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Can Your Job be Done by a Robot?

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Aviva is a mega insurance company operated out of the U.K. The company used to be in the U.S. as well but it sold the USA operations in 2013. These days Aviva is thinking about the future. And that future envisions robots doing much of the work of its staff.

Robots? Yep.

In fact, the company is consulting its 16,000 employees about automating what they do. If the answer is yes, then the company will move toward automating the job and will retrain the worker to do something else in the company.

Of course, like all such queries, Aviva management has a pretty good idea of what jobs can be automated:

  Insurance policy price calculation

  Customer credit rating research

  Some call center functions

You get the gist.

Firm finance head Tom Stoddard is behind the move and has covered his bases with the company’s top managers. They’re all in favor of seeing what the employees have to say.

Aviva is upfront with the concept. And no doubt other insurers won’t be far behind:

  An Oxford University study found underwriters to be at the highest risk of being automated

  Accenture did one that said 74% of customers worldwide will be okay with robo-advice and services for insurance

  McKinsey Global Institute found that finance and insurance have a 43% shot at robots doing those back office, administrative jobs

That frees up people to do the true relationship roles that are really needed for insurance.

And none of the sources just quoted had to send their thousands of employees a note asking them if they could be automated. They’ll just likely do it.

 

Source link: Insurance Business America

 

Tags:  Can Your Job be Done by a Robot?  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Jobs  Today’s Insurance Job Market  Weekly Industry News  Work  Workplace 

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Your Customer: Phone Calls & On Hold

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Agency owners, managers, company CEOs. True confession time. Do you use a phone answering system to answer calls? You know how that goes. “Thank you for calling company name. Listen carefully as our menu has changed. Press 1 for this or that” and off you go.

 

It’s likely a huge percentage of you will answer yes and that you do use a phone answering system or auto attendant of some kind.

 

But is it a good idea to use one? And is it a good idea to use one in an industry that relies so much on customers and that wants customers to trust them with their most personal items and needs?

 

Once that’s answered then the next question is a no brainer. Is it a good idea to rely heavily on voicemail? Here’s some statistics we dug up from a publication called The Modern Firm:

 

  An American Express survey in 2011 found 67% of your customers hang up when they can’t talk to a real person.

  Harris Interactive said 75% of those having to push buttons or who are on hold think they’re pushing too many buttons or are on hold too long before talking to a real person.

  Consumer Reports said 72% hang up as soon as the automated attendant starts its spiel.

  Forbes says your customers form an impression of your business in the first 7 seconds of contact. That’s at about, “Please pay attention as our menu has changed.”

 

The Modern Firm said its research on its own callers found 50% hang up if they don’t get a live person immediately. The publication also notes that those people hanging up or getting impatient while on hold probably call your competitor or competitors next.

 

“If your office has an automated system handling your calls, you absolutely need to find and analyze your call logs and statistics. There is a good chance that a significant number of callers are hanging up without you ever knowing they called. That's the big danger of automated call handling, incoming calls are happening and callers are being forced to make choices before your phone makes a peep. Without reports you are flying blind and there is no data to challenge your assumptions about how things are going,” the publication said.

 

Then there’s voicemail. People hate voicemail. And they hate it even more when they’re in a hurry for an answer and the person they need to reach can only be reached via voicemail. Even more irritating is that promise that they’ll return your call within one or two business days.

 

“With a live receptionist, you can all but eliminate voicemail by having the receptionist take a personal message when you're not available and deliver it by email or text. You can even have the receptionist follow a script and ask situation specific questions to get more information about the prospective client. The simple act of asking a few questions starts to build the relationship with the prospective client and helps you prepare for the return call. You can even set rules so that if questions are answered a certain way, perhaps indicating the caller needs urgent assistance, the receptionist will know to be more aggressive in trying to reach you by calling your cell and home or sending a text instead of just trying your office line or taking a message,” The Modern Firm writes.

 

And then there’s what people hear if they stick with you while on hold.

