel­op car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and 20% less like­ly to devel­op coro­nary heart disease.

     

    1.5 oz Dark Choco­late vs 2 Choco­late Chip Cookies

    No mat­ter how much you love Grandma’s cook­ie recipe, your heart needs you to choose the dark choco­late. A study has found that those peo­ple who eat dark choco­late 3 times a week reduce their risk of a heart attack or stroke by 11%.

     

    T‑bone Steak vs Grilled Salmon Fillet

    Just keep swim­ming! Just keep swim­ming! Salmon is chock full of omega 3 fat­ty acids which reduce fat in your blood and reduces clogged arter­ies. Steak is famous for high lev­els of sat­u­rat­ed fat and LDL cholesterol.

     

    Coca-Cola vs Red Wine

    Pop the cork, not the soda tab. Car­bon­at­ed sodas are full of arti­fi­cial ingre­di­ents and sug­ar. Red wine has been shown to increase your good cho­les­terol lev­els and has many antiox­i­dants that can help pro­tect the lin­ing of the blood ves­sels in your heart.

     

    You are now a “This or That” Food Chal­lenge win­ner! Go cel­e­brate with a grilled salmon din­ner, a glass of red wine, and a hand­ful of dark chocolate!

     

    Sources:

    https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/ss/slideshow-foods-bad-heart

    https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/5‑hearthealthy-food-swaps

    https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/red-wine/art-20048281

  • The Importance of Sleep

    January 29, 2020

    Tags: , , , ,

    Every­one knows that eat­ing healthy, get­ting exer­cise, lim­it­ing alco­hol intake, and not smok­ing leads to a healthy lifestyle. Did you know that sleep is also an impor­tant part of main­tain­ing a healthy lifestyle? With 1/3 of our life­time being spent sleep­ing, this part of our life must take impor­tance. Let’s delve into why sleep is impor­tant and what you can do to improve this area of your life.

     

    No Snooze, You Lose

    At dif­fer­ent stages in our life, we require dif­fer­ent amounts of sleep. From birth to 4‑years old, tod­dlers need about 11–14 hours of sleep. They are grow­ing and learn­ing both cog­ni­tive­ly and emo­tion­al­ly and this takes lots of ener­gy. To restore that ener­gy that is expend­ed dur­ing these active tod­dler years, they require lots of sleep! School-age chil­dren are some of the most active humans on the plan­et. Being at school from 8–3 every­day real­ly wears their lit­tle bod­ies out. Because of their activ­i­ty, these chil­dren need between 9 and 11 hours of sleep each night. As they grow into their teen years, kids need 8–10 hours. And, as adults, we need 7–9 sol­id hours of sleep a night.

     

    Why?

    Dur­ing our rest­ful time of sleep, our bod­ies are hard at work restor­ing, reju­ve­nat­ing, grow­ing mus­cle, repair­ing tis­sue, and syn­the­siz­ing hor­mones. To say the least, our bod­ies are nev­er at rest. When we are awake and mov­ing, we are busy pro­cess­ing stim­uli, con­vert­ing calo­ries to ener­gy, and grow­ing, to name a few basic func­tions.  When we sleep, these process­es con­tin­ue but our body also does the intri­cate work of strength­en­ing our immune sys­tem, fight­ing dis­ease and infec­tion, and pro­cess­ing the day’s emo­tions through dreams. Sci­en­tists say the ben­e­fits of good sleep include:

    • Sharp­er brain
    • Health­i­er heart
    • Low­er blood pressure
    • Weight con­trol
    • Mood boost­ers
    • Stead­ier blood sugar

     

    Rhythm Sec­tion

    To get the opti­mized ben­e­fits of sleep you have to get your body in the cor­rect cir­ca­di­an rhythm.  Accord­ing to the Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health, “Cir­ca­di­an rhythms direct a wide vari­ety of func­tions from dai­ly fluc­tu­a­tions in wake­ful­ness to body tem­per­a­ture, metab­o­lism, and the release of hor­mones.  They con­trol your tim­ing of sleep and cause you to be sleepy at night and your ten­den­cy to wake in the morn­ing with­out an alarm.  Your body’s bio­log­i­cal clock, which is based on a rough­ly 24-hour day, con­trols most cir­ca­di­an rhythms.  Cir­ca­di­an rhythms syn­chro­nize with envi­ron­men­tal cues (light, tem­per­a­ture) about the actu­al time of day, but they con­tin­ue even in the absence of cues.” Stim­u­lants like cof­fee and ener­gy drinks, alarm clocks, and even exter­nal lights can inter­fere with this rhythm and there­fore have a neg­a­tive impact on your over­all health.

     

    How?

    To get the best sleep and the right amount of sleep, you need to opti­mize that cir­ca­di­an rhythm. Here are some tips:

    1. Stick to a con­sis­tent sched­ule of both bed­time AND waketime
    2. Go for a morn­ing walk—getting your body up and mov­ing when it wakes up from overnight sleep helps reset your rhythm.
    3. Lim­it evening technology 
      1. bright lights con­fuse the brain into believ­ing it’s still daytime
      2. blue lights—specifically in lap­tops and cellphones—should be turned off with­in 2 hours of bedtime

     

    Under­stand­ing the impor­tance of and the ben­e­fits from a good night’s sleep will help you pri­or­i­tize this task each day. Start doing the basic work of set­ting a con­sis­tent bed­time and build up to turn­ing off that cell­phone game ear­ly.  You can’t afford to skimp on sleep—your body depends on it!

  • Obamacare going down? While rates are going up? Court Challenges Continue

    January 21, 2020

    Tags:

    A Dis­trict Court in Texas struck down the Afford­able Care Act as uncon­sti­tu­tion­al as soon as they dropped the penal­ty, say­ing that its elim­i­na­tion end­ed the tax jus­ti­fi­ca­tion cit­ed by the Supreme Court when they reviewed it.  A group of 17 states filed suit and said that the ACA should stay…but an appeals court vot­ed 2–1 against it.  And the con­tro­ver­sy continues.

