Neil-springThe Spring is almost here and with it comes beautiful weather and new life. We hope that this new year has brought you a fresh outlook and a focus on your health and happiness. We also hope that you’re still focused on achieving success with your resolutions.

AWA is excited to announce the expansion of the discount program, Business AdvantEdge, which many of our members already take advantage of. With this discount program, members have access to a wide range of savings and discounts like office supplies, shipping and more. Find out more in the Member’s Corner section.

February is National Heart Awareness Month and we encourage our members to read more about preventing heart attacks and eating well in the Health and Lifestyle section. It’s so important to look after our health.  The AWA is proud to offer you with resources and benefits to help you and your family maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The AWA understands just how important it is to be aware of current market trends, as well as new ideas to help you stay productive and competitive. We’re excited to share details on the continuing rise of small business and entrepreneurship, as well as different ways to ensure that you and your employees are efficient and fulfilled. Learn more in the Business section.

On behalf of the AWA Board of Directors, we hope you and your family enjoy this glorious season

Neil Peterson

AWA President

Business AdvantEdge Discount Program Expansion

The AWA is excited to announce that Business AdvantEdge, a discount program that many of our members already use, has been expanded to include the following:

  • Merchology- Save 5% to 25% off top designer brands- Merchology offers logo’d apparel and gifts on popular brands including Under Armour, Niike, PUMA, Brooks Brothers, Mountain Hardwear, Carhartt, Patagonia, Oakley, Marmot, Adidas, Dickies, Eddie Bauer, Titleist, Moleskin, Bobble, Brookstone, Igloo, Kate Spade, Ferragamo, Thermos, Tervis, etc.
    Click Here to Shop. Enter discount code BAE5OFF at checkout
  • Ferregellas- Offers a competitive commercial propane discount to our construction and manufacturing association partners.
    Click Here to Enroll 
  • Office Depot and OfficeMax are now one company!  Save up to 80% on over 93,000 products. You can save on  printing, cleaning and office needs. Shop online or in any Office Depot or OfficeMax store. Enjoy FREE next-day delivery on online orders over $50! Shop online or print off a FREE Store Purchasing Card. http://www.officediscounts.org/awa.html

Teladoc-logoSpring brings beautiful flowering plants and trees which can trigger allergies and asthma symptoms like sinus irritation, wheezing, coughing, sore throat, sneezing, watery eyes. These symptoms can even lead to illnesses like a sinus infection. Who has time to clear their busy schedule for a doctor’s appointment or a long wait in the urgent care center? That’s where Teladoc can help. Your AWA membership includes free unlimited access to Teladoc’s U.S.-based, board-certified physicians who are able to treat a variety of non-emergent illnesses like sinus infections, ear infections, upper respiratory infections, allergy symptoms and more. And best of all, you and your family can receive treatment over the phone or through video consults 24/7/365.

When Can I Use Teladoc?

Teladoc is a convenient and affordable option for quality care. 

  • When you need care now – consult with a U.S. board-certified doctor licensed in your state
  • If you need a prescription – when medically necessary, a prescription will be sent to your pharmacy
  • If your doctor is unavailable - Teladoc does not replace your primary care physician, but is a convenient alternative for care.
  • If you’re considering the ER or urgent care - for a non-emergency issue
  • Away from home – at work, on a vacation or a business trip
  • For Short-term prescription refills

Teladoc-advantage

Access Made Easy

To begin using Teladoc, go to www.teladoc.com to set up your online account and complete your medical history, or call (800) 835-2362 for assistance. You can also download the Teladoc app for your smartphone. Simple call Teladoc or use the app to talk with a doctor via phone or video consult.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Rise of Health Care Costs

doctorRecent market trends have seen a dramatic increase in average deductible increases over the last ten years. The average premium for an individual health care plan increased by 56% between 2010 and 2015 and for families, the increase was approximately 27%. Some studies predict that by 2025 the average American family will spend 20% of its income on health care.

Many of these cost increases were initially absorbed by employers, but the burden grew so significantly that employers began to pass on costs to employees. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was intended to shift responsibility for health care to employers, has instead transferred much of that same responsibility and costs to the employee. Because insurance companies cannot deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions, they have raised premium costs to compensate for the increased costs associated with caring for older and sicker customers.

Many employers now expect employees to participate in cost-sharing, which leads to increased worker spending on premiums and deductibles. Furthermore, every dollar spent on increasing benefits costs is money that cannot be paid in the form of salary, again increasing the burden on employees.

Here are some ways that employers and employees are coping with rising benefits costs:

High Deductible Plans (HDHP) - For younger workers, High Deductible Plans, or HDHPs, have become a popular way to cut down on rising premium costs. While a deductible of $1,000 would have been seen as incredibly high in years past, it is becoming an increasingly common sight as employers and employees both try to reduce costs.

