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R&R Insurance Blog

Virtual Meeting Considerations for 2021

Posted by Taylor Almonte-Hahn

zoom

While many are still facing remote employment, it is important to begin and/or continue executing effective virtual meetings. One item employers are struggling with is the interaction component within virtual meetings.

Employees are reporting feeling isolated and neglected. Most of us are social creatures and rely on interaction throughout the day. It is easy to make Zoom presentations very one sided. The manager acknowledges the group, addresses the key points and the meeting concludes. Well, employees may be multi-tasking in the background and not really even paying attention. Content is getting lost in translation. However, there are several virtual meeting considerations in order to successfully engage staff in order to adopt a learning and sharing mentality.

Below are some ways you can open the meeting:

  • An ice breaker
  • Share a win or polling question
  • Play a round of trivia
  • Start with a stretch break
  • Complete a show and tell by getting a household item

There are plenty of non-traditional openers you could start a meeting with—by not going straight to business employees will begin to feel more inclusive and with any luck reduce the feelings of being neglected and isolated. Other ways to combat Zoom fatigue are by scheduling shorter meetings, having a simple screen layout, walk and talk when acceptable, rotate meeting leaders and create a theme.

Topics: Wellness

The Holiday Season During a Pandemic

Posted by Taylor Almonte-Hahn

holiday pandemic

This year has been far from normal, so we couldn’t expect the holidays to be anything less. Despite how much we want to return to pre-pandemic times, there are some additional considerations to help protect our physical and emotional health this year.

In terms of COVID, in-person holiday celebrations could pose higher risk levels. So, before committing to a celebration, please consider these risks:

  • Where is the location of the gathering? We know that indoor gatherings will increase the risk of contraction and our winter temperatures don’t exactly allow for outdoors.
  • Celebrations that are longer in length and have a higher amount of people also could increase exposure risk. It is important to remember, you do not necessarily know where your guests have been or are traveling from, so guests who are taking proper preventative measures would be a smarter choice.
  • Lastly, those who have been exposed to COVID, diagnosed, have symptoms, or are at increased risk for illness should avoid in-person gatherings this year. Consider video chatting into the party you can’t physically be at.

Times are strange but your physical health and the health of those around you is much more important than attending a celebration.

Emotional health is equally important during the holidays. It is encouraged to acknowledge your feelings this season and reach out if you feel lonely or isolated. Be realistic about what your holiday celebration will look like this year and understand if other’s feel differently than you.

Stick to a budget. The holidays are much more than gift giving, so don’t try to purchase beyond your means. Take a breather, find time to relax and plan out any grocery shopping or gifting lists you need. Having a clear plan will help avoid panic later. In addition, don’t forget to seek appropriate professional help if you need it.

Don’t dread this COVID holiday season, instead take proper precautions around your physical and emotional health.

Happy holidays!

Topics: Wellness

Diabetes Awareness Month

Posted by Taylor Almonte-Hahn

november is diabetes awareness monthNovember is Diabetes Awareness Month in hopes to bring awareness to the rise of diabetes and the risks associated with it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetes costs the USA $327 billion in medical expenses and lost productivity.

In addition, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) has ranked diabetes as the seventh leading cause of death for the states.

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 cannot be prevented, but type 2 can be prevented through a healthy lifestyle. Obesity, sedentary lifestyle and age increase the risk for type 2 diabetes.

Employers should consider a few programs in order to monitor employee health regarding diabetes:

  1. Make sure your health risk assessment covers a blood glucose section in order to identify those already diagnosed and sets a baseline.
  2. Implementing effective nutritional and physical activity programs should be included in wellbeing offerings.
  3. Covering diabetes screenings, coaching and management can help employees get the access they need and prevent large costs down the road.
  4. Those with diabetes are more likely to contract the flu or pneumonia, so make sure vaccinations are accessible and education is on the forefront.

Overall, taking a step towards encouraging employees to get screened regularly, educating and encouraging a healthy lifestyle can help lower health care costs and show employees you care about their wellbeing.

Do you know your diabetes risk?  Click here to find out.

