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As an employer, you may see your employees simply as workers, hired to help you achieve an end.But they are real people, with lives and problems outside of work, and those challenges could impact their productivity on the job, says Greg Banks, HealthLink EAP account manager.“Whether you like it or not, your employees’ personal lives follow them inside your property line every single day and affect their ability to do their jobs,” says Banks. “If you ignore that, that’s your choice, but it’s not what’s real.”Smart Business spoke with Banks about how contracting with an employee assistance program (EAP) can…
Monday, 31 October 2011 21:01

Making "above and beyond" the norm

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Call One is one of the nation's largest providers of voice, data, and Internet services and systems.Smart Business spoke to Ken Moss, Director of Data Operations at Call One, about how the organization has overcome challenges to become an innovative leader in its region and industry.Give us an example of a business challenge your organization faced, as well as how you overcame it.The biggest challenge that Call One Data Operations has faced is the growing trend of enterprise organizations choosing inexpensive small-office/home-office (SOHO) IP solutions for their business. In years past, telecom providers enjoyed success selling premium services such as…
Every employer is struggling with health insurance costs. How much can we afford and how much will employees share? For many people, health insurance equals peace of mind. But you have to look at the total cost of care — insurance plus cost sharing (deductible, co-pays, co-insurance).“A lot of people are under the impression that if the doctor says you need it, the health plan should pay for it,” says Al Ertel, chief operating officer for Alliant Health Plans. “Many figure, under a worst-case scenario, they might be out a few hundred to a few thousand dollars and, overall, they…
Monday, 31 October 2011 20:01

Movers & Shakers

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Global Cleveland named C. Lawrence Miller its first president. In this role, Miller will oversee the organization’s staff and be responsible for designing and implementing its strategic programming. Global Cleveland is a new civic economic development initiative focused on connecting newcomers to opportunities and the region. Miller brings more than 25 years of talent attraction and international human resources experience to Global Cleveland. Most recently, he served as vice president, human resources, of the Lubrizol Corp. In addition to his 13 years with Lubrizol, Miller held senior leadership positions with Tremco, Diebold, and Ferro Corp. He lived and worked in…
When Rob Hillman speaks about the needle, the president and general manager of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Indiana isn’t talking about a shot in the arm.Rather, it’s about efforts to move the needle on key company performance metrics that measure how well employees are building relationships with customers and how well customers are relating to Anthem.“When we are talking about a high-ticket item like health care and how personal it is, relationships are very important,” Hillman says. “Things work so much better when you focus on the value of the relationships and not the value of the…
Monday, 31 October 2011 20:01

Thomas Nies; Never a sales cycle, always a buy cycle

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Winston Churchill once said, “I am always willing to learn, however I do not always like to be taught.” I’ve always admired this phrase, but speaking as a salesperson, I feel it can be adapted easily to have more resonance in the field. One might say that we are all eager to buy, but we do not particularly enjoy being sold.Understanding this fact is important when it comes to understanding our customers and their buying processes. While we may be involved in a “sales cycle,” our prospects are not. They are involved in a buying cycle.Moreover, since prospects seek to…
Thursday, 27 October 2011 16:54

Advocating for professional women

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TaKeysha Sheppard Cheney knows the economic power women hold. Despite strong purchasing power and frequent business startups, though, she says women still have much to strive for to achieve entrepreneurial equality and success.Cheney founded The Women’s Book, a print and online directory of local resources for women, to both inspire and promote that success by informing women of the tools that are available to help them. Recognizing that today’s professional woman is busy, she has developed a multi-platform marketing strategy to expand the publication’s reach and thus its impact. Cheney’s success can be seen in her organization’s continued growth. In…
Thursday, 27 October 2011 16:50

A perfect fit

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Eleanor Alvarez attributes LeaderStat LLC’s steady growth to its dedication to matching, not just placing, talented professionals with post-acute and senior care providers. The company uses a custom profiling process to ensure a good fit with clients. By first identifying and recruiting based on an organization's specific needs and culture, LeaderStat can then place individuals deemed compatible in interim, consulting and permanent positions.As company president, Alvarez provides consulting and management support to more than 500 long-term care clients nationally. Her management experience in long-term care both as a provider and a consultant allows her to understand the needs of both…
Thursday, 27 October 2011 16:46

Building a database of philanthropy

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For Doug Kridler, president and CEO of The Columbus Foundation, philanthropy is about moving communities forward and building bonds between the inhabitants. To encourage philanthropy, Kridler says citizens must be given convenient access to information on local nonprofit organizations, including what they stand for and exactly how to donate. To this end, The Columbus Foundation has created an online database of such information.The foundation has enabled more than 1,800 individuals, families and businesses to create unique funds to support community causes they care about. Donors have granted more than $1.2 billion since its founding in 1943, making The Columbus Foundation…
Thursday, 27 October 2011 16:43

