One of the latest things trending right now in business is the importance of office culture. When everyone in the office is working well together, productivity rises and efficiency increases. Naturally, the opposite is true when employees do not work well together and the corporate culture suffers. So, what are these barriers and what can you do to avoid them?
According to an article titled, “8 ways to ruin an office culture,” in Employee Benefit News, the ways to kill corporate culture may seem intuitive, but that doesn’t mean they still don’t happen. Here’s what organizations SHOULD do to improve their corporate culture.
Provide positive employee feedback. While it’s easy to criticize, and pointing out employees’ mistakes can often help them learn to not repeat them, it’s just as important to recognize success and praise an employee for a job well done. An “attaboy/attagirl” can really boost someone’s spirits and let them know their work is appreciated.
Give credit where credit is due. If an assistant had the bright idea, if a subordinate did all the work, or if a consultant discovered the solution to a problem, then he or she should be publicly acknowledged for it. It doesn’t matter who supervised these people, to the victor go the spoils. If someone had the guts to speak up, then he or she should get the glory. Theft is wrong, and it’s just as wrong when you take someone’s idea, or hard work, and claim it as your own.
Similarly, listen to all ideas from all levels within the company. Every employee, regardless of their position on the corporate ladder, likes to feel that their contributions matter. From the C-suite, all the way down to the interns, a genuinely good idea is always worth investigating regardless of whether the person who submitted the idea has an Ivy League degree or not. Furthermore, sometimes it takes a different perspective – like one from an employee on a different management/subordinate level – to see the best way to resolve an issue.
Foster teamwork because many hands make light work. Or, as I like to say, competition breeds contempt. You compete to get your job, you compete externally against other companies, and you may even compete against your peers for an award. You shouldn’t have to compete with your own co-workers. The winner of that competition may not necessarily be the best person and it will often have negative consequences in terms of trust.
Get rid of unproductive employees. One way to stifle innovation and hurt morale is by having an employee who doesn’t do any work while everyone else is either picking up the slack, or covering for that person’s duties. Sometimes it’s necessary to prune the branches.
Let employees have their privacy – especially on social media. As long as an employee isn’t conducting personal business on company time, there shouldn’t be anything wrong with an employee updating their social media accounts when they’re “off the clock.” In addition, as long as employees aren’t divulging company secrets, or providing other corporate commentary that runs afoul of local, state, or federal laws, then there’s no reason to monitor what they post.
Promote a healthy work-life balance. Yes, employees have families, they get sick, or they just need time away from the workplace to de-stress. And while there will always be times when extra hours are needed to finish a project, it shouldn’t be standard operating procedure at a company to insist that employees sacrifice their time.
There are alarms to help people wake up, but there isn’t anything similar to help people fall asleep. It seems that no matter how much you zone out just before going to bed, the minute your head hits the pillow your brain kicks into overdrive. Thoughts of every decision made that day, things that need to be done tomorrow, or that stupid song just heard continue to flood the brain with activity.
Often, when this happens to me, I’m reminded of the time Homer Simpson said, “Shut up, brain, or I’ll stab you with a Q-Tip!” because I feel like the only way I’ll stop thinking about something is to kill my brain. Fortunately, there are other ways of dealing with this problem. An article onCNN’s website titled, “Busy brain not letting you sleep? 8 experts offer tips,” reveals a few clear tips to try and lull your brain to sleep.
A few that have worked for me are to think about a story I’ve read or heard, or to make one up. It may seem counterintuitive to think about something so that you’ll stop thinking, but the story tends to unravel as I slowly drift off to sleep. Another favorite is to get out of bed and force myself to stay awake. While the chore of getting out of bed, especially on a cold night, may seem daunting, there’s nothing quite like tricking your brain with a little reverse psychology. If that doesn’t work, write down what’s bothering you, take a few deep breaths, or even do some mild exercise. If all else fails, there’s always warm milk or an over-the-counter sleep aid, but really this should be used as a last resort and not your first “go to” item.
