Away from the Office

Away from the Office 

Compiled by Jason Dehart

IN THE NEWS Florida’s Innovation Economy Gets Boost

On the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist in May ceremoniously signed into law the state’s largest economic stimulus package to date. The $1.95 billion package is an investment in Florida’s future; the cash is aimed at bolstering the state’s high-tech, high-wage industries.

“Florida is quickly becoming known as the next innovation capital of the world and this landmark investment tool will add rocket fuel to our economy, sending a strong message to the world’s financial markets that Florida is serious about our economic transition strategy,” says Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Officials say up to 1.5 percent of the Florida State Retirement System – approximately $1.95 billion – will be redirected to fund the stimulus package and comes at no cost to the Florida taxpayer. It is hoped the investment will create new jobs that support the state’s efforts to be competitive in a high-tech world.

“This infusion of investment capital will enhance the state’s capacity for innovation, economic growth and higher-paying jobs for Floridians,” Crist says. “Florida is committed to growing industries such as aerospace, life sciences and energy solutions.”

FITNESS Something You Learned in Kindergarten

Remember lying down for the afternoon nap? How refreshing it was, and how recharged you felt? Turns out, a quick power nap in the afternoon – say 15 to 20 minutes – may be good for you as an adult, too.

Dr. Sara Mednick, of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., indicates that a nap helps cells repair themselves, benefits heart function and is good for hormonal maintenance. Even NASA has taken notice; space scientists say that while naps don’t aid alertness, they do help your memory. Research at the Salk Institute suggests that with a nap, you have higher brain activity during the day – but without one, brain activity declines.

Overall, studies say a midday nap reduces stress, increases reaction time and efficiency, and may even help productivity. Business executives, pilots, athletes and even soldiers in combat take catnaps before taking to the field.

Now, if only the boss could arrange for some fingerpainting in the break room.


Analysts Predict Insurance Shortfall

There is bad news for Florida’s property insurers, and we have the credit market crunch to thank for it, according to a recent report released by the analysts at A.M. Best Company.

The problem is that the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, which provides reinsurance to insurance companies, could experience as much as a $25.75 billion shortfall if a really bad hurricane hits the state. The shortfall means the catastrophe fund wouldn’t be able to reimburse insurers for claims – meaning in turn that they may run out of money.

The A.M. Best report shows express concern for Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, the state-run insurance safety net for homeowners in high-risk areas. Forty percent of the catastrophe fund’s coverage goes to Citizens, according to the Florida Association of Realtors.

But Bruce Douglas, chairman of the Citizens board, disputes the findings, citing the $10 billion in liquid funds on hand.

“It would have to be a pretty severe storm for us not to be able to pay claims,” Douglas says.

Red Eyes to Red Zones

Let’s face it: Visiting a war zone as part of your business dealings is no walk in the park. But does your company have a clear-cut safety policy in place to mitigate the risk? According to The New York Times, Control Risks – a London-based travel security company – surveyed 1,000 international business travelers and found half of those from the United States had no security policy in place at their companies. Also, a majority of employees believed their company should be responsible for spelling out what potential trouble awaits in foreign countries – and getting them out of it when things go haywire. More than half said they probably would take legal action against their company if an emergency situation was mishandled. Lesson learned? Be prepared – and don’t forget the Kevlar.

HR REPORT Playing Mind Games Helps

Does it seem like your employees are communicating less and less, losing focus or that team spirit? A “ropes course” might reveal where the problems are while at the same time building trust, cooperation and teamwork.

A ropes course is available nearby at the Florida State University Reservation. Called the FSU Challenge, this program offers “high” (with activities 20 feet or higher in the air) and “low” ropes courses or a combination of the two. None require great physical prowess; rather, they challenge your employees’ thinking, concentration and communication skills to accomplish different tasks. For more information, call (850) 644-6892.