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  • Pet Insurance

    November 20, 2019

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    We’ve all heard the saying “A dog is a man’s best friend” and we know it’s true! Pets give us unconditional love, companionship, and joy. But, are we willing to pay the price when a hefty vet bill comes along? Pet insurance may help you stomach that unexpected emergency room charge due to Fluffy’s uncanny ability to eat anything within reach—even if it’s rotten!

    In 2017, over $16.62B were spent on veterinarian bills in the United States. In that same year, Americans also spent over $1B on pet insurance. This begs the question “is pet insurance worth buying?” While this market continues to grow, 99% of pet owners report NOT having pet insurance. The number one reason? Cost. Premiums are at their lowest when you own a puppy or kitten and increase as the pet gets older. This results in the insured only keeping pet insurance for an average of 3 years. The cost of insurance can increase 5-fold between the puppy and adult years.

    Pet insurance is one of the fastest growing markets in the US. This insurance can be purchased with increased levels of coverage. The most basic level may cover treatments for some common illnesses or accidental injury. The mid-range coverage could cover preventative care as well as immunizations. An example of premium coverage is surgical cost and liability for if the pet injured someone. Prices for these levels range from $15/ month to $45/month.

    Pet insurance is now becoming a more commonplace employee benefitContingencies.org says that 6500 employers in the US and Canada offer pet insurance to its employees. A report by SHRM says that of those offered pet insurance as an employee perk, only 6% of pet owners utilized that benefit in 2012. By 2017, that number rose to 9%. Employees say this is an important benefit because, for many, pets are considered part of a family and if you insure a human member of a family, why wouldn’t you also insure your pet?

    If your company does not offer pet insurance, here are some tips on what you should look for when considering purchasing pet insurance:

    1. How much do my premiums increase as my pet ages?
    2. What is covered and not covered? Does the plan include pre-existing conditions?
    3. Can you purchase just accident coverage for if your pet injures someone?

    With our pets being a vital part of our family, having pet insurance can give you peace of mind that you don’t have to shoulder the entire cost of an injury or illness of a pet. Not having to make decisions for their care based on money is a blessing to their families. For over 6,000 companies and their 80,000 employees this perk is worth every penny.

  • What Diversity Looks Like in the Workplace

    November 13, 2019

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    Diversity isn’t just a moral issue.  There is a business case that can be made for promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace.  From recruitment to mentoring, human resources has a main role in the strategy.

    Defining Diversity

    What is diversity?  That’s a two pronged answer.  There is inherent diversity.  It involves traits a person is born with… gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation for instance.  Then there is acquired diversity.  These are traits gained from experience.  For instance, an employee who has worked abroad will be more inclined to appreciate cultural difference.

    The Harvard Business Review conducted a study focused on two-dimensional diversity.  A person with 2-D diversity is said to have least three inherent and three acquired diversity traits.  In the study, companies with 2-D diversity out-innovated and out-performed those without it.  Those companies were 45% more likely to report growth over the previous year and 70% more likely to report capturing a new market.

    Diversity in Practice

    TransUnion continues to focus on diversity and inclusion initiatives and has even made key changes in leadership.  Instead of positions being held by just men, the company has added some women to the ranks.  But it isn’t something that happened overnight and the work continues into 2019.  Debra Wasserman is the Senior Director of Compensation and Benefits at TransUnion.  She said TransUnion used a top-down approach.

    “We started with the senior-most leaders and followed it down throughout the organization,” Wasserman said.  “I think to some degree, there needed to be some awareness.  So, we had to get this front and center in front of everyone.”

    From there, Wasserman says the company has started looking at pay equity.  She said some states already require this, but they’ve started looking at it as a global issue as well.

    “We don’t have all the answers.  We’re just starting to ask questions at this point, but we’re trying to make a move toward a more diverse situation,” Wasserman said.

    Impacting Diversity

    Diversity and inclusion continues to be one of the dominant topics for HR professionals.  There are some way’s HR can really impact change for their respective companies.

    In most companies it can be difficult to get a clear picture of what diversity is like for that particular organization.

    To combat this, HR teams should monitor diversity.  This can be done through audits.  This should be done, not only for current employees, but in recruitment practices as well.  This will allow for progress to be measured effectively.

    When it comes to diversity, HR should focus on building a diverse workforce through recruitment or development. There are a myriad of ways of doing this.  Some can be through internal or external partnerships.

    Like recruitment, mentoring can be internal or external. For instance, some HR professionals work with schools or local youth groups. This helps with fostering talent early and making sure more diverse individuals are aware of the opportunities.

    HR teams should understand it is vital to ensure the diversity of your supply chain.  Furthermore, it should reflect your consumer base, but also that there is a business case for supply chain diversity.

    In Summation

    It is clear HR has a role in diversity.  Companies should start, if they’re not already, thinking about making these changes to recruitment, but they will have to implement them as soon as possible.

    That said, these steps can help propel the company onto a positive trajectory.  Even with positive changes in recruitment, other areas such as mentoring, supplier chain diversity and progression and leadership still need to be focused on to ensure companies are aiding ethnic minority progression within their organizations.

    By Mason Stevenson

    Originally posted on hrexchangenetwork.com

  • Diabetes Education and Prevention

    November 6, 2019

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    Diabetes is a long-lasting health condition that affects how your body converts food to energy. Diabetes patients are unable to make enough of the hormone called insulin or cannot use the insulin that is made in their body efficiently.  When this happens, your body can respond in some serious ways that include liver damage, heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.

    There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the body just stops making insulin. These patients are usually diagnosed as children, teens, or early adults. Type 2 diabetes is a result of your body not using the insulin produced in an efficient manner. About 90% of all diabetic patients are type 2 cases. But, through education and prevention, the effects of diabetes on a person’s body can be lessened.

    How is food converted to energy?

    When you eat food, most of it is converted to sugar (glucose) and released into your bloodstream to provide you with the energy you need to do daily tasks. When your blood sugar levels increase, your pancreas is then activated to release insulin into your body’s cells and use it for energy. Insulin not only helps convert glucose to energy, but it also helps our body store glucose for future energy use.

    Diabetes = Broken Process

    In some people, the conversion process is interrupted and the message to the pancreas to release insulin into the cells to use for energy is done ineffectively. These patients have trouble balancing the correct amount of insulin in their cells and so therefore have a harder time maintaining energy levels. Diabetic patients try to get rid of extra sugar (blood sugar level of 180 +) through the kidneys and therefore have the need to urinate more often. When releasing large amounts of sugar through urine, it means that there is less available to convert to energy and leads to lethargy, loss of appetite, and excess burning of body fat.

    Education & Prevention is Key

    For people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, understanding how your body processes sugar and maintains healthy blood sugar levels is paramount. Those with type 1 diabetes require daily insulin shots to keep blood sugar levels even. These patients are unable to reverse this autoimmune disease and solely rely on insulin shots to level out glucose levels. Those with type 2 diabetes can control the progression of this disease by making healthy diet choices and exercising regularly. In some cases, type 2 diabetics also have to include insulin shots or diabetes pills.

