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Monthly Archives

February 2014

WATCH OUT FOR THOSE ZOMBIE EMPLOYEES!

By Your Employee Matters | No Comments

The Gallup 2013 Engagement Survey produced its usual morbid results. According to the survey, only 30% of employees are “actively engaged” (care about doing a great job every day). Another 52% are “not engaged” (otherwise known as “zombies”) and 12% are “actively disengaged” (purposely trying to work poorly, sabotage, cheat time, etc.). In many cases, managers bear the responsibility for these unengaged workers either because they hired the wrong people or failed to provide effective leadership. However, assuming that management did not cause the problem, what can you do to improve the situation?

  1. The Actively Engaged. Learn what makes them tick! Thank them and let them know you love them. Find out how you can hire them at twice the rate. Leverage their enthusiasm to motivate the Zombies.
  2. The Zombies – Give them something to be excited about, like a decent paycheck or a great company party. Then provide them with a sense of meaning in their daily work. Offer additional financial incentives. Manage and coach them actively so they have no choice but to perform. You can also go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site on how to manage Zombies (http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/zombies.htm).
  3. The Actively Disengaged: If they walked off the job would you be upset – or relieved? In the latter case, make sure you have checks and balances to get them off your bus now! Don’t hesitate to fire these people; the longer you keep them, the greater the risk they pose.

Finally, ask yourself what is motivating or demotivating about your company. Step back and become a keen observer of your own reality.

EMPLOYERS MUST GIVE LACTATION BREAKS

By Your Employee Matters | No Comments

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires businesses covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act to allow mothers unpaid break time for nursing their child. All employers are subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act break time requirement unless they have fewer than 50 employees and can demonstrate that compliance would impose an undue hardship. This obligation lasts for at least one year after the child is born.

The law requires the company to provide a suitable location (other than a bathroom )which is shielded from view and is free from intrusion, permit a reasonable break time given the circumstances, and let the worker take as much break time as she needs to express milk. However, here’s little guidance on what constitutes a “suitable location” and the length of a “reasonable” break. For example, the Department of Labor suggests two or three 15-minute breaks during an eight-hour shift. There’s also the matter of tracking for the employee’s time: Is she supposed to clock in and out for every nursing break – or can she coordinate a break with a meal or rest period?

To learn more, go to: http://www.dol.gov/whd/nursingmothers/faqBTNM.htm

http://www.dol.gov/whd/nursingmothers/

http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs73.htm

http://www.usbreastfeeding.org/LegislationPolicy/ExistingLegislation/tabid/233/Default.aspx and finally

your BNA State Law Summary on HR That Works.

MOTIVATING ENTREPRENEURIAL EMPLOYEES

By Your Employee Matters | No Comments

In a recent survey for the Inc. 500 Companies, entrepreneurs gave these reasons for wanting to work for themselves:

  1. Entrepreneurship has suited my skills and capabilities – 29%
  2. I wanted to be my own boss – 20%
  3. I had an idea I just had to try -18%
  4. I wanted financial success – 11%
  5. I admired and wanted to emulate other entrepreneurs –9 %
  6. Other – 13%

Employers are increasingly challenged to hire quality employees, especially those with an entrepreneurially bent. The question is: why would somebody with these attributes rather work for you than start their own company? What can your business offer these people that they can’t provide for themselves?

Although some jobs (such as piloting an airliner), require working for a large business, many of today’s fastest-growing companies don’t fall into this category. I believe that today’s most successful companies understand that, instead of controlling people as “employees,” they need to liberate them as co-workers and team members. Ask yourself what you can do to help people do their brightest and best work while working for you.

EDITORS COLUMN: SHOULD EMPLOYERS PAY FOR EMPLOYEES’ OBESITY?

By Your Employee Matters | No Comments

As a result to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) both the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and American Medical Association (AMA) now recognize obesity as a disease that requires medical and psychiatric intervention for prevention and treatment.

In a sense, the medical standard has expanded beyond morbid obesity to include one in three workers! It’s easy to see how the medical and drug community would like to expand their opportunities – and why the obese can be quick to claim that they have a disease for which they bear no responsibility. Combine this level of special interest groups working together with an aggressive EEOC, and you can expect to find many frustrated employers dealing with this issue.

Did you know that binge eating, formerly known as gluttony, is a mental disorder characterized by eating large amounts of food quickly at least once per week for three months? I don’t make this stuff up! How do you accommodate a person who shows up sick the day after one of these binges? Did you know that obesity is a defined primarily by body mass index (BMI), which is a far from accurate indicator of a person’s actual health?

