Dynamic Work/Life Solutions Blog

How to Throw a Party

Posted by Blog Tipster on Tue, Dec 06, 2016 @ 11:33 AM

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The holiday season is in full swing and there’s no better time for a party.  eni’s Personal Assistants want to help you plan a holiday party for the history books.  It’s important to keep in mind that on average, about 70 percent of the invitees will attend. Therefore, it’s not a bad idea to invite a few more people than you can actually fit at your location.

Give your guests advanced notice.  Let them know the date of the party a few weeks prior so they can set that weekend aside. Then send a reminder as it gets closer to the party.  Mail, e-mail, phone and even social media invitations are acceptable for general parties and get-togethers.  If it is a more formal event, you may want to stick with sending invitations in the mail.

Pick a theme if you want one as theme parties have become more popular.  Decorations, food/drinks, and music can all fit into whatever theme you choose.  Here are just a few theme ideas:

  • Have an “ugly sweater party”. Invite all guests to wear their “ugliest” holiday themed sweater.  Place old family photos around your home from a time gone by when holiday sweaters were all the rage.  You can even have a contest and give a prize to the guest with the “ugliest” sweater.
  • Everyone has heard of “Christmas in July” parties, well this holiday season throw a “Summer in December” party. Decorate with a beach theme, complete with beach balls as party favors and play some relaxing reggae music in the background.  Use tropical fruit such as bananas, pineapples and coconuts as edible décor.  Brave the cold and grill up some summer favorites and serve punch and the tropical drink of your choice.  Invite your guests to dress “Island Casual”. 
  • Throw a New Year’s Eve Gala. Break out your classiest decorations and don’t forget the confetti.  Serve plenty of delicate hors d'oeuvres along with champagne and/or sparkling cider.  Invite your guests to dress in their favorite formalwear.  Finally, be sure to play music that people will want to dance to.

Start cleaning your house a few weeks before the party and as time gets closer, you can rearrange the furniture as needed, hang lights, decorate, etc.  Starting the process a few weeks earlier will give you time to run out to get things you may have forgotten you needed.

If you expect a large number of people or there’s a chance the party may be loud, be respectful and inform any neighbors that are close by.

Remove and hide anything of significant value so it is not out in the open and cannot be damaged or stolen.  You may also want to hide personal things, like medicine, in the bathroom cabinet, etc.

Don’t forget trash cans!  Have a place for garbage set up in a few different locations.  It will make the cleaning process easier for you if someone can easily access a trash can.  Check them periodically throughout the party and change the bags so they don’t overflow.

Finally, make sure there is plenty of seating for your guests and have fun!

eni’s EAP and work/life services are designed to help employees effectively balance the competing demands of work and life while achieving optimal levels of productivity.  Contact [email protected] for more information.

Tags: Personal Assistant, Virtual Concierge Service, work/life balance, EAP, party planning, event planning, holiday party planning

Spring Maintenance

Posted by Blog Tipster on Wed, Mar 30, 2016 @ 02:42 PM

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Spring is a hopeful season filled with much transformation and change. The days are brighter and everywhere you turn, birds are singing their happy little songs. But with the longer days and warmer winds comes yard work and end-of-winter-maintenance. eni’s Personal Assistants have compiled a list to help you tackle your springtime chores.

  • Clear your gutters of leaves and debris and check to make sure they’re not loose. When not working correctly, it can lead to improper drainage and leakage. Make sure the downspout is pointing at least two feet away from foundation walls.
  • Check your roof shingles from the ground to make sure there is no damage from winter. Shingles that are cracked, loose or buckling will need to be replaced. Also inspect your ceiling for wet spots.
  • Look for cracked or chipped paint on the exterior of your house and scrape it off. Sand down the edges and then prime and paint it. Exposed wood will begin to rot.
  • Check your chimney to make sure no bricks or stones have fallen out. Make sure there are no plants growing out of the joints. Both of these can be signs of moisture infiltration. You can re-seal the masonry with water resistant material.
  • Trim down any overgrown foliage that is close to your house. It will help protect your siding and roof and keep away moisture. Branches should be at least seven feet away from the exterior of your home.
  • Pressure-wash your deck to strip it of dirt and debris and then re-stain it. It will make all the difference in the world.
  • Clean your air conditioner to ensure it works properly. An efficient air conditioner removes moisture from your home and can prevent damage to the foundation. Plus, a clean unit will save you money on your energy bill.
  • Rake your lawn to remove leaves and debris. They can suffocate the grass. Once the ground thaws completely, you can start planting your garden.
  • Repair any cracks in your driveway before it worsens. You can fill in cracks with cement repair products. For deeper cracks or if you’re dealing with asphalt, you might have to call a professional.
  • Tune up your lawn mower and prepare it for use. Dull blades just tear grass instead of slicing, which leaves it vulnerable to damage. Make sure to change the spark plugs and oil filter.