Topics: Wellness

October is Dedicated to National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Posted by Taylor Almonte-Hahn

October Breast Cancer Awareness

The American Cancer Society states, “1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime”. Breast cancer, like other cancers, occur when cells grow abnormally. It is the most common cancer in women next to skin cancer. It is important to note that even though it is rare, men can be diagnosed with breast cancer too. Any breast lump or noticeable difference should be checked out by a health care professional as some lumps can be benign, but it is important to confirm rather than ignore.

So, when is it appropriate to begin preventive mammogram screenings?

According to the American Cancer Society, women age 40-44 should have the choice to start an annual breast screening. If you have a family history of breast cancer you may want to begin to consider getting screenings. Women age 45-54 should receive a mammogram every year. Women 55 and older can continue a yearly screening or begin to get a screening once every two years. Some signs and symptoms to look out for are swelling, breast pain, discharge, swollen lymph nodes, red scaly skin and nipple retraction.

Take charge of your breast health. You can also perform self-exams in between your mammogram appointments. To perform a self-exam lie down with one arm behind your head, use your opposite hand to check your breast tissue in a circular motion. Feel for changes in your underarm all the way to the middle of your breast bone. In addition, stand in front of a mirror to look for visible changes in shape, size or contour.*

Early detection is key and can help avoid or diminish problems in the future. You should continue to visit your health care provider for annual screenings even if you are healthy.

Source: BreastCancer.org

 

*The self-examination content is not intended for medical advice and should be used for informational purpose only. Please seek and establish proper medical attention for exact methodology.

Topics: Wellness

Protect Yourself Against The Flu

Posted by Taylor Almonte-Hahn

Get a flu shot

This is your friendly reminder that flu season is right around the corner! If you are an employer, consider scheduling a flu shot clinic for your employees before dates fill up. If you are an employee, consider visiting a pharmacy or clinic covered by your medical plan or ask HR if an event will be held at your workplace. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends those 6 months of age and older should receive the vaccine annually.

There are many myths when it comes to the flu shot, such as those listed below:

  • Getting the flu doesn’t make you that sick
  • The flu vaccine itself will make you sick
  • The pain of the shot isn’t worth it
  • If you received the vaccine last year, you don’t need another one
  • The flu vaccine isn’t safe

Given the chain of events that have already occurred this year, it’s better to be safe rather than sorry. The flu can still lead to serious illness which will keep you out of work. Side effects of the shot are generally short-term and mild.

In addition, flu vaccines are monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with the Drug Administration. The vaccine has been around for many years and since your body’s immunity declines throughout the year - you should get the vaccine each flu shot season.

If despite the vaccination, you still are sick with the flu please seek virtual medical care if possible, take antiviral drugs if prescribed, and stay home! Continue to avoid contact with those who are sick, wash your hands and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth area.

Lastly, remember the benefits of staying active, eating well and what getting good quality sleep can do for your body and mind.

Topics: Wellness

Returning to the Workplace after COVID: Considerations for Businesses

Posted by Taylor Almonte-Hahn

As we navigate our new future, your business may currently be re-opening or considering how to move forward into the workplace again. With that said, you may be receiving an influx of remote work requests. Many businesses were faced to put technology and policies into place during COVID-19 regarding telecommute.  Some companies now know that working remote is possible for employees and may continue this way for safety measures, and childcare issues along with other personal reasons. On a positive note, some remote employees have reported being more productive plus reduced commute times are a major perk for longevity with a company.

Company Culture & Work/Life Balance

Among the pandemic, many companies are utilizing this time to rebuild a great culture. With virtual communication channels such as Zoom, employee intranets, email and more, culture can still shine even in a remote setting. Consider remodeling your culture to match not only your mission statement but a general theme. Maybe that theme is innovation, customer-centric, collaboration, respect, honesty, diversity—the list goes on. Remember you must gain leadership support and demonstration for culture to thrive.

