• A Financial Lifeline You May Have Forgotten About

    April 22, 2020

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    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

  • The Cause of Disengagement | California Employee Benefits Group

    April 13, 2020

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    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.


    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?”


    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

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    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.



    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.



    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.



    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 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

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    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

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    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

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    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

  • Remote Work Challenges for HR

    March 23, 2020

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    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

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

    March 17, 2020

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    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

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    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

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    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.

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