DOL Reintroduces 17 Opinion Letters

On Jan. 5, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) reintroduced 17 opinion letters. The letters were introduced by the Wage and Hour Division during the George W. Bush administration in response to specific employer compliance questions, such as whether “on-call” hours for ambulance personnel are considered as compensable time under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The letters were withdrawn in 2009, shortly after their introduction.

Addressing compliance questions through opinion letters is a more relaxed approach than the administrative interpretations issued by the Obama administration.

Opinion Letters

Opinion letters provide the DOL’s official opinion on how labor and employment laws apply in specific situations.

The DOL issues opinion letters after receiving an employer’s request for clarification on how the law should be interpreted in specific scenarios. For example, multiple opinion letters present the DOL’s opinion on whether FLSA exemptions apply to specific employment positions.

As a result, opinion letters are fact-specific and employers can rely on them for guidance to the extent that the facts in their circumstances align with the scenarios described in the letter.

Publishing opinion letters is a labor-intensive process and employers that request one may need to wait several months to receive a response from the DOL. In addition, while the DOL reviews all opinion letter requests, it has traditionally only answered a few, at its discretion. The DOL has published instructions on how to request opinion letters on its website.

Impact on Employers

Opinion letters can be extremely helpful for employers that are trying to understand their legal responsibilities, particularly in areas where the law seems to be outdated or where compliance with one legal obligation interferes with compliance with another.

Indeed, employers that receive an answer to their request can rely on the answer they receive in their efforts to comply with their legal obligations. Employers are also encouraged to review past opinion letters and other DOL guidance to obtain a clearer understanding of their obligations.

However, an employer that seeks the DOL’s opinion regarding a specific situation should understand the risk that the DOL may not agree with its practices, so employers should consider this alternative carefully.

In addition, while employers can rely on an opinion letter, employers should also remember that opinion letters are merely guidance—they are not the law, and they are not binding. This means that DOL inspectors, auditors and judges may disagree with opinion letters and find noncompliance even when the employer is following the advice given by an opinion letter.

Good Faith Defense

However, employers that rely on opinion letters may be able to establish a good faith defense under the law. The good faith defense principle allows noncompliant employers to minimize the risk of penalties if they can prove they were making an honest effort to comply with the law.

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Why a Strong Employee/Employer Relationship Is Important

Tied to the success of a company is the loyalty of its customers. While this customer-first mentality is necessary for the continuation of a company, employers sometimes forget to honor another intrinsic element of success and growth — the employee and employer relationship.

Employers are not drill sergeants who belt out orders for employees to follow. Why waste all that employee talent by burning them out? Work to build a strong and positive relationship with your employees, and they will grow as professionals and give back tenfold.

  1. Rethink Hierarchy: Help Employees Navigate the Organization

Employees have a place in the hierarchy of the company, but that doesn’t mean anyone should feel less than another or be demoralized. Every leader must understand the functions of their organization and its politics. Your organization’s culture sets the precedent for the professional personalities it hires. It should be clear to each employee why they were hired and why they are the best fit for a particular role.

Unfortunately, many employees simply exist in the vacuum of a cubicle and may not grow out of it. They feel boxed in and clueless about how to navigate the hierarchy and how to climb the ladder of success. An employee may need hand-holding or to be left alone, but that’s not the employee’s fault.

An employer has to find a way to meet them in the middle. Each employee has a hierarchy of needs that should be addressed, such as good benefits to meet basic needs, a positive work environment, a sense of place to develop a feeling of belonging and a way to become professionally self-actualized.

  1. Invest in Employee Networks and Loyalty

Just because you’ve moved up the ladder as a leader doesn’t mean you stop building relationships with those around you, including those under your supervision. You are a model of success for your employees, and you never know where your paths will lead or cross in the future.

Do your employees feel they can trust you? Do you empower and equip them with tools necessary to boost their influence and opportunities for success? Employee interoffice relationships and networks sculpt their reputation over the course of their careers.

Invest in employee networks to build loyalty and employee morale. Leaders should encourage networking inside and outside of the office. By strengthening influential networks, your employees will feel confident about their professional objectives and goals. They must learn that even professional relationships are not mutual all the time, and this negative exchange should be avoided. Loyalty is earned and learned when employees align with others who reciprocate support in networking, and that’s first gained from the employer.