  • International Hiring Strategy

    January 15, 2020

    Tags: , ,

    In today’s busi­ness world, there is more pres­sure than ever to main­tain a high rate of growth and reach new rev­enue goals. And growth usu­al­ly means hiring.

    The work of HR is an impor­tant part of that work, espe­cial­ly where fast-grow­ing com­pa­nies are con­cerned. There are many rea­sons why going beyond bor­ders and hir­ing tal­ent inter­na­tion­al­ly can help a com­pa­ny reach its objectives.

    Why International Hiring?

    Growing globally Grab Market Share

    Over the last ten years or so, com­pa­nies have seen huge growth, but they’re start­ing to exceed their size region­al­ly.  As a result, com­pa­nies are hir­ing inter­na­tion­al­ly to take advan­tage of new mar­kets and job appli­cant pools.

    Deb­bie Millin is the Chief Oper­at­ing Offi­cer for Glob­al­iza­tion Part­ners, the orga­ni­za­tion behind the Glob­al Expan­sion Plat­formTM.  Millin says one pop­u­lar way com­pa­nies kick­start their expan­sion is by hir­ing sales peo­ple in new coun­tries where they want to expand.  At the end of the day, com­pa­nies need to grab glob­al mar­ket share and hir­ing those work­ers is a good way to start.

    Competitive Advantage

    Millin says com­pa­nies are going glob­al ear­li­er and faster than they used to, because if they don’t, some­one else can use the idea and set up an in-coun­try com­peti­tor.  One exam­ple:  Didi and Uber.  Uber didn’t get into the mar­ket quick­ly enough and lost out to Didi.

    Accessing a larger applicant pool

    Millin says you must go to the tal­ent.  As the world con­tin­ues to devel­op, it’s going to feel much small­er than it does now.  Orga­ni­za­tions must start look­ing out­side their cur­rent region­al offices to scout the best tal­ent avail­able. Unem­ploy­ment rates are low, and hir­ing is com­pet­i­tive so stay­ing in your own back­yard could severe­ly lim­it the tal­ent pool.

    The Contractor Trap

    But acquir­ing inter­na­tion­al tal­ent does not nec­es­sar­i­ly mean hir­ing con­trac­tors. This is one of the com­mon mis­takes com­pa­nies make. Lead­ers iden­ti­fy great tal­ent in a place like Brazil or France and attempt to hire those work­ers.  The only prob­lem? Inter­na­tion­al con­trac­tor laws are the same as those in the Unit­ed States; if the per­son acts like an employ­ee, they are an employ­ee. Fol­low­ing this action opens the com­pa­ny up to sig­nif­i­cant legal risk and finan­cial penalties.

    Falling into “the con­trac­tor trap” real­ly is a trap, because it’s not always easy to get out. If the rela­tion­ship with the con­trac­tor begins to dete­ri­o­rate, they could eas­i­ly expose the work­ing arrange­ment to the author­i­ties, and you could poten­tial­ly owe back tax­es, fines, unpaid ben­e­fits and more.

    When com­pa­nies are tru­ly ready to go after the best glob­al tal­ent, hir­ing full-time makes the most sense. The best tal­ent wants a full-time role, with ben­e­fits, and oppor­tu­ni­ties for growth.

    Where’s the growth?

    Based on data from Glob­al­iza­tion Part­ners, Millin says the fol­low­ing 10 coun­tries are at the top when it comes to expansion.

    1. Cana­da
    2. UK
    3. Sin­ga­pore
    4. Mex­i­co
    5. Chi­na
    6. Aus­tralia
    7. Brazil
    8. Ger­many
    9. India
    10. South Korea

    The UK tends to be the first stop after Cana­da 90% of the time, but that’s chang­ing with Brex­it. Com­pa­nies are more hes­i­tant to enter the UK of with the uncer­tain­ty of what Brex­it will bring, show­ing how impor­tant it is for com­pa­nies to be aware of the social and polit­i­cal issues in a coun­try as you plan your glob­al expansion.

    Millin says for HR pro­fes­sion­als at com­pa­nies that have decid­ed to take advan­tage of the many oppor­tu­ni­ties asso­ci­at­ed with glob­al growth, the next step is to fig­ure out how to make it happen.

    The Process

    Decide whether to set up shop in another country

    Open­ing a com­pli­ant busi­ness enti­ty in any coun­try is chal­leng­ing – and some are much hard­er than oth­ers. If the com­pa­ny choos­es to set up a branch office or whol­ly-owned sub­sidiary, it can take six months to a year, or longer, before the com­pa­ny is legal­ly able to oper­ate in the region, not to men­tion sev­er­al thou­sands of dollars.

    Plus, lead­ers will need to know about local reg­is­tra­tions, bank accounts, corporate/tax fil­ings, admin­is­ter­ing com­pli­ant pay­roll and ben­e­fits in coun­try, and more. Some of the “gotchas” to look out for include bank account set­up – it can take months. And some coun­tries require in-per­son sig­na­tures. It’s not always fea­si­ble to be phys­i­cal­ly in-coun­try through­out the enti­ty set-up process.

    Lack of At-Will Employment

    In the Unit­ed States, com­pa­nies can hire and fire at will – as long as the rea­son for ter­mi­na­tion isn’t ille­gal. Out­side of the U.S., this is an unknown con­cept. Employ­ers must prove that an employ­ee dis­missal is legal­ly jus­ti­fied, and in many coun­tries, that is dif­fi­cult to do, and evi­dence must be documented.

    If legal process aren’t fol­lowed prop­er­ly, the com­pa­ny can open itself up to a wrong­ful ter­mi­na­tion law­suit, which can be vast­ly more expen­sive, and take years to resolve.

    No One-Size-Fits-All Solution

    Ben­e­fits vary from coun­try-to-coun­try and from indi­vid­ual-to-indi­vid­ual. A glob­al com­pa­ny must adhere to the idio­syn­crasies of each country’s laws and cus­toms and still offer “equal” ben­e­fits to all employees.

    On the plus side, so many coun­tries have statu­to­ry ben­e­fits plans that in some loca­tions your com­pa­ny may not need to pro­vide sup­ple­men­tary ben­e­fits at all.

