The Modern Office & Managing the Risk

modern officeToday’s employers are placing a premium on employee wellness and engagement. And rightfully so, hard working employees deserve some love. But in addition to doing right by their people, businesses that provide comprehensive wellness plans and lifestyle perks for their employees are realizing huge benefits from it. But with more unconventional and physical activities going on in the office, there comes a whole new set of risks for employers.

Let’s talk about what employers are doing for their people, how it’s working, and how to manage the risks involved in the modern office.

A New Age of Employee Engagement

Now more than ever organizations in business are truly investing in their people. Employee perks and benefits are evolving to an all new level thanks to forward-thinking companies like Google with state of the art fitness facilities, fully stocked game rooms, free bicycles and more cool perks for employees. Who ever thought we’d see a rock climbing wall at the office?  Googles’ perks go so deep that past and current Google employees have gone online to list their favorite perks working for Google.

Here are Some Common Contemporary Employee Benefits, Perks and Activities

  • Fitness gyms
  • Yoga, Karate, Pilates studios
  • Basketball courts
  • Table games: Ping Pong, Foosball, Billiards, etc.
  • Video games
  • Reading rooms
  • Massage chairs
  • On Site Pet Care
  • And yes, even rock climbing

A New Age of Risk

Not to be a wet blanket, but you can get hurt playing Ping Pong, and the bottom line is: If you’re putting perks and activities in place that present the potential for an accident or injury, you have a responsibility to manage the risk and provide the safest environment possible for your employees. So, before you put up the basketball hoop, put some basic risk management measures in place.

Here are some simple things that you can do to manage the risks involved with lifestyle perks:

Liability Waivers: If you’re offering activities with any level of physicality or potential for injury, it’s a common best practice to get signed waivers from participants…even if it’s only Ping Pong.

Medical Clearance: Depending on the physical level of the activities you make available, you may consider requiring clearance from a doctor before employees may participate in any activities.

Restrict Access: To reduce employer risks, allow only employees of the company (and not friends and family) to take advantage of the amenities (Gym, Sports Court, etc).

Safety Programs: Institute a safety education program covering the equipment and activities, and post safety guidelines in game rooms, gyms, and on ball courts or playing fields.

Get Covered: If you’re thinking of providing any new perks or benefits for your employees, make sure that you have adequate liability and workers’ comp  insurance coverage in place (yes, even if it’s ping pong).

The modern office landscape is changing, and with this new era of employee engagement and all of the perks that go with it, a new set of risks arise. So, if you’re considering taking your benefits package to the next level, talk to us at Sinclair. We specialize in measuring your risk and covering your exposure. We’re also Liability and Workers’ Comp experts, so this is right up our alley.

Shannon Hudspeth
Human Resource Director
shudspeth@srfm.com

Why your business needs a wellness program

Building Healthy Habits — Beat Holiday Indulgences and Feel Fantastic

healthy habitsEating and drinking is one of the great pleasures in life, and the holiday season is the perfect time to indulge. Celebrating with family and friends makes it easy to just have one more serving, an extra slice of cake, or another glass of wine. Of course, that can mean putting on a few more pounds than you’d like, so what’s the best way to shift that holiday weight?

Rather than starting up a new diet or exercise regime, it’s all about making small, positive lifestyle changes and building good habits — Here’s how to do exactly that.

Understand what you want to change most to get healthier

You can only change your lifestyle if you’ve got a good reason. Think about what your goals are when it comes to getting healthier — Is it losing weight, lifting a certain amount, walking up a steep hill without being out of breath, or something else?

Your goals should be short-term and easy to reach — If you want to lose weight it’s much better to aim at losing a couple of pounds a month than 25 pounds this year. So, choose one goal, write it down, and commit to it.

Focus on making one small change to your health at a time

If you try to do too much too soon, you’ll lose focus, get distracted, and it won’t last. That’s why getting healthier is all about making small, incremental changes that together add up to you feeling fantastic. Look at your goal and think about the one small thing you could do today to get towards it. For example:

  • Reduce your mid-afternoon snacks.
  • Drink one less beer during an evening out with friends.
  • Walk for 15 minutes each day.
  • Have one “meat free” day a week.

