Broker blog from Delta Dental

Tag: workplace tips

Client considerations for COVID-19 vaccines

The speed and efficacy with which COVID-19 vaccines have been developed is a testament to human ingenuity and the drive to create a safer world for us all. The three vaccines that are widely available in the U.S. (Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson) have all received emergency authorization by the FDA after demonstrating both efficacy and safety, but there are other issues your clients may want to consider when deciding on how to approach a vaccine policy.

What options do employers have?

There are three main courses of action your clients could take when it comes to employees and vaccines:

  • Do nothing. This means choosing not to implement a company-wide vaccine policy and not advocating for and encouraging vaccinations. Doing nothing may not be the optimal choice from a public health perspective, but it’s certainly a valid one from a legal standpoint. Mandating or incentivizing vaccination could help to reduce increased costs or absenteeism from employees, but it can also lead to exposure to legal liability depending on how such policies are implemented (and how litigious employees are).
  • Encourage and incentivize vaccination. This is a gentler approach than outright mandating vaccinations as a condition of continued employment. Encouraging employees to get vaccinated is legally safe, although it may run the risk of upsetting employees who don’t believe in vaccination, who have concerns about vaccine safety, who have health considerations that keep them from getting vaccinated or who simply don’t like feeling pressured when it comes to managing their health. Incentives, such as offering paid time off or a bonus to employees who get vaccinated, must be carefully implemented, however. Aside from the cost considerations that comes with bonuses and incentives, employers may find themselves legally liable for any issues that arise from implementing on-site vaccinations.
  • Mandate vaccination. This is an aggressive option, but it’s certainly the most effective from the point of prioritizing the health and safety of employees. Mandating that employees get vaccinated is generally legal (although it may not be in some states), but it’s possible that some implementations could put your clients at legal risk (for example, setting up on-site vaccinations or inquiring about employees’ personal health to determine their eligibility for vaccination).

Which employees should get vaccinated first?

Until vaccines become more widely available, it’s best to prioritize employees who are most vulnerable to exposure and at greatest risk of complications from COVID-19. Of course, in health care and senior care industries, everyone with regular contact with the ill and elderly should be vaccinated. Outside of these industries, your clients should consider prioritizing:

  • Employees who work in close physical contact
  • Employees who have regular exposure to customers and other members of the public
  • Employees who have regular exposure to heavily trafficked enclosed spaces, food products or other settings where infection may be a risk
  • Employees who are 65 or older
  • Employees who are 16–65 with underlying medical conditions that increase the risk of life-threatening COVID-19 complications

What are the risks of implementing a vaccine policy?

Your clients could get into legal trouble if pre-screening vaccination questions aren’t job-related and consistent with the requirements of their businesses. To avoid this outcome, they should make sure that any pre-screening questions are related to the job and that they can prove that unvaccinated employees pose a direct threat to the health and safety of other employees. Similarly, your clients could get into legal trouble if they attempt to prevent workers’ concerted activity, such as expressing opposition to mandatory vaccines.

Employers should make sure to follow state and local laws, as well. Some locales may have prohibitions against mandating vaccines that more strict than state or federal law.

Setting a policy and moving forward

Before settling on the policy that’s best for their company and their employees, there are a few final things your clients should consider.

  • Make sure to follow all federal, state and local laws. Your clients won’t want to put their organization at risk of legal exposure. It’s best to do some research and stay up-to-date on the latest laws and regulations.
  • Get a sense of how their employees feel. If your clients have employees who feel very strongly about vaccines, either adopting a mandatory policy or doing nothing may cause disquiet. Taking surveys of employee sentiments can be a good way to decide how to craft a message.
  • Identify who should be doing the communication. Figures like respected managers, team leaders and union officials can be excellent ambassadors for company policies, especially in larger organizations where employees may not have personal relationships with upper management.
  • Be transparent. As always, communication is key when it comes to rolling out new policies that can affect employees’ work lives. Your clients should let employees know both what their COVID-19 vaccine policy is and how that position was reached. They should be sure to listen to and address employee concerns, even if the company’s policy remains firm.

