Category Archives for "Business"

Re-opening essentials

8 Essentials for Re-opening that are good for your business and your team

8 Essentials for Re-opening that are good for your business and your team

Business owners everywhere from companies of 1 to 1000's are working hard to adjust to the new normal in the world and the workplace. Whether the changes for your business are temporary, transitional or looking pretty permanent, there is a timeless approach that will help get you and your team back on track when re-opening. It's all about communication. Yes we know ... it sounds like a cliché. But even if you're already pretty good at it, 2020 call for paying even more attention to what and how you communicate with your group. 

As you bring your people back or bring new hires in, here are a few tips to help everyone feel more confident, focused and energized in the back-to-business phase and beyond. 

Talk business with your people ... often, openly, clearly. Even if your people trust you are taking care of their safety, they also need to know details about business logistics. Start with clarity about hours, pay and expectations so people know how policies and expecially any changes might impact their personal life and responsibilities. 

People also want to know about the business as a whole and how new directions or new practices might affect their ability to do their best work and how any changes will affect customers. Good people care about the big picture for the business and tend to worry if they feel service or standards are unclear or compromised.

Be open about any uncertainties you may be figuring out as you go. Let your team know where you're at on those issues, including what's worrying you. Even if you don't have answers, they'll appreciate your honesty and quite likely have good ideas for solving problems. When people feel involved and informed, they are more engaged. 

Ask, listen and learn about personal concerns. It's not that you want or need to hear all the details and stories, nor do you want to pry. But the pandemic has taken a toll in different ways for different people, from financial stress, the demands of work-from-home, loss of social or work connections, or concerns about child or elder care. The more you know what's going on with your people, the more you're equipped to offer meaningful benefits. And simply offering a word of understanding and encouragement in a world of uncertainty goes a long way. 

Ask your people what’s working for them individually, what’s not, and what’s causing stress on the job.  While you may not be able to do anything about a situation, just being aware of a team member’s particular worries or challenges, at work or at home, will give you insight on who might be struggling and where a simple adjustment could make a differenceWhen people feel the boss and colleagues care, they are more focused and committed. 

Offer the best benefits you can.  With distancing rules, personal caution and budget constraints, perks such as lunches, happy hours and gym memberships are on hold, likely for a long time. Instead, flexible work schedules, extended lunch hours for chores that now take twice as long, coupons for family take-out, or a contribution to improved home office tools are examples of the new benefits people appreciate. 

Health insurance is quickly becoming a most valued benefit. People are more concerned than ever about their health and their finances. There are some excellent, low cost options that work for businesses of all sizes, from 1-2 person shops to large groups of contract workers. If you aren’t able to cover even a portion of the bill, you can still provide information and recommend a good plan and broker. Your people will trust a suggestion from you and appreciate that you’ve helped with the homework involved in finding good insurance. 

Focus on wellness, from setting an example to encouraging awareness and self-careespecially when it comes to mental healthMake sure your people know about complimentary counseling and other resources available through your insurance (if you have a plan). Post information on community resources that can help with stress, anxiety and building coping skills and resilience for demanding times.  

Let’s not kid ourselves. While re-opening and heading back to business is a welcome relief, it’s not business as usual. But with awareness and a few simple, tangible strategies, you can help your team move forward from uncertainty and strain to feel more informed, confident, focused and productive. Healthier for them and the business. 



health insurance after termination

Health insurance after job loss

health insurance after layoff

What you need to know about health insurance if you are laid off or terminated

Along with all the other stress of job loss or change, uncertainty about your insurance is a concern you don't need at this time. If you were covered under an employee plan, your benefits will change and eventually stop. Here are a few points to help you understand what happens to your health insurance after termination and what to consider in order to protect yourself and your family.  

If you are temporarily laid off  

While not required, coverage is often continued through the duration of the temporary layoff, typically up to 3 months. However, this timeframe is at the discretion of your employer. It’s important to ask how long each benefit will remain in place (life, disability and health insurance). Maintaining benefits coverage is one factor that may allow a temporary layoff to extend beyond three months. However, extension is not the usual practice and requires specific agreement between the insurance company and your employer.  

If you've been terminated now or temporary lay off turns into permanent termination

Benefits can continue for a short period after your job ends but the length of time varies. It is based on a formula of factors including the rules in your province, your length of service and the terms of your job / employment contractIt’s important to receive specifics from your former employer about the end date of your benefits and check your provincial legislation to ensure your rights are met. You can see guidelines for Ontario requirements for the period following notice of termination here. 

Options to replace your benefits exist but some are only open for a short time after your current plan ends.  

If you’ve been terminated or are otherwise losing your coverage, there are other good plans to consider. Some are tied directly to the date your current plan ends and only available for a short time.  It’s important to know that you don’t necessarily have to go with the option your employer or current benefit provider suggests. If you’re healthy, you’ll find better value at lower cost elsewhereWhat’s important is that you gather the information now.  You don’t want to miss a deadline for transfer to a new plan, pay too much, or take the risk of having no insurance at all. 

