Business owners and HR managers who have 100 or more employees got a little closer to a resolution over the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard when both sides argued before the U.S. Supreme Court today.
The standard requires employers with 100 or more employees to either mandate vaccinations for all or to require your unvaccinated employees to take weekly Covid tests and wear a mask unless they work alone or 100 percent outside, among other things. But the objections center around these two principles.
While the briefs tend to be a more substantial influence on the justices than the oral arguments, you can get some idea of what to expect from them. Here’s what you need to know:
The Possible Outcomes
OSHA attorney Phillip Russell, an equity shareholder at the employment law firm Ogletree Deacon, gave four possible outcomes, each with its own set of issues for business owners.
SCOTUS enters an indefinite stay pending further action by either SCOTUS or the 6th Circuit;
SCOTUS enters a brief stay for the Court to further consider the briefing and oral arguments before addressing an indefinite stay;
SCOTUS denies the applications and allows enforcement to begin as OSHA wants on Monday, January 10; or
SCOTUS denies the applications and allows enforcement to begin, but enters a brief stay giving employers time to comply
In other words, a quick decision may not be a final decision. There may be a lot more before a final decision happens.
Opinions Seemed to Form Along Ideological Lines
Covid has been political for a long time, and those political lines seemed evident in the hearings. As an employment attorney and partner Jon Hyman at Herzer Wickers Panza says:
Based on the tone and tenor of the questions, there exists a clear, and not unsurprising, left/right divide on the court, which does not bode well for the ETS going into effect. I don’t see 5 votes against reinstating the stay.
For example, Justice John G. Roberts Jr. (appointed by George W. Bush) and Justice Neil M. Gorsuch (appointed by Donald Trump) both indicated that federal agencies were not the right place to solve the pandemic, while Justice Elena Kagen (appointed by Barack Obama) and Justice Stephen G. Breyer (appointed by Bill Clinton) indicated that the employees of the U.S. needed this mandate.
While it may be fun to guess which way the justices will rule based on what they say, it’s important to keep in mind that a statement made or a question asked in court may simply be a thought exercise, and not the justice’s true opinion. Regardless, there seemed to be a clear division along political lines.
While this ruling will ultimately affect some 80 million employees, it doesn’t cover all employees and all businesses. Meaning, the U.S. could end up seeing vast differences in Covid rules for different organizations.
Hopefully, the ruling will come quickly and be decisive, one way or the other, but it’s likely that businesses will still be in limbo for a while.
Zoomers have watched millennials struggle with a wage gap that’s made home buying in its traditional sense, unattainable.
Compared to Baby Boomers at the same age, millennials own eight times less American real estate and spend 39% more on a first home. Faced with the same challenges, Gen Z is marking their fate by redefining what homeownership means.
Instead of purchasing a home to live in, they’re leveraging crowdfunding and the sharing economy to take ownership in houses, buildings, and even commercial properties for as little as $1.
Simply put, they’ve realized being a homeowner doesn’t mean they have to live where they’ve invested.
In fact, there are advantages to not going all-in on one property.
In traditional homeownership, the process is stressful, drawn-out, and brings heaps of responsibilities like mortgage payments, property tax, maintenance, and insurance.
By not living where they invest, Gen Z is realizing the benefits of a lucrative long-term investment without giving up the freedoms they enjoy now: tickets to an unforgettable concert, a closet full of luxe yet sustainable fashion, dinners out, travel, and the latest gaming system.
They get the capital appreciation while someone else deals with landlord responsibilities.
Realizing real-estate investing is no longer reserved for the wealthy elite, Zoomers are bringing the market out from behind locked doors and into the community.
The pandemic helped spark new interest in investing. Confined to their homes and concerned about their future, young investors took to their devices to educate themselves and make their money work for them.
Instead of looking to legacy financial institutions for help, Zoomers are building online communities on Reddit and Discord and using their influence to educate their peers on what they learn on TikTok.
These online communities allow Gen Z to ask questions in a way they’re comfortable with, lurk and engage on their own terms.
Ever-mindful of the power of tech to disrupt how things have traditionally been done, they are using the internet to democratize investing and bring their peers into the fold.
Transparency is the priority and authority takes a backseat to the community.
