For more than 165 years, Travelers’ innovative employees continually ask themselves and their colleagues, “what’s next?” And throughout the years, their curiosity has led to the development of creative solutions recognized by the U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office.
Check out what creativity looks like at Travelers in the following six U.S. patents received this year by members of the Travelers Technology team.
Through Travelers’ Innovation Jam Hackathons and day-to-day innovative thinking, our multi-disciplinary teams will continue to put their creative minds together to produce solutions that make a difference in the lives of our customers and each other.
As we look forward and wonder what’s next for our business, are you wondering what’s next for your career in technology?
Long associated with meditation and relaxation, the practice of mindfulness has become more mainstream in recent years. And, with studies showing that humans aren’t as good at multi-tasking as we think we are, practicing mindfulness or meditation may actually help us be more productive at work.
Ever felt scattered while having 12 browser tabs open on your laptop, while keeping up with a group text on your smartphone and answering emails as they come in? In an age of multi-tasking, mindfulness can help us be in a state of moment-to-moment awareness of our experience. So, can practicing mindfulness help your small business become more productive?
Here are five potential benefits:
1. Mindfulness may help you and your team prioritize better. Multi-tasking is really task-switching, because it’s not possible for the brain to handle two tasks simultaneously. A research study at Stanford University found that multi-tasking actually made participants less able to switch tasks effectively, likely because they were less able to filter out irrelevant distractions.1 Since not every task has the same level of importance to your small business, being able to discern what’s most important can be a critically important skill.
2. Mindfulness can help boost your working memory. Research has shown an increase in working memory among participants in an eight-week mindfulness training.2 That working memory can translate to productivity if employees are able to better recall training and other information useful for their work – and may even help them avoid accidents and injuries at work if they are better able to remember safety practices.
3. Mindfulness can help reduce stress. According to an American Psychological Association survey, 60 percent of respondents reported that work is a very or somewhat significant source of stress, second only to money matters.3 Serious health issues can arise from stress, from hypertension to cardiovascular disease. Mindfulness training, especially when practiced as a team, can help reduce anxiety and teach emotion regulation strategies to better handle difficult situations.
4. Mindfulness can help improve focus. Distractions abound in the modern office. Open office concepts can mean employees need to filter out foosball matches to focus, frequent meetings may disrupt workflow, and notifications from email, texts and other social media can make it hard to concentrate. A study that looked at how participants were able to focus found that experienced mindful meditators performed better on all measures of attention and had higher self-reported mindfulness than those with no meditation experience.4
5. Mindfulness can be a good team-building activity. Practicing mindfulness can be a great way to bring a team together, by providing a team-building activity and by teaching how to better relate to one another. Whether you invite an instructor in to lead a yoga, tai chi or qigong class, or you offer a more structured meditation training program, the team can apply what they learn to handling challenges at work, being more focused and taking time to be present.
Thinking of how to get started? Of course, any mindfulness program should be voluntary for employees. Thirty-minute sessions once or twice a week can create a space where your team can practice guided meditation and discuss how to apply it to their experiences at work. Creating a more mindful culture can have benefits for you and your team, both inside and outside of the office.
4 Moore, A. & Malinowski, P. (2009). Meditation, mindfulness and cognitive flexibility. Consciousness & Cognition, 18(1), 176-186
The term distracted driving has become much-discussed as of late, but distracted walking is another common phenomenon. From crossing intersections to pushing shopping carts in crowded parking lots, you can see pedestrians focused more on their smartphones in potentially dangerous situations than their surroundings. There are near-misses with passing cars, twisted ankles on potholes and collisions with objects or other distracted walkers.
Injuries from walking while using a cell phone more than doubled over a five-year period, while the total number of pedestrian injuries dropped during the same time period.1 Researchers believe the actual numbers might be higher than reported, especially if patients are reluctant to share the true cause of their injuries. It has become such a problem that for the first time, the National Safety Council included cell phone distracted walking as a cause of unintentional deaths and injuries in its 2015 Injury Facts Report.2
When distracted walking meets the workplace, employee health can suffer. Workers operating machinery while texting or using their smartphones may injure themselves or others, which may lead to lost time from work. Employees more focused on their devices than another person as they pass in common corridors may not be as engaged in their immediate surroundings and might not see potential hazards.
Creating a Formal Policy
There are also concerns about productivity associated with distracted walking. If you go to a common area in a company, you will likely find employees walking and talking or texting during business hours. Distracted walking can be part of a broader conversation about the use of mobile devices, personal email, texting and browsing the Internet during the work day.
A formal policy to address distracted walking, as part of a policy on the appropriate use of personal devices in the workplace, can help set some guidelines for employees and reduce distractions. As with all aspects of creating a culture of safety, it is important that people at all levels of the company adhere to the policy.
The modern office for the road warrior could find you working anywhere at any time, from early mornings at the corner coffee shop to red-eye flights at your airplane’s seatback tray table. You may even work virtually, without a traditional corporate office, moving your laptop from the kitchen counter to your home office without setting up an ergonomically-correct workplace. Over time, these work situations can take their toll on the body.
Although laptops and tablets allow for greater mobility and compactness, they lack the adjustability of traditional desktop workstations. With the on-the-go workforce here to stay, it is important to avoid the discomfort, strains and sprains that can accompany poor ergonomics. Following are some tips to help road warriors improve their comfort, wherever their travels may take them.
Trading Adjustability for Mobility
The standard desktop computer consists of three basic and traditionally separate elements: the monitor, the keyboard and a pointing device, such as a mouse. These three are integrated into the laptop in a design that typically trades adjustability for compactness. According to Travelers Risk Control ergonomics professionals, adjustability is a major factor in user comfort.
