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R&R Insurance Blog

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.


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!


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

Reduce Insurance Costs & Increase Employee Productivity

Posted by Shay Sherfinski

Workplace_Wellnessjpg.jpgAccording to a study, 81% of large employers and 49% of small employers offer wellness programs to their employees. Aimed to improve employees’ overall well-being, these programs are often centered around weight loss, smoking cessation, and walking.

Why is it important to promote wellness in the workplace?

Wellness affects your company’s bottom line in many ways—in particular, it can lower health care costs, increase productivity, decrease absenteeism and raise employee morale.

Employees with health risk factors, such as being overweight or smoking, can directly impact insurance costs.  In turn, those employees will pay more for health care than employees with fewer risk factors. Wellness can help employees with high risk factors make the lifestyle changes to improve their quality of life and reduce their health care costs, while also helping employees with fewer risk factors stay healthy. 

What are the benefits of a wellness program?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) promotes the formation of workplace wellness programs because, according to one of its studies, employees in companies with “a strong culture of health” are three times more likely to actively strive to improve their health.

In addition, wellness programs have shown to directly:

  • Control health insurance costs
  • Reduce Workers’ Compensation and disability costs
  • Increase employee productivity and absenteeism
  • Enhance morale and improve recruiting

Read more about the value a wellness program can provide on your organization and how to lower your insurance costs, or contact Shay Sherfinski.

Topics: Wellness Program, Employee Benefits, Wellness, lower insurance costs, corporate wellness

Does Your Business Have a Wellness Program In Place?

Posted by Bill Katzfey

iStock_000064575089_XXXLarge-1.jpgIs your organization taking advantage of the numerous ways to save money on health insurance? Are you looking to reduce your insurance premiums?

While there are numerous benefits to implementing and maintaining a robust wellness program, reducing the number of employees who smoke is an important piece of the wellness puzzle. Proactively providing smoking cessation programs will have a direct impact on your health insurance premiums. In addition, smokers commonly have longer recoveries from surgery and often need repeat surgeries which causes work comp claims to skyrocket on individual surgical claims.

The Charolotte Observer recently published an article with examples of doctors refusing to operate on those who smoke. According to research, one study found that smokers who got joint replacement surgery had an 80 percent higher chance than nonsmokers of needing repeat surgery because of complications from infection.

Click here to read the full article.

Are you looking to revamp or jumpstart a wellness program at your organization? Contact me to learn more about the resources R&R has available to assist.

Topics: Wellness, Improve Employee Wellness, corporate wellness

WEA Trust Provides Wellness Solution for Municipalities

Posted by Bill Lewis

iStock_000047451796_Double.jpgThe WEA trust is bringing a proven, best-in-class wellness solution to municipalities through their League Health Plan with Vitality.  Vitality is an interactive rewards based wellness program that engages its members through education and coaching to improve their health and lives.  It helps members realize how lifestyle choices impact health, and how activity and exercise can enhance their lives. 

A well implemented wellness plan can drive a handful of improvements for you as the employer as well.  A more active and healthy workforce improves productivity and lowers risk factors that drive your health claims.  Additionally, creating a wellness program provides opportunities for leadership among your employees who participate on a wellness committee, and can help brand your organization and make you an employer of choice in your community. 

Here are some of the key elements of the Vitality Wellness program through WEA and the League Health Plan:

  • Biometric Screenings – Your employees will ‘know their numbers’ for blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides etc.
  • Vitality Health Review – This is a health risk assessment that helps bring lifestyle into the mix of your biometrics results and paints a picture of overall health.
  • Vitality Bucks – Employees earn points for the Biometric Screening, the Health Review, and also for tracking activities through a phone, smart watch or pedometer. Earning bucks allows you to buy rewards like movie passes, make charitable donations, gift cards.  Points do not expire!
  • Goal Setting – Vitality will set goals for activities like steps per day, workouts per week and provides motivation to improve results of the health screening. These goals are attached to bucks, so the more you participate the more you can gifts you can purchase.
  • Coaching – Vitality provides health content, articles and provides goals for improving the health of your whole organization

There are two levels of the program available.  Activate is the base level, and Elevate is a ‘buy up’ option that includes more involvement with spouses, higher levels of engagement with the program and some additional resources to help you build your wellness platform. 

