by ckistler | Apr 8, 2021 | Employee Benefits, Group Benefit Plans
According to WebMD, the eyes are the most highly developed sensory organs in your body. They report that more of your brain is dedicated to the sense of sight than to all of the other senses combined. So, it makes sense that you would do all that you can to protect and care for these important organs. Vision insurance can be a great asset as you work keep your eyes healthy.
What is vision insurance?
Vision insurance is an insurance product used to reduce the costs of eye-related care, eye products, and eye surgeries. Group vision plans are typically purchased through employers, associations, or government programs like Medicare or Medicaid. Sometimes, vision plans are part of a value-added benefit that is linked to the subscriber’s health insurance. Plan subscribers usually receive free eye care, like annual eye exams, and a fixed discount on eye wear in exchange for a monthly premium. This type of coverage is recommended for people who need vision correction devices, who have a family history of eye issues, or for those who have a higher risk of eye disease, like diabetics.
What is a vision discount program?
Different from vision insurance, a vision discount program gives users discounts on eye exam services and products. The monthly premium is lower for discount programs but does not generally include free annual eye exams like vision insurance does. When the user buys into the discount program, they become a member of a large group for whom the program administrators have negotiated lower costs. Discount programs are most useful for those without pre-existing eye conditions.
What are the benefits of having vision coverage?
As mentioned before, your eyes are the most complex sensory organ in your body. Because of this, they are important to keep healthy and in good working condition. Vision coverage allows the user to have annual eye exams. At these exams, the optometrist determines if you need corrective lenses to improve your eyesight by means of glasses or contact lenses. The doctor will also check for eye diseases. Exams can even detect hidden medical conditions like brain tumors, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, or thyroid disease. If a medical condition is detected, the optometrist will refer the patient to a medical doctor for further tests and treatment.
Vision insurance and discount programs play a huge part in keeping your eyes healthy. Through regular eye exams, not only are your eyes evaluated, but the health of the rest of your body is, too. By scheduling eye exams, you are also able to obtain corrective eye wear that allow you to see clearer and without eye strain. Healthy vision is a benefit you don’t want to lose!
by ckistler | Mar 30, 2021 | Benefit Management, Human Resources
Just as with any good, healthy relationship, communication with employees is key. Only communicating with employees regarding their benefits package during open enrollment will most definitely result in them not taking full advantage of all it has to offer. In an effort to assist employees in understanding and maximizing their benefits, companies should use a year-round benefits engagement strategy. Let’s explore some simple ways to set up your annual communication plan.
START WITH THE END IN MIND
As you begin crafting your engagement plan, think of the overall goal you want to accomplish. Perhaps you simply want your employees to be better educated on their plan offerings. Maybe you’d like to reduce the number of questions that employees ask during open enrollment meetings. Or, maybe you want your employees to utilize a certain plan benefit that has been historically underused resulting in higher costs to the employee or the company. Whatever the case, first set your goal for the communication plan.
CREATE A CALENDAR
Now that you have an end-goal in mind, start thinking of how frequently you want to communicate. Schedule your communication moments to post consistently. Maybe you start a “Benefits Minute” that hits the first Monday of the month. Or, start a “Benefits Blog” that posts every other Friday. Whatever the case, make the communication happen on a schedule so that employees know when to expect it and know what it’s called.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Wordy emails, drawn-out meetings, and forever long phone messages will quickly get ignored and deleted. Instead, follow this simple formula when crafting your communication:
- Here’s what you need to know about your benefits.
Give a quick overview of the benefit you are focusing on for this particular communication.
- Here’s why it’s important that you know this.
In a few short sentences, explain how this benefit benefits the employee whether it be a cost savings, time savings, or simply a great help to them.
3. Here’s what you need to do to find out more.
Provide a way to find out more information on this benefit by giving a link, an email address, or a phone number.
MIX UP YOUR COMMUNICATION STYLE
Communication isn’t one-size-fits-all. People learn in different ways—some may be visual learners while others may be oral learners. Make sure you mix up the way you communicate to cover both types. Also, change up the method of communication. Try emails, explainer videos, printed flyers, and quick, stand-up meetings. By using a variety of methods, you are able to engage a broader audience since your company is comprised of a range of ages, genders, learners, and tech users.
