By Joshua Weinstein, Employee Benefits President
Without risk, life would be a drab. Without the opportunity to fail, success, and even life, loses its luster and meaning. For example, if a cliff dive ensured absolutely no harm, would it be quite as thrilling or appealing? If presenting in front of others had a 100% chance of going flawlessly, what significance would your preparation and “learning from mistakes” have? Life is not defined by the easy, but rather by slogging through some suffering. That being said, humanity can generally plan toward good outcomes by acknowledging and addressing life’s unseen, “slippery banana peels” as best as possible. Risk isn’t an inherent problem. It’s not unexpected. It’s quite manageable, and it can teach all of us boatloads. The best run businesses have figured out how to manage risks so they can focus on growth and not on threats.
RISQ Consulting will help you be smart about risks through our proprietary Business HealthIQ™ (BHIQ) process. The BHIQ is a collaborative journey that assesses and inventories your organizations risks across key areas, such as: workforce, compliance, technology, employee benefits, and general risk management. You will be working with a strategic consultant, and a plan will be constructed that encompasses the goals of your organization in conjunction with the most suitable approaches to address risk wisely.
Want to learn more? Try out a mini, self guided, version of the BHIQ to see how the planning begins. You’ll get a summary in a few minutes that provides some tangible next steps on how to be strategic with your risks.
We can mutually decide how best to prevent the unwanted things from happening, such as high rates of employee turnover.
We can mitigate risks such as data loss and errors by advising on consolidated technology platforms and tools that are right for your industry and mission.
We might choose to transfer risks, to a third-party, when doing so adds efficiencies, reduces exposures and costs, and improves your ability to focus on your business’ core mission
Sometimes, retaining or assuming risk is the smart play, even up to a specified amount. Keeping some liability on your financials can reduce premium costs and often improves leadership involvement in creating great outcomes for your business.
By Elva Perez, Account Specialist
Have you ever walk into someone’s home or office and see they have beautiful greenery and wished you had a green thumb?
Below is a list of the top ten plants that require little attention but have great benefits to have around your home or office:
- Snake Plant
- African Violet
- English Ivory
- ZZ plant
- Rex Begonia
- Tillandsia (air plant)
- Lucky Bamboo
House plants do more than just look pretty, there are numerous health benefits as well. They can help reduce stress, sharpen your attention, are therapeutic, can allow you to recover from illness faster, boost your productivity, improve your whole outlook on work, and improve air quality.
According to this Heathline article
“Multiple studies have found that plants in the workspace increase both productivity and creativity. One frequently cited study from 1996 found that students in a campus computer lab worked 12 percent faster and were less stressed when plants were placed nearby.
In a 2004 study, researchers challenged people to make creative word associations. They performed better when a plant was in the room with them.
And a 2007 study, showed that people with more plants in their workspace took fewer sick days and were more productive on the job.”
For the past 10 years I have been working on turning my home into a mini jungle. Every day, I walk into my house and I instantly feel the fresh air in my lungs and can’t help but feel stress-free!
By Shayla Teague, Individual and Family Benefits Consultant
In 2005ish my husband was denied a job at a movie theater because he had a visible nautical star tattoo. Nautical Star tattoos are one of the oldest tattoo symbols and have been around for over a century. Sailors used to use the stars to navigate their ship. The tattoo started as a superstition and tribute to the stars getting them home safely. The nautical star, still to this day, is representative of finding your way in life or being positively guided into the future. Like my husband’s tattoo, many people’s choice to get ink is symbolic of their life experiences.
Tattoos in the workplace have always been taboo, but is that changing? There is a new generation in the workforce and with that comes a change in culture. According to “History of Tattoos,” 36% of Americans between the age of 18 and 29 have at least one tattoo. Additionally, 69% of people don’t see people with tattoos any more or less deviant than people without tattoos.
Although so many Americans in the workforce have tattoos, majority of them are hidden. According to AIMS Education, as of 2015 76% of employees believed tattoos and piercings hurt job interview chances. However, 73% of people say they would hire staff that had visible tattoos. I thought those were some interesting statistics considering the contradiction.
While tattoos are becoming more and more accepted, employers can still enforce a dress code that require them to be covered up. This can be based on personal views or values. It can also be based on public contact. I think we will continue to see shifts to this as people become more and more open to the idea that tattoos express creativity and individuality.
For now, if you have tattoos or are thinking of getting a tattoo, we still must be mindful of the perception and acceptability of them. Here is a great article from Indeed to help navigate having, or not, tattoos in the workplace.
By Madasin Jennings, Account Specialist
Most renters and homeowners have one thing in common: neighbors. Nearly everyone must live next to someone and there is nothing worse than being uncomfortable in your own home. This led me to think that the foundation of any great home, whether you own it or rent it, begins with being a good neighbor. So, what does this entail exactly and why is it so important?
While attempting to figure this out in my own life, the first thing that comes to mind is the golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. I began analyzing my thoughts on what I considered to be the ideal neighbor. I would want to live next to someone who is friendly. Someone I could trust to help with things like keeping an eye on my home while I’m on vacation but also understands boundaries and respects my time and space. Someone who is considerate when it comes to things like noise pollution and curb appeal.