    November is National Diabetes Month and is a great opportunity to adopt healthy lifestyle habits. Maintaining blood sugar levels through diet and exercise as well as becoming aware of the effects of the eating choices you make is key to understanding this disease. For more information on diabetes and how to make good choices, visit the American Diabetes Association website.

  • Don’t Leave Your FSA Money on the Table this Year!

    October 15, 2019

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    As 2019 is nearing an end, many people are looking at this year’s medical expenses to plan for how much they should set back for next year. In investigating these expenditures, you may notice that you still have money in your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) for 2019. FSAs are unique in that any unused money from this plan year is forfeited once the new year begins. You definitely do not want to leave money in your FSA once 2020 rolls around. To help, we’ve compiled a list of some ways to use up your hard-earned FSA money that you may not have thought possible!

    • Acupuncture
    • Acne treatment
    • Breast pump and supplies
    • Chiropractic treatments
    • Dental treatments—orthodontia, medically necessary water fluoride treatments, caps, fillings, x-rays
    • Eyes—glasses, surgery, contact lenses
    • First aid kit
    • Genetic testing—including BRCA gene testing
    • Motion sickness medicine
    • Nutritionist consultations
    • Sunscreen
    • Smoking cessation program
    • Vaporizer
    • Vasectomy
    • Weight loss programs/surgery

    There are even some high-tech gadgets that may fall into the medically qualified expenses category:

    • Acne light therapy
    • Electronic stimulation instruments for pain
    • Medically necessary mattresses
    • Smart thermometers

    Don’t leave your FSA money on the table in 2019! You have earned this money so make sure you use it to its full potential.

    This list is not an exhaustive list of ways to spend your FSA money nor does it guarantee your insurance program considers these to be qualified expenses. Check with your HR department and insurance agent if you have questions about qualified expenses.

     

  • AI in HR | California Employee Benefits Team

    October 2, 2019

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    Artificial intelligence is pushing humans and machines closer together.  It’s exciting!  AI’s influences are being felt across the HR space… being used to automate business processes, enhance efficiency, and reduce bias among other things.  In fact, McKinsey’s latest forecast of AI’s impact on the global economy is that it will generate $13 trillion in economic activity across the globe by 2030.

    But, there is room for improvement, and top executives want it yesterday.  A recent survey from PricewaterhouseCooper found 72% of executives believe AI will offer sizable business advantages in the near future.  In another survey from IBM, 66% of CEOs believe AI can drive significant value in HR.  Some are already exploring those opportunities.  Uber, for instance, completed the world’s first cargo shipment using a truck controlled by AI!

    State of AI in HR

    AI as a Tool

    The inclusion of artificial intelligence in the HR professional’s toolbox is not surprising.  When looking for answers, look no further than the iPhone, for instance, or the black, cylindrical Echo tower sitting on the counter.  Whether its Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Echo, people are using artificial intelligence at home in their day-to-day lives.  It makes sense, then, that AI has made it into the workplace.

    In most professional settings, AI is not required to do mundane tasks like answer questions about the weather or turn on the lights.  Instead, AI is asked to do much more.

    Reducing Human Bias

    Humans are inherently bias.  Even when striving for inclusiveness, HR professionals may subconsciously lean toward a particular candidate… for instance, someone who is more like the recruiter.  Another potential bias, language bias; people’s subconscious word associations could indicate a particular preference.

    Now, thanks to AI, algorithms can be designed to help employers identify and remove these biases.  That potentially translates to better hiring communications and attracting a more diverse group of candidates.  Those same algorithms can also find candidates who may have been screened out due to human bias.  To put it in context, AI allows managers to go beyond gut feelings and rely on data-driving assessments.

    AI Automation

    AI is being used in HR to automate repetitive, low-value tasks thus increasing the focus on more strategic work.  AI tools automate common HR tasks like benefits management or handling common questions or requests.

    Recruiting through AI

    Custom experiences are expected by applicants.  These are tailored to unique needs as they apply for a new job, choose the right benefits or explore development opportunities.

    Companies have implemented “AI recruiters” to automate scheduling interviews, provide ongoing feedback to candidates and answer their questions in real time.  This allows human recruiters to spend more time converting candidates to hires.

    Retention

    Some companies are using AI platforms to single out employees that may be heading for the exit door.  Those platforms track employee computer activity, emails, keystrokes, internet browsing and so on and store it.  Then AI analyzes the data to determine a baseline of normal activity patterns in the organization. Based on that knowledge, outliers are flagged and reported to the employer.  AI is also being used to detect changes in the overall tone of employees’ communications to predict when employees might be thinking of leaving.

    AI Makes HR More Human

    At some point in the career of an HR professional the question is asked:  how can human resources become more human?  At least one company believes it has the answer.  Best Buy Canada says it’s to add more machines.  Chris Taylor is the chief human resources officer for Best Buy Canada.  He has gone on record saying the embracing of artificial intelligence and machine learning applications in human capital management is a “mandatory investment in the future.”

    So, why add more machines to make HR more human?

    The automation of tasks through AI technology allows for the freeing of HR professionals to focus on uniquely human abilities such as critical thinking, creativity, and empathy.  While they are involved with the more human tasks, technology, at the moment, can handle the more mundane tasks.

    All of that said, in a lot of ways artificial intelligence is still growing and learning itself.

    What does that statement mean? AI is able to search a query based on the words you are using and give you a response, but that response isn’t contextual.

    AI is heading in that direction though.

    Instead of writing responses specifically to specific inputs… you just have a huge database of language around a specific knowledge domain and the AI can go into that knowledge domain and answer the questions from the user.

    HR professionals interested in pursuing AI want it to do much more than answer questions and rummage through applications. They want to use it as a learning platform.

    But it’s not there yet.

    AI can teach itself to do something, but it’s not at the stage it can replace humans beings as the “drivers of education.” In the future, it may be used that way, but it would require a lot of adaptability.

    Taylor says Best Buy Canada is embracing as much technology as they can get their hands on.  For instance, the company has started investing in cloud-based solution that uses artificial intelligence, voice technology and machine learning.  All of these technologies, Best Buy Canada hopes, will better the employee experience.

    Conclusion

    As much as the HR technology landscape continues to be disrupted by AI, HR teams must find ways to balance these advancements with transparency.  It is essential in making sure the implementation of AI technology is successful.  At the end of the day, artificial intelligence is not the end-all-be-all answer to every quandary HR finds itself in.  It is a tool and nothing more.  A tool that can improperly function based on the data it is given in order to work effectively.  Even so, artificial intelligence can be a valuable resource.  Work to embrace it now because it’s likely you’ll be expected to use it in the future.

    By Mason Stevenson

    Originally posted on hrexchangenetwork.com

  • How to Implement an Employee Training Program | California Employee Benefits

    September 18, 2019

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    Employee training programs are beneficial to organizations of varying sizes. Even small companies can improve customer service skills. Large organizations often need training programs specifically targeted to employee development and changing technologies. The Society for Human Resource Management says that offering training programs to employees helps the employee feel more engaged and committed to the organization. Implement an employee training program in your organization to improve job morale and teach new skills.