Then, make the change and stick to it.

Take pleasure in what you’re doing to create a healthier lifestyle

It’s important to feel positively about the changes you’re making, rather than seeing them as denying yourself. Be “in the moment” and conscious of how and why you’re making your choices. If you’re taking a walk each day, spend the time really enjoying and noticing your surroundings. If you’re reducing how much you drink, replace the beer or wine with a delicious fruit smoothie. Think about ways to positively reinforce what you’re doing.

When it comes to getting healthier, don’t do too much, too quickly

As you make changes, wait for them to become a habit and “stick” before you move onto something else. Ideally, you want your positive lifestyle changes to become effortless and part of who you are. That way, it will never feel like a chore.

Really feel the benefits of a healthier lifestyle

Positive reinforcement is vitally important. That’s why you want to notice the changes you’re making and the benefits they’re having. Appreciate the fact you don’t run out of breath when you’re hiking up a hill, or that you look great in the new clothes you’ve been able to buy. Reward yourself for creating healthy changes in your life.

It’s amazing how much you can do for your health if you set realistic goals, turn small changes into habits, feel the benefits, and take pleasure in what you’re doing. Of course, you can still have “cheat days” and overindulge from time to time. Now you’ll have the confidence you’re completely in charge of your lifestyle and the healthy choices you’ve made.

Heather Sinclair
Risk Management Consultant
hsinclair@srfm.com

Healthly Habits

Keeping Up With the Evolving Workplace

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????With the age of Millennials gaining a stronghold in the workforce comes the dawn of the modern workplace. Times are changing surrounding how we hire and train, what we do to retain employees, and the dynamics within the office environment itself. Employees are seeing companies through different lenses these days, and employers have to rethink their employee strategies in order to attract and retain the best new talent.

Change is good, and if you want to keep up it’s time to let go of the past, embrace the present, and see into the future. The business landscape is evolving, and we’re going to discuss some things you can do to make sure you’re positioned to grow with it.

The Office in 2016

Increased technology, a path for growth, and a fresh view from management of workplace dynamics are what employees are expecting in today’s modern office. Millennials are vetting employers more deeply than ever and making choices on where they want to work based on culture, values, perks, and growth opportunities. Millennials want more than just a paycheck, and to attract the best up and coming talent, employers have to offer more. Let’s talk about what that means.

Keeping Up With The Times

One of the top criteria that Millennials use for deciding whether or not to sign on with a company is the quality of the management. Quality of management comes in many forms and is relevant on multiple levels. Here’s what I mean:

Technology: Does it seem like technology developments are moving faster and faster with each passing year? It seems that way, because it is that way. A company that doesn’t embrace and leverage new technology sends a message to employees (and potential employees) that you’re ok remaining stagnant and not so interested in embracing growth and change. This is a red flag for discerning Millennials who are ever-so-searching for upward growth.

Flexibility: As the workplace changes, so do our workdays. The traditional 9 to 5 is a thing of the past in many business settings, and employers are embracing more unconventional methods like implementing 4 day work weeks and allowing more telecommuting. This tells prospective employees that management takes a smart approach to cutting costs and streamlining operations which also allows for a more balanced work-life dynamic for the employee. It’s a winner with Millennial for sure.

Wellness: Employees expect more from the workplace in terms of personal development. They ask the question: If I spend 8 to 10 to 12 hours a day at my job, what am I getting out of it besides a sense of achievement and a paycheck? Wellness programs are an essential part of any companies’ employee strategy. An investment in the health and wellbeing of employees not only improves the quality of life for workers, it’s proven to increase productivity and it lowers insurance rates for the business.

What can a company do to keep up with the times?

Don’t be Fred Flintstone: Nothing is more frustrating for employees than outdated technology that slows down their day. Provide the right tools for your people and it goes a long way in improving their happiness and increasing their productivity. Assess and upgrade equipment as needed like; Phones, Computers, and Printers and if they say “Made in Bedrock” on the bottom, get an upgrade.

Limber Up: Consider some alternatives to the 8 hour workday if they make sense for your business model. Will a four day week work fly? Can some of your people telecommute part of the time? If the answer is yes, test out some of these options, they could save you money and increase productivity.