Ideally, your bedroom will be conducive to sleep anyway. Light and noise should be kept to an absolute minimum and calming, muted colors promote a more restful ambience. Also, make sure that the bedroom is your ideal temperature because it’s more difficult to sleep if you’re too hot or cold.
Don’t let your brain win the battle of sleep! Fight it on your own terms and equip yourself with as many tools as possible to win. Your brain will thank you in the morning by feeling refreshed.
The House of Repersentives has just passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA), new legislation to begin the repeal process of the ACA. Check out this great article from HR Morning and take a look how this new legislation will affect HR by Jared Bilski.
Virtually every major news outlet is covering the passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) by the House. But amidst all the coverage, it’s tough to find an answer to a question that’s near and dear to HR: What does this GOP victory mean for employers?
The AHCA bill, which passed in the House with 217 votes, is extremely close to the original version of the legislation that was introduced in March but pulled just before a vote could take place due to lack of support.
While the so-called “repeal-and-replace” bill would kill many of the ACA’s taxes (except the Cadillac Tax), much of the popular health-related provisions of Obamacare would remain intact.
However, the new bill does allow states to waive certain key requirements under the ACA. One of the major amendments centers on pre-existing conditions.
Under the ACA, health plans can’t base premium rates on health status factors, or pre-existing conditions; premiums had to be based on coverage tier, community rating, age (as long as the rates don’t vary by more than 3 to 1) and tobacco use. In other words, plans can’t charge participants with pre-existing conditions more than “healthy” individuals are charged.
Under the AHCA, individual states can apply for waivers to be exempt from this ACA provision and base premiums on health status factors.
Bottom line: Under this version of the AHCA, insurers would still be required to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions — but they’d be allowed to charge astronomical amounts for coverage.
To compensate for the individuals with prior health conditions who may not be able to afford insurance, applying states would have to establish high-risk pools that are federally funded. Critics argue these pools won’t be able to offer nearly as much coverage for individuals as the ACA did.
Under the AHCA, states could also apply for a waiver to receive an exemption — dubbed the “MacArthur amendment” — to ACA requirement on essential health benefits and create their own definition of these benefits.
So what does all this mean for HR pros? HR Morning spoke to healthcare reform implementation and employee benefits attorney Garrett Fenton of Miller & Chevalier and asked him what’s next for the AHCA as well as what employers should do in response. Here’s a sampling of the Q&A:
HR Morning: What’s next for the AHCA?
Garrett Fenton: The Senate, which largely has stayed out of the ACA repeal and replacement process until now, will begin its process to develop, amend, and ultimately vote on a bill … many Republican Senators have publicly voiced concerns, and even opposition, to the version of the AHCA that passed the House.
One major bone of contention – even within the GOP – was that the House passed the bill without waiting for a forthcoming updated report from the Congressional Budget Office. That report will take into account the latest amendments to the AHCA, and provide estimates of the legislation’s cost to the federal government and impact on the number of uninsured individuals …
… assuming the Senate does not simply rubber stamp the House bill, but rather passes its own ACA repeal and replacement legislation, either the Senate’s bill will need to go back to the House for another vote, or the House and Senate will “conference,” reconcile the differences between their respective bills, and produce a compromise piece of legislation that both chambers will then vote on.
Ultimately the same bill will need to pass both the House and Senate before going to the President for his signature. In light of the House’s struggles to advance the AHCA, and the razor-thin margin by which it ultimately passed, it appears that we’re still in for a long road ahead.
HR Morning: What should employers be doing now?
Garrett Fenton: At this point, employers would be well-advised to stay the course on ACA compliance. The House’s passage of the AHCA is merely the first step in the legislative process, with the bill likely to undergo significant changes and an uncertain future in the Senate. The last few months have taught us nothing if not the impossibility of predicting precisely how and when the Republicans’ ACA repeal and replacement effort ultimately will unfold. To be sure, the AHCA would have a potentially significant impact on employer-sponsored coverage.