Applying the golden rule to my ideal neighbor means I must be friendly, trusting, helpful, respectful, and considerate. The importance in being a good neighbor could be different for each household, but all could reap the same reward of a welcoming home in a community you can trust and appreciate. It might not always be easy and could very well take you out of your comfort zone but if you keep these five qualities in mind and treat others the way you want to be treated, they might just do exactly that. It is important to remember every situation will be different and there might not be such a thing as the perfect neighbor, but if you hold yourself accountable to being friendly, trusting, helpful, respectful, and considerate, you can begin building the foundation to a great home.
By Ashley Snodgrass, Executive Account Manager
Have you ever wanted to peek over your neighbor’s fence to get a better view of their garden? Maybe look at their blossoming peonies, size up their tomato plants, or get a clue as to why their grass is always the greenest? There’s something similar that happens in the world of employee benefits; one of the most asked questions by my clients is, “How do my company’s employee benefits compare to what other companies are offering?” In today’s environment where the battle for qualified talent is raging, knowledge of how your benefits stack up is crucial, because the stakes are much higher than neighborhood gardening.
In 2021, we’ve all felt the impact of the worker shortage in several industries. I think it’s helpful to compare the worker shortage to the housing market. As the housing market fluctuates, the market fluctuates between a seller’s market and a buyer’s market. This is all driven by supply and demand. When the inventory (supply) of homes is high, and there are fewer buyers (low demand), sellers are more likely to drop price, pay closing costs for buyers, and make upgrades to meet the buyer’s needs. Oppositely, when the supply of homes is low and there are more buyers (high demand), there is strong competition for homes. Buyers must be aggressive by paying higher prices, offering flexible terms, and accepting homes in “as is” condition.
Let’s consider how this is similar to the employment market. When there are fewer qualified workers searching for jobs, companies must consider raising wages, offering more flexibility, better benefits, and more educational and mentorship opportunities. Compare this to times of the past when the number of job seekers was higher; employees would accept long commutes, sub-par benefits, or a lower salary just to have a chance at any job, and hopefully move up sometime in the future. Some economists view labor as a commodity, which is why the labor market is subject to the fluctuations of supply and demand.
While this is perhaps an oversimplified explanation, and doesn’t account for a variables that impact the market such as COVID-19 related safety concerns, available unemployment benefits, and childcare challenges, it helps to demonstrate that hiring in 2021 is different than prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is why employers must know how their employee benefits compare to other options employees may find when exploring benefits packages that come with employment offers.
Benchmarking is the industry term for comparing what an employer offers to employers in similar industries and geographies. Benchmarking data can be provided by insurance brokerages, insurance companies, and third-party research firms. Most studies look at common plan facets like deductibles, coinsurance, out of pocket maximums, employee cost, employer costs, and types of benefits offered. Some surveys expand beyond insurance benefits and focus on other employee rewards such as Paid Time Off, Parental Leave, Retirement, and Wellness Benefits.
Looking to get an insight into your own health plan? Data isn’t always “Apples to Apples”. Here are a few points to consider when comparing data to what your own company offers:
- Geography – Insurance premium pricing is based on the cost of healthcare in that region (Example: Premiums in Alaska are higher than average because healthcare costs are higher than average, and therefore it wouldn’t be correct to compare Alaska costs to a low cost state like Arkansas, and draw any meaningful conclusions).
- Industry – In sectors where there is greater competition for talent, benefits are more generous. Employees in highly technical industries will demand richer benefits.
- Company Size – Size of company aligns with purchasing power, so be aware that larger companies may be able to offer more benefits or special programs than smaller employers. Additionally, groups under 50 employees are provided rates strictly based on the age of the employees, whereas larger companies pay costs based on claims. Costs for smaller companies may be higher simply if the population is older.
- Employer Type (Meaning Private vs. Public Entities or Union vs. Non-Union benefits) – Different types of employers may have different rules to abide by, or other options available to them, that aren’t available to all employers. Try to compare your company with employers who are most similar to your own to control for variables like high-quality Government benefits, or Collectively Bargained benefits
- Funding Mechanism – Fully Insured plan costs are not comparable to Self-Funded plan costs. Fully Insured rates come from the insurance carriers and the rates are set. Self-Funded plans have additional options to implement cost controls and care management programs.
Ask your RISQ Consulting Team to help provide you with some information that can help your own organization. Brokerages typically have access to reports beyond what is available for free online. Here are a couple great resources to check out to get started:
By Casey Kirkeby, Strategy Consultant
For some people, this may remind them of that pivotal episode of Mad Men when Don Draper mentioned that, in Greek, nostalgia literally means “the pain from an old wound.” Man, I love that show. For others, it may remind them of a time in the past when they watched a commercial that made them want a product like Lifesavers because of the jingle or the picture of the packaging.
Living in the millennial generation, everyone is very skeptical when it comes to marketing but for me, I am an old soul. Technically, I am an older Millennial (born in ‘84) and I welcome that nostalgic feeling when it comes to products and it is probably why I am the ultimate consumer.
