ISSUE NO. 5
W IS THE WILLIAMSON GROUP’S CLIENT NEWSLETTER, PROVIDING INSIGHTS AND INFORMATION ON INDUSTRY TRENDS AND DEVELOPMENTS
THE WILLIAMSON GROUP:
YOUR GUIDE TO GLOBAL BENEFITS
RETIREMENT, IT’S ABOUT MORE THAN JUST FINANCIAL PREPAREDNESS MANAGING RISK IN A COMPETITIVE ECONOMY: SEMINAR RECAP PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH & SAFETY IN THE WORKPLACE HAVE A HEALTHY HOLIDAY SEASON: POWER BAR RECIPE
THE WILLIAMSON GROUP: YOUR GUIDE TO GLOBAL BENEFITS You hear it time and time again – we are living in a global economy. Advancements in technology, particularly within transportation and telecommunications infrastructure, are giving rise to the globalization of business and are precipitating further interdependence of economic and cultural activities between nations. For instance, the Work and Family Researchers Network reports that, in 1980, the global workforce (the international labour pool of workers employed by multinational organizations) accounted for 960 million working persons around the globe. By 2005, that number had risen to close to 3 billion workers and is estimated to be closer to 4 billion today. As more organizations expand abroad, there is a growing critical need for global and local benefits expertise to meet the challenges of providing cost-effective benefits to international employees. Multinational companies often struggle to find the time to effectively manage their insured employee benefit plans for small numbers of international employees, whether they are located in one, or multiple other countries. Historically, the trend has been for multinationals to leave the design and financing options pertaining to their employee benefit programs to their local subsidiaries, or to their current carrier’s local representation – often with little oversight or quality control coming from their main headquarters; however, this approach has a number of implications. There are no standard, pre-packaged strategic approaches to global health care. In the absence of strategic direction, international employee benefit designs are often inconsistent with an organization’s overall health and employee engagement goals. In addition, companies may experience either an overlap or void of benefit coverage depending on a country’s national health care system – creating undue costs, duplicate administrative processes, and/or decreased benefit engagement from their international employees. With no two nations or cultures being alike, trying to apply a Canadian approach to benefit design to an employee working in South East Asia, is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole – blindfolded and with your hands tied behind your back. So, how does a multinational organization not only meet the expectations of their international employees with tailored benefit plans, but also ensure these benefits are communicated and administered effectively to increase employee engagement and retention? Allow us to introduce you to the Asinta Network.
Asinta consists of hand-picked, close-knit partnerships of around 420 independent benefits experts and insurance brokers - creating an extremely flexible and attentive network. WHAT MAKES THE ASINTA NETWORK DIFFERENT? Whether you are just beginning your organization’s international growth, or already have a strong multinational presence, trying to adapt your headquarter’s benefit design to fit your international employees is often a gamble. Will your current carrier have local representation where you need it? Will your current plan suit the needs of your international employees? Will the administration and service levels be up to your corporate standards? Chosen, Not Owned When you choose to work with Asinta, your international employee benefits will no longer be left to chance. Asinta Network partners are chosen, not owned. This means that you can be confident in the brokers available to you because they have met the rigorous partnership standards set globally by Asinta. Each broker has demonstrated unparalleled expertise and experience in their local markets, has a strong focus on client service and custom employee benefit design. Plus, as independent benefits experts, Asinta partners work with many different providers but are captive to none. Making it Personal You have a wealth of respect for your international colleagues, so why not ensure that they too get to work closely with their benefits broker? Face-to-face relationships mean that your international employees remain informed and engaged in their personal health and well-being. Plenty of research demonstrates that employee engagement correlates directly with higher customer satisfaction, higher productivity and higher profitability. International employees in multinational organizations are often left feeling disconnected from the corporation, not to mention their benefits program.