Engaging in a regular, year-round communication strategy for explaining employee benefits will support both the company as well as the employee. Set your strategy in motion by following the simple tips shared here. And, when you do this, you will see that your employees will reap the benefits of a healthy understanding of their benefit plan.
by ckistler | Mar 23, 2021 | Human Resources, Workplace
There has been so much written on leadership in the last year, it’s hard to keep track of it all. Leaders should be storytellers, communicators, holistic, strategic, encouraging, creative, conservative, risk taking, ethical, competitive, inspiring and a whole host of other attributes.
There are countless books currently available on the subject, and it would not surprise me if there were close to over half a million articles on the subject. It is the bread and butter of every consulting firm throughout the world. With so much content offering thought and insight, you have to wonder why leadership still an issue?
The answer lies with culture. The entire purpose of leadership is to create a culture. In a large and well-established organization, it can be difficult for an outsider to implement a new culture. So, does leadership create a culture or does culture create leadership? The answer to both questions is yes.
Culture Affecting Leadership
“I have been here 25 years,” said the director of a large municipality. “I have outlasted three city managers so far, and I will outlast this one.” This is the attitude many leaders face, especially when they are brought in from outside organizations to run or manage large, well-established ones.
The negative cultures can especially undermine positive leadership as initiatives are actively undermined by managers who have a stake in the old culture or struggle to accept the changes inherent in the modern workplace. Whether it’s through manipulation or complacency, negative cultures can create significant challenges for change. At the same time, positive leadership can overcome negative culture and turn the tide over time. A few encouraging results and positive experiences can go a long way.
Negative leadership, however, can have a fast, dramatic effect on a positive culture. WorldCom was a telecom leader and had a very innovative culture until Bernie Ebbers took over. While squeezing every cent he could from the environment and putting pressure on employees to work harder with less, he was pillaging the company. Turnover soared and, within a few years, WorldCom was bankrupt.
Culture as a Function of Leadership
Companies reflect the ethics of the leaders who run them. We’ve seen in recent times the reaction employees and the public have to companies who fail to address their stance on social issues, harassment, pay gaps and whose political leanings go against what employees view to be the common good.
As a result, leaders find themselves having to publicly make statements condemning systemic racism, political violence and other topics that aren’t easy to talk about without offending someone or putting oneself at risk. But ultimately, the ethical stands a leader takes becomes a part of the organization’s culture.
Bob Page felt like an outsider and had to hide his sexuality. When he built Replacements, Ltd., he ensured everyone it would be a place that accepted diversity—not just of lifestyle but of thought—and would invest in building their community. Anita Roddick founded The Body Shop to build an environmentally-friendly corporation, which reflected her commitment to environmental activism. Jim Goodnight’s commitment to work-life balance is part of the culture at SAS, the largest privately-held company in the world. Jack Welch’s commitment to being the best created an environment of excellence at General Electric. In each of these cases, the ethics of the leader became a central part of the culture.
The Obstacles to Culture Change
The real obstacles to culture change are internal obstacles. False ego, fear, complacency and preconceived ideas create a negative environment. When change is introduced there is resistance, even when the change is positive. People learn different coping mechanisms to avoid the change, such as hiding behind procedures, “water cooler” talk or actively undermining the initiative.
The remote work landscape changes some of this as employee communications can be more easily monitored and there are fewer “water cooler” moments on offer to begin with. But negativity can me a bit like trying to contain water in an enclosed space. If there’s a place for it to leak through, it likely will. The question then becomes how leadership can have a positive impact on the culture of an organization?
Ways Leadership Can Positively Affect Culture
People are inspired by vision. They want to follow a leader who shows concerns and values that are important to them. A positive leader will inspire 100% effort from everybody. Here are some signs of a good leader and how the leader affects the culture:
- Visionaries and strategic thinkers: A boss tells you what to do, while a leader inspires you to want to do it. Leaders who lay out a vision that people buy into and a strategy that they understand will create a culture of engagement. People know where the organization is headed, how it will get there and their role in helping achieve the vision.