    Under­stand­ing the local mar­ket norms can help you stand out as an employ­er of choice.

    For glob­al teams, HR should shape equi­table ben­e­fit offer­ings around perks that max­i­mize the qual­i­ty of life for the company’s employ­ees with­in the con­text of their own cul­ture.  Research what ben­e­fits are most val­ued in a par­tic­u­lar loca­tion, and what oth­er employ­ers are offer­ing in that mar­ket beyond what is required.  This helps the com­pa­ny stay com­pet­i­tive, and gives the can­di­date con­fi­dence from the very first inter­ac­tion with your company.

    But all of this takes time, as well as local knowl­edge and exper­tise, which can put addi­tion­al bur­den on in-house HR teams who are man­ag­ing the process alone.

    Going Forward

    So what are the options? One solu­tion to expand­ing inter­na­tion­al­ly is to use a Glob­al Employ­er of Record. An employ­er of record is an orga­ni­za­tion that serves as the employ­er for tax pur­pos­es, while the employ­ee per­forms their work at a dif­fer­ent company.

    Specif­i­cal­ly, an Employ­er of Record such as Glob­al­iza­tion Part­ners helps:

    • Onboard employ­ees in over 170 countries
    • Man­age pay­roll and tax­es – compliantly
    • Nav­i­gate the com­plex­i­ties of local ben­e­fits, PTO, and bonus structures

    Work­ing with a Glob­al Employ­er of Record pro­vides a quick time-to-mar­ket, until you reach a crit­i­cal mass in coun­try, or you can con­tin­ue with this mod­el indef­i­nite­ly depend­ing on your business.

    By Mason Stevenson

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on hrexchangenetwork.com

  • What Workers Really Want – MetLife study about emerging employer trends for employees

    January 14, 2020

    Tags:

    If employ­ers rely on ben­e­fits to attract employ­ees, what is it about the ben­e­fits that are attrac­tive?  Essen­tial­ly, alle­vi­at­ing the finan­cial stress peo­ple may feel, com­ing from a vari­ety of sources.  Is that work­ing?  Accord­ing to the recent MetLife sur­vey, only 64% of employ­ees agree.  With com­pa­nies of less than 100 employ­ees, that num­ber plum­mets to 47%.  Sur­veyed fur­ther, the num­ber of employ­ees who agree with the state­ment “I am inter­est­ed in hav­ing my employ­er pro­vide a wider array of non-med­ical ben­e­fits I can choose to pur­chase and pay for on my own,” the num­ber strat­i­fied by the length of employ­ment.  Among those with less than five years in the work­force, 73% agreed.  For those with 5 to 10 years it was 69% and it only drops to 66% for those with 10 to 15 years in the workforce.

  • Communication in the Workplace

    January 7, 2020

    Tags: , ,

    Today’s work­force looks marked­ly dif­fer­ent than it did just 10 years ago. 1 in 3 work­ers in the US are mil­len­ni­als and this makes them the largest gen­er­a­tion in our cur­rent work­force. The way this gen­er­a­tion com­mu­ni­cates makes it nec­es­sary for the office to adjust its mes­sag­ing strat­e­gy. What was seen as top-notch com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech in the ear­ly 2000’s has been replaced by new options. As we peer into 2020, let’s take a look at some new ways to com­mu­ni­cate effec­tive­ly with employ­ees both in an office set­ting and across the globe.

    Video Con­fer­enc­ing

    Uti­liz­ing tech to com­mu­ni­cate in your work­place is essen­tial. Office spaces that were pre­vi­ous­ly filled with peo­ple who inter­act­ed with one anoth­er dai­ly now house screens and com­mon space work­sta­tions. Because of this, video con­fer­enc­ing has become a neces­si­ty to build a sense of uni­ty and com­mu­ni­ty with­in a depart­ment. Employ­ees that are in the office are able to see and inter­act with their cowork­ers that may be at their home office or even across the globe in a dif­fer­ent coun­try via video ser­vices like Zoom, GoToMeet­ing, and Skype. Col­lab­o­rat­ing on projects no longer requires you to sit across the table from your team as you can sit in front of a com­put­er screen and share ideas and update progress.

    Project Man­age­ment

    Since it is no longer com­mon­place to have all employ­ees in the same office each day, man­ag­ing work­flow dig­i­tal­ly is a neces­si­ty. Sites like Base­camp allow projects to be cre­at­ed and teams assigned to jobs with­in the project. As tasks are com­plet­ed, team mem­bers update their progress online and every­thing stays orga­nized. Infor­ma­tion is eas­i­ly shared because any­one can log on and read the lat­est update or ask for help. Emails aren’t lost in an inbox or spam box as the com­mu­ni­ca­tion hap­pens on one plat­form. It’s a great way to man­age both a phys­i­cal or vir­tu­al office.

    Shar­ing is Caring

    There are so many options for shar­ing files across plat­forms and with team mem­bers. Drop­box, Google Dri­ve, and OneDrive are just a few exam­ples of online tools to assist your team with shar­ing data, stor­ing infor­ma­tion and files in the cloud, and sync­ing files across mul­ti­ple devices. These options can range from very basic and free to very secure and cost­ly depend­ing on your needs. Some ser­vices only offer small file stor­age and shar­ing capa­bil­i­ties and so you’ll want to do your home­work to find an option should you have a large image file or data file that needs to be shared.

    TXT 2 TLK

    Accord­ing to a sur­vey with Open­Mar­ket, 76% of mil­len­ni­als say tex­ting is more con­ve­nient and allows them to com­mu­ni­cate on their own sched­ule. 19% of them say they nev­er check their voice­mails. Why is this impor­tant to you? With mil­len­ni­als com­pris­ing the largest per­cent­age of of the cur­rent work­force, you need to make sure you are com­mu­ni­cat­ing with them the best way pos­si­ble. Tex­ting to com­mu­ni­cate upcom­ing events, meet­ings, reminders, or even to con­duct employ­ee sur­veys is a great option for relay­ing infor­ma­tion to your staff. One thing to remem­ber is that when send­ing a mes­sage via text, the con­text or heart behind the mes­sage is some­what hard­er to con­vey than when deliv­er­ing it ver­bal­ly. Make sure the mes­sage is not open to inter­pre­ta­tion so that the end result isn’t skewed.

