Wellness Council Program a Real STAR

Five-Star-150x150Do you need any additional evidence that workplace wellness and its importance are here to stay? Digest this fact: In 2014, the number of companies completing a level of the Wellness Council of Indiana’s AchieveWELL program exceeded the total of the previous five years combined.

AchieveWELL was recognized as a winner (for innovative membership program) recently in the Indiana Society of Association Executives’ STAR awards program. The Wellness Council has been a part of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce since 2011.

The program provides a blueprint and a strategy for implementing a successful wellness initiative in the workplace. It was developed to assist employers in creating a corporate culture that encourages and supports employee health through worksite wellness.

AcheiveWELL’s process is proven to reduce the costly and time-consuming mistakes many internal wellness committees make when attempting to deliver wellness at work. It promotes productivity, presenteeism and engagement at work.

There are three different levels in the AchieveWELL program (three star, four star level and five star l). Each level has goals and programs for organizations to promote wellness. Companies are provided with tools, templates and personal coaching to help them comply with the established criteria for delivering a comprehensive and consistent workplace wellness initiative. Once one level is completed, a company may advance to the next level.

Check it out online and connect with the Wellness Council of Indiana to learn how your organization can benefit.

Please Don’t Take This Job and Shove It

37193874Everyone talks about making a good first impression in the workplace. But it doesn’t stop there. When you’re ready to move onto a new opportunity, one of the worst things you can do is leave on poor terms.

This Business Insider article offers six tips for gracefully quitting your job and avoiding burning bridges (ruefully, I must admit that for years, I thought the expression was “burning britches.” That would be another unfortunate experience altogether.)

One piece of advice that stands out is to tell your boss in person. In my opinion, revealing the news via email is akin to breaking up with someone in a text.

Another word of caution: Stay positive. You’re moving on (to another job), right? So, move on – don’t grumble about things that frustrated you along the way.

Check out the story. Let us know if you agree or disagree with the suggestions, or share your own!

Job Candidates: Don’t Do These Things in the Interview

87566052CareerBuilder offers some reasonable guidance regarding what may make interviewers put off by some candidates. Read the full post, but it also offers some bizarre things candidates have reportedly done. I personally like: “Applicant acted out a Star Trek role.”

Candidate: “Damn it, Jim! I’m a doctor, not an accountant.”
Interviewer: “Ok, well we’re discussing a CPA position, soooooo…”

Anyway, here’s the strange list:

When asked to share the most outrageous mistakes candidates made during a job interview, employers gave the following real-life examples:

  • Applicant warned the interviewer that she “took too much valium” and didn’t think her interview was indicative of her personality
  • Applicant acted out a Star Trek role
  • Applicant answered a phone call for an interview with a competitor
  • Applicant arrived in a jogging suit because he was going running after the interview
  • Applicant asked for a hug
  • Applicant attempted to secretly record the interview
  • Applicant brought personal photo albums
  • Applicant called himself his own personal hero
  • Applicant checked Facebook during the interview
  • Applicant crashed her car into the building
  • Applicant popped out his teeth when discussing dental benefits
  • Applicant kept her iPod headphones on during the interview
  • Applicant set fire to the interviewer’s newspaper while reading it when the interviewer said “Impress me”
  • Applicant said that he questioned his daughter’s paternity
  • Applicant wanted to know the name and phone number of the receptionist because he really liked her

In the end, know that hiring managers are looking for a new team member and want to find somebody that’s a good fit, and aren’t rooting for you to fail. “Employers want to see confidence and genuine interest in the position. The interview is not only an opportunity to showcase your skills, but also to demonstrate that you’re the type of person people will want to work with,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. “Going over common interview questions, researching the company, and practicing with a friend or family member can help you feel more prepared, give you a boost in confidence, and help calm your nerves.”