We strongly advise you to talk to your employer and an insurance advisor now.     

These typical practices are guidelines only and not cast in stone. Unusual circumstances could result in something entirely different.  If an employer shuts down the business, declares bankruptcy or is going through financial hardship such as the pandemic-caused downturn, there are no hard and fast rules about continuing employee benefits and no guarantees for you. We advise you to get the facts now about the status of your benefits and understand your options for disabilitylife and especially health insurance

We're always glad to answer your questions and especially in these uncertain times. 

Note: If you’re a business owner who has let people go or need coverage yourself, Health Plus plans are a very good option to suggest to your people or consider for yourself in place of a typical employee plan. They are more affordable and flexible than traditional group insurance. Visit Health Plus for Teams for more information on benefits for owners and teams or contact us.  

Support small business

How Everyone Can Support Small Business Today

How Everyone Can Support Small Business Today

The COVID-19 pandemic is a scary time for all of us. We’re concerned about our health and the health of our loved ones. The economy is taking a hit. And the uncertainty of how long this will last or how much worse it will get is making everyone anxious. While the mass shuttering of businesses for the foreseeable future may be the best thing for the health of Canadians it is no doubt an especially harsh reality for small business owners and employees. Small businesses are a huge part of Canada’s economy so we want them not merely to survive but to thrive. Here are some ways we can continue to support small business and independent workers through these tough times 

Shop Local Online

With physical locations closed, many of us are turning to online shopping both for necessities and luxuries to help get us through this time. Many small businesses have already done a great job of transitioning or expanding to serve their communities online. You can find almost everything you need online, groceries, self-care items, virtual business services, art, your favourite band tee, the list goes on.  Before you click the purchase button consider how much money stays in your local community. When possible try to shop local and arrange contactless delivery or pick up.  

Order for Delivery or Pickup

As places where people gather, restaurants and bars have been especially hard hit. If you’ve overestimated your cooking skills the past few weeks or simply want to try something new, consider ordering from one of the local spots that have remained open for take-out or delivery Some restaurants are even offering meal kits if you want to try recreating a favourite recipe at home. For your virtual cocktail hour, consider ordering from a local brewery, winery or distillery. Many are offering free or discounted delivery rates.  

Purchase a Gift Card

It will support small business owners now with immediate cash flow as they’re dealing with closures or reduced sales and feel great to use later. Many businesses even offer virtual gift cards you can purchase and use online. Buy from a favourite restaurant, café, independent shop or practitioner whose services you love or from somewhere you’ve been meaning to try. It will be something to look forward to or make a great gift.

Like, Comment, Share or Subscribe   

We’ve probably all been spending more time than we care to admit on social media in recent weeks. Why not engage in a positive way? Liking, commenting and sharing helps businesses connect with their customers virtually, build credibility, and reach new audiences.  

Write a Review 

Small businesses often rely on word of mouth and positive reviews to get people in the store, making purchases, or signing up for services. If you’ve had a good experience, let people knowIt will help business owners feel appreciated and help new customers to choose local when searching for a similar experience. 

Share Your Digital Skills or Start a Virtual Project

If you have digital or social media skills, consider offering to help a local business owner improve their online presence. Or, reach out to a freelancer or small business to hire and move forward with a digital project yourself. There are a lot of incredibly talented professionals well-versed in working virtually who can help with everything from traditional digital work such as web design or online content, to health coaching or interior design. 

Stay Home

Above all else, follow the advice of Public Health authorities and stay home. Respect physical distancing guidelines and do everything you can to limit the spread of COVID-19. The better job we do right now, the sooner small businesses can resume operations, get back to business, and continue to strengthen our communities.  

Workplace wellness

4 Workplace Wellness Tips for Small Business

4 Workplace Wellness Tips for Small Business

Running a small business is tough. You’re often taking on the tasks of more than one person, which can mean taking on the extra stress as well. This makes a workplace wellness plan all the more important. Whether it’s just you or you have a team, investing in wellness can lead to increased productivity and positively impact employee satisfaction. Ultimately, healthy people lead to healthier business.   

 So, what exactly is “workplace wellness” anyway? The term workplace wellness usually refers to a number of programs aimed to improve employee physical and mental health. These might include stress management, fitness and nutrition, or smoking cessation programs, and can be educational or activity-oriented.   

 Workplace wellness programs don’t have to be expensive or complicated, two things you definitely don’t need in a small business. Here are 4 tips to implement a workplace wellness initiative that works for you.   

1.   Identify what type of "wellness" you actually want or need

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to fitness and health in life or in the workplace. The first step to planning a wellness initiative is figuring out what issues you and your team are facing. This doesn't need to be complicated or intrusive. Get input from your team about their biggest stressors and health concerns and ideas for how to improve. If it’s just you, think of a wellness challenge you’re facing or what helps you relax or feel physically or mentally energized. Then choose an activity or initiative that fits you and your team. Not everyone wants lunchtime goat yoga, no matter how trendy it might be. Is a running group, meditation break, or healthy snack sharing more your speed? 

