Create A Culture of Health and Wellness

Most employees are working between 1040 and 2080 hours a year in an office setting, depending on if they are working part-time or full-time. That is a lot of time sitting being that there are 8760 hour in a year. That is 11.8% to 23.7% of the time. WOW! Almost 25% of a year sitting! This not taking into consideration overtime or project work those employees may do.

 

We wonder why American workers find it difficult to find time to squeeze in trips to the gym. With health-related expenses costing companies millions of dollars a year, employers should be doing everything in their power to keep their employees fit and healthy.

 

Let’s look to see what could be done to improve employee health overall:

 

Here are 4 simple ideas of things employers can do to keep their health care costs down.

 

  1. Decide what kind of culture your firm and employees want to have.

This can be done through collaboration of departments and make a fun spirit amongst peers.  Provide the space for healthy living.

    1. Investigate what you are promoting. What does your organization supply in your vending machines? Do you put our fruit or donuts for team meetings?
    2. Make sure your leaders are on board. When the management of a company promotes healthy living, it is easier for everyone else to jump on board.
    3. Make health easy. Encourage others by putting in a gym or walking path and praise employees for their healthy choices through words of affirmation.
  1. Find a buddy amongst the ranks.
    1. Put together fun workplace initiatives such as a walking or running group.
    2. Drum up a team weight maintenance or fat loss program during the holidays.
    3. Sign up a team for a recreation league and accept all players who want to be healthy.
    4. Invite local health and wellness professionals to host workshops and cooking demos.
  2. Get buy in.
    1. Ask your teams what they want to accomplish in living a healthy lifestyle through surveys or opinion boxes.
    2. Help them identify the hurdles that may come up and set up a collaborative time to help them over the hurdles
    3. Don’t push the unmotivated employee to change if they don’t want to. Work with the willing.
  3. Give free information.
    1. Set up a company intranet page that showcases healthy living articles, workouts, social media pages, ideas, success stories and even a chat area for others to collaborate on and off business hours.
  4. Make it worth their while.
    1. Employees will do a lot for a little recognition and praise.
    2. If you so feel inclined,make a contest with some layers of prizes or incentives they can win for doing what you want them to…being healthy.

 

You’ll have buy in, if everyone that supports your company initiative wants to truly live a healthy lifestyle. So be all in and get well and stay well. You are worth it.

 

Warmest regards,

 

Stacia

Travis Guthman: Disability can happen to you

Life can change in an instant, and that life-changing moment may be as simple as sending a text message. That’s what happened to Travis Guthman.

Travis and his wife, Wendy, moved back to where he had grown up when they had the opportunity to buy his grandparents’ farmhouse. They felt it was an ideal place to raise their six kids. They also decided to put their prior experience to work and open up a pizzeria.

It was on a busy day—typical of one so many parents have— that Travis juggled driving and arranging a meet-up for his son. While he had pulled over to read the text, he decided to answer it while driving back home. That’s when, distracted by his phone, he hit a concrete footing on a narrow bridge—a route he had taken hundreds of times before.

The accident landed him in the hospital with a shattered pelvis and other injuries so severe that it has taken him almost two years and countless surgeries just to be able to walk with the help of a leg brace. During this time, he hasn’t been able to work, and admits the family would have lost the pizzeria if it hadn’t been for the disability insurance that his insurance professional Tom Bader helped him put in place.

The monthly payment from his disability insurance has allowed the Guthmans to pay their ongoing bills and expenses and keep food on the table. “I didn’t have to pull money out of the restaurant to live on; instead I could continue paying the employees and keep things running,” he says. “Without disability insurance we would have been in a world of hurt. You think it will never happen to you, until it does. Disability insurance has been a huge blessing for our family.”

Check out the video of the Gurthman’s here.

Warmest regards,
Stacia

5 Things Millennials Look For From A Workplace

Millennials are flooding the job market and now make up one-third of the US workforce, making it imperative for employers to attract and retain young talent. But that can be tricky, since millennials often are looking for unconventional benefits.

Offering some of those benefits that will keep your employee engaged, motivated, and less stressed at work is key.  These are 5 things that the millennial generation consistently looks for from an employer.

