Physical Therapy Going High-Tech

Physical Therapy Going High-Tech

Physical Therapy Going High-Tech

Traditional physical therapy is being challenged by an aging population, an aging working population, on-demand expectations of consumers, and patient accessibility issues. The good news is technology is making PT much easier to deliver and tailor to the changing preferences of patients. But with that technology comes different risks that you’ll need to consider as you accommodate your clientele. What you need to know about physical therapy going high-tech during the pandemic.

Heightened awareness of the dangers of pain medications, especially opioids, and the expansion of many health insurance programs to include physical therapy as a covered treatment for chronic pain could increase business at your PT practice. As welcome as a growing clientele is, it comes with new demands for nontraditional treatment methods, including telemedicine, virtual reality therapies and in-home care. Some practices are using a combination of all three!

Depending on the technology you choose, you may need to reassess your professional liability, workers’ compensation insurance and commercial auto insurance policies as well as your overall employee training and safety measures. Let’s look at a few of the tech-enabled therapy options and their associated risks.

Physical therapy going high-tech

Telemedicine and Physical Therapy

Telehealth — medical service provided by telephone — isn’t generally reimbursable for physical therapists under Medicare and Medicaid, so providers must be very careful about furnishing telemedicine to patients covered under those programs.

For patients in group health plans or other commercial insurance, payment varies as do permissible treatments and locations of treatment, so check with the payer before initiating services, according to the American Physical Therapy Association.

That said, school districts have, since the shutdown due to COVID-19, been looking for ways to provide special education students with occupational and physical therapy remotely. Other institutions have sought similar remote access to services.

In April 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) temporarily changed rules governing home health agencies’ use of telehealth, allowing for expanded use of and reimbursement for telephonic physical therapy. But you must verify that these regulatory waivers are still in place and that your particular services and patients qualify.

Those physical therapists working via telephone should do a full assessment of the professional services liability exposures they may have, such as misdiagnosis, accessibility issues for those with hearing or speech problems, and verification of a patient’s comprehension of the therapist’s instructions.

Your practice should also work with your insurance professional to ensure your professional liability insurance covers telehealth. Additionally, it’s possible your practice will need to develop liability and informed consent clauses or forms for your clients to sign.

Virtual Reality Therapies

Physical therapists often spend a substantial amount of time coaching patients past mental and emotional barriers that block initiation of or progress in recovery. Virtual reality tools can help them overcome those obstacles by immediately engaging them in a gamified world that eliminates the distractions and fears of interpersonal relationship building and trust.

For example, patients who enter therapy believing they can’t perform certain daily tasks, like making a bed or buying groceries, are frequently willing to try these activities in virtual reality (VR) mode much sooner than in the real world. Through VR, they find — in the privacy of their home or therapist’s office — that they can accomplish movement or endeavors they thought were not possible.

Important to note are the risks that can be involved in VR and gaming. A neurological assessment and coordination with other caregivers can provide crucial contraindications or impediments that should be considered.

Online Consultations

More online physical therapists are cropping up each week. They use videoconferencing, online coaching, apps that track recovery, and emailed exercises. The typical program begins with a clinical assessment (some done online), followed by a classification or diagnosis, a treatment plan, and some sort of monitoring and follow-through to gauge progress or completion of the regimen.

If equipment is needed, the therapist provides the prescription and resources, most of which can be ordered online. It’s important to check with the patient’s insurer to ascertain requirements for payment, because many mandate some in-person contact between the patient and the clinician, even if treatment will be delivered online. And, as always, the therapist’s insurance contract must be reviewed to assure that the firm’s professional liability coverage applies to online services.

A cyber risk insurance policy that includes business income loss will also be important for therapists working online. Breach of patient data and a shutdown of provider computer networks can generate expensive claims.

Physical therapy going high-tech

In-home Care for Physical Therapy Going High-tech

While CMS rules limit payment for in-home physical therapy to patients meeting very specific criteria, many insurers are more liberal. It may even be possible to conduct therapy in a person’s office or other institutional setting. And, of course, many senior-living residences and nursing homes routinely contract with physical therapists for on-site visits.

Whenever your employees conduct out-of-office treatment, you must be aware of the potential risks that differ from those for in-office care. Injury to and illness of your therapists caused by animals, obstacles and other humans are a specific safety concern that should be discussed with your workers’ compensation insurance professional. Special training may be required to avoid harm. If any employees begin crossing state lines to serve a patient, that will require an adjustment to your workers comp policy.