eni’s Personal Assistants are available to provide our members with information and resources related to spring maintenance and/or cleaning in addition to a wide variety of topics including travel, child/elder care, event planning, relocating, and much more!

Tags: Spring Cleaning, work/life balance

Five Must See Shows on Netflix

Posted by Blog Tipster on Wed, Jan 27, 2016 @ 04:20 PM

Winter is officially here and for a lot of us that means we find ourselves spending more time indoors. To keep you from getting cabin fever, eni’s work/life experts have compiled a list of shows that will keep you happily occupied!

Making a Murderer (TV Mini-Series 2015)

After spending 18 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Steven Avery was exonerated after DNA evidence proved him innocent. Avery then sues Manitowoc County for $36 million in damages. After filing the lawsuit, Avery was arrested for a murder that happened on his property. Did he do it or was he framed? You’ll find yourself binge-watching Making a Murderer to find out more answers. Be prepared to be glued to your screen.

Master of None (TV Series 2015)

Aziz Ansari created and stars in this award-winning comedy focusing on a 30 year old actor living in New York City. The show is both funny and heart-warming and you’ll easily fall in love with the main character, Dev, as you watch him figuring out his life through dating, dealing with his parents, and other social situations.

Narcos (TV Series 2015)

This fast-paced drama tells the true story of Colombian kingpin Pablo Escobar and the spread of drug cartels; from his start as a marijuana dealer to his rise as notorious drug lord. The story is told from the viewpoints of Escobar and U.S. DEA Agent Steve Murphy, who is trying to track him. The show has been called “thrillingly addictive.”

Bloodline (TV Series 2015)

This dramatic thriller focuses on the Rayburn family who own a hotel in the Florida Keys. The black sheep of the family, their eldest son Danny, returns home for the 45th anniversary of his parents’ hotel. His arrival back in town threatens to expose the family’s dark, shameful past and tests the family’s loyalty.

BoJack Horseman (TV Series 2014)

Netflix’s original animated comedy is voiced by numerous celebrities (Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, and Aaron Paul) and follows the washed up life of BoJack, a used-to-be celebrity. The humor is mostly ridiculous but it’s easy to watch one episode after another.

eni’s Personal Assistant service is designed to help employees effectively balance the competing demands of work and life, while achieving optimal levels of productivity.  Our Personal Assistants are available to provide our members with research and information on virtually any topic from finding a great new TV show to finding a list of local contractors to fix that leaky roof.

Tags: Personal Assistant, work/life balance

All Your Benefits in the Palm of Your Hand

Posted by Blog Tipster on Wed, Dec 02, 2015 @ 04:23 PM

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Smartphones are such an integral part of our lives, it’s hard to imagine a time when they didn’t exist.  We use them to research restaurants, play games, and at times, we use them to talk to family, friends and co-workers.  Regardless of how we use our Smartphones, they are not going away any time soon.  If anything, they will continue to integrate every aspect of our lives from connecting with others on social media to managing household budgets, and even adjusting the temperature of our homes.    

So why not integrate an important aspect of our lives that we forget about, until we really need them:  our benefits.   Wouldn’t it be convenient and practical if every one of our benefits could be stored and accessed right from our Smartphones?  Well, now they can…with BalanceBenefits!  This unique Mobile App is revolutionizing the way employers and employees look at how technology can serve the benefits world. 

