Want to hire Gen Z? Here’s how to find them…and impress them

Just when you thought you finally had this millennial thing down, a new generation is joining the workplace. Yes, welcome to Gen Z, soon coming to a workplace near you, if they’re not already there.

Gen Z (typically described as those born in 1995 and later) is the first generation to grow up as “digital natives,” that is, they don’t remember a time when they couldn’t access everything they need to know on their computer or device. Therefore the way you recruit Gen Z might be very different from other generations.

That’s why companies today are finding success with new modes of communication, reaching out to Gen Z in the language they speak. For example:

  • McDonald’s takes “Snaplications”: Gen Z spends a lot of time on social media, so why not reach them there? in 2017 McDonald’s launched a program that allowed teens to apply via Snapchat. According to Fortune magazine, “Snapchat users may see a 10-second video ad from McDonald’s employees discussing their experience working there. Then users can then swipe up on the app to be redirected to McDonald’s career webpage in the app to apply for openings.”
  • Advertising agency Havas asked intern candidates to text: Corralling Gen Z’s interest in texting and social justice, a global advertising firm asked prospective interns to text ideas about how to change the world for the better.
  • Investment bank Goldman Sachs uses Snapchat geo-filters: Using a feature called “Campus Story,” Goldman Sachs promoted careers at the investment bank with sponsored segments that would show only to users whose phone had been on a specific campus in the past 24 hours.

If you’re still recruiting the “old-fashioned” way, don’t worry: You’re hardly in the minority. But to appeal to Gen Z, you’ll have to make sure that you are communicating the right messages.

  1. Showcase your creative side.

Whereas employers used to implore employees to spend less time on social media, savvy companies realize that it can actually be a recruiting tool. That’s why some companies design their offices with “Instagrammability” in mind.” For example, a Wall Street Journal article reported that several new hires at LinkedIn were impressed with the pictures they saw on Google Images and Instagram, many of which featured interactive wall art as they sought to learn more about the company’s culture.

One of the images is a “Wheel of Dream Jobs” where employees can spin a huge wheel; another is a mural that has a nearby jacket employees can wear that makes them blend in with the wall. “The art the company has installed…is a major help as far as talent retention and getting people excited,” says Cherish Rosas, an environmental graphic design project manager at LinkedIn.

  1. Offer them variety.

You may have heard that fewer teens are taking summer jobs (or, depending on your business may have struggled to hire them yourself). That’s because today, about 70 percent of teens are self-employed, reports Harvard Business Review.

Because of that, Gen Z are used to autonomy and variety and will be attracted to a workplace that offers diversity in job functions. Consider hiring Gen Z with the promise of a job rotation or cross-training opportunities so they feel confident that they will get the mix of activities that will keep the job fresh.

  1. Never forget they are doing their own research.

Employers have to remember the power of social sharing sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn, where Gen Z employees are going to find out more about the vibe of the company. Whereas companies used to be able to control their online presence through a sparkling website, now they need to do far more to guard their reputation and ensure that the message they are saying about themselves matches what employees believe.

The only way to create that positive image that will attract Gen Z? You have to practice what you preach. The new transparency means that companies have to make sure their actions match their words, in order to gain the best talent.




Gen Z attitudes more accepting of risk and failure in the workplace

Failure is not only accepted by Generation Z but also welcome, according to a study released this week. In fact, Gen Z attitudes reveal 80 percent think embracing failure on a particular project will lead to innovation, while 17 percent think failure leads to more comfort when taking on risk.

The study, which was done at the 22nd EY annual International Intern Leadership conference this summer, asked 1,400 Gen Z folks about the future of work as they enter the workforce. According to the results, the Gen Z generation is more eager for innovation and accepts that failure is often part of the process.

“With the next generation of our workforce not afraid to fail in order to grow and innovate, organizations should create an environment that allows them to bring their ideas forward, fail fast, and then learn from that failure,” said Natasha Stough, EY Americas Campus Recruiting Leader.

“At EY, this means embracing values like inclusiveness, collaboration, openness and flexibility that best attract these candidates and encourage them to be fearless innovators once they join us.”

