34064414_MThe first weeks and months on the job are a critical window of time for employees to find out about the companies they work for and whether the company, culture and co-workers are a good fit. It’s a time period too important to leave to chance.

Studies show there’s one common factor for many employees who leave companies within six months of the time they were hired: A lack of new-hire support. Studies show that as many as half of employees who quit jobs soon after hiring had little in the way of onboarding assistance — or none at all.

Why is onboarding a new employee so important? Researchers say employees’ impressions of their companies are formed much earlier and more solidly than employers realize. And if those impressions are negative, they may not stick with that employer, even if later experiences at the company are more positive. How well does your company welcome new employees in their first days and weeks? Here are some elements of an effective onboarding program:

  • Early communication. Sending several get-acquainted e-mails detailing what the employee can expect on their first days and weeks on the job can do a lot to relieve stress caused by fear of the unknown. A phone call the day before the employee begins is ideal. Ask if he or she has any questions before the first day.
  • A special first day. Send out an e-mail to your team letting them know about the new hire. Make sure the new hire’s work station is ready.
  • An overview of employee safety. A new employee’s first few days on the job are an ideal time to introduce and reinforce your organization’s commitment to safety. This is the time to provide important safety information that the employee needs to know. Make sure the employee has time to ask any questions. We have a wide range of tools needed to promote safety awareness among your employees and help your organization better manage its workers compensation program and costs.
  • Assistance well beyond the first days and weeks. Onboarding should be continued through the early weeks.
  • A mentor or ‘buddy’. Having someone other than the boss to ask questions can be extremely helpful. Google calls them ‘peer buddies’. The key is to have someone a new hire can feel comfortable with who can provide support and encouragement.
  • A culture of celebrating new hires. Order in lunch or take your team out to lunch on the employee’s first day. It’s a great way to celebrate a new hire and make them feel special.
  • Social support. Provide opportunities for new employees to get to know their co-workers. Research shows that an employee with a social network on the job is more likely to remain with the employer over the long term.
  • An empathetic and interested boss. Don’t wait for the employee to come to you with questions or concerns. Make yourself accessible. Make sure they have time to ask you questions and provide input on their experiences, confidentially if needed.

Concept image of a Calendar with a blue push pin. Closeup shot oWhile there’s no vaccine for COVID-19, there is one for influenza, and public health officials are urging people to get a flu shot by the end of October. Getting one is the best way to prevent the spread of the flu, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many companies encourage their employees to get flu shots each year. Should yours be one of them?

Flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter months. Flu activity typically begins to increase in October and November and often peaks between December and February. The flu vaccine isn’t just for children and the elderly. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control says everyone should think about getting one. While the flu vaccine is not 100% effective, each year it reduces the risk of flu-associated hospitalizations and deaths of both adults and children. According to the CDC, from October 1, 2019 through April 4 of this year, 39 million to 56 million people had the flu, resulting in 410,000 – 740,000 flu-related hospitalizations and 24,000 – 62,000 deaths.

Flu shots may be even more important this year. Many people with chronic health conditions who are high risk for the most severe complications of COVID-19 are also at risk of severe flu-related complications. With no vaccine yet approved for COVID-19, getting a flu shot can help reduce the likelihood of coming down with both viruses at once, or getting the flu first and then testing positive for COVID-19.

How should your company approach the idea of flu shots with its employees? Most employers nationwide outside of the health care industry encourage employees to get flu shots instead of trying to mandate them. Some people have strong views against the flu shot and other vaccines. It also can be a tricky legal area. That’s because under federal law, employees may make a request that they not be required to get a flu shot due to medical or religious reasons.

Studies show that offering on-site flu clinics, providing paid time off to get a flu shot and/or paying for the cost of each employee’s flu shot (if the shots aren’t covered by insurance) can help to substantially increase the number of workers who get vaccinated. Teaching employees about the health risks of influenza and offering other incentives to get a flu shot also can help boost the percentage of workers opting to get vaccinated.

78305570_MIn many companies, marketing ideas usually originate in departments or outside companies dedicated to that purpose. It’s a business model that’s worked for decades. But it doesn’t always have to be that way. Some of the most intriguing and innovative ideas for marketing your company can also come from employees who don’t work in marketing.

Yet how do you gather those types of ideas? Forbes magazine’s Communications Council offers up a number of ways a company’s leadership can encourage employees to contribute great ideas that can help a business grow and succeed.

Use the right tools

From Slack to Microsoft Teams and beyond, there are ways to use technology that’s part of everyday business to leverage ideas as much as managing tasks. Alexi Lambert Leimbach from the company Xcellimark considers how technology can be an avenue for sharing: “People can easily submit ideas and comment on each other’s input, feeding off of the different concepts submitted to help generate even more ideas. They’re able to participate and collaborate without being physically located together.”