Take Care of Your People: If you don’t have a dedicated Wellness Program, get one started. A comprehensive wellness program is an attractive benefit for prospective employees and it will pay you back in spades, by way of:

  • Lowered health care costs.
  • Reduced absenteeism.
  • Higher employee productivity.
  • Reduced workers’ compensation and disability-related costs.
  • Reduced occurrences of injuries.
  • Improved employee morale and loyalty.

Step up Your Game: If you have a wellness program in place, great, you’re on the right track. Consistent growth and improvement of your wellness offerings tells employees that they mean something to the company and are worth the investment. Think about expanding your program and even throwing in some lifestyle benefits in the office like; Yoga classes, fitness areas, and even allowing pets in the office.

Millennials love to see that a company is invested in their personal and professional growth; I think we all like to see that. So, especially in this age of the evolving workplace it’s important for employers to stay up with the times, embrace the changes, and provide a culture that’s attractive to up and coming talent.

At Sinclair we’re dedicated to Employee Wellness. We look at an organization from every angle and we will customize a wellness program focused on developing a healthier and happier workforce in your business. Get in touch with us today to see what we can do for you.

Matt Bauer
President
mbauer@srfm.com

11 Smart Financial Moves You Have to Make

Millennials and Healthcare — What Are They Looking For?

MillenialsAs the fastest-growing generational group, millennials (people born between the mid-1980s and the turn of the century) are a vital part of a strong workforce. If you want to attract millennials to your business, it’s important to understand what they need and more importantly, what they want.

In addition to a good salary and a positive work environment, the benefit millennials are most interested in is healthcare. In fact, since the Affordable Care Act came into force, the number of uninsured millennials has fallen from 23% to just 11%. Insured millennials are better for your business too — Insured millennials are more likely to report being in good or excellent health (79%) than uninsured millennials (62%).

With health insurance being front and center, and increasing options for employment, how do you attract and retain the best young talent? An important part is providing the right health benefits. Let’s explore a few options.

The health services millennials are most interested in

It’s important to provide health insurance plans to cover the main concerns millennials have about their health, this includes:

  • Accident and emergency coverage — Catastrophe can strike at any time. Millennials are less concerned with insurance against long-term, chronic illnesses than they are against accidents and other critical emergencies. A health plan that has good coverage for emergency room visits and treating acute conditions fits in well with their needs.
  • Doctor visits — Reasonable copay amounts for doctor and specialist visits rank highly with millennials.
  • Immunizations and wellness — Staying healthy is near the top of the millennial’s agenda. This includes vaccination for flu and human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV). wellness programs also play a part in helping to keep people healthy and reduce stress.
  • Alcohol and depression screening and counselling — Depression, anxiety and other mental illness affects a disproportionate number of young people. Access to therapy, treatment, and counsellors is critically important.
  • Sexual and reproductive health — Contraception, birth control, and sexual health are vital to millennials. Pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding support, and infant care are also high on the agenda for millennials wanting to start families.

 Keeping health premium costs down for millennials

Another important consideration is the cost of premiums, and the trend here is clear — Millennials much prefer low-premium, high-deductible health plans. For many millennials, cost is the most important factor when it comes to health insurance. In fact, two thirds of them said a premium of more than $200 a month is unaffordable. Clearly, with a premium that low, high-deductible plans are really the only choice.

Another option is to give millennials various options in terms of their overall benefits package — Perhaps they can trade off some vacation days for a lower insurance premium?

Addressing other health concerns

It’s not just premiums and coverage that are important to millennials. Many are concerned that being ill or injured for an extended period of time would mean they would get fired. Make sure you have clear employment policies in place that address these concerns — What are implications for someone’s employment if they are unable to work for the medium or long-term?

Another benefit you can offer is making it easier for millennials to transfer off of their family health plan. Children can stay on their parent’s plan until they’re 26 years old, so providing a convenient and easy way to switch will definitely help.

Make it clear that the Affordable Care Act requires everyone to be insured by law. Being uninsured just isn’t an option unless they want to pay yearly fines when they report their taxes. Clearly explain the benefits of health insurance and make it easy for people to start paying their premiums and enjoying their coverage.