Leaders should look at their own professional paths as an example for personal consideration. Name three others that have been in your network for years, and ask yourself if these are reciprocal relationships. Retrace the steps of your career, and remember leaders who held you back and why. Don’t be that leader. When employees climb the ladder, they will be in your network. Maintain reciprocal relationships with your employees, and teach them to do the same with others in their network.

  1. Broaden the Scope of Employee Experience

Don’t let employees become bored with their jobs. Of course, there are mundane tasks to every role that feel like chores, but employees should be allowed to challenge their knowledge. Let employees develop their skills by teaching them how to do the job of a leader. Broadening the scope of an employee’s experience prepares them for what comes next in their career, and they won’t fall short of expectations or feel their ambitions are neglected by an employer they trusted.

Many employers feel an employee should only understand what’s in their job description and nothing beyond fulfilling those duties. Wasn’t that why the employee was hired in the first place? An excellent leader sees the employee for their ambition and ability to grow, and then teaches them about the ecosystem of the workplace to advance.

Encourage employees to step up to the plate, beyond being a bench warmer, and take a swing at a big project or pitch an idea at a meeting. When an employee has the confidence to speak out and act independently, they gain the confidence to take risks, make involved decisions and lead.

Strong employee/employer relationships are vital to the success of the organization. The people and their relationships behind the scenes are the gears that move the mechanism of your company.

When your employees do their jobs well, achieve a new goal or do something successfully, reward them with networking opportunities and better benefits. Make the employee and employer relationship a strong and reciprocal one to be remembered for an entire career.

 

Read the original article.

Source:
Craig W. (20 September 2017). "Why a Strong Employee/Employer Relationship Is Important" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.forbes.com/sites/williamcraig/2017/09/20/why-a-strong-employeeemployer-relationship-is-important/#480edb564d91


The 10 Smartest Things To Look For In Every New Hire

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If you’re hiring a new member of your team, congratulations. You have a business that is thriving enough to need more hands. But be prepared, as the shortage of highly skilled workers means finding and retaining quality, creative employees, which can be pretty tough.

According to a 2017 Creative Group study:

41% of surveyed advertising and marketing executives say it’s challenging to find creative talent today.

52% of advertising and marketing executives say they are concerned about retaining their current creative staff in the next 12 months.

For any company, especially companies that do creative work, the people you hire are your most important asset. So how do you hire the right ones (and avoid the wrong ones)?

It can be easy to become overly focused on things like previous employers, degrees and awards — the stuff that may pique a hiring manager’s interest during the applicant-screening process. But in my decade of experience hiring people for our creative agency, I’ve learned that the key to hiring the right people is starting with a clear understanding of the attributes you want in a new hire: the values, characteristics, personality traits and beliefs that will make them an active agent, not a passive employee.

When you hire someone, you aren’t just adding a body. You are introducing a new element to your culture, your work and your skillset. They will become a conduit for your company’s vision and values, and they will influence — and be influenced by — the people around them, for better or worse. That’s why finding people with the right foundation is everything.

After hiring many roles, both successfully and poorly, I’ve distilled the 10 traits that I think are most important for a new hire — beyond their resume.

1. Hunger: Experience is important and necessary for most roles you hire for. However, you don’t want people who have already accomplished everything and are just looking to coast. The best people want to grow, no matter where they are.

2. Humility: Accomplishments are impressive, but they become less so if someone constantly brags about them. You want to hire team players who want everyone to get the glory (and don’t leave passive-aggressive notes in the kitchen about how the dirty dishes in the sink inconvenienced them). Also, look for people who understand the difference between humility and false humility. To quote C.S. Lewis, real humility is someone who “will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all."

3. Intelligence (Intellectual And Emotional): Book smarts are good. Street smarts are better. Both are ideal. The best employees have not only the technical ability but also the intuition and common sense to get things done — without oversight — under what are sometimes very stressful circumstances.

4. Self-Awareness: Self-awareness is vital when interacting with other people, whether it’s clients, coworkers or colleagues. Understanding your actions and how they are interpreted and make others feel, is often the difference between being someone who is a pleasure or a pain to work with. The good news is this trait is pretty easy to assess in an interview.