Under Gen Z’s influence, exclusivity is out; inclusive investing is in.
They’re sharing the wealth
Gen Z wants everything from their employers to their purchases to reflect their values – and real-estate investments are no different.
Instead of thinking of how their purchases can benefit themselves, they’re looking at how they can benefit others and the world around them.
I saw this recently when a community of young investors teamed up to invest in a 105 unit rental in Mission, British Columbia. Designed and built for long-term rental housing, it will also include 11 affordable housing units.
Consumption is being redefined as an act of activism, changing the world through purchase power – and that’s a good thing.
When people are shut out from an entire market, they get the message that the future they dreamed of isn’t possible.
The advertising agency I’d joined was the most competitive and ambitious in London. Building business was hardwired into every one of us. Competition with other internal teams as part of the process. Jumping to the top of the queue above other teams for the next new business prospect gave us more opportunities for winning new business. We were trained to present, to sell, and sell again and again. And I was desperate to succeed.
Failure could be challenging. Our creative teams could be fearsome to deal with. Emotions ran high — sometimes way too high, with unpleasant consequences. I planned to stay for a year or so. But twelve years passed quickly, and I ended up running a big group. The rewards for those of us who succeeded were good, but I wanted more.
I took a big, big risk and started a breakaway agency with seven colleagues. With a full team and a great office in the center of London, we had a stupidly large overhead from Day One. We also had no client and no income. We had to sell to survive. Every single opportunity, every new business prospect, however small, was critical. Our family houses, the school fees, the grocery bills, and everything we owned depended on winning business.
We were good — mostly, very good. Even if we lost a new business pitch, we didn’t give up. Sure, this irritated some prospects, but mostly they appreciated our hunger.
Every idea had to be sold and nurtured. Every opportunity, however small, is exploited. Our lives and our families depended on it. And at the end of the first year, we broke even. Our bankers were so amazed they threw us a private lunch to celebrate.
Then times got edgy. We had big debts. We restructured, redoubled our efforts, and focused harder on winning business. We survived — and produced some outstanding work.
After years and years of selling the agency to prospects, to staff, stakeholders, and selling work to clients, I realized something. I was dog-tired. I was exhausted from filling the leaky bucket of revenue over and over again. I knew it was time to merge my agency and get out. I stopped selling.
New Business. No Selling
After a stint at business school, I was back in business, but this time, on my own. I had no website and no nameplate in my office. I was invisible, and I didn’t sell. I just told past clients and colleagues what I was planning and doing.
For four months, the phone was quiet. Then it rang. I met with the prospect — and instead of selling and telling him about my offer, I just asked questions about his company and what problems required attention. I checked the size, importance, and cost of those problems.
He was interested in working with me, and I was interested in working with him. I wrote a two-paragraph summary of how to tackle the issues and added a price range. It was large and provided good value.
And the phone continued to ring, despite no website, no marketing, no sales activity, and no long submissions. I refused to write submissions – only one-page outlines. I just asked questions.
A few years later I co-founded The Client Relationship Consultancy. Again: no website, no marketing, no selling. I met with past colleagues and explained our philosophy. We made them sign a two-way NDA — we would never talk about them, and they would never talk about us.
But they wanted to work with us. As clients moved to new agencies, the word spread and we got more calls. These new prospects wanted credentials presentations. I explained that I would tell them about our business for less than sixty seconds, and about our philosophy and approach for four minutes. At that point, if they did not agree with our approach, we could cut short the meeting and I might be able to suggest others who could be a better fit for them. But no one ever said that. And we still had a two-way NDA.
We never chased after a meeting. If I thought a prospect would not be right for us, I would decline their business. Occasionally, existing clients wanted to do things differently. If whatever they suggested failed to meet our philosophy, we refused to work with them.
I loved this new way of carrying out business. I felt re-energized. And our clients stuck.
To my business partners’ intense irritation, I refused to set annual targets. I did not want to feel that I needed to sell. But over sixteen years, our business grew and grew — to offices and consultants in London, Windsor, Boston, Mexico, Munich, Singapore, and Sydney. Still no website. Still no new business or marketing activity. Still a two-way NDA.