The BalanceBenefits Mobile App not only stores, organizes and demonstrates HOW to use every one of your benefits on a single platform, but it provides the convenience of accessibility and mobility regardless of where you are in the world.  Now, when you’re vacationing in the Outer Banks or on a business trip in NYC and need to know whether that emergency sprain is covered in an out-of-network hospital, the information will be stored in your BalanceBenefits Mobile App.  And for those of us who may not be as tech savvy as our millennial counterparts, you can opt to speak to a live representative by calling our 24/7, Live Answer Call Center.  This app really does offer the best of both worlds!

Benefits no longer have to be a confusing, frustrating or a cumbersome experience.  BalanceBenefits streamlines the entire process of accessing, managing and communicating a benefits package in one convenient platform.  No need to maintain or search through piles of paperwork to find that one phone number to get an answer – every benefit will be in the palm of your hand!

HR Professionals will now have the convenience of a Mobile App to act as an extension of their department.  Imagine having more time to develop strategic initiatives that support recruitment and retention efforts or being able to focus on critical compliance issues to keep your business running smoothly and efficiently.  By offering employees a tool to answer routine questions, like “who do I call for an extra insurance card”, not only will they feel empowered to use their benefits more efficiently, but it will create a more supportive environment because their employer cared enough to provide them an easy-to- use benefits tool.        

To learn how the BalanceBenefits Mobile App can become a value added benefit at a very affordable price, only $1.50 PEPM for 500 employees, contact us today at 800-364-4748 x2340 or email [email protected] to receive a FREE demonstration. 

Tags: Benefit Communication, Employee Benefits, work/life balance, Human Resource Management, Human Resources, Mobile Apps

Four Fun Winter Activities

Posted by Blog Tipster on Wed, Nov 25, 2015 @ 03:51 PM

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Ahh Winter….. It’s the season that brings us snowflakes, icicles and beautiful blankets of white everywhere we turn. With the frigid temperatures and shorter days, some people begin feeling depressed and restless. Here are a few ideas to help pass the time in a productive way that can also help to beat potential seasonal depression.

Art:  

In the words of Picasso, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life”.  Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a “natural artist” to enjoy art. Art is open to interpretation and you can make up your own rules as you go along. It can also be very relaxing. Whether you paint, draw, make collages, or enjoy some other kind of art it’s all very therapeutic and rewarding. Plus, you can give away your art as gifts this holiday season! Check out some cool craft ideas here.

Cooking:

Winter is a perfect time to learn and share new dishes. Wipe the dust off an old cookbook or search for free recipes online; there are plenty out there. Cooking will keep your kitchen warm and smelling delicious all season long.  Check out some fun recipes here. 

Learn to Play an Instrument:

Why not learn to play a musical instrument this season? Playing an instrument is very rewarding. You are never to old to learn and winter provides the extra time needed to practice. You can find used instruments all over craigslist and there are numerous websites online dedicated to providing the chords, tabs, lyrics, etc. to millions of songs. There are also videos on youtube.com where people actually teach you how to play certain songs. You’ll never regret learning how to play an instrument.

Adopt a Homeless Animal:

According to the ASPCA, there are approximately 7.6 million companion animals that enter shelters nationwide every year. Studies have shown that playing with a dog or cat can actually calm and relax a person. There are also other health benefits as well. Animals provide companionship and can boost vitality. Check out petfinder.com to see animals that are available for adoption in your area.

eni’s Personal Assistants are always available to help our members accomplish tasks of all sizes, and provide useful referrals, accurate information and specialized guidance for achieving work/life balance.

Tags: work/life balance, Winter Activities

Balance Your Benefits… Balance Your Life

Posted by Blog Tipster on Wed, Sep 30, 2015 @ 04:02 PM

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Let’s face facts: Benefits are not a subject that typically comes up in casual conversation, unless of course you’re an actuary and developing risk models is your field of work.  But for the rest of us, we don’t think about benefits until we actually need them.  When it comes to benefits, the scenario is pretty much the same:  we learn about them during our initial employee orientation, then fill out a bunch of forms, and our paychecks are “magically” deducted through the wonders of technology.  After that, we usually forget about them.