Flexible Savings Accounts (FSA) -Flexible Savings Accounts allow employees to contribute pre-tax dollars which can be used to pay for medical costs incurred throughout the year. Though the ACA placed limits on contributions and spending, FSA funds can be rolled over from year to year.

Marketplaces -Marketplaces are a great option for both employers and employees, as they incentivize employees to shop around and find the coverage that best suits their own needs as well as those of their families. At the same time, marketplaces save employers money because by sharing costs and responsibility, employees don’t purchase coverage that they neither want nor need.

Supplemental Benefits- Many employers offer supplemental benefits to help offset costs. Policies pay cash for expenses that may not be covered by major medical plans.

Sources: The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2015 Employer Health Benefits Survey


Why Small Business is Booming in 2016

smaill-business2016 might just be the year of the small businessman. After the difficult years of the Great Recession, followed by years of recovery, the economy is back on its feet again and small business owners have a number of resources at their fingertips to make 2016 the best year yet. From new means of financing to a shift in public opinion, the atmosphere is ripe for small businesses to succeed.
According to a report by Biz2Credit, small businesses loans are being approved at a higher rate than ever, giving new and existing small business owners the opportunity to start or expand their business. This coupled, with new SEC regulations on crowdfunding, open the door for exciting new financial possibilities. Sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo let entrepreneurs and small business owners develop and refine their products and services with public funding and support and the new regulations allow businesses to pay their investors back with equity rather than goods and services only. More than $34 billion dollars in capital was raised in 2015. Crowdfunding is only expected to become even more popular.

Recent years have seen a shift in public opinion away from large corporations and towards small businesses, especially of the type found on America’s Main Streets. These types of businesses employ 24 million people and account for two-thirds of American firms. Studies have shown that consumers prefer these small businesses because they want to invest more in their local economies and enjoy the warmer and more personal service that customers receive.

2015 saw a 3.6% increase in small business-type entrepreneurship, compared to only a 1.2% increase in traditional, established companies. With the numerous opportunities available to small business owners and entrepreneurs, 2016 could see an even greater increase.

Sources: http://www.gobankingrates.com

http://www.locavesting.com

http://www.inc.com


Why You Should Let Your Employees Work From Home

employees-homeWhen some employers imagine letting employees work remotely, they see pajamas, TV, and a total lack of productivity. However, research and real life experience show that this is often not the case. Many employers and employees both report satisfaction with different work arrangements, which can save time, money, and increase productivity.

Studies have shown that between 80-90% of American workers would like to work from home, at least part-time while only 38% of employers allow even some of their employees to work from home part-time. They cite concerns about employee productivity and the concern of losing personal interaction in the workplace, which can be a problem in some instances.

One way to prevent problems is to consider the following: if an employee doesn’t work well in the office, they most certainly won’t work well at home. But, if an employee is productive and responsible, then allowing them the opportunity to work at home, even for one or two days per week, can encourage even greater productivity and job satisfaction.

Another important area to consider with regards to working remotely is clear communication. As an employer, it is important to relinquish control to a degree, but it is equally important to set clear expectations and guidelines. Make sure that your employees know what is expected of them and when they should be available.

Working from home can be a great option for employers and employees alike. With accountable employees and clear communication, you’ll find that you have happier, more loyal, and more productive employees who enjoy their jobs, which creates a more pleasant work environment.

Sources: http://www.monster.com

http://www.entrepreneur.com

Warning Signs of a Heart Attack

warning-heart-attackFebruary is National Heart Month, which means that it’s time to step back and take a minute to think about your heart’s health. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 735,000 Americans have heart attacks every year, which can cause severe damage if not treated immediately. It is vital that you know the signs of a heart attack and then seek treatment by calling 9-1-1.

Heart attacks, also known as myocardial infarctions, occur when a part of the heart muscle doesn’t receive sufficient blood flow. The more time that blood flow is impaired, the more sever the damage is to the heart muscle. Sometimes, it’s obvious that someone is having a heart attack, but others are known as a “silent” heart attack. Here are some of the signs of a heart attack:

Chest pain- Pressure, pain, and discomfort in the center of the chest that last for more than a few minutes

Discomfort in the upper body- Pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach

Other signs- Shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, or cold sweats.

Every second counts when you’re having a heart attack. Don’t hesitate to call 9-1-1 and seek emergency medical treatment immediately.

Sources: heart.org


Eating Healthy on a Budget

eating-healthyMany of us are working hard and sticking to our New Year’s resolutions, whether that means going to the gym more, taking time to relax or meditate, or eating healthier. Often, we want to eat more nutritious and tasty meals, but don’t want to pay the higher prices associated with healthier diets. Though eating better can be expensive, it doesn’t have to be! And the benefits like increased productivity, weight loss, and stress reduction are well-worth the investment. Here are a few tips to eat healthy while sticking to a budget:

Buy and Freeze In-Season Produce- Buying produce out of season can be a stretch on the wallet, but if you stock up while it’s in season, you can freeze what you don’t eat for use in meals later in the year.