Why It Worked
Why did this approach work? Not having objectives for sales, and not selling, meant that I had a powerful position, equal to that of a prospective client. I could relax. As a result, so could the client. We were able to have adult-to-adult conversations. The prospective clients became less defensive, and more open to me. They were comfortable disclosing deeper, underlying issues.
Both parties had the opportunity to ensure that the ‘fit’ between was tight. Both sides had the chance to ensure that our beliefs were in synch. The result: long-term, enduring relationships, and no leaky buckets anywhere.
Here is a quote from the co-founder of Thrive Market:
“Growing up in the Midwest in the ‘90s, I saw how hard my mom worked to put healthy food on our table despite limited knowledge, a limited budget, and limited healthy options in our hometown. She did an amazing job, but it was hard—and she was mostly on her own…Thirty years later, so much has changed. Today, millions of moms, dads, grandparents, and young people are all aspiring to live healthier and more sustainable lives. My mom is no longer on her own!And yet one thing hasn’t changed: finding convenient, trusted, and affordable ways to shop healthier is still hard.At Thrive Market, we’re on a mission to change that.”—Nick Green, Father of Two + Thrive Market Co-Founder & CEO
Thrive Market is benefiting from four converging trends that shifted into overdrive by the pandemic: healthy eating, online grocery, subscriptions, and personalized shopping.
It’s propelled an already rapidly-growing company, tracking at 40% year-over-year growth before the pandemic, to nearly double its business since, with sales up 90% year-over-year.
With its membership rapidly approaching one million, Thrive Market solves many of the problems inherent in traditional grocery shopping and online as well. Because the typical grocery store carries between 30,000 to 50,000 products, grocery shoppers suffer from a confusing abundance of choices.
Thrive Market makes selection simple, offering about 6,000 carefully curated items that represent the best brands that are better for people and better for the planet.
Initially focused on non-perishable products in the center aisles of a grocery store, it now offers wine, meat, seafood, and ready-made meals, along with a growing list of pet, beauty, and home products. The only thing missing is dairy and fresh fruits and vegetables, which present logistical challenges the company is working to overcome.
“We are about six years old now, and we have always been a fast-growing business,” says Sasha Siddhartha, the company’s co-founder and chief technology officer. “Since we launched, keeping up the growth and scale has been a consistent focus for us. But then starting in late February/early March, that growth accelerated dramatically, and we continue to hold that accelerated pace. It turns out Thrive Market is a sticky concept.”
“Our approach has always been curated, so you don’t have to worry about which brand is better for you or spend time studying the labels. Our merchandising team has already done the work for you to pre-select and curate based on the highest standards in the industry,” Siddhartha says. “Instead of finding 40 products to choose from, we offer the best two or three, taking the guesswork out.”
Since Covid hit, people have prioritized health and wellness in grocery shopping. Thrive Market sits in that sweet spot. Even before the pandemic, natural and organic had been the fastest-growing sector in the grocery industry, he shares. It is a trend that is sure to continue as the immediate health threat abates.
Online grocery shopping is a great convenience, saving time, which is the ultimate luxury. But consumer habits are hard to break and going to the grocery store has long been a staple of the American’s lifestyle. That changed overnight due to the pandemic.
Why give your money to a company that is not only infringing on your Constitutional rights, but those of their employees?
Thrive Market is the way of the future.
They provide high-quality products at very reasonable prices.
Expect to see other online grocery stores adopt a similar model of Thrive Market.
When Amy Buttell separated from her husband in 2005, her anxiety spiked off the charts. A suddenly single mother, Buttell didn’t have a lot of money to throw around. Still, in the wake of her marital upheaval, she made massage a priority. It helped her weather the storm, she says, and today, she still finds that getting one or two massages a month helps keep stress at bay. And that helps her defend against physiological tension, too.
“When I’m anxious, I feel all clenched up,” says the 49-year-old marketing communications director from Erie, Pa. “My massage therapist untangles my knots.” Like many people, Buttell values not only the hands-on healing but also the opportunity to power down her brain and nervous system for an hour or so. “Even if I’m short on money,” she says, “I find a way to make it happen.”
Buttell is not alone. Despite massage’s reputation as a self-indulgent luxury, an increasing number of people are embracing it — not just as a “spa treatment,” but as a powerful therapeutic tool.
