What’s age have to do with it?

Apparently, far too much. Today’s companies, looking to fill an ever-growing list of open positions (31 million by 2020, according to Georgetown University), are turning to millennials. Attracting the younger workers has become the focus of companies as they try tapping into the energy and enthusiasm of the generation they’re trying to sell to in many cases.

While having young, eager employees may be good in the short term, it also poses some unexpected issues. As more and more Baby Boomers head for retirement (the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 10,000 turning 65 each day), companies are losing a key component to their success – knowledge. Many retiring professionals have amassed a career’s worth of knowledge that younger generations simply don’t have yet.

In a perfect world, keeping the knowledge within the company while grooming a new generation to take their places would be ideal.

Luckily, that ideal just became a little easier to achieve.

We at WAHVE started our entire business on the idea that combining the knowledge and skills of the retiring and retired workers with the fresh perspectives of the younger generation is a winning combination. And that’s proven: statistics show that companies that employ an age-diverse workforce have higher productivity, a wealth of new ideas, and a wide knowledge base.

Finding the veteran workers is easier than one might think. The BLS says that the number of workers aged 65 and older who are still on the job grew 117% between 1994-2014. As people live longer, they want to remain engaged and on the job. And even more of them are willing to do so in a remote work arrangement.

Here are some of the advantages of employing retiring workers to complement a workforce that includes millennial workers:

Better work habits. Older workers are reliable – Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy data show that older workers are more focused, less distracted, and can concentrate better on the job they’re performing. Also, a Shift: The Commission on Work, Workers, and Technology report found that older workers value doing what they enjoy. Companies hiring older workers get a high level of commitment because older workers are choosing jobs they want.

Lower turnover. Older workers stay on the job. They’ve amassed the skills and have built areas of expertise within their positions. When workers are employed in a work-at-home position, they stay on the job longer, miss fewer days, and deliver a higher level of productivity than in-house staff.

Mentoring potential. Veteran workers have plenty to share with their colleagues. Companies that hire veteran workers, even in remote working arrangements, are benefitting from the knowledge that is passed from older worker to younger staff. In the same way, younger employees can teach their older colleagues plenty. They can share their deeper knowledge of technology, programs, and methods, and can bring new perspective to brainstorming and team efforts.

Hiring retiring (we call them “pretirees”) or retired workers is now even easier. WAHVE is an innovative contract talent platform that matches these veteran workers with a company’s needs. Companies get the right skills and experience, and workers get a work-from-home extension of their careers. And with access to a national pool of talent, the benefits get even better.

Is today the day you take that step to boost your team’s performance and knowledge? Contact WAHVE (LINK) today.

Retiring or retired and looking for your next opportunity? WAHVE is looking for experienced workers in the accounting, insurance, and human resources industries. Let’s talk.

A Year for Balance

As 2018 begins to creep to a close and everyone excitedly dusts off their top hats and party horns to ring in the New Year, I find myself reflecting on the past 12 months and looking to the future with new insight and fresh plans. And the majority of those plans center around one thing: balance.

In the past decade, incredible advances in technology—hello, smartphones!—and the rise of flexible work arrangements have made it more possible than ever to establish a healthy work/life balance. If you need to take an aging parent to a doctor’s appointment, or if you want to be there for your daughter’s dance recital, or if you’d simply like to save yourself two hours’ worth of a work commute so you can get crackin’ early or, say, have breakfast with your spouse, you can: by working remotely. The work gets done and you get to experience more … well … life.

But while this never-fully-disconnected world opens up a slew of new possibilities, it also poses some challenges. After all, if we’re reachable whenever, wherever, the lines between “work” and “home” are murkier than ever before. All of a sudden, we’re sending emails at the family dinner table and drafting PowerPoints at 3 a.m. Where does one end and the other begin?

For me, one of the things that has become so important in the past year is remembering and cherishing the concept of balance. I truly believe we are our best selves at home and at work if we fully immerse ourselves in our present endeavors, giving them our full attention, and then knowing when to disconnect. And keep in mind that there’s a difference between balancing and juggling. One of the definitions of the word “balance,” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “mental and emotional steadiness.” So balance isn’t just about juggling our various responsibilities, it’s also about nurturing our minds and bodies. Too often we forget to do that.