Regardless of what policy your clients decide to implement, wearing masks and respecting social distancing will stay important aspects of infection management. Even as vaccines become more readily available, maintaining practices and procedures to minimize the chance of infection and help their entire organization stay healthy is essential.

5 ways to transform your commute from pain to gain

4‑minute read

Do you live in a metropolitan area in the United States? If you don’t walk or bike to work or exclusively work from home, we bet we can guess how you feel about your commute. Let’s take a look at average commute times by some major metropolitan areas:

  • New York City — 34.7 minutes
  • Washington, D.C. — 32.8 minutes
  • Chicago — 30.8 minutes
  • Oakland — 29.9 minutes
  • Atlanta — 29.2 minutes

Let’s simplify by supposing the average person’s commute time is 30 minutes. You’re looking at an hour-long commute if you go both ways without making any stops. No stopping for gas, no picking up the kids or grabbing the groceries you forgot over the weekend. That’s an hour that you’ve potentially wasted.

But it doesn’t have to be wasted time. In fact, you can even get a jump start on your workday with these tips for making your commute more productive — grouped by drivers and public transit commuters.

For drivers (listening activities only!)

Did you know talking on a hand-held cellphone is banned in 16 states, plus Washington, D.C.?  Hands-free driving is not only safe — in many states it’s also the law.

Here are some commute productivity tips for drivers:

  • Listen to a podcast. These days there’s a podcast for everything. If you’re looking for business insights or news to inspire your workday, check out this guide to the best business podcasts. For those wanting to boost their health or fitness, this comprehensive list has a podcast to help you reach just about any wellness goal. If you prefer using your commute to catch up on life outside of the office, here are some great suggestions to keep you updated on news and current events.
  • Listen to an audiobook. If you’re trying to escape reality on your daily commute, audiobooks are a great option (just don’t get so engrossed you forget you’re driving!). There are far too many to parse out a complete list of suggestions, but we’ll take a shot at naming a few standout titles from recent years. Some popular fiction titles include All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. In the comedy genre, try Calypso by David Sedaris for some serious laughs. For more suggestions, here are 101 more titles you can check out.

For public transit commuters (who have their hands free)

For commuters who are able to use their hand-held devices, there’s a little more room for productivity. Here are a few tips for those riding to work on public transit:

  • Set your priorities. Try a productivity app like Wunderlist, Evernote, MindMeister or Pocket. The functions vary by app, but in general they help you organize lists, tasks, ideas and resources. You can organize your thoughts, bookmark things to read later, or create a collaborative grocery list.
  • Get your mind right. It may seem counterintuitive, but more screen time may just help ease stress, anxiety and other mental health ailments. Headspace and Calm help ease stress and anxiety with guided meditation, breathing exercises and soothing sounds. Stigma is a journaling and mood tracking app that can help those who suffer from anxiety or mood disorders to identify trends, and even connect with peers through a messaging function. And for those who don’t wish to (or can’t) go to counseling or therapy, Talkspace offers an affordable, convenient solution.
  • Learn a new language. Want to add a skill to your résumé or CV? Duolingo and Rosetta Stone make it easy to learn a new language on the go, with guided lessons and assessment tools.

We hope these tips help make your commute a pleasure rather than a pain by increasing your productivity, delivering a laugh, helping you administer some self-care or just providing some entertainment.


Have any suggestions, or want to share your progress? Send us a quick email at blogs@delta.org.

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4 ways to create a motivating workspace

2‑minute read

Man leaning over laptop in office

Earlier this year, we shared how celebrating your employees can boost happiness and productivity. While showing appreciation for employees is key, it’s not the only way to inspire a workforce. To take engagement and productivity into your own hands, consider designing your perfect work environment. Check out our tips below to learn how the right office décor can help you perform your best work.

