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January 27, 2013

Keep Those New Year's Resolutions: Fitness Apps

If your personal health & wellness goals for the New Year are already flagging, here are eight fitness apps that might help you get back on track. And if you're doing OK with your goals, good for you - why not share these with colleagues, friends and family? Most are free, have free versions, or are low cost.

Every Body Walk! App
Personalize your walking plan, connect with walking communities, learn about the latest fitness trends and tips, and more. This app allows you to: Track and save your own walking routes, build your walking history—then share your progress on Facebook; Discover walking groups and walking paths near you with an interactive map; Read the latest news about walking, health news, trends and more; and Watch videos that include walking tips, how communities are embracing walking, advice from experts and more.

The founders of this apps say that exercise doesn’t have to be boring and you don’t have to drastically change your lifestyle to be healthy. This app tracks a variety of fitness activities - running, yoga, golf and more - and then rewards you with free and discounted merchandise - all to the goal of giving you an incentive to adopt long-term fitness and exercise habits.

Yog connects runners from around the world to run together in real-time. You can create a run of your own by selecting the date, time, distance, and soundtrack for your run and inviting your friends to join in. Alternatively, you can join one of the many runs scheduled by other runners from around the world.

RunKeeper bills itself as "the personal trainer for your pocket." It allows you to track your running, walking, biking and other activities with a mobile app or log in to the website to get further insight into how you're doing against yourself or your friends. Among other things, the app allows you to see detailed stats around your pace, distance, time, and calories burned; get coaching through your headphones; measure your heart rate with many available sensors; take pictures along the way to share and save; view a detailed history of your activities; and share your progress with friends - including live maps of your activities.

Whether you're a beginner or a fitness pro, young or old, tech-savvy or not, runtastic says it can help. They offer products and services that focus on gathering and managing sports data to motivate people to do sports and to connect with like-minded people. Whatever the sport, relevant sports data can be tracked via an app uploaded directly to the runtastic fitness site, a social fitness community for users. Shared activities, competitions and incentives within the community increase motivation and further assist the users in achieving goals. Related: Runtastic Fitness Collection

Endomondo is a sports community based on free real-time GPS tracking of running, cycling, walking, skiing, kayaking, roller skating - or other sports involving movement across a distance. Track all your sports data and monitor your performance over time. Meet like-minded friends, get inspired by them, challenge them and follow their activities... live.

Skimble offers Workout Trainer and GPS Sports Tracker apps that help motivate people to get and stay active. Hundreds of workouts are guided by a dynamic audio and visuals. Free versions of the apps are available or premium service with coaches and instructional videos for $25/year. Users can create their own workouts, get phone or email reminders, share progress on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and share progress with friends.

Pocket Yoga
For both fitness and stress reduction, this app offers voice instruction and visual guides, illustrated images of different poses and posture, as well as a dictionary of postures and positions that describes the benefit of each.

esi.JPG Learn how ESI Employee Assistance Program can help address your employees' health - from a wellness benefits and help for everyday work-life matters to comprehensive assistance for a wide array of potentially disruptive issues and problems.

January 25, 2013

Best Practices for downsizing, layoffs, and firings

Employee layoffs and terminations are one of the least favorite job responsibilities for most human resource professionals, but they are a reality nevertheless. In past posts, we've talked about best practices for terminations and firings as well as offering some good ways to deliver bad news. We recently came upon some practical tips from Employco USA for ensuring that any necessary employee terminations are handled in the most compassionate manner possible and we share them with you here:

To avoid negative repercussions (such as a wrongful termination lawsuit), all companies large or small should have a procedure in place for properly firing employees. Instilling programs that provide financial planning or other resources for recently laid off employees protects the integrity of the business as well.

“Appropriately handling the termination process not only benefits the employee in question, but the company as a whole,” says Rob Wilson, CEO of Employco USA, human resource outsourcing company. “It will provide reassurance to other employees and limits tension, which is conducive to a productive work environment. It also provides the terminated employee with resources for coping during the transition.”

Below are five steps employers can take to help with the transition process:

1. Proper Procedure: During the termination, include all documents related to job performance such as work reviews and written warnings to prevent any misunderstandings, and have a witness present to oversee the proceedings. Be sure to explain clearly (yet courteously) as to the grounds for termination, avoiding debate on the issue. Handle the termination with a human element, treating them as a person and not a number, and be sure to keep the termination confidential to maintain the former employee’s privacy.

2. Outplacement Services: Typically hired by larger companies, outplacement firms can offer great assistance to recently laid-off employees. They provide help with resumes, hone interview skills, offer networking workshops and even access to life coaching.

3. Financial Transition Planning: This asset will help the terminated employee understand their economic situation and offer financial advice as to how their accounts should be handled. They can educate the employee on finding a new job that provides the necessary compensation to pay their bills as well as assisting with their 401k and overall retirement plan.

4. Severance Package: Organizations that offer severance packages to downsized employees are providing them with a resource during the transition period. Most companies compute severance payments using a formula that is based on years of service among other factors.