As a New Year’s resolution, I’d like to schedule in some personal time each day, each week, simply for myself: to read, listen, craft, learn, sing, dance—whatever it is that makes me feel whole, that makes me feel balanced. And then to carry that sense of well-being with me throughout 2019.

What’s are some lessons you’ve learned in 2018, and what do you hope to do more of or differently in the New Year?

A Season for New Beginnings

 

The holiday season are always a good time to focus on what matters. It seems almost by design that the end of the year is also a time to reunite with family and friends and people who have touched our lives over the years. The quiet reflection of the passing year’s friendships can often bring the most joy.

Yet even small companies are struggling to compete on a local landscape let alone a global scale. It seems that more businesses are competing for the same customer pool, and smaller businesses are working harder just to keep up. Trying to remain competitive within budget and with current staffing makes it tough to find much joy.

Yet it’s in our staff – the people who have worked hard alongside their employers –  that we can find both joy and promise.

Take a look at your own employees. From the sales staff to the administrative support staff, there is dedication to not just any business, but to your business. It’s in how they give their best every day – not just for the paycheck, but for the success of what you’ve built. It’s in the new hire who is eager to learn. It’s in the front desk person who keeps the office running smoothly. It’s in the IT team, who work behind the scenes making sure your business stays online. And it’s in the veteran workers who have devoted their careers to bettering both your business and the industry as a whole.

It’s also in the remote workforce that is also working behind the scenes, oftentimes to further the goals of an employer they’ve never met face-to-face. We at WAHVE see that dedication in our remote workers every single day. They log on from their remote offices and they engage in making sure they give employers like you the very best they can bring to the job.

That’s no small thing. Our wahves are people who have already had successful careers. Yet something brought them back to the industry. They weren’t finished using their talent and experience, and they are looking for ways to contribute, albeit from a home office.

In many ways, these veteran workers are the unsung heroes of the industry. In fact, I would go so far as to say they could well be the answer to some of the issues small businesses have. These unseen retired and retiring workers are bringing back a wealth of skills to help your business thrive by removing some of the everyday obstacles that come with running a business. And they’re eager to reinvent their careers as they help improve your business.

As the clock strikes midnight on December 31st, we are reminded that new beginnings are possible. We can change our circumstances for the better. Maybe the promise of the new year lies in assessing where your business is and how you can augment your operations without massive internal changes or heavy investment. Maybe it lies in engaging people who have already proven their value and are waiting to make a difference for you.

May 2019 bring you renewed hope and continues prosperity.

The Successful Work-at-Home Professional

It’s more than taking your work home – being productive and reliable as a remote worker takes knowing what works best for your situation.

Working from home: it’s a dream many workers have. With today’s technology, it’s happening at an increasing pace. According to the State of the Remote Job Marketplace report by FlexJobs, more than 3.9 million Americans are now working from home at least half the time.

And for the most part, companies are realizing a boost in productivity from their remote workforce. According to a study conducted by ConnectSolutions, 77 percent of remote workers get more done in fewer hours than their in-house coworkers.

But leaving behind the commute isn’t a guarantee of success. A work-at-home career, particularly for retiring or retired  professionals, takes as much planning – if not more so – as any in-house position might require.

Here’s how to create a successful work-at-home career:

Define your best work hours. You may be better at 6 a.m. than you are at noon, or you could be able to get a lot accomplished in just five hours a day without distractions. Choose work hours that suit your schedule.

Stick to your routine. Make work a habit, just as you did when you were commuting to an office. Get ready for work and start at your regular time.

Establish a quiet work area. If you can dedicate a space for your daily work hours, do so. If not, find that one area where you can work undisturbed and with minimal distractions.

Invest in and learn new technology. Working with outdated equipment will handicap your efforts from the outset. Upgrade where you need to, and look into what programs you may need to be most productive.

Communicate regularly with coworkers. Outside the office, communicating with coworkers becomes more important. Talk with them daily. Email communication works, but don’t be afraid to use message programs or video chats to stay in touch throughout the day with your colleagues.

Check in with your employer daily. Work with your employer to establish goals, both project-related and communication-related. Then create a daily list of things you’ve accomplished, things you’re working on, and questions you may have. Also, attend staff meetings, and let your employer know those areas where you may need additional help or guidance.

Schedule your activities. Each day before leaving your work behind, schedule your next day’s activities. If you’re working on large projects, break them up into segments and allot time to each of those segments. Your schedule is also part of the daily list you’ll send to your employer each day – sharing that schedule with your employer gives you the accountability needed to stay on task.

