How Businesses Can Create Better Access

Every year, thousands of businesses face lawsuits for not taking the proper steps to ensure their establishment is accessible to people with disabilities. Below are some tips to create better access for all – so that as many people as possible can patronize your business — while also avoiding legal trouble.


Identify Alternate Entrances

Any place of public accommodation (restaurants, hotels, hospitals, retail stores, etc.) must make their building accessible to people with disabilities. This includes installing ramps for wheelchairs and widening doorways so that they can easily fit through. If the main entrance for a business is not wheelchair accessible, the business must offer an alternative entrance. Many business owners comply with this rule, but they don’t make it immediately clear to their customers. In order to let people know immediately how they can enter the building, businesses should post a clear sign providing directions to the alternate entrance and label it with the International Symbol of Accessibility.


Keep Aisles and Walkways Clear

When it comes to accessibility, it’s not enough to have a ramp available at one of your building’s entrances. You also need to make sure your aisles and walkways are clear at all times.

During busy times of the year, many stores end up cluttering their aisles with extra stock. This makes life incredibly difficult for people in wheelchairs, though. Make sure there is a clear, 32-inch wide path available throughout your store at all times. You should also keep your walkways and parking lots clear. This includes removing snow and spreading ice melt during the winter months, and trimming bushes and flower arrangements so they aren’t hazardous to people who have low vision or are blind.


Educate Your Employees

Employers should also take time to regularly educate their employees on the proper way to treat people with disabilities. Employees should know to treat all customers with the same level of respect and courtesy. But, they should also be prepared to handle interactions with customers who may require extra assistance. For example, they need to be prepared to read written documents to customers who are blind or exchange notes back and forth with a customer who is hard of hearing, deaf, or has difficulty speaking.

Customers with hearing, sight, or speech-related disabilities may also need extra time to communicate with your staff. Make sure your employees know to be patient and understanding with such individuals.


Offer Wheelchair-Accessible Seating and Counters

If you run a restaurant, bar, or other business that offers seating for customers, you should make sure you also offer seating specifically for wheelchair users. A wheelchair-accessible table should have a space underneath that is 30 inches wide, 17 inches deep, and 27 inches high. The top should also be 28-34 inches from the ground. If your store has a lowered counter for wheelchair users, make sure it’s always clear. Don’t display items on it or store stock there.


Make Sure Your Website is Accessible

Finally, make all aspects of your business accessible, including your website. Some tips for making your website accessible include:

  • Find a content management system that offers accessible themes and plugins for services like video captioning.
  • Organize your content with headers that can easily be interpreted by screen readers.
  • Use alt text for images, especially infographics, so that screen readers can describe them.
  • Evaluate color contrast so that your text and images are visible to as many people as possible (including those with red-green color deficiency).
  • Clearly label the fields in your forms
  • Make sure content can be accessed using just the keyboard for people who aren’t to use a mouse or trackpad.
Apply these tips today so you can make your business an open and inviting place for people of all abilities.

How to Return to Work After A Disability

Returning to work after a disability can be challenging—not only might you feel out of the loop with relationships, projects and changes at work, but you are also dealing with the emotional and physical impact of your condition. (And if you didn’t have long-term disability insurance, you might be dealing with some financial repercussions as well.) But if you are feeling healthy enough to head back, you are probably eager to get back into the swing of things and “rejoin” work life. Here are some tips to ease the transition back to work.


Make Sure You’ve Been Cleared

Talk to your doctor about whether you’re truly ready to return to work and make sure that she has signed off on all the paperwork you need as documentation.


Practice Your Job At Home

Does your job entail a lot of typing? See how it feels to do so at home. Or, do you frequently give presentations? See if there are any challenges you’ll need to accommodate for, such as being able to stand or use the video equipment. Finding the potential pitfalls in advance will help you feel more confident. 


Talk To Human Resources

Chances are good that you’ve been in touch with the human resources department throughout your disability, but make sure that your first stop is to talk with them about any special accommodations you need, such as a quiet room to work in, a different kind of chair, assistance with mobility or an office space that features accessible design. While you’re there, revisit any sort of discussions you need to have about benefits.


Initiate a Chat with Your Supervisor

Whether it’s the same manager you left or someone new has taken the reins, schedule a private meeting with your supervisor to find out what you might have missed while out….new goals, new processes, new clients. Also be open with them about sharing any limitations you might have, whether they are physical or mental. Perhaps you need to take breaks more often, or can’t be on your feet for extended periods of time. If there’s information you’d like him or her to share with your team, this is the time to ask for that.