A new vision of adapting to change

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After the 2010 statewide election resulted in a drastic political party upheaval, New Visions Group found itself facing an unfamiliar landscape. Vice President Derrick Clay and his associates knew they would have to find ways to help clients navigate the new system.It was a challenge not altogether unheard of for the company. The very nature of the government relations and lobbying firm means it constantly operates in the capricious realm of politics as it positions businesses, not-for-profit organizations and trade groups for business opportunities with Ohio municipalities, the state legislature and statewide government agencies. But Clay and his team strive…
Thursday, 27 October 2011 16:39

Educating future leaders

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Christine Poon says the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University is at the heart of an inextricable relationship between the university and the economic health of Ohio. As dean, she has led the college in training students with a strong business program led by knowledgeable faculty.In addition to turning out well-trained graduates, the college focuses on providing a vast array of resources to attract, retain and create new business in the area. Poon said the goal is to ultimately uplift the local economy through these efforts.Because of her leadership in expanding the college’s resources to accommodate enrollment…
Tuesday, 17 April 2012 12:00

Retirement gap analysis

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With the current interest rate environment and the influx of baby boomers continuing to move into retirement, more people will benefit from a personal retirement gap analysis than ever, says Gregg DiGeronimo, President, for FirstMerit Financial Services, Inc.Even those who don’t expect a gap between their income and their expenses in retirement can gain from such an analysis. “You will feel better knowing you have a plan in place and can see what options you have down the road,” DiGeronimo says. “We take into account considerations you might not have today, such as healthcare costs.A retirement gap analysis investigates an…
Monday, 10 October 2011 14:51

Setting the Pace

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Successful business leadership in this time of economic turbulence and uncertainty is no mean feat. Yet, that is exactly what 11 outstanding business leaders have accomplished and why they have been singled out by Smart Business Pittsburgh.They have not only set the pace for our region, they have stepped up that pace. That’s what leaders do. They are the men and women who keep our economy moving, not stagnating. They navigate the road to success through strength and consistency. Responsible risk-taking, groundbreaking innovations, “doing the right thing as well as the smart thing.”All 11 of these Pacesetters, representing three categories:…
Friday, 14 October 2011 15:37

Workers' compensation insurance

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Workers' compensation laws were created to ensure that employees who are injured on the job are provided with fixed monetary awards. This eliminates the need for litigation and creates an easier process for the employee. It also helps control the financial risks for employers since many states limit the amount an injured employee can recover from an employer.Workers' compensation insurance is designed to help companies pay these benefits. As a protection for employees, most states require that employers carry some form of workers' compensation insurance. Workers' compensation insurance is not health insurance. Workers' compensation is designed specifically for injuries sustained…
Wednesday, 05 October 2011 17:28

Are you legally vulnerable?

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A recent amendment to the Americans with Disabilities Act has lowered the threshold of who qualifies as disabled ? former distinctions are gone between a person with a disability who was recovering well and one who was not.“The amendment has classified both as disabled under the statute,” says Jim Boutrous, attorney with McDonald Hopkins LLC in Detroit.“Companies need to look at accommodation requests to see that if you are making an employment decision, you are doing it for legitimate bases, independent from the protected classification,” he says.Other concerns for companies: making back-to-work polices more flexible and using care with criminal…
Sunday, 02 October 2011 20:11

Risky business

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For two hours, Tom Reilly sat with Secretary Janet Napolitano, head of the Department of Homeland Security, to discuss the importance of cyber security and how to protect citizens from cyber attack. Today, the threat of cyber attack is an issue that affects more than just big business and government entities, but everyone.“You read every week about another breach in the industry, whether it’s enemy nation states attacking our power grid, it’s a bank undergoing cyber fraud, credit cards getting stolen or identities,” says Reilly, who is the former CEO of the $181.4 million security and compliance solutions company ArcSight…
Many employers have reduced their work forces, but not their workloads, leading to more hours for the remaining staff. The additional work, coupled with a still-uncertain economic environment, has placed tremendous personal and professional pressure on employees, and many are having a difficult time finding balance in their lives as a result, says Barbara Baldwin, account executive for JRG Advisors, the management company for ChamberChoice. “Feeling stressed is a normal reaction to the uncertainty,” says Baldwin. “However, your employees’ physical and emotional health can impact productivity and make them more vulnerable to job-related stressors. Even if employees do not have…
Friday, 30 September 2011 21:00