 

A new study from the marketing firm PHMG says the music being played on hold could be driving your customers away. It found that 73% of customers will not come back and do business with a company when their first experience is a bad one.

 

One of the culprits? Generic music.

 

Audio is PHMG’s specialty. Firm spokesman Mark Williamson said it audited 360 insurance companies and found 42% force those on hold to listen to generic music.

 

“Call handling remains a critically undervalued element of customer service and marketing… Therefore, it is important companies do their utmost to improve the experience,” he said.

 

A lot of companies — PHMG found — leave their customers in total silence or subject them to irritating beeps or ongoing ringing.

 

“Generic music, beeps, ringing or silence convey a message that the customer is not valued, which will only serve to compound any annoyance felt as a result of being made to wait on hold. It’s essential to give careful consideration to what people hear whenever they make contact with your company,” Williamson said.

 

PHMG suggests spending time on what your customers hear when they’re on hold. All sounds or music or audio talking about what you do is critical. “Hearing is one of our most powerful emotional senses so the sounds customers hear when they call a business will create a long-lasting impression. Every element of a music track, whether tempo, pitch or instrumentation, will stir different emotions so traders should ensure they convey the appropriate brand image.”

 

Source link: The Modern Firm, Insurance Business America

 

 

Tags:  Customer service  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News  work  workplace  Your Customer: Phone Calls & On Hold 

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Workplace Stress: Things Are Improving

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Stress in the workplace ranges from crippling to fatal. And that description applies to the health and fate of the business as well as employees.

 

Alexis Levine is the director of product management of the wellness program provider MediKeeper. Levine said, “Workplace stress can result in high absenteeism, high turnover, poor productivity, lower performance levels, decreased motivation, and low morale and can also take a toll on the overall health of a population. Long-term stress can contribute to the development of serious and costly health issues, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and depression.”

 

Her company has good news along that line. In a recent study of 3 million employees working for large companies and small, MediKeeper found employee stress is dropping. Wellness programs implemented by companies like MediKeeper — MediKeeper said — is likely the reason.

 

The study is over three years and found:

 

  On the 1 to 5 stress level scale in 2016 (with 5 being the worst), the largest majority is 36% and they said the stress level is 2

 

  In 2014 the largest majority — 33% — set the stress level at 3

 

  Between 2014 and 2016 the number who reported the stress level at 1 increased by 58%

 

  In the same time period those giving their stress level as a 5 fell 39%

 

The study also says how companies rank their top employee health risks:

 

  Tobacco use — 31%

  Poor nutrition — 58%

  Obesity — 72%

  Stress — 78%

 

MediKeeper contends the results are from the implementation of better health management tools by employers.

 

The workers surveyed also listed their top worries:

 

1. Financial worries

2. Concern over family life

3. Feeling overworked

4. Having difficulty sleeping

5. Concern over child’s performance, habits or behavior

 

MediKeeper CEO David Ashworth said the list has pretty much remained the same over the years and it shows the impact of finances and the workplace on life at home.

 

Here are some suggestions MediKeeper offers to employers to help manage employee stress:

 

  Provide comprehensive well-being/wellness programs that include a focus on emotional, physical, intellectual, occupational, social and community wellness.

 

  Look at the office space; consider changing the lighting or paint colors to create a fresh/more productive environment.

 

  Allow employees to work remotely on specific days/hours.

 

  Be transparent regarding the state of the company/share the overall strategy, financials and health of the company.

 

Source link: Employee Benefit Advisor

 

 

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  The Workforce & the Economy  Weekly Industry News  work  workplace  Workplace Stress: Things Are Improving 

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Relationships — Employees to Bosses

Posted By Administration, Friday, November 18, 2016

Bosses and employees. Other than marriage, it’s one of humankind’s oldest institutions. And like marriage, civil unions or living together, the relationship is often quite bumpy. But tough in spots or not, most of us tend to like our bosses. Some of us even consider them friends.

