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How A Pet Can Help You Live Longer

By Life and Health | No Comments

Your life insurance policy provides financially for your family, but you obviously want to live as long as possible. Pet ownership can help you achieve that goal.

Improve Heart Health

Your blood pressure and cholesterol could drop when you own a pet. Care for a cat, and your heart attack risk could drop by one-third. With these benefits, you improve your heart health and may prolong your life.

Reduce Obesity

Obesity remains a top health concern because it can cause heart disease, diabetes and other health concerns. Your pet could help you maintain a healthy weight as you walk it, spend time cleaning its cage and perform other pet-related tasks each day.

Move More

Because your pet likes to exercise, you will move, too. Whether you walk your dog outdoors, play ball with your cat or chase your goat around the barn, the movement helps you reach your daily exercise goals and stay active. Plus, exercise boosts your immunity, decreases anxiety and improves your overall mood.

Decrease Stress

Erase the effects of a bad day when you spend time with your pet. A friendly greeting and social interaction can decrease your cortisol level and calm your nervous system.

Improve Immunity

Your body can fight off germs and illness thanks to your pet. As you laugh with your pet and groom it, your immunity gets a boost, and your body produces antibodies that fight germs.

Detect Illness

Trained dogs can detect epilepsy, certain cancers and other illnesses in their owners. You can rely on your pet to provide an alert that allows you to seek medical help right away and address ongoing health problems.

Receive Disability Support

If you suffer from a disability, a pet can offer life-saving support. Use your seeing eye dog or another pet to improve your mobility and mental health.

Gain a Purpose

Feeding, walking and caring for your pet gets you out of bed each day. With a purpose, you’re more likely to avoid depression and choose to stay active and engaged in your life.

Cope With Trauma

If you face a serious illness or other trauma, turn to your pet for support. Your furry friend will listen to you, love you unconditionally and remain loyal throughout the ordeal.

Alternatives to Pet Ownership

Pet ownership improves your health. However, you may not want the financial or time obligations that accompany pet ownership. In this case, volunteer at an animal shelter, pet sit for friends or walk dogs after work.

Pet ownership can help you live longer. Whether you adopt a dog, cat, fish or snake, con

Why And How To Switch To Healthy Caffeine Alternatives

By Life and Health | No Comments

Coffee, tea, chocolate and energy drinks all contain caffeine. Unfortunately, the caffeine you consume each day affects your health in a negative way. Change your habits and switch to caffeine alternatives as you get your energy boost and improve your health.

Benefits of Consuming Caffeine

Numerous studies show that you can gain several benefits when you consume caffeine regularly.

  • Decrease risk of developing diabetes
  • Enhance metabolism of glucose found in carbs
  • Reduce colon cancer risk
  • Boost antioxidants
  • Experience higher energy
  • Improve mood

Health and Life Benefits of Quitting or Reducing Caffeine

Although you may consume caffeine because you appreciate the benefits and alertness it provides, too much caffeine can cause dependency and dizziness, acid reflux and anxiety. You may even experience headaches, fatigue and irritability when you don’t get your caffeine fix. Additionally, caffeine can cause health and life challenges such as:

  • Increased release of stress hormones
  • Inability to regulate insulin
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Higher cholesterol levels
  • More digestive discomfort
  • Increase in calorie consumption, especially if you consume sugary caffeinated foods and drinks
  • Lower serotonin release
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Increased anxiety and depression
  • Imbalance in calcium, potassium and magnesium levels
  • Difficulty detoxing liver
  • Low birth weight and other problems in infants born to moms who consume caffeine

Healthy Caffeine Alternatives

You’ll improve your overall health when you reduce or cut caffeine from your diet. If you’re dependent on caffeine, consider making the switch gradually to these alternatives.

Rooibos tea – Gain an immune boost with this tasty hot or cold tea.

Teeccino and Cafix – Enjoy the familiar taste of coffee when you drink these two substitutes made from chicory, grain, figs and beetroot.