If you have any questions or would like to discuss how this wellness plan can be implemented into your organization, contact me.  We have our own Certified Wellness Specialist on staff, and I would be happy to help you improve the lives and health of your employees!

Topics: Employee Health, Wellness, group benefits, Municipalities LWMMI, municipalities

Three Ways to Increase Profit Using WellCompForLife

Posted by the knowledge brokers

WellCompForLifeTake control of the health and productivity of your employees - and increase profit. WellCompForLife is R&R Insurance Services’ total solutions approach to that will provide your company with the tools to increase the life span and productivity of your employees - and ultimately your bottom line!

The top three driving trends impacting an employer’s bottom line are Obesity, Workplace Injuries and the Aging Workforce.

Addressing These 3 Corporate Burdens to Increase Your Profit

1. Obesity - Yes, That Means Lose The Weight
Findings show that obese workers were more likely to report occupational injuries, with a great frequency of strains and sprains, along with falls and overexertion injuries. Consider these statistics: A comparison of obese employees to normal weight employees: 50% more workers’ compensation claims, 13x more lost work days, 7x higher medical costs, 11x indemnity claim costs. And this is just the workers compensation part. The negative effects of obese employees on your health insurance costs are overwhelming. Diabetes, heart disease, chronic pain - can all be attributed in part to being overweight. That means you have to do something about it - employee wellness programs, fitness, healthy eating, lifestyle changes for your employees and their families.

2. Reduce Workplace Injuries: Reduce the injuries to reduce the work comp claims!

  • Slip-and-fall injury prevention: ensure a safe working environment by maintaining parking lots and sidewalks; encourage employees to wear appropriate footwear for wet or slippery conditions. Make sure you have handrails at all stairwells and inclines/declines - special attention to this for your aging workforce.
  • Ensure employees can meet the physical requirements of the job: consider a post-offer, pre-employment physical for new employees – be sure the physician covers medical history as it may reveal something not seen during the physical (the cost of the test would pay for itself when preventing a back or shoulder claim!) Pay special attention to your aging workforce for their physical requirements.
  • Ergonomics enhancement: ask employees for suggestions on how their job can be tweaked to avoid fatigue or soreness; consider job rotation for repetitive tasks (also promotes cross-training!)
  • Wellness programs to aid injury prevention: help prevent strains, sprains, and falls by improving flexibility, strength, and balance. Great examples is starting a flex and stretch program, cover part of a gym membership, or hold exercise classes like yoga, Pilates, or Tai Chi.Also, having a structured return-to-work program has several benefits, the most important of which is the reduction of lost-time (lost-time has 3 times greater impact on your workers compensation premium dollars than a no-lost-time claim).

There are literally dozens of ways to increase safety and reduce injuries at your place of work. If they aren't apparent to you, bring a knowledgebroker in - we'll take a look around and give you some pointers.

3. Address the Aging Workforce
Experts predict that by the year 2020, 25% of the US workforce will be 55 years or older. Couple this statistic with the fact that most people are working past the traditional retirement age of 65 and organizations need to pay special attention to this sector of the workforce.

On average, older workers are injured less frequently than younger workers. However when older workers are injured, it will be more severe and have a longer recovery time. See Preventing Injuries in an Aging Workplace.

R&R Insurance has found that if businesses address the health of their employees, reduce their number of injuries and keep a close eye on ways to accommodate the aging workforce, you will see a significant positive effect on your bottom line! WellCompForLife processes will increase the health and longevity of your employees and their families giving you a lot more control over your health and work comp insurance costs, all while improving the productivity of their employees. This is control business owners don't realize they have. At R&R Insurance, we call this program WellCompForLife!

