Benefits administrator blog from Delta Dental

Tag: human resources

Remote work and employers: what are the pros and cons?

In 2020, we all learned just how fast the world could adapt to new measures. In the workforce, this has meant relying on coworkers and employees to bring their work home without missing a beat. With a year passed since COVID-19 changed the world, it’s time to reflect on the first year as full-time remote employers, what has been learned from it, and how to continue to adapt moving forward.

Here’s a closer look at the pros and cons of remote working:

Pros

Flexibility

Working from home is far from a new concept. In fact, it’s often touted as a job perk by hiring managers. For employees, it often comes down to flexibility. Working remotely can be an opportunity schedule quick errands, focus in a less distracting environment or even to enjoy more time with the pets while still accomplishing the tasks at hand. The freedoms of remote work can be a major morale-booster. A study by PwC recently found that 55% of would like still to keep working from home at least three days a week once it’s safe to return to the office.

Lack of commute

Who wouldn’t choose walking to their living room over an hour commute on an over-stuffed train? Eliminating this often stressful part of the day saves time, money and headaches. It also takes more cars off the road, meaning less air pollution. In November, NASA announced that global nitrogen dioxide concentrations had been reduced by nearly 20% since February of 2020.

Larger pool of candidates

Eliminating a tough commute can also mean a more competitive job market. When people can work from anywhere, it widens the pool of potential candidates. For permanently remote jobs where location isn’t a requirement, employers can reap the benefits with a larger number of viable applicants.

Saved money

Less people in an office means a smaller office space, fewer everyday office expenses like supplies and cleanup, and less utilities at work. These kinds of savings aren’t just beneficial during uncertain times — they can be lucrative to new businesses trying to grow.

Cons

Blurred work/life balance

One of the more complicated issues to arise from remote working has been the stress of balancing a regular workday with our rapidly changing world. When the physical barrier of an office is removed, the lines between professional and personal lives can get a bit fuzzy. While flexible work hours may be a pro, they can become a slippery slope of overtime and burnout if left unchecked. In fact a recent Gallup poll showed that 29% of people who always work from home feel burnt out “very often” or “always.”

Encourage your staff to set up a corner of their home just for work if they can and to stay online for office hours only. Check in regularly to make sure that they feel heard and supported in their work endeavors.

Internet complications

We’ve all heard the horror stories: Someone forgot to mute themselves in a meeting or couldn’t figure out how to turn a Zoom filter off. In 2020, the learning curve got a bit steeper as our toolboxes grew along with our reliance on technology.

A little bit of training and empathy can go a long way in these cases. As expectations change, offer learning guides, webinars and other resources to help employees with the learning process. Additionally, understand that complications can occasionally arise when employees are at the mercy of Wi-Fi, laptops, and other far-from-perfect technologies.

Less organic opportunities for connection

With no watercooler to gather around, those little day-to-day opportunities for staff to connect can be tougher to find. Don’t let it wedge a gap between the team.

Schedule a little time for virtual team-building opportunities, be it a lunch meet-up or a Friday game hour. Take this time to focus on company values and consider how you can foster trust and communication.

As the world continues to change, take some time to reflect on how much you and your team have already adapted and give yourself credit where it’s due. Creating a culture of openness and empathy will help address issues as they arise and keep you connected to your team.

Millennials love their insurance jobs?!

2‑minute read

When Sarah Lee asked herself what she wanted to do when she grew up, she did what any millennial might do: She Googled it. “I searched ‘good at math, but don’t want to be a teacher’, and actuary was one of the first things that came up,” she says.

About a decade later, Lee is now happily in her second year as a senior actuarial analyst at Delta Dental. It might not sound like the most “millennial” career, but a job in the insurance industry offers more appeal to the rising workforce than it might seem on the surface.

A recent survey from Vertafore© found that 87% of millennials in the industry would recommend a career in insurance to their friends. What’s more, 76% have been in insurance for more than three years and 72% plan to stay in the industry as long as possible, bucking the popular stereotype of millennial job hopping.

For millennials at Delta Dental, the excitement of an industry that’s always changing keeps them engaged at work.

“There’s always something new in your current role, so you never really get bored of what you’re doing,” says Ben Calderon, senior actuarial analyst. “That’s definitely important. I don’t want to feel stagnant in my position.”