That lack of adjustability in a laptop may either mean that having the laptop keyboard in an optimal position results in a difficult-to-read screen, or that positioning the laptop screen for better eye comfort places the laptop keyboard in an uncomfortable position. Fortunately, there are ways to compensate for this lack of adjustability.
Pointing Device (aka Mouse) Tips
Laptop Monitor Tips
Tablet Monitor Tips
Extreme temperatures, from wintry winds to summer heat waves, can make us more mindful of the importance of an energy-efficient home. But no matter the season or which climate you live in, taking a few key steps can make a significant difference on your energy bills and improve the comfort of your home.
That’s because making your home more energy efficient can do more than help control temperatures. Mold, excessive dust, ice dams, moisture on windows, sinus problems and inordinate noise can also be potentially addressed by making home improvements.
Rather than one-off solutions, such as adding insulation or replacing dated appliances with more energy efficient ones, ENERGY STAR® recommends a more holistic approach. Their Home Performance survey, conducted by a qualified contractor, can help homeowners identify specific problems. For example, ice-cold kitchen floors, a second-floor bedroom that’s too hot in the summer or high energy bills, might be signs of larger issues.
According to ENERGY STAR, here are some improvements that homeowners typically make after an audit of their home:
After a home contractor inspects your home, you should receive a detailed work proposal following the evaluation. The contractor may have other recommendations, such as installing solar panels or a solar hot water system. Homeowners can expect to save 20 percent or more on the annual utility bill, depending on the type of improvements. For more details and to find a participating contractor, visit www.energystar.gov.
Career fairs can be somewhat overwhelming. From ensuring that your resume is up-to-date to perfecting your elevator pitch, there are many details to consider. However, jobseekers must remember, employers are also there to promote their best selves. The pressure is certainly not one-sided. When it comes to preparing, members of our University Relations recruitment team – Janixia Reyes, Alicia Hitchcock, and Jamie Roshka – shared three essential tips to consider:
Traditionally, career fairs will publish a list of employers attending the event in advance. Utilize this information to select and prioritize the companies you wish to connect with. Research those companies online, utilizing their company and career websites and social media channels. Collect general information about the company, their core values and mission statement as well as recent news about the company and any available job openings.
“Having conducted research before speaking to representatives from a company will make you stand out as someone who has taken the time to learn more,” said Reyes, “It will also help you curate your questions to maximize the time you have with the representatives behind the table.”
You won’t get much time with one person or company, so it is important to make a good impression quickly. Have your pitch ready to summarize your skills and experience in a concise and memorable manner.
“Think of this as a personal commercial,” said Hitchcock, “Your pitch should grab the employer’s attention, keep it, and give them cause to recall it later.”
Take the time to thoughtfully craft your pitch and practice it for length and efficiency. Having it committed to memory will bring confidence and enthusiasm to your delivery.
Hitchcock added, “Be sure that your pitch is genuine and rehearsed so that you can speak calmly and effectively about the subject you know best – you.”
“Effectively communicating your objectives gives the recruiter insight into whether you’d be a fit for their organization,” said Roshka, “It also helps them assess what role or job would work best for you.”
If you aren’t sure what your specific career goals are yet, focus on your skill set and apply it to the company you are speaking with.
“If you don’t know yet what you want to do that’s okay, too! As a recruiter it’s helpful to know if a candidate has a definitive long-term plan or if there are other opportunities we can introduce that you may not have been aware of,” added Roshka.
No matter your major, no matter the industry you’re most interested in pursuing, your ability to vocalize the correlation between your skills and the scope of an opportunity is critical. That includes highlighting details that are specific to each of the employers you connect with during the fair and beyond.
We are so excited to announce that Travelers has been named 2019 Employer of the Year by Lifeworks for our disability hiring initiatives!
Lifeworks, a Minnesota not-for-profit that supports individuals with disabilities, selected Travelers from about 400 companies that currently partner with the organization. Travelers’ partnership with Lifeworks extends back several years, beginning with the Business Insurance Document Management team, where both parties worked together to provide employment opportunities for candidates with disabilities.
The efforts in disability hiring that stemmed from this relationship have grown, and in 2017, Travelers launched a four-week training and work-experience program for people with disabilities, centered around our Staff Counsel Business Resource Center. Since the start of this program, more than a dozen individuals have secured full-time positions with Travelers, serving as legal operations specialists.
These initiatives are prime examples of the diverse and inclusive work environment we are dedicated to fostering at Travelers. We are also proud to be named:
We know the importance of pushing past boundaries and having a workforce that represents the perspectives and ideas across race, color, religion, gender, gender identity, age, national origin, disability, veteran status, marital status, genetic information and sexual orientation. For more information on our D&I initiatives, click here.
You can also stay informed about our diversity and inclusion efforts by connecting with us on social media.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to make a real difference in a young woman’s life,” reflects Lorie Darrow, Business Insurance and Women in Actuarial and Analytics (WIAA) member. Through WIAA and the Travelers Women’s Diversity Network, Lorie and about a dozen other members from the two groups mentor students at Grace Academy, an independent and tuition-free middle school for girls from underserved families in Hartford, Connecticut.
Each week, they spend their lunch hour with the seventh- and eighth-graders, providing social and emotional support. They also help them prepare for high school, college and professional life by sharing personal experiences and engaging in activities. Over the last three years, Lorie has worked with some of the same students this school year as the mentoring commitment continues throughout the duration of the students’ time at Grace Academy.
“I am very proud to be a part of Travelers and our hands-on community outreach that fosters education and strengthens our commitment to diversity,” added Elena Antonetti, Legal Services, and Women’s Diversity Network member. “Programs like this are invaluable in helping students to think about their future. They also give us a chance to introduce more women to careers in insurance and law.”