- Ethics that support values: People look at what you do and not what you say. Values are words, ethics are actions. When leaders demonstrate values through their actions, they lead by example and create an ethical culture.
- Empowerment: There are three requirements for: responsibility, accountability and authority. Leaders who empower people to make decisions that affect their lives, give them the authority to act and make them take responsibility for consequences create leadership on all levels of the organization. Micromanaging means people are not entrusted to be leaders and very little gets done because all decisions need to be made by one person.
By David Whiting
Originally posted on hrexchangenetwork.com.
by ckistler | Mar 16, 2021 | Financial Planning
About half of all Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Along with exercising more and eating better, many people aim to get a better handle on their finances.
If you’re in that camp, we’re here to help. Here are some surefire steps to create a more financially secure future for you and your loved ones.
- Create a budget.
The first step toward getting financially fit is to create a budget. Everyone needs an understanding of how much they’re earning, how much they’re spending, and how they’re going to meet their current and future financial goals. The Federal Trade Commission has information on how to create a budget. Once you outline your budget, make sure to stick to it. Also make sure to regularly revisit it and adjust it as needed.
- Control and minimize debt.
Your budget will help you keep track of where your money is going. It will also help you identify areas where you’re overspending. It’s critical to cut out any excess spending. Also work to minimize your debt load. So long as you have debt, you’ll be responsible for paying interest. (So definitely make an effort to pay more than the minimum on your credit card each month!) Set goals to pay off your debt and track your progress.
3. Automate an emergency fund.
An emergency fund is money you set aside for unforeseen expenses. They could be an unexpected home or car repair or a job loss. Most financial professionals recommend having three to six months of basic living expenses in an emergency fund. However, it takes time to build those funds. Automate the process by having part of your paycheck deposited into a special emergency fund account. You can also have your bank automatically transfer funds to a savings account earmarked for emergency expenses. Even a small amount each week can help you get there.
- Get life insurance to protect your loved ones and review it annually.
Life insurance provides your loved ones with money to maintain their lifestyle if you die. This money is known as the death benefit and it can replace your income, pay off debts like a mortgage, and cover funeral costs. It can also help with future expenses like college tuition, retirement, and much more. Experts recommend having life insurance that equals between 10 to 15 times your gross income. For a working idea of how much you need, use an online calculator like the Life Insurance Needs Calculator. Then work with an insurance professional to explore your options and get the right coverage. Make sure to review your life insurance annually or after a big life change like buying a new house, having a baby, or changing jobs.
- Protect your paycheck with disability insurance and review it annually.
Disability insurance is one of the best ways to protect your most important asset: your paycheck. Disability insurance typically replaces 50% to 70% of your earnings if you’re unable to work due to a disabling illness or injury. An easy way to calculate how much you might need is to use an online calculator like the Disability Insurance Needs Calculator. Make sure to review your coverage with your HR department or insurance professional as your salary increases.
- Keep beneficiaries up to date.
It’s important to update the beneficiaries on your financial accounts like your life insurance or 401(k). This is especially true after major life events such as a marriage, divorce, birth, or death. Not having the right beneficiary can lead to money going to the wrong person or delays in disbursing money.
- Put a will in place.
A will is a document that allows you to specify certain things after you die. They can include how your assets will be distributed, who will make sure your wishes are carried out, and who will take care of any minor children. Without a will, the state could decide who gets your children and more. Fortunately, the process of creating a will is not as complicated as many people believe. And it’s well worth it since it spares your loved ones from all kinds of headaches. A lawyer can help you create a will and discuss other issues like power of attorney.
8. Save for retirement.
Tap into any available resources to help grow your retirement nest egg. That includes enrolling in your company’s 401(k) plan or looking into other retirement savings options like an IRA. Definitely take advantage of any “matching funds” your company makes to your 401(k) contributions. Matching funds are like “free money.” What’s more, the contributions you make to your 401(k) reduce your taxable income.
Make 2021 the year you become financially fit by following these steps. Each one will create a better, more protected future for you and your loved ones.
By Marvin Feldman
Originally posted on lifehappens.org
by ckistler | Mar 9, 2021 | Human Resources
In an ideal world, communication would be easy. We’d immediately know exactly what to say or write. Emails, Slack messages, and reply threads would practically write themselves. And there’d be no confusion about what anyone meant, ever.
