Why Human Resources Departments Should Consider Text Messaging

Employee Benefits can be complicated, but it’s essential that they’re understood. It’s why human resources departments are always on the lookout for new forms of communications—for benefits to be chosen and implemented successfully, employees need to know the ins and outs of their offered healthcare plans and retirement options.

Text messages allow HR departments to remind employees of critical dates during Open Enrollment, send links to mobile-friendly benefits messages and even answer simple questions through text bot.

So, how do you effectively communicate benefits and policies to employees during key periods like new hire orientation or open enrollment? Companies are already using email and other traditional means of communications, and now many are implementing text messages to connect with employees.

Text vs. Email

The problem with email is the sheer amount that most employees receive. On busy days people are left triaging what emails are most important—those that need to be read and answered immediately—and the ones that can take a backseat to more pressing matters.

Because of the nature of HR communications, many employees will filter these mass emails to the latter category, waiting for a free moment to catch up and skim what could be vital information.

Texting may be the way to break through to busy employees who feel overloaded with emails.

People are seven times more likely to respond to a text than an email and they do so 60 times faster than an average email*. On top of that, texts have a 98 percent read rate and 90 percent of people read a text within 15 minutes of receiving it.**

Texting is fast. Texting is effective. Texting gets the message across.

Open Enrollment Communications

Open Enrollment is when HR communications are most necessary. Even if there aren’t any changes to offered benefits, it is the time when employees need the most up-to-date information to make healthcare and benefits decisions for the year.

Text messages allow HR departments to remind employees of critical dates during Open Enrollment, send links to mobile-friendly benefits messages and even answer simple questions through text bot. These messages won’t get lost in a cluttered email inbox.

Internal Communications and Surveys

Open Enrollment isn’t the only time to implement text message communications. Many organizations are using mobile surveys to gauge organizational health and doing so by texting unique links to employees. Messages can even be used to send event invites (useful around holiday time) or reminders to submit timesheets or direct deposit information.

When to Use Text

Mass texts—sent to everyone in your organization—are best for situations such as informing employees of enrollment dates. Personalized texts work best for situations where a person or small group need information unique to them, such as new hires going through orientation and onboarding.

Both mass and personalized texts should provide valuable information for employees, messages that shouldn’t languish in an email inbox. Texting is still seen as a more personal, essential form of communication. In other words, use texting for high priority messaging to keep employees engaged.

Internal text communication is still a recent phenomenon, one that is slowly making its way into more and more organizations. While it’s certainly not a traditional approach to reaching your employees, its value is especially high for Millennials and Gen Z. As workplaces shift to a large percentage of younger employees, texting could prove highly effective at disseminating HR messages.

If you have any questions about benefits communications, contact us today.

*Source 1

**Source 2

Hays Companies of Wisconsin Named “Top Workplace” for Ninth Consecutive Year

Hays Companies of Wisconsin has been awarded the 2019 “Top Workplace” honor by The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. This is the ninth consecutive year they have received this award.

In 2019, there were over 1500 companies invited by the Journal Sentinel to participate in the third-party survey. Employees of the surveyed companies were asked questions revolving around job satisfaction and employee engagement, along with their view on organizational health. Hays Companies of Wisconsin was one of just 75 companies to earn the distinction in the “small business” category.

“This is just great and something that all of us here should be extremely proud of. This award is a reflection of the culture and work environment that we’ve all helped to create and for which we are all responsible,” said Dan Kwiecinski, Executive Vice President of Hays Companies of Wisconsin. “Happy, fulfilled teammates are an essential component to delivering the exceptionally high level of customer satisfaction that is the hallmark of Hays Companies of Wisconsin”

At Hays Companies, we have created a culture that is unmatched in our industry. Driven by a client-centric principle that blends creative ideas and quality service, we remain committed to the entrepreneurial spirit on which we were founded.

Want to explore working with one of our teams? Connect with us today!

Distracted Driving Laws by State

Distracted driving is a growing concern nationwide. Almost every state has a ban against texting and driving, and many states have gone beyond that, making handheld devices illegal while operating a motor vehicle. Because vehicle laws are legislated state-by-state, we’ve compiled a list of distracted driving laws for all 50 states.

