Serious middle aged executive manager explaining colleague online workFeedback is critically important in any organization because it helps employees at all levels identify areas in which they stand out and skills they need to develop. Yet providing face-to-face feedback remains one of the most challenging aspects of leadership. And that’s true whether you’re a CEO or a lower-level leader. Positive feedback is typically easy to provide, of course, but it’s the negative feedback that’s often so much more difficult to deliver effectively, especially in person. It’s simple: Many people have trouble delivering criticism. And there’s always the risk that the employee will respond unfavorably, creating conflict — something we as humans try to avoid. It’s no surprise, then, that surveys show that many business leaders feel uncomfortable providing feedback to their employees, either during scheduled review sessions or on a day-to-day basis. Consider data from Harris Poll:

  • 69% said that they’re often uncomfortable providing in-person feedback to employees
  • 37% said they have been reluctant to provide feedback if they thought the employee might respond unfavorably
  • 20% said they avoid sharing mistakes they have made, even if doing so could help illustrate an important lesson
  • 16% found it difficult to speak face-to-face to employees, preferring e-mail interactions instead

Does any of this sound like you? Let’s face it: Effective person-to-person feedback can be difficult and uncomfortable to deliver, but it is much more effective than delivering the same news electronically. You likely do a lot of your communicating with your employees via e-mail. And some amount of feedback via e-mail is OK. However, you’ll want to make sure you’re not providing feedback only via e-mail, or that you’re providing important feedback that way. It’s also vital to give face-to-face feedback regularly. Don’t wait for something to go wrong before you provide it. No employee should have to wait for their yearly or quarterly employment review to know where they stand. The key to effective feedback is constructive criticism, of course. That involves giving a thorough explanation of any issue with the employee’s performance, how it affects the company’s goals and how you’re going to help the employee improve. It’s vital to make sure your employee knows why the improvements you’re asking for are important. Once you’ve delivered the feedback, you’ll want to check in regularly and provide additional feedback on the employee’s progress. You’ll also want to acknowledge when the employee has rectified the problem or risen to the challenge. It’s important that employees know that they have responded fully to your feedback so they can have the satisfaction of knowing they have accomplished their goal. Some leaders fall into the loop of providing only negative feedback, positive feedback or infrequent feedback. Instead, provide regular feedback — positive and if needed, negative — and make sure each time you do you listen to your employees and give them a chance to talk to you and ask questions. In-person feedback, early and often, is the cornerstone of effective leadership.

33727867 - close up portrait of a young black woman looking at laptopThe statistics are startling: It’s estimated that two-thirds of all small businesses have no plan in place in the event of a major business disruption or disaster. And according to a report from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 40% of businesses do not reopen following a disaster and another 25% fail within one year after one.

A preparedness and risk management plan can dramatically increase the likelihood a business will survive a major setback. Some risks are difficult or even impossible to plan for, of course. The global pandemic, for example, took much of the global business world by surprise — it’s one of those risks that few of us could have anticipated. But business owners can plan for so many other unpredictable events, such as major Internet or power outages, weather disasters, flooding, wildfires and other location or industry-specific threats.

Managing risk effectively is one of the greatest challenges for any business. We work directly with our clients, helping identify risks and providing support for a smart approach to reducing or eliminating exposure. Our detailed, multi-part education program, Work Smart, gives business owners the tools they need to implement their own risk mitigation programs. With more than 30 documented smart business practices in every area, Work Smart helps business leaders develop activities, policies and procedures that can reduce unnecessary business risks. We can also help your company develop a comprehensive insurance program to address exposures.

A quality preparedness plan includes details such as a list of alternative suppliers should something happen to your existing supplier or supplier base. Do you have alternative work sites so that you can keep operating if your building is flooded or destroyed by fire? Do you have a way to keep employees informed of a major business problem? Do you have a backup of all important files and documents stored off-site? Are you doing everything you can to reduce unnecessary risks?

We can help you determine the greatest risks to your enterprises and help you find the most cost-effective ways to mitigate those threats. We don’t sell insurance, we get your business the accurate protection it needs. Give us a call: (404) 907-2121 x701.

107207904_MLong days and irregular work schedules have become increasingly common in today’s business world. And during the global pandemic, many essential workers — from health care employees to grocery workers — have seen disruptions in both how and when they work, leaving even less time to sleep and recharge.

Fatigue can lead to real risks on the job. Even a small disruption in sleep patterns can pose a threat. Research shows that sleep deprivation increases the likelihood of a workplace accident by as much as 70 percent. The consequences of being exhausted at work are on par with that of alcohol consumption, resulting in impaired judgment, difficulty concentrating, slower reaction times and poor performance at best. At worst, fatigue can lead to serious injury or fatality. Here are some recommendations from the CDC to help employers prevent worker fatigue from causing a devastating accident:

Learn to spot the signs of fatigue. There are often clear signs of fatigue, such as yawning, difficulty keeping eyes open and inability to concentrate. It’s up to managers to monitor for signs or effects of fatigue on the job.

