Tag Archives: business

Controlling Corporate Healthcare Costs

5 Simple Steps to Reduce Costs and Improve Care

By Dr. Josh Luke

Josh Luke-healthcareAfter working on his own as an independent healthcare insurance broker for several years, Ryan recently took a job with a bigger brokerage. When he broke the news to his wife that the company he joined did not offer a traditional PPO or HMO insurance plan, she wasn’t thrilled. After all, Americans have been conditioned to these models for years.

A few weeks later, Ryan’s wife woke up and found one of their three children not feeling well, and she immediately grew frustrated as she knew what that meant: she would have to cancel her plans for the day and arrange alternative plans to carpool her other two children to school so she could take her sick child to the doctor. She immediately went to the mobile app on her phone to schedule an appointment at her child’s doctor’s office, only to learn that a telehealth consult with a physician could be scheduled remotely within the hour. So she gave it a try.

Ten minutes later, from the couch in her living room, a physician conducted a telehealth appointment remotely via Ryan’s wife’s mobile phone. After asking a few questions of the mother and child, the doctor advised that he had written a prescription for the child and it would be available for pick up within 30 minutes at her regular pharmacy.

It turns out mom didn’t have to cancel her carpool schedule at all, nor re-arrange her schedule for the day. That was it.The more employees that engage in smart healthcare decisions, the more your company and the employee both stand to save. Click To Tweet

The irony of this story? The American healthcare delivery model is fragmented and broken, yet our innate desire to resist any sort of change keeps us clinging to ineffective plans such as a PPO’s or HMO’s. Stories like this exemplify how inane that resistance to change truly is.

New alternative approaches to providing employees and employee family member’s healthcare are sweeping the country. But you are not likely to ever hear about them unless you ask your broker. Why? Your broker is like a realtor, the more money you pay, the more they make.

So, it’s time to ask! When you do ask, you will learn that the more employees that engage in smart healthcare decisions, the more your company and the employee both stand to save. So creating a work environment that encourages smart, engaged healthcare decisions is the key. Many of these corporate offerings are turn-key and simply require your organization to contract with an organization and move forward! Here is a list of several offerings that could provide improved care and access to your employees, while drastically reducing your company’s overall healthcare costs.

1. Telehealth options: As discussed above, when used as an alternative to a primary care visit, both telehealth and 24-hour call lines can reduce wasteful spending and eliminate unnecessary delays in care.

2. Disease Specific Programs: The old saying that 10 percent of your employees account for more than 90 percent of your overall spending is never truer than in healthcare. Expenses on chronic diseases like diabetes can be reduced drastically if your company invests in and offers a prevention program for employees at risk for diabetes.

3. DNA Testing: Companies offering voluntary DNA testing or genome sequencing for employees are finding that the potential to save thousands on unnecessary medications and preventable chronic diseases has a swift return on investment. DNA test identify which medications are ineffective on an individual and also identify those who are pre-disposed to acquire several forms of cancer.

4. Integrative, Functional or Naturopathic medicine consults: The reemergence of natural methods to live healthier and prevent increased likelihood of chronic disease by better understanding each individual’s body composition has proven to be a quick return on investment as well.

5. Local Medical Tourism: Employees who choose a Center of Excellence, or in-network provider may save a few thousand dollars, but your company can save anywhere from 40,000 dollars to 80,000 dollars on major procedures. Making sure employees understand that the quality of care at both facilities is comparable often is enough to convince them to choose the in-network provider. And if not, why not offer to pay their personal co-pay if it saves the company 20,000 dollars or more?

Companies all over the country are proving that simple tactics like this can produce quick results. Not only will the employee and employer save significant dollars in year one, but you are also likely to see enhanced access to care, improved quality and an increase in overall employee morale as a result.

Keep in mind that you don’t even need to tackle all of these tactics in the first year. Many companies have had great success starting with two or three of these tactics and adding others later.

Of late, companies like Walmart, Disney, Apple, Amazon, JP Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway have all declared war on healthcare costs. Isn’t it time that your organization declare your tipping point on wasteful and excessive healthcare spending?

