By Jennifer Outcelt
Just in the last year, our small company has welcomed four new bouncing babies. As you can imagine, everyone in the office has become very familiar with the maternity (and one paternity) leave drill by now. With the announcement of each new baby, our office was filled with celebration and the parent to be was treated with exceptional respect, support, and fairness. They were all given appropriate legal accommodations in addition to generous company provided perks. So, when I found out that I was pregnant with the 5th baby within that 1 year, I knew that my company would have my back (and my growing front).
Unfortunately, that is not always the case for many women and men in the work place. There are many parents who are not granted their federally mandated rights during pregnancy, maternity leave, and their post-partum return to work. While expecting a new baby should bring you joy, preparing for a leave of absence often brings uncertainty and financial stress. It’s not necessarily that employers are out to rob you of your benefits, but that many employers do not know what they are required to provide and the employees have no idea what they are entitled to. This lack of understanding can leave both employers and employees at risk, albeit in different ways.
The best solution (and honestly the solution to most workplace situations) is awareness, education, and self-advocacy. I wanted to share some resources on maternity and family leave for both parties. Please take a moment to peruse the information and perhaps learn a bit more about employer and employee rights.
(Website with a great overview on workplace maternity rights)
(Broker Briefcase document on the Pregnancy Discrimination Act)
(Broker Briefcase document on the Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination)
(Website with more resources from the DOL about workplace nursing rights)
(US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website about legal rights for pregnant workers)
By Tiffany Stock
Coming back to work after my third child really made me step back and evaluate if I had the elusive work-life balance. Taking a look at the definition provided by businessdictionary.com, work-life balance is defined as, “A comfortable state of equilibrium achieved between an employee’s primary priorities of their employment position and their private lifestyle.” The word equilibrium implies “equal” but is there really such a thing? One of my colleagues did an earlier post about work-life balance and some things you could try to help create that balance, click here if you’d like to check out that post. This post is much more about defining what work-life balance means to you (and to me) which is completely situational.
Depending on the industry you are in, your day-to-day can look very similar, but if it’s anything like mine, every day there is something new. A new piece of legislation or guidance that impacts my clients or the work I do, business changes that impact the benefits our clients provide, changes to our state budget that effect our client’s workforce, internal and employee scenarios, etc. – there are so many variables – you pile that on to a personal life with a working husband and three adolescent children and all their interests, responsibilities and school-life… let’s just say every day is an adventure!
What I’ve learned over the last few years is that work-life balance looks different for everyone and can change from day-to-day. For me, work-life balance is not 9-5. I may have to put in a few extra hours to meet a deadline or attend an event that is important to me, my clients, or my company, but hopefully when that school performance pops-up in the middle of the day, or a doctor’s appointment is needed, I can take the time desired to focus on my family and the personal side of my life. Sometimes this means I put in some extra time after the kids go to bed, or on the weekends, so if you ever see an email from me late in the evening that may be just the reason!
Many articles talk about work-place stress being a big motivator for finding work-life balance, but what about personal stress? There are plenty of times that I can’t wait to get to work and pour myself into a project to task just to take my mind off that side of my life. Regardless, there is stress on both sides and I appreciate having both as an outlet to focus on when appropriate. One particular benefit that I have found very useful in the past, regardless of whether the issue was personal or work related, is an Employee Assistance Program, commonly referred to as an EAP. Many employers offer an EAP as part of their benefits package, usually in conjunction with an employer-sponsored life or disability plan, your major medical plan or in some cases employers offer this benefit all by itself.
An EAP is there to help you with work or personal issues, referral services, usually unlimited telephonic counseling and in most cases referrals to local providers if you need some face-to-face time. Most EAP’s offer services that focus on stress, work-place issues, family dilemmas, financial concerns, elder parent worries, legal guidance, will & trust services, etc. If you don’t know if your employer offers an EAP, please contact your HR Department. EAP services are typically free and confidential. In the market for a new job or career? Ask the prospective employer how they view work-life balance and how they help their employees achieve this. All I can say is thank goodness for friends and family because the saying is true, it really does take a village to raise a child! I am so very thankful for a supportive work environment, colleagues, friends and family as I work towards maintaining my own work-life balance and I wish you the best on your own journey as well.
For more information on obtaining an EAP for your organization, please contact our office.
By Tiffany Stock
I was turned on to this newsletter by my colleague, Dave Adams. Nancy Proffitt, CEO of Proffitt Management Solutions, produces a blog/newsletter with content surrounding leadership, workplace culture, maximizing efficiency and so much more. I enjoy all of her posts but found this one from May of 2019 especially engaging. Leaders Build Unity has a lot of thought provoking ideas and questions to help give you that edge in creating a highly successful organization with low turnover, great employee morale and increased productivity which will lead to increased profitability. Please check it out and sign up for her mailing list if you find her information useful.
By Tonya Mott
I mentioned in my last blog post, “What’s a Fastcap?” that our LEAN journey started with an office wide cleanup. That is not entirely accurate. We actually started with the “Why”. Why would we want to do this? It’s a lot of work! If we don’t have buy-in from the team, this may not work. I shared the “Why’s” and the “What’s in it for us” with everyone:
- Deliver value from the client’s perspective
- Eliminate Waste
- Continuous Improvement – leaving it better than you found it
What’s in it for us if we become a Lean Culture?