5. Curiosity: An unknown source once said, “Knowledge is having the right answer. Intelligence is asking the right question.” To grow, improve and work more efficiently, you need people who are interested in challenging old paradigms, testing, experimenting and learning. That all comes down to interest and curiosity. Great hires will proactively ask questions and seek out information to make the right decisions or suggest new ideas.

6. Scrappiness: Our company was a bootstrapped startup founded by three broke 20-something guys, so scrappiness is built into our DNA. But it’s an employee trait that benefits any organization. You want people who can get stuff done when things aren’t easy, who can always find a way and who don’t need you to hold their hand.

7. Resilience: Failure and frustrations are inevitable in creative work — even on a daily or weekly basis. People who have defied odds, made interesting career switches or taught themselves new things already come equipped with demonstrated resilience. When you go through a rough patch, as every company does, you’ll be grateful that you have people who are willing and able to weather a storm or two instead of jumping ship at the first sign of difficulty.

8. Flexibility: People who are willing to embrace change, who can dig in and help others out — even when a task isn’t technically in their job description — are the secret to helping a company evolve. At our company, we have many people who’ve held several different positions, some of which span across multiple departments, in just a few years. Their flexibility and knowledge benefits each new team and makes us stronger as a whole.

9. Kindness: No one wants to work with an unpleasant person — even if that person is highly capable. Note, however, that being kind is different from being nice. According to Merriam-Webster, "nice" is defined as: "1. pleasant; agreeable; satisfactory. 2. fine or subtle. 3. fastidious; scrupulous." The same source defines "kind" as: "having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature. Affectionate; loving." Being nice is fine; being kind is absolutely necessary.

10. Passion For What We Do: A truly successful company, no matter the size, is full of people who are invested in the cause, vision and values. Even if you’re a small operation without the same financial resources as your competitors, the only way to build a healthy, happy organization is to hire passionate people who share your vision.

To quote Shafqat Islam, the CEO of NewsCred, in the company's public culture document, under the "People" section, he writes: “This is the only thing that matters — we can screw up in everything else, but if we hire the best people, things will work out. A great team with a bad idea can still execute and make it work. A bad team with a great idea will fail every time.”

 

Read the original article.

Source:
Ritchie J. (6 December 2017). "The 10 Smartest Things To Look For In Every New Hire" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2017/12/06/the-10-smartest-things-to-look-for-in-every-new-hire/#30d66c776704

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7 Ways Employers Can Support Older Workers And Job Seekers

With all the focus on helping the younger generation achieve success in their careers, let's not forget to support our older workers and job seekers. Read this post for 7 tips for employers to help support older workers.

Credit: Shutterstock

With the unemployment rate (4.1%) at its lowest since 2000, employers are struggling to retain their best workers and attract qualified new ones. Although their efforts are often directed at Millennials, in places where people in their 20s and 30s are increasingly hard to find, employers are equally focused on people in their 50s and 60s.

For example, in May, more than 170 New England employers, policymakers and business leaders came together for an event notably titled, Gray is the New Green: Unleashing the Power of Older Workers and Volunteers to Build a Stronger Northern New England. And at a recent Manchester, N.H., workforce strategies event, AARP-N.H. State Director Todd Fahey urged HR professionals to talk with older employees about the possibility of continuing to work on a flexible basis after they hit the traditional retirement age of 65.

As a boomer and a career coach, I’m heartened by this turn of the events. Of course, I’m not so naïve as to think age discrimination is over. I agree with what Chris Farrell just said in a Next Avenue post: “Older workers still face a serious uphill climb in the job market in many respects.”

So how can employers do a better job of finding, retaining and supporting older job applicants and employees?

To find out, I interviewed Greg Voorheis, the mature worker program coordinator and Governor’s Award coordinator for the state of Vermont. I also watched a video he conducted with executives from the 2017 Governor's Award winner, Chroma Technology Group, a manufacturing firm in the biotech space, based in Bellows Fall, Vt. Incidentally, workers 55 and over currently make up nearly 30% of Vermont's workforce.

7 Tips for Supporting Older Workers and Job Seekers

Here are seven tips from Voorheis and Chroma:

1. Advertise job openings in newspapers in addition to online outlets. “One of the things we’ve learned over the years is that the mature population still really likes written material, like newspapers,” says Voorheis.

The Chroma Technology Group advertises its openings in print and welcomes hard copy applications to accommodate people who might not be comfortable applying online.

