INSIGHTS BLOG

Discover how to help your employees achieve personal success.

  • Eight Simple First-aid Tips That Could Save an Employee’s Life


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    Thousands of employees are killed or suffer serious injuries at work every year. Yet, a staggering 58 percent of employees are unfamiliar with their organization’s health and safety practices, according to a study conducted by international safety barrier manufacturer, A-SAFE.

    Review these eight simple first-aid tips with your employees to ensure that your whole team is capable of providing aid to co-workers if necessary:

    1. Unresponsive and not breathing
    • Check breathing by tilting their head backwards and looking and feeling for breaths.
    • Call 911 as soon as possible.
    • Place the victim on his or her back on a flat surface. Make sure the person’s airway is clear.
    • Place the heel of one hand over the center of the chest, and your other hand on top of the first. Using your upper body weight, forcefully push straight down on the chest at a fast pace. Continue compressions until paramedics arrive (unless instructed differently by medical personnel over the phone).
    • If you are well-trained in CPR and feel confident in your abilities, you may alternate two rescue breaths for each set of 30 chest compressions (unless instructed otherwise by medical personnel over the phone).
    1. Unresponsive and breathing
    • Check breathing by tilting their head backwards and looking and feeling for breaths.
    • Move them onto their side and tilt their head back.
    • Call 911, as soon as possible.
    1. Choking
    • Stand behind the choking person and wrap your arms around his or her waist. Bend the person slightly forward.
    • Make a fist with one hand and place it slightly above the person’s navel.
    • Grasp your fist with the other hand and press hard into the abdomen with a quick, upward thrust.
    • Repeat this procedure until the object is expelled from the airway.
    • If you must perform this maneuver on yourself, position your own fist slightly above your navel. Grasp your fist with your other hand and thrust upward into your abdomen until the object is expelled.
    • Call 911, if necessary.
    1. Heavy bleeding
    • Using a clean dry cloth, put pressure on the wound to stop or slow down the flow of blood.
    • Call 911, as soon as possible.
    • Keep pressure on the wound until help arrives.
    1. Burns
    • If the skin is not broken, run cool water over the burn for several minutes.
    • Cover the burn with a sterile bandage or clean cloth.
    • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever to relieve any swelling or pain.
    • Do not place any creams or ice on the burned area.
    • Seek emergency treatment for more serious burns immediately.
    1. Broken bone
    • Have the person support the injury with his or her hand, or use a cushion or items of clothing to prevent unnecessary movement.
    • Call 911, as soon as possible.
    • Continue supporting the injury until help arrives.
    1. Shock
    • Call 911, as soon as possible.
    • Have the victim lie down on his or her back and elevate the feet higher than the head. Keep the victim from moving unnecessarily.
    • Keep the victim warm and comfortable. Loosen tight clothing and cover him or her with a blanket.
    • Do not give the victim anything to drink.
    • If he or she is vomiting or bleeding from the mouth, place the victim on his or her side to prevent choking.
    • Treat any other injuries appropriately.
    • Begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if victim is not breathing.
    1. Nosebleed
    • Have the victim sit or stand upright to slow the flow of blood in the nose. Do NOT tip the head back.
    • Gently pinch the nose with your thumb and forefinger for 10 minutes, maintaining pressure. Have the victim breathe through the mouth during this time.
    • Seek medical care if bleeding lasts for more than 20 minutes or if the nosebleed resulted from a broken nose or head trauma.

    Reminding employees about the importance of safety and looking out for one another should be a regular practice. Visit our Risk Management Toolbox website for more resources to make safety a priority at your organization. If you are interested in formal first aid training for your team, please contact our Safety Director Reed Balls at rballs@aplusbenefits.com. Keep each other safe.

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    A Plus BenefitsEight Simple First-aid Tips That Could Save an Employee’s Life
  • Five Ways to Immediately Improve Your Interview Process


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    Making a bad hiring decision is one of the biggest fears of many small business leaders. That fear is justified. The cost of just one bad hire is estimated to be two and a half times the cost of the employee’s annual salary. A bad hire can impact the morale and productivity of your other employees as well as your reputation with your customers. Improving your interviewing process is one of the best ways to make sure that you avoid bad hires and add only the very best employees to your team. Here are five simple things you can do to immediately improve your interviewing process:

    Avoid common interview questions
    Candidates these days usually have an idea of the typical questions they may be asked. A quick Google search of interview questions will probably pull up a list that looks something like what you are currently working from. This allows candidates to prepare answers in advance so have their best answers, or what they think you want to hear prepared. Instead:

    • Ask about different job-related scenarios such as:
      • Tell me about a time when you had to complete a project with very little direction. How did it go? What did you like? What didn’t you like?
      • Tell me about a time when you had to work on a project you were not passionate about. How did you handle it?
    • Ask questions that help you understand how they think such as:
      • If you could be a superhero, which would you be and why?
      • What is your favorite book and why?
      • What is your favorite place to take a vacation and why?
    • Ask about their previous jobs such as:
      • What did you like least about your most recent job?
      • Who was your favorite boss?
    • Ask about future plans such as:
      • What are your long-term goals? (5 or 10 years from now)
      • If you could take a class to learn something new, what would it be?