 

Or so says the staffing company Accountemps who took a long look at 1,100 employers and employees. Here’s what it found:

 

  • 64% of workers are happy with those supervising them
  • 29% are somewhat happy
  • Just 8% don’t like them at all
  • 23% say their boss is their friend
  • 61% say the relationship is strictly professional

 

So the reviews are mostly positive. But many of the survey’s respondents think managers have areas where they could improve:

  • 37% say communication could be bumped up a little
  • 31% don’t think they’re recognized enough for their contributions

 

Other interesting items came out of the research. The most interesting being how professionals view their boss’s job:

  • 67% don’t want their boss’s job
  • 45% don’t want or need the extra stress or responsibility
  • 27% have zero desire to manage others

 

Accountemps spokesman Bill Driscoll said, “Managers can sometimes get a bad rap, but in reality, most professionals understand that the job is tough and complex and may not be for everyone. The challenge for many bosses today isn't just identifying a successor but convincing that professional to step up to the challenge.”

 

Other findings:

  • 56% of those 18 to 34 want to move into their supervisor’s position
  • Just 34% of people 35 to 55 want that job
  • Those 55 and above — a pitiful 13% want the job
  • 34% of those surveyed have left a job because of a strained supervisor relationship
  • 17% said they’d love it if their boss left the company
  • 12% of those 35 to 54 are unhappy with their boss — it’s the largest percentage of all the age groups
  • And 35 to 54 are the most likely to quit a job because of a poor relationship with a boss
  • Just half think their boss understands their job
  • 16% say their boss has no clue about their job
  • 49% of Millennials think their boss recognizes their potential
  • 67% of those 55 and older feel that way

 

After reviewing the data, Accountemps offered this advice to both managers and employees.

 

Communication Tips:

 

Manager — set clear expectations with staff, and foster an environment where they feel comfortable coming to you with questions. Seek learning opportunities be become a better communicator. Remember, too, this involves being an active listener.

 

Employee — Pursue professional development to enhance your communication skills. Be open to – and act on – constructive feedback. If you're not sure what your boss expects of you, ask him or her for clarification.

 

Career Planning Tips:

 

Manager — Formulate and share career plans for your staff members. Identify specific milestones they need to reach and how you and the company can help them achieve their objectives.

 

Employee — Approach your manager about your potential career path at the company. Ask about specific areas you need to improve to meet your goals.

 

Recognition Tips:

 

Manager — Show gratitude for a job well done and announce accomplishments to the rest of the team to boost morale. Professionals are happier and more likely to stay with a company if they feel appreciated.

 

Employee — Check in regularly with your manager to ensure he or she understands the full range of projects you're tackling and your achievements. Be quick to praise others for their work, too.

 

Work-Life Balance Tips:

 

Manager — Explore offering flexible schedules and on-site perks such as gyms, nap rooms and free meals to help employees juggle the demands of work and personal obligations.

 

Employee — Talk to your boss if you feel overloaded. He or she may be able to bring in additional full-time or temporary employees to help you and the team.

 

Source link: AccountTemps

 

 

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  job  Relationships — Employees to Bosses  Weekly Industry News  work 

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Workplace Violence: A Growing Problem

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The old Chinese proverb says something like “may you live in interesting times.” You definitely do. Technology leaps are radically changing and improving our lives and while we tend to work a lot of hours, we still have more free time than ever to do our own thing.

 

At least most of us do.

 

But as unique as life has become and as positive as things are, society has grown increasingly restless. That restlessness often comes in the form of violence and sometimes that violence — says the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA as we know it — happens in the workplace.

 

In fact, OSHA says close to two million of us are victims of workplace violence every year. And that has some demanding solutions.

 

The first thing we think of when we think of workplace violence is the active shooter. The FBI said 160 active shooter events happened in the U.S. from 2000 to 2013. Of those 80% took place in at a business or workplace of some sort. Those incidents led to 700 homicides. The loss of human life is incalculable. Put a price tag on it and it’s billions. Looking strictly at business losses, the cost is a staggering $121 million a year.

 

For the entire economy the damage is even higher. Lost wages ends up with a price tag of something like $36 billion a year.

