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.
2020 Employee Benefits Update Presented by Joshua Weinstein
October 23, 2019 | In-Person | 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
October 23, 2019 | Webinar | 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
RISQ Consulting is hosting an event to educate clients on what’s coming for employee benefits in 2020. Attendees can expect to learn more about legislative efforts, compliance requirements, new regulations and more! There will also be specific section dedicated to ICHRAs (Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangements). RISQ Consulting President, Joshua Weinstein, will be presenting.
Here is the registration link for the in-person event at 9:00 AM-
Here is the registration link for the webinar at 2:00 PM-
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!
New HRA Regulations —What Do They Mean for Employers?
September 19, 2019 | 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM AKDT
The federal regulatory agencies recently issued final regulations establishing two new types of health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs). In this webinar, we’ll provide an overview of HRA legal landscape as it exists today, and highlight key points from the final regulations. We’ll also discuss various considerations for employers, including plan design, compliance and implementation issues.
Here is the registration link- New HRA Regulations —What Do They Mean for Employers?
Employee Handbooks – Best Practices for a Proactive Organization
October 17, 2019 | 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM AKDT
Employee Handbooks are essential for employers in today’s litigious environment and are a valuable tool to protect an employer from future liability. This webinar will discuss trending policies that can proactively provide employers with the means of protecting their organization by outlining the essential policies for your business and exploring emerging issues that deserve your attention. Whether you already have a handbook in place or are looking to create one, you won’t want to miss this presentation
Here is the registration link-Employee Handbooks – Best Practices for a Proactive Organization
Leave of Absence Issues for Health and Section 125 Plans
November 21, 2019 | 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM AKDT
This webinar will focus on the administration of employee benefits during employee leaves of absence. We’ll discuss the various types of leaves of absence, including leaves required under federal and state law and those offered under an employer’s internal policies. We’ll look at some common challenges employers face in administering benefits during these leaves and offer practical tips to keep you compliant.
Here is the registration link-Leave of Absence Issues for Health and Section 125 Plans