Then a crisis arises, like a broken leg during a ski trip or we need to take care of a sick, elderly parent and need more information about the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  What is the first thing we do?  We call HR.  However in today’s business climate, the HR focus has been placed on strategic planning.  As a result, it has become increasingly challenging to organize, manage and properly administer a robust benefits package in order to answer employees’ questions in an efficient and timely manner.   

Most of the time, the answer is on a piece of paper, in a file that is in a locked cabinet of co-worker’s desk.  What happens if that co-worker is on vacation for a week?  What do you do?  Do you wait?  Do you call the benefit vendor?  What if you need to access multiple benefits, do you call each one for information?  Situations like this happen more than you think and can be tedious and quite messy.

But, what if EVERY benefit were organized in ONE place, accessible 24/7, as well as being organized by EACH individual employee?  You’d probably say that’s impossible.

Not anymore.  eni has recently developed a new feature to its BalanceBenefits  engagement software called HRDirect.  This innovative solution allows any HR department to upload and manage every Specific Plan Design, and Summary Benefits Coverage, as well as ways in which to contact the vendor if necessary.   HRDirect does ALL the work, so you don’t have to.  Just give us the information and we will organize by employee group, benefit plan, or in any other manner that makes the most sense for your business. 

With access to HRDirect, you will be able to review each benefit plan, EVERY employee’s individual benefit package, and answer your employees’ questions accurately, efficiently and quickly.  Gone are the days of wasting time finding the right piece of paper or the right person who has the right answer.  The answer will be at your fingertips, saving you precious time!

To learn more about how HRDirect can revolutionize the way you manage your organization’s benefit package, contact eni at 1. 800.364.4748 x2340 or visit us at www.eniweb.com.

Tags: Benefit Integration, Integrated Technology, work/life balance, Benefits, Benefit Enrollment

Best Buys for Fall

Posted by Blog Tipster on Wed, Aug 12, 2015 @ 04:47 PM

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In most parts of the country, outdoor pools have been closed for the season by Labor Day, but don’t let that stop you from buying a bathing suit! Swimwear is one of the many goods retailers discount this time of year. Other items include grills and lawn mowers. Store managers don’t want to store these things, send them back to a warehouse or sell them to wholesalers at a loss. They would rather sell them to you!

If you’re in the market for a new car, fall is a good time to buy. New-model cars have been parked in dealership lots since September, and salespeople are eager to get rid of the others in October and November. Expect to save at least 10%, and probably more, on the previous year’s model. And if you’re not particular about the color, the longer you wait the better deal you’ll get. It’s also a great time to look for a new RV.

The best time to buy fruits and vegetables is when they’re in season. In September through November, apples, cranberries, oranges, tangerines, honeydew melons, Bartlett pears, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, mushrooms and spinach will be in season and less pricey than imported exotic fruits and vegetables .

Good wine can be found for a good price any time of the year, but fall is a great time to stock up on wine. The fall harvest season, when most vineyards release their latest vintages, offers the best selection.

Fall is also one of two best times of the year to buy cookware.  Ranges and stoves typically go on sale during the summer but ranges, and sometimes dishwashers, also get discounted in early fall, when new models arrive.

If you can plan ahead to make your purchases, you can save big in the fall!

BalancePro is a Personal Assistant Service designed to help employees effectively balance the competing demands of work and life while achieving optimal levels of productivity. The BalancePro service allows your employees to delegate their personal tasks- so they can focus more attention on business.  Learn more today!

Tags: Personal Assistant, work/life balance, EAP, Best Buys, Fall Shopping

Bullying

Posted by Melissa Mayfield on Wed, Jun 24, 2015 @ 04:03 PM

 

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Unfortunately, bullying is an all too common problem.  Studies indicate that 10% of students are bullied on a regular basis and that half of all children are bullied at least once during their school years.