Jill Goulet
Risk Management Consultant
jgoulet@srfm.com

Sinclair 7-22-15-14

15 Summertime Safety Tips You Shouldn’t Ignore

15 Summertime Safety Tips You Shouldn’t IgnoreSummer is officially here along with the glaring sun and balmy temperatures. Some of us have jobs that put us out in the sun. Many of us are just excited to spend weekends in the fresh air.

However, fu in the sun can turn dangerous quickly if you aren’t prepared. Here are some summertime safety tips to keep you (and your loved ones) safe this summer.

1. Even “safe” fireworks (like sparklers) can reach up to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the professionals run firework displays and keep all observers a safe distance away.

2. To avoid insect bites, stay away from places where insects congregate, like pools of stagnant water, untended foliage and trash heaps. Don’t wear floral prints or fragrances. If you have to be near bugs, where long clothing to prevent bites and apply an insect repellent that contains DEET.

3. After time outside, check yourself for ticks. Look everywhere on your body. Look out for the signs of Lyme disease: headaches, bulls-eye rash, joint pain and fatigue.

4. Never leave pets inside a closed vehicle unless the air conditioning is running. Even with the windows open, the glass in your car amplifies the sun’s heat. Children should never be left in the car – regardless if the windows are open or the air conditioning is on.

5. Learn how to identify Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac, and stay away from them. If you’re exposed, wash with rubbing alcohol, then soap and water.

6. If you’re bringing perishable food in a cooler, keep the food safe by packing the cooler full and including ice packs. Keep them in the shade with their lids closed.

7. Grill food on a clean grill surface, with clean utensils and clean hands. Do not leave perishable food exposed in the heat.

8. Wear sunscreen no matter how long you plan to be in the sun and reapply often. It should be at least SPF 15. Avoid the sun’s rays between 11 AM and 3 PM. Wear tightly woven cotton clothing and wide-brimmed hats.

9. Never leave children unattended around water. Adults should take dedicated turns watching the children, otherwise a disaster may happen while everyone assumes someone else is watching.

10. Even though it’s summer, it’s possible to catch hypothermia if you spend too much time in cold water. Look out for blue lips and shivering.

11. Don’t let children under 16 operate lawn mowers. Make sure to use a mower that stops when the handle is released. Scan the lawn for throw-able objects before mowing and always wear sturdy shoes.

12. Always wear protective gear (including helmets) whenever you’re riding a skateboard, bicycle, or rollerblades.

13. If you can’t avoid the heat, reduce activities that would heat up your body, like running, biking, or strenuous chores. Do these activities in the early morning or late evening.

14. Drink plenty of water long before you’re thirsty. Avoid caffeine, sodas, and alcohol, which can all dehydrate you.

15. When you’re working, driving or playing outside, the heat can be dangerous. The first sign to look out for is cramping in your legs. This leads to heavy sweating and lightheadedness, which is called heat exhaustion. It can progress to heat stroke, which is when your body is too hot to cool itself. You’ll feel lethargic and sluggish, have red skin, feel confused and dizzy, have a rapid pulse, and might have an actual stroke. Put ice on the neck, armpits and groin, and call a doctor.

If you follow these tips, you’ll have a safe and pleasant summer.

Rachel Winslow
Account Executive
rwinslow@srfm.com

Rachel-Winslow

Live and Drive Safely: 6 Essential Ways Truckers Can Stay Healthy

Live and drive safely: 6 essential ways truckers can stay healthyTrucking doesn’t lend itself to healthy lifestyles. You’re cramped into a small space, miles from home and familiar places. It’s easy to chow down a Twinkie because it’s quick or sip a triple-sugar coffee to stay awake.

However, your health is the most important thing you have. Here are a few ways you can stay healthy on the road.

1. Don’t diet; focus on being healthier

Instead of temporarily dieting, focus on eating healthier all the time. Plan to eat reasonable, healthy meals for your height and weight (here’s a good calculator).

Don’t expect rapid weight loss. Somedays, fast food is your only options. When that happens, adjust your daily meal plan to compensate.