It’s important to ask “Why should I have to accommodate (meaning pay for) an employee’s poor lifestyle choices?” The best justification the AMA could come up with is: “The suggestion that obesity is not a disease, but rather a consequence of a chosen lifestyle exemplified by overeating and/or inactivity is equivalent to suggesting that lung cancer is not a disease because it was brought about by an individual’s chose to smoke cigarettes.” My response is that employers should not have to pay for health consequences of employees who choose to smoke either.

Let’s hope that the EEOC will limit obesity accommodation protection to those who truly have an underlying medical disability and not self-imposed poor choices. Time will tell.

AN ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION PRIMER

By Construction Insurance Bulletin | No Comments

Webster, defines “accident” as “an undesirable or unfortunate happening that occurs unintentionally and results in injury, damage, or loss.”

Accidents cost the construction industry hundreds of lives, thousands of injuries, and hundreds of millions in lost profits, year in, year out.

Whenever there’s an accident in your workplace or on the job site, it’s essential to conduct a thorough and comprehensive inquiry. Bear in mind that goal of this investigation should not be to lay blame for the mishap, but to determine what happened – and why – in order to prevent it from recurring.

Whoever you put in charge of the investigation should:

  1. Get to the accident site of as rapidly as possible; Make sure the area is safe to enter and that the victim gets any emergency medical treatment immediately.
  2. Record evidence, use a camera and film (or smart phone with a date and time stamp), audio recorder, pen and notebook (to do interviews or make sketches), measuring tape, and specimen containers for hazardous substances (if needed). Be sure to include copies of accident report forms and checklists.
  3. Find witnesses and find out what happened by asking the six key questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how. Interview everyone involved and ask about possible factors (the supervisor’s orders, training levels, type of equipment, working conditions, etc.) Don’t blame the worker involved, even if he or she takes responsibility for the incident.
  4. Document every aspect of the investigation, using the accident report form.
  5. Do not release the report without management approval (to protect the privacy of those involved).

Finally, be sure to review the results of every accident investigation at your next safety meeting.

An ounce of prevention …

IS THAT A CRANE OR A TRUCK? WHY CARE?

By Construction Insurance Bulletin | No Comments

If your business use several types of vehicles, it’s important that you classify them properly for insurance coverage purposes. Either of two policies might apply, depending on whether the policy defines the vehicle as “mobile equipment” or as an “auto.”

As you might expect, Commercial Auto insurance covers your autos, while your General Liability policy covers mobile equipment.

It’s clear that bulldozers and pickups are autos. However, when it comes to mobile cranes and other types of self-propelled equipment, the waters get a bit muddier – and if you attach a crane or drilling rig to a pickup or flatbed truck permanently things can get even trickier.

Why should you care? Two words: coverage and cost. Depending on the policy under which the vehicle falls, coverage might vary in both specifics and the amount available to pay claims. Because the two types of policies rate coverage differently, the premium will change. There’s one mistake you definitely want to avoid: In the confusion, make sure you don’t wind up paying for a single vehicle under both policies!

However, there’s a silver lining in this potential dark cloud. The specialists at our agency can review your list of vehicles and assign each its proper policy, without charging you twice. It’s our job to get things right. If you’re unsure whether your current coverage is treating your trucks as cranes, or the other way around, just give us a call. We’re here to serve you.

SAFETY TIPS FOR WORKERS WITH SCAFFOLDING

By Construction Insurance Bulletin | No Comments

Most construction projects include the use of scaffolding, which can leave your workers vulnerable to injury. To help you prevent falls on site, industry expert recommend that managers follow these proactive guidelines:

  • Slow down or consider efficiency building alternatives. Although the pace of construction work is important, it can easily lead to careless and costly mistakes, including gaps in safety on the jobsite. “You don’t have to sacrifice speed for safety, as long as you’re working at the highest level of efficiency, and being safe plays its own role in this process,” says Mike Mumau, president of Kee Safety – North America.
  • Keep your workplace organized. Careful placement of tools can reduce the risk that they’ll injure workers by falling from scaffolding – and make it safer to move around on the scaffolding.
  • Identify potential hazards and find solutions in advance. For example, if you’re working near power lines, keep scaffolding far enough away to prevent electrocution risks. If scaffolding needs to be moved during the project, have a plan before each move.
  • Provide training. Make sure your workers are trained and up to date on OSHA requirements. “Training in the setup and construction of scaffolding can ensure a solid work space for overhead workers and guarantee a rig that will not inadvertently collapse from instability,” warns Mumau.
  • Keep reviewing the site throughout the project. Be sure to identify any new hazards that might arise during construction. During the course of the job, workers tend to become increasingly more comfortable with “routine” activities – which might easily lead some of them to neglect safety precautions inadvertently (or blatantly).