2.  It starts with your workspace

Where you work matters. Our workspace is often where we spend the majority of our waking hours, which means it can have a big influence on both our mental and physical health. Good news, small changes can have a big impact. Research has shown that sitting at a desk for too long is incredibly detrimental to our health. Try standing meetings, or use reminders to take a walk break. If poor air quality or low light are an issue, it may be as simple as a lamp, air filter, or diffuser. Check whether your workspace has secure bike storage if you'd like to encourage alternate transportation. Revamp your lounge or break space to encourage your team to take a mental break throughout the day and make connections with one another. Implement a healthy snacks only rule for shared food if you’re trying to encourage healthier eating.  

3.  Communicate & write it down

For any new wellness activity or initiative, small or large, you’ll need to communicate it to your team. Get them involved and engaged in the process. Put up affirmations or reminders in the office of what your goals are. Create a team board, online or in the office, that is your place for all things wellness. Even if it’s just you in your business, writing down your wellness goals will help keep you accountable.   

4.  Learn what resources are available to you

While you may not have the budget to hire an outside company to curate an entire wellness program just for you or administer additional health and fitness benefits, you can utilize resources already available to you to help inspire a new wellness idea, or provide educational tools.  If you already have health benefits, look into what wellness resources are included. Many health plans, including Health Plus, include wellness tools to help their members kickstart a healthier lifestyle. Other online resources, such as those from Canada's Healthy Workplaces Month, give great ideas for wellness activities for a variety of goals.   

Wellness isn't a one-and-done activity but a lifelong process. However, getting started can be a lot easier than you might think. And, if you find the right activity for you, it can end up being a lot of fun with huge rewards, both personally and professionally. 

Coworking Guest Blog

Feeling Healthier – and Happier – with Coworking

Just as insurance must change to fit the new world of work, where we work is changing too. We know it can be hard to find good benefits when you’re on your own.  Our friends, the Rostie Group recognize it can also be a challenge to find the right work space. In our first guest blog, the Rostie team explains why co-working might just be the answer and why it’s good for your business and your health.  

Feeling Healthier - and Happier - with Coworking 

In a rapidly changing world, your options for where you shop, live, and even work are broader than they’ve ever been. Entire enterprises can be started and run out of a mobile phone and a laptop.

If you’ve started your own business, you’re a freelancer or do gig work, it can be tempting to set up a home office and call it a day. But you’ll quickly find out that staying in and doing all your work from home may start affecting your creativity, discipline and social skills.

A coworking space can not only help alleviate those symptoms, but may even boost your well-being, and provide new opportunities for business.

Coworking Boosts Creativity

Surrounding yourself with familiar sights may make you comfortable, but true creativity does not come from comfort. It instead comes from the diversity in people and in the places around you. In a coworking space, there is diversity and inspiration. You will meet people who you may have never come across in your neighbourhood, and their own stories and ideas will excite and engage you.

Coworking helps with discipline

Anyone can enjoy a day working from home. Sometimes we all need a moment away from the office. But just as above, the same surroundings that make us comfortable, may also lead to lower productivity. If you can take a nap during the day in your own bed, why wouldn’t you? A nap turns into a longer lunch, which can turn into entire days off.

Having a place to go everyday, to set up and work, and then return home can help with your discipline – to have a clear line between home and work.

Coworking grows your social skills

Humans are social animals. We require company and others around us to develop social cues and learn from each other. While there is nothing wrong with some alone time, historically work has been the place where social relationships have developed. 

A coworking space allows you to still have that camaraderie and interaction with other people that is necessary. Even if you don’t all work for the same company.

Coworking allows you to expand your business via networking

The key to expanding your business is networking. Getting to know other entrepreneurs and workers who have either started their own businesses, or are part of a small team. As entrepreneurs working in the same space, they understand the value and product, and will be your easiest sales.

Additionally, they can help you by telling you what services are helping their business, strategies for growth, and what’s worked for their own business. It’s the sense of community that you can’t get anywhere else.

If you are ready to give coworking a try, either temporarily or permanently, take a look at The Rostie Group in Toronto. They offer daily and monthly coworking options, that all include the following:

  • 24/7 access to 20 Bay Street, WaterPark Place, 11th floor Coworking Room
  • 20 Bay St. business address with mail handling and Reception Services
  • Hi-speed wireless Internet connection
  • 30% Off Meeting Room rates, including 8 free hours of small Meeting Room usage per month
  • Access to a phone at your dedicated desk with a locked filing cabinet upon request
  • Use of business services (printer/fax/copier/admin) (additional charges apply)
  • Use of the Rostie Group Lounge and Kitchen
  • Invitations to all social gatherings, events and networking activities
  • Discounted TriFit gym membership for WaterPark Place tenants only
  • And complimentary coffee