Avoid processed foods. Even though these are the most readily available at rest stops and gas stations, they’re just empty calories with little nutrition. Snack on fresh fruits and vegetables. 

2. Quit smoking right away

Smoking is a common way to pass the time when you’re driving. It’s easy to lose track of how many packs you’ve gone through each day.

The National Institute of Health reports that 54% of truckers are smokers, considerably higher than the general population. To protect your lungs, heart, skin, and stomach, stop smoking immediately. It’s disastrous to your health.

3. Make time to exercise each day

Within the confines of your truck, it’s impossible to exercise safely. The only way to burn some calories is to schedule work out time into your day.

Depending on your route and time-table, this may be tough, but you don’t need to do much. Walking for just 45 minutes can burn more than 400 calories. If you’re eating sensibly, that’s akin to cutting out an entire meal.

4. Wash your hands frequently

When you spend long stretches of time eating poorly, sleeping irregularly, and sitting down, your immune system suffers. Everyday bacteria and viruses you would ordinarily repel can become dangerous.

The best way to prevent foreign substances from getting inside your body is to wash your hands. This is especially important for truckers and drivers who spend a lot of time using public facilities.

5. Get proper rest

This is a tall request for some truckers who are pressured by tight deadlines. You may want to get ahead of traffic or take advantage of good weather. If you get a bonus for early deliveries, you’ve definitely pushed your limits. Even if you want to respect your sleep needs, your job and industry work against you.

Chronic sleep deprivation significantly affects your health and driving performance (especially focus). Falling asleep at the wheel behind a heavy truck can be catastrophic. Make sure you’re sleeping as much as you can during your mandatory 10-hour break, even if it hurts your wallet.

6. Reduce your stress

Between traffic and tight deadlines, truckers attract stress. Stress isn’t frustration; it can have physical effects on your body. Aside from changing professions, reduce stress with relaxing activities, like listening to music, mediation, and exercise.

Employers would be wise to set up a properly designed wellness program to ensure their drivers are living healthy lives that keep them safe and productive.

Marty Shea

Director of Sales

mshea@srfm.com

Live and drive safely: 6 essential ways truckers can stay healthy

Creating a Healthy Workplace Challenge

Blueberries

Still trying to figure out how to kick off an employee wellness program? The latest trend is to come up with fun and highly motivating group wellness challenges that are not only a great way to increase morale, but that actually promote lifestyle and behavioral change through active participation in wellness goals or competitions over a multi-week period. A challenge can be a great way to kick off a new wellness campaign or create momentum towards long term initiatives.

These challenges can focus on exercise, healthy eating, weight management, increasing steps or all of the above combined into a lifestyle challenge. “There are many wellness challenges on the market but creating one that fits your employees’ needs and interests would bode well for increased engagement” says Wendy Pernerewski, CEO & Founder of Employee Health Management. “We take a close look at what the existing culture is, ask what the employees want and review existing health data to create a program that best suits the environment and to increase employee buy in”.

One way to get employees to participate at this time of year is to create a challenge around healthier eating.  Winter pounds may have accumulated and thoughts of summer are on the horizon. A 30-Day Nutrition Challenge would fit perfectly.  You could simply set up a points based system where individuals are given specific goals to achieve throughout the month.

Here are a few to include:

    • Eat 5 servings per day of fruits and/or vegetables –get one point for each serving of fruit or vegetables.
    • Eat healthy snacks –get one point each day that you only eat fruits and/or vegetables for snacks.
    • Avoid eating junk food –get one point each day that you do not eat any junk food.
    • Eat breakfast –get one point each day that you eat a healthy breakfast.
    • Reduce calorie intake by 100 calories each day –eliminate 100 calories (use a mobile phone app like My Fitness Pal for calorie counting) from your diet each day by eating smaller portions or avoiding certain foods or beverages that you normally consume.  Get one point for each day that you succeed.
    • Keep track of your calorie count –use a calorie counter to count the calories in everything you eat and drink.  Try it for a week at a time.  Receive one point for each day that you successfully account for everything you eat and drink.
    • Prepare healthy meals –earn one point for each healthy meal that you eat.
    • Share healthy meal recipes that can contribute to a company Healthy Cook Book –receive one point for every healthy recipe contributed.