You’ll also bear greater responsibility for employee travel, even if they use their own vehicle. A commercial auto policy can be written to cover both company cars and the use of private automobiles, so be sure your insurance doesn’t have gaps for what are termed “non-owned vehicles.”

And since therapists will likely carry company equipment with them when visiting patients, you should consider an inland marine insurance policy so gear that is stolen, damaged or lost in transit has coverage.

Other Tech Aids for Physical Therapy Going High-tech

Remember that technology in your office supports your mobility and accessibility. That includes computer systems that store and crunch data as well as communications networks, video recorders, and virtual reality goggles and implements.

Your business continuity and disaster response plans should reflect your technological capabilities and loss exposures. With all systems and protections in place, your therapists should be able to reach an ever-wider clientele — safely for all.

California’s Leader in Insurance and Risk Management

As one of the fastest-growing agencies in California, GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. is able to provide its clients with the latest and greatest of what the insurance industry has to offer and much, much more. The GDI team has developed an “insurance cost reduction” quoting plan, that provides you with the best coverage at the best rate!

We are headquartered in Turlock, CA, with locations across the heart of California’s Central Valley, Northern California and beyond to provide a local feel to the solutions and services we provide our clients. We pride ourselves on exceeding our client’s expectations in every interaction to make sure that our client’s know how much we value and appreciate their business.

Contact us today 1-209-634-2929 for your comprehensive physical therapy insurance quote!

OSHA Mitigation and Prevention Guidance for COVID-19

OSHA Mitigation and Prevention Guidance for COVID-19

OSHA Mitigation and Prevention Guidance for COVID-19

On Jan. 29, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued guidance on mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The guidance applies to employers and employees in settings outside of the health care industry, and is meant to help them determine appropriate COVID-19 control measures for the workplace. Employers can use this OSHA guidance to plan and evaluate their COVID-19 prevention and mitigation procedures. With this guidance, OSHA strongly recommends that employers implement COVID-19 prevention programs. According to OSHA, the most effective programs engage employees and their union or representatives in the development and planning stages.

COVID-19 Prevention Program

OSHA asserts that the most effective way to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at work is for employers to implement a workplace prevention program. For this reason, OSHA recommends that employers appoint a workplace coordinator to manage the employer’s COVID-19 response efforts. OSHA’s guidance outlines the following key elements for an effective COVID-19 prevention program and should contain the requirements below.

Hazard Assessments

Employers should complete thorough hazard assessments to identify potential COVID-19 workplace hazards. Employee participation in these assessments will increase the efficiency of this process because employees are the most familiar with the conditions they face. Once hazards are identified, employers should follow the principles of the hierarchy of controls to limit the spread of COVID-19 and implement other safety measures. Acceptable control measures include eliminating the hazard, engineering controls, workplace administrative policies and using personal protective equipment (PPE).  Key examples include:

  • Separating and sending home infected or suspected infected employees from the workplace
  • Practicing physical distancing in all communal work areas
  • Installing barriers in areas where physical distancing is not applicable
  • Requiring the use of face coverings
  • Improving ventilation, hygiene and sanitation

Policies and Practices

OSHA guidance states that employers must ensure that their employees understand their right to a safe and healthy work environment. Employers should consider the following issues as they develop and implement workplace policies, practices and procedures:

  • Protecting employees at higher risk: Employers should implement protections for employees who are at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. For example, employees with disabilities may be legally entitled to “reasonable accommodations” that protect them from the risk of contracting COVID-19. In addition, employers should consider reasonable job modifications for employees identified as high-risk, including remote work or working in a less densely occupied, better-ventilated facility.
  • Communicating effectively with employees: Efficient employer-employee communication systems should be able to track which employees have been informed (and when they were informed) of COVID-19 facts and employer policies, procedures and practices. Employer communications to employees should address:
    • Basic COVID-19 facts, including how it is spread and the importance of social distancing, use of face coverings and hand hygiene;
    • A description of workplace policies and procedures implemented to protect employees from COVID-19 hazards; and
    • The procedure employees must follow and the contact information for the person to address questions or concerns about workplace safety and health issues.