- Time maximization
- Organizational Clarity
- Increase Morale
- Easy access to resources/tools
- Greater company investment
- Potential monetary rewards
- Work on projects that motivate you
Good news, everyone was onboard!
Then came our timeline and action plan. We decided what we wanted to do and when:
- Immediately – Identify waste and stop signs (ongoing)
- Office wide cleanup – 3 S’s, 1. Sweep, 2. Sort, 3. Standardize
- Workflows – Analyze process, make them “LEAN Certified”
For our office cleanup, we started with a two-week window to clean up our own work areas. Then we closed for half a day, rolled up our sleeves, and got to work. What is the old saying, a picture is worth a thousand words?
Check out the new and improved RISQ Employee Benefits and Employer Services office space:
Storage Room – Before
Storage Room – After
Office Supplies – Before
Office Supplies – After
By making these changes we spend less time looking for supplies and can easily identify what needs to be ordered. We find everything we need by reading labels or visually looking at pictures posted on the front of the cabinets or drawers.
Now that we’re done with the cleanup, we’re evaluating our workflows with a microscope. This involves documenting each procedure, then removing waste. Once we are satisfied with the workflow we’ll deem it LEAN Certified. Even though the process gets the LEAN stamp of approval the work is never done. We welcome any employee’s suggestions and feedback (even if they have nothing to do with the process) to improve the workflow when a change can positively impact our employee’s and client’s experience.
Needless to say this has been a lot fun for our entire team and the end result is a comfortable, clean, and organized work environment for employees to deliver a “platinum rule” type of client experience. The Platinum Rule is part of our client experience compass, but alas that is for another blog article, a little something to you keep you anticipating!
I’m currently participating in LEAN trainings throughout the year, feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about LEAN and how to implement it in your workplace. Below is my contact information:
Employee Benefits – Vice President, Operations
By Tonya Mott
On a journey to implement a LEAN culture in our office, I learned about Fastcaps.
What’s a Fastcap?
Self-adhesive stickers that cover screws on cabinets:
What is LEAN?
- Deliver value from your customer’s perspective
- Eliminate waste (things that don’t bring value to the end product)
- Continuous improvement
What in the world do these two things have in common?
Feeling overwhelmed about how to implement the LEAN methodology in our work environment. I came across a book, “2 Second Lean”, written by Paul Akers, the founder of the company Fastcap. After reading his book I checked out their website and found that even though the company was started as a woodworking/cabinetry business they promote LEAN and have a Youtube channel dedicated to the movement. They are all about sharing their LEAN experience with the world so that others can benefit as they have.
Here is a short video giving a tour of their facility: https://youtu.be/jYby_HczyDA
Fastcap inspired me to start our journey with an office-wide cleanup effort. Ironically, during our cleanup, I found the Fastcap’s in the picture above in our storage room buried at the bottom of a box full of various computer cords.
I plan to write additional blog posts about our LEAN adventures and include some impressive before and after photos!
This article is from RISQ Consulting’s MyWave Connect portal, a resource available to all RISQ Consulting clients. Please contact your Benefits Consultant or Account Executive for more information or for help setting up your own login.
Did You Know?
You may not think an error on your auto insurance application is a big deal, but the consequences can be very costly. Giving inaccurate information on your application can lead to increased premiums, policy cancellations or no financial assistance in the event of an accident.
Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for Auto Insurance:
- Not listing all drivers—Anyone who continuously drives your vehicle, even if it’s just for a short period of time a week, should be listed on your policy.
- Giving a false vehicle location—The difference between parking in one zip code versus another can greatly affect the amount of coverage you need for your vehicle. Failing to report your car’s true location can impact the accuracy of your insurance quotes.
- Not reporting your driving infractions—It’s best to be upfront about your driving record to avoid any conflicts or discrepancies. Your insurance company can easily retrieve any driving records from the DMV to check the accuracy of your application.
- Not disclosing business uses—In some cases, you may need a specialized policy when driving for business purposes or for a rideshare company like Uber or Lyft. Failing to take the proper steps could lead to a lack of coverage following an accident.
- Failing to update life changes—Changing addresses or adding another driver to a vehicle are all life changes that need to be updated on your policy.By not reporting changes, you may be overpaying for coverage and missing out on available discounts.
Be Honest on Your Application to Avoid the Consequences
Inaccuracies on your auto insurance application can end up costing you more money in the long run. If you think that you may have given false information on your auto insurance application, call your insurance agent to update your auto policy and avoid any ramifications.
By Ashley Snodgrass
It was Harry S. Truman who said, “Not All Readers Are Leaders, But All Leaders Are Readers”. Top business leaders often quote President Truman’s philosophy as one of their keys to success. As someone who enjoys reading books and listening to audiobooks, I’ve found it can be overwhelming to sort through stacks of business-related leadership, marketing, team building, customer service, professional development books and more to find the true experts and best advice.
