By Teena Applegate
I feel fortunate that my company has allowed employees the opportunity to work remote. Sure, we didn’t go full steam when it initially rolled out a couple of years ago. We had a real trickle effect with one to two set days allowing employees to work from home and depending on position; it wasn’t available to all employees. There seems to be a continued surge for its continuum even with news of some companies pulling back or terming remote working. If you’ve had an interest – be sure to see the recent article, Technology Risk Insights: Keys to a Secure Remote Work Program released on MyWave Connect (MyWave is an online employer resource RISQ Consulting provides to all employer clients. Contact your Benefits Consultant or Account Manager for a login). As always, we welcome your tips and shares on how you have implemented a work from home policy for your employees.
To implement a remote working policy in your company, here is another article with great information to get started:
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.
Workplace wellness affects your company—and its finances—in several ways. Wellness programs have the potential to lower health care costs, increase productivity, decrease absenteeism and raise employee morale.
Because employees spend a large portion of their waking hours at work, the workplace is an ideal setting to address health and wellness issues, benefiting your employees’ personal lives as well as their professional lives.
What Is Workplace Wellness?
Workplace wellness refers to the educational resources and health programs that a worksite might offer to promote healthy lifestyles for employees and their families.
Examples of wellness initiatives include health education classes, subsidized use of fitness facilities, internal policies that promote healthy behavior, and any other activities, policies or environmental changes that affect the health of employees.
What Wellness Can Do
Wellness programs positively impact productivity and finances in several ways, all leading to a more efficient, cost-effective workforce. The following is a list of ways workplace wellness programs can improve your business.
Control coverage costs. Health care costs are a significant portion of a company’s budget, and many employers are taking a close look at those rising expenses, especially with the effects of recent health care law changes. Strategically targeting health-related expenses can significantly benefit an employer’s budget.
Employees with more health risk factors, including being overweight, smoking and having diabetes, cost more to insure and pay more for health care than people with fewer risk factors. A wellness program can help employees with high risk factors make lifestyle changes to improve their quality of life and lower costs, while also helping employees with fewer risk factors remain healthy.
Improve productivity. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) supports research that demonstrates that workplace wellness programs can lead to more efficiency in the workplace because healthier employees are more productive. Even when sick or unhealthy employees show up to work, they’re likely not operating at their true potential.
Improved health—fueled by workplace wellness programs and incentives—can reduce the problem of presenteeism, which is a condition where workers show up but produce inefficient or substandard work due to the adverse effects of their ill health.
Reduce absenteeism. Healthier employees means fewer sick days and less time away from work for doctor visits. For example, the CDC reports that overweight and obese employees miss considerably more days of work than normal-weight employees—a 56 percent increase in missed days for overweight and obese men, and a 15 to 141 percent increase in missed days for women who are overweight and obese, respectively.
Additionally, employees’ healthier behavior may translate into better health care and lifestyle choices for their families, potentially leading to less work missed due to caring for ill family members. Reduced absenteeism can yield significant cost savings and return on your wellness investment.
Trim workers’ compensation and disability expenses. Employees who make healthy changes and lower health risks have a lower chance of workplace injury or illness and disability. In both cases, this can save the employer money, not just on insurance premiums and benefits paid out, but also on the cost of recruiting and training a new worker to temporarily replace an employee who is absent due to ill health.
The CDC’s compilation of research suggests that employers can save as much as 25 percent on claims costs after implementing a successful workplace wellness program.
Boost morale and improve recruiting. Expressing a commitment to your employees’ health can improve employee morale and strengthen retention. A company that cares about its employees’ health is often viewed as a better place to work, and wellness programs can also help attract top talent in a competitive market.
Employees can experience many potential benefits after joining a wellness program, including improved well-being, better coping skills for stress, reduced risk for developing or worsening diseases and illnesses, lower health care costs and fewer doctor visits, access to social support through co-workers and a healthier work environment.
Overall, employees who experience positive changes and benefits from a wellness program will often feel more loyalty to the company and demonstrate increased productivity, leading to a stronger, less expensive workforce.
To learn more about workplace wellness programs and their benefits, to gain access to ready-to-go wellness programs or to obtain information on how to get started, contact RISQ Consulting at (907) 263-1401 or visit www.risqconsulting.com.
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.
An employee’s mental health includes how they think, feel and act, and includes their emotional and social well-being. While mental health includes mental illness, the two aren’t interchangeable. An employee can go through a period of poor mental health but not necessarily have a clear, diagnosable mental illness. Additionally, an employee’s mental health can change over time, depending on factors such as their workload, stress and work-life balance.
