Category: Arrow Content

  • 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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    “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

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    “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

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    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

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

    July 1, 2020

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    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

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    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

  • Effective Leadership Begins with You

    June 17, 2020

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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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 lifehappens.org

  • 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.

     

    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

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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 livestrong.com

  • 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 hrexchangenetwork.com

  • 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.

  • Employee Burnout in 2020

    March 10, 2020

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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.

  • 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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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