Ice Water – Jumpstart your metabolism, energy and focus as you fuel your body with ice water throughout the day.

B Vitamins – Gain mental clarity, energy and better sleep when you consume lean meats, nuts, seeds, and other foods that are high in B vitamins.

Apple – Open neural and muscle pathways while boosting your metabolism as you chew an apple.

Protein – Maintain energy, concentration and mood with a protein-packed meal or snack.

Ginkgo Biloba – Improve your focus, creativity and well-being when you consume this herbal extract as a tea or capsule.

Ginseng – Stimulate blood flow and reduce stress and depression with ginseng tea or capsules.

Stretch – Boost oxygen in your blood and spark alertness and focus when you stretch your body.

Cutting caffeine from your diet can improve your health and prolong your life. Talk to your doctor and health or life insurance provider for more tips as you switch to healthy caffeine alternatives and improve your overall health and well-being.

7 Healthy Ways To Prepare For Your Life Insurance Medical Exam

By Life and Health | No Comments

Life insurance provides financial resources for your dependents after you pass away, and it gives you peace of mind. You may need to undergo a medical exam, though, to determine your eligibility for a life insurance policy and your premium cost. Even a small reduction in your blood pressure and weight can reduce your premium, so take seven steps now to improve your health before your exam.

1. Eat a Balanced, Healthy Diet

Check your diet during the week before your medical exam. Reduce the amount of sodium, sugar, red meat and saturated fats you eat, and boost your intake of whole grains, oats, nuts, fish and vegetables. With these dietary changes, you’ll feel more alert, and your blood pressure, weight and cholesterol levels could improve.

2. Drink Water

Water hydrates your body, cleanses your digestive system, increases blood flow and improves your ability to give a urine sample. Drink plenty of water to improve your energy, too, and help you feel positive before your exam.

Alternatively, abstain from alcohol during the week before your exam. Your weight can stabilize, and you will not receive an alcoholism flag on your medical record when you avoid alcoholic beverages.

3. Follow Fasting Guidelines

If your medical exam involves a blood test, fast for 12 hours before the exam. The fast improves your blood test results and can reduce your weight.

4. Avoid Intense Exercise on Exam Day

As a rule, exercise improves your health, but intense exercise also elevates your blood pressure and urine protein levels. Relax on exam day, and save the exercise for later.

5. Dress Light and Stand Tall

Your weight-to-height ratio plays a role in your life insurance premiums, so dress light to reduce your weight and stand tall to increase your height.

6. Stay Calm

Stress, anxiety and frustration affect your digestive system and elevate your blood pressure. Attempt to stay calm during the week before your medical exam for the best test results.

7. Postpone the Blood Pressure Test

You may feel nervous about your medical exam, and those nerves can increase your blood pressure. Ask the examiner if you can wait until the end of your exam for the blood pressure test. By then, you should feel calmer and more comfortable.

With these seven tips, you can pass your life insurance medical exam and hopefully improve your premiums. However, you may also discuss your health with your insurance agent for advice. Life insurance provides for your dependents and gives you peace of mind, and you definitely want to purchase adequate and affordable coverage.

Risks for Remote Employees

By Employment Resources | No Comments

Modern technology has made it easier than ever for employees to work from home and still remain connected to their place of employment. Using remote employment has actually become a popular trend over the last ten years, especially since selling to the global market has become such an important factor in a business being competitive. Many businesses have found that they can minimize their expenses and attract international customers with more attractive prices if they decrease their overhead by allowing workers to remotely commute.

Despite the many benefits of using remote employees, there are downsides. Many employers considering this trend wonder how they can ensure workplace safety when the employee’s physical workplace is their own home. Another consideration is the degree of employer liability in remote employment.

Fortunately, OSHA has addressed some of the safety issues surrounding remote employment. According to OSHA guidelines, employers are required to maintain a safe workplace, even for employees working from their own home. OSHA will not require an employer to inspect a remote employee’s home worksite, nor inspect it themselves.