    Don’t stay in the conference room.
    An interview doesn’t have to take place only in your conference room or your office. Take the opportunity to get outside the typical interview environment.

    • Give the candidate on a tour of the office and see how they interact with employees. You can pay attention to the candidate’s interest in the company and see if they fit the company culture.
    • Take the candidate out for lunch or coffee and get to know them better. You can see how comfortable the employee is carrying on a conversation and see how they treat others, such as your server.

    Get more than one opinion about the candidate
    Invite other employees to sit in the interview, including some individuals who may be working with the new employee or those that have the same supervisor. Get the other employees’ feedback, since they may see or hear things you did not.

    Give a candidate a small project to complete
    Have the candidate complete a small project that relates to the job. This will give you a sense of what it would be like to work with the person since you cannot always tell when interviewing. Give only basic parameters and then let the candidate set the deadline for the project. This can help you see their work ethic and time management skills.

    Some red flags to consider
    Keep these things in mind as you interview potential job candidates. They can often be a good predictor of problems in the future if they occur in a job interview.

    • The candidate checks their phone often.
    • The candidate is late.
    • The candidate complains about previous employers or uses vulgar language.
    • The candidate comes with a list of things they are not willing to do.

    Finding the best employees is possible. With a few small tweaks, you can take your interview process from good to great, instantly. For more assistance or ideas on hiring, contact the HR team at A Plus Benefits.  You can also catch our upcoming webinar, The Five Best Hiring Hacks for Finding Rockstar Employees.

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    A Plus BenefitsFive Ways to Immediately Improve Your Interview Process
  • Prevent Heat Sickness as Temperatures Rise


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    Hot weather, especially when combined with strenuous physical labor, can cause body temperatures to rise to unsafe levels—leading to heat illnesses. Outdoor workers are especially vulnerable to heat-related illnesses because they spend the majority of the day outside in direct sunlight. Please share this information with your employees as the hot weather approaches.

    There are a variety of heat illnesses, including heat stroke, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat cramps. Each of these illnesses vary in symptoms and severity, but commonly cause dizziness, weakness, nausea, blurry vision, confusion or loss of consciousness.

    To stay safe from the heat when working outdoors, consider doing the following:

    • Wear loose, light-colored clothing whenever possible.
    • Shield your head and face from direct sunlight with a hat.
    • Take short breaks to rest in the shade. If you are wearing heavy protective gear, consider removing it during your break to cool off even more.
    • Ease into your work, gradually building up to more strenuous activity as the day progresses. In addition, you should avoid overexerting yourself during peak temperature periods (midday).
    • Drink liquids frequently, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Experts recommend drinking at least 8 ounces every 20 to 30 minutes to stay hydrated. Stick to water, fruit juice and sport drinks. Try to avoid caffeinated beverages, as they can dehydrate you.

    Employees should monitor themselves and co-workers on hot days. If you notice any signs of heat illness, notify your on-duty supervisor immediately.

    Most often, heat illness sufferers can be treated by being moved to a cooler area and given liquids. In extreme cases of heat stroke where an employee is unconscious, you will have to call an ambulance immediately.

    If you have questions about how you can keep your employees safe, contact our Safety Director Reed Balls at rballs@aplusbeneifts.com

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    A Plus BenefitsPrevent Heat Sickness as Temperatures Rise
  • What is Going on With Overtime Regulations?


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    Last year, discussion about changes to overtime regulations dominated a lot of discussions among employers. That all quickly came to a halt when the rule increasing the salary limits for certain white-collar workers which was scheduled to take effect December 1, 2016 was delayed by federal court injunction on November 22, 2016. Actions by President Trump since the beginning of the year suggest that the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) overtime rule change for white-collar employees is unlikely to ever come to fruition.

    That being said, there have been some suggested changes to overtime by the current members of the US House of Representatives. On May 2, 2017, the House of Representatives passed the Working Families Flexibility Act (also known as H.R. 1180). If approved, H.R. 1180 would authorize private employers to offer compensatory time instead of overtime pay for nonexempt employees who work more than 40 hours per week.

    What is Compensatory Time Off?
    Compensatory time off is already a common practice for many federal and state employers, but it is not currently allowed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for private employers. H.R. 1180 would amend the FLSA to allow this practice, if certain conditions are met.