Bullying occurs when a person is teased or harassed relentlessly by an individual or group of people with greater perceived physical or social power than them.  There are several forms of bullying including:

Physical – Hitting, pushing, tripping, chasing

Verbal – Teasing, name calling

Social – Spreading hurtful rumors, leaving people out, avoiding contact

Cyber – Using technology and social media to virtually bully

Each form of bullying can be extremely painful for a child or adolescent to experience.  Bullying can lead to poor performance in school, health problems including stomach pains, depression or anxiety and stunted social development.  This occurs because children who are bullied are living in a constant state of fear, just waiting for the next verbal or physical attack to take place.

It is also important to recognize that bullying occurs regardless of where you live; urban, rural, and suburban communities are all affected.  School size is also not a factor; the same percentage of students tends to be bullied in both small and large schools.  Boys and girls are just as likely to be involved in bullying; the difference lies in the type of bullying that is most common.  Boys generally bully others physically, while girls are more likely to bully socially.

Signs that your Child is Being Bullied:

  • Consistently reluctant to go to school
  • Becomes withdrawn or depressed
  • Avoids certain places
  • Schools performance suddenly declines
  • Suddenly has fewer or a different group of friends
  • Consistently reports lost or damaged belongings
  • Has unexplained injuries
  • Feels frequently ill, especially from head or stomach aches
  • Has trouble sleeping
  • Shows changes in eating patterns
  • Blames themselves for everything
  • Harms themselves or talks about suicide

Signs Your Child May be Bullying Others:

  • Spends a great deal of time in the Principal’s office or detention
  • Gets into many physical or verbal altercations
  • Will not accept responsibility for their actions
  • Is quick to become violent or angry when upset
  • Has extra money or belongings that cannot be explained

Of course these warning signs do not necessarily indicate that your child is being bullied or acting as a bully.  There also may be no signs that your child is involved in bullying.  It is especially hard to determine if your child is acting as a social bully unless you witness it for yourself.  This is why it is so important to speak with your children openly, honestly, and often about bullying.  Explain that bullying is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.  Encourage your kids to take a stand if they witness bullying and tell a trusted adult what is going on.  Most importantly, tell your children that if they are a victim of bullying it is not their fault and there are resources to help them.  By discussing the negative aspects of bullying from a young age, it may help prevent your children from ever becoming involved in either end of a bullying situation. 

How You Can Help:

If you suspect that your child is being bullied there are steps you can take to help them.  First, open the lines of communication.  Express your concern and make it clear that you only want to help and that you do not think it is their fault.  Reassure them that the situation can be handled privately and that you will not do anything to embarrass them.  It also helps to ask them how they would like the situation to be resolved and what they have already tried to stop the bullying.

A good first step is to encourage your child to simply ignore the bullying, walk away, and not show a reaction.  Classic bullies are looking for a reaction from their victims.  If they realize that they cannot upset or anger their subjects they may just move on because the thrill is now gone.  Do NOT encourage your child to fight back, this will only fuel the bullying.  Help your child practice assertiveness.  Bullies often pick on people they think are weak, shy, or unconfident.  Acting assertive, confident, and aloof will help deter bullying.  Bullies only pick on people who they feel are weaker than them.  Encourage your child to travel with groups of friends, especially if physical bullying is taking place.  Bullies are much more likely to pick on someone when they are alone.  Finally, encourage your child to develop their unique interests like art, music, science, etc and join clubs that focus on that interest.  This will expose them to people with similar interests and help them form new friendships.

Resist the urge to contact the parents of the kids who are bullying your child.  This could actually make matters much worse.  However, you should feel free to contact the school.  Most times administrators will work with you to help deter bullying and protect your child in such a way that the bully will NOT know that your child requested help.  Finally, as a parent it may help to get involved in the school or community anti-bullying group.

eni’s behavioral health experts are available 24/7 to help our members if they are concerned that their child is involved in bullying.

Tags: Teen Depression, work/life balance, Behavioral Health, Bullying, Depression

Water - An Essential Nutrient

Posted by Melissa Mayfield on Thu, Jun 04, 2015 @ 02:49 PM

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When we think of nutrition, we tend to think of food. However, one of the most valuable, and essential nutrients is simply this – water. We can go for more than three weeks without food (Mahatma Gandhi survived 21 days of complete starvation), but water is a different story. The body can only last a few days without it.