Our construction safety specialists stand ready at any time to offer a complimentary review of your job site safety programs. Remember, the safer your workers, the healthier your bottom line – and the less you’ll pay for insurance.

CONSTRUCTION LIABILITY INSURANCE: DON’T START WORK WITHOUT IT

By Construction Insurance Bulletin | No Comments

Unfortunately, mishaps on construction sites are all too frequent. The combination of multiple activities with dozens or hundreds of people operating complex and dangerous equipment, often in poor or threatening weather, can easily result in accidental injuries to workers, clients, visitors, and onlookers, leading to litigation that could cost you millions – or even put you out of business.

Construction Liability insurance will pay for legal damages (and legal costs) for worksite accidents that cause; 1) loss, damage or destruction of property, and 2) physical injuries to third parties. Thanks to the explosive growth of lawsuits in the business world, almost all building contractors will need to show that they carry a Construction Liability policy before they’ll be allowed to bid for a job.

Contractors sometimes buy this coverage on a General Liability basis, up to the amount of the policy. However, they often prefer a policy that covers an individual project over a set time at a fixed dollar value, based on such factors as the number of workers or contract employees, and the size and nature of the operation. Some types of construction jobs – such as roofing, foundation work, and high- rise or large scale commercial projects with more workers per site – are more risky than others.

Your Construction Liability policy will probably set maximum amounts both on a “per incident” basis and for “umbrella” coverage. It should also include Personal and Professional liability for acts by company owners and managers, and cover damages from fire and medical-related claims from incidents on the job site that don’t fall under a standard Workers Compensation policy.

We’d be happy to review your firm’s exposure to the construction-related liability risks you face and recommend a comprehensive protection package that can help give you peace of mind on the job.

BEWARE OF MEDICARE SCAMS!

By Life and Health | No Comments

Lee Dorman of Fountain Valley, CA recently got a phone call offering the 72-year-old a new Medicare card in return for providing some basic personal information.

Unfortunately, calls like this are all too common, as crooks throughout the nation troll for access to Medicare numbers, which they use to scam Uncle Sam. Whatever the scheme, fraud and abuse in this nationwide health care program for senior citizens costs taxpayers an estimated $60 billion to $80 billion a year.

Experts offer seniors these tips to avoid becoming a victim of Medicare fraud:

  • Protect your Medicare and bank account numbers. In most cases, your Medicare number is the same as your Social Security number, so you should guard it the same way.
  • Don’t fall for the call. Many people don’t realize that Medicare will never call you. So anyone on the line telling you that they are from Medicare or the federal government is almost certainly lying.
  • Keep track of your appointments. Monitor your Medicare account for possible fraud by reviewing the program’s quarterly summary, which lists all the medical services you’ve received. (However, people receiving benefits through a Medicare Advantage plan will not receive this document). You can also track your Medicare billing at www.MyMedicare.gov.
  • Report suspicious activity. Fake claims submitted for services or equipment you don’t need might prevent you from getting care you’ll need in the future. Also a suspicious level of billing might cause Medicare to stop or deny payment on legitimate claims, leaving you with hefty unpaid medical bills. If you suspect fraud, contact the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: 800-HHS-TIPS or http://www.oig.hhs.gov.

HOW MUCH LIFE INSURANCE DO YOU NEED?

By Life and Health | No Comments

The answer depends on the circumstances and financial situation of your family.

However, industry experts recommend using this five-step approach to come up with an estimate:

  1. Calculate your final expenses. The national median cost of a funeral in 2012 came to $7,045; other costs include uncovered medical bills and estate-settlement fees. As a rule of thumb, total expenses will be about $15,000.
  2. Add up your debts: credit card balances, car loans, mortgage or home equity loans, student loans, etc.
  3. Estimate the ongoing expenses your family will need. Start by determining how much a year your loved ones would need to maintain their lifestyle, subtract family income from other sources (such as your spouse), and then multiply the result by a factor based on the number of years they would need this income. According to financial analysts, the multiple will vary between 10.8 for 10 years to 20.4 for a 30-year period.
  4. Factor in long-term financial needs of your family. For example, the average annual cost of a child’s college education in 2013-2014 varies between $8,893 for in-state students at state schools to $30,094 at private colleges, according to the College Board. The younger your children, the longer until they reach college – and the more they’ll have to pay.
  5. Add the total of the first four steps, and then subtract the financial resources of your family: other life insurance policies (such as group life through your employer) and savings and investments you won’t need for retirement.

The result should give you a good estimate of how much life coverage you need to provide financial protection for your family. We stand ready to help you select the policy that offers the best value for your insurance dollar.