However, OSHA may inspect the worksite of an employee that’s performing an at-home job on behalf of their employer if it possibly involves health or safety hazards and there’s a complaint. A record of all occupational illnesses and injuries must be kept on all at-home workers if an employer is subject to OSHA record keeping requirements. Keeping in mind that OSHA compliance measures shouldn’t involve controlling the home worksite of employees, employers might need to take some additional practical measures to ensure OSHA compliance.

As far as safety compliance goes, the absence of immediate supervision for remote workers is one of the main problems employers face. Experienced, highly-trained, long-term employers are generally the worst offenders when it comes to taking safety risks. This group of employees often become complacent due to the fact they’re so accustomed and comfortable with their job, feel they’re familiar with the job’s hazards, and might have escaped disciplinary action when ignoring safety procedures or taking shortcuts in the past.

One of the best ways that employers can counteract the above dangerous attitude toward safety is by using a holistic approach to safety. Employers should focus and place great importance on each individual employee actively participating in the safety process and taking responsibility for their own safety. Whether at home, on the road, or at a remote jobsite, remote employees need to be ready, willing, and able to take the appropriate actions to protect themselves in any given situation.

Employers will need employee support to make any approach to safety successful, which means that employers must have total employee involvement in the safety process. Involve your remote employees in the process of determining what’s needed to prevent injury to themselves and others during remote location work. Most employers find that the experience and firsthand knowledge of their employees is actually very advantageous in creating safe remote worksites.

Remember, employees that understand the value of safety are more likely to be motivated and willing participants. They’re also more apt to embrace safety behaviors for the longevity of their employment. Employers can reinforce their employee’s positive attitude about safety by having electronic or person-to-person safety counseling in place and ensuring safety managers are encouraging safety participation.

Tips To Calm Employee Fears When Onboarding A New CEO

By Employment Resources | No Comments

As a human resources professional, you help your company prepare to onboard new employees. When that new employee is the CEO, you may receive questions from employees who worry about their job security or potential changes to the company culture. Use these tips as you reassure your employees.

Make a Good First Impression

Many new CEOs take a few weeks or months to make personnel decisions. Encourage employees to make a good first impression and be available, participate willingly and learn as much as they can. Their efforts prove their readiness to embrace change and move forward for the sake of the company.

Study the CEO’s Working Style

The new boss may prefer direct confrontation, walking meetings or emails rather than phone calls. Employees should study the CEO or ask for details so they can properly support his or her working style.

Work as a Team

Employees may resist the overhauls a new CEO wants to make. However, employees should get on board and tell the new boss that they will embrace and cooperate with the new vision. This teamwork mentality can mean the difference between staying employed or getting sacked.

Offer to Help

Talking to a CEO may be intimidating, but employees will benefit from offering to assist their new boss. They can reach out with an email or voicemail and tell the boss that they’re willing to do whatever it takes to help him or her succeed in managing the company.

Prove Your Value

New CEOs are hired to improve efficiency, productivity and sales, and they will make changes as they do their job. Current employees must prove that they’re valuable members of the company. Instead of relying on past success or accolades, employees can secure their jobs by initiating a conversation about what the CEO expects of them and then exceeding those expectations.

Do Great Work

Every employee should show up for work each day ready to perform. Adjusting to new strategies may take time, but employees who show a willingness to work hard on each project, participate in discussions and follow through with objectives will stand out.

Avoid Gossip

Nothing travels faster through the office grapevine than gossip. Encourage employees not to complain about new policies or strategy changes. Social media posts, interoffice emails and even private conversations could be leaked and become grounds for dismissal.

Forget the Past

Under the previous leadership, an employee may have felt mistreated, unheard or frustrated. Times have changed, and employees need to forget past grievances, embrace the future and cooperate with the new leadership.