Americans currently log more than 114 million trips to massage therapists every year. Massage therapists are the second most visited complementary and alternative medicine providers behind chiropractors. All told, Americans spend up to $11 billion a year on massage. And statistics from the American Massage Therapy Association project that over the next five years, that number is likely to grow considerably.
What we’re getting for our money, whether we realize it or not, is an access code of sorts — a healing key capable of opening the body’s stickiest locks.
Scrunching our shoulders, craning our necks, sitting for hours, driving in rush-hour traffic — such mundane activities can create patterns of muscle tension (referred to as “holding”) in the body. And when muscles are chronically tense or tweaked, it can have a nasty effect on both our bodies and our minds.
Persistent musculoskeletal tension can restrict blood circulation and nutrient supplies to the body’s organs and tissues. As the weblike connective tissue (fascia) that envelops the muscles gets increasingly dense and less mobile, it can negatively affect posture and breathing. The experience of low-grade, habitual tension can contribute to chronic hormonal, biochemical, and neurological problems of all kinds.
In conventional medicine, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies are the gold standard. But massage and most other forms of bodywork don’t lend themselves well to such studies. Therefore, scientific “proof,” both for massage’s efficacy and its means of function, runs a little thin. But convincing clinical evidence is accumulating.
For example, in 2004, Christopher Moyer, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin–Stout, published a meta-analysis on massage therapy research and found that, on average, research subjects who received massage had a lower level of anxiety than those who did not.
“My research consistently finds that massage does have an impact on anxiety,” says Moyer. “We don’t know exactly why, but people who get massage have less anxiety afterward.”
One popular explanation is that massage lowers the body’s levels of cortisol, the hormone notorious for triggering the body’s fight-or-flight response. “No matter how we measure cortisol — in saliva or urine — or how often, we always find that massage has a beneficial effect,” says Tiffany Field, PhD, a researcher at the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine.
Although Moyer is yet to be convinced of the cortisol connection, both he and Field agree that massage is potentially very therapeutic for what’s known as “state” anxiety. Unlike generalized anxiety disorders, state anxiety is a reaction to something you can pinpoint, such as a troubling or traumatic event, circumstance, or setting.
Although more research is needed, says Moyer, “some experts posit that the reported alleviation of state anxiety could be a result of something as simple as the social and psychological environment where the massage takes place.”
Relieve Lower-Back Pain
Aside from stress, if there’s one thing that drives people to the massage table in droves, it’s pain. Especially lower-back pain, which up to 85 percent of Americans experience at some point during their lives.
In 2008, the Cochrane Collaboration (a global, independent, nonprofit organization that reviews the usefulness of healthcare interventions) published an examination of the evidence linking massage to relieving lower back pain. Reviewing 13 clinical trials, they found massage to be a promising treatment.
“Physical pain is like the alarm system of a house,” says Andrea Furlan, Ph.D., a clinical epidemiologist who specializes in massage at the Institute for Work & Health in Toronto. “With acute pain, like a burn or a broken bone, the pain signal indicates something is wrong. But, if you have pain every day, like chronic back pain, the alarm is malfunctioning. Massage may not be able to turn off the alarm, but it can lower the volume.”
Theories abound on how massage interrupts the body’s pain loop. One of the oldest and most well-regarded explanations is called the gate-control theory. Proponents surmise that pain signals to the brain are muffled by competing stimuli. More specifically, the pain travels on small-diameter nerve fibers, while massage stimulates large-diameter ones. Larger nerve fibers relay messages to the brain faster than smaller ones. In essence, says Furlan, the sensation of the massage “wins” over the sensation of pain.
One word of advice from fitness experts, though: You’ll get more lasting, long-term relief of lower back pain by supplementing massage with isometric core exercises, such as planks, that focus on strengthening the muscles that support and guide the spine’s movements.
Soothe Tension Headaches
Tension leads to headaches, so it follows that massage would help ease them. And for many, trigger-point therapy can prove particularly effective.
“A trigger point is an area of tightly contracted muscle tissue,” says Albert Moraska, Ph.D., a researcher focused on complementary medicine at the University of Colorado in Denver. “Trigger points in the shoulder and neck refer [relay] pain to the head. By reducing the activity of trigger points, we can reduce headaches.”