Facilitating employee reporting: Employees should be able to report to their employer, without fear of retaliation, any COVID-19 symptoms, possible exposures or hazards in the workplace. Employers must communicate all policies and procedures implemented for responding to sick and exposed employees in the workplace to employees in a language all employees understand. A best practice is to create and test two-way communication

  • systems that employees can use to self-report if they are sick or have been exposed and that employers can use to notify employees of exposures and closures.
  • Training managers and supervisors: Supervisors must be familiar with workplace flexibilities and other human resource policies and procedures.
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Isolation or Separation

Employers must instruct employees who have a confirmed case of COVID-19 to stay home, and isolate or quarantine. Similarly, employers should immediately separate employees who appear to have symptoms upon arrival to work or who develop symptoms during their work shift, from other employees, customers and visitors. Employers should also consider sending these employees home and encourage them to seek medical attention. 

Employees’ isolation should follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) isolation and return-to-work guidelines. Please note that some employees may need to stay home and isolate longer than 10 days as recommended by their health care providers.

To the extent possible, employers should make telework or the ability to work in an area isolated from others, available to these employees. If telework or separation options are not possible, employers should allow these employees to use paid sick leave, if available, or consider implementing paid leave policies to reduce the drive for sick employees to report to work, thus lowering the risk of infection for everyone at the workplace. To assist with this decision, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides certain employers 100% reimbursement through tax credits if they provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19 through March 31, 2021.

Sanitation

An area may only be used again once it has been appropriately disinfected. Employers should not allow employees to share objects or tools. However, if sharing is unavoidable, employers should make sure shared equipment, objects and surfaces are cleaned and disinfected between uses. Employers should provide disposable disinfecting supplies so that employees can clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces before each use.

Employers should follow the CDC’s cleaning and disinfection recommendations if someone has been in the facility and is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19. When cleaning and disinfecting the workplace, employers should consider opening outside doors and windows, as well as blocking off and sanitizing all potentially infected and immediate work areas and equipment. Additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary if seven or more days have passed since an infected person visited or used the facility. Employees without close contact with a potentially infected person can return to the area immediately after disinfection.

Screening and Testing

Employers should follow state or local guidance and priorities for screening and vital testing at the workplace. Testing in the workplace may be arranged through a company’s occupational health provider or in consultation with the local or state health department.

Employers must inform employees of employer testing requirements and the availability of testing options (if any). The CDC has published strategies for consideration when incorporating viral COVID-19 testing into workplace preparedness, response and control plans.

Please note that screening and performing health checks is not a replacement for other protective measures, such as requiring face coverings and enforcing physical distancing. Asymptomatic individuals or individuals with mild non-specific symptoms may not realize they are infected, and some infections may not be detected during screenings.

Physical Distancing

Employers must implement physical distancing measures in all communal work areas. Physical distancing prevents workers from breathing in airborne particles produced by infected individuals when they stay at least 6 feet away. Employers can strengthen physical distancing measures by reducing the number of people or the density of employees at the workplace. To reduce workplace employee density, employers can implement flexible worksites, work hours, meetings and travel times, or allow employees to work remotely when possible.

In places where physical distancing cannot be practiced, employers should install transparent shields or other solid barriers to separate employees from others. Barriers must block face-to-face pathways between individuals in order to prevent direct transmission of respiratory droplets. When barrier openings are necessary, they should be as small as possible.

Face Coverings

Employers must provide all employees with face coverings. Face coverings must be made of at least two layers of tightly woven breathable fabric, such as cotton, and should not have exhalation valves or vents. However, when an employee’s job tasks require a respirator, employers must follow OSHA’s requirements for respiratory protection.

All individuals must be required to wear a face covering, except for:

  • Individuals under the age of 2; or
  • Individuals actively consuming food or beverages on-site.

Hygiene Practices

Employers must promote personal health monitoring and good personal hygiene, including hand-washing and respiratory etiquette. To accomplish this, employers should provide employees with time to wash their hands often or to use hand sanitizer. Posters should be prominently displayed in workplace areas to encourage good hand hygiene and physical distancing.