When your company welcomes a new CEO, calm your employees’ fears with these tips. They help everyone welcome the new boss and support the company’s success.

Tips To Address And Handle Racism In The Workplace

By Employment Resources | No Comments

Racism occurs when anyone expresses bias verbally, in writing or via behavior or attitude toward someone of a different skin color or ethnicity. Overt racism, including slurs, jokes and name calling, and covert racism, including avoidance, ridicule or body language changes, are illegal according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) laws. As a Human Resources employee, you hold the responsibility to address racism immediately, implement prevention policies and deliver necessary discipline. Use these tips to address and handle racism properly in your workplace.

Establish a Zero-Tolerance Policy

Refuse to allow racism and discrimination in your company. With help from your attorney and insurance agent, prepare a zero-tolerance policy, including reporting procedures and potential discipline, and print it in the employee handbook. Then ensure everyone, starting with management, follows it.

Maintain a Diverse Workforce

Encourage diversity when you recruit and hire employees from a variety of races, ethnicities and backgrounds. Additionally, create a safe environment where everyone in your company feels comfortable discussing racism and maintaining a cooperative workplace. Ongoing training will also share the benefits of diversity and update employees on anti-discrimination laws.

Stay Calm

From the moment you receive a report of racism to the final resolution, resolve to remain calm and serve as a role model for others in your company. Becoming excited, angry or otherwise emotion could incite further incidents, cause hurt feelings and complicate resolution. Plus, you will think more clearly as you maintain a calm attitude and demeanor.

 Take Action

A corrective action plan reinforces your zero-tolerance policy and protects your employees and your company. This solid action plan equips you to handle racism incidents properly and reduces workplace tension and potential legal action as you maintain a safe environment for every employee. Your action plan should include these steps.

  • Take each complaint seriously.
  • Exercise respect for all parties, including the complainer.
  • Don’t retaliate with punishment such as discipline, demotion, shift changes or isolation toward any of the involved employees.
  • Investigate all complaints objectively, and reserve judgment for after the impartial and thorough investigation.
  • Follow your established procedures exactly to discover the truth and avoid unfair treatment claims.
  • Interview everyone involved, including the complainer, accused and witnesses, and gather supporting documents such as emails to create a corroborative picture of the alleged incident/s.
  • Keep detailed records of all interviews and documentation.
  • Maintain confidentiality at all times.
  • Cooperate with any investigative or government agencies.
  • Take appropriate disciplinary action as needed.

Racism in a company affects everyone and could jeopardize the business’s future. Create a safe, inclusive and diverse workforce with these tips, and discuss additional protective measures with your insurance agent and attorney as you address and handle workplace racism properly.

Can Your Company Ban Negative Attitudes?

By Employment Resources | No Comments

In almost every company, you can find at least one employee who displays a bad attitude. Negative attitudes can poison the entire workplace, though, and decrease morale, motivation, creativity, decision making and productivity. In 2014, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that a Boiling Springs, South Carolina, restaurant owner could fire an employee who complained to customers about the company and its policies. Based on this ruling, your company can take several steps as you address negative employee attitudes, maintain a positive workplace environment and protect your company’s future.

Focus on Business Disruption

You may wish to ban negative behavior because it affects your company’s reputation. However, keep the bigger picture in mind. An employee’s negative attitude can affect morale and productivity throughout the company, cause you to lose key employees and turn away customers. You could lose income and jeopardize your company, and that business disruption gives you a legitimate reason to ban negative behavior.

Track on Behavior Not Attitude

Attitudes are difficult to measure or discipline. You can measure behavior, though, which allows you to track how the employee affects your company and then take disciplinary steps.

Write a Clear Behavior Policy

To use behavior as a reason for discipline or termination, your employee handbook must include clear language that outlines the exact behavior you will allow. Consider this example. “Our behavior standard requires all employees to maintain a positive work environment through their actions and behavior toward co-workers, management and customers.”