Moraska’s work, funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, explores how massaging the neck and shoulders can ease tension-type headaches. “We think massage can disrupt trigger points by forcing apart the tightly contracted sarcomeres (proteins responsible for contraction) within the muscle cells; as a result, the cells relax and subsequently muscle tension dissipates.”
Restore Deep Sleep
Roughly one in five Americans suffer from sleep deprivation, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. That’s a problem because lack of sleep alters the body’s biochemistry, making it more vulnerable to inflammation and lowered immunity, and more sensitive to pain.
“The relationship between pain and sleep deprivation is a vicious cycle,” says Tiffany Field. “Your body doesn’t get the rest it needs to heal.”
Although studies of massage therapy and sleep quality are few, the findings suggest that massage can promote deeper, less disturbed sleep, especially in people with painful chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia. Massage therapy indirectly promotes good sleep by relieving pain and encouraging relaxation.
Because massage therapy stimulates the body’s parasympathetic “rest-and-relax” nervous system (the opposite of its sympathetic “fight-or-flight” response), it counters both physical and mental stresses — giving you a better shot at enjoying the sleep you need to repair tissue during the night and to cope better during the day.
It may seem surprising that physically manipulating the body can help counter a malady we associate with the brain. But, in his oft-cited 2004 review, Christopher Moyer found that depression is particularly responsive to massage.
The average research subject who received massage had a level of depression that was lower than 73 percent of those who did not. These findings are on par with more conventional approaches to treating depression, including psychotherapy.
Field’s research on depression shows that massage boosts the body’s natural levels of serotonin, a substance that works “much like Prozac” in the brain. Her studies show that massage also encourages the brain to release the neurotransmitter dopamine, a mood enhancer, as well as oxytocin, a hormone that generates feelings of contentment.
While the exact mechanisms are unclear, it seems evident that a good massage has a variety of positive psychological implications as well, from receiving nurturing touch from another person, anticipating that the experience will be beneficial, or feeling empathy from the therapist.
Lower Blood Pressure
Given how positively it affects the rest of the body and mind, and how well it moderates stress, it probably comes as no surprise that massage therapy can also benefit the heart — in part by reducing blood pressure. In his meta-analysis, Moyer found that massage significantly lowers blood pressure, at least temporarily.
He notes that the findings are consistent with the theory that massage can trigger the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which helps prompt the body to return to biochemical balance and emotional ease after enduring a stressful event.
But perhaps the bigger takeaway here is that massage can help unlock the body’s healing potential not by anyone means, but rather by many. As epidemiologist Andrea Furlan points out, “Well before drugs or surgical procedures were developed, people used massage to treat almost everything.” Still, today, she notes, “when we get hurt, our first instinct is to rub.”
Amy Buttell, for one, doesn’t need any more evidence than her own transformation. “I don’t know if it’s the touch, the warm table, or the fact that I get to turn my phone off for an hour, but I do know that massage is worth every penny.”
Multiple Modalities: What Kind of Massage Is Right for You?
Not so long ago, available massage styles in most U.S. cities were fairly limited. Today, bodywork modalities abound, from familiar basics like Swedish to more exotic options like Hawaiian Lomi Lomi and Chinese Tui Na. Wondering which style of massage is right for you? Read on for a rundown of some of the most popular options. Some massage styles are more physically intense than others but keep in mind, you always have a role in guiding your therapist about how much pressure feels good to you and where it’s applied.
Abhyanga: Based on the principles of Ayurveda, one or more therapists apply herb-infused oils to usher the body into a state of relaxation and balance.
Acupressure: Working with the same theory of acupuncture (but without the needles), acupressure stimulates points on the body to release energetic congestion and open the body’s energy pathways.
Craniosacral therapy: A gentle, non-invasive form of massage in which a therapist uses a light touch to work the cranial bones, the spinal column, and the sacrum (a triangular bone at the base of the spine) to balance energy, treat headaches, and reduce mental stress. Mild enough for infants, as well as the elderly.
Deep tissue: Targeting chronic patterns of holding, deep tissue relies on slow strokes and targeted pressure, often with a finger, thumb, or elbow.
Hot stone: Smooth, warm stones are placed on the body and become focal points of relaxation as the heat penetrates and soothes tense muscles.