More than some large consulting firms, Asinta makes it personal – investing in relationships with an understanding that your smaller foreign offices will grow. As local experts, Asinta partners are well versed in the laws and customs of each country and they want to aid your growth. The personal relationships that Asinta maintains with your international employees ensure that even your smallest branches receive outstanding levels of care and attention. Building Bridges Different languages, local dialects, colloquialisms – do you ever wonder what gets lost in translation? In order for international employees to make use of their benefits plan, they need to properly understand what is available to them; otherwise, you are just wasting money. Working within the Asinta network ensures that your organization will have access to local benefits experts who can communicate with your international employees in their own local dialect. Asinta can build bridges. Partners can provide excellent translation between your headquarters and field offices – relating complicated concepts without a loss in clarity. In addition, a local Asinta partner can assist headquarters in understanding different cultural expectations and match their local standards to global objectives. Asinta Does the Heavy Lifting Let the Asinta network of benefits experts do the leg work in managing, assessing and administering benefit plans for your international employees. Asinta will handle the heavy lifting: • Research and Benchmarking – evaluating your present programs in conjunction with the local environment • System Design – preparing and presenting recommendations • Internal Education – informing international employees and promoting programs directly • Implementation – executing any changes needed to your international plans or administration
ASINTA FACTS • Founded in 1992. • Partners located in 75 countries. • 2,170 personnel worldwide, including 420 licensed advisors, consultants and insurance brokers. • Serving more than 12,500 employers (3,000 multinational) with a combined total of more than 2.8 million employees
FURTHER READING Learn more about the global benefits landscape by reviewing The Williamson Group’s, Going Multinational – Trends in Global Employee Benefits. This publication is powered by Asinta and reports the results of Asinta’s 2012 global benefits survey.
THE BIG PICTURE – ASINTA PARTNERS MAKE GREAT GUIDES
THE WILLIAMSON GROUP – POWERED BY ASINTA
Asinta helps companies navigate the complexities of benefits for international employees. With advisors located around the world, you choose who you want to work with, how you would like to work with them, and then let your Asinta partner guide the way. It is personal attention with global reach.
The Williamson Group (TWG) is proud to be Asinta’s Canadian partner, having been accepted into the network in 2009. Don Williamson, President of The Williamson Group, is Asinta’s Canadian Practice Leader and has served as Asinta’s Executive Board Chair since 2010.
The Williamson Group’s strong presence within Asinta assures there is a partner commitment to service excellence across the globe – consistent with TWG’s corporate goals and values.
Global Benefit Management Full global benefit audit and data management services allow you to see all your benefits in detail, manage costs and store data in a single, secure environment. Global Consulting Benefit strategy and review services help ensure worldwide compliance and efficiency. Other competencies include healthcare & wellbeing, actuarial services, employee benefit strategies, as well as pooling of insured employee benefits and retirement assets. International Mobility Full consulting and implementation services for medical, retirement and other benefits for internationally mobile employees. Local Consulting Advice, implementation and plan management services in over forty countries, covering healthcare, employee benefits and retirement. Investments Full-service, strategic investment counsel and actuarial advice, as well as fiduciary management, risk management and discretionary portfolio management services. Corporate Strategy Asinta partners guide the way through entry into new countries, advising on local benefit standards and costs, identifying key risks and providing risk management solutions, assisting with due diligence in mergers and acquisitions.
Being within the Asinta network also benefits TWG. Asinta provides us with a comprehensive global reach and unique insights into the global benefits landscape. With global experts and local expertise at our fingertips, we have compiled a distinct understanding of the international complexities facing current multinational corporations and organizations wishing to expand abroad. If your multinational organization has employees in Canada – or if you are currently looking to expand your operation into Canada – let The Williamson Group guide your journey. For more information regarding Asinta, The Williamson Group’s global presence, or anything else pertaining to this article, please contact Jacquie Fritsch, Benefits Specialist, Business Development & Global Benefits, at 1-800-265-9973, or email email@example.com.
JOIN US AT THE ANNUAL ASINTA PARTNER MEETING Build face to face relationships with the Asinta partners on Thursday, February 28, 2013. You are cordially invited to attend the Marketing Event at Asinta’s Annual Partner Meeting in Houston, Texas. Gain global perspective and find out how the Asinta network can guide you to a world of benefits. Special accommodation rates have been arranged at the Houstonian Hotel to assist your stay. Contact Jacquie Fritsch for more information.