Employment realities

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As the U.S. economy continues to falter, unemployment has never been such an influencing factor since the Great Depression. Unemployment stands at between 12 percent and 15 percent, not the 9 percent you hear every day. That number is based on government statistics that come from people registering for unemployment. In reality, it is estimated that there are as many 25 million people who are currently unemployed.The average monthly paycheck is $3,500. The average monthly unemployment check is $1,000. That means it costs the government as much as $50 billion each month in lost payroll taxes and paid unemployment benefits.…
Friday, 30 September 2011 21:01

Workplace violence: preparing for the unthinkable

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Over the last couple of decades, violence in the workplace has actually dropped to an all-time low. A March 2011 Special Report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a division of the U.S. Department of Justice, shows that in almost every major crime category, including homicides, workplace violence has continued to decline since 1993. Over this time, homicides in the workplace have decreased by 51 percent. Thirty percent of these homicides were committed by co-workers or those related to an employee, such as a spouse or jilted lover. The decline in workplace violence coincides with a downward trend of violent…
While managing investments is part of financial planning, it is far from the only thing you need to be thinking about. Factors such as risk management through insurance, optimizing your employee benefits and minimizing your taxes also come in to play, as do retirement planning, estate planning and debt management, says Norman M. Boone, founder and president of Mosaic Financial Partners Inc.“Too often, people put all of their efforts into their investments when they should be spending more time on other parts of their financial picture,” he says.Smart Business spoke with Boone about how financial planning goes far beyond investments,…
Even employers who maintain a workplace that encourages employees to eat better, exercise, stop smoking and follow doctor’s orders regarding chronic illnesses will continue to have employees who smoke, who aren’t taking their medications and who are out of shape. These unhealthy habits hurt the company through lost productivity and increased health care costs.“Employers have tried to play nice, meaning that if employees did specific things, such as stop smoking or complete a health risk assessment to understand their numbers, the employer gave them a gift certificate,” says Steve Freeman, president of USI. “The problem is, employees that don’t want…
As the primary caregivers for their spouses, as well as their children and parents, women often neglect their own health needs while tending to the priorities of others. But there is research that demonstrates that when women take care of themselves, the health of their families improves.To learn more, Smart Business turned to Karen Don, M.D., internist at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center, and Ann Marie Raffo, M.D., obstetrician/gynecologist at Saddleback Memorial Medical Center.How do symptoms differ among women and men?Heart disease is a good example. While the leading cause of death for females and males, underdiagnosis and subtle, often…
Friday, 30 September 2011 12:01

Deborah Sweeney's keys to building healthy employee bonds

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Deborah Sweeney was just about at her breaking point. She had a group of employees at MyCorporation that she loved, but the tight bonds that she had built with them was making it really tough to be an effective leader for the business. “I want them to be connected to me, to feel a connection to the business and to me as the owner and I want to be open with them,” says Sweeney, president and CEO at the 40-employee company that provides online document filing services for clients who wish to form corporations or limited liability companies. “But sometimes…
Friday, 30 September 2011 20:01

Sean McDonald

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 Sean McDonald is no stranger to the Pittsburgh Pacesetter ranks, having been recognized now for the third year in a row — and for good reason. As president and CEO of Precision Therapeutics Inc., a life-science technology company focused on cancer research and development, McDonald has led the company to impressive growth and advancements in the industry.He believes Precision Therapeutics can become the next big life sciences success story, and over the past few years, every sign points to that statement becoming more and more of a true fact. From raising increasingly larger amounts of venture capital dollars each year…
As the U.S. economy continues to falter, unemployment has never been such an influencing factor since the Great Depression. Unemployment stands at between 12 percent and 15 percent, not the 9 percent you hear every day. That number is based on government statistics that come from people registering for unemployment. In reality, it is estimated that there are as many 25 million people who are currently unemployed.The average monthly paycheck is $3,500. The average monthly unemployment check is $1,000. That means it costs the government as much as $50 billion each month in lost payroll taxes and paid unemployment benefits.…
It’s a reality of business today: many of the products sold in the U.S. are part of a global supply chain. There is even a debate surrounding what percentage of a product has to come from the United States in order to be labeled “Made in the U.S.A.”“Unless they are very small, most manufacturing and distribution companies in the U.S. are involved with at least one other country,” says Debra F. Scalice, vice president, Millennium Corporate Solutions.“Importing from China alone has increased from $109 billion in 2001 to $365 billion today — that’s huge; almost a 300 percent increase. Obviously…
It’s no secret that some states are considered to be friendlier business environments than others. But are the advantages really worth uprooting your business’s headquarters and moving to take advantage of some of the tax, work force or cultural benefits?Smart Business talked with William C. Lucia, CEO and president of HMS Holdings Corp., a company that provides coordination of benefits and program integrity services for health care payors, about his company’s decision to relocate.HMS announced in July of last year that it was moving its corporate headquarters from New York City to Irving, Texas. What was the primary factor that…