Lomi Lomi: An ancient Polynesian practice, this style is characterized by the practitioner’s rhythmic use of the hands, forearms, and elbows. Long, broad strokes invite relaxation.
Myofascial release: A light, sustained pressure is applied to constrictions in the body’s fascia, or connective tissue, to elicit elongation and release.
Reflexology: Stimulates pressure points on the hands, feet, and ears. Each point is believed to correspond to other, less-accessible parts of the body, such as the organs.
Shiatsu: A Japanese style, shiatsu directs pressure to lines of energy (meridians) considered important for health and well-being.
Sports: Often used before and after athletic activity, the focus is on reducing inflammation, keeping joints flexible, and enhancing performance.
Swedish: A combination of long, gliding strokes, as well as kneading, stretching, and tapping. Swedish massage is thought to enhance health by increasing blood flow to the muscles.
Thai: Performed on the floor with clothes on and no oils, a Thai massage involves being stretched into yoga-like positions.
Trigger-point therapy: Trigger points often show up as “knots” in the muscles, most often in the shoulders, upper back, and neck. Trigger points are different from acupressure points because they actually feel like lumps. Trigger-point therapy (also known as neuromuscular therapy) uses pressure to dissolve the knots.
Tui Na: A vigorous kneading and pulling of the body, Tui Na (meaning push and grab) is a component of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Like other Eastern approaches, such as Thai massage and acupressure, the goal is to open up the flow of Qi through the body’s energy pathways or meridians.
How to Choose a Massage Therapist
Finding a truly great massage practitioner — one whose skills, style, and personality all suit you — can make the difference between a merely nice (or worse, ho-hum) experience and the kind of transformative healing dynamic that keeps you coming back for more.
You won’t know for sure until you get on the table, but here are some key questions to help you decide whether a therapist is right for you.
1. Are you nationally certified? More than 300 schools and programs in the United States offer accreditation for massage therapists. To become nationally certified, a person must have a basic set of skills, pass an exam, adhere to certain ethical guidelines, and take part in continuing education.
2. Are you state certified? Every state is different, but most of them (42, plus the District of Columbia) offer certification for massage therapists; some are voluntary, and others are mandatory. Seek out a massage therapist who is state-certified, which typically means he or she met a minimum number of training hours and passed an exam.
3. How many hours of training have you completed? This is a helpful question, especially in states lacking strict oversight of who can call themselves a massage therapist. The answer you’re looking for is a minimum of 500 hours. According to the American Massage Therapy Association, the average practitioner has 633 hours of training. A massage therapist with less than 500 hours of training can still be good, but consider the number a benchmark.
4. Do you have any special or advanced training? The best massage therapists spend years developing specialties and honing a specific skill set. The massage therapist who is passionate about Chinese meridians and spends several weeks a year going to special training may have an edge over the generalist who hasn’t evolved beyond the basic moves she learned in massage school. The same goes if you have special needs. For instance, a massage therapist who emphasizes sports massage might be a good bet if you have a weekend-warrior injury, but not if you have fibromyalgia.
5. How much do you charge? Expect to pay roughly $1 a minute for a chair massage at the mall or airport. At an upscale spa or studio, massage rates range from about $60 to $120 an hour, plus a 15 to 20 percent tip. (Sometimes, packages of four or six massages are available at a discount.) If you have health insurance, ask your provider if you are eligible for either a discount (available with some plan-approved therapists) or if you can pay for massage with money from a flexible spending account. Unless you have the Mercedes-Benz of healthcare plans, preventive massage is probably not covered 100 percent, but if your doctor or chiropractor recommends massage therapy, your plan might cover a specific number of sessions.
One final tip: Get a referral. It’s OK to be picky about who puts their hands on your body. If you’re feeling spontaneous and want to book a one-time massage at a local spa, great. But if you’d like to explore massage as a long-term investment in your body, or if you have some tenacious kinks to work out and you think you might need a series of treatments, talk to your friends about whom they like and why. If your friends don’t get a massage, ask for a recommendation at your local yoga studio, health club, acupuncture center, or chiropractor’s office. More often than not, these folks are plugged into the local “who’s who” of bodyworkers and can steer you in the right direction.
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