The answer to this question is short and simple: Yes. Your company most likely pays for diabetes in one way or another. Here’s why…

If you provide your employees with health insurance benefits, your company is likely paying for overall increased healthcare costs that factor in the cost of diabetes. 22.3 million people in the U.S have been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recently shared that the total cost of diabetes in 2012 alone was $245 billion, which resulted in higher overall healthcare costs for everyone.

But it’s not just health insurance costs that force a company to “pay” for diabetes. Think about your workforce. If your top performing sales employee has to leave work this year because an undiagnosed case of diabetes progresses into heart disease, kidney failure or blindness (this is not that uncommon), your company will immediately start losing money until he or she is back to work or replaced. When employees (sales employees especially) are sick and unable to work, the employer loses money. When they need to be replaced, turnover and the cost of hiring is very expensive, not to mention time consuming.

So, what can you do to prevent diabetes among your workforce this year?

Employee Wellness Programs – For starters, have an employee wellness program (EWP) in place. These programs don’t need to be time consuming or costly, either. The primary cause for type 2 diabetes is obesity and if we can create environments that promote, support and encourage healthy habits, we can have healthier employees. At HR Shield, we have an entire section of our blog dedicated to EWPs – click here to learn more!

Annual Eye Exams – An annual eye exam is the fastest and easiest way to detect and prevent advanced diabetes. If you’re able to raise awareness and encourage annual exams, you could prevent a health issue before it ever arises. If you’re able to sponsor an annual “eye exam” day for the workforce, that’s even better! As we’ve mentioned above, untreated diabetes can lead to serious health problems including heart disease, kidney failure or blindness.

For more information on employee health and wellness, as well as healthcare costs, call us at (877) 636-9525 or fill out the brief form found on our contact page. HR Shield offers immediate access to expert advice from licensed HR professionals.

For many employers, minimum wage plays a big role in determining just how much help you can afford to hire. You may have various entry-level exempt and non-exempt positions available at your company, but what if minimum wage increases in the upcoming year – will you be able to afford all of your non-exempt workers?

Here’s your head’s up for 2014! If you weren’t already aware, the following states will have mandatory increases:

State minimum wage changes effective on January 1, 2014:

  • Arizona: $7.90 per hour (currently $7.80)
  • Connecticut: $8.70 per hour (currently $8.25)
  • Florida: $7.93 per hour (currently $7.79)
  • Missouri: $7.50 per hour (currently $7.35)
  • Montana: $7.90 per hour (currently $7.80)
  • New Jersey: $8.25 per hour (currently $7.25)
  • Ohio: $7.95 per hour for businesses with annual gross receipts in excess of $292,000 per year (currently $7.85)
  • Oregon: $9.10 per hour (currently $8.95)
  • Rhode Island: $8.00 per hour (currently $7.75)
  • Vermont: $8.73 per hour (currently $8.60)
  • Washington: $9.32 per hour (currently $9.19)


Additionally, California’s state minimum wage will increase on July 1, 2014 to $9.00 an hour. Right now it is $8.00 per hour.

When you need one-on-one support with payroll, compliance or hiring, a quick call to your HR Advisor is all it takes to tap into our team of licensed experts—each with a minimum of ten years HR experience.  Need help? Contact us!

Are you a serial emoticoner? In order to answer that question, you probably have to know what an “emoticoner” is: someone who sends emoticons, pictorial representations of facial expressions. Examples below:

;-)         :-)         :-P       :-(

Many of us use emoticons in everyday forms of communication such as texts to our loved ones or emails to our friends, but is the workplace, particularly workplace email, really the place for that?

Ten years ago you probably would have easily answered that question “absolutely not.” After all, emails at work were intended to be strictly business and written in formal context. But, email communication among clients and coworkers has become a lot more laid back over the years, thus opening the door to the “emoticon issue.”

HR Florida Review and the Florida Institute of Technology recently set out to uncover the science behind the use of emoticons and found the following: emoticons reduce the negativity effect in the business-related email message. Lots can be lost in email translation and sometimes the recipient may think you are being harsh, when a simple “smiley” at the end of the sentence lightens the mood and lets the reader know you aren’t angry and are still on good terms.  However, those who use emoticons, while perceived as more friendly, were also perceived as less professional.

Here’s what we think at HR Shield: email messages that are not clear or require some type of emoticon to let the person know how you’re really feeling should really be conversations you have in-person or at the very least on the phone. Additionally, there are other ways to let people know how you feel outside of emoticons. In an earlier entry “HR Shield’s Lesson on Office Email Etiquette” we noted two things that are rather relevant to this subject:

End Emails With Positive Salutations: The subject of your email may not always be positive, in fact you may be delivering bad news. But, never fail to let people know they are in fact appreciated. Sign off with “Thank you,” “Regards,” “Much appreciated,” or other nice sayings. (This is a much more professional approach vs. utilizing emoticons).

Think Twice: Reread all emails before sending. If the message is not clear, or is left up to too much interpretation, do not send it. Think of a way to reword the message before creating an avoidable miscommunication, or, as we said earlier: have the conversation in-person if possible!

Also, think about your workplace and the culture you’d like to uphold. Are emoticons too unprofessional and childish? How do you want to be perceived as a colleague, manager, client, or vendor each time you send an email?

HR Shield is committed to helping improve office atmospheres everywhere.  From HR best practices and basic office protocol to benefits and taxes, we’re here to help. Need more support than our weekly blog? Contact your HR Shield Advisor at (877) 636-9525!

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.