Communicate With Your Team

Part of the joy of work is the camaraderie you have with your workmates. If the same colleagues are still in your department, they surely have missed you, but they might be hesitant on how to approach you. Sending them a friendly email and then having lunch or coffee with them (as appropriate for your relationship) can be a good way to open the door. They might be unsure what topics are off-limits—be open with them about what you do and don’t want to talk about. Everyone has different privacy limits so consider yours and let your co-workers know. 


Start Slow

As you consider a return to work, plan for a staggered schedule as you get back into the swing of things. Maybe getting up and out the door is more difficult now so a later start is preferable. It could be that coming in every other day is the best you can manage to work efficiently, or you tire easier so you’d rather work five shorter days. Whatever schedule works for you is the right one; you don’t want to rush your return or re-entry. “As frustrating as it may be to spend long boring days at home, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be ready to resume working. A too-soon return could set back your recovery and set you up for failure, creating disappointment both for you and your company,” notes mindfulness and leadership development coach Isabel Duarte, who has experience returning from disability leave. 


Look Into Retraining

If you’ve been out for a while, you might have lost some skills or the rest of your team might have upskilled. You’ll gain confidence by getting up to speed so look into development opportunities for specific areas, whether you seek training from a fellow team member or ask your supervisor to recommend an outside course. 


Take Care of Yourself

No matter what the disability you are dealing with, you have undoubtedly had to relearn a host of skills that used to be second nature. In addition, adapting to a routine with a disability can be exhausting, especially when you have to return to work. Make sure you take time for self-care, whether than entails mild exercise, meditation, journaling or art therapy. And make sure to get plenty of rest so you can wake up refreshed and ready to handle the challenges that come with returning to work after a disability.


How to Help Your NEW Employee Make a Smooth Relocation

In today’s economy, many companies are finding it challenging to attract the talent they need to fill specific roles. Often that can mean finding a new hire or recruiting an existing employee from another city who would consider relocating for a new position. In fact, one study found that more than half of those surveyed said they had moved for a job in the past, with 80 percent saying they had considered it. Most said they wanted:

  • a better career opportunity
  • a change or a fresh start
  • a lower cost of living 

If you have employees relocating to your company—whether they are coming from a different branch or a different firm altogether—there are steps you can take to help them feel welcome.

Learn About Their Needs

The needs of a young single will be vastly different from a married couple with kids. One strategy is to create a questionnaire to find out what the new employee wants or needs in terms of a living situation, whether it’s the best school district in your area, or proximity to shopping and other cultural amenities. Finding out their interests can help you point them in the right direction to hunt for housing, and also can help you pair them with a similar employee, if possible, to help show them around the city.

Be a City Ambassador

Is your region known for outdoor adventures or nightlife? Are there art walks during the summer or fall festivals that everyone attends? Put together a little packet of interesting local information on your town.  It will help the new hire find the best pizza place or be in the know about the exhibits coming to the local art museum.

Connect Your New Hire with Local Specialists

Whether your new employee will be buying or renting, you’ll want to connect them with a local real estate agent who knows the lay of the land. If you have frequent relocations, consider finding a firm that will informally “partner” with you. Building these resources will help you help your new hires find the best neighborhood and situation for them.  Many real estate firms have agents who specialize in relocations or are experts in specific neighborhoods.

You also can help connect them with local services from cable TV and utilities to the nearest DMV to make their move as smooth as possible. You might consider also building a package that provides the details for all of these essential services. Don’t forget the family members—including their furry ones. Having the whole family on board for the move is going to make it smoother for the employee, which is good for the entire company.

Establish and Communicate Your Policies

Companies that regularly help employees relocate might have a robust roster of services. This includes a complete move to a temporary rental.  Companies that relocate employees less often might let workers handle the details (and expenses) themselves. It is important to communicate with the new employee exactly what is covered so there are no misunderstandings down the line.

Give a Special On-Boarding

While every new hire feels a certain amount of “culture shock” and needs to be acclimated, the feeling can be more acute in one who is brand new to the area, not just to your company. That’s why your regular onboarding should also include plenty of interpersonal information. It’s important to make them feel welcome in a place where they might not know a soul. Prepare to have their direct manager work with the team to be proactive about welcoming them.  It is a great idea to have the manager pair them with someone who has agreed to be their “go-to” person.  This is ideally someone who is a good match based on some of the demographic information you collected earlier.

Pay Extra Attention to Local Benefits Information

Programs you offer might be the same no matter where an employee is, but some might be impacted by region. For example, one location might offer gym memberships or public transportation reimbursement. As part of the transition, be prepared to take extra time to discuss the company’s medical benefits. A newly relocated employee might have specific questions about which hospitals are closest or where to find an orthodontist. This is also a great time to talk with them about what they need to know about disability insurance. This includes information about  Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or SSI (Supplemental Security Income) benefits, if applicable.