Conversely, Calderon says millennials fuel the evolution of the industry with new ideas and skills.

That’s what attracted Shamekha Ghani to the newly created role of business intelligence manager at Delta Dental. Feeling like her previous position had gotten too routine, she jumped at the chance to “have a big impact” in her job.

“Millennials are very driven by learning, by having challenges,” she says. “They’re really concerned about their career development. They really want to feel like they’re making progress.”

Even in traditional roles, a fresh perspective can make a big difference. When Taylor Granville started at Delta Dental, she saw an opportunity to take her account manager position to a new level.

Granville was originally drawn to the client-facing nature of the role—rather than the world of insurance. But now she’s a major advocate for the importance of dental benefits, and she loves speaking with people and giving them the opportunity to enroll and improve their oral health.

“If you’re driven and you like to make a difference in people’s lives, then it’s definitely the industry to be in,” Granville says.

She adds that the strong insurance job market may allow young millennials to get a fast start on a career.

The intrigue of a stable job with room for advancement might sound old-fashioned, but it’s not completely lost on millennials.

“When I was choosing what career path to go down, I was really focused on [job] stability, and I feel like a lot of my peers were not,” Lee says.

The insurance industry might not seem flashy enough for some millennials, but the ones who found themselves at Delta Dental have found a lot to like. And they can see why 87% of their surveyed peers would recommend a job in insurance.

 

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7 ways to make workplace meetings more productive

Are you regularly engaging with your team members at work? Whether you’re an individual contributor or in a leadership role, refresh your knowledge on the advantages of team meetings, including building trust, fostering innovation, sharing feedback and celebrating successes.

Brainstorming Meeting

Whether staff meetings are common practice at your organization or you’re considering implementing team collaboration, here are a few tips for making the most of your time:

  1. Make it a routine

Start by making your meetings an expected — almost natural — part of your team’s work schedule. Add a recurring appointment on your calendar or set reminders for team engagement so people anticipate the meeting and prepare properly. (More on preparation in a bit.)

  1. Consider location, location, location 

It may sound odd, but the popular real estate mantra also applies to team meetings. Did you know that factors like room temperature, the amount of natural light and even the color of walls can affect how productive or focused people are at work?

You may even consider taking your meeting outside the office. Depending on the occasion, you may meet to plan a project at a local coffee shop, discuss goals and progress over lunch, or celebrate a big win with a round of miniature golf.

Wherever you decide to meet, ensure the setting is appropriate and suited to optimize your team’s focus.

  1. Present information in a way that resonates

Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, recently revealed that the company’s meeting culture is “the weirdest […] you will ever encounter.” And that may not be a bad thing.

The CEO cited the way information is presented at executive meetings — as six-page narrative memos — as an example of said culture. This style could help foster better reading, writing and listening skills among meeting participants. And it forces meeting attendees to do the required reading. (Anyone getting flashbacks from their high school or college English instructor?)

Bezos’s presentation style may not work for you, but carefully consider the best way to share information with your team. It may be a presentation, a video, a list of references to consider, etc. If you really want to up the fun factor, consider some of these innovative ways deliver engaging meeting content.

  1. Prioritize preparation and set an example

Speaking of doing the required reading, you should make preparation a key requirement for meetings. Send a detailed agenda with any supporting resources beforehand, and don’t skimp on said resources. If your team needs a report, statistics, contextual information, etc. to be productive during the meeting, provide it in advance.

During the meeting, reinforce how crucial preparation is. You may even ban “thinking out loud” unless the meeting is primarily focused on brainstorming.

  1. Encourage creative development

A meeting where attendees are not allowed, or encouraged, to think creatively, offer suggestions and provide candid feedback will most likely not lead to innovation and improved trust. But don’t take our word for it — here are tips from 15 members of the Forbes Coaches Council on promoting creativity at work.

  1. Facilitate compromises when necessary 

We know that a culture promoting collaboration and candor can also lead to creative conflict. Be prepared to facilitate professional disagreements by encouraging compromises during meetings.

One of the most important tips in compromising is a classic — choose your battles. Know what your team’s goals are, communicate them effectively, and know when to compromise based on your objectives.