 

Willis started selling active shooter insurance toward the end of last year. Originally universities picked them up but others expressed interest so Willis expanded to hotels and hospitals.

 

It will likely become — like cyber insurance — a future, and profitable, line for insurers.

 

The policies cover up to $5 million in damages. They cover the on-scene costs of an attack and pay for victim counseling and consulting. The policies can also be used as a supplement for work comp policies and will cover gaps in business liability insurance policies.

 

As for the issue at hand, OSHA says the first — and most important — step is to understand what constitutes workplace violence. It is more than just the active shooter. The second step is to be prepared and have a plan in place.

 

Defining the problem is complex. The definition starts with any action that is verbal, physical or written that intends to cause — or is capable of causing — death or serious bodily injury, emotional injury or property damage. And these incidents include:

 

  Intimidation

  Disruptive or harassing behavior

  Threats

  Acts of sabotage

  Or other incidents

 

We also need to — OSHA says — understand what factors contribute to that workplace violence. It listed a bunch of causes:

 

  Stress

  Fragmentation of the family structure

  Easy access to weapons

  TV and other media

  Substance abuse

 

The two biggest causes — OSHA found — are financial issues and domestic disputes. Of the Human Resources managers and security personnel contacted, 71% say they have experiences with domestic violence on company property. All report the victim and co-workers were threatened.

 

How does all this impact employees? Outside of the violence itself, there are other huge costs:

 

  Physical and emotional trauma to employees

  Poor morale

  Increased health care

  Increased workers’ compensation costs

  Decreased productivity

 

So what’s the solution? OSHA lists several things companies can do:

 

  Better management of workplace stress

  Minimize downsizing

  Listen to employees and their feelings and honestly value them

  Do away with rigid management styles

  Monitor office romances

 

In other words, management needs to pay attention. We all know about the random, delusional person and the potential threats there. But do we know enough about those most likely to offend? They are:

 

  A disgruntled employee

  The downsized employee

  The undervalued employee

  An employee embroiled in a domestic dispute that spills over onto the workplace

  Employees with deep personal, financial or legal problems

 

Most provide warning signs:

 

  Increased absences

  Unusually poor performance

  Attitude changes

  Appearance changes

  Constant complaining

  Substance abuse at work

  Acting out

  Crying

  Temper and throwing objects

  Paranoia

  Divorce

  Loved one loss

 

One of OSHA’s solutions is for managers and supervisors to pay more attention to what’s happening in the workplace. But that’s a real challenge because a lot of them because they don’t have the training — or in some cases, the inclination — to deal with the issues listed earlier.

 

But in many of these cases, good leadership can help. A supportive, intuitive leader can often not only spot the potential trouble, but a lot of times they can head it off. A leader who cares can open dialogue and dialogue often eases potential problems.

 

On the other hand, non-supportive bosses who tend to be sarcastic or even demeaning can create potentially violent situations. So it’s critical for supervisors to understand their employees and communicate with them.

 

And when trouble rears its ugly head and a supervisor fears trouble could be coming, they can offer support or pass it on to the HR department. Almost all companies have an employee assistance program (EAP) and suggesting that solution source to an employee is also a good idea.

 

And that leads to planning. It is a critical tool employers and supervisors can use to offset and head off potential trouble.

 

  Policies: If you have an anti-harassment code or weapons policies, enforce them. If not, get them. A zero tolerance policy must be established and all departments in your business needs to buy into and support that policy. All employees also must be aware of the policy. Share all policies with employees and post them in a prominent place or places in the office.

  Risk: Determining risk is a critical step in minimizing workplace violence. Paying attention to and assessing employee attitudes and actions is very important and your plan must take that into account.

  Training: That’s obvious. And it should be for employees as well as managers and supervisors. We all need to be aware of potential issues and how to diffuse a problem.

  A crisis Team: This team continually reviews policies, conducts training and helps connect resources and services to employees.

 

Source links: PropertyCasualty360.com, Insurance Business America

 

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  office  Weekly Industry News  work  workplace  Workplace Violence: A Growing Problem 

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The Downside of the Open Office & Cubicles

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 28, 2016



More and more companies are moving to open offices. Employers, executives, managers and others in control love the idea of tearing down the walls and opening up the workplace. The goal is better communication and an office that looks busier.

