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Winter in New England is always unpredictable. Take a moment to review some Winter Driving Safety Tips to help you and your colleagues travel to and from work safely.

Originally Published By: WCR Insurance


Winter Driving Safety Tips

Take a few minutes to cover a few basics

  • Get an earlier-than-usual start and plan for the trip to take longer than normal.

  • Clear your entire vehicle of snow. Snow left on the roof and hood can easily end up on the windshield or rear window, obstructing your view.

  • Clear ice off all windows and side mirrors. Clearing just a peephole will get you out of the driveway faster, but will also obstruct your line of vision.

  • Remove snow from your shoes before you get in the car to avoid fogging up the windows and creating slippery gas and brake pedals.

  • Always use your seatbelt and insist any passengers do so as well.

On the Road

  • Slow down. Posted speed limits are meant for ideal (i.e., dry) conditions; adjust your speed down during slick weather. This is even true for four-wheel drive vehicles.

  • Don't talk on your cell phone while driving.

  • Leave extra space between you and the vehicle in front of you in case of sudden stops, black ice, etc. If the vehicle behind is following too closely, change lanes or try slowing down so they will pass you.

  • Try not to make sudden stops or direction changes, such as going across three lanes of traffic to make that last minute exit.

  • Keep your headlights on.

  • Pay attention to other drivers and anticipate what they may do. Watch for cars on side streets that are trying to pull out into traffic.

  • Slow down while approaching intersections.

  • Keep clear of snowplows, big rigs, and other large vehicles which can suddenly blind you with snow spray. Never pass a snowplow on the right.

  • Do not use cruise control in cold or wet weather. Tapping on your brakes to disengage can cause you to slip and slide.

  • Be alert for ice, especially on bridges and in shaded areas.

  • During especially hazardous and treacherous conditions, don't try to drive out of the storm; seek shelter until the worst passes.

Braking and Skidding

  • At the first sign of brake lights, start slowing down. Try to avoid slamming on the brakes.

  • If you have anti-lock brakes, do not pump them. Keep constant, firm pressure on the brake pedal until the vehicle comes to a complete stop.

  • If you start to skid, take your foot off the pedal and steer in the direction you want to the vehicle to go. Do not hit the brakes or accelerate.


  • If highway signs say chains are required, you must either stop and put them on or turn back.

  • Pull completely out of traffic to put on and take off chains. Stopping in a traffic lane not only blocks traffic, it greatly endangers your physical safety.

What to Do if Stranded

  • If your vehicle breaks down, or is stalled or stranded, don't panic.

  • Turn on the emergency flashers or set up flares.

  • If you're stuck, try straightening the wheels and accelerating slowly. Don't let the tires spin endlessly; it only creates a mess (consult your owner's manual for the best way to get the vehicle unstuck).

  • Turn the car on occasionally to keep warm. If it is snowing, check the tailpipe every so often to ensure it is not covered with snow. You may also want to crack a window slightly to avoid potential carbon monoxide buildup.

  • Move around once in a while to keep your circulation up.

  • If it is snowing or raining, stay with your vehicle unless help is within 100 yards.

Know the Conditions

  • Winter weather can change fast and unexpectedly. For the latest updates on road conditions visit a commuter link website where up-to-the-minute conditions can be seen and decisions on the safest route can be made.

Other Tips

  • Keep an extra car key in your wallet or pocket. If you accidentally lock yourself out, you won't be stranded in the cold.

  • Tell someone your planned route and estimated arrival time in case something happens, especially on longer trips.

Additional Resources
WCF Insurance Safety Department

NOTICE: This guide may make reference to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations; however the guide is not legal advice as to compliance with OSHA or other safety laws, codes, or regulations. Compliance with OSHA and other safety laws codes or regulations, and maintaining a safe work environment for your employees remains your responsibility. WCF Insurance does not undertake to perform the duty of any person to provide for the health or safety of your employees. WCF Insurance does not warrant that your workplace is safe or healthful, or that it complies with any laws, regulations, codes, or standards.



Originally Published By: Zoë B. CullenRicardo Perez-Truglia

Pay inequality is common in most workplaces. You get paid significantly more than your subordinates, your boss gets paid more than you, and your boss’s boss gets even more. In many large organizations, some employees can take home paychecks tens or hundreds of times more than others.

Whether you like it or not, your employees have wondered at some point about your salary — and their peers’. Should you be worried about that? Our recent research sheds light on this question, and our findings may surprise you.