    As we ring in the new year, take the time to con­sid­er new ways to com­mu­ni­cate and con­duct busi­ness in your phys­i­cal and vir­tu­al offices. Test out the meth­ods men­tioned here and maybe you’ll find a great new avenue for con­nect­ing with your employees!

  • It may work unless it doesn’t – NBER Paper shows pitfalls of Medicare for All

    January 6, 2020

    Tags:

    A recent study by three high-lev­el econ­o­mists shows some of the flaws in the cur­rent Medicare sys­tem, which means plac­ing a large bet on Medicare for All may be prob­lem­at­ic.  Main points:

    1. Medicare pro­vides more gen­er­ous access to providers and new treat­ments than pub­lic pro­grams in oth­er devel­oped countries.
    2. Three major shifts make a uni­form design less effi­cient today than when Medicare began in 1965: ris­ing income inequal­i­ty, a dra­mat­ic expan­sion of expen­sive med­ical tech­nol­o­gy and the mount­ing eco­nom­ic costs of the plan with tax financ­ing of the system.
    3. The rec­om­men­da­tion is not just a blan­ket “Medicare for Every­one,” but a base sys­tem that every­one can use (less gen­er­ous than cur­rent Medicare) with the option of “top­ping up” for a pri­vate insur­ance plan as a sup­ple­ment, with indi­vid­u­als choos­ing their own coverage.

  • Expansion of Family Medical Leave Act — Affecting Organizations with Five or More Employees

    December 31, 2020

    Tags: , ,

    Gov­er­nor New­som signed Sen­ate Bill 1383 into law, which will take effect on Jan­u­ary 1, 2021.

    This takes the fed­er­al bill for Fam­i­ly Med­ical Leave, which has been on the books since 1985 for groups of 50 or more employ­ees, and expands it in Cal­i­for­nia down to 5 employees.

     

    Basic Rules

    Any employ­ee who:

    • is work­ing with­in a 75 mile radius of the employer’s cen­tral location;
    • has worked at least 1,250 hours in the pre­vi­ous 12 month period;
    • is enti­tled to 12 weeks of leave where the employ­er will pay the por­tion of the health insur­ance pre­mi­um for which they were respon­si­ble pri­or to the employ­ee tak­ing leave.

     

    The Leave

    For employ­ees to take care of them­selves or any­one in their imme­di­ate fam­i­ly who has a seri­ous health con­di­tion. Imme­di­ate fam­i­ly includes:

    1. Child
    2. Par­ent
    3. Spouse or Domes­tic Partner
    4. Adult chil­dren
    5. Chil­dren of Domes­tic Partner
    6. Par­ents in Law
    7. Sib­lings
    8. Grand­par­ents
    9. Grand­chil­dren

     

    Dif­fer­ences with Fed­er­al Law

    • Expand­ed def­i­n­i­tion of eli­gi­ble fam­i­ly member.
    • Employ­er may not exempt a key employ­ee (some­one in top 10% of pay).
    • Par­ents work­ing for same employ­er used to only have leave of 12 weeks cumu­la­tive­ly. Under the Cal­i­for­nia statute, each employ­ee of the same employ­ee may take 12 weeks.
    • Adds qual­i­fy­ing “exi­gency leave” when some­one is on active duty.

  • How to Improve Your Job Postings

    December 16, 2020

    Tags: ,

    A job post­ing is often the first impres­sion a prospec­tive job appli­cant has with your orga­ni­za­tion. It’s impor­tant for that impres­sion to be an infor­ma­tive one. Your job post­ings should con­vey why some­one would want to work for your com­pa­ny, what dis­tin­guish­es your work­place from oth­ers, what’s excit­ing about your mis­sion and vision, what you have to offer, and what the job is and requires. Here are a few ways to get bet­ter results from your job postings:

    High­light the company’s strengths. Part of the pur­pose of a job post­ing is to sell your orga­ni­za­tion to prospec­tive employ­ees. It’s a sales pitch that con­veys your cul­ture and brand. Be sure to include both tra­di­tion­al ben­e­fits (e.g., insur­ance offer­ings, retire­ment plan) as well as less com­mon, more excit­ing perks (e.g., unlim­it­ed PTO, remote work options, prod­uct dis­counts). You should also men­tion com­pa­ny awards, notable achieve­ments, and career devel­op­ment opportunities.

    List the min­i­mum require­ments and essen­tial func­tions of the job. You can also include the full job descrip­tion, if you have the room for it. The require­ments and func­tions you men­tion should be accu­rate and clear. You don’t want to scare away great prospects with unnec­es­sary require­ments, but you also don’t want a lot of unqual­i­fied peo­ple apply­ing for the job.

    Include the pay range. Post­ing the pay range of the job will get you 30% more appli­cants. It will also save you and poten­tial appli­cants a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time by allow­ing them to self-select out of the run­ning if the range is too low for their needs or if it clear­ly indi­cates that you are look­ing for a more expe­ri­enced employ­ee. It will also pro­mote trans­paren­cy and help cre­ate a more equi­table work­place, but it’s not a requirement.

    Ana­lyze the results of pre­vi­ous job post­ing loca­tions, espe­cial­ly if you paid for them. Con­sid­er not only the upfront fee, but also whether you received a good num­ber of appli­ca­tions specif­i­cal­ly from that source. Were the can­di­dates qual­i­fied? Have you ever hired can­di­dates from this source? There’s no sense pay­ing to post job ads that aren’t bring­ing in good candidates.

