Suddenly Becoming a Caregiver is a Shock

…They cared for you when you were young… but now your parents need your help.

…Your husband managed the bills… but now he’s suffered a stroke and needs your help.

…Your partner was the primary income earner… but now she’s become incapacitated.

You’re now responsible to manage medical visits, deal with creditors, handle insurance issues. You’ve been thrust into a nightmare scenario… are you prepared?

Do you know how money moves in and out of bank accounts each month? Can a doctor lawfully talk with you? Is there a will? Medical power of attorney? What kind of health insurance is available?

If you could find yourself in the role of caregiver, it’s a good practice to talk through potential issues and concerns with your financial adviser. Naturally you’ll need to include those who you could be called upon to care for as well.

These are difficult conversations… but necessary.

  1. Establish an Understanding

It’s important to have conversations with loved ones about what they want should they find themselves incapacitated. What are their desires with regard to finances, healthcare, and long-term treatment. What about in terminal situations?

Having these conversations when people are in full control of their mental faculties is critical…

  1. Simplify

Be prepared to automate as much as possible. Establish systems to take care of regular bills so you can have confidence they are properly paid. Make sure medical appointments (if necessary) are as consistent as possible so they become part of a regular routine. Look for any area where you see complexity and see if there’s a better way…

  1. Track and Document Everything.

Be sure to have duplicates of all important documents… from wills to Medicare and Social Security cards. Watch medicine consumption and pay attention to refills and prescription expiration dates. Find a way to keep track of passwords… LastPass.com is an interesting tool for this purpose.  For keeping copies of documents, scanning and storing them on Google Drive or Dropbox can be helpful. And in a situation like this, it is critical to track expenses.

  1. Pay Attention to Insurance.

Make sure you have the insurance you need well before it is needed. Your financial adviser can help you understand costs, benefits, and what you should expect in long-term situations. Life Insurance, Long Term Care Insurance, Health Insurance… all play a role when you are a caregiver.

  1. Seek Legal Council.

A financial adviser is well equipped to talk with you about finances. But as a caregiver there are legal issues that arise and for these you need the help of an attorney. Achieving clarity about wills, power of attorney documents, and the like can help reduce potential disputes with other family members in the future.

  1. Keep a Medical Log.

Take the time to journal notes. Keep details from medical visits, document health insurance concerns, track doctor’s orders, and keep observations about the medical condition of the individual you are caring for. This ensures that you are not improperly charged for medical care and will help you see objectively if you need additional medical intervention in a long-term care situation.

  1. Don’t Go it Alone.

Get help from friends & family members alike. Become involved in a support group. Understand that the role of Caregiver can be daunting and that it is important to not become isolated in the process.  And remember, we’re here to help you as well.


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How to Create an Energized Work Force

 

The notion of a 40-hour workweek is disappearing for many. 50+ hour work-weeks have become common. Many individuals go so far as to sleep with their iPhones turned on so they can respond instantly, 24/7, as needed.

The biggest problem with this is that it leads to workers being tired and disengaged. Worse, workers suffer greater tension and make more judgment errors.

The core question: are humans capable of working constantly without rest?

The answer, of course, is no.

As a business, it is important to be mindful of how employees are treated as they are a company’s greatest asset. Happy, engaged employees lead to greater client satisfaction and retention.

So how can one economically create this “ideal” workforce?

Begin with health…

  • The average worker spends more than 9 hours a day being sedentary. To combat this it is recommended that you create more frequent break opportunities that allow for bursts of activity. Movement is key. These small 5 to 10 minute breaks should allow the worker to “break out” and go for walks, take in fresh air, etc.
  • Tip: New Balance – an athletic wear company found that by allowing people time to move around each day those workers were more energized and more purposeful in their work.

Find ways to make work manageable…

  • Help team members find possibilities rather than concentrating on problems.
  • Empower workers to help others on their team.
  • Encourage opportunities to learn from co-workers.
  • Make sure that the pursuit of goals involves each employee.
  • Maintain an honest, open, and encouraging flow of communication.

Help workers connect with purpose…

  • First, understand that earning a paycheck is the beginning of why people join a company, but they often want more.
  • People are energized when they are having fun and when they are involved in meaningful work.
  • Make sure team members understand the big picture driving the company and how their work matters to accomplishing those larger goals.