2. Display photos and videos of older people in recruitment marketing materials. That helps make it very clear that all ages are welcome to apply.

3. Cut down on ageism by using a group-interview model. HR departments are often staffed by younger workers, and that can result in unnecessary age bias — conscious or otherwise. This is why Chroma uses teams of four to eight people to do its hiring. “That way, no one person’s perspective carries too much weight. And if there are biases, they are minimized,” says the company's HR director, Angela Earle Gray.

4. Encourage mentoring. When older workers mentor younger workers, that helps the employees and it’s good for the company, too.

“Experience is an important thing to pass on,” says Chroma President Paul Millman. “Work habits, ways of doing things, and attitudes towards work all mature over time.”

Chroma uses peer work trainers to both help onboard employees and to continue mentoring them until they’re able to demonstrate competency in their new roles.

5. Provide ample training for older workers. Experienced employees are usually eager to get training that will keep their skills sharp and make them more employable. Yet sometimes employers hesitate to provide it because they worry about the return on investment for workers who might retire soon. Chroma takes a different tack by encouraging all workers to seek training opportunities.

“If you can show us how that is going to benefit you, we’ll find a way to get you that training, or something similar,” says Gray.

6. Offer flexible work arrangements.Voorheis says seasonal work, such as the snowbird programs offered at IBM, can be especially attractive to older workers.

Even though Chroma prefers employees to work full-time, it offers telecommuting and flextime to accommodate workers’ needs. And when staffers have needed to go part-time for a stretch, the company has tried to make that work. “We’re not fond of ridding ourselves of employees,” says Millman.

Sabbaticals are another popular option at Chroma. Long-term employees have the option to take an extended leave, for up to 11 weeks. The leave is unpaid, but the company continues to pay for medical and dental coverage.

7. Provide a wide range of benefits. Chroma also offers generous retirement benefits, company stock and a variety of wellness programs, including reimbursement for gym memberships and fitness programs. It runs monthly employee education programs, too, on topics like retirement planning, wellness and advance-care planning.

“We take very good care of mature workers at Chroma,” says Gray. “But it was never a conscious choice to do that. The conscious choice was to take very good care of all our employees.”

Voorheis echoes that sentiment, saying: “Good behaviors and programs that benefit mature workers benefit workers of all ages

 

Read the original article.

Source:
Collamer N. (27 November 2017). "7 Ways Employers Can Support Older Workers And Job Seekers" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2017/11/27/7-ways-employers-can-support-older-workers-and-job-seekers/#443ed6745ff0

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With Below Average Cost, Increasing Enrollment, CDHPs Have Big Impact

According to the UBA Health Plan Survey, enrollment in CDHPs continues to grow in most regions. Receive information like this but customized to your business by taking our Benchmark Survey.


When most experts think of group healthcare plans, Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans largely come to mind—though higher cost, they dominate the market in terms of plan distribution and employee enrollment. But Consumer-Directed Health Plans (CDHPs) have made surprising gains. Despite slight cost increases, CDHP costs are still below average and prevalence and enrollment in these plans continues to grow in most regions—a main reason why it was one of the top 7 survey trends recently announced.

In 2017, 28.6% of all plans are CDHPs. Regionally, CDHPs account for the following percentage of plans offered:

Prevalence of CDHP Plans

CDHPs have increased in prevalence in all regions except the West. The North Central U.S. saw the greatest increase (13.2%) in the number of CDHPs offered. Looking at size and industry variables, several groups are flocking to CDHPs:

Regional offering of CDHPs

When it comes to enrollment, 31.5% of employees enroll in CDHP plans overall, an increase of 19.3% from 2016, after last year’s stunning increase of 21.7% from 2015. CDHPs see the most enrollment in the North Central U.S. at 46.3%, an increase of 40.7% over 2016. For yet another year in the Northeast, CDHP prevalence and enrollment are nearly equal; CDHP prevalence doesn’t always directly correlate to the number of employees who choose to enroll in them. Though the West held steady in the number of CDHPs offered, there was a 2.6% decrease in the number of employees enrolled. The 12.6% increase in CDHP prevalence in the North Central U.S. garnered a large 40.7% increase in enrollment. CDHP interest among employers isn’t surprising given these plans are less costly than the average plan. But like all cost benchmarks, plan design plays a major part in understanding value. The UBA survey finds the average CDHP benefits are as follows:

CDHP benefits

 

Read the original article.