An employee who has relocated to your company can add a special layer with fresh ideas and perspective. The goal is to make them feel welcome so that their new town and new company feel like “home” in no time.  The time you and your company take to support a new hire transition now will help in retaining that employee for the longterm.

Is Stress Affecting Your Workers? (Short Answer: Yes) Here’s What To Do About It



Here’s why we are so confident about the answer to the question: Work-related stress is the leading workplace health problem, finds the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently included “burnout” in its new edition of the International Classification of Diseases, describing it as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

The good news is that are ways that you can help ramp down the stress. Here are five things to try to help your team manage their stress.

  1. Help Them With Financial Wellness

    Money is the No. 1 cause of stress among Americans, and not coincidentally, help with financial planning is one of the top benefits that creates satisfaction among employees. Of course, you’d probably love to give all your employees a raise to help relieve some financial stress. However, the next best thing is helping them better manage the money they do have. Consider launching a series of seminars that tackle big topics—invite a real estate agent to talk about buying a home and available down payment programs; a financial planner who can give tips on budgeting and saving; or an accountant to give advice on tax matters.

  2. Promote Healthy Habits

    Corporate wellness programs are on the rise, finds the 2018 Employee Benefits Survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). But you don’t have to spend a fortune to help your employees engage in healthier habits. Consider swapping out the pastries at morning meetings for fresh fruit; holding walking meetings; moving the printer to encourage people to add a few steps; or hosting a daily stretching session. All these little changes can add up to make your employees feel better—which will reduce stress.

  3. Minimize the Sunday Scaries

    Yep, that’s a thing, and it refers to the stress that employees start feeling as they look ahead to the upcoming week. In fact, an overwhelming 80 percent of workers report feeling this angst, finds LinkedIn.

    One major source of stress is a barrage of emails that can make them feel like they are always working, even in their off hours. You might want to take a cue from companies that have started asking managers not to email their employees in the evenings or on the weekend, as a way to alleviate the pressure that workers report feeling to always be available. It’s fine for managers to dive into their inbox at a time that works for them, but encourage them to queue up the email and send it during work hours so the employee doesn’t feel a need to respond. (In France it’s even a law!)

    You also might consider making Monday a day that workers look forward to, by starting the morning with energetic music from a playlist curated by an employee or hosting a special Monday luncheon.

  4. Offer Flexibility

    Of course not every workplace can allow workers to set their own hours, but many times you could incorporate an element of flexibility that may make a big difference in your team members’ lives. For example, the young dad rushing to get to daycare before it closes at 5 might benefit from shifting his schedule 30 minutes off your stated “work hours.” Or, he could finish work at home after the kids have gone to bed. The goal is to take note of people in your office who might be caregivers or have other responsibilities, and focus on their productivity and output, rather than their desk time. 

  5. Fully Explain Your Benefits – Urge Workers to Take Advantage of Them

    Worrying about future unknowns can cause a great deal of stress for your team, but your benefit programs can go a long way toward protecting your employees. The key is to help them understand exactly what their benefits offer, such as how contributing to their 401(k) or other retirement plan can help set them up for future stability, or how adequate life insurance and disability insurance can protect them and their loved ones in the event of a tragedy. 

By taking steps to alleviate your workers’ stress, you can help protect both their mental and physical health. At the same time, you can ensure that they are bringing their best, most productive selves to work every day.  

Reversing Burnout Series :: Nailing Your To-Be List

by Peter Atherton, AE Growth and Impact Expert, Consultant, Speaker, Author of Reversing Burnout
The Win-Win: Life Balance for High Performing Workers,  Sustained Growth for Your Organization

The previous parts of this series included  mastering the pastseeing our own big picture, and knowing when it may be time to pivot have helped us know where we stand.  We can continue to use our “margin” time to map out the places we would like to be in terms of our career, relationship with family and friends, finances, personal growth and development, and our connection to others.  In order to effectively design the path to connect us to our best selves and better future, we need to be sure of our starting point and the obstacles that could be in our way.


Imagine Your Best Self

Imagine how much more content and less stressful life would be if you could “do you” really well and effectively… and do so ALL the time?
The first steps in the process is to imagine being your best self, and for most this includes:

  • doing excellent work
  • doing what we do best every day
  • growing and advancing
  • having a life and impact beyond our career alone

The good news is that these are ALL possible and in our control.  Once we imagine them, we can begin to take the necessary steps to realize them.


Get in the Flow

Getting in the flow of our best selves will typically require that we answer “yes” to the following:

  • Do I strive for excellence at work?
  • Do I routinely deploy my best skills, talents, assets, gifts, and experiences?
  • Do I seek opportunities to continuously grow personally and professionally?
  • Am I known and revered outside the office?