Of course, communication never works that way. We stare at the computer screen trying to decide how to begin an email. We misspeak or garble our words. We don’t always convey exactly what we intend. We misunderstand, overlook, or forget information we’ve been given. We also sometimes read emotions into words that weren’t what the writer was feeling. Or we pack our speech with such an emotional punch that it distracts from the point we’re trying to make.
Written communication often exacerbates these issues, a fact that has many leaders worried since more people are working remotely and relying on the written word to do their jobs. It’s no secret that we spend far too much time on email and other communication tools.
Fortunately, you don’t necessarily need to hire a writing coach to teach your employees better writing skills—although this can in some cases be a good idea. You can significantly improve communication in your organization by asking your employees to consider the following practices in their written communications:
Break up long sentences and paragraphs. A big unbroken block of text is likely to befuddle your reader before they even get to the first word. Long sentences and paragraphs also make comprehension and retention of information much more difficult. Note the differences in these two communications:
Sample 1: I support the goals outlined in the proposal you sent to me yesterday, especially the need to better define appropriate metrics around the solicitation of customer satisfaction scores, and I want to thank you for the thought you gave to proposing workable solutions, but I’m not sure if all of the proposed solutions will work at this time. Let’s discuss it all at our next check-in.
Sample 2: Thank you for sending the proposal yesterday. I appreciate the thought you put into it. I agree with you about the goals, especially what you wrote about customer satisfaction scores. The solutions you proposed, however, may be a challenge to implement right away. Let’s discuss the proposal at our next check-in.
These samples provide the same information, but the second is easier to follow and digest.
Use clear, concrete terms. Vague words, convoluted ideas, and broad generalizations make for easy miscommunication. Your reader will be more likely to understand your meaning if your language is specific. Remember too that just because something is clear to you doesn’t necessarily mean it will be clear to your reader. Compare these two statements:
Sample 1: Would you be able to review the thing I sent you earlier?
Sample 2: Here’s the letter for Anil I told you about this morning. Would you be able to proofread it for typos by the end of the day?
The first sample is likely to cause confusion and frustration if the recipient has recently received a lot of “things” from the writer or other people. In contrast, the second sample makes the context and the requested task clear to the reader.
Provide context and direction when adding someone to a conversation. Most of us have had the experience of receiving a forwarded email that we’re not immediately sure what to do with. Should we keep it as a reference? Read through the thread? Respond in some way? We haven’t been told. Don’t do this. You should clue the reader in to what the conversation entails and what they need to know and do in response. Compare:
Sample 1: Please see below. What do you think?
Sample 2: Please read through the conversation below and note the product request from Oliver. Is that something you can add to your work this week?
The first sample is likely to prompt the recipient to weigh in on the wrong subject or ask the writer for clarification before responding, wasting valuable time either way. The second sample gives clear instruction, saving time.
Avoid unnecessary details. While some context is useful, too much can overwhelm the reader and add to the time it takes for the communication to be written, read, and acted on.
Sample 1: I ran into Lindsay in the lunchroom and asked her about the Paterson deal. She asked me to follow up with her after her lunch break, which I did, and she gave me permission to start on the outline. She seemed a little aggravated that I interrupted her lunch. Anyway, I need to respond to a few emails before I get started on it, but I will get to it after and have it to you and her by close of business today.
Sample 2: I got the go ahead from Lindsay on the Paterson deal. I’m working on the outline and will email it to you and her by close of business today.
The first sample likely has too much information. The writer may have felt like including the extra details because they felt bad about asking Lindsay to work on her lunch break, but unless there’s a good reason for the recipient to know those details, they’re best left out.
Save difficult or emotionally intense conversations for calls, video conferences, or in-person meetings. These conversations usually require more finesse than written text can provide. If you anticipate a strong emotional response to what you have to say, or if you believe the person with whom you’ll be communicating may read strong emotions into what you have to say, don’t write to them. Talk it through instead. Let them hear your voice and listen carefully to theirs.
By Kyle Cupp
Originally posted on Thinkhr.com