We conducted an experiment with a sample of 2,060 employees from all rungs of a large commercial bank in Asia. The firm is quite representative of most companies around the world across some key dimensions, including its degree of pay inequality and non-disclosure policy around salary.

The first thing we looked at was manager salary. Through an online survey, employees had to guess the salaries of their managers. To make sure they had incentives to be truthful, we offered rewards for accurate guesses. The vast majority of respondents missed the mark by a significant margin (on average, employees tend to underestimate their manager’s salary by 14%). And this is where the action happens: by the flip of a virtual coin, we decided whether to “correct” a respondent’s estimate, by providing accurate information from the firm’s official salary records. So half of the respondents learned how much their boss truly earned — a salary higher than what they initially thought — while the other half did not.

Think about it this way: Let’s say there are two employees (similar in terms of level and experience) who think that their bosses get paid three times as much as them; but in reality, their boss gets paid five times as much. The flip of our coin randomizes which employee will learn that her boss actually gets paid five times more than she does, and which employee will not be corrected. Then we can compare the subsequent behavior of these two similar employees, to see how learning that your boss makes much more than you might affect your productivity.

To measure the behavior of these two groups of employees, we gathered daily timestamp, email, and sales data for the year following our survey. To our surprise, finding out that their managers got paid more seemed to make employees work harder than those who did not find out the true salary. Our estimates suggest that discovering that the boss’s salary is 10% higher than originally thought causes employees to spend 1.5% more hours in the office, send 1.3% more emails, and sell 1.1% more. (The higher the surprise, the larger the effect — finding out the boss earned 50% more led to effects five times larger.)

The evidence suggests that these effects were driven by aspirations. The effect of knowing manager salary was more substantial for employees who learned about the pay of managers who were only a few promotions away, whose shoes they could realistically aspire to fill. We find that, when the boss is fewer than five promotions away, for each 10% increase in the perceived salary of the boss, employees spend 4.3% more hours in the office, send 1.85% more emails, and sell 4.4% more. We also found that, after realizing that these managers get paid more, employees became more optimistic about the salaries they will earn themselves five years in the future. On the other hand, we found no effects on effort, output, or salary expectations when the employees learned about managers several promotions away (e.g., an analyst learning about C-suite salaries).

There is a caveat, though. While employees seemed perfectly capable of handling this vertical inequality, they did not handle horizontal inequality nearly as well.

In our experiment, we also asked employees to guess the average salary among their peers — that is, the other employees with the same position and title, from the same unit. Even though employees did better at guessing the salaries of their peers than that of their managers, most employees still guessed incorrectly. We flipped a second virtual coin to decide whether to “correct” their misperception about the peer salary.

We saw that finding out peers get paid more does have a negative effect on the employee’s effort and performance. Finding out that peers earn on average 10% more than initially thought caused employees to spend 9.4% fewer hours in the office, send 4.3% fewer emails, and sell 7.3% less.

This evidence suggests that it might not be wise to motivate individual employees through raises alone. If you increase the pay of one employee, that employee may work harder but the rest of the peer group could work less hard. You can avoid this by motivating employees through the prospect of a higher salary attached to a promotion. In other words, keep salaries compressed among employees in the same position, but offer them large raises when they get promoted to a higher position.

Our research raises the question: should you increase pay transparency at your company? Though surveys reveal most employees wish their employers were more transparent about salaries, the majority of firms maintain pay secrecy policies. But there is little evidence on how transparency affects the outcomes that managers care about. It is possible that managers choose pay secrecy because they think it is in their best interest when in fact it is not.

You may not need to worry too much if one of your employees catches wind of your salary. Employees in our study tended to underestimate the pay of their managers, and learning the actual amount led them to work harder. This degree of pay transparency seems to have given employees a sense of their earnings potential, driving up motivation. But we need further evidence to better understand how to best leverage transparency to promote productivity and employee satisfaction.

Of course, we must remember that salary information is sensitive, and thus there can be such a thing as too much transparency. For example, the majority of employees participating in our study were in favor of increasing transparency in an anonymous fashion, by reporting average salaries by position. However, when the same employees were asked about increasing transparency in a non-anonymous fashion, meaning their names and salaries would be shared, most of them opposed. And in a follow-up study, we found that most employees were willing to pay significant amounts in order to conceal their own salary from coworkers.