Source:
Olson B. (7 December 2017). "With Below Average Cost, Increasing Enrollment, CDHPs Have Big Impact" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://blog.ubabenefits.com/with-below-average-cost-increasing-enrollment-cdhps-have-big-impact

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Top 10 Corporate Wellness Habits to Adopt During 2018

With the New Year in full swing, you may be considering how to turn your life around for the better -  drop pounds, kill unhealthy chocolate addictions, quit binging every Netflix season ever, etc... But what about making lasting habits within the workplace?

 

Too often, we make a list of resolutions, and we forget where we spend most our time. Work is work, but that doesn’t mean we can’t implement some of the changes we make in our personal lives in the workplace, as well.

 

Today, we thought we’d offer up 10 different ideas for employers (or for employees to offer to their boss) to try and implement within the workplace – from wellness challenges to recess. Try one, combine a few, or do them all! The best part about making resolutions is making them unique to yourself and your company. So, don’t be afraid to get creative!

  1. Offer healthy alternatives to traditional junk food items

 

Just a simple switch of snack foods in the office can cut unnecessary calories! Snacking on healthy items can make mindless snacking not so bad.

  1. Offer standing desks

 

This easy switch will be one of the new year’s trendiest wellness tactics. Select desk options that allow users to easily switch between standing and sitting while working to allow for better blood flow throughout the day.

PIXNIO - Image usage: Image is in public domain, not copyrighted, no rights reserved, free for any use.

  1. Try a wellness challenge

 

There’s nothing like some healthy interoffice competition to get people motivated. Select a wellness challenge that is easy and effortless to incorporate into your workplace. This could be a monthly or a weekly challenge, switch it up each month/week to keep things interesting!

 

  1. On-site yoga classes

 

Another wellness trend that will continue into 2018 is managing stress through yoga. Mindfulness and meditation offer a slew of benefits to help employees relieve stress. Invite an instructor to your office every couple of weeks to guide the team through a yoga class.

  1. Celebrate “Wellness Wednesday”

 

Make hump day something to celebrate and begin to tackle wellness in the office in a manageable way. One day a week can be a gateway to a much healthier lifestyle.

  1. Listen to your employees

Survey employees to find out what is working and what isn’t instead of wasting time and energy on things that aren’t engaging your employee population. Use a site like Survey Monkey or Google Forms to create a survey to collect feedback from employees.

  1. Participate in a 5K or other group fitness activities

Find a 5K in your community or choose another group fitness activity and cover the entry fee for anyone choosing to participate.

 

  1. Post signs near elevators and escalators encouraging employees to take the stairs instead

Sometimes just seeing this reminder is all the motivation needed to be a little more active!

  1. Schedule recess

Pick a 15-minute time of the afternoon for everyone to get away from his or her desk. Go outside, socialize with each other and enjoy some fresh air! Taking walks has also been shown to increase creativity.

  1. Reward volunteers

 

Pay your employees for any volunteer hours up to a certain amount or allot a certain amount of time each month for employees to get away from their desk and get active in the community. Ideas include volunteering at a local food bank or cleaning up a local park, beach, or trail. You’ll benefits from both team building and group physical exercise!

 

Give one or more of these ideas a try and if they work out for you, let us know! The important lesson here is to remember your work-life is just as important to better as your personal life. When it comes to New Year Resolutions, make sure they encompass every aspect of your life and definitely don’t forget to include your employees in your thoughts.

Stay healthy, have fun, and Happy New Year!

9 things to leave off your LinkedIn

In our rapid-fire digital age, the Internet has completely revamped the way we traditionally look at recruiting. Resumes are sent as PDFs, online portfolios reign supreme, and LinkedIn has become the new Facebook for recruiters in every industry.

Wondering what you shouldn’t include on your LinkedIn profile in order to appear as marketable as possible to potential employers? Read on to find out.

1. Job titles that don’t say what you really do

When trying to describe your previous positions, it works to your advantage to be as precise as possible. That way, recruiters know exactly what your skillset is, and how it might fit into their company.

2. Your age

Unfortunately, some people have reservations hiring someone they think is either too young or too old. Don’t get knocked out of the running for a job by including school graduation years or other age identifiers.