These are high bars for sure… but don’t we all at least have that small voice inside reminding us that we aspire to achieve them?… and don’t we also want to inspire others to reach for these too? At any given time, we fall short… but at any given time we can also close the gap.


Analyze the Gap

We can perform a gap analysis and design a strategy to close the gap once we know: where we stand, where we want to be, and what’s holding us back. The previous parts of this series related to mastering our pastseeing our own big picture, and knowing when it may be time to pivot have helped us know where we stand.   We can continue to use our “margin” time to map out the places we would like to be in terms of our career, relationship with family and friends, finances, personal growth and development, and our connection to others. In order to design the path to connect us to our best selves and better future, we need to be sure of our starting point and the obstacles that could be in our way.

If you answered “no”, “I don’t know”, or “I’m not sure” then ask “why” at least four times to get to the root issue.

For example, why don’t I strive for excellence at work the way I once did?

  • Answer: I don’t really feel it anymore.  Why?
  • Answer: I have lost my motivation.  Why?
  • Answer: I’m doing the same old thing.  Why?
  • Answer: The work is the work and nobody is talking to me about anything different.

Real issues to be considered:  Loss of efficacy, burnout, disengagement, no paths available for growth, employee connected with an ineffective boss.


Another example:

I can’t say that I routinely deploy my best skills, talents, assets, gifts, and experiences.  Why?

  • Answer:  They’re not called for in my job.  Why?
  • Answer:  Ok, it is expected that I keep growing and leverage my work skills, talents, and experiences on the job, but not that other stuff.  Why?
  • Answer:  That’s just not part of the work; work and life are mostly compartmentalized.  Why?
  • Answer:  I guess that’s just the way it’s always been.

Real Issues to be considered: a lack of awareness of what each of these elements are and/or a lack of knowledge on how best to develop and leverage them to improve engagement, growth, and performance in today’s workplace. Once we know the real reasons for each of the “non-yes” questions above, we can begin to retarget toward the places we want to be.



Take Action

Identify three steps to move closer to where you want to be in terms of work, family and friends, finances, personal growth and development, and connections with others. As a way to get started, many high-achieving professionals and business owners identify steps from answering some version of the following questions. Take one step toward your targets each week… and then keep going.

Work: In terms of work, it could be establishing a long-term career plan and then sitting down with your supervisor to begin a new dialogue about creating a better future.   

  • What stops me from excelling at work?
  • Does work allow me to see, develop, and leverage my skills, talents, assets, gifts, and experiences?  If not, what other pursuits would allow me to develop and deploy them?

Family and Friends: In terms of family and friends, it could be scheduling a date-night with your significant other or picking up the phone to call a friend to make plans.

  • Do I have all the relationships I want at home and with friends?
  • Are the relationships I have in development, growing, maturing, or peaking phases… or are they in a decline and in need of a refresh?

Finances: In terms of finances, it could be establishing that long-term plan for more financial freedom.  

  • Do I have a savings and retirement “number”?  Am I on track?
  • Does my income exceed my expenses… and how can I increase the former and decrease (and avoid adding to) the latter to create more financial freedom?

Personal Growth and Development: In terms of personal growth, it can be reading a book, subscribing to a podcast, and committing to an exercise plan.

  • Am I growing personally, spiritually, and in terms of my physical health?
  • Am I taking on new experiences that push me out of my “comfort zone” and expand my horizons?

Connection with Others: In terms of connecting with others, it could be reaching out to a local non-profit to take a tour and learn more.

  • Do I know my passions outside of my work and family?
  • Am I learning more about issues that upset me and the causes that inspire me?… and am I taking action to make a difference?

Once we retarget, we can develop our “to-do” list and begin to bridge the gaps.  This process of moving forward step by step helps us to revitalize.

  • Begin to Revitalize  


In my case, in order to stay on track and begin to realize the full life I desired, I needed to see all my priorities at once.  To do so, I redesigned my weekly “to-do” list.  A previously “all-work” list transformed to a 6-box list with 2 columns and 3 rows with a “to-do” box related to: work, family, personal growth, professional growth, non-profit and community connection activities, and other items related to miscellaneous appointments, errands, or home projects.

Well informed and developed “to-do” lists can be designed to take us from where we are to where we want to be.   Taking action is what moves us to become our best self.   We can celebrate each step toward our targets as one step closer to being able to say… “nailed it!”