    Currently, the FLSA requires employers in the private sector to pay overtime wages to nonexempt employees for all hours of overtime worked. If approved, H.R. 1180 would amend the FLSA to allow private sector employers to provide either overtime pay or compensatory time off to nonexempt employees who work overtime hours.

    H.R. 1180 is proposing that compensatory time off be calculated at the rate of 1.5 hours of compensatory time off for every hour of overtime work. As it stands, H.R. 1180 would expire within five years of its enactment. In addition, the bill would limit the amount of compensatory time off eligible employees may receive to 160 hours.

    H.R. 1180 would only apply to private sector employers, meaning that if it were to be adopted, it would not affect current compensatory time off requirements for public sector (federal and state government) employees.

    Voluntary Agreement and Usage
    Under H.R. 1180, both employers and employees would have to agree to compensatory time off instead of overtime wages. In unionized environments, compensatory time off would have to be allowed by any applicable collective bargaining agreement. The agreement would need to be preserved in writing and take place before any compensatory time off begins to accrue.

    Finally, the language of H.R. 1180 would prohibit employers from coercing or forcing employees to agree to receive or use compensatory time off instead of overtime wages. This means that employers would not be allowed to directly or indirectly intimidate, threaten or coerce (or attempt to intimidate, threaten or coerce) employees to agree to receive or use any accrued compensatory time off.

    Eligibility
    Under H.R. 1180, employees would be eligible to receive compensatory time off after 1,000 hours of continuous employment during the previous 12 months.

    Payment for Unused Compensatory Time
    H.R. 1180 would require employers to allow employees to use any earned compensatory time off within a reasonable period, as long as this does not unduly disrupt the employer’s operations.

    However, employers would be required to provide monetary compensation to their employees for any compensatory time off that is not used by the end of the calendar year, although employers would be able to determine a different 12-month period as long as it remains consistent.

    Unused compensatory time would need to be paid at a rate that would at least be equal to the employee’s regular wage rate. The employee’s regular rate would be the higher of:

    The regular wage rate at the time the overtime work was performed; or

    The regular wage rate at the time the unused compensatory time off must be paid.

    Payment for unused compensatory time off would be required within a month of the end of the 12-month period.

    There are not currently any changes in the law. Compensatory time is still not allowed in lieu of overtime pay for private employers under the FLSA. H.R. 1180 needs approval from the Senate and the executive branch before it becomes law and there are likely to be changes made to the current proposal before that happens. We will continue to provide updates as they become available.

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    A Plus BenefitsWhat is Going on With Overtime Regulations?
  • Three Qualities Required for Every High-Performing Team


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    Developing high-performing teams of employees is the goal of every business leader. It can be difficult to get individuals with different motivations and personalities to all work well together, but there are three qualities you can focus on help hep your employee teams perform at the highest possible levels. No matter what size your team is or what industry you work in, these three things must be present:

    Open communication
    Any close relationship requires open communication. Trust and transparency are vital, so that all members of the team coordinate their work. The team must also be prepared to address any conflict immediately in order to keep the team cohesive.

    Shared goals
    The team must understand what they are working toward and why it is important. They also need to understand how their individual goals and the team’s goals are aligned with the businesses’ goals. People like to feel like they are working toward something bigger and that their work has a greater impact on the business and the community as a whole.

    Defined roles
    When everyone knows who is responsible for what they can hold each other accountable for their work. This is a motivating environment to work in. It also helps each individual see how their own work is contributing to the team’s shared goals.

    Teams can be difficult to manage. Conflicting personalities, communications styles and work ethics often lead to challenges. Keeping the three qualities above in mind when managing a team can help to ensure success.

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    A Plus BenefitsThree Qualities Required for Every High-Performing Team
  • Global Ransomware Attack Reminds Us of the Importance of Cyber Security


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    The Wannacry ransomware attack has many companies once again looking at not only steps they can take to help protect their business from a cyber attack, but also ways to protect their business and its assets in the event of a cyber attack.  Most businesses should consider purchasing Cyber Insurance to help protect its business assets in the event of a cyber breach. Our sister company, A Plus Risk & Insurance works with several carriers that are experts in writing cyber insurance.  We can help your business identify what type of cyber insurance is right for your company.

    Every day, more than 1 million people become victims of cyber crime, according to a study by Symantec, a computer security software company. With such heavy use of and reliance on computers and the Internet by both large and small organizations, protecting these resources has become increasingly important. Learning about cyber attacks and how to prevent them can help you protect your company from security breaches.

    Cyber Attacks Compromise Your Company
    Cyber attacks include many types of attempted or successful breaches of computer security. These threats come in different forms, including phishing, viruses, Trojans, key logging, spyware and spam. Once hackers have gained access to the computer system, they can accomplish any of several malicious goals, typically stealing information or financial assets, corrupting data or causing operational disruption or shut-down.