Nostalgia, to me, brings up emotions and sentimentality that is more powerful than any memory and this can be true for marketing a product. Creating an emotional bond with a product from a consumer level connects in more ways than if you have no experience with that product. That is why when people sell a product; they are trying to sell an experience at the same time. It could be a time, place, or occasion where that person bought a product and that is what they will relate to in their mind. When they recall that experience, it puts that product at the top of the consumer’s mind. Next, the consumer goes to the store or shop to buy that product and they know exactly what they want because they know precisely how they will feel after they use or consume it.
One of the biggest takeaways from this article I had is sending the right message of nostalgia but also adding something new to stay relevant. Targeting multiple audiences can be difficult and everyone has a connection to an experience in a different way. To market it successfully, figure out a commonality between the past and future of that product while aligning with the current customer of today.
By Casey Kirkeby, Strategy Consultant
For the last 7 years I’ve attended countless networking events, after hours and fundraisers and it has helped me create a network of friends and colleagues that really care about our community. 2020 was a very challenging year because everything was virtually virtual (see what I did there), even the meetings and events.
Now that everything is opening back up in Alaska, we’re getting back to in-person networking and events. The Anchorage Chamber of Commerce is in full force and striving to reconnect people and the community. I remember someone said once “If I want to find out more about the city I’m visiting, I track down the local Chamber of Commerce website and check out their events page”.
Here is a link to the current events happening this summer: Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Networking Events
By Bailey Penrose, Employer Services Account Manager
Marijuana is becoming a problem, y’all. Not from any philosophical or moral viewpoint (that’s an individual’s point of view and out of my purview) but from an employment standpoint. As it currently stands, 36 US states and 4 US territories have legalized cannabis products for medicinal use; 18 US states, 2 US territories, and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis products for recreational use. On the flip side, on the federal level the use of cannabis products for either medicinal or recreational purposes is totally illegal.
The divide between state and federal regulation is causing some distinct headaches as employers and individual’s try to understand which standard to follow. We don’t have to look very far to see examples of this. Just look at the headlines from the beginning of July, where athlete Sha’Carri Richardson ran afoul of differing rules:
Guidance is still coming, but I’m afraid it’s going to be a little bumpy as the US feels it’s way through the quagmire. Please see the articles included here for more information on how these regulations realistically apply to employers and their employees.
By Alesha Combs, Account Manager
Kids only know what they’re taught. What were you taught as a child and what do you want to teach your children? Think back to your 4- or 5-year-old self. For me, at that time, there was an emphasis on learning the ABCs and 123s, science, manners, and learning how to read; these all took center stage. But what about social and emotional intelligence? Many of us were taught to be kind, and were made aware of the different types of emotions that exist, but too often the extent of children’s education regarding emotion is classification of the emotions that are “good” and socially appropriate, or “bad” and should be suppressed. All emotions are valid. Even if you’re never taught to identify them, you can bet you’ll have the opportunity to feel the full range of them over the course of a lifetime.
Fast forward to your adult life. You’re responsible for dealing with a range responsibilities and life’s unknowns. These will evoke strong emotions and you’re now responsible for dealing with them, well…like an adult. You use the tools you were given and taught in your formative years as the baseline for managing these things, and you sharpen the edges of these tools as you grow and receive more opportunities to use them. So do you let yourself experience your emotions fully, or do they make you uncomfortable? Do you know how to respond in a healthy way when you experience those dreaded “bad” emotions like stress, anger, grief, anxiety, fear, insecurity, or envy, or are you still working on it?
Emotion is an unavoidable part of life. The self-help industry continues to grow, as adults seek out new ways of improving themselves and learning how to live and enjoy life. Unavoidably, this includes learning how to manage our emotions. The self-help industry is projected to reach a net worth of 13 billion dollars by 2022. Be honest, how many self-help classified books do you have sitting on your bookshelf? Now how many are sitting on your child’s bookshelf, and how often are you talking to them about their feelings in a positive manner, versus in response to negative behavior?
Author and illustrator Diane Alber has created a wonderful range of interactive children’s books and toys all focused on helping children build their confidence and promote their social and emotional intelligence. She’s created a series of interactive stories, focused on the emotions that we all experience. These books provide children with tools that can be easily implemented to help engage and encourage mindfulness in the way they understand and respond to their feelings. I recommend the “A Little Spot of Emotion Box Set”. Diane even provides access to an Educator Guide, which parents can use as a tool to help chaperone their children through this learning process and help them receive the most from it.
Parents are given an opportunity to learn when they take the time to teach their child(ren). Diane Alber’s books are primarily geared towards children ages 4-8, but the fundamentals of emotional intelligence are a welcome reminder for all ages. Give yourself a break from that 400-page Self-Help book that you feel guilty (ah emotion!) for not finishing, even though it’s been sitting on your table untouched for the last who knows how long, and give your inner-child a refresher on the basics. You can check out and purchase Diane Alber’s books online at https://www.dianealber.com/.