However, any employer efforts to implement large-scale changes in reliance on the AHCA certainly would be premature at this stage. The ACA remains the law of the land for the time being, and there’s still a long way to go toward even a partial repeal and replacement. Employers certainly should stay on top of the legislative developments, and in the meantime, be on the lookout for possible changes to the current guidance at the regulatory level.
HR Morning: Specifically, how should employers proceed with their ACA compliance obligations in light of the House passage of the AHCA?Garrett Fenton: Again, employers should stay the course for the time being, and not assume that the AHCA’s provisions impacting employer-sponsored plans ultimately will be enacted. The ACA remains the law of the land for now. However, a number of ACA-related changes are likely to be made at the regulatory and “sub-regulatory” level – regardless of the legislative repeal and replacement efforts – thereby underscoring the importance of staying on top of the ever-changing guidance and landscape under the Trump administration.
Fenton also touched on how the “MacArthur amendment” and the direct impact it could have on employers by stating it:
“… could impact large group and self-funded employer plans, which separately are prohibited from imposing annual and lifetime dollar limits on those same essential health benefits. So in theory, for example, a large group or self-funded employer plan might be able to use a “waiver” state’s definition of essential health benefits – which could be significantly more limited than the current federal definition, and exclude items like maternity, mental health, or substance abuse coverage – for purposes of the annual and lifetime limit rules. Employers thus effectively could be permitted to begin imposing dollar caps on certain benefits that currently would be prohibited under the ACA.”
See the original article Here.
Bilski J. (2017 May 5). Health reform expert: here’s what HR needs to know about GOP repeal bill passing [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.hrmorning.com/health-reform-expert-heres-what-hr-needs-to-know-about-gop-repeal-bill-passing/
The WannaCry ransomware that has spread across 150 countries since Friday has appeared to slow down, but employees starting the workweek should be careful, as the effects in the United States are yet to be determined.
WannaCry locks users out of their computers by exploiting a vulnerability in outdated versions of Mircosoft Windows. It then demands money from users who want to regain control of their data. The ransomware initially requests around $300, and if no payment is made, threatens to double the amount after three days and delete files within seven days. Once it infects one computer, it can spread to every computer in that network within seconds.
According to Elliptic- a London startup that helps law enforcement agencies track criminals-around $50,000 worth of bitcoin payments have been made to the hackers as of Monday morning.
Countries Affected in First Few Hours of Cyber Attack
Nobody knows who is behind the attack, but Europol is working on a decrypting tool. Many firms hired experts over the weekend to prevent new infections, which seems to have worked in Europe, so far.
After the initial discovery of the WannaCry ransomware, Mircosoft issued a warning to the U.S. government concerning its data-storing practices. Mircosoft claimed that the tool used in the WannaCry cyber attack was developed by the U.S. National Security Agency and was stolen by hackers. Microsoft released a Windows security update in March to tackle the problem exposed by the latest attack, but many users haven’t run the update yet.
Some experts recommend that you should not pay the ransomware if you’ve been hacked. Even if there is a way to determine if you’ve paid the ransom, there is no guarantee that the hackers will return the files to you unharmed, if returned at all. Experts also recommend you take the following precautions:
Hierl Insurance Inc. will continue to monitor the situation. Contact us if you have any further questions regarding how you can avoid disruptive business interruptions from cyber attacks.
Ever hear of the acronym “CLEM”? That stands for career-limiting email and is a reminder to reconsider sending anything out in writing when a phone call may be the better option. If you have to think twice about hitting that send button, then you shouldn’t hit it.
In an article titled, “For God’s Sake, Think Before You Email” on the website of Workforce, it says that unlike diamonds, email messages aren’t forever, but they are pretty darn close. Remember that whatever you say in an email – and I mean anything in electronic text – could come back to haunt you because there’s always a trail. By electronic text, I mean email, mobile text, social media post, etc.
