By Bailey Penrose, Employer Services Account Manager
You can see the bottom of my face now. I’m vaccinated, and when the CDC came out with their updated guidance on masks earlier in May, I rubber banded the mask I was wearing off my face so fast it hit a wall. I still don the mask to visit stores or when around new people or even upon request, but it seems like we soon may be headed towards the mask horizon.
However, during this past year I also noticed there are some things I enjoyed about wearing a mask. Early on, I had splurged on some masks I really liked, with the idea that if they were fun and comfortable I wouldn’t mind wearing them as much. It made me happy that there was some wearable art on my face, that behind the funky pattern I didn’t have to monitor my expression, and that my face was warm in the winter months. I’m going to kind of miss those things.
The thing about masks, in connection with COVID-19 and beyond, is that we’re probably still going to be seeing them for the foreseeable future. People may decide to wear them if they’re out and about, while fighting a cold, or even just choose to wear them as an accessory. As mask wearing has become generally accepted on a global scale, I don’t imagine there will be a lot of pushback or vitriolic demands that someone take them off. It will become a voluntary item that people choose to wear or not wear.
This issue has also made me think a lot about work dress norms. Specifically, dress norms or policies in relation to team members who may choose to wear items of clothing or jewelry due to sincerely held religious beliefs. Now, I am in no way comparing a mask, which has been predominately utilitarian in nature, to religious garb, which is a personal choice and deeply felt. I think however, the newly universal experience wearing or not wearing an item of clothing (a mask) garnered a degree of attention and comment at work and abroad that not everyone had experienced before. With this new shared experience in mind, why not take second to review your office dress code?
For workplaces, a flexible dress code that hits the sweet spot of professional attire while being able to accommodate for a reasonable level of personal expression, including religious accommodation, can help employers on several levels. From a legal perspective, religious accommodation is protected by law under Title VII. From a recruiting and retention perspective, allowing for and protecting reasonable personal expression in the workplace will support diversity initiatives, create a more inclusive environment for team members, and attract applicants.
Please consider some of the examples below:
By Jessica Carlson, Employee Benefits Consultant
I was recently required to watch a video for my job. In the video, the presenter talked about how having a lack of critical thinking skills has become a major weakness due to API (application programming interface) influences. When you look at your social media feed, you’ll notice that what shows up reinforces your beliefs. Based on the articles that you interact with, the algorithms will show you items that stay within your biases. Purposeful curiosity is the way out. People need to ask deeper questions and be more critical in their thinking.
While I was listening to this video it got me wondering, why aren’t people thinking more critically? Why do we just believe what’s in front of us without asking any questions? Unless something lines up with an individual’s preconceived notions, they are not likely to put any extra thought into why. So, how do we fix this? I searched through many articles and the best one I could find that gives tips on how we can try to turn this around is “7 Poor Thinking Habits We Must Fix to Think More Critically”. Check out the link below:
By Ashley Snodgrass, Executive Account Manager
For so many employees, the thought of coming back to the office evokes a mixture of thoughts of excitement and anxiety. If you’ve been working from home for the past year, can you remember what it is like to be around other people regularly? Work has continued throughout the pandemic, but what about the social aspect of the workplace? In the beginning, many companies, including RISQ, jumped onto the ideas of virtual happy hours or other Zoom events, to try to keep the team spirit of comradery alive.
As you make plans for returning to work and normalizing the office again, consider integrating icebreakers into team meetings. For some employees, being isolated for such a long period of time brings a new sense of social anxiety to the workplace. Perhaps at the next staff meeting, start with a quick icebreaker to get ideas flowing and to help employees get reacquainted with each other.
I should clarify what I mean by the term icebreaker. If you’ve ever been to summer camp as a kid or a new age work conference as an adult, you may be off put by this term which can conjure up memories of embarrassing events, games that push physical boundaries, or discussions crafted to elicit an emotional response. In a professional setting, the best icebreakers are short and allow employees to determine how much or how little to share with the group. Keep it light, keep it professional, and let employees decide the level of participation with which they are most comfortable.
One way that RISQ has included icebreakers into our culture is with new employees. In the Before Times, we’d bring in bagels for a quick breakfast and icebreaker session in the morning. There’s nothing quite like getting to know your new coworkers by learning their name, job title, and what skills they bring to the team in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse.
This post was inspired by a master list of Ice Breakers I came across recently, from The Art of Noticing. I think the toughest part of trying to facilitate some type of Ice Breaker activity is coming up with something thought provoking, but lighthearted, to talk about. I’ve saved this resource to reference for the future, and I hope you find it helpful as well.
By Aimee Johnson, Account Executive
According to Josh McWhorter, a Linguist and Columbia Professor, English is on its way to becoming the world’s universal language for better or for worse. There are currently more Mandarin speakers in the world, yet more Mandarin speakers are learning English then English speakers learning Mandarin. Additionally, by the end of the century, only a few hundred languages will remain of the current 6,000 languages spoken today.
So, why learn a foreign tongue even if you speak English?
- To embody or drink in a culture, you must control to some degree in which the culture is conducted.
- If you speak two languages, dementia is less likely to set in and you are likely a better multitasker.
- Languages are a lot of fun!
- It’s never been easier!
Interested in learning a new language? John recommends the lesser known Glossika’s innovative “comprehensive input” method.