This article originally appeared on ActionsProve

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Reversing Burnout Series :: Knowing When to Pivot

by Peter Atherton, AE Growth and Impact Expert, Consultant, Speaker, Author of Reversing Burnout
The Win-Win: Life Balance for High Performing Workers,  Sustained Growth for Your Organization

Many of us have a sense that something may be off. That is, we may be tracking off-course, or that we may not even be on the right track anymore.  As a result, many of us are considering whether we need to pivot.
Given the desperate need for good talent and the high cost of employee turnover in today’s job market, this is a scary proposition for many employers. It shouldn’t be, however, if they are seeking to truly engage and develop their employees.

The fact is, some form of “pivoting” is the only way to avoid a decline.  Even if we know we are on the right track, we need to continuously pivot to progress and refresh along the way. Individuals who understand growth cycles, work-life seasons, and what is means to live a full life will be positioned to enjoy continued growth and success at the office and beyond.  When top talent has the choice to stay, be engaged, and grow, employers will be more apt to embrace cycles and design strategies to support that demand, and create opportunities for growth.


Cycles Within the Cycle

Just like cell regeneration patterns and planetary movements, as humans, we have growth changes within our overall career life cycles.  Over the course of my 24-years as a professional engineer, there were several sets of “learning and development”, “growth”, and “peaking” stages at each level of career advancement.  My movement from project engineer to project manager to principal to senior executive to “what’s next” were clearly marked in 5-year increments.  Each cycle along the path was critical to keeping me moving forward.

“Knowing exactly when to begin the pivot or refresh process requires the knowledge of cycles, vision of where you want to be, and the courage to act.”

 -Peter C. Atherton


The Personal Refresh

High-achievers, in general, follow a similar pattern of continuous growth through a series of advancements. Traditional leaders and organizations encourage and endorse this. However, especially today when is it clear that top talent wants more than just traditional success, this approach is short-sighted.  Once we’ve “mastered our craft” and “made our name,” pure professional pursuits begin to lose luster, even for the most driven employees.  Many successful professionals and business owners with 15 or more years of experience are feeling discontentedburned-out, and disengaged with business as usual.

Personal career stagnation can occur and a “personal refresh” needed, even when their organization has taken intentional steps to improve workflow and culture, .  This reset is needed personal growth and development that provides balance for our professional success. Once refreshed, we are in a position to regain perspective on both our lives and careers. Only then can we begin to develop a plan for continued and sustained success.  That success could be continuing on our current path, refreshing in place, or pivoting in a new direction. Without some form of continuous personal growth and development (or at least mid-career reboot), we are likely to realize the fate of most senior staffers and leaders in terms of losing emotional intelligence.

Regaining and maintaining our self and overall personal awareness is key to our overall professional growth and effectiveness.


The Process

The process of a refresh or a pivot is just that – a process.  The optimal time for either option is during the later portions of a growth phase. The goal is to continually push off the peaking and decline stages as illustrated in the graph below.

This is a process. To get through it, I needed a time-out with patience, support and tough love.  Allowing myself this opportunity,  helped me to understand where my  professional and personal interests and passions intersected. Ultimately, it pushed me to design a pivot from a comfortable and lucrative career I could have coasted in for decades.  This process is ideally done with the aid of an experienced coach, one who can guide you through the various steps and customize them for your unique career path, personal situation, and work-life seasons.  You can view some tips for starting your refresh on my blog as well.


This article originally appeared on ActionsProve

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10 Causes of Disability Every HR Leader Should Know

When most people consider disability, they picture something catastrophic happening, an ill-timed dive off a high rock, or a speeding car hurtling into theirs—and, for the most part, assume it can never happen to them.

That’s why human resources experts often find it challenging to convince their employees of the importance of disability insurance even though you know it’s a wise investment and more commonly used than most people assume. In fact, if you were to keep track of the 20-year-olds in today’s workforce, you’d find out that nearly 25 percent of them will be out of work for at least a year due to a health condition before they reach retirement age.

The statistic isn’t meant to alarm anyone.  However, it aims to underscore the importance of making sure that your team members realize that disability insurance is for everyone. It can be the lifeline they need in the case of an unexpected condition. Yet, outside of the basic coverage offered through Social Security, at least 51 million working adults go without disability coverage.

That can be downright scary. Considering the precarious financial position of many Americans—and the skyrocketing cost of medical treatment, any of these conditions can rob workers of the opportunity to earn enough to pay their bills – just when they need the extra income the most.

Wondering what the top causes of long-term disability are? Your employees might be surprised to learn that they are relatively common occurrences.

