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J.D. Van Nest & Associates Blog

Employees Value Their Benefits More Than Ever


On a scale of one to 10, employees give an average score of 7.1 on how much they value their workplace benefits. That compares to 6.8 in 2012, according to a Guardian study conducted in September 2013.

Eighty percent of employees surveyed get all health insurance, disability insurance, and retirement savings through their employer. Seventy-nine percent say that their benefits are crucial to staying with a job.

The study uncovers a growing disconnect between employers and their workers. Employers are seeking opportunities to shift more costs and responsibilities to employees at a time when these benefits are becoming more critical to their workers’ financial security and well-being. In fact, 47% of employers are planning to ask employees to bear more of their benefits cost in 2014 in anticipation of the enactment of the Affordable Care Act.

Just over half of employers surveyed say they’ve been successful in preparing for a post-health care reform era of benefits, but only 22% say they are well prepared to discuss these changes with employees.

While the responsibility of benefit costs may be shifting, it’s still essential for companies to make sure that employees have expert financial planning advice and a clear understanding of which workplace benefits are best for them. Increasingly employers are seeking assistance in these areas from experts outside the company.

Diabetes is a Ticking Time Bomb in the Workforce


Diabetes is a workforce time bomb. Employees with diabetes report more lost work time due to absence and impaired performance than do workers with normal blood glucose, according to research by the Integrated Benefits Institute. If current trends continue, one in three adult Americans will have diabetes by 2050.


“Given the ever-increasing rate of diabetes and its consequences, the time for employers to act is now. Introduce clinical screening programs; adopt lifestyle intervention programs for those in the pre-diabetic stage; and provide targeted disease management for those already diagnosed. Finally, broadly measure the results of your interventions so you can show the full value of your programs,” said IBI Research Director Kim Jinnett, PhD.


The odds of missing at least one day of work in the last month were 47% higher for workers with diabetes than for employees with normal fasting blood glucose. In contrast, the odds for a worker with pre-diabetes were only 16% higher than the odds for a worker with normal blood glucose.


Diabetic employees report slightly lower job performance than employees with normal blood glucose levels even after adjusting for other health conditions. Performance for employees with pre-diabetes levels of blood glucose is not discernibly different from that of employees with normal blood glucose, underscoring the potential for positive outcomes by achieving moderate blood glucose improvements.


IBI president Thomas Parry, PhD said, “Treatment could help limit the toll of the disease, but many employees with diabetes may be unaware of their condition. Employers could benefit by improving diabetes awareness, encouraging healthy lifestyles and facilitating disease management.”


Employers can take the following steps to help prevent Type 2 diabetes and help control the effects of diabetes among workers:


• Improve access to blood glucose testing, paying special attention to employees with a high likelihood of elevated blood glucose levels. Work with supplier partners to ensure that employees have access to education and services.


• Promote weight loss among employees with unhealthy body mass. Even moderate weight loss can improve blood glucose levels.


• Promote disease management. Diet, exercise and coping skills can be effective for people who have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Different types of insulin control mechanisms and medication may also be added. Employers should be aware that, for proper disease management, multiple providers must have excellent care coordination, and diabetic employees must be involved in their treatment.

Avoiding Digital Eye Strain


How many hours do you log on your computer, smartphone or tablet every week? If you are like a lot of Americans, it’s a ton. From computer dependent jobs to fun time surfing the net, our eyes are focused on our screens too much. Because of the constant screen time, digital eye strain is the most common workplace complaint today. In fact, nearly 90% of people who work on a computer at least three hours a day suffer from eye trouble, which may actually be symptoms of digital eye strain (or computer vision syndrome).


If you are experiencing two or more of these symptoms daily, you can be pretty sure you’re struggling with computer eye strain:


Blurred vision. It tops the list. When you shift your focus from the computer screen to things farther away, you could notice actual blurred vision or a delay in focusing your eyes.


Dry eyes. If you feel like there is something in your eyes you just can’t get rid of, or burning, stinging and inflammation, your eyes are probably dry.


Eye strain. Vague eye discomfort you can’t quite put your finger on or that makes you squint or frown when you are at the computer could be eyestrain.


Glare sensitivity. If your monitor is too dark or bright, your eyes are working harder to see it and can get tired.


Headaches-and not just those is the eye area-could be a sign you have computer eye strain.


Neck and shoulder pain. Like eye strain, other bodily aches could signal ergonomic problems in your workstation.


“We hear about eye strain everyday from our patients,” says Dr. Stephen Glasser, A VSP optometrist. “An eye doctor can recommend solutions such as adjustments to your office environment, special eyewear,, eye drops or a combination approach. Also a thorough eye exam may reveal that your computer vision problems are related to a different condition that needs treatment.”


Six Simple Steps to Relieve Eye Strain


1. Keep Blinking, it washes eyes naturally in therapeutic tears.


2. Remember the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes spend 20 seconds looking at something at least 20 feet away.


3. Get the right light. Good lighting isn’t just flattering-it’s healthy for your eyes. So keep bright lighting overhead to a minimum. Keep your desk lamp shining on your desk and not you. Try to keep window light off to the side, rather than in front or behind you. Use blinds and get a glare screen. Position the computer screen to reduce reflections from windows to overhead lights.


4. Monitor your monitor. Keep it at least 20 inches from your eyes (an arms length away). Adjust the screen so you look at it slightly downward and adjust brightness and contrast to comfortable levels.


5. Wear those computer specs. Your doctor can prescribe a pair of glasses designed for working at a computer and even digital devices like your tablet and smartphone.


6. Talk to your Doc. Get your eyes examined every year and talk about any symptoms you may have with your doctor.


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