Listen to John McWhorter’s alluring benefits of learning an unfamiliar tongue here: https://www.ted.com/talks/john_mcwhorter_4_reasons_to_learn_a_new_language?utm_source=linkedin.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=social&utm_content=2021-5-06-cutdown#t-2744
Form 5500 Filing: Practical Tips for Preparation and Compliance
My 20 2021 | 10:00 AM AKDT
The consequences for Form 5500 filing failures can be steep, making compliance with the Form 5500 filing requirement imposed by ERISA on health and welfare benefit plans a primary obligation for employers. This webinar will walk through the basics of the Form 5500 filing requirement, including best practices for determining which plans need to be filed and when, common tips for form preparation and solutions for finding and preventing any filing errors or omissions.
Click Here to Register or to Learn More- https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/4006251347129977100?source=RISQ+Consulting
Surviving a DOL Audit in 2021
June 17, 2021 | 10:00 AM AKDT
One of President Biden’s key objectives during his presidency is to ensure workers “are treated with dignity and receive the pay, benefits, and workplace protections they deserve.” As a result, employers can expect more investigation, legislation and enforcement of wage and hour rules than under the previous administration. This webinar will provide an overview of generally what to expect during a DOL wage and hour audit, some tips and strategies to minimize liability, and likely compliance target areas to be prepared for under the Biden administration. Whether an employer has never been through a wage and hour audit or simply needs a refresher on what to expect, this webinar will provide useful guidance for employers to prepare for the likelihood of greater enforcement in the coming years.
Click Here to Register or to Learn More- https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/8864948150295395340?source=RISQ+Consulting
COBRA Compliance 101
July 15, 2021 | 10:00 AM AKDT
The Federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) applies to employers with 20 or more employees and places strict requirements on the employer-sponsored group health plan to provide continuation coverage to qualified beneficiaries. Whether you’re an employer who is newly subject to COBRA or one with years of experience, this webinar will provide you with an in-depth review of the continuation coverage rules, including the details of qualifying events, administrative requirements, and solutions to common mistakes.
Click Here to Register or to Learn More- https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/8496961399688106764?source=RISQ+Consulting
By Casey Kirkeby, Strategy Consultant
Cryptocurrency have seen their biggest boom in the last four years than any other currency out there. Bitcoin, the most popular and the most valuable, hit a record high of $63,000 per bitcoin in 2021 alone. There is still a lot of unknown risks out there on how to invest, what is trending, and how to convert coins to digital currency, so I thought I shed some light on what is trending for May of 2021.
I personally use Robinhood for most of my cryptocurrency investing but it has its limitations and there is a plethora of other platforms to use that are cryptocurrency only and have more capabilities but have fees. If you are a novice (like me) in the cryptocurrency trade world or an expert and hang out with Elon Musk from time to time, here are five trending cryptocurrencies to consider investing in for May of 2021:
- Binance Coin- current value in USD – $663.43
- Solana- current value in USD – $47.07
- Dogecoin- current value in USD – $0.4392
- Cardano- current value in USD – $1.32
- Ether- current value in USD – $3,376.34
These five cryptocurrencies show promising growth (especially Dogecoin) and I believe it’s safe to say that they are not going away. In fact, after Tesla invested $1.5 billion in Bitcoin, the owner of Tesla, Elon Musk, will start accepting Bitcoin as payment for electronic cars. Now get out there and start researching today!
You can learn more here- https://www.analyticsinsight.net/5-promising-cryptocurrencies-that-you-can-buy-in-may-2021/
By Alison Nelson, Sales and Marketing Coordinator
Sometimes I’ll say a phrase at work and receive blank stares from my colleagues. It’s easy to forget that different generations have varying phrases and slang and, while the world focused on Millennials, Gen Z has slowly entered the work force. According to this article, Gen Z was born from 1996-2015. Having been born in ’96 myself, I’m 25 years old and have been at RISQ Consulting for nearly four years, making me a prime example of how the older members of Gen Z are already starting their careers.
If you find yourself working alongside a Gen Z coworker (and if you’re not already, it’s only a matter of time), you may find yourself a bit off-put by some of the things we say. Below are some common Gen Z phrases and terms, along with their definitions, so you can understand what in the world is being said.
*Say the below terms at the risk of aging yourself and embodying the “fellow kids” meme. Think of this more of a translation guide.
Phrase: What’s the tea?
Meaning: What’s the gossip? The equivalent of “what’s the skinny”
Term: Dead / 💀
Meaning: That’s funny, basically the new “lol” and cry laughing emoji 😂
Meaning: They’re not trying to place a bet. It means “ok” and “yes”, some say that it’s short for “you bet”
Phrase: It’s the _____ for me!
Meaning: Calling out something you like or dislike. This phrase can be used positively, negatively, and ironically. More often than not, it’s used negatively as a comedic insult. For example “it’s the unibrow for me”
Meaning: This means lying. It’s commonly used said like “no cap”, meaning “no lie”
Term: A bop
Meaning: A very catchy song
Meaning: Something that it cool, often used to describe a good song
Meaning: Something that is really cool
Meaning: Someone who is trying to hard to impress another person. This is usually used negatively.
Phrase: Clap back
Meaning: A comeback to an insult
Phrase: Big yikes
Since slang is constantly changing, here are a few phrases that are now considered out of vogue:
- I did a thing
- VSCO girl
- I’m not crying, you’re crying
- The struggle is real
- Sooo this happened
- I’m just gonna leave this here
Before you start to change your lingo, throw away your skinny jeans, or switch to a middle part, it’s important to note that a key characteristic of Gen Z is our value of diversity. Inclusion is also an important value to this generation so I wouldn’t worry about trying to conform to the new norms or fit in. At the end of the day, the divide between the varying generations is smaller than it seems.
I hope you found this guide helpful and enjoy working with your Gen Z coworkers, I promise, we don’t bite.