May 3, 2015

Data breaches: We have met the enemy and he is us

Anytime there's a new story about a widespread data breach, the talk is all about hackers, crackers and cyber criminals. But recent research reports paint a very different picture. At Insurance Journal, Joseph Menn sums it up this way: "... the vast majority of hacking attacks are successful because employees click on links in tainted emails, companies fail to apply available patches to known software flaws, or technicians do not configure systems properly." See his article: Most Cyber Attacks Due to Trick Emails, Errors, Not Sophisticated Hacking

One of the studies found that, "... more than two-thirds of the 290 electronic espionage cases it learned about in 2014 involved phishing, the security industry’s term for trick emails." In fact, phishing is the suspected culprit in the Anthem breach.

Phishing is apopular technique because it work and because "the less-sophisticated approach drew less scrutiny from defenders."

It's a costly weakness: "According to the new Verizon model, the loss of 100,000 records should cost roughly $475,000 on average, while 100 million lost records should cost about $8.85 million."

It's increasingly imperative that organizations include cyber security policies and training for employees - with particular emphasis on avoiding phishing. One key step is learning to spot suspect mails and a second is adopting smart habits like hovering over any links to see the source before clicking - or better yet, going to the source site. For educational resources on phishing, see our prior post: Thwart cyber security threats through employee training


ESI-Logo.jpg When complex employee issues arise, ESI EAP offers member employers direct access to Certified Senior Professionals in Human Resources (SPHR) and senior clinical counselors. If you need an Employee Assistance Program give us a call: 800-535-4841.

May 2, 2015

Tech tools for telecommuters

Recently, we posted a Telecommuting Tool Kit, which included trends, success factors and legal issue - so we were delighted to find an infographic along with 21 essential tech tools for working remotely - tools for instant messaging, organizing, sharing, project management, web chats and more.


More tech tools for remote work
10 tools for more productive telecommuting

Managing Remote Workers: 8 Tech Tools that Fuel Communication

5 Essential Tech Tools For Telecommuters

5 Tech Tools That Are Changing The World of Remote Work

5 Great Apps for Managing Telecommute Workers

12 Tips for Building a Productive Virtual Office


esi.JPG Want to ensure a winning team in your organization? In addition to help for your employees, ESI EAP offers a full suite of tools for supervisors and managers, including our ESI Management Academy. Trainings cover compliance issues, management skills and more. If you want to learn more about how ESI can provide more employee EAP benefits and more employer services, call us at 800-535-4841.

Physical Fitness, Mental Health and other Wellness themes for May

National Physical Fitness and Sports Month
Use this month to raise awareness about the benefits of physical activity. Get resources to share, including fact sheets, widgets, tips and trackers; download a sample newsletter announcement and get tweets and web badges.

May is Mental Health Month
This year's May is Mental Health Month Campaign and Toolkit will use the theme B4Stage4 and will focus on how people can address their mental health early, rather than at "Stage 4" - when symptoms are more severe, and recovery a longer process. Get infographics and fact sheets, access online screenings and share this short video.

National Bike Month
May is National Bike Month, sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists and celebrated in communities from coast to coast. Established in 1956, National Bike Month is a chance to showcase the many benefits of bicycling — and encourage more folks to giving biking a try. Promotional materials include posters web banners, a social media toolkit and more.

Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer. UV radiation can also come from tanning booths or sunlamps. The most dangerous kind of skin cancer is called melanoma. The good news? Skin cancer can almost always be cured when it’s found and treated early. Communities, health professionals, and families can work together to prevent skin cancer or detect it early on.

National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) declares May to be "National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month." It's a peak season for asthma and allergy sufferers, and a perfect time to educate your patients, family, friends, co-workers and others about these diseases. Asthma affects approximately 25.9 million Americans and more than 50 million Americans suffer from all types of allergies.
Access Tools & Resources and Social Media posts.