As a veteran professional, you can become a successful pretiree in your own work-from-home arrangement with just a little planning and attention to detail. Figuring out your own schedule and sticking to it means you can continue contributing to the your industry while enjoying the benefits of retirement.

We Had A Wahve For That Job….!

We Had A Wahve For That Job….!

An unbelievable match between a client and a candidate.

We received a request from an agency owner who specializes in placing coverage for wilderness recreation, nature/outdoor education and environmental conservation businesses.  He explained that he couldn’t just hire any CSR, he actually needed someone who knew his industry niche.  I’ve had requests in the past to find a ‘unicorn’ candidate – but this one beat them all.

Since the owner had looked high and low for a local candidate but came up empty, he turned to WAHVE. He knew we had a broad database of qualified insurance professionals from all walks of life and experiences, but I tried to let him know that his niche was so specialized we might not be able to find him someone well versed in his industry. He understood but shared that the other hiring platforms he had already tried churned up a lot of resumes, but very few, if any, that he felt comfortable pursuing.

I searched our database and was delighted to find a candidate who seemed to check some of the boxes for this job. When I emailed the details of the opportunity to her she called me right away and revealed that her work experience was much more than her resume reflected. She not only had experience with some clients who were in the outdoor adventure arena, but she had worked with a wide range of businesses – from canoeing companies to dude ranches, white water rafting companies and associations who connect the dots for all things related to outdoor adventuring.  She knew how to ‘talk their talk’, knew which markets are commonly used, what coverage is often requested for certificates, and how to manage the expectations of land owners, states, and park services.

If I was amazed at this job/candidate match, you can imagine the reaction of the agency owner.  He couldn’t hire her fast enough and wished he hadn’t spent so much of his own time looking for someone who might work. Instead, he felt he found someone who would work. Stay tuned for an update on how this turns out but it’s safe to say that if this match can be made, what other unicorns within the WAHVE talent pool are just waiting to be found? – Elizabeth Kordek, CPCU Senior Placement Specialist

Flexibility’s Power in the Workplace

For most of America’s working history, companies have operated under rather rigid structures. Even as working conditions, labor protection laws, and human resource management has evolved over time to address the realities of contemporary life, still attitudes toward work location and hours can make for anxious conversations and a fundamental question of trust and understanding between leaders and their teams.

Employees seek the kind of workplace flexibility that acknowledges they’re a whole person, not just a professional self, that allows them to work how and when they can be their most productive and in harmony with their personal lives. Caring for parents, being available to their children, having time for appointments and the occasional unplanned sick day—it doesn’t sound like much but when you’re grappling with a rigid work schedule to negotiate these needs, the demands of your personal life can begin to feel monumental.

Employers have seen only our country’s corporate history of in-office, regular hour work schedules—it’s simply how it’s been done. It’s easy for leaders to feel like they’re best slated to manage and oversee their team’s work if they’re under their nose, only a quick elevator ride or office meeting away. But the fact is a paltry 31 percent of U.S. and Canadian employees reported engagement as of last year, according to Gallup, so can we really say what corporate America’s been doing in the still works?

Workplace flexibility inspires employees because it promises a work culture that supports work life balance, sees professionals holistically, and practically addresses their personal needs to better support their efforts to be efficient and productive in their work. For employers, think of flexibility in the physical sense—the toughest, strongest of athletes is destined for injury if they don’t maintain flexibility, if they only build and overdevelop certain muscles at the expense of the need for every part of their body to be prepared for movement and agility, to accommodate stress, and to perform optimally.

Flexibility is a strength, not a weakness. Employers who’ve built a strong team of engaged professionals have firsthand experience of how performance increases, when a dedication to greater flexibility, that allows every part of the whole to work optimally and intelligently, is brought to the center of their workplace culture.

For more ideas about cultivating workplace flexibility in your business, take a look at Four Lessons From Companies That Get Employee Engagement Right and 7 Fascinating Employee Engagement trends for 2018.