Harmonizing Music History with Worker Productivity

19188345Technology improvements are generally associated with getting the same amount of productivity with fewer workers. But something called the “quartet effect” – with links back to the lyrics of the Grateful Dead – instead emphasizes enhancing what people do with their time. Governing reports:

In the foreword to David Dodd’s The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics, Robert Hunter, the band’s “lyricist in residence,” wrote that the song “Uncle John’s Band” represented “the first lyric I wrote with the aid of that newfangled gadget, the cassette tape recorder. I taped the band playing the arrangement and was able to score lyrics at leisure rather than scratch away hurriedly at rehearsals, waiting for particular sections to come around again.”

What Hunter was describing, of course, was an improvement in productivity resulting from the application of new technology. Productivity is usually measured in terms of the labor cost per unit of production, and in most cases improvement is achieved by using new technology to reduce head count. For instance, a steel mill that once employed 10,000 workers produces the same tonnage with only a thousand employees, bank tellers are replaced by ATMs and elevator operators become a thing of the past. But in Hunter’s application of new technology, no one’s position was eliminated. It’s an example of what has been called “the quartet effect” at work.

When you reduce the head count of a musical quartet, you have not improved its productivity. If what you wanted was the music of a quartet, you have destroyed the product. The technology Hunter employed is the kind that, rather than eliminating jobs, allows existing staff to make better use of their time and gives them the opportunity to create higher-quality products.

How is this relevant to government? For most local governments, public safety constitutes the largest single category of expenditures, typically accounting for about 60 percent of total costs. For states and for some local governments, education is the dominant cost category. But it’s important to remember that within these areas, personnel costs — the salaries and benefits of police officers, firefighters and school teachers — are the real cost drivers. Personnel costs typically represent 80 percent or more of the total cost of a police department, for example. Few would argue that taking cops off the streets or teachers out of classrooms improves productivity.

A New Type of ‘Accidental’ Tourist (Employees Gamble With Some Odd Excuses for Missing Work)

WWe’ve all likely felt that urge at some point in our working careers to just take the day off. But how many have actually called in sick with a fake excuse to do so.

The answer is 28% in the past year, according to a CareerBuilder survey. That’s down from 32% a year earlier. But the entertainment here comes from the reasons employees give for not being able to make it to the office that day.

We couldn’t make these up. When asked to share the most dubious excuses employees have given for calling in sick, employers reported hearing the following real-life examples:

  • Employee just put a casserole in the oven
  • Employee’s plastic surgery for enhancement purposes needed some “tweaking” to get it just right
  • Employee was sitting in the bathroom and her feet and legs fell asleep. When she stood up, she fell and broke her ankle
  • Employee had been at the casino all weekend and still had money left to play with on Monday morning
  • Employee woke up in a good mood and didn’t want to ruin it
  • Employee had a “lucky night” and didn’t know where he was
  • Employee got stuck in the blood pressure machine at the grocery store and couldn’t get out
  • Employee had a gall stone they wanted to heal holistically
  • Employee caught their uniform on fire by putting it in the microwave to dry
  • Employee accidentally got on a plane

A few other interesting tidbits from the survey:

Though the majority of employers give their employees the benefit of the doubt, 31% say they have checked to see if an employee was telling the truth in one way or another.

Nearly one in five employers (18%) say they have fired an employee for calling in sick with a fake excuse.

Some workers have inadvertently busted themselves online. One in four employers (24%) have caught an employee lying about being sick by checking social media.

Perhaps not surprisingly, employee absentee rates seem to peak with flu season. December is the most popular time of year for employees to call in sick, according to 21% of employers, followed by January (17%) and February (14%).

Employees in professional and business services called in sick most often (35%) in the past year, followed closely by sales employees (34%). On the flip side, employees in the IT, retail and leisure and hospitality industries were least likely to call in sick this past year (22%, 21% and 20%, respectively).

The Ghoulish Complexities of Halloween in the Workplace

HHalloween is a great holiday. Scary stories. Caramel apples. No obligatory gift-giving.

And the costumes: Zombies. Witches. Monsters.