Alabama

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: Drivers with their provisional license who are under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

State legislators have introduced “Cici’s Law” to ban handheld devices while driving. The bill was named in honor of an Alabama resident who passed away in March 2018 after being struck by a distracted driver.

Alaska

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: No
Text Message ban: Yes

Lawmakers are attempting to pass legislation making the use of a handheld device in a school zone punishable by a $500 fine.

Arizona

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: For school bus drivers and provisional permit holders
Text Message ban: Yes

Arizona passed legislation banning handheld devices after Governor Ducey signed the bill earlier this week. There will be a temporary warning period in place until the law goes into full effect on January 1, 2021.

Arkansas

Handheld ban: Drivers under the age of 21
Cell phone ban: For school bus drivers and drivers under age 18
Text Message ban: Yes

It is illegal in Arkansas to be on a handheld device while driving in a school zone.

California

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

The National Transportation Safety Board is urging California to be the first state to outlaw any cell phone usage, including hands-free, while behind the wheel.

Colorado

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: Drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

A 2019 bill to ban handheld devices was postponed indefinitely in committee. The bill’s sponsor—Senate President pro tem Lois Court—says she has not given up on the bill and will reintroduce legislation in the next congressional session.

Connecticut

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Delaware

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Florida

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: No
Text Message ban: Secondary

Currently, police can only cite a driver for texting while driving as a secondary offense, meaning someone can only be ticketed if they are pulled over for another offense. There are currently two bills making their way through the Florida legislature that would make texting-while-driving a primary offense.

Georgia

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has found early evidence to suggest that Georgia’s handheld ban, passed in July of 2018, is seeing positive results.

Hawaii

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: Drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Idaho

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: No
Text Message ban: Yes

Legislation to outlaw handheld devices was voted down in the Idaho Senate in February. Those opposed to the bill cited concerns over farmers and rural drivers who may not have Bluetooth capabilities.

Illinois

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers under 19
Text Message ban: Yes

A law passed in August 2018 and set to take place in July 2019 will make cell phone usage behind the wheel punishable by both a fine and a moving violation. This means that a citation could lead to license suspension if a driver is caught too many times.

Indiana

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers under 21
Text Message ban: Yes

A bill aiming to make handheld device usage punishable as a Class C infraction, the same category as a DUI, was rejected in committee in February.

Iowa

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: Drivers with provisional licenses
Text Message ban: Yes

Iowa has introduced a bill to punish cell phone usage without a hands-free device. The law is expected to be voted on during the 2019 legislative session.

Kansas

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: Drivers with a learner or intermediary license
Text Message ban: Yes

Kentucky

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Louisiana

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers, drivers under 18 and those within the first years of receiving a Louisiana license
Text Message ban: Yes

While the state of Louisiana is currently taking up legislation to reduce car insurance costs, distracted driving laws are not part of the omnibus bill currently making its way through the Senate.

Maine

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: Drivers with a learner permit
Text Message ban: Yes

There are currently two laws up for debate in the Maine State House. One bans cell phones without a handheld device. The other prohibits secondary—video or GPS—devices.

Maryland

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: Drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Massachusetts

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: Drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Speaker Robert A. Deleo confirmed in mid-April that the Massachusetts State House plans to vote on a handheld device ban during the 2019 session.

Michigan

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: Bus drivers and drivers with level one or two license
Text Message ban: Yes

There are currently three bills making their way through the Michigan State House that ban handheld devices while driving. The bills differ in the level of enforcement and penalties.

Minnesota

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Minnesota’s handheld device ban goes into effect on August 1, 2019.

Mississippi

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers
Text Message ban: Yes

Mississippi currently allows the use of handheld devices with no planned legislation to ban cell phones in the works. The state has the highest incidences of texting-while-driving and is the deadliest state to drive with a casualty rate of 22.9 deaths per 100,000 residents.

Missouri

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: No
Text Message ban: Drivers 21 and under

Missouri and Montana are the only two states that currently allow anyone over the age of 21 to text while driving.

Montana

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: No
Text Message ban: No

Montana is the only state in the U.S. that has no laws to address the use of cell phones while driving for any state residents.

Nebraska

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers 18 and under
Text Message ban: Secondary law

Under current Nebraska law, a driver can only be cited for texting and driving as a secondary offense, meaning someone cannot be pulled over for the act of using their phone behind the wheel.

