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June 29, 2012

Affordable Care Act - Information Toolkit

Affordable Care Act - Information for Employers and Self-Employed - Small businesses - Learn about small employer tax credits, as well as small employers’ rights and responsibilities under the law. Small employers are usually defined at those having fewer than 50 employees. Large businesses - Information for businesses with 50 or more employees, including information about tax policy and employer responsibility parts of the law. Self-Employed - Self-employed people have some new options and protections, both now and beginning in 2014. In some states, self-employed people can apply for small business policies.

Resources for Consumers and Employers - from Kaiser Family Foundation

After the Ruling: A Consumer Guide - an FAQ from Kaiser Health News about some of the law's provisions that are already up and running as well as major features of what's to come.

What’s Changing and When - an interactive timeline, or see all timeline items on one page in printable format.

Health Reform Implementation Timeline - provisions by year.

The Affordable Care Act by State - See what implementation means for your state. From grants to new services and programs, find out how the Affordable Care Act is helping you where you live.

Prevention and Wellness - insurers are required to cover certain preventive services at no cost to the insured. Beginning as early as August 2012, this list will expand to include additional services for women.

Health Reform Glossary

Full text of the Affordable Care Act - Read the Affordable Care Act in full or browse it section by section.

June 24, 2012

News briefs: Recruitment & PR, Grammar Gaffes, Prescription Monitoring & more

What your recruitment practices say about you - Some companies spend big bucks to advertise and run PR campaigns every year to shape public opinion, but forget to plug the leaks that may be occurring with one very significant public: job applicants. A recent CareerBuilder study shows that what goes on in the hiring office doesn't stay there: Bad recruitment experiences can go viral or at least spread throughout someone’s personal network. "Three-in-four workers – 78 percent – said they would talk about a bad experience they had with a potential employer with friends and family. Seventeen percent said they would post something about their negative experience on social media and six percent said they would blog about it." In addition, in another survey, 32 percent of applicants said they are less likely to purchase a product from a company who didn’t respond to their job application.

Grammar gaffes - In this age of Twitter and online abbreviations and emoticons, are your employees losing the ability to speak and write well? Sue Shellenbarger looks that how employers are coping with the impact of poor grammar in the workplace in her column, This Embarrasses You and I*. She notes, "Some bosses and co-workers step in to correct mistakes, while others consult business-grammar guides for help. In a survey conducted earlier this year, about 45% of 430 employers said they were increasing employee-training programs to improve employees' grammar and other skills, according to the Society for Human Resource Management and AARP." Be sure to take the accompanying interactive quiz to see how you fare.

Prescription Drug Monitoring - Opioid abuse is a growing issue in workers' comp and other disability programs. Joe Paduda at Managed Care Matters offers the skinny on one of the latest tools aimed at controlling prescription drug abuse: What's a Prescription Monitoring Program and why you should care.

25 years - Kudos to Human Resources Executive on its 25 year anniversary. In commemoration, they are serving up some interesting retrospective content. See the Top 25 HR Milestones (PDF), as well as the Top 25 Most-Read HREOnline Stories. They also speculate about what the work world will look like when they hit the 50 year mark.

Ergonomics & obesity - Ergonomic Strategies for Managing Obesity in the Workplace: "Increased obesity in the workplace means more arthritis, larger waist circumferences, additional work limitations, compromised grip strength, decreased lower limb mobility and medical risks. Obese employees might be more vulnerable to falls and their manual material handling ability may be compromised. Obesity also can impact self-esteem, motivation, absenteeism, presenteeism, premature mortality and more."

E-mail and stress - When you remove email from workers’ lives, they multitask less and experience less stress. That's one of the findings of a recent University of California, Irvine and the U.S. Army study, which Rachel Emma Silverman discuses in the Wall Street Journal's At Work blog in her post When Email Takes a Holiday. "The researchers said that the findings could be useful for boosting productivity and suggested that techniques such as checking messages in batches or only logging in at certain times may be helpful for employees and companies."

Weather and absence - Work absences due to bad weather (PDF) - The Bureau of Labor Statistics crunches the data from 1977 to 2010

Quick Takes


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.

June 23, 2012

Darkly clever ad tackles work excuses

A darkly humorous spot for South American job search website, Zonajobs presents a circumstance that many HR managers will relate to.