 

  1. Flexible work schedules – It is no secret that the workforce is demanding more flexibility at work, and millennials are a big part of this push. Millennials say more flexibility will improve their happiness and productivity. Additionally, more than half of millennials report they work from home after the standard work day is done, compared to US office workers. With families, children, and home life, flexibility is becoming more and more important with the younger generation.
  2. An eco-friendly workplace – Eco-friendly practices aren’t just good for the environment, they are good for recruiting younger workers to your company. Half of all millennials say an eco-friendly workplace is an important factor when it comes to job consideration.
  3. A well stocked break room – A well supplied breakroom leads to happier employees, less stress, more productive workers, and a more social environment. It may encourage employees to take a break to refresh and recharge, which will improve productivity and lower stress.
  4. Job-site perks – Millennials place a great deal of value on job-site perks like free lunches or on-site gyms. A good working environment is a place that offers incentives and perks, which will improve their happiness.
  5. Strong leadership and consistent feedback – Millennials more than any other generation are looking for strong relationship with their bosses. One in five millennials report that it’s their direct boss who’s their motivator. A strong leadership defines a good work culture. Feedback is very important and is truly appreciated and contributes to employee loyalty. Being recognized in any way is what most employees like.

 

Highest Regards,

Stacia

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Small Business Guide to Creative Employee Benefits

When it comes to employee benefits, health insurance, retirement accounts and sick days, they are often standard at larger companies. To set your small business apart, you’ve got to think more creatively. Here are 10 great ideas I hope you can benefit from:

 

  1. Free food: Try keeping the break room stocked with free snacks, soda, and bottled water. You could even do something more significant, like providing a catered lunch on a weekly basis. The productivity is higher each day/week because they don’t have to leave for lunch.
  2. Four-day workweek: A three-day weekend once in awhile could make your employees not only happier but also more productive. A four-day workweek allows more time for employees to restore, if you will, their energy levels.
  3. Unlimited vacation: This policy speaks mostly about your company’s values. It sends a really clear message to employees that you care about them, that you want them to spend time with their families and that you want them have a high quality of life. When people feel cared for by their company or employer, they are much more likely to do great work.
  4. Professional development: Employees want to work for companies that help them advance their careers. Paying for classes, certifications and conferences is a major draw. Another idea, however, is establishing a mentoring program between employees.
  5. Personal development: Employees place a high value on work-life balance. Consider offering personal development benefits. One way to do so is by paying for the services of a life coach. Another is by offering lunch-and-learn events. You can have your bank come in, for instance, and help people learn how to get a mortgage, when the right time is to refinance or how to use their savings account.
  6. Massage therapy: Sometimes the greatest opportunities are the simplest things, like paying a massage therapist to come for two hours on Friday afternoons to give chair massages. This helps your employees relax and relieve stress.  
  7. Flexible working: Giving employees the option to work from home shows that you care about work-life balance. So does letting them come in late or leave early when they need to.
  8. Gym memberships: Fitness and keeping healthy is very important.  If you don’t have the space for weights and a treadmill, consider gifting employees a gym membership or negotiating discounted memberships at a nearby facility.
  9. Community service: Companies that offer time off for employees to volunteer or participate in community service projects earn points with their community and their workforce.
  10. Voluntary benefits: Employers who can’t afford to pay for dental insurance, life insurance or disability insurance can still offer them. You could give your employees—through payroll deductions—the option of accumulating a block of hours for an attorney to help them with the assembly of their will or the closing of a house.

 

Highest Regards,

Stacia

 

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The Logic Behind High and Low Deductibles

 

When signing up for insurance, one of the most important questions you will be faced with is whether to opt for a high or low deductible. Each has their advantages, but choosing the best option can be a task for you and your family. Understanding each option will help you make an educated choice.

One advantage to choosing a high deductible is saving as much as $400 every month in health insurance costs. The higher your deductible, the lower the cost of your monthly premium. This keeps money in your pocket on a regular monthly basis.  However, you are also betting that you will not incur any major medical expenses, because if you do, you will be largely on your own to cover the cost.

The downside of choosing a high deductible is that initial out-of-pocket expenses can be up to $5,000 when the medical bills begin to roll in. Expenses that exceed your deductible are then paid by your insurance company. However, because most companies only pay a certain amount of the costs, you may find yourself also responsible for additional expenses.