I recently received this EntreLeadership Reading Guide from Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership email newsletter. The reading guide includes, “100 Books Every Small-Business Owner Needs to Read”. I’ve found this guide to be helpful because the list of 100 books are divided up by category, which allows me to choose a topic, and read 3-5 of the best books published under that topic. Additionally, many of the authors with books featured on this list have also been interviewed on the EntreLeadership podcast, and this is noted with an icon near the book title. The EntreLeadership podcast is another tool from Dave Ramsey’s company, Ramsey Solutions, where major business leaders are interviewed about how they lead their massive, influential companies. It is a fantastic learning opportunity to have access to interviews with so many brilliant business minds.
The EntreLeadership Reading Guide has also been a valuable tool for choosing books for RISQ Consulting’s book club. It can be challenging to choose books to read just by looking at Amazon reviews, so I appreciate having a resource like the EntreLeadership Reading Guide which is a vetted list of go-to greats. Even though the cover page of the guide specifically mentions the books are for small-business owners, in my experience the books are helpful for business leaders or teams who want to grow personally and professionally.
A follow up to “Lyme Disease – The Great Imitator“
By Tonya Mott
Since sharing Kelsey’s story a few exciting, (good and not so good) things have happened:
1. What is Kelsey doing for treatment? She has quite the treatment regimen, but the most interesting is bee venom. She has a bee condo inside her house, some of you may have seen these at the local Costco this summer. Have no worries, the bees are at the end of their life cycle when she received them. Her hubby grabs one with a tweezer and stings her. I know it sounds horrible but if it helps her feel better then I say, I’m all in. (I’m leaving out a lot of detail but wanted to at least share at a high level).
2. Kelsey and I were interviewed by KTUU. It just so happened that my blog post was published in May, which is Lyme Disease awareness month. I shared the story with KTUU and they responded immediately, asking if my friend would be willing to do an on camera interview – sorry, Kels! Of course, she happily accepted.
3. My husband received a clinical diagnosis of Lyme – MSIDS (Multiple Systemic Infection Disorder Syndrome). We had our suspicions after learning about Kelsey’s symptoms and we finally have an answer. This is very new and we are still working through the details.
By Dena Lythgoe
If you’re like me, you tend to think of pollutants as dirty, chemical based components. In fact, if you were to search google for “what are the top 5 pollutants”, you’d get the below mentioned responses; Ozone, Carbon Monoxide, Sulfur Dioxide, Lead, Nitrogen Oxides. Take a moment and think of pollutants that you tend to see on a regular basis. Are they dirty and chemical based? As you rack your brain for what falls into pollutants, I bet you’re not thinking of a socially popular drink enjoyed by millions and a Kentucky classic. Bourbon! Unless of course you’re reading this while enjoying a Buffalo Trace, neat.
Kentucky distillers produce 95% of the world’s bourbon according to the Kentucky Distillers Association. Many new and expanded production plans are in the works leading to a $2.3 billion dollar building boom throughout Kentucky. A standard bourbon barrel usually holds about 53 gallons of bourbon or 201 liters. Only recently Jim Beam ended up losing 1% of their aged production in which 45,000 barrels were destroyed.
The fire started due to a lightning strike that set one of the many Jim Beam warehouses on fire. Due to the contents, the fire burned for days and the water runoff filled primarily with alcohol leaked into the nearby rivers and creeks. This runoff caused the oxygen levels to decrease in the 23 miles of waterways killing fish before dissipating into the Ohio River.
At this point, take another moment to give some thought about pollutants and as a business owner what type of contingency plan do you have in place for these types of incidents? Are you creating, hauling, or storing products you don’t think are pollutants or contaminants that potentially could be? The Jim Beam warehouse was equipped with a full sprinkler system but with the highly flammable contents and wood frame construction, the sprinklers were overwhelmed by the fiery inferno of this American classic. The blaze burned so intensely it melted firetrucks lights.
Some of you may be thinking, “duh”. Of course, bourbon has the ideal pollutant qualities. It’s flammable. It can cause hangovers…need I say more? But let’s think about something much more benign, milk. A staple across this country and enjoyed by people of all ages. Many people think there’s no reason to cry over spilled milk, but that wasn’t the case in 1994, 1995, 1998, 2000, 2004, 2007 and twice in 2011, when milk tanker trucks reported spills which caused damage to the nearby waterways.
Each of the entities involved in the spills, both milk and bourbon, were fined by government regulators as their product polluted waterways and caused harm to the environment. Just like spilled milk or an inferno of fiery bourbon, governmental fines are no joking matter. Fines for just one of the reported milk spills were over $600,000. This dollar amount doesn’t take into consideration the additional cost of the clean-up. These types of incidents can and have caused businesses to go out of business.
The owner of Jim Beam being a multibillion-dollar entity used many risk management techniques to avoid an accident like this from happening yet mother nature had a different plan with her lightning strike. Jim Beam has insurance to provide protection for their building, inventory, and for the pollutant cleanup and government fines. Ultimately, they will recover and remain a titan within the industry. But how about you? What contingency do you have in place? Are you protected against foreseen and unforeseen pollutant exposures? How about the correct pollutant protection? Just some food for thought, or in this case, beverages for thought.