Motivation and goals in the workplace

Workplace perceptions and goals were also touched on in the study. More than two-thirds of participants believe that having a curious and open mindset is more important than a specific skill or expertise. In addition, this generation isn’t afraid to look outside of their comfort zone when presented with a challenge. In fact, 24 percent answered they would be excited and honored to do so.

Gen Z is also open to feedback and learning from their mistakes. Ninety seven percent of those questioned said they’d be receptive to feedback on an ongoing basis, while 63 percent said they’d prefer timely, constructive feedback throughout the year.

Gen Z individuals do differ, though, based on gender when it comes to workplace preferences and priorities. Potential for progression and growth was important for 39 percent of respondents when looking for an employer. Competitive salary, however, was a key priority for men, while women prioritized flexible work opportunities.

Technology and teamwork

Even though tech is becoming increasingly prevalent in the workplace, more than 90 percent of those surveyed said they prefer to have a “human element” to their teams, working either with just innovative coworkers or with co-workers and technology paired together. More than twice as many males though prefer to work with tech that allows them to do their job faster and take on higher levels of work, compared to just five percent of females who agree.

Seventy-three percent of females would be more apt to ask a coworker for help with a problem to which they don’t have the answer to however, while only 63 percent of males agree. In addition, more females like to work with coworkers who can challenge and motivate them compared to their male peers.

Diverse education and skills are also critical elements to a successful team environment, according to those surveyed. Having a millennial manager also remains the preference over Gen X or Baby Boomer for 77 percent of respondents – an interesting increase over 67 percent who agreed last year.

Lastly, Gen Z thinks the future looks bright, with 65 percent saying they feel confident that financially, they’ll be better off at work than their parents – the same is said for their overall happiness.

 




Baby on board? How HR can help pregnant employees adjust

Creating a family-friendly workplace is vital for retaining talent—after all, 70 percent of mothers with children under 18 are in the workforce, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. It’s also becoming increasingly common for women to work while pregnant: The Pew Research Center cites Census Bureau data that shows 66 percent of mothers who gave birth to their first child between 2006 and 2008 worked during their pregnancy, compared to only 44 percent who worked during pregnancy in the early 1960s.

Since not all managers might feel comfortable addressing the issue, HR can come alongside the team to play an important role in helping pregnant employees adjust to their upcoming maternity leave—and eventual return. Here are five solid strategies to consider.

Make sure employees understand their benefits

This is a good time to talk with the employee about whether she has any questions about how to get her maternity and post-partum needs handled. You might walk through:

  • Company leave policies
  • What Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) forms she’ll need to fill out
  • Benefits-related questions such as whether any retirement match continues while on FMLA and details on how to add baby to the insurance policy
  • Information on disability insurance….many people don’t know that pregnancy is the most common cause of short-term disability claims.

Help create a transition plan for the employee with her manager

HR can be a big help in working with the team to help decide how work will be handled in the employee’s absence. Among the factors to consider, depending, of course on the employee’s role are:

  • How and when to tell the internal team
  • How and when to tell clients
  • Who will take over the work, as in will you be hiring a temporary replacement or dividing it among the existing workforce
  • How to best document project statuses to ensure the right people are in the loop
  • A checklist of day-to-day duties that others might not be aware of
  • A plan for who will manage existing direct reports
  • Proposed availability (if at all) during maternity leave, understanding that some of these details may change
  • A plan for the return, including potential part-time work to make the transition smoother
  • A document detailing what happens if she should go into labor in the office, including information about where she plans to deliver; phone numbers of doctor, doula or midwife; emergency contacts, etc.

The goal is to cover all potential issues to coordinate a seamless exit and pave the way for a pleasant return.

Create a mentoring program or support group

Becoming a parent is overwhelming and can place a lot of stress on a young mom (or dad!) trying to juggle a job. Many companies find that the first few months are crucial for eventual retention, and if a parent feels supported and understood, they are liable to make it work out.

That’s why you should consider hosting a support group where parents can meet to discuss and share issues related to childcare and other pressing topics. (Remember that HR should serve in an advisory role, rather than as a facilitator, to keep the conversation open and honest—and helpful.)