In addition, employers should ensure that employees, customers and visitors have adequate supplies to frequently clean their hands and cover their coughs and sneezes. Necessary supplies may include, but are not limited to:

  • Tissues and no-touch trash cans
  • Soap and warm water at fixed worksites and, if not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizer that’s at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol
  • Touchless hand sanitizer stations in multiple locations

Ventilation

The CDC has released guidance on ways to improve ventilation and reduce the spread of COVID-19 in buildings. Some of the CDC’s recommendations are based on the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Guidance for Building Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Some of these recommendations include:

  • Increasing ventilation rates when possible;
  • Increasing fresh outdoor air by opening windows and doors;
  • Using fans to increase effectiveness of open windows;
  • Checking filters to ensure they are within service life and appropriately installed; and
  • Considering the use of ultraviolet germicidal irradiation as a supplement to help inactivate SARS-CoV-2, especially if options for increasing room ventilation are limited.

Personal Protective Equipment

When the measures above cannot be implemented or do not protect employees fully, OSHA standards require employers to provide PPE to supplement other engineering or administrative controls.

Employers must determine what PPE is necessary (e.g., respirator, face shield, protective gowns and gloves). When PPE is required, employers must:

  • Provide necessary PPE at no cost to their employees
  • Make sure that all PPE is used and provided in accordance with applicable OSHA standards and other industry-specific guidance. 

There are times when PPE is not required under OSHA standards or other industry-specific guidance. However, some employees may still have a legal right to PPE as a “reasonable accommodation” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In addition, some employees may also want to use PPE if they are concerned about their personal safety.

Recording and Reporting COVID-19

Employers are responsible for recording work-related cases of COVID-19 illness on their OSHA 300 log if the case:

Employers must report a fatality to OSHA if the fatality occurs within 30 days of the work-related incident.  For COVID-19 cases, an incident means an exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. In order for a case of COVID-19 to be reportable, a fatality due to COVID-19 must occur within 30 days of a work-related exposure. The employer must report the fatality within eight hours of knowing both that the employee has died and that the cause of death was a work-related case of COVID-19.

Employers must also report inpatient hospitalizations to OSHA if the hospitalization occurs within 24 hours of the work-related incident. For COVID-19 cases, an incident means an exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. An inpatient hospitalization due to COVID-19 must occur within 24 hours of a work-related exposure. The employer must report such hospitalization within 24 hours of knowing both that the employee has been hospitalized within 24 hours of a work-related incident and that the cause of the inpatient hospitalization was a work-related case of COVID-19.

California’s Leader in Insurance and Risk Management

As one of the fastest-growing agencies in California, GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. is able to provide its clients with the latest and greatest of what the insurance industry has to offer and much, much more. The GDI team has developed an “insurance cost reduction” quoting plan, that provides you with the best coverage at the best rate!

We are headquartered in Turlock, CA, with locations across the heart of California’s Central Valley, Northern California and beyond to provide a local feel to the solutions and services we provide our clients. We pride ourselves on exceeding our client’s expectations in every interaction to make sure that our client’s know how much we value and appreciate their business.

Contact us today 1-209-634-2929 for your comprehensive insurance quote!

5 HR Trends to Monitor in 2021

5 HR Trends to Monitor in 2021

5 HR Trends to Monitor in 2021

HR departments are given more and more responsibility each year, oftentimes with budgets that don’t match. This means HR teams must constantly seek ways to innovate and stay on top of trends if they want to compete in the marketplace, particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic. To that end, here are five HR trends to watch for in 2021. When reviewing them, employers should consider how their organizations may benefit by implementing similar strategies.

HR Trends

1. Employee Well-being

The COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed the perception of what qualifies as a “safe and healthy” work environment. A couple years ago, any business with a wellness program may have fit that definition. And, even then, a company lacking those qualities wasn’t always a deal breaker for some employees.

Now, “safe and healthy” means something much different. In 2021, expect an increased focus on more rounded employee well-being. Baseline efforts will include safeguards against COVID-19, but many employers will likely go beyond illness prevention.

Already, some organizations have transitioned to a more holistic well-being approach, and others will undoubtedly follow suit. These initiatives examine the larger picture and aim to help employees better themselves, even outside the workplace. Efforts include mental health programs, dependent care assistance and flexible scheduling. Focusing on these areas can lead to healthier, happier and more productive employees.

2. Greater Inclusivity

While much of last year was defined by the COVID-19 pandemic, a significant portion was also devoted to stemming racial inequity. Months-long protests forced a national conversation about diversity in the workplace and beyond. This prompted many businesses to make statements about committing to more diverse representation in their ranks.