    Con­sid­er alter­na­tives to where you’ve post­ed in the past. Here are a few options:

    • Over­looked tal­ent pools (e.g., web­sites geared toward cer­tain pop­u­la­tions or groups)—these can be espe­cial­ly help­ful for increas­ing diver­si­ty in your workplace.
    • Com­mu­ni­ty events and job fairs in your area—being able to answer ques­tions about your com­pa­ny and your open posi­tions can help weed out those who may not be a good fit or might not be hap­py in the role.
    • Local schools—many col­leges guar­an­tee a cer­tain job place­ment rate and have an entire depart­ment to help their stu­dents become employ­ees in the indus­try of their edu­ca­tion. Often­times the coor­di­na­tors of these pro­grams will come to you for jobs as well, which is anoth­er direct tal­ent pipeline. Reach out to your local com­mu­ni­ty col­leges or local uni­ver­si­ties and talk with them about any stu­dents that they might have who would fit your job descrip­tion needs. They often also have an inter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tem that can get your job post­ing in front of a lot of stu­dents (or even alum­ni) in a hurry.
    • Pre­vi­ous applicants—even those you inter­viewed who might have been a sec­ond or third choice. You already know they’re inter­est­ed in your com­pa­ny, and you may even have met them face to face. Even if it’s been half a year since they applied, reach out. What’s the worst that can happen?

    By Marisa Stoll

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on ThinkHR

  • 4 Things to Consider When Comparing Medicare Plans

    December 9, 2020

    Tags: ,

    Com­par­ing Medicare health and pre­scrip­tion drug plans can be com­pli­cat­ed. Keep in mind these 4 things to make your plan choice eas­i­er with the Medicare Plan Find­er.

    1. Total cost for care. It’s impor­tant to think about your total out-of-pock­et costs, includ­ing deductibles, copay­ments, coin­sur­ance, max­i­mums, and drug costs, that you’ll pay with a Medicare health or drug plan. When you com­pare plans with Medicare Plan Find­er, we’ll explain these costs and help you find plans with the low­est costs. We’ll also auto­mat­i­cal­ly show you plans with the low­est drug and pre­mi­um costs first.
    2. Provider choice. Some plan types have a net­work of providers you’ll have to use if you want to pay less. Medicare Plan Find­er lets you fil­ter your results by plan type, and explains how each plan type lets you choose providers. If you have a par­tic­u­lar doc­tor or phar­ma­cy that you pre­fer to go to, see if that plan has a net­work. If it does, check that your provider is in the plan’s net­work. You might also want to make sure that your plan’s net­work has providers to choose from that are con­ve­nient to you.
    3. Ben­e­fits. Many Medicare Advan­tage Plans include pre­scrip­tion drug, vision, hear­ing, and den­tal cov­er­age. Maybe you trav­el a lot, or spend part of the year in a dif­fer­ent state. If you do, see if your plan will cov­er you when you trav­el. When you use Medicare Plan Find­er, you can view, fil­ter, and com­pare these benefits.
    4. “Over­all Star Rat­ing.” Medicare Plan Find­er fea­tures a star rat­ing sys­tem for Medicare health and drug plans. The “Over­all Star Rat­ing” gives an over­all rat­ing of the plan’s qual­i­ty and per­for­mance for the types of ser­vices each plan offers. A plan can get a rat­ing between 1 and 5 stars. A 5‑star rat­ing is con­sid­ered excel­lent. If a Medicare Advan­tage Plan, Medicare drug plan or Medicare Cost Plan with a 5‑star rat­ing is avail­able in your area, you can use the 5‑star Spe­cial Enroll­ment Peri­od (once a year) to switch from your cur­rent Medicare plan to a Medicare plan with the 5‑star rating.

    Vis­it the Medicare Plan Find­er to start com­par­ing 2021 Medicare health and drug plans now.

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on Medicare.gov

  • Virtual Holiday Parties

    November 30, 2020

    Tags: ,

    Build­ing cama­raderie between your employ­ees is essen­tial for employ­ee engage­ment and reten­tion. In fact, employ­ees with close work friend­ships report 50% high­er sat­is­fac­tion with their work, accord­ing to Gallup. Host­ing par­ties for your office this sea­son may not be pos­si­ble, yet they are still impor­tant. We’ve gath­ered some fun alter­na­tive ways to cel­e­brate togeth­er while apart this hol­i­day season.

    IT’S PARTY TIME!

    Gin­ger­bread House Build­ing Contest

    • Mail a box of the com­po­nents to your team ahead of the par­ty date.
    • Host a video call with back­ground music while every­one con­structs their house so they can see the progress of their co-work­ers’ build.
    • Post pic­tures of the fin­ished hous­es on your com­pa­ny Face­book page and take votes for dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories. Your team can share the page with friends and fam­i­ly to try to drum up votes and, in turn, your page will get some new vis­its! Win-Win!
    • Send gift cards to win­ners to online merchants.

    Vir­tu­al Hol­i­day Bingo

    • Mail bin­go cards and dob­bers or stick­ers ahead of the par­ty date.
    • Host a video call and ask your most out­go­ing and beloved team mem­ber to be the bin­go caller.
    • Email e‑card prizes to winners.

    Win­ter Cock­tail Party

    • Mail a “mix-kit” of cock­tail com­po­nents to your team ahead of the par­ty date.
    • Hire a mixol­o­gist to teach via video call how to make a cou­ple of cock­tails with the ingre­di­ents you have sent out ahead of time.
    • *Option­al: take votes on a short menu of cock­tails to see which ones the team is most inter­est­ed in learn­ing how to make.

    Vir­tu­al White Ele­phant Party

    • Some peo­ple con­sid­er a “white ele­phant” gift to be some­thing cho­sen from their home that is still in good/new con­di­tion, a cheap pur­chased gift, or a joke gift. Make sure you deter­mine what type you want peo­ple to give so that every­one pre­pares the same.
    • Have your team pre­pare their gift at their home ahead of time and take a pic­ture of their item. Each per­son should email the pre-des­ig­nat­ed “San­ta” the pic­ture so he/she can pre­pare the game.
    • Pre­pare a Pow­er­Point pre­sen­ta­tion with images of gifts and fol­low the instruc­tions on this site to host the party.

    Gen­er­al Tips

    • Mail “par­ty sup­plies” two weeks early.
    • Make a par­ty playlist and share it before the par­ty to get peo­ple in the hol­i­day par­ty mood.
    • Con­sid­er mail­ing par­ty food such as fla­vored pop­corn, chips, can­dy, and even a meal-deliv­ery gift card for eat­ing dur­ing the vir­tu­al event.

