Christmas tree fires account for an average of 200 house fires every year and 37% of those occur in January. I am reminded this time of year that it is time to check the batteries in my smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detector. Early in my career I was part of the team that treated patients after they had been exposed to the colorless and odorless carbon monoxide gas.
This year my team moved to working from their homes 80% of the time. While building codes and sprinkler systems exist in our office, I don't know anything about their home offices. Reminding and encouraging my team to perform a battery check in their smoke and CO detectors may seem silly to some but as an HR professional, it is my job to encourage a work space that is safe. That does not always mean psychological and free from the abuses we hear about daily lately. Some days that is as simple as asking the team to consider changing a battery.
In surgery, the team performs a "time out" before each case that generally involves confirming patient, procedure, surgical site, and other important information for the whole team to be aware of before beginning. Team members are all engaged and actively participating in the process.
A financial safety "time out" is another habit I have for the new year. Regular assessment of our retirement plans is something that most employees early in their career bypass and those closer to the reaping the benefits think about more regularly. There are tons of tools online and many of you probably have amazing resources within your companies to assist your teams with their own "time out". By scheduling an assessment at the beginning of each year, I have done what I can to improve my own situational awareness, anticipate my future needs, and minimize my risks.
We can't remove the risks around us but regular evaluations definitely help us prepare for events we can't control. Let's all perform a "time out" now to evaluate our physical and financial safety so we are not left out in the cold.
Happy New Year!
References and additional resources:
DeFrehn R, Reina G. (2008) How To Conduct a Retirement Plan Assessment. Sibson Consulting. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/benefits/pages/conductr... Accessed 27-Dec-2017
Max S. (2016) How Often Should I Check My Investment Portfolio? Time Magazine http://time.com/money/4213119/how-often-check-investment-portfolio/ Access date 28-Dec-2017
NFPA. (2015) Christmas tree and decoration fires http://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/By-topic/Seasonal-fires/Winter-holi... Accessed 27-Dec-2017
IRS. (2017) Have You Had Your Retirement Plan Check-Up This Year? https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/have-you-had-your-retirement-plan-c... Accessed 27-Dec-2017
SEC (2009) Taking stock. https://www.sec.gov/reportspubs/investor-publications/investorpubstaking... Accessed 27-Dec-2017
WSJ. How to Choose a Financial Planner. http://guides.wsj.com/personal-finance/managing-your-money/how-to-choose... Accessed 27-Dec-2017