Everything from tasteless humor, opinions about a boss, employee, or the company, and definitely an angry reply or threat of violence should be an instant no-no. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle once it’s out and don’t assume that an email to a close friend or confidant is private because even if that person doesn’t forward it, there’s always a record somewhere of that email. Furthermore, you can’t always recall, or “unsend” an email.
You’d hate to have to explain to your boss, HR representative, or even a judge and jury why you sent that email or posted that message. You don’t just run the risk of losing your reputation, but also your job, and potentially being sued, or even going to jail. These are not pleasant prospects over a seemingly innocent email. Which is why you must review your electronic messages with a discerning eye.
Emails and social media posts have become commonplace and the norm for communications. Yet, despite the ease in which you can send them, you must be aware that the freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences.
There’s no place for bullying and that’s especially true in the workplace, yet many employees bully their co-workers. So, how does this happen? It used to be that bullying was confined to the schoolyard, but now it’s spread to cyberbullying and workplace bullying. Now, if there’s a culture of bullying at an organization, often it’s repeated as people climb the corporate ladder even though they were bullied themselves when they held lower positions.
An article on the website Human Resource Executive Online titled, “How to Bully-proof the Workplace,” says that “80 percent of bullying is done by people who have a position of power over other people.” Let that number sink in. That means four out of five people in positions of power will bully their subordinates.
One possible reason for the high number is that bullying may be difficult to identify and the person doing the bullying may not even realize it. Either the bully, or the victim, could view the action as teasing, or workplace banter. However, when one person is continually picked on, then that person is being bullied. Likewise, if a manager picks on all of his or her subordinates, then that person is a bully.
It’s important for organizations to have policies in place to thwart bullying and not just for the toll it takes on employees. It also begins to affect productivity. Those being bullied often feel like their work doesn’t matter and their abilities are insufficient. Worse is that bullies tend to resent talented people as they’re perceived as a threat. So, bullies tend to manipulate opinions about that employee in order to keep them from being promoted.
Eventually, talented employees decide to work elsewhere, leaving the employer spending time and money to find a replacement. But the bully doesn’t care. It just means they get to apply their old tricks on someone who isn’t used to them.
At some point, someone will fight back. Not physically, of course, but through documentation. An employee who is being bullied should immediately document any and all occurrences of workplace bullying and then present those documents to someone in HR. Most likely, this will result in identification of the bullying, stoppage of it, counseling for both the bully and the victim, and, if not already enacted, policies to prevent it from happening again.
Do you need help educating your employees on the importance of social security? Here is an interesting article form SHRM about the 10 things your employees should know about their social security by Irene Saccoccio.
Social Security is with you throughout life’s journey. Yet, most people don’t know about Social Security’s 80-plus-year legacy or all we have to offer. National Social Security Month is the perfect time to talk to your employees about some of the ways we help secure today and tomorrow.
1. Social Security provides an inflation-protected benefit that lasts a lifetime. Social Security benefits are based on how long your employees have worked, how much they’ve earned, and when they start receiving benefits.
2. Social Security touches the lives of nearly all Americans, often during times of personal hardship, transition, and uncertainty. It is important your employees understand the benefits we offer.
3. We are more than just retirement. Social Security provides financial security to many children and adults before retirement, including the chronically ill, children of deceased parents, and wounded warriors.
4. We put your employees in control by offering convenient services that fit their needs. For example, a personal my Social Security account is the fastest, most secure way for your employees to do business with us. They can verify their earnings, check their Social Security Statement, get a benefit verification letter, and more. They should open a my Social Security account today.
5. Your employees can estimate their future retirement or disability benefits by using our Retirement Estimator. It gives estimates based on their actual earnings record, which can be invaluable as they plan for their future.
6. Your employees can apply for benefits online by completing an application for retirement, spouses, Medicare, or disability benefits from the comfort of their home or preferred secure location.
7. We offer veterans expedited disability claims processing. Benefits available through Social Security are different than those from the Department of Veterans Affairs and require a separate application.