Nevada

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: No
Text Message ban: Yes

Nevada lawmakers have introduced legislation to allow police to use a controversial technology called the “textalyzer” when dealing with a possible distracted driving case.

New Hampshire

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: Drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

New Jersey

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers with provisional license or learner permit
Text Message ban: Yes

New Mexico

Handheld ban: State vehicles
Cell phone ban: Drivers with provisional license or learner permit
Text Message ban: Yes

New York

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: No
Text Message ban: Yes

North Carolina

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Proposed legislation that bans handheld devices is currently making its way through the NC State House.

North Dakota

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: Drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Ohio

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: Drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

While there is no handheld ban in Ohio, the state general assembly passed a law in 2018 that broadened the scope of “distracted driving” to encompass non-cell phone related incidents such as eating or changing the radio station.

Oklahoma

Handheld ban: Drivers with learner or intermediate license
Cell phone ban: No
Text Message ban: Yes

The “Bobbi White Act” is making its way through the Oklahoma State House for the third year. The bill would make handheld devices illegal within a school or construction zone.

Oregon

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: Drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Oregon has the highest fines for distracted driving in the country, set at $1,000 if a motorist is caught using a cellphone while driving.

Pennsylvania

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: No
Text Message ban: Yes

Lawmakers introduced a bill banning handheld devices while driving. The legislation also increases the fine for texting while driving from $50 to $200.

Rhode Island

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

South Carolina

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: No
Text Message ban: Yes

A bill is set to be introduced by lawmakers that strengthen the Palmetto State’s distracted driving laws. State Senator Tom Young considers the success Georgia has shown in reducing distracted driving incidents as a reason to pass new legislation.

South Dakota

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: Drivers with learner or intermediate license
Text Message ban: Yes

Tennessee

Handheld ban: In school zones
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers with a learner or intermediate license
Text Message ban: Yes, while vehicle is in motion

A law to ban handheld devices passed the Tennessee House of Representatives on April 17th. The bill will soon reach the Senate where it must be voted out of the Ways and Means Committee.

Texas

Handheld ban: In school zones
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Houston and Dallas currently lead the nation in the number of distracted driving incidents.

Utah

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Vermont

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: Drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Virginia

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

A bill outlawing handheld devices while driving was voted down in the 2019 legislative session.

Washington

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: Drivers with learner or intermediate license
Text Message ban: Yes

West Virginia

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: Drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Wisconsin

Handheld ban: Only in work zones
Cell phone ban: Drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Wyoming

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: No
Text Message ban: Yes

Building and Maintaining a Fleet Safety Culture

While Distracted Driving Awareness Month is a prime opportunity to discuss fleet safety, it goes beyond simple rules against texting and driving. Organizations that have implemented a proper road safety culture start by screening drivers in the hiring process and then provide ongoing training and support throughout an employee’s career.

Unfortunately, many companies may not adhere to the rules of road safety as well as they should. In the last eight years, insurance companies have been losing money on auto premiums, and premium rates are increasing as a result. To counteract that trend, safe driving must be top of mind for everyone in an organization.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,166 people were killed because of distracted driving in 2017, with mobile phones as the cause of most of these accidents.

But fleet safety is about more than the cost of insurance. It’s also about ensuring that your employees and crews remain alert and injury-free on the roads. It’s about creating a culture of safety that protects your most valuable asset—your people.

Elements of Fleet Safety

Only qualified drivers should be allowed behind the wheel, which means properly evaluating the driving record of everyone operating a vehicle for company business. More than three moving vehicle violations in a five-year time frame should draw red flags, as should even one DUI in the same timeframe.

For many organizations, the vehicle and equipment used depend on the scope of the job or project. If this is the case, all employees should receive safety training on the vehicles they may drive for work before being designated a company driver and should attend regular classes throughout their employment. This includes training on routine maintenance checks, adjustment of mirrors, and other actions to ensure safe vehicles.

Distracted Driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,166 people were killed because of distracted driving in 2017, with mobile phones as the cause of most of these accidents. Even with more and more states passing legislation to outlaw the use of cell phones without a hands-free device, drivers are still texting, sending emails, or engaging with social media apps on the highways.