If you are considering a high deductible, it is a very wise move to invest in a Healthcare Savings Account (HSA) is a wise move. An HSA is similar to a retirement fund: it’s a tax-free health care fund in which you can invest up to $3,000 for the year. The money in HSA continually grows throughout the year and is there when you need it.

A low deductible costs more upfront but pays off in the case of an emergency. These premiums are much more expensive than those of a high deductible. However, you will enjoy far more insurance benefits if you ever have a health emergency.  

With a low deductible, the insurance company is obligated to pay for a much bigger portion of your medical bills. A low deductible also could mean that your company starts paying bills much sooner than if you had a high deductible. Since it is impossible to predict if you have unforeseen medical emergencies, this option is a great way to safeguard against massive and unmanageable bills. This option is a good one for families, and gives you the comfort of knowing that your health insurance will not cause any huge changes that will affect the lives of your kids. It never hurts to be prepared.
Whether a high deductible or a low deductible is right for you really depends on your financial situation and your expectations. The BeneChoice Companies can help you evaluation which option is better for you and ultimately which choices are perfect for you, your family, and you future.

Highest regards,

Stacia

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What You Need to Know About Cancer Insurance

Cancer insurance, also sometimes referred to as critical illness insurance, is a relatively new addition to the arsenal of world of health insurance programs. It was created as a response to the increasing rate of cancer diagnoses worldwide and the rising costs of cancer care and treatment. The supplemental insurance is designed to help reduce the out-of-pocket cost of cancer care and to bridge the gap between what your primary health insurance covers and what it doesn’t.

 

Introduction to Cancer Insurance

 

Cancer insurance is a type of supplemental insurance policy that helps to reduce the out-of-pocket cost of having cancer treatment. It is not designed to replace a traditional health insurance policy, but instead to complement it by covering additional cancer-related expenses that may not be covered by your current policy. The premium covers you for certain types of cancer-related expenses if you are diagnosed while the policy is in effect.

 

To be eligible, you cannot have any pre-existing cancerous conditions. For example, you cannot have been diagnosed with lung cancer and then apply for a policy. In most cases, people who have previously been diagnosed and treated for cancer are also ineligible.

 

What It Covers

 

Cancer insurance coverage varies based on the provider and policy details, but most plans cover both medical and non-medical expenses. Medical expenses can include co-pays, extended hospital stays, medical tests, procedures like stem cell transplants, and other disease-specific treatments.

 

The non-medical expenses that are covered with a supplemental cancer policy can include loss of income benefits, child care expenses, home health care, and dietary restriction aids.

 

Is It Worth It?

 

There is a lot of debate about disease-specific health insurance plans like cancer insurance. Some people firmly support them, while others believe that they are “junk plans” sold on fear. Here are some points to consider when thinking about buying a cancer insurance plan:

  • What is your cancer risk? Do you have a strong, familial history of cancer? If so, cancer insurance might be a solid decision. Those with a strong family history of cancer may want to take a look at their current policy and see how cancer insurance may complement their current policy. Remember, cancer insurance only kicks in if you are diagnosed with cancer. It will not provide any coverage for other common, chronic diseases.
  • Would upgrading my current health insurance plan be a better idea? Choosing to upgrade your current policy may be a better alternative to buying a cancer protection plan, especially for those who are at average risk of developing cancer. It may cost less to upgrade your current plan than adding an additional cancer policy. Perhaps most importantly, upgrading your existing policy would provide a wider range of coverage benefits than a cancer-specific policy.
  • Remember that two policies may not equal double the coverage. Having a basic comprehensive health insurance plan along with a cancer insurance plan does not necessarily mean that you will get double the benefits. Most major insurance policies have a coordination of benefits clause that states that it won’t cover expenses that the other plan does. By purchasing cancer insurance, you may be degrading the coverage of your primary health insurance policy!

 

Before You Buy

 

Before purchasing a cancer insurance plan, it is important that you understand exactly what is covered in the policy. You should also compare the benefits to your current health insurance plan to see if and where there is any overlap in coverage or redundancies. There is no sense in buying a cancer insurance policy if your current policy covers most or all of the same expenses.