While 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness annually, a recent study by Deloitte revealed that less than half receive treatment. A study from the Mental Health in the Workplace Summit also found that mental illness is the leading cause of disability for U.S. adults aged 15 to 44 and that more workdays are lost to mental health-related absenteeism than any other injury or illness.
Given its prevalence, you can expect that employees at your organization are experiencing mental health challenges or mental illness. That’s why it’s so important that your organization creates a culture that is supports employees’ mental health. While this may sound complicated, creating a workplace that is supportive of mental health and illness is easier than it seems. Here are five simple ways that your company can support employees and their mental health.
Promote Mental Health Awareness in the Office
The first step to creating a workplace that is supportive of employees’ mental health is promoting awareness and destigmatizing mental health or illness. Provide resources to help employees learn more about mental health or mental illnesses, and give information about how employees who may be struggling can seek out help. When you openly talk about mental health, employees are more likely to feel comfortable about the concept and reach out to managers or co-workers if they’re struggling.
You can also establish a workplace environment that is supportive of mental health by:
- Encouraging social support among employees, such as an organized support group that meets regularly
- Setting up an anonymous portal through which employees can reach out to let HR or managers know that they’re struggling with high stress and need help
- Providing training on problem solving, effective communication and conflict resolution
- Promoting your employee assistance program (EAP), if you offer one
Offer Flexible Scheduling
Work-life balance, or a lack thereof, can affect an employee’s mental health. To help employees better balance their work and personal lives, employers across the country are embracing workplace flexibility. While this looks different at every company, workplace flexibility can include flextime, telecommuting and unlimited paid time off (PTO) policies. Flexible schedules provide employees with job satisfaction, better health, increased work-life balance and less stress.
Address Workplace Stress
Nearly 80% of Americans consider their jobs stressful. Chronic workplace stress can contribute to increased employee fatigue, irritability and health problems. Additionally, workplace stress costs U.S. employers approximately $300 billion in lost productivity annually.
While it may not be possible to eliminate job stress altogether for your employees, you can help them learn how to manage it effectively. Common job stressors include a heavy workload, intense pressure to perform at high levels, job insecurity, long work hours, excessive travel, office politics and conflicts with co-workers.
You can implement various activities to help reduce employee stress, which can improve health and morale—and productivity.
- Make sure that workloads are appropriate.
- Have managers meet regularly with employees to facilitate communication.
- Address negative and illegal actions in the workplace immediately—do not tolerate bullying, discrimination or any other similar behaviors.
- Recognize and celebrate employees’ successes. This contributes to morale and decreases stress levels.
Evaluate Your Benefits Offerings
Review the benefits you offer to ensure that they support mental well-being, too. Evaluate your current health plan designs. Do they cover mental health services? Reviewing the offerings that your organization provides is essential to creating a culture that supports employee mental health.
In similar fashion, look to see what voluntary benefits you can offer to support mental well-being. Consider offering simple perks like financial planning assistance (as financial stress often contributes to poor mental health), employee discount programs (where employees can receive gym memberships, stress-reducing massages or acupuncture at a lower cost) and EAPs to support your employees.
Provide Mental Health Training for Managers
One of the most significant problems hindering mental health support at work is the stigma that surrounds mental health. Despite the recent moves in society toward destigmatizing mental health, issues still persist. To ensure that no stigma surrounding mental health exists at your organization, it’s important that you properly train management in recognizing the signs of mental illness, excessive workplace stress, workplace bullying and fatigue. Moreover, managers should be trained to handle potentially difficult conversations with employees surrounding their mental health. Ultimately, they should be prepared to speak openly about mental health rather than avoid the topic. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Workforce webpage to learn more.
For More Information
For additional resources on any of the strategies outlined above, contact us at RISQ Consulting today.
This HR Insights is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as professional advice. © 2019 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.
By Alison Riggan
Death by PowerPoint. This is the phrase that’s used to describe those presentations that are the same ugly overflowing slide again and again and again, often accompanied by a presenter whose charisma makes you want to A) take a nap or B) take a long walk off a short pier. In the age of constant connection, how do we connect with our audience?
Earlier this year, RISQ Consulting was given the opportunity to give a three-hour presentation on insurance. We were then confronted with a question. How exactly can we make a three-hour presentation, about insurance no less, not just bearable, but actually enjoyable and fun? *Cue Mission Impossible theme song* In order to figure out how to make an awesome presentation, we first had to identify what about other presentations did we not like. The list looked something like this-
Death by PowerPoint Causes:
- Being talked at rather than talk to
- No audience participation
- Ugly slides
- Lots of jargon
- Too much information condensed on each slide
Step one was complete, we knew what NOT to do. However, we still were looking for a way to keep the audience on their toes and so immersed that three hours would fly by. That’s when a member of our team brought up the idea of finding a program that would allow us to poll the audience on various slides. The googling frenzy began. I found several sites that would allow us to engage the audience during presentations and did a cost and feature comparison before reviewing with our team and settling on Mentimeter.