Pairing a returning parent with an experienced co-worker can also make the transition easier. They likely have many questions related to everything from work/life balance and how to travel as a new parent to helping get their baby into a sleep routine.

Set up a mother’s room

Many young mothers come back to work planning to pump, and find themselves thwarted by a lack of private facilities. Ease the burden on new moms by setting aside a walled-in space (with a lock!) where moms can retreat when they need to pump. Include a comfy chair, a TV and a fridge to store milk.

Strike a cautious note

You want to be careful not to overstep your bounds and assume something that isn’t true, such as that a pregnant employee is just going to quit or that a new mom won’t want to travel—many women want to keep their workload as robust as ever. Take care not to make assumptions, but rather to keep the lines of communication open for the best chance of retaining employees after their little bundle of joy is born.

And of course, at all times HR must take care to follow all applicable laws and ensure others in the company do the same.




For millennials, app use and financial literacy don’t go hand in hand

A recent study released last week found despite the number of financial apps millennials are using, their personal finance management skills are severely lacking.

The report, released by the TIAA Institute and the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center (GFLEC) at the George Washington University School of Business, examined the personal finance knowledge of millennials.

Titled “Millennial Financial Literacy and Fin-Tech Use: Who Knows What in the Digital Era,” the study utilized the TIAA Institute-GFLEC 2018 Personal Finance Index (P-Fin Index) to test millennials’ finance knowledge and found that 44 percent of millennials answered the P-Fin Index questions correctly, compared to 50 percent of the US adult population.

In addition, younger millennials (ages 18-27) answered 41 percent of P-Fin Index questions correctly, compared to 47 percent of older millennials (ages 28-37).

“The millennial oversample in this year’s P-Fin Index sheds a light on the use of mobile technology, and the impact that it has had on an increasingly influential generation,” said Stephanie Bell-Rose, Head of the TIAA Institute.

“As technology continues to develop ways to make our lives easier, it is clear that we cannot exclusively rely on it to guide us through our financial lives. Our research underscores the importance of financial literacy and its complementary relationship with fin-tech in producing good outcomes.”

Both older and younger millennials are hurting most in the areas of understanding risk and insuring, the study found. Understanding insurance, in particular, saw the greatest gap between younger and older millennials. Financial literacy is highest in the area of borrowing and debt management for both younger and older millennials.

The study also looked at how millennials use these apps to track their personal finances, as well as the effect of this fin-tech on financial outcomes.

About 80 percent of millennials use their smartphones to do things like pay bills and deposit checks, while 90 percent use their phones for things like tracking spending.

However, although apps make it easy to manage money, those who do via the technology don’t always make financially savvy decisions. Almost 30 percent of millennials who use their smartphone to make mobile payments report overdrawing their checking account, compared with 20 percent who do not make mobile payments.

In addition, one-quarter of those who track spending with their smartphone report overdrawing their accounts, compared with 20 percent of those who do not track spending via their smartphone.

“The low level of financial literacy among millennials speaks of the importance of equipping this large generation with the knowledge and skills that are needed to make financial decisions in the digital era,” said Annamaria Lusardi, Academic Director at GFLEC and the Denit Trust Chair of Economics and Accountancy at GW.

“This study shows that fin-tech users have different needs and characteristics, providing many opportunities for innovation for fin-tech developers.”

 

 




When millennials become the bosses: Helping generations work together

Today’s workplace is a historic mash-up, as it’s the first time we’ve had five generations in the workplace at the same time.

Of course, it’s true that the oldest cohort, the “traditionalists,” are aging out, but most generation watchers include them since their influence can still be felt in many workplace structures that continue today. And while Baby Boomers are also nearing retirement age, more workers are participating in the workforce, at least part time, for longer. And as they cling on to their former roles, Gen Z is fast approaching.

But the group that most HR professionals are attuned to are the millennials, and with good reason. Today, millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, according to the Pew Research Center. And that means that even though there are older generations still in the average office, more and more millennials are going to be “the boss,” even for these workers who are older than them.