June 16, 2012

Grace under pressure: Robin Roberts shares her MDS diagnosis

Earlier this week, Good Morning America's Robin Roberts announced that she is facing a battle with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), believed to be the result of the radiation therapy she received to treat her breast cancer five years ago. She'll be undergoing stem cell treatment and a bone marrow transplant from her sister, who is a match.

Her courage is once again inspirational. During her battle with cancer, she worked throughout and shared her breast cancer treatment and recovery with the public in intimate detail, keeping a public video journal that offered awareness, education and inspiration to millions. Her decision to publicly share her new challenge has already made a difference, motivating many to take action. We'll all be learning more about MDS, a relatively rare blood disorder, through her story and we'll be learning more about bone marrow transplants. Roberts was fortunate to have a marrow match in her sister. Every year, 10,000 patients need a marrow transplant, but only half receive one. African Americans have more of a challenge with a donor match - a 66% chance, versus 92% for Caucasians. Since her announcement, donor registrations have skyrocketed. You can register to donate bone marrow at the National Marrow Donor Registry at Be the Match. Learn more: What’s It Like: To donate bone marrow or blood stem cells.

Cancer in the workplace: supporting colleagues

One of the other striking things about Roberts' announcement is how she was surrounded and embraced by her colleagues. Their concern and support is readily evident, as it was throughout her breast cancer treatment and recovery.

Below, we are reprinting a post on Cancer in the workplace: resources for managers and colleagues.

If you've ever managed a worker who has been diagnosed with cancer, you know the challenges that it can pose, both in terms of your own interactions with the person, and also in terms of supporting and managing concerned colleagues. It can be a difficult and delicate balance, offering support and flexibility for the employee while managing within the policies and needs of your organization. We've compiled some excellent resources from around the web that might be helpful to you and to your employees.

Managing Through Cancer Principles - offers a set of principles, resources and tools for organizations and managers that want to support employees with cancer and their co-workers. The site offers a set of principles along with manager/employee responsibilities and suggestions for developing supportive time-off policies, such as paid time off and leave banks. The site also discusses telecommuting and flex time options. While the guideline is specific to cancer and cancer treatment, most of the principles are applicable in managing employees with any life-threatening illness. (This resource is part of a site called Cancer and Careers, which has many resources, tools, and a support network for empowering and educating people with cancer to thrive in their workplace - see the video clip at the end of this post).

Beyond the matter of principles and policies, there is the very real matter of how managers and colleagues should talk to an employee who has been diagnosed with cancer or who is dying of cancer. Often, people who are grievously ill become isolated because friends and colleagues are uncomfortable and simply don't know what to say or how to deal with the person - so they simply avoid things. Here is a list of some very helpful resources offering guidance for how to talk to and interact with a person who has cancer.

Top 10 Dos and Don'ts when someone in you life becomes seriously ill is a short, practical guide with solid advice.

Supporting a friend who has cancer also offers Dos and Don'ts for things to say, along with a list of practical ways you might offer help and good gift ideas to show your support.

Quick tips for everyday situations offers suggestions for how colleagues and friends can be supportive of and respond to everyday situations, such as a coworker diagnosed with breast cancer, a relative with clinical depression, or how to offer help to a blind person in the gym.

How to talk to a friend with cancer is a discussion board thread that links to some very helpful articles, but more importantly, shares the real-life experiences of people who are living cancer and people who have lost loved ones to cancer. This is a rich, frank, and very touching discussion by and for the real experts - people who are living/have lived through real life situations.

Remember, these are the types of situations where your EAP can offer real support and resources - be sure to recommend the services of your EAP to both the person who is ill and their family members. Also, check to see if your EAP offers help and guidance for supervisors.

ESI-Logo.jpg ESI EAP offers a wide variety of support resource for employees and family members who are facing difficult health challenges. We also offer wellness benefits and health risk assessments, including discounts for weight loss programs, exercise and nutrition programs, and stop smoking programs. your EAP can help. If you are employer that doesn't have an EAP, call us at 800-535-4841.

June 15, 2012

Office Safety, 1944 style

This "humorous" instructional video offers a fascinating glimpse into the 1944 workplace. Note the way that women are portrayed - oh my!