 

Employees — a new study from Oxford Economics found — hate the open office concept as much as they hate cubicles. Actually, they may hate it even more. Oxford Economics checked in with 1,200 executives and non-executive employees to come to its conclusions.

 

The most important finding is the huge disconnect between employers and employees about what constitutes a productive work environment. And the study points out that executives in charge fail to recognize employee concerns when it comes to productivity and job satisfaction. One reason for open office advocacy may be that most executives have their own, private offices and don’t have to deal with the chaos.

 

To sum up the conclusions … open office layouts are hated by employees.

 

  53% said the ambient noise reduces job satisfaction and productivity.

  Just 41% say they have the tools needed to filter out the room noise of the open office.

  Worse — just 35% of executives think their employees are distracted by the open office environment.

  Piled onto that, 63% of employers and executives think employees have the tools they need to filter out the noise.

 

Digging deeper into what employees feel, the study found:

 

  Just 29% can work in an open office environment and still focus.

  It’s their number-one concern.

  However, 24% find it good for collaboration and collaborating with others.

  40% say they are so distracted that they have to take unusual steps in order to focus.

  That’s using white noise, music, or just getting away from it all and taking a walk.

 

Executives said minimizing distractions was a the bottom of their list of reasons why they like the open office. But — ironically, and as noted earlier — 62% of the executives polled have their own, private office and don’t have to work in the open office environment. So they have very little experience with it.

 

Here’s what else the survey found:

 

  59% of executives say they have the tools they need to do their jobs from anywhere.

  Just 40% of employees say the same thing.

  52% of employees want a work/life balance and it is important to them.

  A big disconnect, just 34% of employers think that’s important to their employees.

  26% of executives say they want their staff available after hours.

  46% of employees say that is expected of them.

 

For those not in an open office and that are stuck in cubicles, a Reader’s Digest article offers some helpful tips.

 

Keep a shawl or something warm on the back of your chair: Being too cold can impact your productivity

Get a plant: Find ways to incorporate nature into your cubicle since most don’t have windows. Studies say workers with flowers or plants on their desks are more productive.

Get a lemon mist: Exposure to a lemon balm — says Northumbra University — improves mood and cognitive performance. Take a whiff when you need a boost.

The direction of your chair: Arrange your cubicle so your chair is pointed to the entrance when you face your computer screen. You will be more comfortable and will work harder.

A stress ball: Stress balls ought to be used by your left hand if you’re right handed and vice versa if you’re left handed. It makes you more creative.

Blue light: Blue light — some experts say — make you less sleepy, help you react quicker and improves the attention span.

An uplifting color scheme: A green or floral design is more soothing. It can even boost your creativity.

A water bottle: Hydration is good for the brain. And if you drink lots of water you will definitely have to leave your cubicle from time to time.

Workflow: Organize your desk and drawers so the things you need most are easily accessible. By the end of the day everything on your desk needs to be where it belongs. Messy desks are a distraction.

Knick Knacks: Have personal items in your cubicle but don’t clutter the place with them. The more stuff you have around you, the more you are distracted. And always file everything when you are done with it. Clutter — as noted earlier — is distracting.

 

And one last — and very, very important — suggestion:

 

Chocolate: It activates the brain and increases attention levels. And it makes you popular with co-workers who don’t have chocolate in their cubicles.

 

Source links: Carrier Management, Reader’s Digest


Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  job  Office  The Downside of the Open Office & Cubicles  Weekly Industry News  Work 

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The Insurance Industry’s Job Future is Looking Bright

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Dr. Steven Weisbart

The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) took a look at recently released Bureau of Labor Statistics statistics on insurance jobs. That peek went clear back to 1990 and ended up at the present.

 

To no one’s surprise, the stats read much like a yo-yo. However, over the last five-years the industry has added lots of jobs. Some 100,000 of them to be exact and more are on the way — maybe.