Many U.S. policies promoting pay transparency are mandating complete, non-anonymous salary transparency. For example, some states like California and New York publish online lists with the full names and salaries of every state employee. We think a wiser approach is what our study participants called for: transparency about average pay for a position, without disclosing individual salaries.

We encourage you to start experimenting with transparency at your company.  The first step is to figure out what your employees want. You can find out through anonymous surveys. Just mention some alternatives that you consider viable, and let them voice their preferences. For instance, do your employees feel informed about their salaries five years down the road? Would they want to find out the average pay two or three promotions ahead? Once you look at the survey results, you can decide what information to disclose and how. According to our findings, signals about the enticing paychecks waiting five years in the future is the push they need to be at their best.

Originally Published By: Greg Okhifun

Having a job in many ways improves an individual’s health and overall attitude toward life. However, many people face significant stress in the workplace that it outweighs any possible benefits and even poses a threat to their health.

The United States’ National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health defines job stress as the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker. Job stress can, in turn, lead to poor health and even injury.

Many workers report experiencing work-related stress at their jobs and this compromises their performance and health. A recent survey by Northwestern National Life revealed that about 40% of workers reported that their jobs were extremely stressful. In another survey by Yale University, 29% of workers reported feeling extreme stress because of their jobs.

Stress levels vary between professions and population groups. Some workers are at a higher risk of stress than others. Studies reveal that younger workers, women, and those in lower-skilled jobs are at most risk of experiencing work-related stress and its attendant complications. Casual full-time workers, who are likely to have the lowest job control and high job demands are most at risk of job strain.

What are the Workplace Stressors?
Workplace stressors are classified as physical and psychosocial. Physical stressors include noise, poor lighting, poor office or work layout, and ergonomic factors, such as bad working postures. Psychosocial stressors are, arguably, the most predominant stress factors. These include high job demands, inflexible working hours, poor job control, poor work design and structure, bullying, harassments, and job insecurity.

The Impacts of Workplace Stress
Workplace stress not only affects the worker, it also has adverse effects on company performance well. The effects of job-related strain are evident in workers’ physical health, mental health, and their behavior. These effects occur in a continuum, beginning as distress in response to stressors. Distress, in turn, leads to elevated blood pressure and anxiety, which increase the risk of coronary heart disease, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders.

The impact of stress on cardiovascular disease has been well established: Studies have shown that workplace stress is a strong risk factor for preludes to cardiovascular disease (obesity, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure) and of adverse cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke.

There is also a growing body of evidence that work-related stress increases one’s risk of diabetes. Other physical health problems linked to workplace stress include immune deficiency disorders, musculoskeletal disorders including chronic back pain, and gastrointestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome.

Workplace stress also has adverse effects on workers’ mental health, with an increased risk of anxiety, burnout, depression, and substance use disorders. Workers who are stressed at work are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as cigarette smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, and poor dietary patterns.

With these attendant health effects, workplace stress reduces employee productivity, increases absenteeism and presenteeism, increases the number of days taken off work for doctor visits, and increases healthcare costs incurred by employers. Workplace stress is also linked to higher accident and injury rates and higher turnover rates, both of which increase administrative costs.

Workplace Interventions for Reducing Stress
Workplace stress is preventable and identifying the potential sources of stress to employees in an organization is the first step in addressing them. Effective interventions for reducing workplace stress can be classified as primary, secondary, and tertiary.

Primary interventions involve proactive measures to prevent stress by removing or reducing potential stressors. This level of intervention focuses on the sources of physical and psychosocial stress in the workplace. Examples of primary interventions include:

  • Redesigning the work environment
  • Providing breaks and nap-times for employees
  • Increasing employee participation in decision making and work planning
  • Increasing time and resources for completing specific job tasks
  • Matching job description with employee skills and qualifications
  • Creating clear promotion and reward pathways.
  • Eliminating physical hazards
  • Substituting with safer equipment and technology
  • Establishing control measures to reduce worker’s exposure to occupational hazards.
  • Promoting the use of personal protective equipment

Secondary interventions are corrective and are focused on altering the ways workers perceive and respond to stressors. These interventions aim at improving worker’s ability to cope with stress and detect stress-induced symptoms early. Examples of secondary interventions include:

  • Training and education of employees
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy training for workers
  • Routine health surveillance – screening for high blood pressure and stress symptoms.