  1. Cancel if you need to

Even though it’s important to make team engagement a regular part of your work schedule, it’s definitely acceptable to cancel a meeting here and there. In fact, in some cases it may be for the best. If you don’t have much to discuss or work through, don’t meet for the sake of meeting.

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10 scientifically-supported ways to celebrate your employees

3‑minute read

Most businesses organize some sort of employee appreciation event every year. Why do we do it? Because other companies do it? Because social media tells us we should? Or maybe there’s a science behind it?

There actually is some science behind it. Here are ways you can boost employee happiness and productivity while going easy on your budget.

Employees smiling and talking in the office

Pay attention to these four brain chemicals, their positive effects, and some ways to get them pumping:

Endorphins

Endorphins are chemicals meant to ease pain and stress, but they are also proven to boost happiness. Since physical activities help produce endorphins, here are a range of activities that can get your employees moving:

  • Organize an intramural-style sport activity for your company. Popular sports include basketball, softball, volleyball and kickball. ZogSports coordinates leagues in major metro areas, and many smaller areas have local leagues.
  • Encourage members of your team to start a running group and run a race. Bonus points if you’re benefitting a charity or cause!
  • Look into getting a reduced group rate for fitness classes. There are plenty of cycling, strength training, yoga, barre and other studio fitness classes to choose from.

Dopamine

A lift in dopamine can kick-start some serious motivation and productivity, because it targets the reward center of the brain. Low levels of dopamine have been linked to procrastination and self-doubt, which is the opposite of how you want your employees feeling. Some motivation-boosting activities include:

  • Coordinate goal-setting meetings with specific rewards. If you plan out small milestones and celebrate each one, you’re encouraging continuous productivity and rewarding motivated behavior each time. Rewards can be as big or small as you want.
  • Play music at some points during the day, as long as it’s not distracting. Hearing music that you like is proven to boost dopamine levels. And it wouldn’t hurt if your team also got up and moved to the beat!
  • Encourage learning new skills or being creative. Set up a class at a local craft shop, share a video on the basics of drawing, or give your employees access to adult coloring books.

Serotonin

Serotonin is the chemical perhaps most closely linked to your mood. It contributes to feelings like calmness, and a lack of serotonin is linked to anxiety. Thankfully, there a lot of natural ways to boost serotonin levels and improve your employee’s moods, including:

  • Soaking up some sun. Plan your next team event around being outside —organize a team lunch at a local restaurant with a great patio, or simply relocate your weekly brownbag to a picnic table near the office.
  • Think positively and spread positivity. One of the easiest ways to boost serotonin levels is to recall positive experiences from the past. And try creating positive experiences for your employees going forward with a recognition program.

Oxytocin

The “trust hormone” is crucial in corporate culture. It helps us build working relationships and create positive interactions with one another. Here are a few things you can try in the workplace to build relationships and trust:

  • Try a trust- and team-building experience, like an escape room or obstacle course.
  • Give (and receive) small gifts! It’s been proven that giving a gift can often feel just as good as receiving one. Take this CEO for instance, who wrote each of his employees a birthday card (and received cards in return for his!).

Take a challenge and try integrating each of these happy chemicals into your employee engagement strategy throughout the year.

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Barketing: How man’s best friend could boost your business

We love our dogs. No, seriously. Some of us use them as business mascots. Some of us even love them more than most humans.

Woman at desk with dog

They’re cute, cuddly and loyal companions — but they may also be a powerful part of your business strategy. Here are two ways dogs can make a bark of a difference at your organization:

Bring your dog to work programs

Offices have gone to the dogs — literally. Learn about some of the business advantages of allowing dogs in your workspace, including:

  • Increased employee retention with a unique benefit that they may not find elsewhere
  • Positive morale, as being around and interacting with pets can ease stress
  • More physical activity, as employees play with or walk the office dogs

Of course, having pets in the office isn’t for everyone. Look into some of the more complicated aspects of allowing dogs at work, and consider implementing a comprehensive pet policy.

Dog-friendly environments (without letting them inside) 

If dogs in the office doesn’t work for your organization, consider some easy ways to welcome pet owners to your business (especially small businesses!):

  • Place a water bowl at your entryway if you’re located in a popular walking area
  • Stock dog treats at your front desk, countertop, drive-through, etc.
  • Run a pet-centric promotion or giveaway

Check out a full list of dog-friendly ideas for small businesses.

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