    Even though we are apart this hol­i­day sea­son, there is no need for us to be dis­con­nect­ed. You can still be the “host/ess with the most/est” by prepar­ing the best par­ty for your team. Show them you care by spend­ing the extra time and care to keep your team engaged dur­ing the holidays.

     

  • IRS issues updates on a variety of benefit rules – take effect January 1 | by Jordan Shields, Partner

    November 13, 2020

    Tags:

     

    Flex­i­ble spend­ing account Keeps cur­rent allowance of $2,750 annu­al salary reduction
    Keeps cur­rent allowance of $550 for employ­er contribution
    Adop­tion Assistance Amount raised from $14,300 to $14,440
    401k Con­tri­bu­tion Employ­ee amount remains at $19,500
    Health Sav­ings Account Employ­ee con­tri­bu­tion raised from $3,550 to $3,600
    Fam­i­ly con­tri­bu­tion raised from $7,100 to $7,200
    Afford­able Care Act Afford­abil­i­ty thresh­old raised from 9.78% to 9.81%
    Penal­ty for fail­ure to offer is now $2,700
    Penal­ty for lack of afford­abil­i­ty is now $4,060
    San Fran­cis­co HCSO Base increas­es from $2.05 to $2.12 groups of 20+
    Base increas­es from $3.08 to $3.18 groups of 100+
    State Dis­abil­i­ty This is real – the amount to be tak­en from employ­ee pay is increased from 1% to 1.5% — the Paid Fam­i­ly Leave Act went to 8 weeks in July 2020

  • They have a plan – the Republicans have a plan | by Jordan Shields, Partner

    November 11, 2020

    Tags: ,

    We are non-par­ti­san here and would not pre­sume to take sides in the debate over the future of health care in Amer­i­ca.  Mr. Biden said he has a plan but did not elab­o­rate dur­ing the debates, so we are not sure what it is except to con­tin­ue the Afford­able Care Act or make it stronger. Mr. Trump keeps say­ing he has a plan and the Repub­li­can Par­ty has a plan, but they are not pro­mot­ing it…but…Mr. Trump did come out with an “Amer­i­ca-First Health­care Plan” on Octo­ber 4.  Here are the high­lights, which is more of a recap of what Mr. Trump has done since tak­ing office.  There is def­i­nite­ly some plan­ning here:

    • Signed a repeal of the indi­vid­ual man­date in 2017
    • Increased avail­abil­i­ty of short-term med­ical plans (though they’re banned in California)
    • Expan­sion of Health Reim­burse­ment Arrangements
    • Expan­sion of Health Sav­ings Accounts
    • Increased access to tele­health plans fol­low­ing the COVID 19 pandemic
    • More plan options and reduced bench­mark inflation
    • Reduc­tion of drug prices and more gener­ic approvals
    • Reduc­tion of some drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries
    • Repeal of ACA med­ical device tax, annu­al fee on health care providers and Cadil­lac tax
    • Increased trans­paren­cy in hospital/insurance coor­di­na­tion (effect remains to be seen)
    • Announce­ment of four prin­ci­ples to avoid sur­prise med­ical billing
    • Pro­tect­ing indi­vid­u­als with pre-exist­ing conditions
    • Improved access to health plans
    • New orders to sup­port small com­mu­ni­ty and rur­al hospitals
    • Demon­strat­ed ded­i­ca­tion to pro­tect­ing and improv­ing care for those in need
    • Mod­ern­iza­tion of Medicare – but where and what?
    • Sub­stance Abuse Dis­or­der Prevention

    Not sure who did what and when and how, but it’s out there.

  • Data Drop: Workforce Surveys Reveal Effects of Pandemic

    November 9, 2020

    Tags: , ,

    How 2020 will be remem­bered is large­ly going to be shaped by the pan­dem­ic, both for larg­er soci­ety and the work­place. There is no indus­try that hasn’t been impact­ed by COVID-19 and thus, no seg­ment of the work­force that hasn’t felt its impact.

    We can see this play­ing out in the data we col­lect. Per­haps more than any oth­er cri­sis before it, data is telling its own sto­ry around COVID-19. A fair amount of this data comes straight to our inbox and we reg­u­lar­ly review it.

    Shar­ing is car­ing as they say, so with that in mind, here are some of the lat­est work­force sur­veys that have caught our atten­tion and sta­tis­tics that may help you under­stand and address the issues with­in your own organization.

    Less Screen Time = Better Health

    The folks over at Aet­na Inter­na­tion­al recent­ly sur­veyed 4,000 employ­ees at mid-to-large size busi­ness­es in the U.K., U.S., UAE and Sin­ga­pore about their rela­tion­ship with work­place tech­nol­o­gy and what effect it had on them. While the major­i­ty of respon­dents say that tech­nol­o­gy makes them more effec­tive at their jobs and at man­ag­ing time, par­tic­u­lar­ly at a time where remote work is so com­mon, there was a cost asso­ci­at­ed with their health.

    Employ­ees feel that sit­ting at their com­put­er for long dura­tions have hin­dered their phys­i­cal health with 70% of those sur­veyed agree­ing that they would exer­cise more if they spent less time at their computer.

    Addi­tion­al­ly, 76% of employ­ees feel that reduced or restrict­ed out of hours tech­nol­o­gy use would help them man­age their phys­i­cal health bet­ter if pro­vid­ed by their employ­er. Many find them­selves check­ing their emails and Slack or Teams accounts when they nor­mal­ly wouldn’t.

    The impact goes beyond the phys­i­cal, how­ev­er. The major­i­ty of employ­ees from around the world agreed that the overuse of tech­nol­o­gy in the work­place has had neg­a­tive effects on their men­tal health, with 75% agree­ing that restrict­ing the use of screen time dur­ing the work­day would help them to bet­ter man­age their men­tal health. More than half, 56%, said that the overuse of com­mu­ni­ca­tion plat­forms and inter­nal emails increas­es their stress levels.