8. Medicare beneficiaries with low resources and income can qualify for Extra Help with their Medicare prescription drug plan costs. The Extra Help is estimated to be worth about $4,000 per year.
9. Social Security is committed to making our information, programs, benefits, services, and facilities accessible to everyone. We will provide your employees, free of charge, with a reasonable accommodation to participate in, and enjoy the benefits of, Social Security programs and activities.
10.Social Security is committed to protecting your employees’ identity and information and safeguarding their personally identifiable information. Our online services feature a robust verification and authentication process, and they remain safe and secure.
Invite your employees to visit www.socialsecurity.gov today and learn how we help secure today and tomorrow.
Saccoccio I. (2017 April 19). 10 things your employees should know about social security [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://blog.shrm.org/blog/10-things-your-employees-should-know-about-social-security
Have your employees been looking for new ways to reduce their healthcare cost? Check out this article from HR Morning on how HR can be a great tool for helping your employees find the best healthcare for their budget by Jared Bilski.
HR pros have been urging employees to ask questions and shop around for less-costly, high quality health care for years now — and it looks like many employees are finally heeding the call.
That’s the good news regarding healthcare cost transparency.
Specifically, 50% of individuals have tried to find out how their health care would cost before getting care, according to a recent report by the Public Agenda and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
A little more than half (53%) of the individuals who compared the prices of common healthcare services did, in fact, save money.
The report also broke down the various places employees turned to for price info before getting medical care and found:
Another encouraging finding from the report: Employees don’t think saving money on healthcare services means receiving lower quality care. In fact, 70% of individuals said higher prices aren’t a sign of better quality healthcare.
But the report wasn’t all good news.
For one thing, many employees are painfully unaware of the disparity in pricing for similar healthcare services. In fact, fewer than 50% of Americans are aware that hospitals and doctor’s prices can vary.
There are also problems when employees do inquire or shop around for less costly health care.
Sixty three percent of Americans say there isn’t enough information about how much medical services cost.
And when employees do at least inquire about cost before seeking treatment, most don’t think the next and most critical step: comparing multiple providers’ prices. Just 20% of the study respondents who asked about pricing went on to compare pricing.
Overall, the report is good news for employers, and firms should take the findings as evidence employees are finally ready to help find ways to lower the company’s overall health costs.
But it’s up to HR pros to help them succeed.
One way: Rolling out “how to” session on healthcare service comparison tools and finding providers — and this is especially important for small- and mid-sized companies. Employees at these firms are more likely to seek medical services based solely on location.
As Tibi Zohar, president and CEO of DoctorGlobe put it:
“The reality for most small to mid-size companies is that their health plan members tend to continue to seek health care at the nearest hospital or the one recommended by their doctors or friends.”
Another effective tactic: Adding incentives when employees use cost transparency tools in the form of premium discounts, contributions to HSAs or FSAs or even old-fashioned gift cards.
Remember, the transparency tools are those that employees can relate to personally and show exactly how much they will pay out-of-pocket for medical services.
Bilski J. (2017 April 21). Healthcare services: employees want to find less costly care, but need HR’s help [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.hrmorning.com/healthcare-services-employees-want-to-find-less-costly-care-but-need-hrs-help/
Find out how HR professionals really felt about the fall of the AHCA in this great article from HR Morning by Tim Gould.
Everybody knows that the GOP’s attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare came to a rather ignominious end. But how did the HR community feel about that outcome?
HR powerhouse Mercer addressed that question in a recent webcast, and the results were eye-opening.
Here are some stats from the webcast, which asked a couple key questions of 509 benefits pros.
On how they felt about the American Health Care Act being pulled:
So (utilizing our super-sharp math skills here) considerably more than half of the participants were not in favor of the AHCA, while just slightly more than one in five were disappointed it was shot down. Looks like Obamacare isn’t as deeply disliked as we’ve been led to believe — at least with benefits pros.