THE PRESIDENT’S PERSPECTIVE As I look back on 2012 – and look forward at what 2013 may bring – I want to share some of my personal goals. Call them my TWG New Year’s resolution if you will. It is hard to believe that 2012 is coming to a close. No doubt this has been as busy a year for you as it has been for us at TWG. We may all still be feeling the effects of one of the most challenging economic environments in decades, but 2012 has seen TWG act both swiftly and decisively to adjust and expand our practice to meet market conditions – while continuing to invest in our future. It has been a year of reorganization, of growth, of innovations, and of client and employee engagement. One of our key endeavors in 2012 was to step up our resource investment in global benefits. We are exploring emerging markets through our partnership with Asinta, and the increased global insights ensure that we are even better placed to guide organizations through their journey to multinationalism. You can read more about our partnership with Asinta, and how it benefits our clients and prospects in this issue’s feature article, The Williamson Group – Your Guide to Global Benefits. Of course, growth also comes from within and requires a shared mindset – a client-focused, agile, can-do mentality. We were pleased to welcome eleven new faces to our team in 2012. That’s a seventeen per-cent growth rate and we are not done yet. We were extremely busy this year. But, I observed as teams pulled together, shared workloads, offered others assistance when they could, and still somehow made time to share in each other’s milestone events, celebrations, and simply remembered to have a little fun. Clients and prospects alike were always met with a smile, and given our undivided attention. While I reflect on this growth and attitude, I am reminded that the very best of TWG are the remarkable people we attract, both employees and clients, which make this adventure worthwhile. As I look back on 2012 – and look forward at what 2013 may bring – I want to share some of my personal goals. Call them my TWG New Year’s resolution if you will. • I will reach out and connect. Inspired by the relationships consultants, client service representatives, and others have built and nurtured with our clients, I am committing to reaching out and connecting more with clients and prospects in 2013. I want to make myself available to you, get to know your business, get to know you – and in turn, learn how I can better assist you in achieving your goals. • I will embrace change. Who we are and what we do looks quite different today than it did in previous generations. I have immeasurable respect for TWG’s traditions and values, but I look forward to the organization re-positioning and re-inventing itself in this burgeoning technologically savvy world. • I will floss daily. It’s all part of a personal wellness plan, right? Feel free to place your bets on this one now. I hope at this festive time of year, that you all find time to celebrate both business and personal accomplishments, that you work on your own resolutions, and that you feel free to engage my assistance in bringing any of your organizational goals to fruition. On behalf of everyone here at TWG, I want to thank you for your continued support, and wish you and yours a safe, healthy and happy holiday season.
Don Williamson President
RETIREMENT: IT’S ABOUT MORE THAN JUST FINANCIAL PREPAREDNESS As an end to the day-to-day grind, retired life can mean many things to many people. For some, retirement is the culmination of all of their hard work. It is a time to relax and enjoy the stillness of life. For others, it might be the time to seize opportunities that were previously unavailable. Regardless of your outlook, you have no doubt spent many hours financially preparing yourself for this next phase of life – but have you taken a moment to think about your desired retirement lifestyle? The biggest use of your time – work – will no longer be a factor, and yet despite this, many people give little thought to how they will actually spend their time in retirement. Retirees often enter this new stage of life with vigor, experiencing a honeymoon-like period for the first six-months or year of retirement. However, 365 days of rest, fishing, gardening, and/or golf are not as appealing as they once were, when they are not properly balanced with productivity. As strange as it may sound, preparing for a life of relaxation may very well lead to stress or depression in retirement. Psychologists and financial planners alike are now suggesting that a successful retirement depends as much on financial preparedness as it does on retirement lifestyle preparedness; thus, balancing your financial security with your emotional well-being. Whether you are five, ten, or even fifteen years away from retirement, now is the perfect time to begin exploring ideas for your happy retirement.