    Step 1

    Analyze your organizational needs. Interview managers and supervisors and identify employee performance areas that need strengthening. Review employee performance appraisals to locate common performance problems. Call the human resources department of similarly sized and focused organizations and ask what training programs have been valuable to them.

    Step 2

    Present your research findings to the committee or the company’s leadership team. Prepare a detailed presentation and be prepared to answer questions. Outline the benefits of each proposed program, anticipated costs and time requirements. Demonstrate the need for each program by preparing detailed analysis of problem areas and possible solutions. Ask for input, suggestions and changes.

    Step 3

    Finalize your plan and determine your budget for the next fiscal year. Request funds using your company’s budgeting process. When calculating your employee training budget, include materials, travel, speaker fees, computer access charges and food in the budgeted amount. Ask for funds before the fiscal year begins rather than requesting unbudgeted money during the fiscal year.

    Step 4

    Take the total budget and allocate the funds by department, per employee or per training program, recommends the American Society for Training and Development. Consider the benefits you expect from each training program and decide if the cost of the program will give you the desired results. Decide if training programs will be required or optional.

    Step 5

    List the training classes you will offer over the next year. Divide the classes by type and employee attendance. Prepare a schedule and publish it on your company’s intranet. If possible, allow employees to sign up electronically to save valuable personnel time. Be sensitive to departmental schedules and work flow.

    Step 6

    Contract with outside firms or select and internal trainer to provide training. Call the potential trainer’s references and verify that his materials and presentation style fit your needs. Ask him to give you samples of his work, a quote of his complete fees and a list of any needed equipment. Outsourcing training can save money when you consider the administrative and program costs.

    Select an internal trainer for training programs you will handle. Ask an employee with expertise in the field to teach a class or utilize member of your company’s human resources department. Set clear expectations of class content and have a feedback system in place. Consider extra compensation if training is not part of the employee’s job description.

    Step 7

    Evaluate the success of each program immediately after the program’s completion. Ask the participants to fill out prepared evaluation forms. Analyze the comments to plan for further training. Follow-up with supervisors during the year to gauge the continued effectiveness of the training programs.

     

    by Diane Lynn
    Originally posted on Livestrong.com

  • Volunteering Time Off, Part Two

    September 9, 2019

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    Right now our national unemployment rate is 3.7%–edging towards a 50-year low. With this low rate, companies are actually finding it increasingly harder to hire and retain great talent. One way to combat this issue is by increasing employee engagement through volunteering.

     

    In survey after survey, employees state that they want to work for companies who care for others.  In fact, “71% of employees surveyed say it’s very important to work where culture supports volunteering,” according to America’s Charities Snapshot. There are different types of volunteer options when looking to begin a volunteer program at a company. For example, entire companies can come together for a big “Day of Service” event.  Or perhaps there is an ongoing need in the community, like Meals on Wheels, and employees sign up to help when needed by the charity. Offering pro bono services to non-profit community groups or donating skills for specific projects are other ways to assist charities in your area.

     

    The issue of time worked and pay typically comes up when talking about employer sponsored/encouraged volunteering. There are a couple different ways that companies structure this. One way is to simply pay employees for their usual time at the workplace even though they are not actually working on company business at the time of the volunteer project. This is typical of big “Day of Service” campaigns during the workweek. Another way is to encourage employees to donate their break or lunch time to complete volunteer service projects. Finally, and this is the emerging trend in employee benefits, is to give each employee Volunteer Time Off (VTO) hours as part of their benefits package.

     

    The benefits of VTO are numerous. One of the biggest values of VTO is that of employee recruitment and retention.  PricewaterhouseCoopers conducted a survey and the results were that “59% of Millennials gravitated towards companies with pronounced Corporate Social Responsibility programs.”  For retention, the value is even higher, “74% of employees say their job is more fulfilling when given the opportunity to make a positive impact at work.” Companies also see a benefit in camaraderie across departments and company hierarchy. Working together towards a common goal builds these interdepartmental relationships. Also, by playing towards strengths unseen in a regular office setting, employers have a chance to discover untapped leadership skills and completely unknown skill sets of employees. Finally, your company’s brand image is boosted by the view of its involvement in the community.

     

    Whatever the benefit that your company assigns to a healthy VTO program, be it retention, image, or team building, the fact remains that there WILL BE a benefit. If you are looking to begin the search for the right fitting program, there are great resources available for you. Check out this quick read on Charities.org and also the great tips on SalesForce.com. Start the conversation today with your leadership and start making an impact in your community!

  • Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room

    September 5, 2019

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    Let’s say you are getting ready to make your favorite breakfast—avocado toast. You’ve toasted the bread, cut the avocado in half, and are ready to remove the dreaded pit. Of course, your knife slips and you end up slicing your hand—making you the latest victim of “avocado hand.” It seems you cannot stop the bleeding with a simple bandage so now you need to make the decision on where to go to seek help. Do you choose an urgent care facility or the emergency room? What’s the difference?

    Urgent care centers and emergency rooms are both great options for times when you are unable to see your primary care physician (PCP). The reasons for choosing these facilities can be because the injury or sickness has occurred outside normal office hours for your doctor or that you are out of town when an emergency hits. As you know, the first choice for non-life or limb-threatening conditions should be your regular doctor—they will have your medical history on file and your medication list at the ready. When this is not an option, you will need to make the choice on what level of care you need.

     

    Urgent Care Centers

    Urgent care centers fill the gap between when you are sick or minorly injured but cannot see your PCP and when you are in need of hospital emergency care. Most urgent care locations are staffed by doctors or physician’s assistants. These centers can get you in and out quickly and some even take appointments. Since you will not see your PCP at these clinics, it’s always best to bring a copy of all the medications and dosages of meds you take. If you have a special condition, like epilepsy, make sure you disclose that to the urgent care provider you see. In the case of your avocado hand, your urgent care physician may be able to do minor stitches and bandaging at the facility. Most have access to x-ray machines and basic diagnostic tests. The typical range of costs for care at these centers is between $50-$150.

    Here are some conditions that typically can be seen at urgent care centers:

    • Fevers, flu or cold symptoms
    • Ear infections
    • Bronchitis
    • Cuts and bleeding that may require stitches
    • Urinary tract infections
    • Vomiting or diarrhea
    • Minor back pain

     

    Emergency Room Care

    Hospital emergency rooms provide care for life and limb-threatening situations ranging from heart attack and stroke to car accident injuries. Staffed by physicians, nurses, and specialists, emergency rooms have access to highly knowledgeable and diverse medical teams.  In emergency rooms, care is given to the most serious injury/illness first—not on a first-come, first-served basis. Because of this, wait times in emergency rooms are widely varied and may be into a several hours-long wait. Again, it is wise to bring a list of any medications, both prescribed and over-the-counter, with you when seeking care since the ER will not have this information from your PCP. Costs for emergency services can be anywhere from $50 to more than $10,000 depending on the severity of the injury or illness.

