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/

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.”