 

It depends on who does the talking.

 

Dr. Steven Weisbart is the chief economist of the I.I.I. and he said, The central question [of employment] is long-term. Is this an industry that young people would be attracted to? The industry obviously needs to be able to attract new people,” he said.

 

By “new” people he means Millennials — those who became adults at around the year 2000. The good news is insurers and agencies are starting to understand today’s young workers. What has been learned and is now being implemented is an understanding they want to work in jobs that gives them purpose and that helps them with professional growth. Millennials also seek managers that get them and that are invested in their success as much as they are invested in that success.

 

But again, will there be jobs?

 

Weisbart said, You get a different kind of answer depending on what part of the industry you’re looking at.”

 

Fewer jobs — he added — could be a result of technology but he said there are seven areas where insurance will grow and has grown. Here they are:

 

Independent claims-adjusting

  Between April of last year and April of this year employment rose 0.5%

  300 new jobs were added in that time period

  Total current employment — 56,000

 

P&C carriers

  Employment increase since April of 2015 to April 2016 — 0.6%

  New employees added — 3,000

  Total current employment — 519,000

 

Third Party administrators

  Employment rose 0.7% between April of 2015 and April of 2016

  1,300 new employees added in that time period

  Total current employment — 175,000

 

Agents & brokers

  2.2% employment increase from April of last year to April of this year

  New employees during that time period — 16,500

  Total current employment — 772,800

 

Weisbart said the agent and broker sector is growing more rapidly than other sectors. This in spite of pundits who said the number of agents in the future will shrink. He said, not only has not shrunk, but has been growing.”

 

One twist on the growth is that the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not differentiate between the different types of agents and brokers.

 

Life insurance & annuity carriers

  Employment rose 3.8% from April last year to April of this year

  New jobs added during that time frame hit 12,100

  Total employment currently — 331,100

 

Reinsurance carriers

  Employment jumped between April of 2015 and April of this year by 4%

  Jobs added is 100

  Total employment as of April 2016 — 24,700

 

Health insurance carriers

  Employment rose 4% between April of 2015 and April of 2016

  The number of new employees — 20,600

  Total employment now sits at 539,800

 

Weisbart concluded his explanation of industry growth the a quick comment on health insurance agent hiring. He said health insurance companies have been hiring a lot a new jobs are added almost every month. Much of that hiring is because of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) and its increasing need of agents, claims reps, etc.

 

If you’re coming out of college and you want to look for a field where there are likely to be job openings, health insurance is a place to go,” he said.

 

Source links: Insurance Information Institute, PropertyCasualty360.com




Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  jobs  The Insurance Industry’s Job Future is Looking Bri  The Workforce & the Economy  Weekly Industry News  Work 

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Staying on Task Problematic? Here’s Some Advice

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Reader’s Digest is a wonderful magazine that continually publishes all kinds of fun articles and articles that make our lives better. One just published is an article on focus and the eight reasons we can’t. It also is kind enough to give us ways to combat those focus losers. The eight problems are:

 

  Multitasking

  Co-worker distraction

  Email and access to it

  Self-interruption

  Stress

  Not writing things down

  The proverbial messy desk

  A fragmented day

 

And here’s how to combat these focus tyrants.

 

Multitasking
Caroline Webb — who is a consultant and author of the book How to Have a Good Day — said you should try this:

 

  Do the letters abcdefg in succession

  Then count 1234567 in the same way

  After that do a1b2c3d4e5f6g7

 

And then notice how quickly you did the first two and how slow the letter-number combination went. She says it’s because our brain slows down when switching tasks.

 

A study done at the Human Information Procession Laboratory at Vanderbilt University found people that work on two tasks at the same time take 30% longer to get them done and they will make twice as many errors.

 

Here’s the advice: schedule your day into segments where you focus on one thing at a time.

 

Co-worker distraction

Talk about time suckers. Here’s an interesting study. This one found that people can only follow 1.6 conversations at a time and they include the monologue that goes on in our head while trying to track a conversation. So if you’re in an office with cubicles and you’re trying to tune into the person talking to you and you can hear the person in the next cubicle blasting their radio or talking loudly on the phone, you are going to end up not absorbing either says sound expert Julian Treasure.

