• May 01, 2020 3:45 PM | Christine Strak

    One of the biggest challenges employers face when it comes to having a remote workforce is cultivating a sense of belonging and inclusivity. In other words, keeping your remote employees engaged.

    Even under normal working conditions, cultivating a positive culture is a special challenge. But remote work can add an additional layer of complexity because it’s more difficult for dispersed workforces to unite under one vision. There are too many possibilities for distraction.

    Plus, it’s too easy for remote workers to feel isolated. According to the Harvard Business Review, loneliness is the biggest struggle to working remotely. Although being alone is not the only cause of loneliness, it can be a significant contributor.

    Collaboration, morale, and belonging can all take a hit.

    Here are eight great ways good managers can help to keep their remote employees engaged, courtesy of leadership coach Angela Civitella, a member of the Forbes Coaches Council and founder of Intinde.

    Read more.

  • April 09, 2020 8:54 AM | Christine Strak

    While U.S. employers look to keep their workers safe and healthy, they could see their health care benefit costs jump as a result of both the spreading coronavirus and recent legislation requiring health plans to cover testing and related costs for COVID-19, the respiratory disease the virus causes.

    "Many employers, particularly those who are self-funded, are concerned about the potential cost of treating the coronavirus for a significant portion of their employees," said Ed Fensholt, director of compliance services at benefits advisory firm Lockton Companies in Kansas City, Mo.

    Scott Behrens, director of government relations at Lockton, noted that "for fully insured plans, rates are locked in for the current year," so coronavirus-related health care cost issues "aren't going to be felt for insured plans until renewal" for the 2021 plan year.

    Self-funded employers are "trying to figure out what their risk of increased claims might be," Behrens said. "Employers need to be aware of that risk."

    Read more.

  • March 30, 2020 6:38 AM | Christine Strak

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Minnesota's Unemployment Insurance team members are processing more applications for unemployment benefits than ever before. It is our top priority to process applications efficiently and effectively, and to ensure that we can deliver for Minnesotans in this time of need.

    To ensure our system can handle the increased activity we are experiencing, we are asking that *new* unemployment insurance applicants apply online on an assigned day, based on your social security number (SSN).

    If you need to apply for unemployment benefits for the first time, please refer to the schedule below to learn when you are scheduled to apply. You will only be allowed to apply on your assigned day - or on Thursday or Friday if you missed your assigned day.

  • March 26, 2020 8:32 AM | Christine Strak

    The number of U.S. workers filing for new unemployment benefits for the week ending March 21 shot up to 3.28 million, rocketing past the previous week’s total of 281,000. The unprecedented spike—the highest level for initial claims on record—is due primarily to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Department of Labor.

    Layoffs have begun to surge, especially in the transportation, restaurant and hospitality sectors, as the coronavirus spreads across the country and nonessential businesses have been ordered to close. The weekly jobless claims are the most-timely economic indicator for measuring the impact of the virus on the U.S. economy. 

  • March 20, 2020 6:22 PM | Christine Strak

    MINNEAPOLIS — People sleep, spend time at home and they spend time at work. It's an overly simplified way of looking at life, but it is the truth for so many of us.

    However, the coronavirus is now tipping the scales of work-life balance, raising questions about what employees can do during this challenging time.

    Dr. Mia Mulrennan, a human resources expert with a psychology focus, said this is a new situation that both bosses and employees are navigating together. Read more.

  • March 18, 2020 5:45 AM | Christine Strak

    Over 330,000 Minnesota jobs put at high risk by coronavirus closures and restrictions. More than 31,000 people had applied for unemployment insurance over the past two days.

  • March 13, 2020 1:20 PM | Christine Strak

    The Minnesota governor is announcing a plan to help communities fight the spread of COVID-19 around the state.

    Gov. Tim Walz held a news conference at the state capitol Friday with Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Commissioner Jan Malcolm. They are announcing "community mitigation" strategies for Minnesotans, and Walz has declared a peacetime state of emergency.

    On Friday, the MDH announced that there are now 14 presumptive positive cases of coronavirus in the state. The counties affected so far are Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Olmsted, Ramsey, Stearns and Wright.

    Wisconsin has also announced a total of seven cases, with one positive case listed as "recovered."

    As part of the community mitigation strategy, the MDH is recommending postponing or canceling:

    • Large events where 250 people or more would gather, including but not limited to:
      • Concerts.
      • Conferences.
      • Professional, college, and school performances or sporting events.
    • Smaller events (fewer than 250 people) that are held in venues that do not allow social distancing of 6 feet per person.
    • This includes gatherings in crowded auditoriums, rooms or other venues.
    • Events with more than 10 people where the majority of participants are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, including gatherings such as those at:
      • Retirement facilities.
      • Assisted living facilities.
      • Developmental homes.
      • Support groups for people with health conditions.

    MDH is also recommending:

    • People and families at higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness staying at home and avoiding gatherings or other situations of potential exposures, including travel.
    • Employers making telework arrangements for workers whose duties can be done remotely.
    • Employers staggering work schedules and limiting non-essential work travel.
    • Health care facilities and assisted-living facilities more strictly limiting visitors.
    • Faith-based organizations offering video or audio events.
    • Hospitals and other health care facilities implementing triage before entering facilities (for example, parking lot triage, phone triage, and telemedicine to limit unnecessary visits).

    The full plan of action is available online.

    The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920. The hotline will be open weekdays 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. this week (March 9-13).

    MDH maintains a regularly updated webpage with "Situation Updates," including the status of "persons under investigation" who are being tested. MDH also has a larger COVID-19 coronavirus information page, with links to additional facts and resources about coronavirus.

    The Wisconsin Department of Health Services also keeps this page updated with numbers of tested cases, and those that tested positive, along with more information for Wisconsin residents.

    Minnesota has issued some "social distancing" guidelines for schools as well, but did not recommend schools closing as of March 13.

  • March 13, 2020 12:03 PM | Christine Strak

    Dear HREF Members and Colleagues:

    The HREF staff and board members have been diligently monitoring the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) daily and have been meeting regularly to assess its impact on our upcoming March and May events.

    As this is an unprecedented turn of events and a very fluid challenge, we’ve been busy researching all of our options in order to ensure the well-being of our individual members as well as the association as a whole.

    While plans are still set for both of our upcoming events, we respectfully ask for your patience while we continue to weigh all options. We are informed by and in touch with members daily, each of whom has their own unique context in their community. Please continue to check the HREF website for the latest updates as information is changing fast.

    We hope that each individual is making preparations for their own health and well-being. As a reminder, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified older adults and individuals with serious chronic medical conditions as high risk populations, who should take actions to reduce the risk of getting sick by staying home, limiting non-essential air travel, and avoiding crowds.

    Please reference our updated online messages, visit the CDC and MDH websites for COVID-19 resources, and reach out directly to me or our administrator, Christine, for questions and guidance regarding event registration or if you are among a high-risk population as defined by the CDC.

    The Board is working to ensure that every effort has been made to explore every option regarding the delivery of our upcoming events. The health and safety of our members and attendees is paramount, which guides all of our decisions and processes.

    Mia Mulrennan, Psy.D. 
    President, HR Executive Forum

  • February 28, 2020 5:33 AM | Christine Strak

    Register today for our March 25th program: Setting your Sights on Purposefully Aligning Your Strategy and Culture featuring guest speaker, Michael Stewart!

  • February 27, 2020 5:30 AM | Christine Strak

    More countries are reporting cases of coronavirus, and employers around the world have been asked to educate their workforces on how to prevent the spread of the virus.

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