By Alison Nelson, Sales and Marketing Coordinator
A couple weeks ago, I wandered over to a colleague’s desk where we started chatting up a storm of, non-work related, topics. A few minutes into our conversation, the Employee Benefits President of the company walked by and asked me what I was up to. I told him that I was taking a break. His only response was “that’s good, enjoy”, and I did. I chatted with my colleague for a while longer before I returned to my desk to tackle a report that I was working on. I didn’t think much of it until recently when a friend called me to vent about how she got in trouble with her boss for, well, doing the exact same thing I did.
If you’ve been following The Vantage Point, you probably have realized that RISQ prides itself on our unique leadership style and company culture. We’re not micromanaged, discouraged from socializing, and even goofing off isn’t frowned upon. The only caveat is that our work needs to be done correctly, on time, and, above all else, clients come first. While this rule may sometimes seem like insanity, especially when there’s a nerf-gun battle, someone is hopping around on an exercise ball, or you can’t reach the coffee maker because there is a string at eye-level from a string/cup phone that someone decided to make (and yes, all of those things have happened), there is a method to this madness.
Taking regular breaks throughout the day can reduce employee stress, increase motivation, and improve engagement. All of which makes for a more productive workforce. According to this article, regular breaks can even help you process and retain information, help you get a better sense of the big-picture, and even inspire creativity! Still aren’t sure about letting your employees go break-crazy? Check out the below articles, which also conclude that, in a culture of “go-go-go”, frequently taking a step back, can make all the difference to employees.
By letting your employees take breaks, socialize, and even goof around, you’ll create a fun work environment and increase employee productivity. Sounds like a win-win to me!
You can learn more by clicking the links below-
By Shayla Dablemont, Individual and Family Benefits Consultant
We all have suffered from a “case of the Mondays,” but what if we could turn all our bad days into good ones? Have you ever noticed that bad days often just get worse? First, you wake up in the morning feeling unrested, then you stumble to the kitchen to find that you are out of coffee. It all just continues to go downhill from there and your mood spirals along with it. You can turn your day around and it all comes down to having the right mindset and the Law of Attraction.
The Law of Attraction is the idea that positive thoughts bring positive results and negative thoughts bring negative results. The true philosophy behind the idea is that thoughts are a form of energy and positive energy brings success. You don’t have to fully believe that in order to make the Law of Attraction work for you. Let’s dig a little deeper.
The Law of Attraction can be broken up into three different laws. The first one is Like Attracts Like. Similar people with similar mindsets attract to each other, and similar thoughts attract similar outcomes. This boils down to what we have already been talking about, that positive attracts positive and negative attracts negative. The second law is Nature Abhors a Vacuum. This means removing negative things from your life will make room for more positive things. The third law is The Present is Always Perfect. You can always do things in the current moment to better your situation. You can find the silver lining or find a solution.
There is another philosophy relating to the Laws of Attraction that adopt seven different laws such as, the Law of Manifestation, the Law of Magnetism and the Law of Harmony. These get a little more into the energy aspect and I prefer to focus on the mindset parts.
I have been practicing the Law of Attraction for approximately the last 2 years. For me, it all comes down to controlling your mindset. There are certainly days that this proves more difficult, but those are also the days where you get the most practice. I have been more purposeful about my thoughts. When a negative thought comes creeping in, I recognize it and think of a positive thought to counteract it. When something stressful in life happens, I look hard for a silver lining. I am working on a complete shift in my self-talk. I am taking away the internal self-deprecation and exchanging it for words of affirmation. It really is not easy, and it takes a lot of practice. It also feels phony and corny at first. However, just like the term, “fake it till you make it,” when you practice enough your mind starts to turn positive automatically and it becomes natural.
Are you ready to turn around your bad days? Here are some things that you can practice:
- Gratefulness and Journaling: Start your morning by writing down 3 things that you are grateful for. End the day with 3 positive things that happened. When you are having a difficult day seeing the silver lining, refer to your journal
- Meditation: Take some time each day to sit in silence. Do your best to clear you mind and just focus on breathing. This is called grounding yourself and when things seem stressful, it is a great way to counteract the stress.
- Practice, Practice, Practice: Be very mindful with your thoughts. When a negative thought creeps in, replace it with a positive one. Instead of focusing on what is wrong, try to accept it as it is or find a solution. Give yourself grace and don’t be over critical. Tell yourself how amazing you are!
“You can’t control people, places, things or situations…but you can control your mindset”
By Alison Nelson, Sales and Marketing Coordinator
Last week, Naomi Osaka, a world-renowned tennis player, withdrew from the French Open. Why would she withdraw from such an important match, resulting in a $15,000 fine? The answer is simple: mental health.