 

“If you're in an office where you can overhear one person talking right next to you, they're taking up one of your 1.6. Unless you put headphones on, that person's conversation is inevitably going to be decoded in your brain because we're programmed to decode conversation,” he said.

 

This is the only area where no solutions are offered.

 

Email and access to it

Microsoft took a look at its employees one time and found after they read an email — whether they reply or not — it takes a full 15-minutes to regain full thought and focus.

 

When you’re working on a project that needs your absolute attention, close your email. And if that’s a problem — like the boss wants you accessible — then find a way that only the most important email reaches you during those times.

 

Self-interruption

We are our own worst enemy sometimes. Here’s how bad it can be. Some studies say office workers are interrupted — or self-interrupt — every three minutes. And most interruptions have to be addressed. So getting back on task after that takes close to 25-minutes.

 

But then some of us — those interrupted every three minutes — never get on track.

 

Suggestion: eliminate interruptions by shutting down email, turning off group chats and chat alerts and put your office phone — if you have one — on DND and your mobile phone on airplane mode or shut it off.

 

Stress

You can hiss it with teeth clenched as sturresss. It is a work energy sucker and impacts focus and the quality of your work says psychology professor Dr. Timothy Wilens of the Harvard Medical School.

 

“It competes with your cognitive centers — the areas in the brain that are responsible for quick, sharp thoughts — so being anxious or stressed drags focus down even further.”

 

There are lots of solutions to stress from removing the cause — which often isn’t that easy — to medication to meditation to exercise.

 

Not writing things down

We can remember a few things we need to do without writing them down but with a super loaded schedule, it’s easy to forget. So keep a calendar, a list or something to keep you on track.

 

Also if you get a great idea while working on something else, jot it down and return to it later.

 

The proverbial messy desk

Truth. A study awhile back of office workers found 82% said being organized improved their performance. Clutter — they said — caused lost time, being late to meetings and — worst of all — missed deadlines. Clutter says a neurologist from Princeton, takes a toll on you just looking at it because it competes for your attention.

 

Daily you ought to do an inventory of your desktop and take care of any attention-grabbing mess.

 

A fragmented day

When you work on a project do it in time frames that are 90-minutes or longer. And when you engage in that project eliminate distractions that keep you from your deepest concentration.

 

Cal Newport is the author of the book Deep Work. He said by consolidating his work into intense and uninterrupted pulses, he’s leveraging the following law of productivity:

 

High-Quality Work Produced = (Time Spent) x (Intensity of Focus)

 

Source link: Readers Digest


Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Staying on Task Problematic? Here’s Some Advice  Weekly Industry News  Work 

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Being More Productive in Your Home Office

Posted By PIA Western Alliance, Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Last week Weekly Industry News looked at a story from PropertyCasualty360.com on the dos and don’ts of working at home. Now the website is looking at ways to be more productive when working from your home office.

 

The tips come from Miriam Carey who worked from home for three years and wrote a book called Telecommuting for Dummies. Many think working from home is full of distractions that keep people from working. Carey recently returned to an office setting and said, “I've recently been working on-site and find the office environment full of distractions. It’s a hard adjustment.”

 

Carey says the biggest advantage of working it home is controlling your environment. It’s also potentially much more quiet.

 

These are the rules she set for herself to actually get work done while at the home office.

 

1.    Start and end at an established and consistent time: She says without an established start and stop time like a job at an office, we might work from early morning to late at night, or short change our employer and work fewer hours. “Without rules and structure, (working at home) gets old and ugly really fast,” she said.

2.    Get up, get dressed and be at your home office desk at an appointed start time: In other words, dress as though the boss or a client could walk in at any moment.

3.    Establish in your mind that when you’re working that you’re at work: Just because you work from home — she said — don’t let friends or family impose on your work time.