  1. Musculoskeletal Disorders. This is a fancy way of saying “back pain,” something weekend warriors—or even just good Samaritans helping a friend move—can probably see themselves experiencing. It also covers other muscle, back, and joint disorders, such as arthritis. Together, these conditions account for nearly 30 percent of all long-term disabilities.
  2. Cancer. Yes, we can put this in the “catastrophic” category, but it is actually more prevalent than you might imagine. In fact, more than 70,000 people in their 20s and 30s are diagnosed with cancers. This includes diagnoses of lymphoma, leukemia, testicular, melanoma, and breast cancer. Even if they are eventually cured, cancer treatment can decimate a family’s finances as they miss work to undergo treatment.
  3. Pregnancy. It’s hard to consider pregnancy as a “long-term” disability. However, complications associated with pregnancy and childbirth can infringe on work. In fact, about 1/10 of all claims involve a pregnancy-related issue.  By tapping long-term disability insurance, your employee and their little bundle of joy can be covered.
  4. Mental Health Issues. From anxiety to depression, mental health problems can take a toll. Fortunately, people are realizing that mental health is just as vital to treat as physical health. With over a quarter of the population diagnosed with one or more mental disorders each year, it is easy to see how it can be a leading cause of long-term disability.
  5. Injuries. Nine percent of long-term disability claims come from the “injury” category. This covers everything from accident recovery to surgery, broken bones, and even poisoning.
  6. Cardiovascular Issues. From heart attack to stroke, cardiovascular events strike unexpectedly. These events can prevent employees from returning to work indefinitely due to the severity of the event and the nature of the recovery.
  7. Nervous System. This category encompasses a wide range of potential issues that include multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy. This also includes a range of additional eye and ear disorders.  Even Alzheimer’s, a condition often considered an older person’s disease, can strike during peak earning years. In fact, about 200,000 people contract the early-onset form of Alzheimer’s, which typically develops in their 40s and 50s.
  8. Infectious Diseases. While headlines trumpet new types of infectious diseases, from Zika to MRSA, this category also encompasses far less-exotic strains. This includes bacteria that cause strep throat and viruses that bring on the flu. When conditions become more resistant to hard-working antibiotics, the threat of work loss to infectious disease grows more prevalent.
  9. Digestive System. Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are just three of the better-known conditions in the digestive diseases category. Altogether there are 40 digestive conditions that plague more than 34 million Americans, causing them to miss work as they wrestle with treatment and prevention.
  10. Respiratory diseases. Asthma is one of the most common chronic respiratory conditions. This also includes a wide variety of other lung-related ailments. It’s not a leap to assume that difficulty in breathing would lead to difficulty in working…illuminating the need for long-term disability insurance.

No one wants to sit down with employees to go over a list of illnesses or conditions they may eventually have. However, human resources professionals have the opportunity to educate their colleagues on common causes of disability, as well as, how they can protect themselves. Employers can deliver one of the best-kept secrets in the benefits world—how disability insurance can help prevent them from losing a paycheck just when they need it most.

Reversing Burnout Series :: Mastering the Past

by Peter Atherton, AE Growth and Impact Expert, Consultant, Speaker, Author of Reversing Burnout
The Win-Win: Life Balance for High Performing Workers,  Sustained Growth for Your Organization

High-achieving professionals and business owners are focused on the future.  Even after significant “wins”, the focus for many of us quickly shifts to “what’s next”.  Over the long-term, this can lead to burnout, discontent, and feeling of being trapped; even isolated. If we take the time to connect with our past, it can boost self-awareness and confidence and better position us for success in both work and life.

Understanding the Habits of Winning

High-achievers do things that many others don’t or won’t, and even do things that others might not have previously thought possible.  They have a commitment to excellence and winning.  This commitment is vital to establishing success as a professional and business owner.  Following through on commitments also helps build character and self-esteem.

Whatever motivates to pursue our own path – the challenge, the paycheck, the standing in society, or the expectations of others – a full commitment is necessary.  Early on, most of us needed to take ownership to target a direction for our lives and focus our time to realize our future.  This demanded that we select a school and a major, get through 8:00 a.m. classes and a challenging curriculum. We needed to secure and succeed in internships and residencies, and we needed to pass tests for licenses and certifications.  We formed the habits needed for success.

At some point, however, many of us lost some ownership in the details and the direction of our lives.


The Silent Price of Commitment

For virtually all professions, achieving requires us to be “all in” for an extended period – often 10, 20, or even 30 years.  That is what it takes to master our craft, make a name, and build our platform.   There is so much to learn on the job, especially in the early years, and the commitment it requires can be consuming, both in a positive and productive way… but it can also work against us.

Unfortunately, professional and entrepreneurial success is more about applied knowledge than it is about information alone.  We need to make judgments and often operate in gray areas.  As a result, we gain both experience and understanding.  There is no other way to do this than to spend the appropriate amount of time in our craft to learn, do, fail, and seek more opportunities; then, repeat.

Over time, our commitment to our careers can cause us to lose touch with ourselves and others, lose track of our accomplishments, and lose clarity of where things may be heading.