National Arthritis Awareness Month
The American College of Rheumatology dedicates the month to arthritis. an umbrella term used to describe over 100 medical conditions and diseases, known as rheumatic diseases. Rheumatologists are physicians who are specifically trained to treat rheumatic diseases, and seeing a rheumatologist early after diagnosis of arthritis is your best defense against this disease.
Learn more about the 30 rheumatic diseases and 12 rheumatic conditions in a Disease Fact Sheet.

May is ALS Awareness Month
Also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed. Learn more in this infographic.

May 3-9 - North American Occupational Safety & Health (NAOSH) Week - to focus employers, employees, partners and the public on the importance of preventing injury and illness in the workplace, at home and in the community.

May 10-16 - Women's Health Week - An observance led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, the goal is to empower women to make their health a priority. The week also serves as a time to help women understand what steps they can take to improve their health. The 16th annual National Women’s Health Week kicks off on Mother’s Day, May 10, and is celebrated until May 16, 2015.

May 11-15 - Bike to Work Week

May 17 - 23 - National EMS Week - Presented by ACEP in partnership with the National Association of EMT's (NAEMT) to bring together local communities and medical personnel to publicize safety and honor the dedication of those who provide the day-to-day lifesaving services of medicine's "front line."

May 24-30 - Hurricane Preparedness Week - Hurricane hazards come in many forms, including storm surge, heavy rainfall, inland flooding, high winds, tornadoes, and rip currents. The National Weather Service is responsible for protecting life and property through issuance of timely watches and warnings, but it is essential that your family be ready before a storm approaches. Furthermore, mariners should be aware of special safety precautions when confronted with a hurricane. Download the Tropical Cyclone Preparedness Guide (PDF) and follow links for more information.

Looking for the most comprehensive and effective wellness program for your employees? ESI TotalCare Wellness pairs Behavioral Health Clinicians with certified Wellness Coaches to provide employees and their families with the help, motivation, tools and support to make changes and improve their lives. Call 800-535-4841 for more information.

April 26, 2015

News Roundup: Report on managers, salary negotiations, distracted driving policies and more

The State of the American Manager Is…Weak
Brandon Roghi, Risk Management Monitor: "Gallup’s State of the American Manager report is one of those inputs that should compel organizations to look inward. Gallup lays out startling data on the woeful state of American managers: most are disengaged, compelling their employees to perform at much lower levels. Prevailing promotion and hiring practices are big culprits, as a small minority of people given management roles actually have the skills to succeed with leadership responsibilities. A lot needs to change to recover all of the lost productivity.
According to Gallup, about 82% of managers lack the appropriate skills for their positions. Poor hiring practices beget low engagement with the job and organization: 65% of managers say they are either not engaged, or actively disengaged.

More from Gallup: Only One in 10 People Possess the Talent to Manage

Related: Study Shows Half Of Managers Don't Set Effective Employee Goals - Victor Lipman looks at a recent Towers Watson study, Effective Managers: Your Critical Link To Successful Strategy Execution.

Some Companies Fight Pay Gap By Eliminating Salary Negotiations
Yuki Noguchi, NPR: "Some of my clients are now making all of their salaries transparent, up to the executive level," she says.
That includes Elevations Credit Union, based in Boulder, Colo. The company sets salary level based on title, which it publishes online. So effectively, there is no salary negotiation during hiring or promotion.
Annette Matthies heads human resources and says Elevations did this after hearing complaints from employees. She says it also has helped with recruitment and retention.
"And that loyalty then increases profits for our company," she says. "The company's more profitable, they can then give back more to their employees, and so it's a symbiotic relationship."

This Is the Silver Bullet to Reducing Workplace Stress
Martha C. White, TIME: "New research finds that a half-hour walk at lunchtime promotes increased relaxation and reduced stress among office workers. “Walking… seems to have both energizing and relaxing properties in the workplace,” writes lead author Cecilie Thøgersen-Ntoumani, an associate professor in the Psychology and Speech Pathology School at Curtin University in Australia.
In an experiment with 75 university administrative staff members that asked participants for frequent, real-time feedback over the 10-week course of the study, subjects reported being more relaxed, more enthusiastic and less nervous on afternoons following the lunchtime walks they took three times a week."