4.    Working from home means having a home work space: And that space is just for work. Carey suggests a work computer and a home computer. And make a separate area for work.

5.    Turn off mobile and desktop notifications: This would be personal email, Facebook or news reports. This keeps your brain — Carey notes — in “work mode.”

6.    Pets can sidetrack you just like friends and family: Do you have a dog that’s a distraction? Or a cat? The cat is easy to ignore. A dog not so much. Carey suggests daycare during your workday if financially feasible.

7.    No home work: Anything that has to be done at home ought to be done just like if you were working from your employer’s office.

 

Carey said there are advantages and disadvantages to working remotely. One problem is what she calls “murky pros.”

 

1.    Social interaction: While it’s nice to have the quiet and non-distractions of the home office, you also have less interaction with co-workers and the boss. A suggestion is an IM, texting or call system with other workers when the day gets tough and you just need to talk. You don’t have the built-in energy and dynamics of an office, so you need a system to help you feel connected,” she said.

2.    Flexibility: While it’s nice to control your calendar and your time, Carey says a big concern is work from home becoming more than 8 to 5. You must not let it slip into your family time or your rest and relaxation.

3.    Commuting: One advantage of commuting is that on the way to work you have some time to prepare mentally and emotionally for the day’s challenges. When you go home you have the time to let the workday go and be ready to engage the family. But when you work from home, Carey said, “The 30 seconds it takes you to turn off the computer and walk into your kitchen don’t allow you to leave work behind and be ready to engage in your home life.”

4.    There are no office politics: You get to skip the sometimes toxic office politics when working from home. You also miss out on all the fun and office event participation.

5.    Perception: Some people don’t take working from home seriously. “They assume you can grab coffee or have a non-work meeting anytime because you work from home. I don’t work less just (because I) don’t have a company paying for an office for me!” she said.

6.    Expense management — part 1: Some companies are good about making sure you have all the supplies you need to work for home. Others not so much. And when you start pushing for those supplies, “As with everything else, ask yourself: Do regular office employees have this at hand? If so, then set up a system for yourself and get it reimbursed.”

7.    Expense management — part 2: You also pay more for electricity, office supplies, Internet and other equipment. If that’s the case, those items are deductible if your employer doesn’t give you money for expenses.

 

Her last question is whether working at home is a good move for you. If you’re quite social and love buzzing about the office then working from home will be a bit lonely. To counter that then Carey suggests working with a co-worker or someone in another line of work.

 

Or you can from time-to-time slip away to a coffee shop. But then you have the same problem that drove you to take the home option in the first place: noise.

 

Source link: PropertyCasualty360.com


Tags:  Being More Productive in Your Home Office  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News  Work  work from home 

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Retirement? Not Me

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, June 15, 2016



Many of us look forward to retirement. But as typical baby boomers, we actually don’t like the idea of bagging our careers in our mid-60s. And then some of us don’t really have the resources to quit working anyway.

 

But what do the people around the world say about retirement? Willis Towers Watson did a survey of employees of all ages and found:

 

  23% plan on being employed and working in their 70s.

  That’s up from 16% in 2009.

  The average person polled say they think they’ll retire at 65.

  But half — an exact 50% — think the odds are they’ll be working to 70 or above.

  Some think it could be 80 or over.

 

The study checked in with 30,000 people all over the world, with 5,100 of those surveyed in the United States. It found those expecting to work longer — quoting — “were less healthy, more stressed and more likely to feel stuck in their jobs than those who expect to retire earlier.”

 

  40% of those thinking they’re going to work past 70 feel stuck in their jobs.

  That compares to 28% of those expecting to retire at 65 feeling the same way.

 

Willis Towers Watson senior economist Steve Nyce said, “The decline of defined benefit plans and employer subsidies for early retirement removed one tool that encouraged that orderly rate of workers retiring.”

 

Here’s more. In the U.S. 76% agreed or strongly agreed that they’re worse off in retirement than their parents’ generation.

 

Source link: Employee Benefit News


Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance News  jobs  Retirement  Retirement? Not Me  Weekly Industry News  Work 

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