Master the Past

On this journey, it is easy for us to become burned-out, disengagedtrapped, or even isolated. When that occurs, we need to take inventory and connect with our past.  This exercise demands that we take the time to recognize, appreciate, and preserve our successes to date. It is essential to better understand our present to achieve our desired future.  A well-planned sabbatical can help in this process.

Before I had the conviction to give my final 2-year notice to my partners, I went through a process of accounting for and documenting my past successes.  This all began by chance when my son asked me to review his college co-op resume.  As a father and professional, I was impressed, not just with the content, but with the format. The flow was different than I remembered as a candidate myself, as well as what I had seen from candidates interested in joining our firm.

I then realized it had been over 15 years since I last developed a resume for myself, and probably a good time to take stock.  Even though mine was a corporate resume, it was not nearly the same; a corporate resume focuses only on industry projects, positions, and roles.  I decided to build a more complete resume and began to use the “margin” I created in my life to do so. I modified the format to better reflect components representative of a 20 plus year career.  This newer format helped me highlight my skills, qualities, and career progression, as well as my work outside of the office.

As I documented my progression and achievements, I felt like I began to enjoy them – some for the first time. Having these documented, and being able to reflect on them, helped me put my successes into perspective. I also began to recognize and become excited about transferable skills and experiences that could be used for greater impact beyond what I was currently doing.  This helped build up my confidence and give me the courage to venture into a new chapter of my career.


How to Take Stock in the Past for a Productive Future

Using your resume as a means to check in with yourself and your past, is key to helping shape the future you want.  You can use the “margin” established here over the next several weeks to help in your efforts.

Take the time to account for and document:

  • Your overarching level of achievement,
  • Your professional highlights and personal qualities,
  • The details of your various roles, duties, formed skills, and achieved outcomes for each level of your career progression,
  • Your roles, experiences, and impact outside of the office,
  • Your educational achievements, certifications, and awards earned, and
  • Any other personal skills, hobbies, and interests that help round-out who you are.

Your updated resume will help you gain perspective and much greater awareness. As a result, you will be able to recognize and celebrate the full scope of your accomplishments. In turn, you will now be better positioned to close any gaps between the life you have and the one you desire.  All the while you will form new winning habits that will help you reverse and avoid burnout.

This article originally appeared on ActionsProve

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How Companies Can Ensure Employees Feel Supported While on Leave

By Gene Lanzoni, Marketing, Thought Leadership, Customer Insights 
The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America


With the expansion of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) more than a decade ago, employers have become more aware of their responsibilities with not only how to stay compliant, but the role they play in helping employees return to work. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lost productivity due to absenteeism in the U.S. cost employers $225.8 billion annually, or $1,685 per employee. In today’s competitive labor market, many employers are looking for ways to retain their employees and adopting leave practices that help employees return to work from an extended absence due to injury or disability is becoming a priority.

As such, employers are responding with more personalized leave management and more robust stay-at-work (SAW) accommodations. Guardian’s most recent biennial Absence Management Activity Index and Study–“The Value of Leave Management Integration,” found three in four employers with a high level of return-to-work (RTW) and SAW programs reported decreased absenteeism, compared to only 40% of companies with no formal SAW program.

Guardian’s study also reveals employers are paying greater attention to the employee experience, one that offers a more supportive environment with additional flexibility, resources, and education. Employers seeking to upgrade their absence management programs to generate positive outcomes like high employee satisfaction and retention should consider the following:

Better Return-to-Work and Stay-at-Work Accommodations 

While it’s important to communicate with employees throughout their disability leave, it’s equally important to provide them with a smooth transition back to work. Employers should establish a strong RTW program that guides employees in a way that makes them feel supported. Guardian’s study indicates 70% of employees who completed an RTW program feel their employer cares about them. Additionally, companies that have four to six RTW initiatives see a 78% reduction in lost time, compared with 48% of companies that have no RTW initiatives. 

Employers have become more aware of their responsibilities under the ADA and are identifying ways to help their employees stay at work following an absence. These activities have expanded beyond traditional vocational rehabilitation to include interactive processes, transitional work plans, and worksite modifications to accommodate employees with disabilities. Providing employees with resources like nurse case management and duration guidelines can help reduce the likelihood of a relapse. Guardian’s study found organizations with the most comprehensive RTW programs appear to achieve greater success reducing lost time and improving employee retention. 

Flexibility and Personalization Go a Long Way 

Today’s technology makes it easy to communicate and inform a company’s workforce through various channels. So, it’s not surprising our study reveals that the accessibility of information has a great influence on employees when they are on leave. Every employee has a preference of how they’d like to communicate with their employer about leave, and Guardian’s study finds the majority of employees prefer to have 24/7 access to personal and mobile communications.