Here are some tips that can help ease the path for generations working together.

Explain style differences.

The reality is that many of the elements that we typically think of as “millennial” in nature, such as wanting feedback and coaching, are actually prized by all generations. However, if older generations are used to an ‘”annual review,” they might worry that they are being micromanaged if they get more frequent one-on-ones. Millennial managers might consider talking to colleagues about how and when they prefer to receive feedback to make sure that the team realizes it’s for their benefit, and not to nag.

Focus on the benefits of a diverse team.

Often we think of “diversity” in terms of gender and culture, but age is a factor as well. Research shows that diverse teams produce better outcomes, and that includes having members of various ages on teams. In fact, the Randstad Workmonitor report found that 90 percent believed it was a benefit to have co-workers of different ages working together. By helping your millennial managers and their teams see the why behind diverse teams, they may be more liable to embrace them.

Beware of stereotypes.

Millennials are entitled. Baby Boomers are old fuddy duddies. It’s very easy to group every member of a generation together, but we all know that it’s rarely the case that all individuals follow a similar mold. Encourage teams to talk about what drives them and share past experiences, and avoid jumping to conclusions and assumptions about what another team member from another generation might be like. For every Gen Xer who wants a face-to-face meeting, there’s another one who’d just assume take care of all conversations on Slack. Millennial managers need to be open to finding out these individual preferences instead of assuming.

Share knowledge for a better overall product.

Older workers might have institutional knowledge that can help younger managers make better decisions and fast track projects. While no one wants to resort to a “This is how it’s always been done” mentality, it can be helpful to know what’s been tried before and learn from past lessons about why something might not have been effective. Similarly, older workers shouldn’t feel shy about asking for help with areas where they might not be as up-to-date, like lead management systems.

All generations have plenty to offer one another, so HR personnel should encourage a collaborative, rather than competitive, environment, no matter who is leading the team. Whether you institute a formal “reverse mentoring” program or just encourage colleagues to reach out to one another, teams that recognize each member can offer value are going to succeed.

The key to integrating mutigenerational work teams successfully — especially when one that is led by a younger manager — is realizing that different generations have as many similarities as they do differences. Working together can make the entire organization stronger.

 




Why you should get the flu shot this year (Even if you usually don’t)

Aches. Fever. Fatigue. If you’ve been bit by a flu bug, you know it. And believe it or not, these uncomfortable symptoms that typically accompany the flu are those that are experienced by the “lucky” ones.

That’s because rather than just sending you to bed, severe flu can hospitalize or kill you. In fact, the 2017-2018 flu season was one of the worst on record, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting 180 pediatric deaths, exceeding the previous record of 171 during the 2012-2013 season.

Although deaths for adults aren’t tallied, one measure of the severity of last season came from the Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Network (FluSurv-NET), which found that overall hospitalization rates for all ages were the highest ever recorded.

Flu shots protect

Make no mistake: Flu shots are your best protection against the influenza respiratory infection. In fact, the CDC found that approximately 80 percent of last year’s pediatric deaths occurred in children who had not received a flu vaccination.

During the 2016-2017 flu season, the CDC estimates that the flu vaccination prevented an estimated 5.3 million influenza illnesses, 2.6 million influenza-associated medical visits and 85,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations.

Each year the vaccine is formulated to protect against the viruses that research shows will be most common during the upcoming season and is designed to protect against three flu viruses–an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus and an influenza B virus.

Although vaccines are recommended for nearly everyone over the age of six months, those who are most at risk are pregnant women, those over 65, those with health conditions that make them more susceptible to the flu and children.

Disadvantages of the flu shot

In rare cases, the flu shot is not recommended, so check with your doctor if you are allergic to eggs (flu vaccines contain a minute amount) or have had a bad reaction to a flu shot in the past. Virtually everyone else is a candidate.

The downsides are minimal: Contrary to popular belief, a flu shot cannot cause the flu as it is made up of flu viruses that have been killed or made unable to replicate in humans. At the most, you may experience muscle aches and fever for a day or two after the vaccine, which is likely a side effect of your body producing protective antibodies.