Dr. Josh Luke is a celebrated speaker, award-winning Futurist, a faculty member at the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy, and author of Health—Wealth: 9 Steps to Financial Recovery. Drawing on his experiences as a hospital CEO, Dr. Luke delivers engaging and entertaining keynotes that teach audiences simple concepts on how individuals and companies can save thousands on healthcare. For more information on Dr. Josh Luke, please visit: www.DrJoshLuke.com.

Stop Falling Behind Your Competitors

Seven Steps to Gain a Competitive Advantage

By Brad Wolff

Brad WolffDoesn’t it seem that business is more competitive and difficult than it used to be? ABC, Inc. experienced this challenging business atmosphere firsthand. A building materials manufacturer that previously dominated their marketplace, ABC suffered staggering losses in the previous fiscal year. It became blindingly apparent that what had worked in the past was no longer effective, and the company president had no idea how to fix things. It was time to use proven techniques for achieving a competitive advantage.

ABC engaged a firm that identified the root causes of their problems. After two years, sales and profits dramatically increased—even with the same leaders. The results came from a seven-step process based on sound principles that put a focus on leveraging their internal talent. If you find your business falling behind, you can follow ABC, Inc.’s lead by putting these seven steps into practice.

1. Employee alignment

When a significant percentage of duties performed by employees don’t fit their innate characteristics or core nature, they won’t perform well. For example, people low in detail orientation doing work that requires high detail. Training and development, management encouragement and other well-intended efforts will not fix alignment issues. As Peter Drucker said, “A manager’s task is to make the strengths of people effective and their weaknesses irrelevant.”Personal growth results in professional growth. Click To Tweet

2. Creating a competitive advantage through a culture of personal growth and development

In truth, personal growth results in professional growth. It results in a greater capacity to handle life challenges, accomplish long-term goals and work well with others. Personal growth and development includes an increased awareness of self and others, the ability to manage one’s ego, ability to manage emotions and development of innate talents to maximize productivity and effectiveness. Most performance issues that managers complain about relate to one or more of the above. These are fundamental character traits of success.

3. Aligning employees with the mission and vision of the organization

Human beings have an innate need for meaning and purpose in what they do. This means that they care about how their efforts affect the world outside themselves—people, the environment, animals, etc. For example, take assembly line workers that produce incubators for premature babies. In one scenario the workers are only told to mechanically perform the prescribed duties. In the other scenario they are crystal clear about the importance the quality of their work has on the survival of infants. Which workers do you think are more motivated? Engagement and performance are directly affected by people’s connection to the outcomes of their work.

4. Aligning employees with the culture and values of the organization

People need to feel that they fit in with their social groups. Employees who are significantly out of sync with an organization’s culture and values will never make their highest contribution. Having perfect alignment is not the goal, since diversity of thought and behavior allow a culture to adapt and thrive. However, significant misalignments are damaging. It’s also important for leaders to consider whether they should change their culture. Examples of this would include a culture that they know is toxic and when there’s shrinking population of workers who fit the current culture. In both cases, without the ability to attract and retain needed talent, organizations will fail.

5. Aligning roles and responsibilities with organization’s strategies and goals

In today’s environment, organizational goals and strategies must change to adapt. Frequently, roles and supporting job duties don’t adequately change to align with these shifts. When this occurs, some or much of employee work efforts are out of alignment and can impair the ability to achieve the desired outcomes. For example, a company changes strategy to shift most customer communications from telephone to online, yet the employees’ duties and training continue to focus on telephone communications.

6. Assessing personal and professional weaknesses, starting from the top

Weaknesses are the negative side of strengths. It’s impossible to have a strength without its vulnerable side. We’ve been taught to hide or deny our weaknesses despite them being obvious to others. Our ego’s impulse to protect our self-image is normal but counterproductive. It hinders our true potential from being realized—a loss to the organization and ourselves. When leaders openly and honestly acknowledge “challenge areas,” this sets the example for others. The organization opens the door to growth and development.