Mentimeter allows the audience to follow the presentation on their phones, answer polls, and ask questions in real-time throughout the entire presentation. Here’s where it gets really cool, the presenter can ask questions to better gauge and understand the audience that will allow the presenter to connect more with the audience. The presenter can also see if there’s an influx of questions on a specific slide and spend more time on that slide to make sure that the audience understands. There are also several poll styles available, which ensures that there’s a format for any question style you can think of.
By Bailey Penrose
Loyalty, Respect, Selfless Service, Integrity, Courage, Excellence, Commitment – These are just some of the core values adopted and embraced by the US Military. Do any of these sound familiar? If they do, you might recognize that these values resonate closely with those espoused by companies like AT&T, General Motors, Chevron, and many others.
While we recognize that US Military veterans and their families are crucial components of our communities, as employers in the civilian workplace we do not always understand how best to welcome and support them. There have been great strides in recent years to help veterans transition into the workplace with tools put in place to help both transitioning veterans and civilian employers. Google has even gotten into the action with their ‘Grow With Google’ program, a job search tool that helps veterans search for civilian jobs based on the roles they performed in the military. However, that does not mean we as employers cannot help in other ways.
A completely free online program, the “Veterans at work Certificate Program”, has been made available to the public at large by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Foundation with sponsorship by Comcast NBCUniversal. This program is designed primarily for front-line supervisors, hiring managers, and HR professionals that are interested in learning more about how recruit, hire, retain, and engage military veterans and military spouses.
Find out more here:
By Jack Grieco
The Alaska Legislature adopted a number of workers’ compensation reforms in 2018. One reform provides additional tests to determine if a person is an independent contractor or an employee. We are seeing a number of cases where the workers’ compensation auditors have determined a person is an employee because they did not meet these NEW requirements. This could be costly and cost you an additional premium. You could also be required to provide workers’ compensation coverage if someone is injured on your job site and has no other insurance. You could also be sued for negligence if a person is severely injured and has no workers’ compensation coverage. Individual healthcare plans often exclude job related injuries. There is no substitute for workers’ compensation.
Please review these definitions and be sure that your independent contractors are compliant. The best way to avoid having an independent contractor picked up as an employee on your workers’ compensation, to avoid having a claim against your workers’ compensation because of an injury, or to avoid a lawsuit for a third party over claim by a sub-contractor, is to have all sub-contractors provide workers’ compensation for every one of their employees on the job including the owners.
The New Definitions
Workers’ Compensation does not apply to Independent Contractors. A person is an independent contractor for the purposes of this section only if the person:
(A) has an express contract to perform the services; [A written contract, not a PO, is best. It should include insurance requirements for that person/company to have in force and provide additional insured status to you.]
(B) is free from direction and control over the means and manner of providing services, subject only to the right of the individual for whom, or entity for which, the services are provided to specify the desired results, completion schedule, or range of work hours, or to monitor the work for compliance with contract plans and specifications, or federal, state, or municipal law;
(C) incurs most of the expenses for tools, labor, and other operational costs necessary to perform the services, except that materials and equipment may be supplied;
(D) has an opportunity for profit and loss as a result of the services performed for the other individual or entity;
(E) is free to hire and fire employees to help perform the services for the contracted work;
(F) has all business, trade, or professional licenses required by federal, state, or municipal authorities for a business or individual engaging in the same type of services as the person;
(G) follows federal Internal Revenue Service requirements by
(i) obtaining an employer identification number, if required;
(ii) filing business or self-employment tax returns for the previous tax year to report profit or income earned for the same type of services provided under the contract; or
(iii) intending to file business or self-employment tax returns for the current tax year to report profit or income earned for the same type of services provided under the contract if the person’s business was not operating in the previous tax year; and
(H) meets at least two of the following criteria:
(i) the person is responsible for the satisfactory completion of services that the person has contracted to perform and is subject to liability for a failure to complete the contracted work, or maintains liability insurance or other insurance policies necessary to protect the employees, financial interests, and customers of the person’s business;
(ii) the person maintains a business location or a business mailing address separate from the location of the individual for whom, or the entity for which, the services are performed;
(iii) the person provides contracted services for two or more different customers within a 12-month period or engages in any kind of business advertising, solicitation, or other marketing efforts reasonably calculated to obtain new contracts to provide 3 similar services.