Bargain Hunting- The next time you go to the store, make sure you take a minute to see what’s on sale and plan your meals accordingly. Take advantage of coupons, savings cards, and other deals. You would be surprised at how far you can stretch your dollars when you take the time to look around.

Try Cheaper Cuts of Meat- While they may sound less appetizing, try cuts like bone-in chicken breasts or tougher cuts of red meat. If you throw them in the crock-pot, they can still turn out flavorful and tender.

Bulk Up with Beans and Whole Grains- Grains like brown rice and quinoa are better for you than processed grains, along with black beans, are a great way to add some bulk to your meals that will fill you up. Ethnic cuisines, like Indian and Mexican dishes, are a great way to utilize healthy grains and change up your meals.

Eating healthier doesn’t have to be harder! Simply take a few minutes to shop carefully and plan your meals accordingly. You’ll be surprised at how much you and your family enjoy it.

Sources: http://www.thekitchn.com


Tips to Reduce Stress

During National Heart Month it’s important to look at the different aspects of what puts a strain on your heart. Aside from your exercise and diet, another big factor is stress. Stress has a negative impact on your heart from multiple angels. Your daily stress will raise your blood pressure which may damage arterial walls. Your habits to cope with your stress may also not be healthy, such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, being inactive or even overeating or eating comfort foods. So, how can you combat daily stress? If you can’t remove the stressors, such as work, family and finances, you can use some techniques to help calm your nerves during the day.

Breathe- Sit down in a quiet room and take a couple minutes to focus on your breathing. Deep breaths in, holding your breath and slow breaths out will help focus. Taking the time to breathe will help you relax your muscles and slow your heart rate.

Move- Take a lap around the building or your neighborhood. You can even stand up and stretch to get your blood pumping and release some endorphins to fight the stress and anxiety. Just a minute or two of this can help and turn your day around.

Talk- Positive self-talk or talking out loud through a situation can help you see both sides of what is causing you stress. You can talk to yourself, a co-worker, a friend or seek help from a professional. Talking will help you learn to work through a situation instead of bottling up your emotions.

Make a List- Write out a list of important items and prioritize. Once you can take a look at the big picture you can knock one item out at a time and see the progress.


Take Care of Your Heart

In addition to National Heart Month, February is the time of year it can be hard to continue working on your New Year’s resolutions. Though sticking to a diet and finding time to exercise can be hard, there are a number of simple ways to take care of your heart that are both inexpensive and easy to work into your schedule. The heart is perhaps the most important muscle in your body, pumping blood to different organs and regions. When you take care of your heart, you ensure that the rest of your body is working at its full potential and you can help avoid problems like heart disease and stroke.

Chocolate- While eating chocolate may not be the first thing that pops into your mind, research has shown that eating a small amount of dark chocolate daily could result in lower blood pressure and a decreased risk of heart attacks. Why? Dark chocolate contains antioxidants known as flavanols, creating nitric oxide and relaxing blood vessel walls. Wider blood vessels lead to greater blood flow and a decreased risk of heart attacks and stroke.

Salt- The American Heart Association recommends a daily amount of 1,500 milligrams of sodium, which might come as a shock to many Americans. Processed foods are full of salt, which damages blood vessels, leading to high blood pressure. Rather than relying heavily on processed and restaurant foods, try to eat fresh, cook at home, and watch the sodium content on the foods you eat.

Exercise- To make the most of any muscle, you have to exercise. Running is one great way to keep your heart young and healthy. The flexibility involved in running loosens the coronary arteries, which can prevent them from hardening, a common cause of heart attacks. Even a half hour of aerobic exercise like running or walking, five days per week, reduces your chance of developing heart disease, not to mention other diseases.

Music- Studies show that listening to calming music, like Beethoven, can reduce blood pressure and your heart rate. But be careful, fast music works the opposite way, and has been linked to increased blood pressure and heart rate.

Sources: www.doctoroz.com


Heart-Healthy Apps and Gadgets

Sworkit

Sworkit designs a workout based on your time allotment and needs. Short 5 minutes through an hour are available. You can even choose the type of workout you would like. No need for weights or equipment, this app is high intensity and uses only your bodyweight.

Cost: Free

My Fitness Pal

You can log your meals and workouts to track your progress. MyFitnessPal has a large menu of brand named foods and restaurant meals to choose from. This app learns your habits and keeps certain foods at the top of the list.

Cost: Free

Coach.me

What do you want to achieve? Coach.me lets you choose your goals then provides advice, motivation and more based on the frequency you choose. Focus on your progress and celebrate each step of the way.

Cost: Free

FitBit

FitBit has been all the rage lately. With products in different price ranges you can track your steps, distance, calories burned, sleep cycles and more. Download the app to go with your device and get reminders to stay active and have access to a community of other FitBit fans. Track your life and get encouragement along the way.

https://www.fitbit.com/, devices starting at $59.95