Join the WellCompForLife discussion on LinkedIn!

For more information about WellCompForLife, contact a knowledgebroker today!

Topics: Return to Work, Safety, Workers Compensation, Employee Benefits, Wellness, obese employees, lost work days, indemnity claim costs, Business Insurance, Self Funded Health Insurance, WellCompForLife, wellness programs, Improve Employee Wellness, increase the health and longevity of your employee, Increasing Your Profit, lower Employee Health Risk

March Madness at Work: Three Point Play or Foul?

Posted by Steph Schreiber

March Madness FunnyIt's Madness...we know. There's a lot of talk about whether employers should let employees check their brackets while at work. We did some hunting and found these great tips for business owners and HR managers to rally around the issue. It looks like the winning answer is YES!

Set a Game Plan
While an employer shouldn’t be expected to set up flat panel televisions and hand out remote controls, it can embrace the team spirit the tournament creates. Options can include letting workers:

  • Show their colors. Employees might rally around a casual day that allows them to wear the colors of their favorite team.
  • Flex some muscle. Workers may appreciate flexible hours that allow them to catch a big game.
  • Pool resources. A company-wide pool that allows employees to fill out the brackets for fun — and does not involve cash prizes or an entry fee — could be an ice-breaker, and chatter about last-second victories and upsets offers an opportunity for employee bonding.
  • Take a break. An organization that does not allow employees to bring their cell phones, iPads, or other portable electronics into the office may let workers check scores online while on break. Also, make sure the games are on in the lunchroom so workers can do some scoreboard watching during lunch or break time.


Here are some of the highlights of what we found and the links to the full articles:


March Madness at Work: Can it Be a Slam Dunk?

Morale vs. productivity Staffing company OfficeTeam recently surveyed more than 1,000 managers on the effects of the NCAA tournament in their workplaces. Twenty percent of the managers felt office activities related to the tournament improved employee morale at least somewhat. Just four percent viewed them negatively. The majority—75 percent—said March Madness events at work have no effect on morale or productivity.

This year’s survey differs from OfficeTeam’s 2010 survey, in which 41 percent of executives felt office tournament celebrations helped morale while 22 percent thought those activities hurt productivity.

Managers were asked, "Do you feel March Madness (NCAA basketball tournament) activities in the workplace, such as watching games or participating in pools that don't involve money, have a positive or negative impact on employee morale?"

Their responses:
Very positive 5%
Somewhat positive 15%
No impact 75%
Somewhat negative 3%
Very negative 1%
Don't know/no answer 1%

Managers also were asked, "Do you feel March Madness activities in the workplace have a positive or negative impact on employee productivity?"

Their responses:
Very positive 5%
Somewhat positive 11%
No impact 75%
Somewhat negative 8%
Very negative 1%

March Madness: Three Point Plays for HR Victories or Catastrophes at Work:

Wide-ranging research suggests that March Madness participation can actually improve productivity in three ways:

  1. Morale: As people come out of the dark corners of their cubes and begin interacting with each other, it creates a happy environment to share creative ideas. And, we all know, happier employees work more productively.
  2. Inclusiveness: When employees feel as if they are included in something, they unknowingly create an equalizer that has the power to transcend title and position. So, everyone feels like they belong and have something fun to which they can look forward.
  3. Engagement: Employees are not only engaged with each other, but they’re more engaged with their work. The fact is: March Madness brings out the best in most of us.

The most important thing to remember is that people will continue to play brackets ...and will do it at work. It is incumbent upon management and HR to find ways to keep employees engaged and to let them have some fun. But it’s also important to develop guidelines to avoid that possible HR catastrophe.

For more information on HR consulting, employee benefits, employee welfare and well-being, or any risk management concerns, contact a knowledgebroker today.

Topics: Employee Benefits, Wellness, HR Compliance, march madness in the workplace, march madness at work, WellCompForLife, HR and march madness