3. Bad spelling, punctuation, and grammar

When writing up descriptions of your responsibilities in each job, take care to avoid punctuation, grammar, or spelling mistakes. Look at it as a test of your writing and communication abilities—highlighted for everyone to see.

4. A goofy profile photo

Unfortunately, some people don’t seem to realize that LinkedIn is not the place to put a goofy or odd profile photo—unless you’re looking for a job at the local comedy club. Spend a little money on getting a quality headshot that will impress those who see it, not make them wonder if you’re a serious candidate.

5. References from previous positions

There’s no reason to include references with phone numbers or contact information on your LinkedIn page. If an employer is really interested in hiring you, they’ll contact you for them directly. However, do encourage people you’ve worked with or for to leave recommendations for you on your LinkedIn profile page. They can really make you stand out from other candidates.

6. Salary or pay

One of the most unprofessional things you can do is include your salary for each position you held at various companies on your LinkedIn profile page. Unless you’re asked, it doesn’t make sense to disclose such personal information on such a public platform.

7. High school jobs

Unless you just graduated from high school, then jobs you had in high school (or earlier!) don’t belong on your professional LinkedIn page. While you may have enjoyed your summer job flipping burgers or mowing lawns, it’s not going to make much of an impression on someone who’s doing the hiring for a position with much greater responsibilities. It’s much better to put your best foot forward by showcasing standout roles in more recent jobs.

8. Personal information

Refrain from adding information about your ethnicity, religious affiliation, political party, or other potentially sensitive or controversial information. Regardless of how open-minded your recruiter may be, saying less is definitely safer than saying too much when you don’t know your audience.

9. Unprofessional posts or memes

Don’t forget that your LinkedIn profile and any posts you make on LinkedIn are potentially going to be viewed by the very person who is going to interview you for your dream job. What do your posts say about you? What about those funny memes (silly cat photos and so forth) that everyone seems to be passing around today? Will they make the interviewer even more excited to make you a job offer, or stay far away?

 

Read the original article.

 

Source:

Economy P. (4 December 2017). "9 things to leave off your LinkedIn" [web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://workwell.unum.com/2017/12/9-things-to-leave-off-your-linkedin/


personalized-health-plans-aided-by-technology

Benefits to plants at your desk

 

Leaves on trees have turned, and a walk to the office often feels like a walk through an icebox. Open windows are a thing of months past. Cooped up, breathing dry indoor air, no one could blame you for feeling down.

But you can brighten your mood and boost your health by adding a plant or two to your workspace. You don’t even need much natural light or a green thumb.

Plants bring a bit of nature inside, along with other good stuff.

They make people happy, and taking care of them can make people even happier. That’s especially true if you’re digging in a garden – horticultural therapy helps sharpen memory and cognitive skills – but desk-side pruning can do wonders for your mental state too.

Plants are also terrific air purifiers.

The air in your office (and home) might be more polluted than air outside – especially if you’re in a big city. Furniture, carpet, plastic items and other synthetic materials are to blame, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Plants help by wicking away airborne chemicals and the carbon dioxide we puff out, and then give us oxygen, research from NASA shows.

Four decades ago, NASA scientists found more than 100 volatile organic compounds floating through the air of the Skylab space station. The bad stuff came from synthetic materials off-gassing low levels of chemicals such as formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene – known irritants and potential carcinogens that are in earthly buildings too.

When the chemicals are trapped in an area, people breathing within that same area can get sick because the air isn’t getting “the natural scrubbing by Earth’s complex ecosystem,” as NASA puts it.

Hail plants.

Here are two that demand next to nothing and tolerate very low light (but are just as happy with lots of it). Expect them to live for years and years, without repotting. I speak from experience, but you’ll also find them on plenty of lists and in lots of books about easy-care plants that are good for your health.

Snake Plant or Mother-In-Law’s Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata)

A sturdy plant with upright and stiff leaves. Ideally, its soil should dry out between waterings. It will grow bigger and look better if you water it as soon as the soil dries (not wait forever) and if it’s in medium light. But it still will live for months if you ignore it, and spring back to robust happiness when you give it a little love.

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
A flowing plant with vine-like stems that can easily take over your desk. Ideally, its soil should stay a little moist. But if you let the soil dry out completely, you can jolt the plant back to life with watering. It’s perfectly happy with all kinds of lighting, including florescent, but it will be fuller with better color when it gets decent natural light.