In this example, you focus on teamwork and address your employee’s overall attitude and mindset toward their job and the people with whom and for whom they work.

Record Specific Problems With the Negative Behavior

Be specific when addressing behavior problems. For instance, did the employee’s behavior halt progress on a project, disrupt a co-worker’s day or cause a customer to leave the store?

Document Negative Behavior

Always document negative employee behavior in case you need to discipline or terminate the employee. Include details such as who, what, where, when and how.

Screen Potential Employees

As you consider potential employees, screen their attitudes and behaviors. Discern how candidates talk about former employers, co-workers and clients as well as how they respond to you and other team members they meet. Their overall disposition, mood and emotion during the interview can indicate how they will act after they join your company.

Consult Your Attorney and Insurance Agent

While you can include behavior in your employee handbook, be sure your policy meets labor laws and can withstand unlawful termination suits. Your attorney and insurance agent can help you create a policy that protects both your and your employees’ rights as you ban negative attitudes from your company.

Ways To Reduce ADA Lawsuit Risks In Your Small Business

By Risk Management Bulletin | No Comments

Established in 1990, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) protects disabled Americans from discrimination. The term “disabled” applies to anyone with a physical or mental impairment that significantly limits or restricts a daily life activity, and ADA laws apply in the workplace and nearly any public space. Learn more about how your small business can comply with ADA laws, protect your employees and customers, and avoid expensive and time-consuming lawsuits.

Challenges of ADA Compliance for Small Businesses

While beneficial, ADA laws change frequently. Your small business may not have the time or resources to remain updated and complaint. However, if you don’t maintain ADA compliance at all times, you could face numerous fines and lawsuits. Additionally, you lose valuable employees and customers and damage your professional reputation.

Ways to Become ADA Compliant

Your small business can become ADA compliant when you take several steps.

Assess your specific risks.

Certain structures built before early 1993 may be exempt from strict guidelines that apply to structures built after early 1993, but you will need to perform an ADA assessment no matter when your building was constructed. Your property and business could face specific risks such as non-compliant entryways, incorrect bathroom signs or shelves that are hung too high. A certified ADA specialist will assess your property based on applicable current laws. You may also hire an architect with experience in equal-access requirements to perform the assessment and suggest necessary changes.

Correct non-compliant areas.

After you have identified your specific risks, correct them. Hire an architect, contractor or other professional to make the necessary changes and secure your ADA compliance. Remember that your small business may be eligible for numerous annual tax credits and deductions that offset a portion of your renovation costs.

Beware of drive-by lawsuits.

Certain enterprising individuals may drive by your property, note ADA violations then file a lawsuit. You could then be liable for legal fees and repairs. Unfortunately, you cannot prevent drive-by lawsuits, but you can purchase adequate insurance to cover some of your losses and give you peace of mind.

Purchase adequate business insurance.

A commercial general liability policy doesn’t prevent an ADA-related lawsuit, but it does provide invaluable financial resources if you are sued. Consider purchasing errors and omissions insurance, an employment practices liability policy and umbrella coverage, too, as you protect your small business. Your insurance agent can offer additional advice on the invaluable coverage you need.

Your small business can and must become ADA compliant or you will face expensive and time-consuming lawsuits. Use these tips to secure compliance and protect your employees, customers and company. For more information, contact the Department of Justice’s ADA Information Line at 800- 514-0301.

Spring Fleet Maintenance Tips That Improve Safety

By Risk Management Bulletin | No Comments

This spring, add fleet maintenance to your list of chores. The right maintenance prepares your business vehicles to operate safely during the busy spring and summer months. Plus, these tips remove remnants of winter weather and prolong the life of your valuable fleet.

Inspect Brakes

Properly functioning brakes allow your vehicle to stop when necessary. Verify that the pads and rotors remain in good shape or replace them if necessary. Clean any winter salt and residue from the anti-lock braking system also.