Work/life balance must be instilled to prevent employee burnout regardless of telecommute or an office setting. Elevate and engage your employees by making appropriate workloads, facilitating communication, providing resources, celebrating success and encouraging appropriate work-life balance. It is impossible to eliminate work stress, however, by recognizing the burnout signs and providing resources your employees will feel appreciated. Continue to promote an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) line, if applicable, and other resources you find beneficial for your workforce. Ultimately, let your employees know you care and are thinking about their wellbeing during this time.

If employees have to return back to the workplace, measures must be taken to ensure one’s safety. Many companies have implemented the following:

  • temperature screenings prior to entering the building
  • removal of potluck style lunches
  • plexi-glass in-between cubicles
  • hand sanitizer and sanitation wipes readily available
  • no meetings greater than 10 people
  • a definite remote work strategy if an employee tests positive or a pandemic occurs again

These few items along with many others are important to implement and educate employees with the transition of coming back to the workplace.

So, what does wellness look like in the future?

A huge emphasis will be placed on mental health more than anything else. The National Alliance on Mental Illness is a great resource to start with in order to find helplines, education, research, discussion groups and much more. Many vendors are now implementing at home biometrics in case an on-site cannot occur or employers just feel more comfortable with this option.

Last but not least, more virtual doctors and therapy appointments will continue to increase. Overall, there are many items to consider if you are allowing employees to continue to work remote or come back to the workplace. Remember to frequent the CDC guidelines regarding Coronavirus and keep your employees needs at the forefront.

Topics: Wellness

Flattening the Curve - Healthy Tips for Mind and Body

Posted by Taylor Almonte-Hahn

safer at homeWith the stay-at-home order in effect until May 26th  in Wisconsin, it is important to stay safe while running essential errands. If you must visit essential businesses such as the grocery store, pharmacy, or bank there are guidelines you can follow to remain healthy and limit your exposure risk.

First and foremost, if you feel ill always stay home. Otherwise, please follow these precautions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Order online or curbside pick for your items (if applicable) to limit in-person contact.
  • If items cannot be ordered online, wear a cloth mask in public. Make sure it rests above your nose and covers your entire mouth.
  • Disinfect high touch surfaces and items such as shopping cart, car steering wheel, purse, keys, etc.
  • Avoid visiting the businesses at ‘rush hour’ times and utilize contact-less pay.
  • Apply hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and wash hands immediately upon returning home.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

If you are feeling stir-crazy, lonely or isolated there are still ways to help your community and provide safe social interaction. Consider donating blood, especially since supply is low. Blood donation is an essential service and proper health and safety precautions have been taken by blood centers.

You could support a local food pantry by donating items to fill their shelves. Many families are suffering from unemployment and rely on donations to support their family’s next meal.  Last but not least, don’t forget to practice self-care by eating well, exercising and obtaining 7-8 hours of adequate sleep. Stress levels may be heightened, but don’t forget to do things that will help you have a sound mind and body.

All in all, it is important to remain safe and healthy, so if you have to go out, please use these precautions accordingly.

Topics: Wellness

3 Ways to Maintain Your Health and Wellbeing During Quarantine

Posted by Taylor Almonte-Hahn

While it may seem like a non-essential priority, during COVID-19, it is more important than ever to maintain a healthy and happy body, mind, and spirit. There are many ways you can manage this from the comfort of your own home.

It is important to change your perspective from “why is this happening,” to “how can I embrace the changes?” Three areas to focus on are nutrition, exercise, and mental health. Below, are provided resources you can utilize—not just during a pandemic.

Nutrition

You may find yourself binge eating or snacking more than ever. Notice if you are and try to curb your stress eating.

  • Consume healthy snacks such as yogurt, string cheese, a hardboiled egg, protein bar, fruit, and/or vegetables.
  • Track your food consumption in an app such as MyFitnessPal to stay accountable.
  • Cook that healthy meal you’ve been meaning to try.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Utilize food you already have in your pantry and get creative!

Exercise

Just because gyms are closed doesn’t mean exercise is canceled. There are plenty of at-home ways to stay active with minimal equipment.

  • Check out You-Tube for free content.
  • Peloton, Beach Body, FitOn and many more apps have extended their free trial policy.
  • Take plenty of outdoor walks while maintaining distancing from neighbors.
  • Complete virtual runs if yours has been postponed or canceled.