Create a culture of safety. Make sure your company has clear coordination and communication between management and workers. Does your company have a fatigue risk management or mitigation plan? Such a living document outlines the use of tools, systems, policies and procedures to help identify and reduce fatigue levels to the greatest extent possible. In general, it will empower safety managers to assess the level of danger related to worker fatigue and act accordingly to prevent accidents. Part of creating an effective fatigue risk management plan is making sure that employees are not punished for reporting when they, or their coworkers, are too tired to work safely.

Prudent scheduling practices also can help to limit the number of accidents on the job. For example, the number of hours of each shift, the frequency and length of breaks, the time of day of the shift, the frequency of shift rotations and even the number of hours off between shifts can help or hinder occupational safety.

Managing risk effectively is one of the greatest challenges for any business. We work directly with our clients, helping identify risks and providing support for a smart approach to reducing or eliminating exposure. Our detailed, multi-part education program, Work Smart, gives business owners the tools they need to implement their own risk mitigation programs. With more than 30 documented smart business practices in every area, Work Smart helps business leaders develop activities, policies and procedures that can reduce unnecessary business risks. We can also help your company develop a comprehensive insurance program to address exposures. Visit our website to learn more: http://accurateprotection.com/.

Business team meeting present. Photo professional investor workiDo you like to make New Year’s resolutions? Studies show that most Americans make an average of three to five goals each January. The problem: Most resolutions are cast aside by the end of February.

What would happen if you picked just one resolution — one important business goal — and stuck to it for an entire year? A goal that’s challenging and, if you work hard, attainable? Research shows that instead of coming up with multiple goals for 2021, pledging to make one significant change is more likely to result in success. And make it specific. Instead of a New Year’s resolution to “attend more networking events,” quantify the number of networking events you’ll attend each month and what you plan to accomplish at each. Instead of “growing your business,” quantify how much you plan to grow your sales or profits.

One time-tested method for setting effective goals is called the SMART principle. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Using the SMART approach, quality goals can be created by asking yourself these five questions:

  • Is your goal specific enough? You’ll be more motivated to work hard to attain a goal if you spell out exactly what should be accomplished. Instead of a vague goal of increasing traffic to your company’s website, for example, you would want to set a specific goal in terms of unique visitors or page views.
  • Is your goal measurable? Make sure you can monitor your progress and ultimately measure whether you have accomplished what you set out to.
  • Is your goal achievable? You don’t want to create goals that are too easy to reach but you don’t want to set yourself up for failure, either.
  • Is your goal relevant? If you accomplish your goal, will it further your personal and/or business objections or mission?
  • Does your goal have a timeline? Having a deadline can be motivating and give you an exact date in the future to work toward. Otherwise, you might not feel the urgency to put in the required effort.

Research also shows that sharing your resolution with others can make a big difference. Let others know about your goal early in the year.

93009307_MDo your employees like to work from home? Do you? New Gallup data shows that nearly two-thirds of U.S. workers who have been performing their jobs remotely during the COVID-19 outbreak would like to continue to do so at least part of the week when the global pandemic is over.

But working at home has its challenges. One of the biggest, for example, is the distractions. Family, pets, a messy house … they all can take your attention away from what you’re trying to accomplish. Here are six ways to have a great day of work from home:

1. Ditch the PJs! While sleepwear might be more comfortable, getting yourself ready for the day will help you feel professional and accountable. Making your bed, having a nutritious breakfast and wearing at least business casual attire all can help you get into the frame of mind for a great day of work.

2. Schedule your time. It’s so easy to get caught up in your daily life tasks that work can get pushed aside. Schedule your time so that you can fit in housework and family time but get your work done, too. Set boundaries and stick to them.

3. Create a work space. Even if you work from the kitchen table, set it up in such a way that will help you be efficient and feel like you can get the job done. Keep what you need to work close by. Then you won’t have to go searching all over the house, possibly getting distracted.

4. Resist the temptation to multitask. While it is tempting to work with the TV on, it won’t help you get your work done. Try to reduce distractions that will slow your progress and work in intervals of time that can help you to truly focus. As human beings, we are not designed to effectively multitask, even though most of us try. Studies show that you’ll get more done — and do a much better job — if you’re focusing on one task at a time.

5. Get help with the kids. Many of us have been watching our children AND working during the pandemic. That’s tough to do. Watching children, especially babies and toddlers, can make it extremely difficult to give your work the focus and attention it deserves. Even teen-agers can be distracting! If it’s not possible to get some help with child care, try getting up earlier than they do or, if you have a baby or toddler, carving out some time to focus during nap time.