While public statements and private company actions don’t always align, some workplaces are keeping good on their word. Notable efforts include consciously trying to diversify leadership, scrutinizing hiring processes to identify barriers to diversity and developing training to foster greater cultural and racial inclusivity. Employers can expect an uptick in these types of efforts in the new year.

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3. Expanded Remote Work

Many businesses were forced to shut down or migrate to remote work during the pandemic. Now, even with a vaccine in sight, a large number of those employers will likely continue offering remote work opportunities. In fact, some tech giants like Twitter and Google have indicated workers may not be required to return to the office ever again.

This suggests remote work, at least part time, will remain for the foreseeable future. As such, employers should consider expanding their own remote opportunities, as applicable. This won’t be feasible in all situations, but it might be for some positions. Doing so will not only provide a safeguard against COVID-19, but it can also serve as a tantalizing recruitment perk. Moreover, remote positions give employers greater hiring flexibility, allowing them to expand talent pools to any area with an internet connection.

4. Increased Employee Monitoring

A natural counterpart to remote work is employee monitoring software. When a number of employees operate outside the workplace, employers sometimes need other ways to keep track of productivity. That’s where these tools come in.

Employee monitoring software is what it sounds like—software that tracks computer usage. Depending on the software, it might record and employee’s website traffic, app activity and time spent idle. Some solutions even give employers access to employees’ webcams.

While some of these monitoring capabilities may seem extreme, the demand for such tools has only increased amid the COVID-19 pandemic. That means employers with remote workers should consider whether monitoring software is right for them. Particularly, employers should weigh the need to manage workers against the consequences of infringing on employee privacy. In other words, a heavy hand in this area might actually breed more resentment than encourage productivity.

HR Trends

5. Reimagined Onboarding

Onboarding is yet another workplace facet that was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This critical process of hiring, training and welcoming new employees into an organization is one of the most important functions of HR. What was once a series of carefully outlined in-person meetings has now been upended.

Employers had to reimagine the onboarding process in 2020 and will likely continue adapting it in the new year. For many, this means transitioning to an entirely virtual onboarding process, while maintaining the same level of quality. Virtual onboarding may include remote meetings via webcams, online quizzes, video tutorials and other creative methods of educating new employees remotely. Even among employers that have reopened, developing these processes now will better position HR teams in the event of another COVID-19 wave and shutdowns.

Summary of HR Trends to Monitor in 2021

COVID-19 affected nearly every workplace function last year, and that influence will linger into 2021 and beyond. Entire functions are being reimagined and reevaluated. Employers will need to adapt quickly if they want to compete in this innovative landscape. Reach out for more guidance related to these and other workplace trends.

California’s Leader in Insurance and Risk Management

As one of the fastest-growing agencies in California, GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. is able to provide its clients with the latest and greatest of what the insurance industry has to offer and much, much more. The GDI team has developed an “insurance cost reduction” quoting plan, that provides you with the best coverage at the best rate!

We are headquartered in Turlock, CA, with locations across the heart of California’s Central Valley, Northern California and beyond to provide a local feel to the solutions and services we provide our clients. We pride ourselves on exceeding our client’s expectations in every interaction to make sure that our client’s know how much we value and appreciate their business.

Contact us today 1-209-634-2929 for your comprehensive business insurance quote!

Establishing Company Culture in the Remote Workplace

Establishing Company Culture in the Remote Workplace

Establishing Company Culture in the Remote Workplace

Many organizations take pride in their company culture—often, it can be a core competency and a competitive advantage. As employers expand remote work opportunities to more employees than ever before, organizations may want to consider how their culture can stay intact through an increased virtual workspace. What you need to know about company culture in the remote workplace.

What Is Company Culture?

Company culture is the personality and environment of an organization. Defined by more than just a mission statement or organizational values, company culture encompasses the unwritten norms of how individuals act with one another. While poor company cultures can be detrimental, a strong company culture and positive employee morale can positively impact recruitment efforts, retention and the bottom line of an organization.