Distracted driving courses and lessons are a vital pillar of road safety culture. Encouraging drivers to be patient and wait until after they’ve turned the car off to answer a call, email or text may help prevent collisions, injuries or death.

Leverage Telematics

Telematic systems like installed GPS systems allow drivers to rely less on their phones and pay more attention to the road. No one needs to take their eyes off the road to learn where their next turn will be.

Consider April’s Distracted Driving Awareness campaign as a kickstart to a safer organizational culture. Whether that means training your staff or implementing ways to keep drivers off their phone, every company can make healthy changes to make the roads safer.

For more information about distracted driving, contact us today.

airplane

Alison Wynne Expands Footprint of Hays Aviation

Hays Companies is pleased to share the recent industry accomplishments of Alison Wynne, Assistant Vice President of Hays Aviation.

Wynne was voted by a group of her peers as Treasurer of the Minnesota Business Aviation Association (MBAA). The MBAA serves to enhance communication between various aviation groups, most notably the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA). The NBAA’s membership is comprised of over 100 Minnesota-based organizations with a core business focused on aircrafts and aviation.

Following her term as Treasurer, Wynne will serve as Vice President for the MBAA chapter in 2020 and as the President in 2021. Notably, Wynne’s term officially marked the first time that a regional chapter of the National Business Aviation Association has had an all-female Board of Directors since its inception in 1947.

Wynne with her fellow Board of Directors

In addition to her new role as Treasurer, Wynne also serves on the Broker Committee of the Aircraft Builders Council (ABC). Since its founding in 1954, the Aircraft Builders Council program has provided aviation products liability insurance for the benefit of manufacturers in the aviation industry.

Alison holds a Bachelor of Science in Aviation Science Administration from Western Michigan University – College of Aviation and is an active instrument-rated Private Pilot.

Environmental Wellness Could Affect Employee Performance

What responsibility does an organization have for the health of their employees? The answer is unique to individual companies, but those who take on a greater role in encouraging an active and fit lifestyle through wellness may see better performance and lower insurance costs.

Traditional wellness programs provide health screenings and participation or outcome-based programs, but many organizations are taking their responsibility a step further. They’re creating a culture of health through environmental wellness—a strategy that includes organizational and systems transformations that actively promote healthy living.

As Anja Jamrozik of the Mayo Clinic recently said, “the environment can have a profound effect on how people are performing.”

Environmental wellness shifts a portion of wellness’s burden of responsibility on the organization itself to foster healthy living, and for good reason. According to Entrepreneur, “among employers offering wellness programs, more than half saw a decrease in absenteeism” and “66 percent reported increased productivity.”

Anything companies can do to make sure their staff is pursuing better living can have an impact on the bottom line.

Three factors to creating environmental wellness

Environmental wellness falls under three categories—policies, systems and environment. Policies start from the top, molded by leadership. Systems are the infrastructure in place that provides healthy choices for employees. And environment is the surroundings that help employees focus and increase daily productivity. Each factor is just as important as the next.

Policies of health and accountability

Wellness programs are only effective if employees actively participate, and it takes encouragement and communication to implement a healthy culture successfully. Some companies provide financial incentives like a discount on the next year’s health insurance premiums to those who meet goals throughout the year. Others tie manager performance to employee health and wellness engagement. No matter how policies are implemented, they should prove that executives and company leaders are committed to the health of their staff.

Environment’s impact on wellness

As Anja Jamrozik of the Mayo Clinic recently said, “the environment can have a profound effect on how people are performing.” The Mayo Clinic’s Well Living Lab has studied the link between comfort and efficiency. That doesn’t mean your office needs a nap room—though many forward-thinking companies like Google and Facebook do offer them.

Changes in temperature settings, workspace and noise distractions all have physiological effects on people and change the way they may work. In lab studies performed at the Mayo Clinic, researchers have found that increasing temperature from the mid-70s to the low-80s negatively impacted participants’ ability to complete simple math problems.

The environment people work in—whether it’s temperature, chair comfort or standing desks—can be accounted for and augmented to increase productivity.

Wellness structures and systems

Systems refer to the infrastructure an employer offers to encourage healthy living. For example, many organizations provide on-site medical clinics where employees can see a nurse practitioner or even a physical therapist. At larger campuses, you may find outdoor walking trails, gyms and quiet rooms where employees can meditate and gather their thoughts.