The Case For Being A Generous Leader
Tim Stevens, Fast Company: "My experience with selfish people is that they are often stressed, tense, bitter, angry, critical, argumentative, and bullying. Generous people, on the other hand, are genuinely happy. They aren’t constantly determining their self-worth by how far they are above others. They have a great day when they’ve had the chance to add value to others."

Protect Workers From The Number One Cause of Workplace Deaths – Distracted Driving
Valerie Butera, National Law Review: "Distracted driving is the number one cause of workplace deaths in the United States. OSHA has partnered with the National Safety Council to call employers’ attention to this issue and urge the adoption of safe driving policies. Failure to adopt and enforce such policies in the workplace leads to tragic results and OSHA has made it perfectly clear that employers who do not take this issue seriously should expect OSHA citations. On its distracted driving webpage, the agency has stated that employers “have a responsibility and legal obligation to have a clear, unequivocal, and enforced policy against texting while driving.”
But to truly protect your employees from the hazards of distracted driving, your policy should cover more than just texting."

Handbook on Leave and Workplace Flexibilities for Childbirth, Adoption, and Foster Care (PDF)
U.S. Office of Personnel Management's newly released handbook for federal employees "Our handbook on Leave and Workplace Flexibilities for Childbirth, Adoption and Foster Care provides scenarios and tips to give employees realistic and specific examples about how these policies can and should be applied. It was developed with the help of representatives from more than 40 federal agencies, and it is an important milestone in achieving the president's vision for federal working families."
See Director of OPM Katherine Archuleta's remarks on Workplace Flexibility Guides for Working Families in Huffington Post.

Quick takes


esi.JPG Want to ensure a winning team in your organization? In addition to help for your employees, ESI EAP offers a full suite of tools for supervisors and managers, including our ESI Management Academy. Trainings cover compliance issues, management skills and more. If you want to learn more about how ESI can provide more employee EAP benefits and more employer services, call us at 800-535-4841.

April 24, 2015

The lighter side: 10 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings

"If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be 'meetings.'" So says American humorist Dave Barry, who wrote a classic humor piece on How to Attend a Meeting. It's an older column, but some things never change.

Here's what a few other people had to say about business meetings:

"People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything."
Thomas Sowell

"A meeting is an event at which the minutes are kept and the hours are lost."
James T. Kirk

“Our meetings are held to discuss many problems which would never arise if we held fewer meetings”
Ashleigh Brilliant

Love 'em or hate 'em, meetings are a fact of life in most organizations. Here are 10 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings, an amusing feature from The Cooper Review - see an excerpt below.


Related from the archives

The Expert

Conference Call in Real Life

The problem(s) with meetings

April 18, 2015

EEOC's Proposed Rule on Employer Wellness Permits Incentives

Last week, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) describing how Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to employer wellness programs that are part of group health plans. It offers "guidance to both employers and employees about how wellness programs offered as part of an employer's group health plan can comply with the ADA consistent with provisions governing wellness programs in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as amended by the Affordable Care Act."

This is a proposed rule. Members of the public have 60 days (or until Friday, June 19) to submit comments.

EEOC Press release

Fact Sheet for Small Business

Questions & Answers

More information
EEOC Issues Proposed Wellness Program Amendments to ADA Regulations
The National Law Review : "The proposed rule clarifies that an employer may offer limited incentives up to a maximum of 30 percent of the total cost of employee-only coverage, whether in the form of a reward or penalty, to promote an employee’s participation in a wellness program that includes disability-related inquiries or biometric examinations as long as participation is voluntary. It is significant that the proposed rule does authorize penalties as the EEOC’s litigations and an EEOC official’s statements had seemed particularly critical of penalties, even though they may have exactly the same economic impact to an employee as a reward."