7. Committing to work on the personal and professional challenges discovered in the assessment process

Studies on human potential and positive change demonstrate that self-awareness is the first step—but it’s not the last. Committing to take steps (starting with baby steps) and taking them allows for the development of positive habits that create lasting positive change. Deliberate change intended to meet the needs of your environment creates a flexible, adaptive organization—one that is poised to thrive despite the torrent of unpredictable/unwanted change that defines your world. Thriving in an unpredictable world is about you. Your willingness to acknowledge change that you don’t like, openly discuss it and consistently take the actions required to adapt and emerge stronger.

At the end of the day, leaders are simply making choices that define the present and future of themselves and their organizations. There’s nothing magical about the most effective leaders. They’re just making more effective choices. These choices encompass how they decide to see the world, their openness to challenge their beliefs and their willingness to experiment with innovative ideas that can capture breakthrough advantages. Equally important choices include their willingness to objectively look at themselves and take actions to grow in areas. They choose to become a greater, more effective version of themselves. They know that what they demonstrate (not what they say) is what has the greatest impact on the entire organization. As a leader, the question is, what choices are you going to make?

Brad Wolff specializes in workforce and personal optimization. He’s a speaker and author of, People Problems? How to Create People Solutions for a Competitive Advantage. As the managing partner for Atlanta-based PeopleMax, Brad specializes in helping companies maximize the potential and results of their people to make more money with less stress. His passion is empowering people to create the business success they desire, in a deep and lasting way. For more information on Brad Wolff, please visit: www.PeopleMaximizers.com.

Seven Steps for Solving Business Problems

Learning How to Eat an Elephant

 By Mitzi Perdue

Mitzi Perdue-solving problemsSuccessful people all do one thing: they solve problems. They don’t just stare at a problem and wish it would go away.

The magic key to solving your big, difficult, looming business problems is to break them down into smaller parts and then deal with these smaller parts. By viewing your issues through this prism you can focus intently on solving a problem through a series of steps instead of preparing to tackle it all at once.

It’s the old, “How do you eat an elephant?”

Answer: “One bite at a time.”

Your Seven Steps for Solving a Problem

Successful people all do one thing: they solve problems. They don't just stare at a problem and wish it would go away. Click To Tweet

1. Describe the Problem: Do this in writing. Often, you’ll find that simply explaining the whole problem to yourself will cause you to see the solution. But not always, so if that doesn’t make the situation clear, go on to #2.

2. Break the Problem into Smaller, More Manageable Parts: Make a list of the parts of the problem, breaking the problem down into manageable parts that don’t seem intimidating. If one item on the list still seems too hard, break it down still further into even smaller parts. Then arrange your list in a logical order according to what to do first, second, third, and so on.

3. Write Down the Obstacles: This step may come as a surprise, but it’s important. Take a clear, hard look at what the obstacles are and then list them. Being optimistic is a good thing, but no matter how positively you think about a problem, you’ll improve your odds of success if you pay attention to and prepare for the likely obstacles.

4. Brainstorm Possible Solutions: Write down as many solutions as you can. Be as creative as you can be. At this point, your goal is quantity not quality. Don’t keep from writing down an idea just because it seems stupid or irrelevant. Often what seems like a bad idea can spark your imagination in ways that lead to good ideas. These new ideas can turn out to be highly creative ones that might never have occurred to you otherwise. You’d be surprised how often this happens.

5. Stretch to Find One More Solution: Ideas that come when you’ve had to stretch for them often turn out to be the most useful of all. There’s a reason: In many cases if the answer were easy or obvious, it would already have been done by now. It’ s when you stretch to get a new idea that you come up with the most creative ideas—the ones that not everyone has already thought of. The most creative, least obvious solutions may have the best chance of solving your problem. Oh, and something to keep in mind at this point: Thomas Edison was right when he said: “When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this: you haven’t.”

6. Pick the Best Solution: When you’ve gotten as far as you can with the brainstorming aspect of problem-solving, it’s time to put on your realist’s hat. Remember, it’s a different mindset at this point. Your job is to figure out, of all the ideas you’ve come up with, which is the best? What solution or solutions best combines: a) Solving the problem; b) Getting the job done on time; and c) Having the resources available for accomplishing it.