The Society for Human Resource Management breaks down company culture into three broad categories:

  • Social—How individuals act, and how authority and influence exist between different roles and teams
  • Material—How people in a group make or achieve something, and the ways people work with and collaborate with one another
  • Ideological—How values, beliefs and ideals establish how individuals exist and interact

Company culture has long been associated with the way interactions take place. In the absence of face-to-face conversations, that same company culture translates through interactions taking place via communication channels such as email, phone, video, instant messaging, employee intranets and more. As utilization of remote work expands, employers may want to consider how their culture is translating into the virtual workplace.

Culture in the Remote Workplace

A Strong Company Culture in the Remote Workplace

Company culture should align with the mission statement and values of an organization—this will vary from workplace to workplace. According to Glassdoor, positive company cultures have common themes that matter in today’s economy. These include:

  • Agility
  • Collaboration
  • Customer focus
  • Diversity
  • Execution
  • Innovation
  • Integrity
  • Performance
  • Respect

Many organizations take pride in their company culture, and expanded remote work doesn’t mean that culture can’t exist in the remote workspace—but employers will want to consider planning ahead.

Culture in the Remote Workplace

Company Culture in the Remote Workplace

Effectively expanding company culture into the remote workplace is about more than just creating policies and adjusting business practices—the actions and behaviors of employees will continue to define a culture, just as in any work location.

Within the remote workplace, there are ways that employers can help expand positive attributes of a culture to those engaging in remote work. Options for employers to consider include encouraging behaviors, implementing practices and rethinking employee engagement, while keeping the following tips in mind:

  • Focus on the why—An organization’s mission statement, purpose and objectives can be a source of meaning for many employees. Ensure that these goals remain at the forefront of communications.
  • Prioritize collaboration—As in any workplace, employees are engaged when they are collaborating and feel as if they are part of a greater cause. While employees will be spending a significant amount of time alone, be intentional about facilitating collaboration with projects, goals and objectives.
  • Rethink communications—Company culture lives through the actions of employees and how individuals communicate with each other. While word-of-mouth can no longer be the primary medium for engagement, be strategic about how different communication channels are used, such as employee intranets, social networking tools and video.
  • Create opportunities for social engagement—When employees are able to engage with each other virtually, it can help build camaraderie. Many effective video platforms exist, and non-work conversations can help build team chemistry and facilitate an environment for positive interactions to take place in a remote environment.

Encouraging Behaviors

While employers can implement policies and document expectations, it will be the choice of employees to buy in. Encouraging positive behaviors will take more than just policies or guidelines—actions can have an immense impact. Leaders often have significant influence—and when management is living out expected behaviors each and every day, employees will feel comfortable reciprocating.

Facilitating a Strong Culture in the Remote Workplace

While company culture will be defined by the way in which individuals interact, organizations can take steps to help facilitate an environment where a positive company culture can be established in the remote workplace.

Every organization is different and has a unique culture. Create practices and encourage behaviors that best work for your organization and are accommodating to remote and non-remote employees alike. Contact GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. for additional resources regarding best practices for utilizing the remote workplace. 

California’s Leader in Insurance and Risk Management

As one of the fastest-growing agencies in California, GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. is able to provide its clients with the latest and greatest of what the insurance industry has to offer and much, much more. The GDI team has developed an “insurance cost reduction” quoting plan, that provides you with the best coverage at the best rate!

We are headquartered in Turlock, CA, with locations across the heart of California’s Central Valley, Northern California and beyond to provide a local feel to the solutions and services we provide our clients. We pride ourselves on exceeding our client’s expectations in every interaction to make sure that our client’s know how much we value and appreciate their business.

Contact us today 1-209-634-2929 for your comprehensive business insurance quote!

Preventing Remote Work Time Theft

Preventing Remote Work Time Theft

Preventing Remote Work Time Theft

Time theft in the workplace is a common and expensive problem across industries. And, if not addressed, it can cost employers time, money and customers. In fact, the American Payroll Association found that 75% of businesses in the United States are affected by time theft every year. Another study estimates that time theft costs U.S. employers more than $400 billion per year in lost productivity. When employees are working remotely, it’s harder to detect and prevent all types of fraud. This article explores the risk of remote work time theft and explains how to prevent time or schedule abuse among remote employees.

Remote Work Time Theft

What Is Remote Work Time Theft?

Time theft is when an employee accepts pay from their employer for work that they have not actually done, or for time they have not actually put into their work. Simply put, it’s an employee using company time to conduct personal business.

The honor system is used by many remote employees for meeting or logging their work hours. While most employees are honest, some might be tempted to take advantage of the reduced oversight while working from home.