    Trust

    Recent sur­veys from JDP asked 2,000 U.S. employ­ees a range of ques­tions about work­ing from home dur­ing the pan­dem­ic. Among the most unan­i­mous respons­es was cen­tered on trust, with 92% of respon­dents say­ing they believe their boss­es trust­ed them. Addi­tion­al­ly, 86% say they feel they have tak­en advan­tage of the increased free­dom work from home provides.

    More than three quar­ters of respon­dents say they are work­ing dif­fer­ent hours and two-thirds say they are more like­ly to work on the week­end now. Dif­fer­ent hours didn’t trans­late to more hours, how­ev­er, with only 33% of respon­dents say­ing they were work­ing more.

    Whose Been Hit Hardest?

    Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics has shown the top careers to be most affect­ed by COVID-19 and it’s a list that won’t sur­prise you. Retail, hos­pi­tal­i­ty, the per­form­ing arts, den­tal office staff and film and TV pro­duc­tion crews have tak­en the biggest hit. Air trans­porta­tion and real estate offices also had notable losses.

    The news isn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly a death sen­tence for the career of peo­ple work­ing in those indus­tries though. The fact is, many of them have soft skills that are becom­ing more impor­tant in a work­force that is tak­ing on a human focus. The folks over at online resume builder Zety per­formed an analy­sis of more than 130 thou­sand resumes cre­at­ed between 2017 and 2019 to find which alter­na­tive career paths were most pop­u­lar amongst peo­ple who held jobs in indus­tries that are now struggling.

    By com­par­ing the soft skills many in those indus­tries list­ed on their resumes to the soft skills need­ed in oth­er posi­tions, they came up with a list of alter­na­tives that might just help some peo­ple get back on their feet. You can see the full list on the Zety blog.

    The Visibility of Productivity

    Every­one wants their employ­er to know that they’re using this time at home to get work done and broad­ly speak­ing, it has shown as data sug­gests peo­ple have been more pro­duc­tive in remote work set­tings. But, accord­ing to recent sur­veys from Pro­doscore, employ­ees are even more open to the idea of pro­duc­tiv­i­ty mon­i­tor­ing than you might expect.

    The com­pa­ny com­mis­sioned the research to put fresh num­bers to trends they had been notic­ing for a few years as work from home arrange­ments gained trac­tion and that were recent­ly ampli­fied in the wake of COVID-19. Pri­or to the pan­dem­ic, around 61% of the sur­vey par­tic­i­pants worked from home at least part time. Now that num­ber has increased to 77%.

    A byprod­uct of this is an increase in the desire to show and see pro­duc­tiv­i­ty by both employ­ees and employ­ers. For employ­ees, the moti­va­tion was clear. They want the mon­i­tor­ing so they can struc­ture their day in ways that have proven to be effec­tive, show­case their effi­cien­cy and have their efforts rec­og­nized. In all, only 10% of respon­dents said they didn’t like the idea.

    The sur­vey was con­duct­ed in July 2020 in part­ner­ship with Pro­peller Insights. It polled 1,000 U.S.-based work­ers across diverse indus­tries and includ­ed a mix of micro, SMB and enter­prise busi­ness­es. Most respon­dents were white-col­lar work­ers (79%).

    The Need for People Data and Performance Communication

    At a time where we talk a great deal about employ­ee engage­ment and expe­ri­ence, ask­ing the ques­tion what employ­ees want can trig­ger a wide vari­ety of respons­es. A recent sur­vey from Reflek­tive sought to answer that ques­tion and arrived at some con­clu­sions that you prob­a­bly already suspect.

    The sur­vey was com­plet­ed by 445 HR pro­fes­sion­als and busi­ness lead­ers and 622 employ­ees. Inter­est­ing­ly, employ­ees indi­cat­ed that they need more coach­ing and want more recog­ni­tion from their managers.

    From HR and busi­ness lead­ers, there’s a great deal of inter­est in employ­ee pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. HR lead­ers indi­cat­ed that they are invest­ed in mea­sur­ing the health of their per­for­mance man­age­ment prac­tices, which will be music to employ­ees ears as it could lead to more of that coach­ing they seek.

    Peo­ple data is a big area of inter­est as 60% of lead­ers agree that peo­ple ana­lyt­ics efforts are more impor­tant to them now than a year ago. Near­ly three quar­ters of those respon­dents believe that they have a firm grasp of why peo­ple leave, but only 50% of them are using ana­lyt­ics to pre­dict employ­ee per­for­mance and turnover.

    Employ­ees also expressed frus­tra­tion with how to acquire feed­back. One-in-four say they don’t know how to request feed­back and 30% say they don’t feel empow­ered to ini­ti­ate those conversations.

    “When tools aren’t used reg­u­lar­ly, employ­ees may for­get what’s at their fin­ger­tips,” Rachel Ernst, CHRO at Reflek­tive said. “On a quar­ter­ly basis, com­mu­ni­cate the process for request­ing feed­back. Addi­tion­al­ly, when man­agers reg­u­lar­ly ask for feed­back, employ­ees will start mir­ror­ing this behav­ior as well.”

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on HR Exchange Network

  • New California Family Medical Leave Law – effective January 1, 2021 | by Jordan Shields, Partner

    November 5, 2020

    Tags:

    Sen­ate Bill 1383 was passed and signed and put into law the Cal­i­for­nia Fam­i­ly Rights Act.

    This Fam­i­ly Leave Act now applies to orga­ni­za­tions with as few as five employ­ees, following.

    Fed­er­al guide­lines.  For larg­er employ­ers, the new law cov­ers addi­tion­al cat­e­gories of leave that go beyond the FMLA that may end up being lay­ered on top of the state law.  For exam­ple, if an employ­ee takes 12 weeks of leave to care for a sib­ling, grand­par­ent, grand­child, or domes­tic part­ner under the new CFRA, the same employ­ee can take an addi­tion­al 12 weeks of leave under the FMLA for their own med­ical con­di­tion or to care for a relative.

  • End of Year Healthcare

    November 3, 2020

    Tags: ,

    As the weath­er turns cool­er and shop­ping cen­ters get busier, it’s easy to sur­mise that it’s near­ing the end of the year. Are we all ready for 2020 to be over?! Yes, please! Since we are clos­ing in on 2021, it’s time for you to max­i­mize your health­care plan by tak­ing advan­tage of end-of-year health­care benefits.