WORK-LIFE BALANCE Many people choose to work part-time, consult, or volunteer during retirement. Creating a retirement work-life balance can help supplement your retirement income or fill empty days, but more importantly, it enhances your social life, creates meaningful connections, provides motivation, and is an outlet for personal growth. Get inspired now by speaking with people who already work or volunteer in areas that interest you. COUPLEDOM Over half of Canadians over age sixty-five are married which means that retirement decisions should be made jointly. Start by discussing your dream retirement lifestyle with your spouse or partner. Are your retirement goals similar? Create a mock retirement calendar that allocates time to both shared and individual activities, travel, and other foreseeable commitments. Remember, retirement can mean a lot more time is spent together in the home environment. Think about how your relationship can be enriched with this extra time together, while ensuring each party maintains some time to him/herself. WHO-WHAT-WHERE? A common trend is to move or travel following retirement. Whether it be adventures in the countryside, a new city, or an entirely different country – retirees often have an appetite for change. You will need to consider aspects like personal safety, affordability, climate, transportation, access to medical care, and of course, maintaining your familial and friend relationships. Talk with your children, your brothers and sisters, and your friends about how your retirement plans, especially a major relocation, may affect them. Do your homework about potential moves now to avoid any pitfalls or surprises. TIME TO PLAN – PLANNING FOR TIME Life expectancy is increasing, and the average is currently projected to be in the mid-eighties. With an anticipated retirement age of sixty-five, retirement lifestyle planning is critical. Many of us prefer an active lifestyle – mentally or physically – over the passive lifestyles of previous generations. So, how do you want to spend your time? That is a big question for many to answer; instead, try asking some of the more direct questions below. • • • • • • •
What motivates you most outside of work? How do you want to be remembered? Do you like learning new skills? What can you do to keep yourself alert and healthy? In what type of home would you like to spend your retirement? Do you want to travel or expand your knowledge? What major purchases do you anticipate?
Taking time to formulate answers to these questions can help you begin your journey to a happy retirement lifestyle plan. Retirement lifestyle planning is about creating balance in your life, so make sure you broach your retirement lifestyle goals with your financial advisor. Since different lifestyle goals can greatly impact your financial planning or direction, a professional advisor can help you create the ideal balance between what you want to do, and what you need to make it happen.
To learn more about balancing your retirement lifestyle goals with your financial preparedness, please contact: Sue Bell, Director, Investment Services at 1-800-265-9973 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
MANAGING RISK IN A COMPETITIVE ECONOMY Early this fall, The Williamson Group (TWG) hosted our first Business Matters client seminar for small businesses with a focus on managing risk. The positive response from clients to the seminar was overwhelming. With 100 per cent of respondents finding relevance and value in the content presented – and highly rating all sessions – we feel it pertinent to now share some of the key information. AVOIDING TERMINATION MISTAKES Presented by Kevin Davis – Partner, Waterous Holden Amey Hitchon LLP The Supreme Court of Canada has recognized that an employee is most in need of protection at the end of the employment relationship. Therefore, there should be sensitivity in the manner of termination, and in development of the severance package that may be offered to the departing employee. Kevin Davis, whose practice includes employment law, family law, and personal injury claims, has been with Waterous Holden Amey Hitchon for over thirty years. Davis introduced our attendees to key definitions under employment law, discussed some risks and implications involved in terminations, and provided effective strategies to avoid expensive mistakes. JUST CAUSE With just cause, an employer can terminate an employee without paying severance. Just cause is used in terminations where there has been serious misconduct. Types of serious misconduct may include theft, fraud, unsafe employee conduct, violence in the workplace, willful misconduct, chronic unexplained absenteeism, fraudulent misrepresentation of qualifications, or a conflict of interest. Without just cause, an employer must pay severance. Please note that most situations of employee misconduct are not severe enough to justify immediate dismissal without payment of severance, and can only form the basis for a just cause dismissal if there has been progressive discipline. WITHOUT JUST CAUSE Without just cause pertains to any termination where an employer does not have cause for dismissal. This includes constructive dismissals – dismissals due to substantive changes in an employee’s pay or duties without their consent. Employers are required to pay severance for dismissals without just cause unless there is a clear and unequivocal act of resignation by the employee that is accepted by the employer. WHAT THE EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS ACT STATES Employees dismissed without cause are entitled to the following: • Termination notice, or termination pay in lieu of notice, calculated at one-week per year worked to a maximum of eight. Full benefits coverage must be maintained for the entire notice period, even if an employer pays-out the termination notice in a lump sum.