7. Act on it: Surprisingly often, people may come up with a good solution, but they don’t “pull the trigger.” That is, they procrastinate when it comes to implementing the idea. Successful people, in contrast, have a penchant for action. They are not only good at thinking of solutions; they’re very good at plunging in and doing them. They know that the problem isn’t solved until the plan is put into action and completed.

Three quotes that express the importance of action:

“To know and not to act is the same as not to know.”

“It’s not what you know, it’s what you do.”

“Done is better than perfect.”

Developing skill in problem-solving is an invaluable skill. The best leaders are the best problem solvers. Invest in yourself by learning to be the best problem solver that you can be.

 Checklist for Solving Problems

  1. Have I described my problem in writing?
  2. Have I broken it into manageable chunks?
  3. Have I made a clear assessment of the obstacles?
  4. Have I brainstormed solutions?
  5. Have I stretched to find one more solution?
  6. Have I picked the best solution?
  7. Have I put the solution into action?

Mitzi Perdue is a celebrated speaker, businesswoman, and author of How to Make Your Family Business Last. A cum laude graduate from Harvard University and holder of an MPA from George Washington University, Mitzi draws from her direct experiences in two long-lasting family enterprises to assist businesses in preparing for lifelong success. She is a past president of the 35,000-member American Agri-Women, a former syndicated columnist for Scripps Howard, and the founder of CERES Farms. For more information on Mitzi Perdue, please visit www.MitziPerdue.com.

Three Simple Training Tips to Dramatically Boost Company Performance

By Cordell Riley

Company Perfomance-Cordell RileyMany companies view training as a “nice to have.” They think it is important to create an attractive, engaging training program for new hires, and that it might be good to have a focused course that teaches employees how to perform certain tasks or use certain pieces of company technology. Once those companies cover the bases by offering training in just a few areas like those, they turn the page and start to think about other realities of doing business.

But what if . . .

What if those companies thought about employing training in a larger, more strategic way to improve performance in a wider range of business activities? What, for example, if they stopped to consider that a 10,000 dollars  investment in training could net a 10 percent increase in the sales made by each salesperson, resulting in an additional 10 dollars million in annual sales revenue? What if they stopped to think that a similar investment in training could result in a 10 percent increase in the accuracy of order filling, and would save 1 million dollar a year?

In short, what if companies made the connection between training, performance, and the bottom line?

And what if your company did? You see, training offers you the potential to dramatically increase profits and performance. Here are three tips to get that to happen for you.

1. Start with the End in Mind

Chances are you know where you would like to see improved performance or profits in your organization. But specifically what would those improvements look like? Would there be fewer defective products, better company reviews online, a 15 percent increase in the sales of one of your product lines—specifically, what?

Specific goals begin to emerge when you consider questions like those. They help you define the specific business challenges and goals you need to address. And once you have defined those issues and goals, you can begin to determine if there is training that will assist in reaching them.If you don’t measure and adjust, your training will never deliver the results it is capable of. Click To Tweet

2. Develop an Appropriate Curriculum

Your curriculum should be designed to teach people the skills they need to learn or improve in their specific role. But developing an effective curriculum is a bit more complex than simply defining skills. It should be right for the people in the roles who are performing the tasks and jobs that your training addresses. And it should be designed to have a focused, specific impact on the business items where you are trying to “move the needle” and bring about change.

An appropriate curriculum is also about more than just a list of skills and behaviors. It should consider how those lessons will be delivered—by a live training presenter, on phones or tablets, enlivened with games and exercises, in short “chunks” or longer lessons, for example. Creating an effective curriculum depends on considering who your learners are, where they are, and how they would prefer to learn.

3. Measure Results, then Tweak and Adjust Your Training Accordingly

At this point, you loop back to the decisions you made in the first step, when you started with the end in mind. The difference is that you are now going to develop ways to measure the change you have brought about through training.

You might decide to measure how much more each of your retail salespeople is selling on an average sale, whether fewer of your products are being returned, whether your rates of repeat business are improving, whether your online reviews are more positive, or other hard or soft metrics that tell you how effective your training has been.

Once you are measuring, you can tweak, modify your training, and find ways to improve results. But one thing for certain? If you don’t measure and adjust, your training will never deliver the results it is capable of.