A variety of behaviors qualify as time theft. For example, an employee may log in to work but watch TV, read a book or do household chores instead. They may also run errands during work hours without making up the time, take frequent breaks, or simply log more hours than they actually spent working.

Signs of Remote Work Time Theft

There are many ways that employees may get paid for work they didn’t do, so it’s important for employers and managers to be aware of warning signs. Every situation will be different based on the employee and type of work, but here are some examples of red flags to watch for:

  • An employee is often not responding to emails, chats or calls during regular business hours for long stretches.
  • An employee is often not available or late for calls or videoconference meetings.
  • An employee is late with work assignments.
  • An employee is going out of town without seeking prior approval.

Keep in mind how responsive employees are not just to coworkers and managers, but to customers, if applicable. It’s important for employers to keep the lines of communication open with all stakeholders—inside and outside of the organization—to keep a pulse on overall employee responsiveness.

Remote Work Time Theft

Prevention Strategies

Time theft leads to lower productivity, which in turn leads to financial losses for the organization. Fortunately, there are steps that organizations can take to mitigate the risk of workplace time theft. Consider the following strategies:

  • Establish rules and expectations—It’s critical to address time theft in company policies and clearly define behaviors and consequences. It’s best to measure performance on benchmarks, so ensure policies clarify what conduct is not acceptable. Policies should also address workweek hours and availability. If employees have access to confidential or sensitive information, consider outlining approved remote working locations. Remote employees should sign telecommuting guidelines and expectations as well. If those policies don’t exist, then it’s important to put employee guidelines in writing.
  • Check in regularly—Managers should regularly check in with remote employees, asking what they’re working on and how they’re feeling. If there are already standing meetings on the calendar, managers should stick to them and use them as additional ways to check on how employees are doing.
  • Keep employees engaged—Support employees through both challenges and successes. It’s important to reward a job well done and recognize employees publicly. That’ll serve as a friendly reminder to all employees that their performance matters and makes a difference to the organization. When employees feel appreciated, they are often more motivated and committed to working hard.
  • Provide productivity resources—Employers should consider offering virtual time-management training or workshops, or simply ask employees to informally share their favorite productivity hacks with coworkers.
  • Use tracking software, as needed—Depending on the nature of work, it might be appropriate to use time-tracking or monitoring software to keep tabs on employees. As a last resort, GPS location tracking and IP address recognition are tools to help hold employees accountable if serious issues have been detected.

If employees are working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, employers should continue to be adaptable and consider offering flexible work hours so remote employees don’t feel the need to commit time theft if they have other commitments—such as caregiving or virtual learning—during traditional work hours. A productive workplace is all about employees and managers having open and honest conversations about the workday, since it may differ among employees, situations or days.

For More Information

Time theft is a nearly silent form of fraud that can happen to any organization. It’s important for employers to be aware of how it happens and take the necessary steps to prevent it, especially with remote workers. A combination of clear guidelines, tools and employee support can help companies lower their risk of time theft. Trust employees to do the right thing and keep them engaged to reduce the company’s overall risk.

Contact GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. for additional resources to support and manage a remote workforce.

California’s Leader in Insurance and Risk Management

As one of the fastest-growing agencies in California, GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. is able to provide its clients with the latest and greatest of what the insurance industry has to offer and much, much more. The GDI team has developed an “insurance cost reduction” quoting plan, that provides you with the best coverage at the best rate!

We are headquartered in Turlock, CA, with locations across the heart of California’s Central Valley, Northern California and beyond to provide a local feel to the solutions and services we provide our clients. We pride ourselves on exceeding our client’s expectations in every interaction to make sure that our client’s know how much we value and appreciate their business.

Contact us today 1-209-634-2929 for your comprehensive business insurance quote!