EEOC Issues Rules for Employee Wellness Program Incentives
Alex Wayne, Insurance Journal : ""Under Thursday’s proposed rules, employers would not be allowed to threaten or otherwise coerce workers to participate, other than by using financial rewards and penalties. Companies couldn’t punish workers with disciplinary measures such as suspension or firing if they opt out."

Revealed! The EEOC’s new proposed wellness program rules.
Employment Law Attorney and blogger Eric B. Meyer offers five key takeaways for employer

Business relieved at EEOC wellness guidance
Dan Cook, Benefits Pro

EEOC Publishes Major Rule on Wellness Incentives
Occupational Health & Safety

Looking for the most comprehensive and effective wellness program for your employees? ESI TotalCare Wellness pairs Behavioral Health Clinicians with certified Wellness Coaches to provide employees and their families with the help, motivation, tools and support to make changes and improve their lives. Call 800-535-4841 for more information.

April 17, 2015

Test your nonverbal communication skills

How well do you read nonverbal cues in people? Take the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test. This test was developed by Simon Baron-Cohen at the University of Cambridge in 1997 and then revised in 2001. You will be shown 37 pictures showing just the eyes part of people's faces. You will be asked to guess what emotion these eyes are showing. You'll also be asked a few basic questions about yourself and your computer use.

You can learn more about the "eyes test" at Psych Tutor. It's been used in a number of studies over the years, although there has been some criticism leveled that it is gender biased due to a restricted range of female images and expressions.

More resources
Nonverbal Communication
Improving Your Nonverbal Skills and Reading Body Language

Amy Cuddy on Body Language
Social psychologist and Associate Professor at Harvard Business School Amy Cuddy's TED talk. See more work from Amy Cuddy.

Looking for the most comprehensive and effective wellness program for your employees? ESI TotalCare Wellness pairs Behavioral Health Clinicians with certified Wellness Coaches to provide employees and their families with the help, motivation, tools and support to make changes and improve their lives. Call 800-535-4841 for more information.

April 6, 2015

The Lighter Side: How your up-and-coming employees view the workplace

Meet your future workforce. These hilarious and adorable clips are written and read by kids and enacted by adults. They show how kids envision various on-the-job scenarios, with a heavy emphasis on recruitment. They seem pretty accurate to us! Be sure to see the kids themselves who make appearances at the end of each clip.

If you enjoyed these, we posted a few other job-related clips in a prior post:
The Lighter Side: Kid Snippets - Job Interview

"Career Day"

"Late to Work"

"Job Applicant"

"Boss John"

"Conference Call"

March 30, 2015

News Roundup: Swearing, Innovating, Engaging & More

Let's swear off rudeness at work
Leah Eichler, The Globe and Mail:
"A man eager to get to his job interview pushes another public transit user out of the way and tells him to go forth and multiply – with himself. The commuter arrives at his appointment, only to discover that the gentleman he swore at is none other than the executive waiting to interview him.
This actually happened recently in London and not surprisingly, the story went viral. It obviously touched a nerve, since many of us can relate to being mistreated by our fellow commuters and quietly hope for retribution. But such incivility doesn’t stop when we get off the train. Rudeness permeates the workplace, too, and it’s just plain bad business."

Athletes Help Cheerleader With Down Syndrome Defy Bullies
Bill Chappell, NPR
If you have time to read or listen to only one story today, make it be this one. It's really heartwarming.

The 10 Best Ways HR Can Improve Workplace Creativity and Innovation
Cliff Stevenson, i4cp
"In i4cp's newest report, Human Capital Practices that Drive Innovation, human capital professionals were asked to rate their organizations' effectiveness across eight types of innovation, including often overlooked elements such as product development and process effectiveness innovation. By creating an index of effectiveness scores, combined with i4cp's Market Performance Index rating for each respondent, i4cp was able to determine the top ten human capital practices that not only drive innovation, but are also correlated to overall market performance.
The best news is that all of the practices that were found to be the most effective were those on which HR could have immediate impact -- from seemingly small things like promoting values to major changes such as the creation of online forums to foster new ideas."