    Symptoms that are best evaluated in an emergency room include:

    • Chest pain or difficulty breathing
    • Weakness/numbness on one side
    • Slurred speech
    • Fainting/change in mental state
    • Serious burns
    • Head or eye injury
    • Concussion/confusion
    • Broken bones and dislocated joints
    • Fever with a rash
    • Seizures
    • Severe cuts that may require stitches
    • Facial lacerations
    • Severe cold or flu symptoms
    • Vaginal bleeding with pregnancy

     

    When faced with the decision to visit an urgent care center or emergency room, you have to first evaluate your symptoms. Once you have done this, ask yourself this question, “Does this condition have the possibility of permanently impairing or endangering your life?” If the answer is “yes,” then you have an emergency and should proceed to the nearest hospital ER. If the answer is “no,” then take your towel-wrapped avocado hand to your local urgent care center for stitches or whatever care they recommend. You will save yourself time and money by making a good choice on your care.

  • 10 Tips for Excellent Company Culture | CA Employee Benefits Consultants

    August 28, 2019

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    When it comes to culture, companies have to walk the walk and talk the talk.

    HR professionals have all been there.  A potential new employee comes in for an interview.  Company representatives question the prospect and then ask if the candidate has any questions.  With surety, the first question uttered will be about the company’s culture.  The response has to be real and backed-up with proof.

    Why?

    In addition to the usual reasons (truthfulness, respect and ethics and so on), look at the current make up of the workforce for guidance.  Companies are dealing with one that’s multigenerational; one that stretches from spectrum to spectrum in terms of what they want and need from their employers.  Take Generation Z for instance.  These workers are very confident and that bleeds into the way in which they approach the interview/hiring process.  They will want to explore the office and talk to current employees.  They are going to test what HR says about the culture.

    Having said that, what constitutes an excellent company culture?

    Company Culture Tips

    An excellent company culture is:

    • Richly Diverse – A company culture thrives on diversity.  This doesn’t just push toward ethnic or gender diversity, though that is equally important.  It must also embrace cognitive diversity; the different ways in which people perceive and digest information.  Leaning on this allows for ideas to be evaluated from multiple angles and can reveal both the pros and cons of an action.  A diverse company culture also looks at all dimensions of diversity including hiring or seeking employees from diverse backgrounds both personally and professionally.  That may include, as an example, hiring a candidate with an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD).  Other examples include hiring more veterans or the formerly incarcerated.  These present unique challenges, but given the right action plan, those issues can be overcome and the company can benefit.
    • Innovative – A company culture must always look to the future.  That means embracing innovation.  Employees at all levels need to feel the freedom to posit ideas for consideration.  And those ideas need to be thoroughly discussed and evaluated.  That’s the key to innovation.  Most employees just want their ideas considered.  If it’s not an idea that is feasible or realistic, that’s fine.  The importance lies in that the employee has a voice.
    • Open to dissent – Speaking of employee voices, workers need to feel they can dissent from leadership.  This doesn’t mean protest or rebel against a decision, but that their concerns will be heard and they will not see retaliation from sharing those ideas.
    • Transparent – A company culture that embraces transparency will not, in most cases, fail.  Why?  In a transparent culture, everyone knows the important bits of information, but more importantly, they can take ownership of what’s happening.  Employees who are proud to work for their employers ultimately take more ownership in the company’s destiny.  They will be more engaged and will pour more energy into ensuring success than the average employee.
    • Aligned with company brand – Employees and customers must see value in the brand which helps support the culture.  It has to resonate with them.  For HR, this might include a partnership with the company’s marketing or public relations department.
    • Supported by all, especially leadership – If leaders don’t see value in or support the culture, expect the same from employees.  Leaders have to actively engage in the culture and make it a staple in their normal operations.  Lead by example.  When the CEO cares… the employees care.
    • Aligns with strategy and process – Think about this from a talent perspective.  The culture needs to align with processes like hiring, compensation and benefits, development and hiring.  And don’t forget about succession planning.  How will the culture align in the future?
    • Collaborative – This is a great way to instill the culture for your employees.  Look at ways to encourage collaboration between teams of employees.  This reinforces the idea that everyone is part of a much larger team.
    • Feedback driven – Give employees regular feedback on performance.  This will help in aligning their performance with the goals of the company.  But don’t save this for a once-a-year event.  Any time an employee or team makes progress toward the company’s goals and in doing so supports the culture, it’s time for some P.R.O.P.S. or Peer Recognition of Peer Success.
    • Deliberate – Culture should be deliberate.  It’s not something that just happens.  Values must be known and supported, especially by leadership.  Otherwise, the culture that is trying to be built will slowly pass into oblivion and the process will have to start all over again.

    Benefits of an Excellent Company Culture

    The tips listed above are just that, tips.  If they’re not internalized and not used properly the company will not benefit.  On the flip side, if those pieces are practiced well, companies will see some huge advantages.

    For one, expect to see an improved environment.  It will truly become a pleasant place to work.  It’s pleasing socially and psychologically.  If that’s the case, expect to see the quality of work improve.  That means higher increases in productivity which leads to more business success.

    By Mason Stevenson
    Originally posted on hrexchangenetwork.com

  • 5 Tips to Beat the Heat | California Benefits Consultants

    August 19, 2019

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    There’s no denying that summer has arrived. In fact, the news has been abuzz with Alaska’s heat wave in July that sent temperatures soaring between 20 and 30 degrees above average. When you are caught in the middle of a heat wave, it may seem like there’s nothing you can do to keep cool. But, there are ways for you to beat the heat this summer and stay safe from heat related illnesses.

     

    Avoid the Heat

    It may seem like a no-brainer to avoid the heat to prevent a heat related illness but some professions work solely outdoors. In those cases, there aren’t many options for avoiding the heat.  Be aware of the hottest time of day and limit physical activity outside during that time.

    Reduce Activity Levels

    Plan the most active job of the day to be in the morning when the sun and heat aren’t as intense. Heatstroke can occur when a person engages in strenuous activity for long periods of time in the heat. If possible, arrange workflows to include times of rest and times to visit a cooling station.

    Drink Fluids Regularly

    The underlying factor in most heat related illness is the inadequate supply of fluids for your body, in other words, drink more water! Heavy sweating depletes a person’s body of fluid and salt and this in turn can cause heat cramps and heat exhaustion. If this occurs, drink cool water or an electrolyte-replacement beverage like Gatorade. To prevent these two illnesses, drink plenty of water before you know you will be outside in the heat so that your body has sufficient fluids in reserve.

    Have a Buddy System

    When you know you will working outside or even playing outside in the heat of the day, make sure you have someone with you. If you should experience a heat related illness while alone, there would be no one available to offer first aid or call for help. As in the case of heatstroke, confusion and weakness along with fainting and possibly convulsions could occur. These are all series symptoms and require immediate action for treatment. The buddy system gives you a safety net of someone else who can recognize these symptoms and can act to save them.

    Take a Dip!

    The best way to beat the heat is by cooling off your body. Not everyone has access to a pool when spending time outside in the heat so if that’s the case, use cold compresses or ice and ice packs to lower body temperature. You can also remove excess clothing and spray your body with cool water. If you do have someone with you and you are experiencing a heat related illness, make sure they are watching you if you jump into a pool.

     

    By following these easy tips to beat the heat you can safely be outside when temperatures are at their peak. Enjoy your summer and stay cool!