1. Don’t fear color.

What color are the walls in your workspace? Are you surrounded by neutral tones or bold color? Research suggests that certain colors can affect a person’s productivity. If you want to spark some creativity in your space, try incorporating the color purple. If a laid-back vibe is what you want to evoke, try adding more blue and green to your surroundings. If you don’t want to saturate your entire workplace in color, consider adding a few statement items to match the energy you’re after.

2. Bring the outside in.

You know how we just said green is a calming color? This is great news if your workplace has a view — nature is full of it! Try arranging your desk in a way that maximizes your view of the outdoors. What if your windows look out to a concrete jungle? Create your own lush landscape by decorating your space with plants and hanging artwork inspired by nature.

 3. Let there be (sun)light.

While we all know too much sunlight can be harmful, sunlight in moderation can have mood-lifting benefits and may even help you stay focused.

“Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused.” – Healthline Media  

Keep the blinds open to let as much natural light in as possible. If your workspace lacks natural light, resist the urge to crank up the overhead lights, which can be a nightmare for migraine sufferers. Instead, try a dimmable desk lamp that will allow you to adjust your lighting depending on your mood.

4. Live your brand.

A great way to get you excited about work is to keep inspiration right in front of you. Why not display your company’s mission statement on a wall? What about fastening your favorite quotes or motivational imagery to your work space? Find what motivates you to focus and check tasks off your to-do list and remind yourself of it. By immersing yourself in your company’s brand or your own brand of motivation, you’re investing in your own productivity, goals and success.


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7 ways to make workplace meetings more productive

Are you regularly engaging with your team members at work? Whether you’re an individual contributor or in a leadership role, refresh your knowledge on the advantages of team meetings, including building trust, fostering innovation, sharing feedback and celebrating successes.

Brainstorming Meeting

Whether staff meetings are common practice at your organization or you’re considering implementing team collaboration, here are a few tips for making the most of your time:

  1. Make it a routine

Start by making your meetings an expected — almost natural — part of your team’s work schedule. Add a recurring appointment on your calendar or set reminders for team engagement so people anticipate the meeting and prepare properly. (More on preparation in a bit.)

  1. Consider location, location, location 

It may sound odd, but the popular real estate mantra also applies to team meetings. Did you know that factors like room temperature, the amount of natural light and even the color of walls can affect how productive or focused people are at work?

You may even consider taking your meeting outside the office. Depending on the occasion, you may meet to plan a project at a local coffee shop, discuss goals and progress over lunch, or celebrate a big win with a round of miniature golf.

Wherever you decide to meet, ensure the setting is appropriate and suited to optimize your team’s focus.

  1. Present information in a way that resonates

Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, recently revealed that the company’s meeting culture is “the weirdest […] you will ever encounter.” And that may not be a bad thing.

The CEO cited the way information is presented at executive meetings — as six-page narrative memos — as an example of said culture. This style could help foster better reading, writing and listening skills among meeting participants. And it forces meeting attendees to do the required reading. (Anyone getting flashbacks from their high school or college English instructor?)

Bezos’s presentation style may not work for you, but carefully consider the best way to share information with your team. It may be a presentation, a video, a list of references to consider, etc. If you really want to up the fun factor, consider some of these innovative ways deliver engaging meeting content.

  1. Prioritize preparation and set an example

Speaking of doing the required reading, you should make preparation a key requirement for meetings. Send a detailed agenda with any supporting resources beforehand, and don’t skimp on said resources. If your team needs a report, statistics, contextual information, etc. to be productive during the meeting, provide it in advance.

During the meeting, reinforce how crucial preparation is. You may even ban “thinking out loud” unless the meeting is primarily focused on brainstorming.