Naomi Osaka explained that she struggles with depression and anxiety and needed to put her health first. Unfortunately, critics were quick to label Osaka a “diva” or even a “special snowflake”. While most of the world applauded Osaka’s stand, and the mediation app, Calm, even offered to pay the fines for any tennis players who skip media appearances due to mental health, the initial critics provided an alarming reminder of the stigma surrounding mental health.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 264 million people suffer from depression and many of those people also have anxiety. WHO also states that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy one trillion U.S. dollars each year in lost productivity. Despite the staggering amount of people who have depression or other mental illnesses, and as the Osaka critics demonstrated, the negative stereotypes about mental health are alive and well. Yet, it is because of this stigma that employers can’t afford to stay silent.
Not only is there a direct correlation between mental health and productivity, but according to this article:
- Employees with untreated mental health conditions use nonpsychiatric health care services 3 times more than those who do get treatment.
- Mental illness is the single greatest cause of worker disability worldwide.
- 62% of missed work days can be attributed to mental health conditions.
- Turnover rates are higher for depressed employees, who are 20% to 40% more likely to become unemployed because of their condition.
Below is an image from Kaiser Permanente displaying the cost different between flu prevention and depression intervention.
The cost alone should incentivize employers to make an effort to destigmatize mental health, but how should you go about it? Below is a list from LifeSpeak of 10 ways employers can improve mental health in the workplace and you can read the full LifeSpeak article here.
- Speak candidly about mental health. The first step to beating the stigma is to stop treating mental illness as taboo. Whether it’s an article you read, a show you watched, or a personal experience you had, talking about it openly and without shame will help others realize they aren’t alone.
- Keep the conversation going. Workplace culture must be nurtured, which means you can’t just mention mental health once and expect it to catch on. Find multiple opportunities to incorporate the subject into your employees’ day so it stays top-of-mind.
- Include all levels of staff. Your employees won’t believe that you genuinely care about their well-being unless every manager and executive also demonstrates the importance of mental health.
- Encourage employees to take mental health days off. If you still require your employees to provide a doctor’s note or otherwise “legitimate” reason for missing work, it might be time to stop. Part of preventative health involves giving your mind and body a break every now and then, and allowing your staff to miss work in order to recharge can help them stave off more serious health issues down the road.
- Pay attention and be ready to help. If you do notice an employee behaving differently (ex: irritability or low mood), don’t hesitate to ask them if everything is alright. Even if they tell you they’re fine, remind them that you’re there to help and that they have access to assistive resources.
- Make sure the tools and resources are relevant. No matter how much information you supply your employees, it’ll never do any good if it’s outdated or irrelevant. In fact, it might even do harm. Frequently audit your mental health resources to make sure they’re accurate, up-to-date, and contain practical advice that your employees can use to get better.
- Facilitate access to these resources. Similar to the previous point, your staff won’t get much use out of the information if it’s difficult for them to find. Eliminate barriers to access by providing the content in a variety of formats (audio, video, written, etc.), and minimizing the number of steps it takes for them to find it.
- Prioritize confidentiality and anonymity. Even though mental health might be normalized in your workplace, some people might still feel uncomfortable discussing it, particularly if they struggle with addiction, trauma, or suicidal thoughts. Reassure your staff that their privacy is your top concern, and that their use of mental health resources will never be monitored or tracked.
- Design a mentally healthy work space. It’s important for your employees to feel energized and uplifted by their work environment. Research has shown productivity, engagement, and overall wellness increase when people feel comfortable in workspaces with natural lighting, plants, and other positive features.
- Focus on the positive. Mental illness is a serious issue, but it can still be addressed in a way that makes people feel understood, appreciated, and hopeful. Always remember to leave your employees feeling like they have a clear plan of action ahead and that they or their loved ones can get well.
Need more ideas for promoting mental health in your place of work? Click the links below to view additional resources.
By Natasha Kwachka, Lead Account Specialist
I have always loved the controversial topics, the cans and cannots, the dos and the don’ts, that are engrained in our society. After all, discovering what went wrong to create the guidelines that were put into place is quite intriguing. For as long as people have been people, we have shifted away from things that once seemed perfectly normal, such as drinking at work. We have created stringent social guidelines determining what is acceptable and what is not. Now, don’t get me wrong, some of these guidelines have been for the better. Recently I came across an article that got my mind spinning around a pretty controversial topic for some; alcohol in the workplace.
Is having alcohol in your place of work something that should be allowed or is it truly a no-no? If alcohol is known to act, in some cases, as a sort of sedative, it can help certain people feel more at ease. In other cases, it could help people to feel more confident to express themselves publicly or socially. Let’s not pre-judge where this is going now. There can definitely be negative consequences of alcohol use. However, in some instances alcohol is known to very different affects. Certain people have expressed make them feel free to be themselves without the constant nag of certain societal anxieties.
Hear me out, so in the case that alcohol helps, could it be an effective tool in a work environment, especially in one where creative thoughts or ideas may be extremely valuable? Could it be that allowing someone to have 1-2 drinks over an 8-hour time span of a normal workday could actually positively impact the flow of ideas?
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