  • Pet Insurance

    November 20, 2019

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    We’ve all heard the saying “A dog is a man’s best friend” and we know it’s true! Pets give us unconditional love, companionship, and joy. But, are we willing to pay the price when a hefty vet bill comes along? Pet insurance may help you stomach that unexpected emergency room charge due to Fluffy’s uncanny ability to eat anything within reach—even if it’s rotten!

    In 2017, over $16.62B were spent on veterinarian bills in the United States. In that same year, Americans also spent over $1B on pet insurance. This begs the question “is pet insurance worth buying?” While this market continues to grow, 99% of pet owners report NOT having pet insurance. The number one reason? Cost. Premiums are at their lowest when you own a puppy or kitten and increase as the pet gets older. This results in the insured only keeping pet insurance for an average of 3 years. The cost of insurance can increase 5-fold between the puppy and adult years.

    Pet insurance is one of the fastest growing markets in the US. This insurance can be purchased with increased levels of coverage. The most basic level may cover treatments for some common illnesses or accidental injury. The mid-range coverage could cover preventative care as well as immunizations. An example of premium coverage is surgical cost and liability for if the pet injured someone. Prices for these levels range from $15/ month to $45/month.

    Pet insurance is now becoming a more commonplace employee benefitContingencies.org says that 6500 employers in the US and Canada offer pet insurance to its employees. A report by SHRM says that of those offered pet insurance as an employee perk, only 6% of pet owners utilized that benefit in 2012. By 2017, that number rose to 9%. Employees say this is an important benefit because, for many, pets are considered part of a family and if you insure a human member of a family, why wouldn’t you also insure your pet?

    If your company does not offer pet insurance, here are some tips on what you should look for when considering purchasing pet insurance:

    1. How much do my premiums increase as my pet ages?
    2. What is covered and not covered? Does the plan include pre-existing conditions?
    3. Can you purchase just accident coverage for if your pet injures someone?

    With our pets being a vital part of our family, having pet insurance can give you peace of mind that you don’t have to shoulder the entire cost of an injury or illness of a pet. Not having to make decisions for their care based on money is a blessing to their families. For over 6,000 companies and their 80,000 employees this perk is worth every penny.

  • What Diversity Looks Like in the Workplace

    November 13, 2019

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    Diversity isn’t just a moral issue.  There is a business case that can be made for promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace.  From recruitment to mentoring, human resources has a main role in the strategy.

    Defining Diversity

    What is diversity?  That’s a two pronged answer.  There is inherent diversity.  It involves traits a person is born with… gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation for instance.  Then there is acquired diversity.  These are traits gained from experience.  For instance, an employee who has worked abroad will be more inclined to appreciate cultural difference.

    The Harvard Business Review conducted a study focused on two-dimensional diversity.  A person with 2-D diversity is said to have least three inherent and three acquired diversity traits.  In the study, companies with 2-D diversity out-innovated and out-performed those without it.  Those companies were 45% more likely to report growth over the previous year and 70% more likely to report capturing a new market.

    Diversity in Practice

    TransUnion continues to focus on diversity and inclusion initiatives and has even made key changes in leadership.  Instead of positions being held by just men, the company has added some women to the ranks.  But it isn’t something that happened overnight and the work continues into 2019.  Debra Wasserman is the Senior Director of Compensation and Benefits at TransUnion.  She said TransUnion used a top-down approach.

    “We started with the senior-most leaders and followed it down throughout the organization,” Wasserman said.  “I think to some degree, there needed to be some awareness.  So, we had to get this front and center in front of everyone.”

    From there, Wasserman says the company has started looking at pay equity.  She said some states already require this, but they’ve started looking at it as a global issue as well.

    “We don’t have all the answers.  We’re just starting to ask questions at this point, but we’re trying to make a move toward a more diverse situation,” Wasserman said.

    Impacting Diversity

    Diversity and inclusion continues to be one of the dominant topics for HR professionals.  There are some way’s HR can really impact change for their respective companies.

    In most companies it can be difficult to get a clear picture of what diversity is like for that particular organization.

    To combat this, HR teams should monitor diversity.  This can be done through audits.  This should be done, not only for current employees, but in recruitment practices as well.  This will allow for progress to be measured effectively.

    When it comes to diversity, HR should focus on building a diverse workforce through recruitment or development. There are a myriad of ways of doing this.  Some can be through internal or external partnerships.

    Like recruitment, mentoring can be internal or external. For instance, some HR professionals work with schools or local youth groups. This helps with fostering talent early and making sure more diverse individuals are aware of the opportunities.

    HR teams should understand it is vital to ensure the diversity of your supply chain.  Furthermore, it should reflect your consumer base, but also that there is a business case for supply chain diversity.

    In Summation

    It is clear HR has a role in diversity.  Companies should start, if they’re not already, thinking about making these changes to recruitment, but they will have to implement them as soon as possible.

    That said, these steps can help propel the company onto a positive trajectory.  Even with positive changes in recruitment, other areas such as mentoring, supplier chain diversity and progression and leadership still need to be focused on to ensure companies are aiding ethnic minority progression within their organizations.

    By Mason Stevenson

    Originally posted on hrexchangenetwork.com

  • Diabetes Education and Prevention

    November 6, 2019

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    Diabetes is a long-lasting health condition that affects how your body converts food to energy. Diabetes patients are unable to make enough of the hormone called insulin or cannot use the insulin that is made in their body efficiently.  When this happens, your body can respond in some serious ways that include liver damage, heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.

    There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the body just stops making insulin. These patients are usually diagnosed as children, teens, or early adults. Type 2 diabetes is a result of your body not using the insulin produced in an efficient manner. About 90% of all diabetic patients are type 2 cases. But, through education and prevention, the effects of diabetes on a person’s body can be lessened.

    How is food converted to energy?

    When you eat food, most of it is converted to sugar (glucose) and released into your bloodstream to provide you with the energy you need to do daily tasks. When your blood sugar levels increase, your pancreas is then activated to release insulin into your body’s cells and use it for energy. Insulin not only helps convert glucose to energy, but it also helps our body store glucose for future energy use.

    Diabetes = Broken Process

    In some people, the conversion process is interrupted and the message to the pancreas to release insulin into the cells to use for energy is done ineffectively. These patients have trouble balancing the correct amount of insulin in their cells and so therefore have a harder time maintaining energy levels. Diabetic patients try to get rid of extra sugar (blood sugar level of 180 +) through the kidneys and therefore have the need to urinate more often. When releasing large amounts of sugar through urine, it means that there is less available to convert to energy and leads to lethargy, loss of appetite, and excess burning of body fat.

    Education & Prevention is Key

    For people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, understanding how your body processes sugar and maintains healthy blood sugar levels is paramount. Those with type 1 diabetes require daily insulin shots to keep blood sugar levels even. These patients are unable to reverse this autoimmune disease and solely rely on insulin shots to level out glucose levels. Those with type 2 diabetes can control the progression of this disease by making healthy diet choices and exercising regularly. In some cases, type 2 diabetics also have to include insulin shots or diabetes pills.