 

Read the original article.

Source:
Malek M. (4 December 2017). "Benefits to plants at your desk" [web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://workwell.unum.com/2017/12/3255/


It’s the most stressful time of the year: 5 tips to get your employees through the holidays

It’s that time of year again. Employees are preoccupied with thoughts of holiday shopping, party planning and visiting relatives, and the stress of it all can seriously impact their work. So what can you do to help?

While stress is a year-round issue, there are more obvious triggers for it around the holidays. Mark Malis, the head of global human resources at LifeWorks, assembled a list of five common causes of stressduring this time of year, and what you can do to tackle them.

1. Heavier workloads

Employees taking more days off means less time to get things done. It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed with work and holiday deadlines coming up fast.

The fix: Help your employees relax a little by making them feel valued. Let them know their hard work isn’t going unnoticed. You can even encourage employees to identify which colleagues are going the extra mile, and reward them with gifts.

2. Unhealthy eating

Plenty of sugary food options are always floating around during the holidays. All of the cookies and eggnog can really make your employees feel sluggish.

Encourage your employees to make better choices by hosting a healthy potluck. You can even turn this initiative into a weight loss competition to keep the good food choices going.

3. Finances

With the average American shopper expecting to spend almost $1,000 this holiday season, it’s no wonder money is on everyone’s mind.

Financial wellness workshops or budget planning seminars could really help your employees come up with a realistic budget and control their holiday spending. The less they’re worrying about money, the more employees will be able to focus on their work.

4. Depression

The holidays aren’t a joyful time for everyone. Some employees could be struggling with sad memories that resurface around this time of year.

When it comes to mental health, openness is always a good way to go. Encourage employees to discuss these feelings with each other in a supportive group setting. This can allow employees to help each other find solutions and make anxious workers feel less alone.

5. Illnesses

With the holiday season comes cold and flu season, too. Getting sick when you have a million things to get done can be disastrous.

It’s important to remind your employees about good hygiene practices. Make it clear that anyone who’s sick needs to stay home; the last thing you need is half the office out with the flu. Distributing handbooks or posters with tips to stay healthy can be a big help, too.

 

You can read the original article here.

Source:
Mucha R. (16 November 2017). "It’s the most stressful time of the year: 5 tips to get your employees through the holidays" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.hrmorning.com/its-the-most-stressful-time-of-the-year-5-tips-to-get-your-employees-through-the-holidays/


6 tips to balance your work, family time

Climbing the career ladder as a bachelor or bachelorette is challenging enough, but having a partner or loved ones at home can add a significant level of complexity and even some guilt. There are a few ways to help manage the constant balance.

Drop Multitasking

It may be tempting to get on a work call while you are playing with your kid or out with your spouse, but the act makes you less present for your family and your client. Instead, whenever possible, choose which one you want to focus on at that moment.

Only Make Commitments You Can Keep

Stay honest in what you are capable of, as family needs sometimes will trump work needs, and vice versa. Frank conversations are easier than broken promises, particularly if you respect that both your family and your work are of equal importance and that which takes precedence depends not just on your values, but on the circumstances of the moment.

Build in Work into Vacations

It is counterintuitive, but consider setting aside an hour or so during family days or vacations to get work done. The thoughtful act puts you on the offensive (choosing your time) rather than the defensive (worrying about getting away), raises your chances of actually being productive and allows you to get the work out of the way so you can be completely focused on your loved ones later.

Know Your Family Absolutes

Most loved ones or families have absolute priorities, like always eating dinner together or always attending a partner’s event. Discussing and establishing the non-negotiables allows you to know the boundaries and creates a level of flexibility around the less important activities.

Separate Temporary From Permanent

A month of late nights and early mornings is different than a five-year career-only focus. Honestly look at the pattern of your work at the moment, assess where things are headed and avoid panicking over what could be a short-term imbalance.

Explain Your Work to Loved Ones

It can be easier to keep work at work, but try sharing some details of your current career track with your family. Even the youngest members or the least experienced loved ones may give empathy and perhaps will show more flexibility in their own needs after they better understand why you are struggling with balancing everything in your life.

 

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Source:
Brown D. (25 September 2017). "6 tips to balance your work, family time" [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://workwell.unum.com/2017/09/6-tips-balance-work-family-time/