6. Take advantage of your free time. One of the best things about working at home is having more time for things other than work. Without a commute and other activities involved in going to an office, you should have more time to get other things done. Make sure at least some of that time is spent doing things you enjoy.

47840981_MWe all know we should be using strong passwords. But studies show that many of us are still using passwords like ’123456.’ That was the most-used password nationwide last year, followed by ‘password,’ ’123456789,’ ’12345678′ and ’12345′. Rounding out the top 10: ’111111,’ ’1234567,’ sunshine,’ ‘qwerty,’ and ‘iloveyou’. Chances are, even if your password skills are much better than average, they could still use some improvement. That’s why we wanted to share with you four simple steps to a stronger password.

Use phrases instead of single words. Long passwords that have a minimum of 12-14 characters, with uppercase and lowercase letters, are strong passwords. Consider using a phrase. The more obscure, the better! You do not have to use spaces. Just type all of the words into one, long password.

Add in some several special characters. Adding numbers and symbols throughout your password in place of letters, in between words or at the beginning or end, adds an effective layer of added security. For example, the strong password version of “TheQuickBrownFoxJumpsOvertheLazyDog’ could be Th3Qu1ckBr0wnF0xJump$0verTh3LazyD0g. Use a not-so-obvious phrase, though, that you’ve made up yourself. Do not include your own name or birthday or information relating to you or any of your family members.

Use a different password for every online account. Using the same password for more than one account leaves you vulnerable to hackers who can gain access to all of your accounts if they guess the one. You should have a different and strong password for each of your online accounts.

Use a password manager and two-factor authorization. Now that you have several different quality passwords, it is time to remember them! A password manager is a secure system that stores complex passwords for you through a two-factor authentication system. Two-factor authorization requires you to provide a second form of identification, such as a multi-digit code texted to a smartphone, to log into an online account. It’s a highly secure way to protect your private information. So, instead of remembering dozens of passwords, you just need to remember one.

Speaking of two-factor authorization, using it can dramatically reduce your chances of being a victim of cyber crime. Use it with as many online accounts as you can. It may take a few extra minutes to log in, but it makes your online accounts much more secure.

At Accurate Protection, we understand the challenges today’s employers face, and we know you’re taking on more than ever before. See how we can help you protect the business you’ve worked so hard to build by visiting our website: http://accurateprotection.com/

Portrait of a business woman with an afro behind sticky notes in bright glass officeThink companies that have primarily office workers don’t have to worry much about workplace safety, on-the-job injuries or risk management? Think again! Accidents and incidents happen in all kinds of U.S. companies — not just at construction sites or in manufacturing facilities.

Nationwide, 3.7 million workers are injured each year. Injuries can hurt and even cripple a growing company. That’s why safety training and risk management is vital. Any business — regardless of size or industry, needs to have a plan in place designed to protect the health and welfare of their employees and to reduce operational risk. That’s where we can help.

At Accurate Protection, we work directly with our clients, helping them to identify a wide variety of risks, including the potential for work-related injuries, and helping them to take a smart approach to reducing or eliminating exposure. Each company faces a variety of different kinds of risks and has some that are unique to their business and industry.

Our detailed, multi-part education program, Work Smart, gives business owners the information they need to start developing their own quality risk mitigation programs and better manage their workers compensation program and costs. Filled with nearly three dozen documented smart business practices in every area, from hiring to pre-incident planning, Work Smart helps business leaders develop activities, policies and procedures that can reduce unnecessary business risks.

We’ll help your business identify its unique risks, develop risk mitigation strategies, address exposures through the right insurance coverages and monitor plans/strategies on an ongoing basis. We’ll also help your business make adjustments to your plans/strategies as needed. At Accurate Protection, we’re here to help your company operate more effectively and efficiently. Our company doesn’t sell insurance; we get your company the accurate protection it deserves. Learn more about us on our website: http://accurateprotection.com/. Or give us a call: (404) 907-2121 x701.

56956358_M

E-mail marketing is an effective and important way to keep in touch with your customers and clients. But during the COVID-19 outbreak, the tone and content of your company’s e-mails has never been more important. Here are some ways to connect with customers via e-mail, the right way:

Personalize your messages. Now, more than ever, people want to feel like the companies they support view them as individuals and not a number. Personalize your e-mail message without laying it on too heavy. And don’t forget about list segmentation so you can zero in on certain segments of your customer base. You might want to reach out to customers you haven’t heard from in a while or send a thank you to longtime customers acknowledging loyalty.

Don’t send too many e-mails. Do you seem to be getting more e-mails compared with last year? E-mail volume nationwide has definitely increased since the beginning of the year. This isn’t the time to send so many e-mails to your clients that they click on the ‘unsubscribe’ button.

Provide value. Make sure you have a compelling reason to send them e-mails. Providing value can take many forms — valuable information or a discount are just two of them.