5. Offer Compensation Upfront: At the time of termination, provide the employee’s accrued salary to him/her in person with a paper check to avoid discrepancy. In addition, financially compensate the employee for any remaining vacation days or paid time off days that were left.

6. Resources: While not all companies may have the budget to offer access to an outplacement firm, that doesn’t mean they need to leave terminated employees out in the dark. At the very least, businesses can provide a list of resources and contacts where the terminated employee may seek assistance with their new situation.

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.

January 18, 2013

Being awesome: Who can you delight today?


This story is the stuff of superhero workers. At Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, a father and son trio of window-washers donned Spiderman and Captain America costumes to try to bring a little cheer into the lives of hospitalized kids. For several hours, the costumes added a little flair to their jobs as they dangled from windows and sprayed silly string at the delighted kids. The pictures in this article above and the video below tell the story.

Who can you delight today? Whether it's your coworkers or your customers, it doesn't necessarily take being a superhero to earn a smile. Here are 24 ideas to thank your customers and your employees.

Direct link to video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfhR-SNhi0A

January 13, 2013

News Briefs: Language discrimination, FMLA, CTE, Weird Interview Questions & More

More Workers Claiming Job Discrimination Over Language, Accents
From the Insurance Journal: "More people in the workforce are claiming discrimination over their English-speaking ability or foreign accents, according to federal officials...The EEOC attributes the trend to a more ethnically diverse labor force — about 45 million Americans speak a language other than English at home. Civil-rights advocates say workplace environments have grown more hostile in states enacting tough new immigration laws."

Scrutiny of workplace policies affecting employees' rights will continue
Kristin R. Erenburg attorney in the Labor and Employment Group of Walter & Haverfield talks about employee-friendly trends in EEOC and NLRB and what we are likely to see for the future.

FMLA as Vacation Suspicion
An employee requests and vacation leave but is denied that leave. Later, the employee takes FMLA leave for the same time period. Employers can push back - Jeff Nowak of FMLA Insights explains how.

Should Employers “Ban the Box”?
"There are an increasing number of jurisdictions that are joining the “ban the box” movement, the most recent being the state of Delaware. The “ban the box” campaign is the movement to get the question about criminal convictions or history removed from all employment applications." Michael Haberman of Omega HR Solutions discusses whether employers should "ban the box."

For Americans Under 50, Stark Findings on Health
According to an extensive new report from a panel of experts convened by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, "Younger Americans die earlier and live in poorer health than their counterparts in other developed countries, with far higher rates of death from guns, car accidents and drug addiction, according to a new analysis of health and longevity in the United States." Sabrine Tavernise talks about the study in The New York Times. For more on the study, read the full report.

NFL player Junior Seau had degenerative brain disease CTE
Post-mortem studies of the brain of retired pro-football player Junior Seau reveal that he did in fact suffer from the degenerative brain disease CTE. Boston University’s center for study of the disease reports that 34 former pro players and nine who played only college football suffered from CTE. Of the findings, his wife said, "‘You can’t deny it exists, and it is hard to deny there is a link between head trauma and CTE. There’s such strong evidence correlating head trauma and collisions and CTE.’’
Related: Images of Brain Injuries in Athletes. Also, see our prior post: Junior Seau's suicide raises the issue of traumatic brain injuries

Think Like Zuck: Leadership Insights From Facebook's Early Years
"When Mark Zuckerberg first started Facebook, he knew he didn't have the experience necessary to run a major company, Ekaterina Walter says in her forthcoming book "Think Like Zuck." Here's how he triumphed anyway."

25 weirdest job interview questions of 2012
Suzanne Lucas, aka Evil HR Lady, brings us this annual roundup from Glassdoor. And in turnabout is fair play, see the 13 Worst Interview Blunders of 2012. Hint: Job candidate, you should not call in sick to your current employer during the interview, faking an illness.

How to Handle Employees Weaknesses
"Think you’ve found the perfect employee? Think again. Nobody’s perfect — not your star programmer. Not even your top sales gal. That’s why you need to focus on building a truly exceptional team of people whose strengths offset each others’ weaknesses ... Managers — you’re coaches, too. Pair employees with complementary strengths and weaknesses to build exceptional teams that completely dominate."

Journalism is Among Top 10 Occupations to Most Likely Attract Psychopaths
That's the bad news. The good news is that they only come in third, after CEOs and Lawyers.

Brief Takes


esi.JPG In addition to more benefits & more services 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. To learn more about how ESI EAP can help, give us a call: 800-535-4841.

January 11, 2013

Influenza - tips & tools for you & your employees

The Centers for Disease Control say that the flu vaccine is the best defense against seasonal flu. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get the flu vaccine. Use the Flu Vaccine Finder to find a flu vaccine location near you.

Flu resources for your business

Flu resources for healthcare providers

Flu resources for schools & childcare Providers

Flu resources for the general public

January 5, 2013

5 Things Every Presenter Needs To Know About People

Great presenters know the psychology of their audience. Behavioral psychologist and author Dr. Susan Weinschenk shares 5 of her favorite things every presenter should know.


esi.JPG In addition to more benefits & more services 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. To learn more about how ESI EAP can help, give us a call: 800-535-4841.

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