Offer creative benefits…

  • Talk with a benefits specialist about ways you can create affordable and engaging benefits for your employees… possibilities include:
    • Travel opportunities.
    • Create opportunities to earn prizes.
    • Offer employees access to free financial advice.
    • Give people their birthday as an extra paid holiday.
    • Open up to flexible work schedules.
    • Find creative ways to recognize team members.

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Working Safely With Heavy Equipment

Have heavy equipment on a job site? Make it a safe to operate…

Running heavy machinery on a construction site can lead to significant hazards. There are important techniques to bear in mind to keep a job site safe:

  • Make sure that repairs to equipment are not started until the equipment is fully powered down.
  • If refueling, you must be sure that engines are turned off.
  • All vehicles should be checked at the beginning of each shift to verify its operability.
  • If mobile heavy equipment is used on a public road, proper traffic management must be used.
  • If traffic control methods such as barriers are unavailable, it is critical to leverage flaggers. Additionally, they must wear appropriate safety gear to manage traffic.

Construction vehicles on a job site should be equipped with:

  • Fully operable brakes. (This includes having a working parking brake.)
  • Working windshield wipers.
  • Rollover protection.
  • Appropriate seating.
  • Lighting for operating at night.
  • Backup alarms for vehicles where vision is limited when backing up.
  • Exposed points on front-end loaders must be protected.
  • Vehicles that are loaded by loaders, shovels, cranes, or similar equipment should have a cab that offers appropriate protection for operators.
  • Controlling dust is paramount and operators in dusty environments need breathing protection.
  • Loads on vehicles must be balanced and secured.

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Is Pet Insurance Really Worth The Cost?

Owning a pet can be expensive. A well-bred puppy can easily cost $2,000+ for a desirable breed. Annual costs can be $700 or more including food and wellness checkups at the vet.

And that assumes things go well. If a pet requires an emergency visit to the vet, the costs for such visits can quickly skyrocket into the thousands of dollars. Treating chronic illnesses is expensive too.

But let’s face it. Pets become a treasured part of our families. Insurance becomes about more than protecting your investment in the animal. If your dog or cat gets sick, most folks struggle with the idea euthanasia if viable (but expensive) treatment options are available. In such situations, pet insurance offers a certain peace of mind. It can also offer protection against the financial stressors if a pet develops medical needs.

Most experts agree that over the life of an animal, you’ll probably pay more in insurance costs than what you’ll receive in covered expenses. But remember, insurance is there to protect against catastrophic events. From this point of view, pet insurance becomes a great option.

Presently only 1% of family pets are covered by pet insurance in the U.S. But it is a one of the fastest growing benefits that companies offer to employees.

Different polices exist. Some cover prescriptions and wellness visits. Others exist strictly as coverage against catastrophic events.

Bear in mind that animal insurance plans can be as complex as “people” health insurance. Plans can have deductibles and co-pays in addition to the regular premium costs. Likewise, premiums will vary depending on the features of the plan and a pet’s age. Also, watch out for the “fine print”. Pet insurance can have restrictions… for example some plans only work with specific vets while other plans may cap benefits.

You can check with your favorite vet to see what pet insurance options they offer. But you should also talk with your local insurance professional whether you are an individual considering pet insurance for your beloved animal, or if you are a business looking for a great benefit to offer employees. Your insurance professional will have great advice on your pet insurance options. And because they understand insurance, you can count on rock-solid guidance.


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Is Pet Insurance Really Worth The Cost?

Owning a pet can be expensive. A well-bred puppy can easily cost $2,000+ for a desirable breed. Annual costs can be $700 or more including food and wellness checkups at the vet.

And that assumes things go well. If a pet requires an emergency visit to the vet, the costs for such visits can quickly skyrocket into the thousands of dollars. Treating chronic illnesses is expensive too.

But let’s face it. Pets become a treasured part of our families. Insurance becomes about more than protecting your investment in the animal. If your dog or cat gets sick, most folks struggle with the idea euthanasia if viable (but expensive) treatment options are available. In such situations, pet insurance offers a certain peace of mind. It can also offer protection against the financial stressors if a pet develops medical needs.