What You Owe Your Employer - And What Your Employer Owes You
Liz Ryan, Forbes contributor
"Nearly every day someone asks me “Now that the old working world is gone, and the corporate ladder is sawdust under our feet, what does a paycheck actually buy an employer? What does a working person owe his or her job, and what does the job owe an employee?”
This is a great question. I answer this way:
"An employee’s job is to give his or her best work every day. A manager’s job is to give the person a reason to come back to work tomorrow."

The casual workplace is making sexual harassment harder to identify—and stop
Vivian Giang, Quartz
"A lewd text in the middle of the night, disturbing comments made in the waning hours of some work event, offhand jokes about sexual escapades in company-wide emails—decades after the Mad Men era of patriarchal office etiquette, data suggests our more casual workplace may be making it difficult for some employees to identify and protect themselves against gendered harassment.
Take, for example, Ellen Pao’s closely followed lawsuit against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers."

Moving the Engagement Needle
Steve Boese, Human Resource Executive
"It could be the most vexing paradox in HR and talent management today: Employee engagement has emerged as one of the most pressing challenges—if not the most—for business leaders, while overall employee-engagement levels remain depressingly low in most organizations. The most commonly cited “macro” employee-engagement survey from Gallup reports about 31 percent of U.S. employees as “engaged,” with more than half (51 percent) of workers “not engaged,” and a worrisome 17.5 percent “actively disengaged” in 2014. These engagement levels, while up a bit from 2013, still remain stubbornly low when compared to most HR leaders’ goals.
It is a troubling set of circumstances—we know engagement levels are too low (and have been for a long time); and we know that increasing engagement levels will improve productivity, increase innovation and enhance customer service. But for many organizations, moving the needle on engagement has proven difficult. "

CEOs, They're Just Like Us: The Secret Lives of Company Executives
Kristen Felicetti, AOL Jobs
"The fictional CEOs and top executives on film and television live fantasy lives of luxury and indulgence. Think Miranda Priestly's chauffeured town car and high-fashion wardrobe, Christian Grey's private helicopter, Don Draper's expensive scotch, or Jack Donaghy's finely tailored suits. However, when it comes to your own office, the company CEO is probably living more modestly.
CareerBuilder released a lighthearted survey that took a look at the preferences of those who command the corner office. The study was conducted online from November to December 2014 by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder among more than 500 executives (hiring and human resources managers in senior leadership positions including CEOs, CFOs, COOs and Senior VP)."

More noteworthy news
Meetings that should be e-mails, and e-mails that should be meetings

A CEO shares the most impressive question a job candidate can ask

Biggest Failures, Best Advice and Defining Success From 14 Inspiring Entrepreneurs

Preparing for the unthinkable: Violence in the workplace

By the Numbers
6 Beautiful and eco-friendly offices that make work seem like a dream

6 Proven Strategies That Move The Needle On Gender Equality In Corporate America

10 punctuation essentials for every writer

9 Additions You Need to Make to Your HR Manual Right Now

10 easy ways to age-proof your brain

11 Quotes That Perfectly Sum Up The Stigma Surrounding Mental Illness

12 The Dirty Dozen Tax Scams, 2015 Style

20 Embarrassing Things Never to Say in a Job Interview

Compliance Corner
Employers: What You Need to Know if You Conduct Background Checks - Despite its name the FCRA does not just apply to credit reporting

The Importance of Tracking Employee Time – Simple Practices to Avoid Big Headaches

What Factors Bear Upon The Enforceability Of Noncompete Agreements?

Employer's Lack of FMLA Compliance in Handling FMLA Leave Request is a Lesson for the Rest of Us

Workplace Wellness
10 Best Practices to Staying Healthy at Work

Is Stress at the Office Contagious?

What Happens To Our Brains When We Exercise And How It Makes Us Happier

Healthy eating in the workplace

esi.JPG Want to ensure a winning team in your organization? In addition to help for your employees, ESI EAP offers a full suite of tools for supervisors and managers, including our ESI Management Academy. Trainings cover compliance issues, management skills and more. If you want to learn more about how ESI can provide more employee EAP benefits and more employer services, call us at 800-535-4841.