• Severance pay must be paid if the employee maintained a minimum of five consecutive years of service, and the employer has an annual Ontario payroll greater than $2.5 million. If this qualification is met, the employee is entitled to one-week’s pay (no notice given) for each year of service to a maximum of twenty-six weeks’ pay. Severance and termination pay must be paid within seven days of termination. COMMON LAW DAMAGES A common misconception is that if an employer follows the legislation detailed in the Employment Standards Act during termination – paying outlined termination and/or severance pay – then they should not have any other issues with said termination. However, employers also need to take into account Common Law, that is, law made by judges through their decisions that set precedent. Common Law precedent suggests that employers should be prepared to give three to five weeks’ notice – or pay in lieu of notice – for each year of service when terminating an employee without cause. WHEN YOU SHOULD CONSULT A LAWYER Misunderstanding or ignoring termination laws, legislation, and legal precedents can lead to costly mistakes. Consult a lawyer regarding terminations if you are unfamiliar with, or have questions regarding the following: • The proper process and documentation required for proving just cause dismissal. • The process of constructive dismissals. • Documenting resignations. • Termination common law precedents. • Creating employment contracts that protect the employer’s rights and limit the employee’s right to severance to that which is mandated within the Employment Standards Act. • The Ontario Human Rights Code
PROTECT YOURSELF AND PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS For more information about avoiding termination mistakes, please contact Kevin Davis – Partner, Waterous Holden Amey Hitchon LLP – at 519-751-6405, or email: email@example.com.
KEY PERSON PLANNING – WHAT WILL YOU DO? Presented by Rob Salvucci, CLU, CHS, FLMI – Director, Insurance & Estate Planning at TWG Rob has extensive experience working with businesses and business owners. He understands the critical importance of helping business owners plan for all eventualities. As a small business reaches different stages in the business lifecycle, it is imperative that the owner assess HIS/HER insurance needs. START-UP STAGE At this stage in business development, owners need to focus on establishing the organization. You should be directing profits back into the business, testing, and refining your business plan. Finances are most likely limited. The business may have significant debt, and you may be managing most of the work yourself – or with one or two staff as a measure to keep overhead low. Consider: key-person insurance, cash flow protection, business loan protection, a buy-sell plan, insurability protection THE GROWTH STAGE Now more than ever, your people are key! You are seeing a natural increase in sales and customers, and are dealing with growth and the presence of competition – the effects of which are leading to an increase in employees and overhead. You have established a strong working team, but in order to retain and build your team, you need the right tools and insurance in place for talent recruitment and key-person protection. It is a good time to re-visit and revise your business plan and finances to meet your new and burgeoning needs. Consider: talent recruitment, business continuation planning, debt protection, expanded key-person protection, funding capital gains tax upon the death of an owner, business loan protection
AN ESTABLISHED BUSINESS By this time, you have succeeded in building a stable and loyal customer base. Your growth and finances have stabilized and are well-managed. At this stage, your business plan may consist of evaluating your place in the market, looking for ways to improve business processes and/or adjust to market conditions. As a mature business owner, you may be starting to look at enhancing employee benefits, employee retention, or retirement and succession planning. Consider: Tax efficient wealth strategies, executive benefits, succession planning, retirement and estate planning, charitable giving At all stages of business, the right insurance can provide a cost-effective solution for many situations that could threaten a business such as the loss or illness of you or a key employee. As a business owner, co-owner or partner, you have a number of people that count on your company – customers, suppliers, employees, other co-owners or partners, their families, and of course, your own family. If the worst does happen, then having the right business insurance planning in place can effectively protect all of your interests. By ensuring that you lay the right insurance foundation, you can help secure the future of the business you have worked so hard to build. For more information regarding key-person protection and insurance planning for business, please contact Rob Salvucci, Director, Insurance & Estate Planning, at 1-800-265-9973, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
ENSURE YOUR BUSINESS IS PREPARED FOR THE FUTURE Questions to ask yourself at every stage of growth: • Have I clearly documented my vision, finances, timelines and goals? • Will I be able to fulfill my vision and goals if I experience an unexpected business loss? • Loss of a key employee, partner or investor. • Sudden death, illness or disability of you (the owner) or another individual who is critical to the business. • Are my personal assets protected and separated from my business assets?
PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH & SAFETY IN THE WORKPLACE According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, mental health problems and illnesses are the leading cause of short‐ and long‐term disability in Canada. The toll on Canadian organizations and employees is substantial, with the economic burden of mental disorders in Canada being estimated at $51 billion per year—almost $20 billion of that estimated to have come from workplace losses alone. To address this growing concern, in June 2011, an agreement was reached between the Government of Canada, the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and the Bureau de normalisation du Quebec to develop the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (The PHS Standard). A draft version The PHS Standard was released to the public in November of 2011 with the final version anticipated in early 2013. WHAT WILL SOME OF THE STANDARDS LOOK LIKE? There will be a definition applied to describe the accepted standard of a “Psychologically Safe Workplace.” From the draft standard and the Canadian Mental Health Commission’s paper, The Road to Psychological Safety, we can anticipate that this definition will be based around a workplace where every reasonable effort is being made to protect and support the mental health of employees. The PHS Standard will also require organizations to develop psychological health and safety policies and programs with the above definition driving the implementation of the following: • A policy that describes the organization’s commitment to a Psychologically Safe Workplace • Outlines of the responsibilities attributed to organizational leadership teams, managers, and employees to ensure the standards set out in their policy are met • An organizational Psychological Health and Safety System that: Identifies psychological safety hazards Describes measures to eliminate psychological safety hazards Provides reporting procedures for when a policy violation occurs Provides corrective actions Outlines regular program reviews Provides initial and ongoing training programs to all levels of staff
WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS? Once the final standard is released, one should obtain a copy for his/her organization’s reference. In the short term, organizations should establish a working group of HR and employee representatives to conduct a psychological risk assessment of their working environment(s). Once assessed, a Psychologically Safe Workplace proposal should be presented to the organization’s leadership team. To obtain leadership buy-in, ensure that this proposal includes: • A refined definition of psychological safety and a Psychologically Safe Workplace in reference to one’s organization • A summary of one’s organizational psychological risk assessment • A recommended Psychological Health and Safety Policy (PHSP) outline • A summary of the needs assessment for implementing the recommended PHSP • A recommended timeline for implementation, training, review and communications HOW WILL THE PHS STANDARD IMPACT MY WORKPLACE? Currently, Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) laws address certain psychological health and safety issues including workplace violence or harassment, but the requirements in The PHS Standard are far more encompassing. While the specificity is meant to address the nature of mental illness and psychological health and safety in the workplace, it also could make measurement, assessment and implementation a challenge for many organizations. Of course, implementation of CSA standards is voluntary and unless a jurisdiction formally adopts The PHS Standard into its OHS law, it technically is not binding on employers. However, employers should take note of The PHS Standard as other CSA releases have been adopted as benchmarks, where courts and arbitrators will use the CSA standard as a “best practice” model to evaluate an employer’s due diligence in promoting health and safety.