Gamify your ideas processes

Be sure to keep it light, but having contests relating to the gathering of ideas, for example, could be a fun way to get creative juices flowing. Patrick Ward of Rootstrap explains that “creating some friendly rivalry … (with rewards) is a great way to get the creative juices flowing.”

Don’t forget to give thanks
It’s important to have a way to give credit where it’s due — and to never skip that step — when a person or team comes up with an idea that’s going to be used. “Even if you had to make major revisions, acknowledgment is critical,” Ellen Sluder of RingBoost told Forbes. “It not only makes the contributor feel good, but also demonstrates the behavior you want from the larger team, while also motivating others to contribute for their moment of glory.”

Provide an avenue
Several of the council’s ideas for outside input on marketing are focused on the fact that it’s important to be open to ideas from anyone and to provide a way for those ideas to be found. Corey Morris from Voltage gives this guidance: “While there are definite roles and lanes to stay in, giving everyone a voice and freedom to research, brainstorm and ideate is critical. Don’t lose that great strategy because it wasn’t their role.”

Business People Meeting Corporate Teamwork Collaboration ConceptThere are nearly 31 million small businesses nationwide, and it’s estimated that three-quarters of them have either not enough commercial insurance or no coverage at all. Does this surprise you?

The official definition of a small business is a company that employs fewer than 500 people. Research shows that the smaller the company, the less likely they are to have adequate insurance coverage.

The top claims made by small businesses include burglary/theft and damage to property caused by perils such as water, wind, hail, fire and freezing temperatures. Another top source of claims: Legal claims made by customers, including those injured at the company’s place of business. A BOP, short for Business Owners Policy, combines vital business property and liability coverage into one convenient and affordable policy and can be an ideal solution for home-based businesses and other small firms. As a business grows, however, its insurance needs change. Many growing companies don’t keep up in the area of insurance and risk management.

Business continuity is yet another area in which small businesses fall short. About 70 percent of new businesses survive the two-year mark and half survive the five-year mark. But only one-third of all companies remain in business after 10 years. One of the biggest sources of business failures is a lack of planning for the unexpected. Businesses that have a plan for unexpected events have a much higher survival rate than those that don’t. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 40 percent of businesses never reopen after a disaster. Most of those that go out of business did not have enough insurance, the right coverage or any coverage at all. It’s estimated that 75% of businesses in the United States are underinsured in some way by 40 percent or more, according to international data analytics firm Marshall & Swift.

As licensed insurance professionals, consider our team at Accurate Protection a part of your key advisory team. We’ll partner with you to perform a thorough analysis of your company and its unique risks and find the best solutions for managing those risks. With Accurate Protection, you’ll get an insurance program specifically tailored to your needs, with the right amount and type of coverage, at an extremely competitive rate. Learn more about us on our website: http://accurateprotection.com/.

43847169_SAs an employer, you want your best and brightest employees to be happy. But did you know that for most people, money can’t buy workplace happiness? Research shows that keeping employees happy is more than just paying them a good — or great — salary or giving them a raise.

According to one new survey, more than half of workers earning a salary of $75,000 or more consider themselves ‘generally unhappy’ at the office. Other studies show that higher-income workers aren’t necessarily any happier than those earning moderate incomes. So what does make people happier at the office? Here are three things that research tells us employees nationwide and in a variety of industries are looking for from their jobs:

Respect. One survey found that ‘respectful treatment of employees at all levels’ and ‘trust between employees and senior management’ ranked higher than compensation, benefits and job security among employees. Surprised? Researchers say that creating a more ‘human-based workplace’ can pay a big role in employee happiness — and ultimately retention — in companies of all sizes. Employers who are genuinely interested in their employees and their unique goals and challenges and make an effort to help with career development are rated much more highly than employers that show less of an interest.

Less conflict. Studies also show that workplace conflict is a major reason why the best and brightest employees leave companies. That includes unresolved conflict among co-workers and between employees and management. Few of us like conflict and most workers find conflict at work a distraction or at worse, a reason for seeking employment elsewhere.

Flexibility. One study by global accounting firm PwC found that workers who have flexibility, such as the option to work at home at least one day per week, have significantly higher job satisfaction than those who are not allowed some choices in when, how and where they do their work. Even those who are allowed to work at home when they have a sick child — or take time off for family obligations without feeling guilty — are more likely to be happy at work. Time off without guilt and flexible schedules are prized by employees in all types of positions and industries.

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Dealing with stress is no easy task. Whether you’re facing an important deadline, having trouble getting your kids to do their homework or struggling with a to-do list that seems to grow longer each minute, stress is an inevitable part of the lives of most Americans. Add a global pandemic to the mix and you’ve got a recipe for feeling overwhelmed! Even though it’s difficult to avoid stress, there are smart ways to manage it. Here’s how to make stress, well, less stressful.