 

If after careful consideration you decide that a cancer insurance policy may be the right move for your and your family, get in touch with your insurance agent who can help you work out exactly how much coverage you need. Many plans are available and comparing them is highly recommended. This includes shopping around for other types of insurance plans like long-term disability insurance, which may be a better option for you than cancer-specific protection.

Highest regards,

Stacia

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Disability Insurance: The Omitted Employee Benefit

You may have noticed the three letter code LTD on your paycheck next to a small dollar amount that is deducted every period. It stands for long-term disability insurance, and it pays to have it to help continue to provide for your family if you become injured or ill. Unfortunately, many employees go without it. Despite more and more employees offering long-term disability insurance as a benefit to their employees, the number of employees who opt-in is going down.

The Council for Disability Awareness, a group that represents 19 member insurance insurance companies, found this troubling trend in its latest review of claims data in 2013. Over 213,000 employers offer long-term disability through those companies, which is a slight increase from data collected in 2011. Yet the number of employees receiving the coverage declined approximately 1.5% to 32.1 million last year.  

Barry Lundquist, president of the council, cites a couple reasons for this change: primarily that employers are focused on compliance with the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance provisions, which causes employers to decide to deal with other benefits like disability later.

Additionally, employers only offer disability insurance as a voluntary benefit, meaning that the employee pays the full cost. Historically, the employer has paid for it, or paid a portion. In that case, the employees would be automatically enrolled. With voluntary plans, enrollment stagnates at about 40%, Lundquist says.

Likely due to the improving economy, the number of people receiving long-term disability payments declined for the second year in a row. Yet total claim payments increased by 1.6% to $9.8 billion in 2013.

If you do have disability insurance, it is important to determine what you do have and if it’s enough. A typical benefit would be 60% of your salary, up to a $5,000 monthly payout. Check if your employer allows you to buy more coverage (extra premiums can be really cheap). If your employer coverage isn’t enough, consider buying a personal policy.

Highest regards,

Stacia

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Does Your Team Feel More Stressed These Days?

Workers are feeling more and more stressed these days. That isn’t really surprising. But what is phenomenal is the devastation stress leaves in its path for both employees and employers. 78% of employers believe stress is a problem within their staff, states Jan Bruce, CEO and co-founder of Boston-based meQuilibrium, a digital coaching platform. In fact, employers are noticing the symptoms; lower participation, not showing up for work, lower productivity, and wellness programs with low enrollment and success rates. It’s obvious why employers are realizing they need to make changes.

 

One of the newer trends emerging is resilience building and mindfulness training programs. The purpose of these programs is to help people identify the root of their stress and train them to change the way they think about these triggers. This trend might be the next big thing, as these programs attempt to offer a long-term solutions for stress rather than quick fixes, says meQuilibrium, one of the providers of such providers.

 

“We’ve got a sea change in the prevalence of stress in the workplace, and EAP and behavioral programs only scratch the surface of in terms of utilization,” Bruce says. “So, more and more employers are turning to a resilience solution as a foundation for their health, wellness and human capital management programs.”

 

The National Business Group on Health is finding similar figures, saying it’s own survey data finds that improving resiliency and lowering stress one of the top five behaviors employers say they are focused on in 2016.

 

This viewpoint is shared by meQuilibrium, which backs up the success of its resilience programs with newly released data. The data examines answers from 2,000 employees who took part in the company’s proprietary resilience assessment.

 

The findings, meQuilibrium says, underscore that employers who work to improve resilience within their employee base will develop a “more engaged, healthy and productive workforce.”

More specifically, key findings of the data include:

  • Stress: Highly resilient workers have 46% less perceived stress than low resilience workers.
  • Absenteeism: Compared to highly resilient workers, twice as many employed individuals with low resilience have reported one to three absences in the past month.
  • Intent to quit: Individuals with low resilience are twice as likely as those with high resilience to quit in the next six months.
  • Job satisfaction: Four times as many highly resilient workers are highly satisfied with their jobs, compared to those with resilience scores in the bottom quartile.
  • Physical health: Employees with low resilience are more than twice as likely to be overweight and twice as likely to report a hospital stay in the past year.

Highest regards,

Stacia

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