Please contact RISQ Consulting if you have any questions about independent contractors, workers’ compensation, or how to craft the insurance requirements section of your company contract. Remember that the best way to avoid potential issues is to have all of your independent contractors provide workers’ compensation for their employees and themselves.
By Jennifer Outcelt
Obviously, I don’t actually drive a spaceship. If you thought I really did, then kudos to you for believing that I was capable of space travel and that I spent my life in constant cosmic adventure. In all Earth bound reality, what I mean when I say, “I drive a spaceship” is that I have a new, really cool, really spacy, ergonomic computer trackball mouse.
If you were to tell my 13 year old self that one day I’d be raving on the internet about a clicking device, I’d think I had turned out pretty lame (FACT: I’m not lame at all). What’s really lame is having that tell-tale pain creep down your wrist and into your finger making every click, drag, and drop feel like an Olympic weight lifting event. No, sir, not fun.
After feeling prolonged hand strain, I did a ton of research about Musculoskeletal Disorders and Repetitive Strain Injuries (MSDs and RSIs). I had no idea that MSDs and RSIs were so common or how debilitating they could become. I couldn’t lose my range of hand motion! What if I wanted to pilot a spaceship one day!? So, after more research on better ergonomic practices and products, I landed on my particular mouse as a solution. I’m not here to pimp the brand, but this mouse is amazing. I mean, seriously awesome! Now I am obsessed with my space controller of a mouse that made my hand pain like light in a black hole; nonexistent.
It took about a week to get used to operating my new mouse, and two weeks for the pain to disappear. Now I’m a pro and truly feel like I’m flying a galactic craft. All my coworkers are baffled by my alien mouse technology. I really do enjoy watching them fumble their way through using it to show me something on my computer. If only they knew its power to improve, then maybe they’d have one of their own.
Since this small change has made such a difference in my work comfort, I felt obligated to share with the good people of the internet some of what I learned. Below are some links to websites I read. I encourage you to seek out your own solutions to fix or prevent the inevitable pain that accompanies grueling 9 to 5 computer work. Maybe it’s a better chair? Maybe it’s an exercise? Or, maybe it’s operating your very own space ship…
Please see the below links for more information:
By Jessica Carlson
As an individual in a professional career, I spend a lot of time in all kinds of meetings, whether they are internal, client, or business partner meetings. Even though I have been in my industry for the majority of my adult life, I still have trouble speaking up in these meetings. I have been this way my entire life. As a student, even if I knew the answer and was confident, I refused to raise my hand. If I finished a test first (and I regularly did), I would wait until at least one or two people turned theirs in to get up and walk to the front of the room. This can all be traced back to my disaffinity for being the center of attention.
If you have been invited to a meeting, it is likely that you are going to be expected to speak up. This is one of the ways that some organizations measure your readiness to be a leader. So, why is it so hard? What causes knowledgeable professionals to freeze up in a meeting environment? I have been researching this question and have come across a variety of factors that contribute to the difficulty.
- Fear of looking stupid. What if you completely forget what you were going to say and freeze up? It is a threat to your credibility as a professional.
- You are unsure of how to articulate yourself. This goes right along with looking stupid. If you cannot put the words together, how will anyone else understand the point you are trying to get across.
- Fear of being judged by your peers. What if they realize you are not as smart as they thought?
- Fear of criticism. What if all they have to offer you is negative feedback?
- Fear that you will not be able to answer their questions.
Most of these fears go hand in hand. If you cannot answer a question, you will probably feel like you look stupid. So, how do you ease the anxiety that is building up?
- Prepare in advance. It is much easier to get your point across if you have had time to research and bring a few bullet points to back it up.
- Speak early in the meeting. It is a lot harder to get a word in if everyone else is already throwing their ideas around.
- Use your strengths. Do you have an area that you are a bit more knowledgeable in? This can be helpful to bring your confidence out if you believe in what you have to say.
- Ask questions. They say there is no such thing as a dumb question so if you need clarity on something that is happening, ask. Your colleagues would much rather you ask them questions than have to go back and start a project all over again.
- And lastly, just take a minute and breathe. This can center you as well as strengthen your voice so you speak with confidence.
The bottom line? If you are scared of something, you are going to avoid it. If you avoid it, you are not going to get any practice. If you do not practice, you are not going to get better. If you are not getting better, you are going to continue to be afraid. This loop of fear does not have to continue if you decide to break the cycle with a few of the approaches listed above.
By Jessica Carlson
Something that has come up quite often over the last several months, while working through some professional development courses, is emotional intelligence. But what exactly is it and how do I know if I’ve got it? Check out the article linked below where they will explain what it is, what the benefits are, and how to develop your own emotional intelligence.