Employers that leverage new technology, including automated dialers, text messaging and chats are leaders in the absence management space because they demonstrate a willingness to accommodate to an employee’s schedule and individual needs. In fact, Guardian’s study reveals 21% of Index leaders use automated dialing technology, compared with 9% that lag on program improvements. The same goes for interactive voice response systems – 16% of Index leaders leverage this technology, compared with only 7% of those that rank lower in the Index. 

At the end of the day, many employees want to work for a company they feel cares about their well-being and that will help them navigate the journey through their disability. The data collected from Guardian’s Absence Management Activity IndexSM and Study supports the notion that employers who prioritize these programs see positive results in employee satisfaction and overall retention.

Unless otherwise noted, the source of all information is from the 2019 Guardian Absence Management Activity Index℠ and Study – “The Value of Leave Management Integration.

Reversing Burnout Series: Design Your Daily Personal Time Off

by Peter Atherton, AE Growth and Impact Expert, Consultant, Speaker, Author of Reversing Burnout
The Win-Win: Life Balance for High Performing Workers,  Sustained Growth for Your Organization

Personal Time Off (PTO) s great; it’s a chance to get away, to disconnect from work, and even have some rest and relaxation. Taken routinely, PTO is an effective strategy to reduce work stress, but it will not cure or help you avoid burnout by itself.  For that, we need to design ourselves a more frequent form of PTO, a daily “Personal Time-Out”.

Creating and maintaining “margin” in our day, and using it strategically, is the only way to effectively reverse and avoid burnout and live the full life we desire.  This is especially true for those of us who are high-achievers and often consumed by the demands of work and life.

Mastering Our Time

Busyness is both pervasive and invasive.  Allowed to persist, busyness chokes out and overruns much of what we desire in life.   If we want to master our lives, we need to resolve our busyness.  The first step is to take ownership and regain control of our time.  When we control our time, we can control our destiny.

Taking Control

For many, it might require we say “no” to things that we typically say yes to, and taking control when we can’t anticipate the outcome.  It means we may have to “defend” the need for some “me” time. At one point we may have known what we wanted out of work and life, but have since lost touch, track, and clarity.  Even if we have “checked the boxes” of the goals that previously drove us, most high-achievers reach a point where we can feel disconnected, discontented, frustrated, and even resentful – especially if we are in or headed toward the burnout-disengagement cycle.

Values and Urgency

As I explain in my book, Reversing Burnout. How to Immediately Engage Top Talent and Grow! A Blueprint for Professionals and Business Owners, many of us have invested so much in our careers that it has become our identity.   As we progress in life this becomes even more problematic as the gaps between “what we do”, “who we are”, and our life purpose drives discontent.  These gaps also impact our ability to lead and inspire others.  If we want to truly succeed, we also need a renewed sense of urgency about our time.

We never stop getting older.  The fact is, our days are numbered on this earth and we have no real control of when our time will be up.  Tomorrow is not guaranteed, and this should be our motivation to take action beginning today!  Time is our greatest asset in terms of achieving our goals and realizing our impact, but we can’t take it for granted.  We know that we don’t want to miss out any longer and that we may need a course correction.  But here’s the reality: We will never discover the things we value most and begin to track toward the full life we desire and our greater purpose until we slow down.  


Creating and maintaining margin is an essential component to slowing down and being able to master our time.  “Margin” is quiet time and personal “white space,” away from devices and distractions.   To be effective, margin time needs to be sufficient in length and consistent in frequency. The target for most of us should be 30 to 60 minutes per day at least 5 days per week.  Margin is not just about time to rest and relax, its foundational to the R&R 2.0 process.   

R&R 2.0

PTO and the “rest and relaxation” of our past can help us address some of the demands and stresses of work and life, but it needs to be updated and expanded if we are going to take on burnout and position us to win over the long-term. Rest and relaxation alone only address being physically or emotionally exhausted as a result of a temporary season or event.  On the other hand, burnout is a chronic condition that layers frustration and loss, and even resentment and despair, on top of physical and emotional exhaustion.   Reversing and avoiding burnout requires a deeper, more strategic, and more consistent approach.   

Once established, margin is the daily “Personal Time-Out” we need to begin to restore ourselves if we have been feeling burned-out, disengaged, and feeling like we are missing out.  This time to routinely decompress, rest, pray, meditate, listen, think, contemplate, read, journal, and reflect allows for clarity and positions us for Restoration.  Once restored, this time is then repurposed for the next elements of the process which include RediscoveryRetargeting, and Revitalization toward the life we desire.  


This article originally appeared on ActionsProve

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