In addition, in some years the vaccine that is developed may not match the viruses that are most prevalent that season. But even if it is less effective, the shot still might offer some protection.

Finally, remember there is a two-week window before the vaccine takes effect so if you get sick before that, you were likely infected prior to receiving the shot.

Just say yes to a flu shot

If you’re thinking about getting a flu shot this year, even if you usually don’t, you are not alone. In fact, a survey from CVS finds that 22 percent of consumers who didn’t get a flu shot last year are more likely to be vaccinated this year based on the devastating 2017 flu season.

According to manufacturers, this year’s vaccine began shipping in August and will continue throughout October and November until all vaccine is distributed. And this year the nasal spray FluMist, an excellent alternative for those who cower from needles, will be back after a two-year hiatus, says the CDC.

For greatest protection, eligible adults should receive their shot by October, recommends the CDC. Many places, including local pharmacies and doctors’ offices, may offer the vaccine free of charge. Be sure to check with your human resources department to find out what coverage your company might offer.

Protecting yourself now is a gift that will keep on giving.

 




US employers doubt employees’ ability to achieve a financially secure retirement

Only 16 percent of employers are “very confident” their employees will be able to achieve a financially secure retirement. This statistic was brought to light thanks to a recently completed survey titled Striking Similarities and Disconcerting Disconnects: Employers, Workers, and Retirement Security, by nonprofit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS).

Given the large role employers play in this field, the statistic is alarming, yet it does correspond with the 18 percent of employees who are “very confident” they’ll be able to fully retire with a comfortable lifestyle.

The TCRS 18th Annual Retirement Survey, released August 21, 2018, looked at 1,825 employers for for-profit companies with five or more employees. The goal? To learn how these companies are helping employees prepare for retirement. The study also provided some context by comparing employer findings with TCRS’ survey of 6,372 workers.

Getting into specifics, the survey outlined a number of ways employers are out-of-sync with workers in both their perceptions and business practices. For example, many workers plan to work past age 65, but employers and employees in the like are unsure if the employer will support them.

In addition, just 20 percent of employers offer a formal phased retirement program, although 47 percent of workers surveyed envision a phased transition that includes reducing work hours or working in a different capacity that’s less demanding.

The survey also took a closer look at the current state of 401(k)s and opportunities to enhance retirement security. Catherine Collinson, CEO and president of TCRS, reiterated that 401k opportunities continue to be an effective way to facilitate long-term savings among workers.

However, “not all workers have equal access,” Collinson said. “For example, large companies typically provide more robust benefit offerings than their small business counterparts.”

The study examined the current state of 401(k)s and other benefit offerings by small (5 to 99 employees), medium (100 to 499 employees), and large companies (500+ employees).

Other key findings included that retirement plan sponsorship rates increase with company size, most non-sponsors are not planning to offer a plan, and few part-time employees are eligible to participate in these plans.

Additionally, adoption of automatic enrollment, surprisingly, is low. Although 81 percent of workers find automatic enrollment appealing, only 22 percent of plan sponsors have adopted automatic enrollment, including 28 percent of both large and medium companies.

 

 

 




7 ways to keep employee benefits top of mind

HR works hard to find the best benefits program for employees and then communicate the “benefits of the benefits,” so to speak. But sometimes, even with the best of intentions, the information falls on deaf ears – or blind eyes. In fact, one recent study found that less than half of employees know what benefits are available to them, and yet nearly the same percentage said they would consider leaving their current job because the benefits are inadequate.

That means that HR has a job to do to keep their benefit offerings fresh in employees’ minds.

Follow up shortly after onboarding.

The first day can be a whirlwind for employees who are meeting new faces and receiving a barrage of information from everyone from their manager to, yes, the HR team. But think about it – new people who don’t even yet know where the copy machine is probably aren’t paying as much attention as they should to the benefits package, especially lesser-known programs like disability insurance. Naturally there is some paperwork they have to sign right away, but after that, give them a couple of weeks to settle in and then resume the benefits discussion. They might be much more tuned in once they’ve figured out the basics of their job.