    November is National Diabetes Month and is a great opportunity to adopt healthy lifestyle habits. Maintaining blood sugar levels through diet and exercise as well as becoming aware of the effects of the eating choices you make is key to understanding this disease. For more information on diabetes and how to make good choices, visit the American Diabetes Association website.

  • Don’t Leave Your FSA Money on the Table this Year!

    October 15, 2019

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    As 2019 is nearing an end, many people are looking at this year’s medical expenses to plan for how much they should set back for next year. In investigating these expenditures, you may notice that you still have money in your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) for 2019. FSAs are unique in that any unused money from this plan year is forfeited once the new year begins. You definitely do not want to leave money in your FSA once 2020 rolls around. To help, we’ve compiled a list of some ways to use up your hard-earned FSA money that you may not have thought possible!

    • Acupuncture
    • Acne treatment
    • Breast pump and supplies
    • Chiropractic treatments
    • Dental treatments—orthodontia, medically necessary water fluoride treatments, caps, fillings, x-rays
    • Eyes—glasses, surgery, contact lenses
    • First aid kit
    • Genetic testing—including BRCA gene testing
    • Motion sickness medicine
    • Nutritionist consultations
    • Sunscreen
    • Smoking cessation program
    • Vaporizer
    • Vasectomy
    • Weight loss programs/surgery

    There are even some high-tech gadgets that may fall into the medically qualified expenses category:

    • Acne light therapy
    • Electronic stimulation instruments for pain
    • Medically necessary mattresses
    • Smart thermometers

    Don’t leave your FSA money on the table in 2019! You have earned this money so make sure you use it to its full potential.

    This list is not an exhaustive list of ways to spend your FSA money nor does it guarantee your insurance program considers these to be qualified expenses. Check with your HR department and insurance agent if you have questions about qualified expenses.

     

  • AI in HR | California Employee Benefits Team

    October 2, 2019

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    Artificial intelligence is pushing humans and machines closer together.  It’s exciting!  AI’s influences are being felt across the HR space… being used to automate business processes, enhance efficiency, and reduce bias among other things.  In fact, McKinsey’s latest forecast of AI’s impact on the global economy is that it will generate $13 trillion in economic activity across the globe by 2030.

    But, there is room for improvement, and top executives want it yesterday.  A recent survey from PricewaterhouseCooper found 72% of executives believe AI will offer sizable business advantages in the near future.  In another survey from IBM, 66% of CEOs believe AI can drive significant value in HR.  Some are already exploring those opportunities.  Uber, for instance, completed the world’s first cargo shipment using a truck controlled by AI!

    State of AI in HR

    AI as a Tool

    The inclusion of artificial intelligence in the HR professional’s toolbox is not surprising.  When looking for answers, look no further than the iPhone, for instance, or the black, cylindrical Echo tower sitting on the counter.  Whether its Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Echo, people are using artificial intelligence at home in their day-to-day lives.  It makes sense, then, that AI has made it into the workplace.

    In most professional settings, AI is not required to do mundane tasks like answer questions about the weather or turn on the lights.  Instead, AI is asked to do much more.

    Reducing Human Bias

    Humans are inherently bias.  Even when striving for inclusiveness, HR professionals may subconsciously lean toward a particular candidate… for instance, someone who is more like the recruiter.  Another potential bias, language bias; people’s subconscious word associations could indicate a particular preference.

    Now, thanks to AI, algorithms can be designed to help employers identify and remove these biases.  That potentially translates to better hiring communications and attracting a more diverse group of candidates.  Those same algorithms can also find candidates who may have been screened out due to human bias.  To put it in context, AI allows managers to go beyond gut feelings and rely on data-driving assessments.

    AI Automation

    AI is being used in HR to automate repetitive, low-value tasks thus increasing the focus on more strategic work.  AI tools automate common HR tasks like benefits management or handling common questions or requests.

    Recruiting through AI

    Custom experiences are expected by applicants.  These are tailored to unique needs as they apply for a new job, choose the right benefits or explore development opportunities.

    Companies have implemented “AI recruiters” to automate scheduling interviews, provide ongoing feedback to candidates and answer their questions in real time.  This allows human recruiters to spend more time converting candidates to hires.

    Retention

    Some companies are using AI platforms to single out employees that may be heading for the exit door.  Those platforms track employee computer activity, emails, keystrokes, internet browsing and so on and store it.  Then AI analyzes the data to determine a baseline of normal activity patterns in the organization. Based on that knowledge, outliers are flagged and reported to the employer.  AI is also being used to detect changes in the overall tone of employees’ communications to predict when employees might be thinking of leaving.

    AI Makes HR More Human

    At some point in the career of an HR professional the question is asked:  how can human resources become more human?  At least one company believes it has the answer.  Best Buy Canada says it’s to add more machines.  Chris Taylor is the chief human resources officer for Best Buy Canada.  He has gone on record saying the embracing of artificial intelligence and machine learning applications in human capital management is a “mandatory investment in the future.”

    So, why add more machines to make HR more human?

    The automation of tasks through AI technology allows for the freeing of HR professionals to focus on uniquely human abilities such as critical thinking, creativity, and empathy.  While they are involved with the more human tasks, technology, at the moment, can handle the more mundane tasks.

    All of that said, in a lot of ways artificial intelligence is still growing and learning itself.

    What does that statement mean? AI is able to search a query based on the words you are using and give you a response, but that response isn’t contextual.

    AI is heading in that direction though.

    Instead of writing responses specifically to specific inputs… you just have a huge database of language around a specific knowledge domain and the AI can go into that knowledge domain and answer the questions from the user.

    HR professionals interested in pursuing AI want it to do much more than answer questions and rummage through applications. They want to use it as a learning platform.

    But it’s not there yet.

    AI can teach itself to do something, but it’s not at the stage it can replace humans beings as the “drivers of education.” In the future, it may be used that way, but it would require a lot of adaptability.

    Taylor says Best Buy Canada is embracing as much technology as they can get their hands on.  For instance, the company has started investing in cloud-based solution that uses artificial intelligence, voice technology and machine learning.  All of these technologies, Best Buy Canada hopes, will better the employee experience.

    Conclusion

    As much as the HR technology landscape continues to be disrupted by AI, HR teams must find ways to balance these advancements with transparency.  It is essential in making sure the implementation of AI technology is successful.  At the end of the day, artificial intelligence is not the end-all-be-all answer to every quandary HR finds itself in.  It is a tool and nothing more.  A tool that can improperly function based on the data it is given in order to work effectively.  Even so, artificial intelligence can be a valuable resource.  Work to embrace it now because it’s likely you’ll be expected to use it in the future.

    By Mason Stevenson

    Originally posted on hrexchangenetwork.com

  • How to Implement an Employee Training Program | California Employee Benefits

    September 18, 2019

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    Employee training programs are beneficial to organizations of varying sizes. Even small companies can improve customer service skills. Large organizations often need training programs specifically targeted to employee development and changing technologies. The Society for Human Resource Management says that offering training programs to employees helps the employee feel more engaged and committed to the organization. Implement an employee training program in your organization to improve job morale and teach new skills.