Change Fluids

Fluids equip a vehicle’s motor to operate properly. Change the oil, flush the transmission fluid and refill the window washer fluid to protect your fleet.

Check the Belts and Hoses

Broken, cracked, softened, peeling or worn belts and hoses affect a vehicle’s performance. Now that spring is here, check all the belts and hoses under the hood and replace any that show signs of wear.

Adjust the Alignment and Suspension

Potholes and winter debris affect a vehicle’s alignment and suspension, causing it to pull to one side or vibrate. Reduce your accident risk and ensure your vehicles operate properly when you correct any alignment or suspension problems.

Rotate and Fill Tires

Because the tires enhance traction, handling and safety, rotate and fill them to the proper pressure. Verify that the tread on each tire is adequate, too.

Charge the Battery

After working hard all winter, the battery may be drained. Charge it or replace the battery if you notice that the electrical components of your vehicle operate slower than normal.

Test the Air Conditioner

A properly functioning air conditioner keeps your employees comfortable into the summer. Turn it on and ensure it reaches full blast within a short time. Recharge or repair the air conditioner if it doesn’t get cold.

Stock Supplies

Whether your employees drive company cars to make deliveries or meet with clients, stock adequate supplies. The fleet vehicles should have a first aid kit, updated registration and insurance information, and any items essential for work.

Perform a Complete Detail

Salt melts snow and ice on winter roads, but it also causes rust on a vehicle’s undercarriage. Wash your fleet vehicles carefully to remove any salt and other winter residue. Remove dirt and debris from the inside of your vehicles, too, to improve safety and visibility.

Schedule the Annual Inspection

Double check when the annual inspections are due for each vehicle, and plan those inspections.

Reduce the risk of vehicle accidents when you maintain your business fleet this spring. For additional tips, talk to your commercial auto insurance agent.

Small Business Tax Season Risks To Avoid

By Risk Management Bulletin | No Comments

Now that tax season has arrived, your business must address several common risks. Protect your company now and into the future when you take several steps.

Protect W-2s

The W-2 forms you supply to employees contain personal information a thief can use to steal an employee’s identity. Safeguard all the W-2s you provide by handing these forms directly to each employee or letting your team know when to expect the forms in the mail.

Additionally, counsel payroll personnel to protect W-2 details. Thieves may contact the payroll department and ask for a list of employees and their W-2 information. If someone in your company releases this information, you could be liable.

If you do discover that someone has tried to scam your business and fraudulently gain W-2 information, contact the IRS immediately.

Verify IRS Requests

Thieves may send you an email with an official-looking IRS seal. The email may promise a refund or require additional personal information and include an attachment you must open and complete. Typically, these emails and their attachments comprise a phishing scam that’s designed to deliver harmful software, malware or spam to your electronic devices.

In the stress of tax season, you or one of your employees may open these emails, but remember that the IRS will not communicate with you via an email. Feel free to contact the IRS and verify the legitimacy of any communication.

Discuss the Security of Your Accountant’s Records

Despite your best security efforts, your accountant may not employ protective measures. Discuss the steps your accountant takes to secure your information, including the data you share via email and the tax returns and information they submit electronically to the IRS on your behalf.

File Taxes on Time

Your business faces penalties and fines if you file your tax return late. File for an extension if you need additional time to compile your data and file your taxes.

Report all Income

Forget to report income, and you could face a 20 percent fine. Intentional underreporting of income could land you a fine of up to 75 percent of the total tax owed. Proper recordkeeping prevents this mistake and saves you money in the long run.

Take the Correct Deductions

Your business is eligible for numerous business deductions, including commercial insurance premiums, office supplies and travel. However, ensure the accuracy of your deductions. Auto, home office and entertainment deductions can trigger an audit, so double check that you only take legitimate deductions for ordinary and necessary business expenses.

This year, you can avoid several small business tax season risks. Follow these tips and talk to your accountant as you meet your tax obligations and protect your company.