In Summary

Start with the end in mind, develop an appropriate curriculum, then measure results and adjust your training. That is a simple, yet powerful, approach to improve company performance. And you can use it to improve more company performance that you have probably stopped to consider.

Cordell Riley is sought-after keynote speaker, and the Owner and President of Tortal Training, a leading training development company he founded in Charlotte, North Carolina. Tortal uses strategic engagement methodologies and specializes in developing mobile training platforms for organizations with distributed workforces. A recognized training expert with extensive experience in the service, automotive and franchising sectors, Cordell has spent more than twenty years helping thousands of companies achieve outstanding success through training. For more information about Cordell Riley, please visit: www.Tortal.net.

Call Center 101

Peter DeHaan: Author, Blogger, Publisher, Editor discusses call centerBy Peter DeHaan

I receive calls and emails from people who want to start a call center or contact center. I used to spend quite a bit of time with them discussing the nuances, ramifications, and challenges of starting a contact center. (They would already be optimistically filled with the upside, so there was no point in covering the satisfaction of helping people, the variety of work, and the profit potential.) However, after numerous such calls, I grew weary of repeating myself, so I put the basics online and simply refer people to www.StartACallCenter.com.

In talking to these inquirers, I would ask two questions. This helps me could provide the information relevant to their goals. The first was, “Will your call center do inbound or outbound work?” This sometimes confused people. On inquirer, who claimed 15 years of contact center experience, responded with, “What do you mean? I don’t understand the difference.”

My second question was, “Will this be an in-house or an outsourcing call center?” This query generated even more confusion. One caller gasped; her nonsensical retort was, “We’re in the United States!”

In similar fashion, when people subscribe to my call center magazine, Connections Magazine, I ask if they are an in-house or an outsource call center. I’m surprised at how frequently this question is fumbled. In view of all this—and at substantial risk of offending knowledgeable contact center veterans—I offer the following:To be successful, the work must be done well. Click To Tweet

Inbound Call Centers

Inbound call centers answer calls. Their agents are in a reactive mode, waiting for the phone to ring or the next call in queue. Inbound call centers are equipped with ACDs (Automatic Call Distributors) to efficiently send calls to the “next available agent.” Many inbound operations are staffed 24 x 7, with their agents scheduled to work in anticipation of projected call volume based on historical data and marketing initiatives.

Outbound Call Centers

Outbound call centers make calls to customers and sales prospects. Their job is proactive. Even if agents work is not sales per se, they still need a sales mentality. They must engage the called party, lead them towards an objective, and deal with rejection; some of which may be personally directed. Outbound call centers rely on predictive dialers to place calls. Agents are scheduled as needed to complete a requisite number of calls within a certain window of time, as limited by law.

In-house Call Centers

An in-house call center is an internal department or division of a company; it provides services exclusively for their own company. The chief advantage of an in-house call center is that greater control and oversight can be given to the call center, its agents, and their activities. An in-house call center can be a cost-center or a profit-center. Cost-centers they do not generate enough revenue to cover their expenses. They need to be subsidized by the company, whereas profit-centers generate enough business to cover their expenses.

Outsourcing Call Centers

An outsource call center does work for other companies. Their business is making and receiving calls. They often enjoy an economy-of-scale that is not feasible for the in-house operation. As such, their margins allow client’s to save money, while they make money. Agents at an outsource contact center work for their clients, but work with their clients’ customers or prospects. Outsource call centers are increasing in number and importance as more companies look to outsourcing as a way to increase service levels and options, return to their core competencies, save money, or all three.

Offshore Call Centers

An offshore call center is simply any call center that is located in a different country, or “offshore.” Offshoring is often erroneously considered synonymous with outsourcing. Offshore call centers are a subset of the outsourcing call center industry. (An in-house call center can be moved “offshore” as well.) A recent trend has been moving call center activity to other countries that boast stable technological infrastructures and offer qualified workers who possess lower wage expectations. This is offshore outsourcing, which is too often incorrectly shortened to outsourcing.

Despite all these distinctions, the essential lesson of Call Center 101, is that to be successful, the work must be done well!

Peter DeHaan is a commercial freelance writer who provides content marketing services and does ghostwriting.