    Step 1

    Analyze your organizational needs. Interview managers and supervisors and identify employee performance areas that need strengthening. Review employee performance appraisals to locate common performance problems. Call the human resources department of similarly sized and focused organizations and ask what training programs have been valuable to them.

    Step 2

    Present your research findings to the committee or the company’s leadership team. Prepare a detailed presentation and be prepared to answer questions. Outline the benefits of each proposed program, anticipated costs and time requirements. Demonstrate the need for each program by preparing detailed analysis of problem areas and possible solutions. Ask for input, suggestions and changes.

    Step 3

    Finalize your plan and determine your budget for the next fiscal year. Request funds using your company’s budgeting process. When calculating your employee training budget, include materials, travel, speaker fees, computer access charges and food in the budgeted amount. Ask for funds before the fiscal year begins rather than requesting unbudgeted money during the fiscal year.

    Step 4

    Take the total budget and allocate the funds by department, per employee or per training program, recommends the American Society for Training and Development. Consider the benefits you expect from each training program and decide if the cost of the program will give you the desired results. Decide if training programs will be required or optional.

    Step 5

    List the training classes you will offer over the next year. Divide the classes by type and employee attendance. Prepare a schedule and publish it on your company’s intranet. If possible, allow employees to sign up electronically to save valuable personnel time. Be sensitive to departmental schedules and work flow.

    Step 6

    Contract with outside firms or select and internal trainer to provide training. Call the potential trainer’s references and verify that his materials and presentation style fit your needs. Ask him to give you samples of his work, a quote of his complete fees and a list of any needed equipment. Outsourcing training can save money when you consider the administrative and program costs.

    Select an internal trainer for training programs you will handle. Ask an employee with expertise in the field to teach a class or utilize member of your company’s human resources department. Set clear expectations of class content and have a feedback system in place. Consider extra compensation if training is not part of the employee’s job description.

    Step 7

    Evaluate the success of each program immediately after the program’s completion. Ask the participants to fill out prepared evaluation forms. Analyze the comments to plan for further training. Follow-up with supervisors during the year to gauge the continued effectiveness of the training programs.

     

    by Diane Lynn
    Originally posted on Livestrong.com

  • Volunteering Time Off, Part Two

    September 9, 2019

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    Right now our national unemployment rate is 3.7%–edging towards a 50-year low. With this low rate, companies are actually finding it increasingly harder to hire and retain great talent. One way to combat this issue is by increasing employee engagement through volunteering.

     

    In survey after survey, employees state that they want to work for companies who care for others.  In fact, “71% of employees surveyed say it’s very important to work where culture supports volunteering,” according to America’s Charities Snapshot. There are different types of volunteer options when looking to begin a volunteer program at a company. For example, entire companies can come together for a big “Day of Service” event.  Or perhaps there is an ongoing need in the community, like Meals on Wheels, and employees sign up to help when needed by the charity. Offering pro bono services to non-profit community groups or donating skills for specific projects are other ways to assist charities in your area.

     

    The issue of time worked and pay typically comes up when talking about employer sponsored/encouraged volunteering. There are a couple different ways that companies structure this. One way is to simply pay employees for their usual time at the workplace even though they are not actually working on company business at the time of the volunteer project. This is typical of big “Day of Service” campaigns during the workweek. Another way is to encourage employees to donate their break or lunch time to complete volunteer service projects. Finally, and this is the emerging trend in employee benefits, is to give each employee Volunteer Time Off (VTO) hours as part of their benefits package.

     

    The benefits of VTO are numerous. One of the biggest values of VTO is that of employee recruitment and retention.  PricewaterhouseCoopers conducted a survey and the results were that “59% of Millennials gravitated towards companies with pronounced Corporate Social Responsibility programs.”  For retention, the value is even higher, “74% of employees say their job is more fulfilling when given the opportunity to make a positive impact at work.” Companies also see a benefit in camaraderie across departments and company hierarchy. Working together towards a common goal builds these interdepartmental relationships. Also, by playing towards strengths unseen in a regular office setting, employers have a chance to discover untapped leadership skills and completely unknown skill sets of employees. Finally, your company’s brand image is boosted by the view of its involvement in the community.

     

    Whatever the benefit that your company assigns to a healthy VTO program, be it retention, image, or team building, the fact remains that there WILL BE a benefit. If you are looking to begin the search for the right fitting program, there are great resources available for you. Check out this quick read on Charities.org and also the great tips on SalesForce.com. Start the conversation today with your leadership and start making an impact in your community!

  • Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room

    September 5, 2019

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    Let’s say you are getting ready to make your favorite breakfast—avocado toast. You’ve toasted the bread, cut the avocado in half, and are ready to remove the dreaded pit. Of course, your knife slips and you end up slicing your hand—making you the latest victim of “avocado hand.” It seems you cannot stop the bleeding with a simple bandage so now you need to make the decision on where to go to seek help. Do you choose an urgent care facility or the emergency room? What’s the difference?

    Urgent care centers and emergency rooms are both great options for times when you are unable to see your primary care physician (PCP). The reasons for choosing these facilities can be because the injury or sickness has occurred outside normal office hours for your doctor or that you are out of town when an emergency hits. As you know, the first choice for non-life or limb-threatening conditions should be your regular doctor—they will have your medical history on file and your medication list at the ready. When this is not an option, you will need to make the choice on what level of care you need.

     

    Urgent Care Centers

    Urgent care centers fill the gap between when you are sick or minorly injured but cannot see your PCP and when you are in need of hospital emergency care. Most urgent care locations are staffed by doctors or physician’s assistants. These centers can get you in and out quickly and some even take appointments. Since you will not see your PCP at these clinics, it’s always best to bring a copy of all the medications and dosages of meds you take. If you have a special condition, like epilepsy, make sure you disclose that to the urgent care provider you see. In the case of your avocado hand, your urgent care physician may be able to do minor stitches and bandaging at the facility. Most have access to x-ray machines and basic diagnostic tests. The typical range of costs for care at these centers is between $50-$150.

    Here are some conditions that typically can be seen at urgent care centers:

    • Fevers, flu or cold symptoms
    • Ear infections
    • Bronchitis
    • Cuts and bleeding that may require stitches
    • Urinary tract infections
    • Vomiting or diarrhea
    • Minor back pain

     

    Emergency Room Care

    Hospital emergency rooms provide care for life and limb-threatening situations ranging from heart attack and stroke to car accident injuries. Staffed by physicians, nurses, and specialists, emergency rooms have access to highly knowledgeable and diverse medical teams.  In emergency rooms, care is given to the most serious injury/illness first—not on a first-come, first-served basis. Because of this, wait times in emergency rooms are widely varied and may be into a several hours-long wait. Again, it is wise to bring a list of any medications, both prescribed and over-the-counter, with you when seeking care since the ER will not have this information from your PCP. Costs for emergency services can be anywhere from $50 to more than $10,000 depending on the severity of the injury or illness.