June 9, 2012

Important Security Alert for LinkedIn Users: Change your Password Now

This past week, there was a security breach that exposed passwords for more than 6 million LinkedIn accounts. Passwords were accessed by hackers, and it is unclear if associated email addresses were also leaked. While the company says that no accounts were compromised, security advisors are united in recommending that you change your password. And if you used the same password on any other accounts, you need to change those, too. This is particularly important if any of those accounts are related to your financial data.

What can hackers do with that many passwords? They can sell them on the black market, they can add them to a phishing database, and they can try to access your accounts on popular sites using your same email/password combo. Accessing your email would be particularly damaging because criminals could potentially gain access to more sensitive information and data, and they could send emails out under your account to try to hook your colleagues, friends and family, who would think any emails were coming from you.

The practice of posing as you via emails is called spear phising. We encourage you to read and take action on our prior post Spear phishing: Train your employees in e-mail security. Even if you are secure, your organization can be exposed if one of your employees falls for this ruse.

In addition to the tips we offered in the spear phisihing post linked above, here are some additional security tips - please feel free to circulate all our tips to your employees.

  • Use separate passwords for your key accounts such as your bank and your email. Do not re-use those passwords on other sites.
  • Think twice about letting any person or any service have access to your email account. Today many social networks ask you to grant access to your address book. Hmmm. Maybe not such a good idea.
  • Create strong passwords. Microsoft Security Center offers simple advice on creating strong passwords, as well as a secure password checker, a tool that you can use to test the strength of a password. Also, see this article: Fix Your Terrible, Insecure Passwords in One Minute for a pretty good technique.
  • Change passwords regularly, particularly for key accounts.
  • Consider a password managing service. Services such as LastPass, KeePass, and 1Password help you to manage passwords securely.

Finally, beware of the opportunistic criminals who are taking advantage of this breach. If you get any emails that look like emails from LinkedIn inviting you to click to change your password, it is likely a trap. It's a good idea to get in the habit of hovering your cursor over links to reveal who they are really from before you click. This article explains: What does it mean to "hover over" a link to check it's validity?


ESI-Logo.jpg If you are a current member of ESI EAP, sign in to access our Cyber Safety Resource Center - there are a wealth of resources and tools to share with your staff. If you are an employer and you do not have a comprehensive Employee Assistance Program with 24/7 member access, give us a call: 800-535-4841.

June 3, 2012

FMLA compliance: the basics

Recently, we've had a spike in questions related to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). In response to this, we will occasionally highlight related tools, resources and articles here on the blog. Today, we'll start with some of the basics.

elaws - Family and Medical Leave Act Advisor is a resource from the U.S. Department of Labor that helps identify which employers are covered by the law, which employees are eligible for FMLA leave, what entitlements and benefits are provided under the law and in what situations FMLA leave may be used. It reflects the current regulations effective January 16, 2009. It also notes changes resulting from Congress's subsequent amendments to the FMLA. After an initial FMLA overview, the tool walks the user through a series of if/then eligibility questions. Pages that may be of significant help to employers include Employer Rights and Responsibilities Menu and a Glossary of Terms Used in the FMLA.

Other tools
DOL Family and Medical Leave Act - comprehensive list of resources and tools.

DOL Wage and Hour Division: Fact Sheet #28: The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (revised in February 2010)

DOL Wage & Hour Division: Military Family Leave Provisions

DOL Wage & Hour Division: FMLA Poster - All covered employers are required to display and keep displayed a poster prepared by the Department of Labor summarizing the major provisions of The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and telling employees how to file a complaint. The poster must be displayed in a conspicuous place where employees and applicants for employment can see it. A poster must be displayed at all locations even if there are no eligible employees.


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.

June 1, 2012

Will humor help your recruitment efforts?

Courtesy of HR Lori, we offer this ridiculous and amusing recruitment video from social media giant Twitter. It is self-described as the "best/worst recruiting video of all time" and features good-sport CEO Dick Costolo. After its release at the end of January, the video gained more than a half-million views in the first few days and was highlighted by major tech media and blogs - whose readers would be just the type of job candidates the company might hope to attract. What prompted this off-beat approach? This video was developed during something that Twitter calls Hack Week, "...a week-long event where employees from across the company are given time away from their desks to hack Twitter, coming up with new tools, ideas and designs to make the Twitter experience even better." Great idea. What is your organization doing to foster and promote employee innovation?

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