These are investments that take time and require a budget. Yet they are often seen as differentiators to potential recruits, proof that an organization cares about the wellbeing of its greatest resource.

When wellness starts from the top and it infiltrates every aspect of an organization—from office settings to events to healthy choices—it provides a foundation for more active and fit employees. No wellness program starts overnight, though. Building an effective infrastructure takes time and the right partner.

To find out more about how Hays Companies can help you implement a robust wellness program, contact us today. 

Key Resources for National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. This national campaign, presented in tandem by several safety organizations, was designed to help bring awareness to the dangers of distracted driving, while simultaneously working to eliminate preventable deaths.

The National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year.

At Hays, we are committed to the safety of our employees and clients on our roadways. As such, we will be publishing a series of articles throughout the month of April focused on distracted driving and what you can do to end this epidemic.

This issue has remained close to our hearts as our very own Tom Goeltz (Vice President of Risk Management Services) has a personal connection with losing a family member due to an alleged distracted driver. To learn more about Tom’s story, watch this video.

Tom is also a legislative advocate for safe driving and was recently asked to testify on behalf of Minnesota’s HF 104 Bill in front of the House Transportation Committee meeting. The bill adds stiffer penalties for drivers caught using their cell phones on Minnesota roads. From there, it was approved by voice vote and sent on to the Ways and Means committee (learn more about the bill, here).  A companion bill is currently making its way through the Minnesota State Senate.

Join us in taking the pledge against Distracted Driving!

Remember: No matter what the distraction may be, it’s never worth a life. It can wait.

Looking for more resources on Distracted Driving?

Dave Wasson Awarded COPE Insurance Certification

Hays Companies is pleased to announce that Dave Wasson has been awarded the Chubb Cyber COPE Insurance Certification (CCIC) designation from Chubb and Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU) Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy.

“We’re thrilled to see Dave complete the Cyber COPE Insurance Certificate program,” Hays Companies’ Senior Vice President Ryan Anderson said of Wasson’s recent designation. “He exemplifies our commitment to continuous learning in order to provide industry-leading cyber solutions for our clients.”

Wasson is among a group of select individuals that completed a seven-month certificate program covering industry best practices in cyber security risk management, governance and operations. The CCIC is the first organization of its kind, created as a partnership between Chubb and CMU’s Heinz College in 2018 and covers topics including cyber security foundations, risk and resilience management, effective incident response, cyber laws and regulations and custom insurance solutions.

“We designed this unique program to provide participants with an opportunity to deepen their understanding of the constantly evolving cyber risk landscape and to provide hands-on practical cyber security solutions,” said Bobbie Goldie, Senior Vice President, North America Financial Lines at Chubb. “Agents and brokers who have completed the program have demonstrated a comprehensive understanding of the cyber security landscape so they can help their clients manage their cyber risk exposures.”

The courses were provided by Chubb professionals and faculty from CMU’s Heinz College, comprising industry leading experts and practitioners in cybersecurity. This year’s pool of candidates was narrowed down to 40 graduates. The certification required residential sessions on CMU’s Pittsburgh and Washington, DC campuses and required a capstone project administered by the highest ranked information technology program in the country.

To maintain the designation, participants are required to attend two virtual sessions each year.

For more information about evolving cybersecurity risks or to speak to Dave Wasson or another Hays Cyber teammate, connect with us here.

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Bruce Lyon Named to Board of Certified Safety Professionals

We are pleased to announce that Bruce Lyon, Vice President of Risk Management Services at Hays Companies, has been elected to the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP).

Founded in 1969, the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) is recognized as a leader in high quality, accredited credentialing for safety, health, and environmental practitioners. BCSP establishes standards and certifies competency criteria in the professional safety practice.

In addition to his involvement on the BCSP Board, Lyon is the Advisory Board chair to the University of Central Missouri’s Safety Sciences Program, Vice Chair of US TAG 262 for ISO 31000, and member of the ANSI Z590.3 Prevention Through Design review committee. Lyon holds a B.S. degree in Industrial Safety and a M.S. degree in Occupational Safety Management/Fire Science from the University of Central Missouri. He also received the Certified Safety Professional Award of Excellence from BCSP in 2018.

To learn more about how we can assist with workplace safety, please contact us.  We’re here to help.