Upgrade your website.

No longer do you have to depend on explaining your benefits program via a sheaf of papers that employees stow in their desks, never to see again. Chances are good your website probably already has the information, but is it easy to access and intuitive? The interface should be easy to read so that employees can visit and find what they need without endless scrolling or clicking. Consider talking to a web designer – either in-house or a contractor – who can help you design your website with marketing best practices in mind. After all, marketing your benefits (and by extension, your company) is exactly what you’re doing.

Present information in different ways.

Some of us love to read. Some of us love in-person presentations. Younger generations like millennials are all about the visuals. So even though it might entail a little extra work, commit to creating your materials in several different formats so you are bound to reach employees in the way that works for them. This strategy even has a great name – COPE (Create Once, Publish Everywhere).

Use multi-channel options.

In addition to different formats, you’ll want to distribute the information using different channels. A short text might remind employees that open enrollment is coming up. An email can provide detailed links to a wide variety of benefits. Your social media platforms can show some of your more “fun” benefits being used, such as employees taking a noontime walk as part of your wellness initiative or a group enjoying a team-building activity. Not only will social media remind employees of what’s available, but it also paints your company positively to others who are following your channels.

Ask for feedback.

Wondering what employees think of your benefits? A survey is an ideal way to get feedback with suggestions that can help you fine-tune your offerings, and it can identify what benefits employees don’t know about yet so you can determine where more communication is needed. It also allows you to raise awareness of some lesser-known programs; employees might not even realize how many programs you offer until they read about them on the survey.

Set up a hotline.

Have a dedicated number that employees can call if they have questions (and make sure someone returns the calls diligently if they leave a message). Call attention to the number by playing a game and awarding a $5 coffee card to any employee who knows the number when you ask them.

Pay them to learn more.

What? Why would you do that? Well, because it works, found Pierre-Renaud Tremblay, director of human resources for steam cleaning products company Dupray. Dismayed by a dismal 12 percent open rate on his emails, he upped the ante by developing online quizzes covering the material from the emails, offering gift certificates for employees who scored well, Forbes reports. He found his email open rate skyrocket to up to 95 percent.

And if more information about benefits helps satisfy employees, which contributes to retention, it will be money well spent.




Relocation and your social security disability insurance: Your questions answered

Part of the American dream is being footloose and fancy free…and whether you are relocating to be nearer family, to find a place with a lower cost of living or just to see some new scenery, you probably will move at some point in your lifetime.

But in the midst of the goodbye parties, the packing and the moving, don’t neglect important tasks that are necessary for your financial well-being. And chief among them should be making sure that you have taken care of your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or SSI (Supplemental Security Income) benefits before you relocate.

Here’s everything you need to know for a smooth move.

What is the difference between SSDI and SSI?

First, it’s important to know which of these programs you use. SSDI is the program that provides payments to those who are disabled or blind who qualify due to their work history – they have worked in jobs where they have paid FICA benefits.

SSI is a need-based program that makes payments to the elderly, blind and disabled who have limited incomes.

Will I have to reapply for SSDI and SSI if I move?

The good news is that it doesn’t matter if you move across town or to another state: You won’t have to for reapply these programs, which are overseen by the federal government, rather than individual states. That makes it easy for you to carry it over even if you move across the country.

However, whether you receive SSDI or SSI, you do need to make sure that you have changed your address so they know how to reach you should there changes to your benefits or other paperwork you need to file to remain eligible.

If you receive SSI, there’s another factor to consider — there could be a change to your payment based on what state you live in. That’s because most beneficiaries (except those who live in Arizona, Mississippi, North Dakota or West Virginia) also receive a state supplement. The amount varies by state, so when you move, you then qualify for your new state’s supplement, rather than your previous one. (You can find more details here.)

Also, some states disburse their own state supplements while others are handled by the Social Security Administration. If your old state and new state are both administered by the SSA, then there should be no lapse. But if you are moving to a state that administers its own supplemental program, you’ll need to apply in that state.

There also may be changes based on your living situation; i.e. if you are moving in with additional housemates who are covering part of your food and housing, your benefits may be reduced.