Tertiary interventions are forms of control at the level of the illness. These are initiated for workers who are already experiencing stress. Tertiary interventions involve providing treatment, compensation plans, rehabilitation programs, and return to work programs for affected workers. Tertiary interventions include:

  • Providing medical care and employee assistance programs to affected workers
  • Return-to-work plans including modification and redesign of work.

Workplace stress is a silent, and oft-neglected, factor which impairs employee health and productivity. It not only affects the workers but also contributes significantly to a decline in a company’s overall success. Employers should begin to tackle this worrisome concern to create a healthier, safer, and more productive work atmosphere.

Forbes Human Resources Council
POST WRITTEN BY: Expert Panel, Forbes Human Resources Council

Several years ago, organizations clamored to fill their offices with ping pong tables, bean bag chairs and a pantry full of snacks, because that's what they believed millennial employees valued most. While those types of perks may be viewed as fun, they're not necessarily the things that will get a team member to stick around for the long haul.

So what do your employees really want to get when they come to work for you? We asked a panel of Forbes Human Resources Council members to weigh in. From flexible work options to a simple sense of belonging, here's what they had to say.

Top industry insiders weigh in.

1. A Holistic Set Of Benefits That Serve 'Health, Wealth And Self'

Rather than focusing on specific benefits, focus more broadly on benefit programs that encompass the three broad categories of health, wealth and self. From this perspective, it is simpler to tailor the specifics to meet the needs of your current and future organization. - John Sigmon, johnsigmon.com

2. Employer-Sponsored Healthcare

In the age of ever-rising health insurance costs, the ability to offer an attractive and competitive health care plan will become increasingly important. At the end of the day, pool tables, company swag and flexible hours are nice to have, but healthcare costs directly impact take-home pay and are considered part of the total compensation package. - Kellie Graham SHRM-SCP, SPHR, Complete Children's Health

3. A Sense Of Belonging

As humans, we are wired for connection and belonging. A workplace that values its workforce and can provide a compelling sense of belonging will fare much better than one with outrageous perks that do not keep an eye on building a connected workforce. Results at several high profile companies with amazing perks demonstrate that even they struggle with engagement and retention. - Lucy Rivas-Enriquez, Union Rescue Mission - Los Angeles

4. Flexible And Remote Work Options

As we evolve into an ultra-connected workplace through advances in technology, it becomes less important where employees work. Offering partial or total remote work options pays dividends for talent acquisition and employee retention. - Heather Doshay, Rainforest QA

5. The Ability To Achieve A Work-Life Balance That Fits Their Lifestyle

Since a competitive salary and room for advancement aren’t considered benefits, the next most important thing a company can offer employees is work-life balance. Companies with over-the-top perks will usually admit they’re intended to keep employees at the office as many hours as possible, which often leads to burnout, or employees leaving to join companies with even better perks. - John Feldmann, Insperity

6. 401(k) Plans

It's important that companies have a 401(k) plan in place for their employees. Employees are becoming increasingly aware of their financial futures and are evaluating the long-term impact employers can make in their lives. As companies compete for the best talent, those who make an effort to positively influence their employees' futures are more likely to attract and retain the best candidates. - Alexandra Adamson, Bowery Capital

7. A Diverse Benefits Package That Speaks To All Ages, Backgrounds And Experiences

There is no single benefit that will make everyone come running. You must offer a meaningful variety of benefits to attract the best talent. There is more diversity than ever before in the workforce so it’s only appropriate for benefits to also be diversified. - Lotus Yon, NCH

8. A Voice In The Company's Future

You hired people because of their expertise. If you communicate how the company's bottom line is affected because of what they do, the employee feels they make a difference. When they bring ideas to the table, implement them. Show that you value them. Once they feel like they are a part of a family, then all other perks are icing on the cake. - Abhijeet Narvekar, The FerVID Group

9. More Office-Wide Time Off

Our people told us that time off is especially rewarding when everyone is out of the office at the same time. We decided to give our people “the gift of time.” We’re closing our US offices during the weeks of Christmas and July 4th to allow people to truly disconnect and come back feeling refreshed. It gives our people a boost of mental and physical energy and fosters innovation and creativity. - Carolyn Slaski, EY

10. The Benefits That They Tell You They Want

Ask your employees what benefits are most important to them. Total compensation and health benefits are always going to be key determinants when people decide to join your organization. Beyond those, ask your employees what benefits matter most to them via regular surveys or focus groups. Pool tables and food trucks may not be as important as paid parental leave, student loan consolidation, etc. - Joyce Maroney, Kronos Incorporated

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