Seasons of Change

“When the seasons shift, even the subtle beginning, the scent of a promised change, I feel something stir inside me. Hopefulness? Gratitude? Openness? Whatever it is, it’s welcome.” – Kristin Armstrong

Ageist notions and fears abound in our culture which feed the natural anxiety about growing older with products and mantras that privilege youth over maturity. While qualities of young life—vigor and boundless energy to name a few—are of course desirable, they don’t belong solely to our earliest years. We’ve written in recent months about how exercise can literally decrease aging’s footprint in your DNA. While this doesn’t mean you’re suddenly going to look 30 when you’re 65, it does mean, much more importantly, that you’re going to feel it as you rediscover those attributes we’ve misaligned with youth—a spring in your step, increased strength, a boost in energy. We’ve also written about how aging is a mindset of sorts and how approaching all you are still capable of with tenacity, confidence, and positivity empowers you to experience your life’s seasons as you age To view them as fresh opportunities rife with hope rather than hindrances.

As we settle into autumn weather, much of the country sees its natural surroundings transform into dramatic hillsides of copper, goldand burnt orange. Large flocks of birds soar against flat blue skies as they migrate to warmer climates. All that was green and blossoming a few months ago morph into a tapestry of change as leaves, petals, seeds, and pollen travel on the breeze and settle into their next purpose—the promise of new growth, the future nutrients of rich loamy soil. Many would say fall is the most dramatic and beautiful of seasons, but often we neglect to consider why or how it is so. The implications are significant to our own appreciation for change itself—this shift from the verdant opulence of summer, with its lush greenery and bountiful provision of the earth’s fruit, to the harvesting of all that has been so diligently worked for, that those moments of striving and growing have led to.

What if we looked at the fall of our lives—the harvesting of our years of toiling and wild growth—with the same deep appreciation and reverence? What if we celebrated the inherent beauty and necessity of change from frenetic effort and busyness that underpin the massive production unique to the summer, to fall’s concentrated significance as potent and profound? Yes, aging is inevitable, as is change. Time marches on and healthy concerns and questions of what growing older leads to is natural. It’s an important and unavoidable reality of being human. And yet that can’t eclipse our perception, for our time is infinitely better spent in a grateful openness toward each season of our lives, and within those years themselves. If we can hold a gratitude and understanding that glances at autumn leaves seeing none of their loss and all of their gain—from vital green to burnished gold — we can also perceive such changes in our years as opportunities full of promise, meaning and purpose for all the seasons we have known, and all those yet to come.

Optimize Your Office

Make your home office the best place for your professional productivity and personal health.

Doctors now say sitting the new smoking, and that an increase in activity is shown to mitigate known risks of sedentary life like heart disease and cancer. What does that have to do with a home office, you ask? Plenty.

Historically, office work environments revolve around sitting at a desk, cranking out your day’s duties. But when you work from home, you have much more flexibility in how you optimize your workspace, organizing your office so that you can work efficiently and comfortably. If you take inspiration from nature as you think and blast through that to-do list, set your desk by the window and let the sounds and scenes of the outdoors help your gears turn. If you need quiet or maybe lower lighting, install hefty curtains, and try to set up your home workspace further from the busiest and noisier parts of your house like the kitchen and living room. Perhaps you need physical cues and reminders to keep your thoughts progressing and your schedule organized—set up tools and surfaces that visualize your priorities and thought processes as you work.

But finally, don’t forget to try for non-sedentary work positions, like a desk that can be elevated so you can stand, even a treadmill or a nearby walkable area that allows you to take a break from being seated as you either continue your work or step back from the computer to think through a mental block. You might feel skeptical of this idea that hybridizes the idea of movement while working, but research has demonstrated that walking boosts mental creativity.

Consider how you design your workspace—make it hospitable to your needs for focused mental productivity as you find its place in your home, and in relation to outside stimuli. And don’t forget that with that treadmill nearby or a brisk stroll down the street for a coffee, even to check the mail and stretch your legs, you’ll be doing your body and mind a favor—decreasing the risk of the very real complications that the overly sedentary life threatens, as well as fostering a sharper, problem-solving mind.

I Wish I Had Trusted My Employees More

If I had only known then, what I know now…

That’s always what we say, right? If I had only known …. I would have done things differently. And yet, how often do we examine our own biases or thought process on something long enough to not only consider a different way of doing something, but to also actually change how we go about it?