March 27, 2015

Mindfulness in the Boardroom: the Meditation Trend

Will capitalism complicate something as simple as following your breath? That's a question Joe Pinsker poses in his article for The Atlantic, Corporations' Newest Productivity Hack: Meditation. He interviews David Gelles, a New York Times business reporter who tracks the intersection of "mindfulness" and corporate America.

"Gelles first reported on the rise of corporate mindfulness programs in 2012 for The Financial Times, when he described a rare but promising initiative at General Mills. In the years since, similar programs have popped up at Ford, Google, Target, Adobe—and even Goldman Sachs and Davos. This adoption has been rapid, perhaps due to its potential to help the bottom line: Aetna estimates that since instituting its mindfulness program, it has saved about $2,000 per employee in healthcare costs, and gained about $3,000 per employee in productivity. Mindful employees, the thinking goes, are healthier and more focused."

Gelles also authored a newly published book, Mindful Work, prompting the interview with Pinsker. The interview ranges from the earliest intersection of mediation and corporate America to current day trends and manifestations in the workplace. Gelles attributes the increasing adoption of mediation programs to three reasons: scientific research that quantifies the effects of mindfulness, mindfulness having become a secular pursuit, and the third:

"The third is, I think mindfulness is being accepted in the workplace today because we need it more than ever, it seems. We are so stressed. We are so bombarded with constant information overload. We are so addicted to our technology that the promise of a technique that allows us to come back to the present moment and stop obsessing about whatever it we just read in our Twitter stream or what we're about to post on our Facebook page has a unique and enduring allure that is totally understandable. I mean, after a totally frenetic workday here at The Times, the opportunity to quiet down is totally lovely."

Pinsker and Gelles go on to discuss examples of how these programs are being implemented at various companies.

Perhaps one of the most compelling examples can be seen in Gelles' recent article, At Aetna, a C.E.O.’s Management by Mantra, in which he profiles Mark Bertolini and his near-death experience that led him to meditation. After a life-threatening skiing injury, Bertolini searched for an alternative to pharmaceuticals to manage his chronic pain. He turned to yoga and meditation. He credits this with helping him to regain his health, and in realizing these benefits, he thought, "If yoga and mindfulness had helped him, why shouldn’t they help his employees, and even Aetna’s millions of customers?" He began folding it into the company.

"When Mr. Bertolini reviewed Aetna’s financial performance for 2012, he noticed something surprising: Health care costs had fallen. For the year, paid medical claims per employee were down 7.3 percent. That amounted to about $9 million in savings. The next year, health care costs rose 5.7 percent, but have remained about 3 percent lower than they were before yoga and meditation were introduced at the company.
Mr. Bertolini doesn’t attribute all those cost savings to yoga and meditation alone. Other wellness initiatives, including a weight loss program and new health screenings, had also been ramping up during this period. But he says he believes they made an impact. “It was a culmination of a set of programs that led to a steady decrease in health care costs,” Mr. Bertolini said. “I wouldn’t say it’s all just yoga and mindfulness, but they helped.”

Gelles also links Bertolini's experience with mindfulness to his recent decision to increase Aetna's U.S. minimum wage to $16 an hour, from $12. He quotes the CEO as saying: "It’s made me question what I do and how I look at the world,” he said. “It’s made me consider my influence and how I treat people.”


Mindfulness Meditation? Am I Doing It Right?

How to practice mindfulness: Expert tips on learning to embrace the present

Mindfulness Tied to Better Physical Health

New to Mindfulness? How to Get Started

Looking for the most comprehensive and effective wellness program for your employees? ESI TotalCare Wellness pairs Behavioral Health Clinicians with certified Wellness Coaches to provide employees and their families with the help, motivation, tools and support to make changes and improve their lives. Call 800-535-4841 for more information.

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