    Both third parties and insiders can use a variety of techniques to carry out cyber attacks. These techniques range from highly sophisticated efforts to electronically circumvent network security or overwhelm websites to more traditional intelligence gathering and social engineering aimed at gaining network access.

    Cyber attacks can result directly from deliberate actions of hackers, or attacks can be unintentionally facilitated by employees—for example, if they click on a malicious link.

    A breach in cyber security can lead to unauthorized usage through tactics such as the following:

    • Installing spyware that allows the hacker to track Internet activity and steal information and passwords
    • Deceiving recipients of phishing emails into disclosing personal information
    • Tricking recipients of spam email into giving hackers access to the computer system
    • Installing viruses that allow hackers to steal, corrupt or delete information or even crash the entire system
    • Hijacking the company website and rerouting visitors to a fraudulent look-alike site and subsequently stealing personal information from clients or consumers

    Cyber attacks may also be carried out in a manner that does not require gaining unauthorized access, such as denial-of-service attacks on websites in which the site is overloaded by the attacker and legitimate users are then denied access.

    Securing Your Company’s Mobile Devices
    Gone are the days when contact names and phone numbers were the most sensitive pieces of information on an employee’s phone. Now a smartphone or tablet can be used to gain access to anything from emails to stored passwords to proprietary company data. Depending on how your organization uses such devices, unauthorized access to the information on a smartphone or tablet could be just as damaging as a data breach involving a more traditional computer system.

    The need for proper mobile device security is no different from the need for a well-protected computer network. According to computer security software company McAfee, cyber attacks on mobile devices increased by almost 600 percent from 2011 to 2012 with no signs of slowing down. Untrusted app stores will continue to be a major source of mobile malware which drives traffic to these stores. This type of “malvertising” continues to grow quickly on mobile platforms.

    The Vulnerable Become the Victims
    The majority of cyber criminals are indiscriminate when choosing their victims. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) asserts that cyber criminals will target vulnerable computer systems regardless of whether the systems belong to a Fortune 500 company, a small business or a home user.

    Cyber criminals look for weak spots and attack there, no matter how large or small the organization. Small businesses, for instance, are becoming a more attractive target as many larger companies tighten their cyber security. According to the industry experts, the cost of the average cyber attack on a small business is increasing exponentially and shows no signs of slowing down. Most small businesses don’t have that kind of money lying around, and as a result, nearly 60 percent of the small businesses victimized by a cyber attack close permanently within six months of the attack. Many of these businesses put off making necessary improvements to their cyber security protocols until it is too late because they fear the costs would be prohibitive.

    Simple Steps to Stay Secure
    Following are suggestions from a Federal Communications Commission roundtable and the DHS’s Stop.Think.Connect. program for easily implemented security procedures to help ward off cyber criminals. These suggestions include guidelines for the company as well as possible rules and procedures that can be shared with employees.

    Security Tips for the Company

    • Install, use and regularly update anti-virus and anti-spyware software on all computers.
    • Download and install software updates for your operating systems and applications as they become available; if possible, choose the automatic update option.
    • Change the manufacturer’s default passwords on all software.
    • Use a firewall for your Internet connection.
    • Regularly make backup copies of important business data.
    • Control who can physically access your computers and other network components.
    • Secure any Wi-Fi networks.
    • Require individual user accounts for each employee.
    • Limit employee access to data and information, and limit authority for software installation.
    • Monitor, log and analyze all attempted and successful attacks on systems and networks.
    • Establish a mobile device policy and keep them updated with the most current software and antivirus programs.

    Security Tips for Employees

    • Use strong passwords (a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters), change them regularly and never share them with anyone.
    • Protect private information by not disclosing it unless necessary, and always verify the source if asked to input sensitive data for a website or email.
    • Don’t open suspicious links and emails; an indication that the site is safe is if the URL begins with https://.
    • Scan all external devices, such as USB flash drives, for viruses and malicious software (malware) before using the device.

    Most importantly, stay informed about cyber security and continue to discuss Internet safety with employees.

    Don’t Let it Happen to Your Company
    According to the DHS, 96 percent of cyber security breaches could have been avoided with simple or intermediate controls. Strengthening passwords, installing anti-virus software and not opening suspicious emails and links are the first steps toward cyber security. In addition to the listed tips, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) provides a tool for small businesses that can create and save a custom cyber security plan for your company, choosing from a menu of expert advice to address your specific business needs and concerns. It can be found at www.fcc.gov/cyberplanner.

    Contact A Plus Risk & Insurance today for a free, no-obligation quote for Cyber Insurance at (801) 443-1194.

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    A Plus BenefitsGlobal Ransomware Attack Reminds Us of the Importance of Cyber Security
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