This past month, the HR Shield team was fortunate enough to attend and sponsor the 2013 Dueling Chefs Competition here in Tampa Bay!

Since 2008, the people of our community have been coming together once a year at the Centre Club to watch 2 dueling chefs dish up delicious fundraising dinners. HR Shield’s very own Patrick Moraites serves as the Dueling Chefs Competition Founder and Chairman!

For those culinary masters brave enough to accept the challenge, each is provided with a “secret” ingredient…. The secret ingredient must make its way into a signature dish that both the people and the celebrity judges deem irresistible!

Since the event’s inception, eleven of the top restaurants in Tampa have accepted this challenge which aims to raise at least $25,000 for The Children’s Cancer Center of Tampa. On November 8th, attendees enjoyed an evening of sampling and socializing alongside the event’s silent auction, stocked with beautiful high end gifts and trinkets and heart-warming original artwork made by the children of the Center.

The two competing restaurants were local Chef Michael Buttacavoli of CENA and local Chef Suzanne Crouch of Ella’s American Folk Art Cafe. CENA took home the judge’s vote, and Ella’s won the vote of the people.

We were thrilled to play a part in giving back to our community and look forward to supporting the Dueling Chefs competition and other non-profit initiatives in the New Year ahead! What does your company do for community involvement? Do you have a formal giving plan?

Are you an HR or office manager that just recently got put in charge of “exploring benefits options?” Perhaps you’re a business owner in need of a plan for yourself and your employees a.s.a.p.!

Since benefits are often confusing for those just getting their feet wet, HR Shield has put together a cheat-sheet to navigate you through the main differences between an HMO and a PPO.

HMO: A health maintenance organization (HMO) plan requires that you have one primary care physician. Coordinating healthcare through one source (your physician’s office) helps to decrease the paperwork (for physicians, patients and insurance companies alike) and also helps to lower healthcare costs.

When you need a healthcare professional or services outside of your primary care physician’s expertise, a referral is required from your physician. So, for example, if you needed to visit a podiatrist for a bothersome foot, you’d need to first visit your physician. If he or she cannot help you themselves, they would then make a referral to another professional within the HMO plan’s designated network. If the referral made is to a professional outside of your network, this typically will not be covered by your plan. Therefore it is important to double check before visiting a new office, and try to always stay within your plan’s network.

The only time a referral is not needed is if you are a female visiting a gynecologist or OB/GYN within the network for routine or well-woman visits.

PPO: A preferred provider organization (PPO) plan gives you more flexibility. You can go to any health care professional (directly) without a referral from your primary care physician. In fact, having a primary care physician is not even necessary in a PPO.

While you can choose to stay inside or outside of your network based on your practice preferences, it’s imperative to know that staying within your network will result in smaller copays and full coverage. Going outside of your network can add up quickly with higher copays, and all services may not be covered, resulting in more out of pocket expenses.

It’s important to note that the above mentioned details only really begin to skim the surface of options available when looking to establish an employer group or individual plans for your employees. If you need assistance, or would like a benefits recommendation/referral, contact your HR Advisor at HR Shield. We have access to a wide range of resources to help meet your employees' needs and your company's budget.

Continuing education has gained quite a bit of popularity in the past decade. Many people want to better themselves and learn something new – for personal reasons, for their families, and/or for career advancements.

But did you know that in addition to individuals bettering themselves, supporting these individuals could actually help better your business?

Continuing education is a pretty broad term. It doesn’t necessarily have to mean that someone is going back to school to get their master’s degree. Continuing education includes a number of post-secondary learning activities and programs including degree-credit courses, personal enrichment courses, career training, workforce training, interest groups, experiential learning and more.

The education opportunities that could particularly benefit individuals AND your workplace include:

  • Foreign Language Courses: Would your business benefit by offering customer service in two or three languages? Would you be able to generate more income if you could deliver work or execute proposals in several different languages? Could you establish stronger relationships with some of your existing accounts?
  • Computer Training:  A general computer course could benefit many of us within the workforce. How many hours a week have your employees wasted trying to figure out something in Excel or PowerPoint? Or worse, how many other employees do they need to ask for help on any given day – resulting in lost productivity for more than one person!
  • Typing Class: Those that type faster and more accurately, often complete projects and communicate faster!

Continuing education makes for a stronger, smarter workforce. It can even help save the cost of needing to replace or rehire in the future.  Employers can support continuing education in many ways including:

  • After-work Programs for Those Interested
  • Educational Stipends as a Form of Employee Benefits
  • Tuition Reimbursement Programs

Need some help with your company’s continuing education program? Call your HR Shield Advisor today at (877) 636-9525.