Take one thing at a time. Oftentimes we get stressed out when we have a lot on our to-do list. So we try doing multiple things at one time. Here’s the problem: Research shows that multitasking makes most people more stressed, not less! Studies also suggest that multitasking doesn’t help most people increase their productivity. Focusing on one important task at a time can help you get more accomplished, which in turn can help relieve stress.

Establish boundaries. In today’s world, it’s easy to feel pressure to be available 24 hours a day, especially when you’re managing a team of people. But all that connectivity can cause a great deal of stress. Establish some work-life boundaries so that you get a rest from work. You could, for example, have a no-phone policy while you’re having meals with your family or block off time each evening to not answer texts or e-mails. Take vacations. And make sure you commit to unplugging from work and technology at regular intervals. Take some time off from all of that coronavirus news sometimes.

Keep your to-do list as small as possible. It’s been shown that people who make to-do lists tend to get more done. However, if your to-do list is too long, it can be counterproductive. Try to keep your to-do list realistic and manageable.

Eat healthy and get enough sleep. Getting too little sleep and snacking all day on processed foods with little nutritional value and/or relying on caffeine to get through the afternoon can make you feel more stressed. New research shows that simple things like getting enough sleep, eating healthy and taking short walks throughout the day can be powerful de-stressors. Try to make small changes each week, such as bringing a healthy snack to the office or going to sleep a half hour earlier. Remember that it takes about a month for most people to form a new healthy habit.

close up of businessman hand showing texture the world with digi

It’s been months of uncertainty and upheaval. Across the nation, businesses are trying to get back on track even though the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak is not yet over.

What’s the new normal going to look like? Here are a few ways that the global pandemic has fundamentally changed the way U.S. companies do business:

Businesses will have a renewed emphasis on continuity. In good times, it’s easy to let the process of identifying and effectively managing potential risks slide. And we had good times as a nation until early this year! The U.S. was experiencing the longest economic good times on record — starting in 2009 — until it was abruptly and wholly stopped short by COVID-19. The outbreak has once again put the spotlight on being prepared for the unexpected and making organizations more resilient. As companies get back on track, they will undoubtedly be beefing up contingency plans, developing risk management programs, re-evaluating insurance coverages, diversifying supply chains, and making plans for a host of unexpected events. The global pandemic was a hard lesson in being prepared for the unexpected.

Telecommuting has taken hold. How many of your company’s employees are working at home? The percentage of people working remotely increased dramatically with the advent of social distancing. There’s traditionally been a lot of skepticism among business leaders about telecommuting and many have been reluctant to invest in initiatives that support remote work. But during the COVID-19 outbreak, many companies found that remote work was a success — employees not only are happier working at home at least part of the time (as countless studies have shown), they are as productive, or even more productive. It’s something research has supported, but experiencing it first hand makes all the difference.

Many companies are now examining how remote work can fit into their business models going forward. Companies aren’t likely to go to a 100 percent telecommuting model and many industries can’t have people working at home, of course, but those that can are more likely to continue with telecommuting by allowing some employees to work at least part of the time at home. If your business has telecommuting workers, you need to make sure your insurance program adapts to the changing risks of having some employees working off-site.

Companies will make innovation a priority. There are so many examples in recent months of companies trying innovative new strategies to stay afloat — and succeeding. There are the local distilleries that shifted to making hand sanitizer, the fitness studios that developed online classes, the grocery stores that expanded into grocery and hot meal pickup/delivery, and scores of other businesses that found new revenue streams and customers by getting creative. Companies had to learn — or revisit — how to be adaptable, nimble and innovative. And many succeeded in ways they never would have imagined. Those that have had success with innovation in recent months are likely to continue to focus on innovation long after the coronavirus threat is over.

Video meetings and conferences will become more popular. A necessity during the COVID-19 outbreak, virtual gatherings, like remote work, will likely outlive the global pandemic. That’s not to say that old-school trade shows and conferences are a thing of the past. It’s just that companies have realized the virtual meetings and conferences are oftentimes a viable alternative to meeting in person, can save time and money and have a definite place in business today.

Businesses will re-focus on customer needs. Whether a company is B2B or B2C, their customers have been affected by COVID-19 to at least some degree. In many cases, what’s important to a company’s customers has changed. Now, more than ever, a human touch, and qualities like empathy, authenticity and emotional intelligence are vital. The customer experience — and customer service — has never been more important. People are stressed and worried — and that isn’t going to change anytime soon. Customers, now, more than ever, want to talk to real live humans who can help them. Now, more than ever, it’s important to make strategically right decisions to serve your customer base. How you treat your customers now will be remembered for years to come.