Mercer also asked participants to rate priorities for improving current healthcare law — using 5 as the top rating and 1 as the lowest. Those results:
Perspective? As Beth Umland wrote on the Mercer blog, “Policymakers should view this health reform ‘reboot’ as an opportunity to partner with American businesses to drive higher quality, lower costs, and better outcomes for all Americans.”
In case you’ve been hiding in a cave somewhere for the past several months, here’s a quick recap of the fate of the American Health Care Act.
Why did the AHCA fail, despite Republicans controlling the House, Senate and White House?
The answer starts with the fact that the GOP didn’t have the 60 seats in the Senate to avoid a filibuster by the Democrats. In other words, despite being the majority party, it didn’t have enough votes to pass a broad ACA repeal bill outright.
As a result, Senate Republicans had to use a process known as reconciliation to attempt to reshape the ACA. Reconciliation is a process that allows for the passage of budget bills with 51 votes instead of 60. So the GOP could vote on budgetary pieces of the health law, without giving the Democrats a chance to filibuster.
The problem for Republicans was reconciliation severely limited the extent to which they could reshape the law — and it’s a big reason the why American Health Care Act looked, at least to some, like “Obamacare Lite.”
Ultimately, what caused Trump and Ryan to decide to pull the bill before the House had a chance to vote on it was that so many House Republicans voiced displeasure with the bill and said they wouldn’t vote for it.
Specifically, here are some of what conservatives didn’t like about the American Health Care Act:
Gould T. (2017 April 14). Hr pros were relieved when obamacare replacement bill got pulled Ob[Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.hrmorning.com/hr-pros-were-relieved-when-obamacare-replacement-bill-got-pulled-off-the-table/
Great article from our partner, United Benefit Advisors (UBA) by Michael Weiskirch.
One might describe the series of events leading to the death of the American Health Care Act (Congress’s bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act) as something like a ballistic missile exploding at launch. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal debate began nearly a decade ago with former President Barack Obama’s first day in office and reemerged as a serious topic during the 2016 presidential election. Even following the retraction of the House bill, repeal of the ACA remains a possibility as the politicians consider alternatives to the recent bill. The possibility of pending legislation has caused some clients to question the need to complete their obligation for ACA reporting on a timely basis this year. The legislative process has produced a great deal of uncertainty which is one thing employers do not like, especially during the busy year end.
While the “repeal and replace” activity is continuing, it is imperative that employers and their brokers put their noses to the grindstone to fulfill all required reporting requirements. To accomplish this, employers will need brokers that can effectively guide them through this tumultuous season. We recommend that employers ask their brokers about their strategies for
Employers should also inquire about any additional support that the broker provides. They should provide many of the services that we at Health Cost Manager provide to our clients: They should apprise their clients of the latest legislative updates through regular email communication and informational webinars. Brokers should also bring in experts in the field that have interacted with key stakeholders in Washington. And most important, they should remain available during this uncertain period to answer any questions or concerns from clients.
We know employers would prefer not to have to comply with these reporting obligations – many have directly told us so. We understand this requires additional work on their part to gather information for the reporting and increased compliance responsibility. Knowing how stressful the reporting season can be for employers, brokers should go out of their way to help their clients feel confident that they can steer through the reporting process smoothly. The broker’s role should be to take as much of the burden off the employer’s shoulders as possible to enable them to reach compliance in the most expedient manner possible. Sometimes this involves stepping in to solve data or other technical issues, or answering a compliance-related question that helps the client make important decisions. It’s all part of helping employers navigate through the ACA’s strong headwinds during these uncertain times.
Audit-proof your company with UBA’s latest white paper: Don’t Roll the Dice on Department of Labor Audits. This free resource offers valuable information about how to prepare for an audit, the best way to acclimate staff to the audit process, and the most important elements of complying with requests.
Weiskirch M. (2017 April 13). An employer’s guide to navigating the ACA’s strong headwinds [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://blog.ubabenefits.com/an-employers-guide-to-navigating-the-acas-strong-headwinds