But in the workplace, it can be tricky. You want to be festive and accommodating to allow workers to blow off some steam. But you also don’t want any “naughty nurse” costumes creating an HR concern. Furthermore, some employees of particular faiths may not take kindly to celebrating the holiday or its Pagan origins.

The Employment & Labor Insider blog delved further into the issue and offers some ideas for your consideration.

Linking Veterans With Jobs and More

sThe Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs will be visiting eight Hoosier communities over the next several weeks, holding Community Outreach events that will offer veterans, active duty members and their dependents opportunities to connect with services and prospective employers.

All events are free. Registration is requested for planning purposes. Each event will be held from 1:00-6:00 p.m. (local time) in the following communities:

  • October 27 – Valparaiso – Porter County Expo Center, 215 E. Division Road, Valparaiso. Register
  • October 28 – South Bend – Ivy Tech Community College, 220 Dean Johnson Blvd, South Bend. Register 
  • October 29 – Ft. Wayne – Ivy Tech Community College, Coliseum Campus, Room 1640, Fort Wayne. Register
  • November 6 – Terre Haute – Ivy Tech Community College Terre Haute Main Campus, The Community Room, 8000 South Education Drive, Terre Haute. Register
  • November 13 – Bloomington – Ivy Tech Community College, 200 Daniels Way, Hoosier Times Student Commons, Bloomington. Register
  • November 20 – Columbus – Ivy Tech Community College, 4475 Central Avenue, Columbus Learning Center, Columbus. Register
  • December 4 – Lafayette – Ivy Tech Community College, Grand Hallway, 3101 S. Creasy Lane, Lafayette. Register
  • December 9 – Kokomo – Indiana Wesleyan, Kokomo Education and Conference Center, 1916 East Markland Avenue, Kokomo. Register

Additional outreach events will be planned for Muncie, New Albany, Bedford and Jasper. Those interested in attending events in these communities can find more information here or call (800) 400-4520.

“Each event will provide information and assistance with VA benefits, claims processing, remission of fees and even what to do if someone wants to enroll or return to college,” said Deanna Pugh, Director of Veterans Employment and Education. “The Indiana State Police, Dish, NiSource, United States Postal Service, Kroger and Lowes will be among the companies and organizations looking to hire employees to work in these communities.

“We will also offer Dale Carnegie sessions to help veterans prepare for interviews. We’re very excited about connecting our resources to our veteran communities and helping link those who have served our country with the many services designed specifically to assist them.”

A new state law that took effect July, 1, 2014, allows for approximately 26,000 post-911 veterans to apply for assistance through the Military Family Relief Fund. This new law eliminates the three-year restriction on access to the fund, which provides grants that may be used for needs such as food, housing, utilities, medical services, transportation and other essential family expenses. The Military Family Relief Fund has a balance of more than $7 million and lifting the cap will ensure those funds are available to support Hoosier veterans and their families.

Since its establishment in 1945, the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) has remained focused on aiding and assisting “Hoosier” veterans, and qualified family members or survivors, who are eligible for benefits or advantages provided by Indiana and the U.S. government.

Performance Reviews: Why the Compliment Sandwich Isn’t So Delicious

16248269Hooray! It’s time for a performance review.

Chances are, your team won’t have this reaction. At many organizations, annual evaluations create anxiety among employees. But what about supervisors? Many of them are nervous, too – especially when they need to broach uncomfortable topics.

According to a World of Business Ideas story, one of the worst things bosses can do to soften the blow of criticism is to serve a “compliment sandwich.” Here’s an excerpt:

What is a Compliment Sandwich? Well, beyond being one of the worst management techniques ever invented, it’s a way of trying to give critical feedback to somebody without making them feel bad. Basically, you give somebody a compliment, then you layer in a criticism, then you complete the sandwich with another compliment.