Before jumping in, designate a Challenge Leader or hire a wellness expert to help design challenge parameters and rules that need to include specific start and end dates, goals and measurements, as well as prizes to offer.  Review your challenge with human resources and legal counsel.  There are many new wellness rules that need to be followed or there may be legal implications.  Communicate the challenge to employees. Have a group meeting to explain the contest and solicit feedback and questions. Provide ongoing promotion of the challenge to keep employees motivated.

Lori Porter

lporter@srfm.com

Sinclair Risk & Financial Management

 

Lori Porter

Help your employees get the most out of their benefits

Help your employees get the most out of their benefitsSmart business owners know that to attract and retain quality employees, they must provide a congenial working environment where employees can find opportunity for growth, success, and professional satisfaction.

Happy, healthy, productive employees make a business stronger and translate into profits and organizational success.

Obviously, base compensation is a key recruitment and retention tool and must be competitive, but owners who fear being priced out of the skilled labor pool are not alone. Employers are increasingly focusing on boosting benefit packages, in lieu of significant wage increases, to keep staff happy. The good news is, when promoted correctly, those benefits can begin to match salary as a key factor in employee satisfaction.

Along with making the investment in offering your employees more, internal communication and education about how and why to use these benefits will help increase adoption rate and employee satisfaction.

Wellness programs: Incentivize it!Wellness programs, which promote healthy habits and long-term positive change, are one of our top recommendations for bottom-line success. Quite simply, healthy employees are productive employees, and wellness programs create a fruitful partnership between management and staff. They are not without investment: smoking cessation programs, complimentary weekly healthy lunches, and gym membership reimbursement are just some of the ways you can invest. But like all good resolutions, the hardest part is sticking to it. Consider developing creative ways to encourage employees to take advantage of those offerings, plus routine medical screenings.

Take a vacation, really! — You offer paid time off, adding more days as a reward for Help your employees get the most out of their benefitsseniority and milestones. The problem is…your employees aren’t using it, even when they say they are. This is a uniquely American problem and it is nothing to be proud of. The productivity level of stressed out, always-on employees, no matter how dedicated and talented, will suffer, costing you in the long run. Make vacation and breaks away from the office a part of your company’s culture. Owners and other senior staff can set a good example by being conspicuously absent for vacation, even if secretly checking in via smartphone. The key is balance, which will never exist if nobody ever leaves the office. 

Take this free money, please! — Americans are woefully, frightfully unprepared for retirement, so much so that the Golden Years are much more likely to be the Leaden Years. According to the National Institute on Retirement Safety, the median retirement account balance is $3,000 for working-age households and $12,000 for “near retirement” households. If you offer a match in your 401(k)/403(b) retirement plan (and if you don’t, let’s talk about the tax benefits you’re missing out on), include that match when you cite a position’s salary. Help new hires and existing employees alike by making them realize that not participating is the same thing as voluntarily cutting pay.

We’ll pay you to learn! — Younger employees may not cite professional development opportunities as a top job benefit, but they’ll quickly grow to love it once taking part. Furthering the education and real-world experience of staff at all levels provides personal growth while making your business that much smarter. Don’t just say you offer professional development opportunities, make it part of your HR function to proactively encourage and schedule relevant conferences and classes for employees.

Looking for more ways to help your staff get the most out of benefits? We can help.

Matt Bauer

Sinclair Risk & Financial Management
mbauer@srfm.com

Why your business needs a wellness program

Why your business needs a wellness programHere’s a business ideal, not always easily achieved:  Doing tangible good for others while doing good for your bottom line. You don’t have to be a flashy biotech firm or offer a solution to an intractable problem an ocean away to be improving the health of your fellow men and women.

We all want our products and services to benefit the greater community, but like charity, doing good starts at home. In the case of promoting health and wellbeing, it should start with your workforce.

Wellness programs in the workplace promote healthy habits and long-term positive change. They help employees lose weight, quit smoking, take care of themselves mentally and physically, and live more active lifestyles.