Top Cybersecurity Takeaways From 2020

Top Cybersecurity Takeaways From 2020

Top Cybersecurity Takeaways From 2020

According to a recent report from the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), cyberattacks currently reign as the fastest growing form of crime. In addition to security and reputational repercussions, these attacks can often cause significant financial disruption—with global cybercrime costs estimated to reach a startling $6 trillion during 2021. The Top Cybersecurity Takeaways from 2020 are listed below.

cybersecurity takeaways

No organizations are immune to cyberattacks. In fact, over half (53%) of respondents from ISACA’s report expect to experience a cyberattack within the coming year. With this in mind, it’s important to review top cyber trends from the last 12 months and respond accordingly to ensure your organization remains safe and secure in 2021. Here are some of the most common cyber concerns from 2020, as well as best practices for avoiding them:

  • Social engineering—Cybercriminals implement social engineering scams to manipulate their victims into sharing sensitive information. This manipulation usually occurs in the form of impersonating an individual or organization that the victim trusts, thus making the victim feel falsely comfortable with providing their information. While these scams can happen via text, phone call or email, the latter method (also known as phishing) is the most popular. To keep these scams from wreaking havoc on your organization, instruct staff to always verify the identity of the individual or organization they are communicating with and be wary of sharing any sensitive information over the phone or online.
  • Ransomware—Ransomware is a type of malicious software that cybercriminals use to compromise a device (or multiple devices) and demand a large payment be made before restoring the technology for the victim. Since ransomware often appears in the form of deceptive links or attachments, encourage employees to never click on suspicious links or download attachments from unknown senders.
  • Software update issues—Although conducting routine software updates may seem like an arbitrary act, it can make all the difference in protecting your organization. Failing to update your software regularly can create major cybersecurity gaps, making it easier for cybercriminals to infiltrate your systems. That being said, keep staff on a strict update schedule, and consider using a patch management system to further assist with updates.

Cybersecurity Takeaways: The Importance of Promoting Strong Passwords

Cyberattack methods continue to grow and evolve over time. One specific tactic that cybercriminals frequently utilize is hacking victims’ accounts or devices by cracking their passwords.

This tactic is often all too easy for cybercriminals when their targets fail to create strong enough passwords to ward off password-cracking technology or—in some cases—simple guesses.

Nevertheless, cybersecurity experts confirm that establishing an effective password can increase the amount of time it would take for a cybercriminal to hack into an account or device from just a few hours to several years.

Taking this into consideration, password strength should be a top priority across your organization. Encourage your employees to create proper passwords with this guidance:

  • Focus on length—Choose a password that’s eight to 16 characters long.
  • Make it unique—Use at least two special characters within your password. Don’t use family or pet names, special dates or common phrases as your password.
  • Switch it up—Remember to change your password every 30-45 days.
  • Refrain from recycling—Never reuse or repeat a password across devices or accounts.
cybersecurity takeaways

Cybersecurity Takeaways: How to Prevent a Malware Attack

Malware is a form of malicious software that cybercriminals deploy via unsafe links, downloaded attachments or other virus-ridden programs with the intention of disrupting normal computing operations, collecting sensitive information and controlling your organization’s technology system resources. Malware programs are being produced at an alarming rate and are consistently changing in form and purpose, making detection and prevention increasingly difficult for organizations across industry lines.

According to recent research, nearly 980 million (and counting) malware programs currently exist, while 350,000 new pieces of malware are discovered each day. What’s worse, an estimated four companies are targeted by a malware attack every minute.

Consider the following guidance to help prevent malware attacks:

  • Secure your systems—Take steps to protect your organizational devices from potential malware exposures. This may entail:
  • Using a virtual private network (VPN) for all internet-based activities (e.g., browsing and sending emails)
  • Installing (and regularly updating) antivirus software on all devices
  • Implementing a firewall to block cybercriminals from accessing your organization’s VPN
  • Restricting employees’ access to websites that aren’t secure
  • Limiting which employees receive administrative controls to prevent inexperienced staff from mistakenly downloading a malicious program
  • Educate your employees—Next, be sure to train your employees on how to prevent and respond to a malware attack. Give your staff these tips:
  • Avoid opening or responding to emails from individuals or organizations you don’t know. If an email claims to be from a trusted source, be sure to verify their identity by double-checking the address.
  • Never click on suspicious links or pop-ups—whether they’re in an email or on a website. Similarly, avoid downloading attachments or software programs from unknown sources or locations.
  • Only browse safe and secure websites on organizational devices. Refrain from using workplace devices for personal browsing.
  • If you suspect a malware attack, contact your manager or the IT department immediately for further guidance.
  • Ensure adequate coverage—Lastly, it’s crucial to secure proper insurance coverage to stay protected in the event of a cyberattack. After all, even with proper cybersecurity measures in place, attacks can still occur.

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