Be sensitive to tone. As thousands of people are sick and dying in the United States alone, you need to be mindful of these realities. Making sure all messages and related images are appropriate right now is going to be critical. Don’t try too hard with humor, at the risk of turning people off. Also, go easy on the phrases “uncertain times” or “new normal,” as they are now trite. Instead, put yourself in the position of your customers and prospects. How are they feeling? Try providing them with tools and resources to cater to their needs and they’ll look at you favorably.

In short, what worked in the past won’t necessarily work today, because life is not the same as it was a year ago. It’s a great time to re-examine your e-mail strategy, and if needed, adjust it.

Serious middle aged executive manager explaining colleague online workCyber attacks on small businesses and organizations are becoming increasingly common. It’s one of the top risks of doing business today. That’s why it’s so important to keep your company’s computer system safe and secure.

Online attacks are costly to address. It’s estimated that 60 percent of small businesses and organizations fail within six months of a cyber attack. Studies also show that nearly 90 percent of all cyber attacks could have been easily prevented with some simple safeguards.

For most companies, the problem is malware. That’s malicious software designed to gain access to a network, find sensitive data and steal that data. There are various types of malware, including spyware, viruses, worms, and any type of malicious code that infiltrates a computer. Once malware is installed, it can allow hackers to extract private and sensitive data whenever they wish.

Some of the best ways to prevent malware from being installed on your computer system are the most simple. Don’t click on links or open attachments in e-mails that you aren’t 100% sure are legitimate. This is one of the most common ways hackers gain access to a company’s computers. Generally be wary of e-mails containing attachments. If you are suspicious of what you are being asked to view or install, don’t do it. Scan a disc or flash drive before using it; it too can unknowingly contain malicious code.

Long and strong passwords with a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols are important, too. Set a specific timeline — such as every three months — for changing company passwords. Consider requiring employees to refrain from checking their personal e-mail accounts and social media channels using company computers and devices. If a computer contains company information, you’ll want employees to avoid downloading any programs or apps on it without your permission.

Security measures also are important. Install anti-virus/malware software, firewalls and anti-ransomware, keep it up to date and run regular scans. Don’t let updates to your operating system, browsers and plugins pile up. Updates often address security vulnerabilities that have been discovered, so it’s important those are completed in a timely manner.

98669007_MHow many Zoom meetings do you participate in each week? Probably more than you used to. The use of Zoom and other video conferencing technology has skyrocketed during the global pandemic as a way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and as many businesses adapt to remote work. Unfortunately, all of those video calls can lead to “Zoom fatigue.”

Studies show that an increasing share of remote workers have discovered that video conferencing can be both challenging and draining — even for those who aren’t huge fans of meetings of the in-person variety. Why? Here are a few reasons why you might find Zoom meetings so tiring.

  • You can’t take breaks. Many busy professionals face back-to-back Zoom meetings each day — and as a result are sitting down and staring at a computer screen for long stretches of time. In a Zoom meeting, you feel compelled to keep your attention on the faces on the screen. But nonstop screen time is tough on both your body and eyes. With in-person meetings, you get to move around a bit and your eyes get a rest from screens. Not so with back-to-back Zoom meetings. Take regular breaks using the “20-20-20” rule: every 20 minutes, shift your eyes to look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Also, try to schedule Zoom meetings with more wiggle room in between so that you can look away from your computer, stretch or even take a short walk.
  • You’re multitasking. It’s easy to minimize a Zoom call and try to get other work done. The problem with this approach is that you are only giving half of your your attention to each task. You’re not getting as much done as you think — especially quality work that requires concentration — and you’re not paying attention to either the meeting or the task as you should. It’s simple: Research shows that human beings are not equipped to effectively multitask, even though most of us continue to try. Studies show that you’ll get more done — and do a much better job — if you focus on one task at a time. The next time you’re on a video call, close any tabs or programs that might distract you, put your phone away, and stay tuned in.
  • You’re looking at yourself. In face to face meetings, you don’t see your own face while you’re talking, of course. Not so with Zoom. The problem: Several studies show that many people don’t like seeing themselves for long periods on the screen and many people get distracted by their own face in Zoom meetings. Here’s something to try: At the start of your next Zoom meeting, double check that your appearance is in order and then hide yourself from view. Others in the meeting can still see you, but you’ll no longer see your face on the screen.
  • You’re switching over almost exclusively to video communication. During the pandemic, many of us haven’t just replaced in-person meetings with Zoom — we began hopping in a Zoom room for discussions that used to take place over phone or e-mail. That’s a recipe for video burnout. Don’t treat video as a default method of communication. Phone calls often work well and some instances, even better than a video conference.

At Accurate Protection, we understand the challenges today’s employers face, and we know you’re asked to take on more than ever before. See how we can help you protect the business you’ve worked so hard to build: http://accurateprotection.com/