Most experts agree that over the life of an animal, you’ll probably pay more in insurance costs than what you’ll receive in covered expenses. But remember, insurance is there to protect against catastrophic events. From this point of view, pet insurance becomes a great option.

Presently only 1% of family pets are covered by pet insurance in the U.S. But it is a one of the fastest growing benefits that companies offer to employees.

Different polices exist. Some cover prescriptions and wellness visits. Others exist strictly as coverage against catastrophic events.

Bear in mind that animal insurance plans can be as complex as “people” health insurance. Plans can have deductibles and co-pays in addition to the regular premium costs. Likewise, premiums will vary depending on the features of the plan and a pet’s age. Also, watch out for the “fine print”. Pet insurance can have restrictions… for example some plans only work with specific vets while other plans may cap benefits.

You can check with your favorite vet to see what pet insurance options they offer. But you should also talk with your local insurance professional whether you are an individual considering pet insurance for your beloved animal, or if you are a business looking for a great benefit to offer employees. Your insurance professional will have great advice on your pet insurance options. And because they understand insurance, you can count on rock-solid guidance.


read more

Thinking About Remote Workers?

Allowing for remote workers has advantages. It gives you versatility, helps to reduce expenses, and allows you to draw from a larger pool of potential job candidates.

There can be drawbacks as well. Top complaints:

  • A sense that there’s less communication.
  • Management’s struggle with knowing whether employees are staying on task.

So how can you maximize benefits while limiting the drawbacks?

Hybrid Approach

Some companies allow employees a certain amount of flexibility to work from home. However they still require that employees be “in office” for a certain number of days per week or month. Yahoo had a famously liberal policy on remote workers and shifted to a stricter hybrid approach. Many of Yahoo’s top engineers left the company because of the perceived lack of flexibility.

This isn’t to say that a hybrid approach is doomed to failure. But it is important to understand how a team may respond to such changes. If your company is moving away from a strict “in office” policy in favor of something more flexible, a hybrid approach can be a great way to test the waters.

Going 100% Remote Worker.

A surprising number of service companies have begun moving toward being 100% virtual. By eliminating a physical workplace, a number of expenses can be eliminated. Additionally, being allowed to work from home 100% of the time gives employees a greater sense of work-life balance. This also makes attracting high quality employees easier. Millenials are especially attracted to flexible work situations.

But being 100% virtual means a business must be more deliberate in encouraging collaboration and community. These efforts can include conferences and parties. They can also include leveraging technologies such as video conferencing and instant messaging.

“Going Remote” Requires Better Hiring Processes

The reality is that only some individuals work well on their own. Many others prefer the socialization offered by an office setting.

Others lack the discipline to keep on task through the day. Grocery shopping, running kids to soccer games, and getting to the gym can become distractions. In these situations, workers fail to create strong boundaries between “personal time” and “work time”.

A well-designed hiring process begins with attracting the right candidates to the role. They have the characteristics and experience to work well in work-from-home settings.

Once someone is hired, it is critical to have a well defined onboarding process. Such a process gives workers the tools they need to succeed while allowing managers to hold workers accountable for outcomes.

Micromanagers and Remote Workers Don’t Mix

Managers need to set up routine check-ins so that remote employees aren’t forgotten. It can also be beneficial to leverage time management software so that workers can concentrate on their jobs. Such systems help employees avoid productivity sappers like social networking. (Some roles, such as sales and customer service may need to be significantly more active in social networking…)

And this is an important point… remote workers need dynamic leadership. They need managers that don’t micromanage. They need clearly defined objectives backed by excellence in managerial support and guidance. This requires an intentionality that many managers simply aren’t accustomed to.

But by managing based on outcomes, it is possible to evaluate a remote workforce without the need to specifically worry about the number of hours they work on a given day. As long as employees get the work done on time and under budget, it’s a win for everyone. Specifically working 8 or 9 hours a day isn’t the goal in successful work-from-home arrangements. (Note: some roles like customer support definitely require consistent hours of availability.)

Watch Out for Regulatory Pitfalls

Individuals that work from home still fall under all state and federal employee guidelines for wages, breaks, etc.

Also, companies considering a remote workforce need to understand their responsibility for worker injury at home. For example, employers could be liable for an employee that suffers injury due to bad home-office ergonomics. A worker’s injuries while on the job at home will still result in a claim against the company’s Worker’s Comp insurance. (If you are thinking about allowing remote workers, it’s important to talk with your insurance professional. Get the facts about potential risk and risk mitigation before you leverage remote workers.)