RECOMMENDED ADDITIONAL RESOURCES Guides and Documents: • Psychological Health and Safety – An Action Guide for Employers • The Road to Psychological Safety Websites: • http://www.workplacestrategiesformentalhealth.com/ • http://www.guardingmindsatwork.ca/ • http://www.psychologicallysafeworkplace.ca/ • http://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/
The PHS Standard is intended to provide structure and guidance to employers, employees, union representatives, or HR representatives who are interested in protecting and promoting psychological health and safety in the workplace. As such, The Williamson Group recommends that all organizations familiarize themselves with this standard and the related resources as part of their commitment to employee health and wellness. For more information regarding the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, or any other information within this article, please contact Scott Stewart, Director, Disability Solutions, at 1-800-265-9973 or email: email@example.com.
THE IMPACT OF CSA STANDARDS One of the most recent CSA releases that has impacted Canadian organizations was the Model Code for the Protection of Personal Information. This model code described the minimum requirements for the protection of personal information and became the foundation for the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Document Act (PIPEDA) in 2000. PIPEDA has dramatically changed the way Canadian companies conduct their business relations with employees and consumers alike. Any breach of confidential information is taken very seriously and can result in negative public reactions, profit loss and/or legal action.
HAVE A HEALTHY HOLIDAY: POWER BAR RECIPE The holiday season is upon us. For many, it is a joyous, albeit extremely busy, time of year. You have your regular routine and work, plus all of the busy shopping, baking, decking of the halls, and holiday parties galore with which to contend. Not to mention, the kids are home from school for the break and are looking to you for distraction. Phew! When you are running from one task to the next, it is easy to get caught up in convenience food that is neither healthy, nor nutritionally satisfying. Loaded with bad fats, chemicals, and artificial colours or sweeteners, convenience foods can become a major inconvenience for our bodies. So, before things get too hectic, plan ahead for a healthy holiday. These homemade, chewy bars are fool-proof to make, completely customizable, kid-friendly, and perfect to grab and eat on the go. Packed with protein and nutrient-rich, they are the perfect power bar to help you power through the holiday madness.
DRY INGREDIENTS • • • • • • • • • • •
1 cup – chopped dates 1 cup – rolled oats 1 cup – hulled, roasted, salted sunflower seeds 1 cup – hulled, roasted, unsalted pumpkin seeds* ¼ cup – toasted sunflower seeds ¼ cup – unsweetened shredded coconut (medium) ½ cup – dried apricots, chopped** ¾ cup – packed demerara-style brown sugar ¼ cup – oat flour ½ tsp. salt 1 cup – semi-sweet chocolate chips***
WET INGREDIENTS • ½ cup – water • ¼ cup – canola oil
*substitute roasted, unsalted peanuts, walnut pieces, or chopped hazelnuts **substitute dried, sweetened cranberries ***substitute carob chips, yogurt chips, or peanut butter chips
DIRECTIONS 1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). 2. Line a 9” x 13” pan with parchment paper and set aside. 3. Combine dates and water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Simmer for four minutes, or until the dates are very soft and the water has almost disappeared. Remove from heat and set aside for later. 4. Combine oats, pumpkin seeds (or preferred nut substitute), sunflower seeds, apricots (or preferred substitute), sesame seeds, coconut, brown sugar, oat flour, and salt in a bowl and toss to combine. 5. Stir canola oil and softened dates into your prepared dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. 6. Using a spatula or the back of a spoon, press mixture firmly into your prepared pan to make an even layer. 7. Bake for 30 minutes or until top is evenly golden. Let cool completely. 8. Use parchment to lift your baked mixture out of the pan and transfer it to a cutting board. 9. Melt your chocolate chips (or preferred substitute) in a double-boiler over low heat and drizzle over your cooled bar mixture. Let topping cool and harden over your bar mixture. 10. Use a serrated knife to cut into squares or bars. Makes fifteen+ bars/squares.
These delicious and healthy little bars will keep for two weeks without refrigeration in an air-tight container – just long enough to get you through the holiday season!
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Find out more about our singular approach to the provision of health and wealth solutions: 225 King George Road Brantford, ON N3R 7N7 Tel Local: 519-756-9560 Toll Free: 1-800-265-9973 firstname.lastname@example.org williamsongroup.com