That all adds up to fewer sick days and worker’s compensation claims, and most importantly from your business’s macro level, improved staff morale and less turnover.

The high cost of low morale — Morale in the workplace is not easily measured on a 1 to Why your business needs a wellness program10 scale, but it doesn’t take complex data sets to know that when staff attitudes are poor, you’ll feel it acutely in reduced productivity, increased absenteeism, and problematic customer/client interactions.

Poor health directly impacts morale by taking key employees away from their posts as they struggle to fill in the gaps left by employees who are dealing with acute and chronic health conditions and injuries. This can lead to depression and loss of motivation not only for the directly affected employee, but for those who are left behind to pick up the slack.

The high cost of staff turnover – The daily effects of eating poorly and not exercising take time to turn into chronic problems. Similarly, excessive absences don’t translate overnight into permanent loss of key staff, but give it enough time and you will be losing employees for extended periods or completely.

With that loss, you suffer a blow to institutional knowledge, and gain the high cost of training new employees. A Center for American Progress study found that costs for bringing on a new employee range from 16% of annual salary to replace a low-wage worker (under $30,000 salary) to a whopping 213% of annual salary for highly compensated key employees and executives.

Employers must consider direct costs like advertising, interviewing, screening, and onboarding a new hire, as well as indirect costs such as lower productivity (at least initially) and impact on other staff, who may be missing an esteemed colleague who is unable to return to work.

Quite simply, there’s too much at stake for you to be without a wellness program in your workplace. The team at Sinclair Risk & Financial can help you get started.

Shannon Hudspeth, SPHR

shudspeth@srfm.com

How to handle the challenges of an aging workforce

Dave SinclairTake a look in the mirror…were those gray hairs there yesterday?

Take a look around your office…could you be asking the same question?

Nobody’s getting younger, not even me! But the American workforce is rapidly aging, creating a number of challenges for businesses of all types and sizes.

The secular trend is stark: From 1976 to 2006, the percentage of 20- to 34-year-olds in the workforce dropped from 40% to 31%. Meanwhile, the percentage of 45- to 64-year-olds rose from just under 30% to just over 36%.

Baby boomers on one end and declining birth rates on the other are just part of the reason. Older workers who may have planned on an early (or typical) retirement are finding that they just don’t have enough resources to stop working, even if they wanted to. For others, the culture of retirement has changed, and they want to stay active and involved, even if that means punching the same clock year after year.

Older workers bring a wealth of institutional knowledge, experience, and maturity to the workforce. But they also bring increased liability and costs. Heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and most alarmingly, obesity among staff are growing problems for employers , who bear the cost of increased worker’s compensation claims and higher health insurance premiums.

These chronic conditions are much more likely to afflict older workers.  Individuals between the ages of 40-59 are three times more likely than 20-39 year olds to have “metabolic syndrome,” which is a group of risk factors like high cholesterol and obesity that elevate the chance of developing heart disease and other preventable health problems. In addition, overweight workers have an increased risk of being hurt on the job and have much longer recovery times.

So how does a business retain the experience, knowledge, and positive qualities of senior staffers without collapsing under the weight of chronic illness and worker’s comp claims?

First, start with a quality wellness program, implemented strategically to produce a real return on investment. (The Society for Human Resource Management has some excellent insight for consideration.)

Then, be sure to tie that wellness program into safety training. While this is especially important for manufacturers, builders, restaurants, and other businesses where physical and mechanical elements come with the territory, it’s also relevant for mostly deskbound office workers.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health offers a very comprehensive report on the connection between workplace wellness and safety, noting:

• A worker’s risk of illness rises with exposure to occupational hazards;
• Those at highest risk for exposure are also most likely to engage in risky personal health behavior;
• Integrating wellness and safety programs may increase program participation.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of making mentorship a part of your company’s culture. Encourage your more experienced staffers to share their valuable knowledge with younger workers. Everyone will feel more invested. It will dovetail nicely with your wellness program.

At Sinclair Risk, our experts can help you creating a healthy, positive workplace, gray hair and all. 

Dave Sinclair

CEO – Sinclair Risk & Financial Management
Dave@SRFM.com