At Accurate Protection, risk management and preparing for the unexpected is our specialty. We work hard to provide your company with peace of mind through a customized risk management and insurance plan designed to protect your assets and financial future. Change happens but our service remains constant. We’re here when you need us! Visit our website: https://accurateprotection.com/

 

Group of young business professionals having a meetingWhen was the last time your team or company had a successful brainstorming session? By “successful,” we don’t mean you were able to get side work done while everyone else tossed out a few ideas in hopes that they wouldn’t be loaded down with extra work. Did everyone leave the meeting encouraged and recharged or did they leave feeling like they wasted the last hour or two? Effective brainstorming sessions can help companies innovate. Ineffective brainstorming meetings can be time-wasters and drag down morale.

What’s the secret to brainstorming done right? For starters, don’t keep the brainstorming topic a secret before the meeting. If you want people to contribute ideas, give them time to prepare. Some people are great at coming up with ideas on the spot. But many people need time to process and think through options.

It’s vital to make sure your employees feel safe in the brainstorming sessions. How do other employees or even managers respond to the ideas presented? What happens to those who go against conventional thinking or who question the aspects that have “always been done that way?” Are they made to feel unhelpful or, worse, chastised?The reaction to ideas can have a huge impact on further employee suggestions.

And you might want to reconsider any rewards for those “best” ideas. A reward system may cause others to not even make suggestions if they know their ideas aren’t worthy of such high regard. Each idea contributes in some way to the session.

An idea is only an idea until it is implemented into your business’ practices. Don’t just ask for ideas but ask how they can be implemented and who will handle them. Don’t end the brainstorming session until employees are empowered and ready to implement a plan for further action.

Stressed female entrepreneur in creativity crisisEvery evening, it’s the same. You are determined to leave on time. Yet again, you find yourself finishing one more thing, answering one more email, or talking to one more co-worker. Or perhaps you spend a few hours every weekend catching up on your to-do list.

Either way, it adds up: Americans on average spend 47 hours a week at work, more than any other industrialized country. Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers. Four in 10 Americans said they work more than 50 hours every week, with two in 10 working more than 60 hours.

Yet the research is clear: Long hours — working in the morning, evenings and weekends — is not only hard health-wise on the person doing all that extra work but it doesn’t pay off to the degree that workers and their organizations expect. John Pencavel of Stanford University is one of many researchers who have found that output falls sharply after a 50-hour work-week — even more sharply after 55 hours. Other studies show work weeks of 50 or more hours can lead to a variety of health issues. With that in mind, here are some goals you may want to consider:

Don’t work more than 10 hours each day. Several studies show that more than 10 hours of work a day dramatically increases your risk of cardiovascular and other health issues. One study concluded that working 10-plus hours each day results in a 60 percent increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Stop sitting so much. It’s difficult when you work in an office not to sit all day. But studies show that it’s hazardous to our health to sit for eight to 10 hours a day. Make it a goal to stand up or walk around for several minutes once every half an hour or hour. Take a walk during your lunch hour, in the morning and/or in the evening.

Schedule times to unplug from work. That means no work-related phone calls or email for specified times throughout the week. Consider making at least part of your weekend a time you don’t do any work. The key is to set specific times and stick with them — even if it’s only an hour at a time.

Take vacations. Americans take on average only 16 days of vacation each year, down from 20 days a year. More than half of all Americans do not take all of their vacation time each year. Studies show that vacation time — even if spent at home — helps us recharge and boosts our productivity. Take time off — and encourage your employees to do the same.

CEO owner leader company staff member portrait, possibly finance, accountant, managerYour employees are productive and do everything you tell them to do. But are they happy? Will your best and brightest work as hard as they can and stick with you or will they leave at the next opportunity? Gallup research shows that the majority of U.S. workers have some level of dissatisfaction with their jobs.

Studies also show that employees rarely disclose their frustrations with work situations until they are well on their way to finding a new job. That’s why it’s imperative for managers to get an accurate read on how things are really going at the office. But that’s easier said than done.

One way to gauge employee satisfaction is to meet one-on-one with each member of your team regularly. Ask them not only how they feel about their jobs but how your company — and you — can help them meet their personal and career goals. And don’t forget to provide regular feedback. Take a few minutes each week to provide positive feedback on recent accomplishments. Make sure if you’re providing negative feedback that you also provide some positive feedback as well in the same meeting.

Perhaps the best way of all to get honest feedback from your team is to make sure that each person feels that they can come to you with the good and the bad. Do you show irritation when employees approach you with problems or issues? Do you glance at your computer or phone while your employees are talking to you? Do you appear rushed when people come to talk to you? You may unknowingly be encouraging people to not be candid about how they feel and about what’s going on at the office.

How well do you know your employees’ hopes, dreams and personal challenges? Do you know what’s going on in their lives? Their children’s names? Their hobbies and what they do on vacation? It’s amazing how much happier people feel when someone takes a genuine interest in them. Taking the time to listen to your employees, support them in their careers and genuinely get to know them can go a long way towards helping them be happy at work.