  1. Encourage creative development

A meeting where attendees are not allowed, or encouraged, to think creatively, offer suggestions and provide candid feedback will most likely not lead to innovation and improved trust. But don’t take our word for it — here are tips from 15 members of the Forbes Coaches Council on promoting creativity at work.

  1. Facilitate compromises when necessary 

We know that a culture promoting collaboration and candor can also lead to creative conflict. Be prepared to facilitate professional disagreements by encouraging compromises during meetings.

One of the most important tips in compromising is a classic — choose your battles. Know what your team’s goals are, communicate them effectively, and know when to compromise based on your objectives.

  1. Cancel if you need to

Even though it’s important to make team engagement a regular part of your work schedule, it’s definitely acceptable to cancel a meeting here and there. In fact, in some cases it may be for the best. If you don’t have much to discuss or work through, don’t meet for the sake of meeting.

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Step o’clock: 7 ways to fit more activity into your work day

4‑minute read

If you work a desk job, you’ve probably heard the warnings about a sedentary lifestyle at least a few (dozen) times. Many of us spend the majority of our time sitting at work. In fact, insurance sales agents in particular spend more than 80% of their workday sitting, on average.

young employees walking down hallway

We’ve all got important work to do in the office and personal lives to maintain, so it sometimes seems impossible to meet the ever-elusive 10,000 steps. In fact, when ranked by citizens’ average steps per day, the United States comes in at 30 out of 46 countries with an average daily step count of 4,774.

Let’s step it up! Here are some ways to implement more mobility in your workday:

1. Set a reminder to walk around once per hour

Sometimes breaking a lofty goal into smaller, achievable segments is the most effective route to success (as we’ve covered in a previous post). Aim for two to three minutes of activity per hour to keep your blood flowing and your mind fresh.

Many fitness trackers will remind you to move each hour, but you can track activity on your own by setting a calendar reminder and sticking to the time goal.

2. Eat a healthy snack on the go

Are you a grazer? If you eat several small meals throughout the day, try eating one or two on the move. It’s tempting to continue working or catch up on news and social media on these little breaks, but a lap around the office may be the best addition to your fruit or granola bar.

3. Switch up your commute — take public transit and get off a stop or two early

If you don’t already take the train or bus, just trying it out can increase your daily activity as you move around stations, switch routes and travel to and from your final destination. And if you’re already a public transit rider, try getting off a stop or two early and walking the remainder of your route.

If we use an average of about one kilometer between bus stops, you could easily walk a 5K during your workday. One kilometer is about 1,300 steps, so adding an extra kilometer of walking each way would fulfill more than 25% of your 10,000 step goal without any additional activity the rest of the day.

4. Park in the back forty

Bookend your workday with light activity by parking further away from the office. We know it’s tempting to beat Bob to the best spot in the lot, but you’re the real winner when you’re improving your health.

5. Take the stairs

Taking the stairs is classic advice for working in more activity, but it’s also a great way to level-up your daily activity goals. Walking around is certainly better than standing, but climbing up and down stairs for even a few minutes boosts the intensity of your daily activity.

Depending on weight, people burn 450 calories per hour on average climbing up and down stairs. If you climb for only two minutes, you could burn around 15 calories.

6. Opt for a longer route to perform daily tasks

Going to the restroom? Getting water? Grabbing copies off the printer? Great — but switch up your route. Try using a restroom on the opposite side of the building, or on another floor. Instead of taking a direct path to the printer, weave in and out of some cubicles. Bonus points for saying hello to coworkers you don’t get to see often!

7. Drink up

Hydration is a key element of an overall wellness routine (including oral health!), and you can use water and steps as a wellness double whammy. Keep water at your desk and try to take at least several sips each hour. You’ll stay hydrated — and when nature calls, you’re being more active with each trip to the restroom (especially if you take the long way). Funny little coincidence, huh?


We hope these tips can get you and your employees up and moving. Have any suggestions, or want to share your progress? Send us a quick email at blogs@delta.org.

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