There’s no denying that employees waste time at work on non-work related browsing, communications, and transactions – everybody does it now and then. Or, is it much more than  “every now and then?”

Earlier in the year, a Kansas State University researcher studied cyberloafing (wasting time at work on the Internet) and the results were quite shocking: between 60 and 80 percent of people's time on the Internet at work has nothing to do with work.

For business owners trying to build a profitable business model through effective and efficient personnel, this statistic is nothing short of a nightmare! But is there anything you can do about it in an office that needs to utilize computers all-day, every-day?

Fortunately, yes. No business owner or HR manager likes to play “bad cop,” but having a social media policy or computer-usage policy within your employee handbook can help. But, this is a two-step process. As many of us are well aware, policies that are never or rarely enforced don’t get the best of results.

In order to determine who is wasting countless hours on sites like Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter each day, and to actually enforce your Company’s social media policies, you’ll need to recruit the help of those in IT. Employee internet monitoring is an option, as is setting up your network to prohibit logging on to select sites. Because the computers are company property, usage can be restricted and/or observed, while keeping the company within compliance standards.

Keep in mind that many companies have a social media presence; you may even have a social media manager or coordinator on staff. In this type of scenario, certain employees do need to be logged on to social media sites as part of their job description. But again, this is something that needs to be outlined and defined within the employee handbook so that certain employees don’t feel as if they are being treated unfairly or discriminated against.

Did you know that each HR Shield Membership comes with an Employee Handbook Review? This includes the review of all social media policies. Sign up now online or call us at (877) 636-9525 for more information.

Added Bonus: To watch a video on social media policies, click here!

If you’re an HR Manager you’ve got a lot of things to oversee… compliance…benefits…employee management…training…perhaps even payroll. But nothing seems to set you back like an inbox overload! Sending and receiving emails can take up the better half of your day when you’ve got lots of employees and vendors to interact with.

The following 6 tips are brought to you on behalf of HR Shield! We’ve talked to countless office professionals and these simple steps can help make you work much more effectively and efficiently!

  1. Create Templated Replies: If you find yourself answering the same questions all of the time – such as “how do I update my timesheet” or “where can I find a copy of our employee handbook” or “how do I fill out Form W-4 or Form I-9,” start saving your replies! Cutting and pasting is A LOT easier than rewriting a step-by-step response each and every time someone emails you. Even if you need to edit a portion of the reply to better adhere to the person’s question, you’ll still save yourself a significant amount of time.
  2. Turn Off Video and Audio Alerts: Many of us start to feel overwhelmed when we’re trying to do too many things at once. You’re right in the middle of onboarding a new employee, and the phone won’t stop ringing and the emails won’t stop coming in. Force yourself into turning off the notifications and checking your inbox only at set times throughout the day. If you’re in the middle of something, the emails can likely wait. This will allow you to focus entirely on what you’re working on. And when it’s time to work through those unread items, you’ll be more relaxed with nothing else going on.
  3. DELETE: Remember that email conversation that went back and forth 45 times yesterday? If it was casual conversation or something that absolutely will not be needed at a later date, delete it! This will make searching for items in the future much easier.
  4. Make The Shift Toward Messenger: There are many messenger systems (Skype is one) that can easily be installed in the workplace and permit coworkers to communicate via conversation windows on their desktop. Messenger is perfect for asking your coworkers, boss, or HR manager quick and easy 1-line questions or comments. It’s also easier than walking down the hall into another department! This can prevent you from having an inbox full of quick 1-lined emails going back and forth.
  5. Use "Rules:" Many email programs permit you to establish "rules" to automatically filter messages. If there are a handful of people in your work life that are high volume senders you can have their emails forward into their own designated folder, rather than flooding your inbox.
  6. Get Rid of Junk Mail: Maybe it’s not considered junk to you, but daily horoscopes, news updates, social media happenings and more should go to your personal address – not your work address. On a slow day you’ll thoroughly enjoy them. But on busy days they’ll become your worst enemy; you’ll wonder why you ever subscribed to them in the first place! If you’re receiving unsolicited emails you don’t want to be receiving anywhere, be sure to update your spam settings and opt-out of all emails you do not wish to receive.

For best practices and various HR tips, follow our blog each week! If you have any questions, simply contact your HR Advisor at HR Shield: (877) 636-9525.