When should I contact the government about my change of address?

Don’t delay…you’ll want to put this on your “to do list” right away. If you are receiving SSI, you need to report the new address within 10 days after the month the change occurs so they can adjust your state supplement. Otherwise you might receive less than you are owed or too much – in which case you will have to refund the money — and you also might be charged a penalty.

The good news is you can handle it with a simple phone call to the Social Security office at 800-772-1213 or online here.

What other disability insurance might I qualify for?

Most people find that the amount they would receive from the SSDI or SSI benefits is not adequate to cover all their financial needs. That’s why it’s important to sign up for a group or individual disability policy that will protect your income and provide financial security if you should become disabled.

While it’s not fun to think about, the truth is that disability is far more common than one might think…in fact, nearly 25 percent of those who are 20 years old today will be out of work for at least a year due to a health condition before they reach retirement age.

If you have to stop working temporarily or permanently, disability insurance will kick in – providing the paycheck protection you need to ensure that your bills remain covered.




Yes, your family can get back on a regular sleep schedule before school starts

It’s almost that season—time for school buses and alarm clocks. And if you’re like most families, you’ve probably been letting your sleep schedule slide in favor of late evenings spent enjoying the extra hours of daylight with a bike ride or the glow of a backyard fire pit in the warm night air.

We don’t want to cut into any of your much-deserved summer fun, but that early morning alarm will come as a huge shock if you don’t start preparing for it as summer winds down. And it seems like every day we are learning more about the health benefits of sleep—from improving our memory and creativity to helping us maintain a healthy weight.

But getting back on a regular sleep schedule might be easier than you think with these tweaks to your routine.

Start gradually.

No, your kids are not just going to all of a sudden fall into bed at 7:30 p.m. if they’ve been used to hitting the hay at 10. Better to ease into it If the change is minimal, say an hour, or you have ample time before the first school day, try moving up the bedtime in 15-minute increments each night. But if you’re trying to make a drastic change and school starts in five days, you might want to speed that up to 30-minute increments.

Power down.

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) finds that the blue light emitting from our devices can interfere with the release of melatonin, which helps us sleep. So skip the tablet and try a printed book for kids who like to decompress by reading in bed. And, it’s also smart to start a habit of leaving devices in a central “charging area” rather than in room so that kids (and adults!) aren’t lured into checking their snaps or messages when they’re supposed to be sleeping.

Light up right.

Turns out that your lightbulb can actually interfere with your sleep, too, finds the NSF. The worst kinds? Compact fluorescent bulbs (CFBs) and light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs), which also give off that dreaded blue light. Of course, they are also among the most energy efficient, so you still may want to use them elsewhere in the house, but for best sleep quality, your choice should be—you’re never going to guess this—a red bulb (pink works too). So get out that holiday “mood lighting” you use and stick a red bulb in bedroom lamps or night lights.

Create a restful bedtime routine.

Having an evening routine can signal to your body that it’s time to sleep. In the summer, your kid might just be crashing because of a day spent swimming and running around, but they might not be totally zonked yet if you’re aiming for an earlier bedtime. The start of the school year is the ideal time to start new habits, so consider creating a routine that will carry you through the year. Depending on your patience it can be elaborate as your child chooses, or you can scale it back to a few simple yoga stretches, a book and a round of goodnight kisses.

Eat for sleep.

Big meals right before bed can be hard to digest so if your child needs a before-bedtime snack, choose something light, such as yogurt, fruit, applesauce or toast. Coincidentally, those foods also won’t require you making a mess in the kitchen to prepare them.

And of course limit caffeine after noon—and likely before noon, too.

Set a good example.

If you’re out roasting marshmallows (or just hanging out around the fire pit which might make your child think you’re making treats), it’s going to be hard for them to settle down. And, let’s be honest, it likely wouldn’t hurt you to get a little more sleep, too. So take this as your cue to curtail your evening activities…curl up in bed with a magazine or book and see how much better you feel in the morning yourself. After all, back-to-school can be stressful for parents too, so easing into the routine well-rested yourself can only help.