As summer comes upon us, it is important to make sure ourselves and our loved ones are hydrated properly. It is especially a concern for the very young and the elderly.

You can stay properly hydrated by following these steps, courtesy of eni’s Work/Life Experts:

 Start each day with a glass of water (no ice). Drink it before you have coffee, tea or juice. It will help replace fluids lost overnight and get your hydration efforts off to a good start. Also fill a water bottle you can take with you in the car, or keep with you and refill during the workday.

Eat two or three servings of fruits and vegetables at every meal. They are brimming with water and include the minerals that help your body absorb and use it properly. Keep in mind that most processed foods (including sugars, flours, salty snacks and processed meats) result in lowering the body’s water table. Also remember that eating a lot of meat puts pressure on your kidneys and tends to increase your body’s need for water.

Establish regular water breaks, if possible. Tailor your drinking to meet your needs. For instance, drink an extra glass of water if you worked out or didn’t squeeze enough fruits and vegetables into your day.

Substitute sparkling water and low-sodium vegetable juice for soda and fruit juice. While it’s true that all beverages count toward your daily tally, the sugar in regular soda and fruit juice, as well as the chemicals in diet versions, can trigger a host of unwanted reactions in the body, including blood-sugar spikes.

Install water filters in your home and use a pitcher-type filter at the office. Resort to bottled water when you must, but beware of the drawbacks - it’s expensive and environmentally wasteful, the plastic contains harmful chemicals that can leach into the water, and there are no guarantees that bottled water is any better for you than the water flowing from the tap.

Cook with high-quality sea salt. A good, unrefined sea salt is rich in trace minerals, which are key to cell health and hydration. Bonus: Sea salt is also lower in sodium than table salt.

Try this delicious summer Mocktail to slip in some extra hydration on a hot day!

Ingredients:

1 cup (250ml) of fresh coconut water

1 cup (250 ml) strawberries hulled and sliced

3 T of sugar syrup or agave nectar

Directions:

To make the sugar syrup, boil sugar and water together in a ratio of 1:3 sugar to water until it thickens to a runny syrup consistency. You can then store in a jar for all future cocktail making.

Measure 1 cup of coconut water, either directly from a cut-open coconut or from a store-bought container.

Combine the strawberries and sugar syrup and blend with a blender to desired consistency.

Serve with ice.

Enjoy your summer, stay hydrated and stay healthy!

Tags: Corporate Wellness Programs, work/life balance, Wellness, Water

Spring Cleaning Tips

Posted by Melissa Mayfield on Thu, Apr 02, 2015 @ 04:09 PM

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It’s that time of year again- spring cleaning! Although having a clean and organized living space feels great, it can be a daunting task to clean and organize your entire home. eni’s Personal Assistants have a few tips to make the process more manageable!

Break it down one room at a time. Make a list of all the rooms of your house. Then think about what specific tasks need to be done for each and list them out. Think about tasks like cleaning baseboards, moving furniture and cleaning underneath, washing windows inside and out- things you don’t necessarily do during a normal cleaning session. Then take one room at a time and work off of your list, checking things off as you complete them.

Enlist the help of your family. Add one or two simple tasks to your kids’ chore list. Or you can assign each task points, allow them to complete the tasks they are able to, and tally up their “points” for a prize (ex - 100 points gets takeout of their choosing for dinner, 200 points is a trip to the movies for them and a friend)! This can be a great way to reward and motive them to help out.

Take your time. You don’t have to complete spring cleaning all in one day or even one weekend. Make April spring cleaning month and go room by room working off your list. You can break it down however works best for you- per day, per week, per weekend, etc. This will allow you the time you need to clean thoroughly without feeling overwhelmed and giving up all of your free time.

Ditch the expensive store bought cleaners for baking soda and vinegar! Did you know you can clean just about anything with baking soda, vinegar, or a combination of the two? It’s all natural and much cheaper than store bought cleaners. Check out this blog for all the ways you can clean with these products.

Follow these tips to make your spring cleaning more manageable! 

Tags: Personal Assistant, virtual resources, Spring Cleaning, work/life balance