Mental Health

There is a lot of uncertainty right now which can bring to mind doubtful and hopeless feelings. It is important to remain positive and calm, as eventually this too will pass.

  • Try free meditation apps like Headspace.
  • Dive into a book you’ve been meaning to read.
  • Connect with a therapist via TalkSpace, Telehealth, or another platform.
  • Stay connected with friends and family through Zoom, Facetime, and Skype.
  • Contact a free public crisis hotline (866) 342-6892.

Overall nutrition, exercise, and mental health are possible to maintain and improve during this time. With technology continuing to evolve, there are plenty of resources to try and utilize. Take care of yourself and stay as healthy as possible. The world may seem uncertain right now, but when we look back on this time in a year or two, what will you remember?

Topics: Wellness

April is Financial Literacy Month

Posted by Taylor Almonte-Hahn

April is financial literacy month. This comes during a time where many individuals have to adjust finances due to COVID-19. Financial roadblocks come unexpectedly, and can cause quite a deal of stress; so it is important to be prepared for the next round. Shannon Spence, in this article, writes about five key steps to financial wellbeing:

  1. Get rid of high interest debt
  2. Track your spending and create a realistic budget
  3. Create an emergency fund
  4. Save for retirement
  5. Know where your credit stands

COVID-19 is showing just how critical creating an emergency fund is. With stay-at-home orders many businesses are closed, some have children at home, and income may be limited. Having an emergency fund can help you not retract money from other funds, such as retirement, which could have penalties associated. An emergency fund can be kept in a low maintenance account such as a savings.

What does an emergency fund look like?

Well, it varies for each individual based on how many are in your household, monthly expenses, and more. However, it is recommended to have about three to six months of monetary value saved for a time of need. This should help one cover basic expenses such as mortgage, food, and other necessities to stay afloat.

Having a financial cushion will help reduce stress and protect you for the next time finances become an issue. In the event that you have to utilize the emergency fund, remember to build it back up slowly and surely for the next time it’s needed.

Topics: Wellness

Steps to Increase Employee Engagement in Wellness Programs

Posted by Michelle Froehlke

iStock-516176306.jpgAccording to a report from the Healthcare Performance Management Institute, on average, $2.59/hour or 8% of a worker’s total compensation is connected to employee benefits and wellness programs. Because employers dedicate a significant amount of money to these programs, it only seems natural to devote time to ensure the benefits are utilized effectively in order to get the best value for their investment.

While a true ROI or dollar figure isn’t clear cut, research has reinforced the ideas that with improved health decreases employee absenteeism, improves culture and attitude, and increases productivity. 

If employers want a sustained health management program, they should keep in mind and acknowledge the following items:

  1. Employees want choices. They need to feel that the employer is interested in their health and wellness for the right reasons - not just trying to steer them toward the lowest cost option. Trust is essential.
  2. Employees want to be included. Consider engaging an insurance and/or wellness committee. Peer buy-in is crucial.
  3. Like all healthy/effective relationships, clear communication is a must. Without effective communication no program will succeed long-term.
    • Customize the materials.
    • Target the programs.
    • Understand the employees readiness to change. If they don’t want to change a lifestyle habit, it may not be cost effective to pursue that topic with the employee. Focus efforts where you can make an impact.
    • Address the barriers and concerns employees may have. Don’t ignore or sweep them under the rug. Be straightforward and honest.
    • Make the financial incentive or disincentive easy to understand - no hidden agendas. 
  4. Predictive analytics and profiling should be used to guide decisions on programming.
  5. Involve spouses in the education and wellness programming to increase success.

Diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are the typical chronic conditions for employees. Similarly, the desire for improved nutrition, increased physical activity, and decreased stress are the big “wants” from employees. The tough part is following the strategic steps to engage the employees and get their buy-in and support. Only then will employers truly make an impact on the cost. It may be a culture shift for some employers. 

Here at R&R Insurance, we can assist you in finding the right Knowledge Broker to help navigate this process. Click here to contact us. 

Topics: Wellness