Don’t make the common mistake of trying to squeeze a negative performance critique or correction between layers of positive reinforcement. Imagine you’re Frank and your boss has just called you in for a little feedback. “Frank, you’re a world-class programmer, the absolute best. You’re probably the smartest guy in the department. You’ve been pretty nasty during our weekly meetings and it’s causing some hurt feelings. But I’m saying all this because you’re just so darn talented. I really just want to see you flourish.”

If I’m Frank, I just heard: “I’m great. I’m smart. Waa waa waa. I’m great. I’m smart.” Frank heard some compliments, then the sliding trombone sound of Charlie Brown’s teacher, then some more compliments. But he certainly didn’t hear anything about his job being in jeopardy or even that his performance is anything other than great.

Interesting. This amusing video starring “Puppet Mike” and colleagues shows the compliment sandwich in action.

Education Off the Playing Field

FKudos to the Indiana University Kelley School of Business for the recent announcement of a partnership with the National Football League Players Association. Career development, certificate and degree graduate level program options are part of the mix for current and former players.

Preparing young people for life off the field is a very good thing. Astonishingly, media reports have indicated as many as three-quarters of NFL players are bankrupt within five years of retirement. Details are in this press release.

This is only the latest example of Indiana institutions and businesses working with athletes. The current BizVoice magazine spotlights Indiana University East and its online program for tennis players (including Venus Williams) and the Language Training Center’s work with LPGA golfers.

Financial Fitness for Freshmen

The following Money Management column is provided jointly by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Indiana CPA Society as part of the CPA profession’s nationwide 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy program.

As you get ready to go away to college for the first time, this is a good time to expand your knowledge of day-to-day money management, including smart budgeting and debt management steps. The Indiana CPA Society offers these tips to students who want to get through college with the right financial footing.

Start on a Budget

You may be surprised at the high everyday costs of college, including books and supplies, daily living expenses and travel to and from school. That’s why it’s a good idea to get a sense of what you will spend – outside of tuition costs – before you begin each semester. Include savings you plan to use, any money you may receive from your family and the income you can expect from any jobs.

According to a Nationwide survey, the average student income is about $1,400 a month from part-time jobs and parents. Semesters usually last about four months, so divide your projected total to determine how much you can spend each month, after deducting the amount you can expect to pay for books at the beginning of the semester. It’s also a good idea to track your actual spending throughout the semester, so that you can more accurately project and adjust your budget for the years to come.

Get What You Need

Once you know your income, determine a list of expected expenditures each month. Be sure to remember the difference between wants and needs. Textbooks and supplies are clearly mandatory, but weekend trips, nights out and new clothes are not. Even a car can quickly drain your resources if you’re cash strapped.

Feed the Pig, the AICPA’s financial literacy site aimed at young people, recommends recording every time you make a purchase so that you get a good sense of where your money goes. Then categorize all the items, to see if you’re spending as much on morning coffee as you are on weekend entertainment. These steps allow you to understand where you might need to cut back or reconsider your spending choices. If you’re honest about your real necessities, it will be easier to create a workable budget, and find ways to save.

Avoid Credit Card Debt

College seniors with credit cards graduate with an average of $4,100 in credit card debt, according to the Nationwide survey. The importance of budgeting is clear when you see the consequences of spending beyond your means. Many students use credit cards to stretch their spending money, but given the high interest rates involved that can be a costly choice.

For example, if you have a $4,100 credit card balance, at an 18% interest rate and you make a $200 payment each month, it will take you 25 months to pay off that balance and it will cost you a whopping $836.27 in interest, money you could have spent on other purchases or put aside in savings. That debt is a big burden to carry, especially since so many graduates also have significant outstanding student loan debts.

Debt can make it more difficult to find or afford your own place or to qualify for an auto or other loan. The best advice: If you’re going to reach for the plastic, make sure it’s a debit card. That way you will spend only what you have in your bank account now and avoid overextending yourself.

Your Local CPA Can Help

College is an exciting time that offers many new experiences, including managing your own money. If you or your family has questions about financial topics, be sure to consult your local CPA. He or she can help you address all your important financial concerns.