When I left my last job the concept of working  remotely was not new, in fact, it was becoming commonplace. We had the technology, the checks and balances for ensuring work was getting done, and the staff who were asking for the flexibility. So, why weren’t we allowing it more often?  Now that I see firsthand how beneficial remote workers can be, I’ll share three reasons you might be hesitating using remote workers:

  1. It’s not our culture, we need staff in the office

If you need people in your office to say hello to customers as they walk in the door then you’re right, a remote worker can’t do that. However, if you’re just used to having people in the office to fill a chair at a desk and be available when a producer or co-worker walks by and wants to talk, then re-think your culture. The ability for a CSR or account manager (or claims representative, or underwriter, or accounting personnel…) to respond to an internal or external inquiry is no different if done from 5 feet away as it is from 5,000 miles away, so long as it is done with the same amount of professionalism and handled in a timely manner. Here’s the good news: you get to set the ground rules for what “timely manner” means for you and your office. Setting expectations and clearly communicating how work should get done is management 101. So, do you really need someone in the office or do you need to reset your office culture?

  1. We’re not sure work will get done

This is often the biggest concern for adopting a remote work option. However, now more than ever there are systems that can show you the work getting done via data analytics. You know your office and clientele best and should know how long it typically takes to keep work moving along. If you have communicated your expectations (see #1 above) and you don’t feel someone is performing adequately then you need to explore why. Do they have the right tools, software, support, and procedures in place? If the answer is yes, then explore what’s holding them back. It’s possible that distractions in their remote environment are to blame. It’s entirely possible that some employees just aren’t disciplined to work remotely. But, it’s entirely possible a good portion of your staff can, and will, work just fine from outside the office. You won’t know until you trust them. So, are you sure work won’t get done or could you communicate expectations and trust your staff?

  1. Not everyone wants to do this, so we can’t allow it

Hmmmm….and not everyone wants to commute but right now that’s what you’re requiring, right? So, consider remote working as a benefit.  Some people might want it, others may not and that’s okay. As you’re looking for talented insurance professionals you might be overlooking a population of available people who have the capabilities you need, but who want a remote work environment.

I wish someone would have told me that believing expectations will be met is far easier than wasting energy assuming the outcome with a remote employee will be a bad one. Trust me. – Elizabeth Kordek, CPCU Senior Placement Specialist

It’s Never too Late—Getting Active Later in Life

 

Many of us have raised children and taught them the important lesson that it’s never too late to say sorry, the point of the adage being, there’s always a benefit to learning from our past slip ups and committing to doing better in the future. That lesson holds promise for us—baby boomers, late middle lifers, and seniors who aspire to greater stamina, energy, and capacity for activity, or perhaps who don’t like where we find ourselves now at a fitness and health standpoint, especially as we beginning to face health issues related to inactivity.

Most of our generation worked hard sometimes at the expense of our own personal well-being through much of our adult life—often prioritizing others over ourselves, hustling from performance reviews to practices, board meetings to recitals. Some of us may wish we’d done it differently, found a middle ground that made time for more exercise and better stress management, while others might not change their choices for a thing. Regardless how you look at the past, what matters is how you look to your future.

The facts are, according to the CDC, less than one quarter of Americans, only 23%, get enough exercise. And proof of exercise’s benefit to preventing chronic diseases, as well as improving cognitive, mental, and emotional health, are indisputable. Americans across age groups are facing the health consequences of less than ideal activity and higher than ideal stress levels. How do we right the wrong? Can the damage be undone? Science says, yes:

The bottom line: Most of us haven’t exercised as would have best benefitted our health, and now as we move later into life, the damage of inadequate activity starts to take hold.

The science: Research over the past five years has demonstrated that these negative effects are reversible.

The good news: It’s never too late to say sorry to our bodies and take back our health by increasing our levels of exercise and activity!

How is this possible? Extensive research and studies by cardiologists demonstrate that you can “substantially remodel your heart and make it more youthful by starting to work out in midlife.” And not some intense, short-lived, exhausting exercise crusade, but rather a realistic lifestyle change that incorporates a variety of enjoyable, engaging exercise four to five days out of the week. This commitment to regular exercise in these studies demonstrated participants’ hearts were stronger and less rigid than before they began the exercise regime, which in short, means, their hearts become more youthful.

For those of us who wish we could change where our heart health and overall wellness has brought us, or who simply want to feel better and get more active as we age, the indications of this research are encouraging—an invitation to live fully into our present and future by getting moving, feeling better, and living well in our later years.