     

    HAVE YOU MET YOUR DEDUCTIBLE YET?

    Before you con­tin­ue read­ing, look over your insur­ance plan details and check your deductible amount. Then, check with your HR advi­sor and see where you are with your ben­e­fits per their records and the insur­ance com­pa­ny records to ensure you have all the infor­ma­tion you need regard­ing these details. Now that you have all your ducks in a row, let’s look at some ways to make sure you are max­i­miz­ing your health­care ben­e­fits before year-end.

     

    THINGS TO DO LIST

    • Refill prescriptions—maybe get 90-day sup­plies so they last beyond the start of the new year
    • Sched­ule lab work
    • Sched­ule imaging
    • Vis­it the dermatologist
    • Vis­it the optometrist—get new glass­es or con­tact lenses
    • Sched­ule pre­ven­tive screen­ings like: 
      • Endoscopy
      • Colonoscopy
      • Prostate can­cer
      • Lung can­cer
    • Sched­ule elec­tive surg­eries like: 
      • Hys­terec­to­my
      • Gall­blad­der
      • Joint replace­ment
      • Weight loss
      • Thy­roid
      • Eye
      • Back
    • Go to phys­i­cal ther­a­py for an injury
    • Vis­it your PCP for pre­ven­tive care
    • Vis­it the dentist

     

    THINGS TO CONSIDER

    Before you go whole-hog on sched­ul­ing these appoint­ments, you need to con­sid­er some things first.

    • Think about the addi­tion­al costs asso­ci­at­ed with pro­ce­dures like phys­i­cal ther­a­py post-surgery. You should cal­cu­late the cost of hav­ing the surgery this cal­en­dar year and start­ing PT after the new year begins and your deductible resets ver­sus doing every­thing next year.
    • Many den­tal plans have year­ly max­i­mums so it may be bet­ter to split up some den­tal pro­ce­dures between this year and next.
    • Make sure you stay in your net­work when you sched­ule these appoint­ments or else your insur­ance cov­er­age won’t be as robust as you thought.
    • Use your FSA mon­ey before the end of the year because these funds are “use it or lose it.” 
      • The IRS does give you a grace peri­od of 2 ½ months to spend your money.

     

    BONUS TIPS

    As a cou­ple of bonus tips:

    • Check your plan’s terms about coin­sur­ance so you know if this will come into play even after meet­ing your deductible.
    • Increase your HSA con­tri­bu­tions to max out your account before the end of the year. The IRS, again, gives you some extra time in the fol­low­ing year to keep con­tribut­ing to the pri­or year’s account. But, not max­ing out your con­tri­bu­tion amount means that you aren’t reap­ing the ben­e­fits of this tax-free money.

    Mak­ing sure you are ful­ly uti­liz­ing your health­care plan at the end of the year is a smart move for every health­care con­sumer. Begin cross­ing things off this “To-Do List” today!

  • Three Surprising Benefits to a Virtual Open Enrollment

    October 21, 2020

    Tags: ,

    With many enroll­ments being forced to go vir­tu­al this year, you may feel at a dis­ad­van­tage. But, there are actu­al­ly plen­ty of rea­sons to believe a vir­tu­al open enroll­ment could be even more effec­tive for you and your clients.

    IMPROVED EDUCATION

    Peo­ple only tend to remem­ber 10% of what they hear and only 20% of what they read. How­ev­er, peo­ple actu­al­ly recall 80% of what they see. As you pre­pare your vir­tu­al enroll­ment pre­sen­ta­tions, make sure you work on inte­grat­ing images to com­mu­ni­cate your mes­sage. An image has a high­er chance of evok­ing an emo­tion­al response in a per­son than a set of words, writ­ten or spo­ken and with that emo­tion comes reten­tion. Lever­age every oppor­tu­ni­ty to use graphs, charts, and images to relay your message.

    GREATER REACH

    As you com­mu­ni­cate with your employ­ees regard­ing edu­ca­tion on ben­e­fits offer­ings or dead­lines for enroll­ment, use a form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion that is nat­ur­al for most people—text mes­sag­ing. Tex­ting for employ­ee com­mu­ni­ca­tion results in a 98% open/read rate and a 45% reply rate. Com­pare these per­cent­ages to basic email open rates of 20% and a reply rate for email of only 6% and you’ll plain­ly see that tex­ting has a far greater reach. So, if it wor­ries you that vir­tu­al enroll­ments will result in less com­mu­ni­ca­tion, don’t let it!

    Anoth­er great way to lever­age this time of vir­tu­al open enroll­ments for the good is to get online with your enroll­ment paper­work by post­ing it all via an online por­tal or com­pa­ny intranet.  Employ­ees can read through the infor­ma­tion at their leisure from anywhere—phone, tablet, or lap­top. They can also eas­i­ly share it with fam­i­ly mem­bers who can read it at their con­ve­nience. More peo­ple will be able to digest the infor­ma­tion than if it had only been avail­able at a phys­i­cal enroll­ment meeting.

    OPEN LINES OF COMMUNICATION

    Work on cre­at­ing a sol­id foun­da­tion of com­mu­ni­ca­tion for the entire year by intro­duc­ing it dur­ing Q4’s vir­tu­al enroll­ment meet­ings. Use your company’s social media to stay in con­tact by post­ing edu­ca­tion­al info­graph­ics, ani­mat­ed videos on health and well­ness top­ics, and invi­ta­tions to webi­na­rs. Then, by the time 2021’s enroll­ment peri­od approach­es, your employ­ees will be con­di­tioned to look at your social media for com­pa­ny announce­ments and you will be set up for suc­cess as you post info on your dif­fer­ent channels.

    Even though open enroll­ment looks stark­ly dif­fer­ent than in years’ past, it does have its ben­e­fits. Improved com­mu­ni­ca­tion, a greater reach, and new, open lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion are all byprod­ucts of this inno­v­a­tive, vir­tu­al envi­ron­ment. What a great surprise!

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