    Symptoms that are best evaluated in an emergency room include:

    • Chest pain or difficulty breathing
    • Weakness/numbness on one side
    • Slurred speech
    • Fainting/change in mental state
    • Serious burns
    • Head or eye injury
    • Concussion/confusion
    • Broken bones and dislocated joints
    • Fever with a rash
    • Seizures
    • Severe cuts that may require stitches
    • Facial lacerations
    • Severe cold or flu symptoms
    • Vaginal bleeding with pregnancy

     

    When faced with the decision to visit an urgent care center or emergency room, you have to first evaluate your symptoms. Once you have done this, ask yourself this question, “Does this condition have the possibility of permanently impairing or endangering your life?” If the answer is “yes,” then you have an emergency and should proceed to the nearest hospital ER. If the answer is “no,” then take your towel-wrapped avocado hand to your local urgent care center for stitches or whatever care they recommend. You will save yourself time and money by making a good choice on your care.

  • 10 Tips for Excellent Company Culture | CA Employee Benefits Consultants

    August 28, 2019

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    When it comes to culture, companies have to walk the walk and talk the talk.

    HR professionals have all been there.  A potential new employee comes in for an interview.  Company representatives question the prospect and then ask if the candidate has any questions.  With surety, the first question uttered will be about the company’s culture.  The response has to be real and backed-up with proof.

    Why?

    In addition to the usual reasons (truthfulness, respect and ethics and so on), look at the current make up of the workforce for guidance.  Companies are dealing with one that’s multigenerational; one that stretches from spectrum to spectrum in terms of what they want and need from their employers.  Take Generation Z for instance.  These workers are very confident and that bleeds into the way in which they approach the interview/hiring process.  They will want to explore the office and talk to current employees.  They are going to test what HR says about the culture.

    Having said that, what constitutes an excellent company culture?

    Company Culture Tips

    An excellent company culture is:

    • Richly Diverse – A company culture thrives on diversity.  This doesn’t just push toward ethnic or gender diversity, though that is equally important.  It must also embrace cognitive diversity; the different ways in which people perceive and digest information.  Leaning on this allows for ideas to be evaluated from multiple angles and can reveal both the pros and cons of an action.  A diverse company culture also looks at all dimensions of diversity including hiring or seeking employees from diverse backgrounds both personally and professionally.  That may include, as an example, hiring a candidate with an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD).  Other examples include hiring more veterans or the formerly incarcerated.  These present unique challenges, but given the right action plan, those issues can be overcome and the company can benefit.
    • Innovative – A company culture must always look to the future.  That means embracing innovation.  Employees at all levels need to feel the freedom to posit ideas for consideration.  And those ideas need to be thoroughly discussed and evaluated.  That’s the key to innovation.  Most employees just want their ideas considered.  If it’s not an idea that is feasible or realistic, that’s fine.  The importance lies in that the employee has a voice.
    • Open to dissent – Speaking of employee voices, workers need to feel they can dissent from leadership.  This doesn’t mean protest or rebel against a decision, but that their concerns will be heard and they will not see retaliation from sharing those ideas.
    • Transparent – A company culture that embraces transparency will not, in most cases, fail.  Why?  In a transparent culture, everyone knows the important bits of information, but more importantly, they can take ownership of what’s happening.  Employees who are proud to work for their employers ultimately take more ownership in the company’s destiny.  They will be more engaged and will pour more energy into ensuring success than the average employee.
    • Aligned with company brand – Employees and customers must see value in the brand which helps support the culture.  It has to resonate with them.  For HR, this might include a partnership with the company’s marketing or public relations department.
    • Supported by all, especially leadership – If leaders don’t see value in or support the culture, expect the same from employees.  Leaders have to actively engage in the culture and make it a staple in their normal operations.  Lead by example.  When the CEO cares… the employees care.
    • Aligns with strategy and process – Think about this from a talent perspective.  The culture needs to align with processes like hiring, compensation and benefits, development and hiring.  And don’t forget about succession planning.  How will the culture align in the future?
    • Collaborative – This is a great way to instill the culture for your employees.  Look at ways to encourage collaboration between teams of employees.  This reinforces the idea that everyone is part of a much larger team.
    • Feedback driven – Give employees regular feedback on performance.  This will help in aligning their performance with the goals of the company.  But don’t save this for a once-a-year event.  Any time an employee or team makes progress toward the company’s goals and in doing so supports the culture, it’s time for some P.R.O.P.S. or Peer Recognition of Peer Success.
    • Deliberate – Culture should be deliberate.  It’s not something that just happens.  Values must be known and supported, especially by leadership.  Otherwise, the culture that is trying to be built will slowly pass into oblivion and the process will have to start all over again.

    Benefits of an Excellent Company Culture

    The tips listed above are just that, tips.  If they’re not internalized and not used properly the company will not benefit.  On the flip side, if those pieces are practiced well, companies will see some huge advantages.

    For one, expect to see an improved environment.  It will truly become a pleasant place to work.  It’s pleasing socially and psychologically.  If that’s the case, expect to see the quality of work improve.  That means higher increases in productivity which leads to more business success.

    By Mason Stevenson
    Originally posted on hrexchangenetwork.com

  • 5 Tips to Beat the Heat | California Benefits Consultants

    August 19, 2019

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    There’s no denying that summer has arrived. In fact, the news has been abuzz with Alaska’s heat wave in July that sent temperatures soaring between 20 and 30 degrees above average. When you are caught in the middle of a heat wave, it may seem like there’s nothing you can do to keep cool. But, there are ways for you to beat the heat this summer and stay safe from heat related illnesses.

     

    Avoid the Heat

    It may seem like a no-brainer to avoid the heat to prevent a heat related illness but some professions work solely outdoors. In those cases, there aren’t many options for avoiding the heat.  Be aware of the hottest time of day and limit physical activity outside during that time.

    Reduce Activity Levels

    Plan the most active job of the day to be in the morning when the sun and heat aren’t as intense. Heatstroke can occur when a person engages in strenuous activity for long periods of time in the heat. If possible, arrange workflows to include times of rest and times to visit a cooling station.

    Drink Fluids Regularly

    The underlying factor in most heat related illness is the inadequate supply of fluids for your body, in other words, drink more water! Heavy sweating depletes a person’s body of fluid and salt and this in turn can cause heat cramps and heat exhaustion. If this occurs, drink cool water or an electrolyte-replacement beverage like Gatorade. To prevent these two illnesses, drink plenty of water before you know you will be outside in the heat so that your body has sufficient fluids in reserve.

    Have a Buddy System

    When you know you will working outside or even playing outside in the heat of the day, make sure you have someone with you. If you should experience a heat related illness while alone, there would be no one available to offer first aid or call for help. As in the case of heatstroke, confusion and weakness along with fainting and possibly convulsions could occur. These are all series symptoms and require immediate action for treatment. The buddy system gives you a safety net of someone else who can recognize these symptoms and can act to save them.

    Take a Dip!

    The best way to beat the heat is by cooling off your body. Not everyone has access to a pool when spending time outside in the heat so if that’s the case, use cold compresses or ice and ice packs to lower body temperature. You can also remove excess clothing and spray your body with cool water. If you do have someone with you and you are experiencing a heat related illness, make sure they are watching you if you jump into a pool.

     

    By following these easy tips to beat the heat you can safely be outside when temperatures are at their peak. Enjoy your summer and stay cool!

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