Will it Work for YOU?

Ultimately “going remote” can be challenging but worth it depending on the business, the management team, and the workers involved.

The key to success is going into the effort “eyes wide open” and to understand potential pitfalls well in advance.

The greatest thing that’s required is a willingness to experiment and an ability to be flexible until the company finds a balance that works well for the bottom line.


read more

Thinking About Remote Workers?

Allowing for remote workers has advantages. It gives you versatility, helps to reduce expenses, and allows you to draw from a larger pool of potential job candidates.

There can be drawbacks as well. Top complaints:

  • A sense that there’s less communication.
  • Management’s struggle with knowing whether employees are staying on task.

So how can you maximize benefits while limiting the drawbacks?

Hybrid Approach

Some companies allow employees a certain amount of flexibility to work from home. However they still require that employees be “in office” for a certain number of days per week or month. Yahoo had a famously liberal policy on remote workers and shifted to a stricter hybrid approach. Many of Yahoo’s top engineers left the company because of the perceived lack of flexibility.

This isn’t to say that a hybrid approach is doomed to failure. But it is important to understand how a team may respond to such changes. If your company is moving away from a strict “in office” policy in favor of something more flexible, a hybrid approach can be a great way to test the waters.

Going 100% Remote Worker.

A surprising number of service companies have begun moving toward being 100% virtual. By eliminating a physical workplace, a number of expenses can be eliminated. Additionally, being allowed to work from home 100% of the time gives employees a greater sense of work-life balance. This also makes attracting high quality employees easier. Millenials are especially attracted to flexible work situations.

But being 100% virtual means a business must be more deliberate in encouraging collaboration and community. These efforts can include conferences and parties. They can also include leveraging technologies such as video conferencing and instant messaging.

“Going Remote” Requires Better Hiring Processes

The reality is that only some individuals work well on their own. Many others prefer the socialization offered by an office setting.

Others lack the discipline to keep on task through the day. Grocery shopping, running kids to soccer games, and getting to the gym can become distractions. In these situations, workers fail to create strong boundaries between “personal time” and “work time”.

A well-designed hiring process begins with attracting the right candidates to the role. They have the characteristics and experience to work well in work-from-home settings.

Once someone is hired, it is critical to have a well defined onboarding process. Such a process gives workers the tools they need to succeed while allowing managers to hold workers accountable for outcomes.

Micromanagers and Remote Workers Don’t Mix

Managers need to set up routine check-ins so that remote employees aren’t forgotten. It can also be beneficial to leverage time management software so that workers can concentrate on their jobs. Such systems help employees avoid productivity sappers like social networking. (Some roles, such as sales and customer service may need to be significantly more active in social networking…)

And this is an important point… remote workers need dynamic leadership. They need managers that don’t micromanage. They need clearly defined objectives backed by excellence in managerial support and guidance. This requires an intentionality that many managers simply aren’t accustomed to.

But by managing based on outcomes, it is possible to evaluate a remote workforce without the need to specifically worry about the number of hours they work on a given day. As long as employees get the work done on time and under budget, it’s a win for everyone. Specifically working 8 or 9 hours a day isn’t the goal in successful work-from-home arrangements. (Note: some roles like customer support definitely require consistent hours of availability.)

Watch Out for Regulatory Pitfalls

Individuals that work from home still fall under all state and federal employee guidelines for wages, breaks, etc.

Also, companies considering a remote workforce need to understand their responsibility for worker injury at home. For example, employers could be liable for an employee that suffers injury due to bad home-office ergonomics. A worker’s injuries while on the job at home will still result in a claim against the company’s Worker’s Comp insurance. (If you are thinking about allowing remote workers, it’s important to talk with your insurance professional. Get the facts about potential risk and risk mitigation before you leverage remote workers.)

Will it Work for YOU?

Ultimately “going remote” can be challenging but worth it depending on the business, the management team, and the workers involved.

The key to success is going into the effort “eyes wide open” and to understand potential pitfalls well in advance.

The greatest thing that’s required is a willingness to experiment and an ability to be flexible until the company finds a balance that works well for the bottom line.


read more