By: Karen Casey, CISR, PWCA, Commercial Lines Account Manager
Effective time management is a key element in the workplace for generating productivity. Poor time management can cause missed deadlines and scheduling conflicts, creating a stressful working environment. At SIA Group, we work together to hold each other accountable as we emphasize the importance of effectively managing our time. Below are some tips and tricks our staff utilizes to eliminate the frustration poorly managed time can create.
• Use a calendar to help manage your time:
o By using an online calendar, you will have the ability to set up automatic alerts that are sent out before an appointment so you do not forget it.
• Have a written agenda for your meetings:
o This will help to keep everyone on track. Without an agenda, people may lose focus, causing the meeting to get off track and last longer than planned.
• Have a to-do-list:
o Write things down instead of trying to use your memory to keep track of everything.
o Organize items according to priority-highest at the top, lowest at the bottom.
o Review and update your list daily and work your way down the list from highest priority to the lowest.
• Set goals for yourself:
o Outline what you want to accomplish in the next day or week. Planning ahead allows you to know exactly what needs to be completed.
• Be organized:
o Keep your desk organized and neat. Clutter can lead to distraction. By filing away the papers that you are not currently using, you will reduce the tendency to get sidetracked.
• Stop procrastinating:
o Don’t put off tasks that are important or difficult. Putting something off only makes the task more overwhelming as the deadline gets closer.
• Reduce unscheduled distractions:
o Do not allow an open-door policy to be abused. Instead, ask others to schedule a time to meet with you instead of just popping in.
• Take a break:
o A common time management mistake is not taking breaks. It is impossible for anyone to focus and produce quality work without giving your brain and body some time to rest and recharge. Simply taking a quick break to get a cup of coffee or just stretch your legs will increase productivity, therefore requiring less time to complete projects.
• Eat lunch:
o Make sure to give yourself enough time to eat something during the lunch. It is hard to produce quality work when you are hungry!
By: Karen Casey, CISR, PWCA, Commercial Lines Account Manager
Most of us are sitting at our desk for 8 hours each day. Sitting at a desk for prolonged periods of time can cause muscle and joint stiffness, and overtime you can end up with back or neck pain. It is important to make sure that you sit in a neutral position so that you are not putting stress or strain on the muscles or skeletal system. Neutral body positioning is a more comfortable working posture in which your muscles and joints are naturally aligned.
According the United States Department of Labor, there is no one “correct” posture that will be perfect for everyone, so here are some suggestions on improving posture and work area:
- Organize your work space by placing items used frequently no more than an arm’s length away. You should not have to lean to reach these items. Your keyboard should be directly in front of you.
- Place your computer monitor so that the top of your monitor is at or just below eye level. You should be able to read the information on your screens by only moving your eyes and not your head.
- Sit tall so that your head and neck are balanced and in line with torso.
- Relax your shoulders.
- Place elbows close to body, supported by the arm rest on your chair.
- Make sure that your lower back has support.
- Align wrist and hands with your forearms.
- Ensure that feet are flat on the floor or on a foot rest.
Another important tip is to take small breaks during the workday to help release muscle tension. Any movement, from taking a quick walk around the office or grabbing a glass of water, can help loosen your muscles and increase blood flow.
Recent studies conducted by the Mayo Clinic have shown that sitting for long periods of time can be very damaging to your health, so it is very important throughout the day to stand up and walk around. Make adjustments to your chair during the day if needed and stretch your arms, hands and fingers.
Small changes can make a huge difference, so get a group of coworkers together to help remind each other to take occasional breaks throughout the day. Small breaks in your focus can also increase productivity, so both your body and your work product will thank you!
By Chelsea Evans, Strategic Partner Consultant
Do you know what is in the food that you consume on a daily basis? With an increasing number of news reports about genetically modified and chemically altered foods affecting people’s health and the intelligence of children, it is no surprise that more and more people are entertaining the thought of switching to organic. According to the Organic Trade Association, 78 percent of American families purchase organic foods. At the arrival of 2013, I decided to make a significant life change. It has been so beneficial for me and my health that I could not resist sharing.
What is organic food?
The USDA National Organic Program defines organic food as:
“Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.”
If you are still questioning whether or not organic food is right for you, here are a few points to consider:
1) Organic food just tastes better. Maybe this is just my biased opinion, but I feel confident that if you try it, you’ll be convinced, too!
2) Environmental Benefits. Now you can eat the foods you love and benefit the environment at the same time – win/win scenario, right? Organic farming ensures that bio-diversity remains available in the foods we eat. Many animals are affected by the chemicals and farming conditions used in producing commercial foods. By choosing organic foods, you are choosing to promote a balanced environment that protect crops from pests and worms as well as other organisms that fertilize the soil.
If you are not convinced yet, you might be after this…
3. Health Benefits. Consuming organic foods prevent people from ingesting pesticides and insecticides that are frequently found in your everyday commercial products. One of the main benefits of eating organic foods is that it allows you to obtain more vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients. The use of chemicals in produce causes them to contain more water and less actual solid food content. With organic, you are much less likely to run across foods with health-implicating diseases. Organically grown produce have lower incidences of harmful bacteria as well.
You don’t have to go entirely organic to lead a healthier lifestyle, but it is a good idea to start incorporating a few organic items into your diet. As part of SIA Group’s Wellness Program led by Dr. Will Clower and his team, Dr. Clower notes that most of the chemicals and hormones found in non-organic foods are contained in the skin of the food. So, if you want to try organic, but do not have the budget to make a full switch, start choosing organic for those fruits and vegetables of which you eat the skin, such as peppers and apples. You can help your grocery bill by choosing non-organic bananas, on the other hand, as you peel off the skin and with it many of the added chemicals.
Let your health be the decision maker about what is best for you. For more information and frequently asked questions visit: www.organic.org or contact SIA Group for information regarding our wellness program.
So you have found the employee that fits the qualifications for your open position and he seems to be eager to start. Now what? Do you have an orientation process in place to be sure that you are getting your employee ready to start off on the right foot? If not, you may be contributing to turnover and low retention rates.
An orientation program gives you the opportunity to make a great first impression on your new employee and his image of your organization. What kind of impression is your company currently making to your new hires?
Here are a few key items to be aware of in order to have an impactful and beneficial process that will generate happy employees. These employees will then be retained and empowered to become productive and well adjusted to your organization’s culture, benefiting your company’s overall performance.
- Be prepared
- Your employee will have a lot to learn, and it helps if you have a checklist to live by.
- Welcome the employee and notify current employees of his arrival
- Have the new employee’s name written on the welcome board in the lobby, if applicable, or have the receptionist be aware of his arrival. This will make the new employee feel welcome.
- Make it fun
- It is important to inform the new employee of the policies and procedures of your organization, but remember to include the exciting things that make your company fun as well. For example, tell the new employee about any social events or activities that your organization does.
- Stick to the process
- Be sure to follow the same process for all new hires. This will create consistency for anyone hired for any given department. It will become second nature to your supervisors and employees, as everyone plays a part in the orientation process.
SIA Group has the tools needed to help you reduce turnover and keep the people you invested the time and dollars into recruiting. Contact us today to discuss whether or not your current orientation process is helping or hurting your organization.
There are few risks that are always going to be relevant, no matter the type of business, industry, or culture. Every business will have to change hands in ownership and key management positions at some point if they want to survive. In today’s economy, only 1.5% of businesses survive the third generation of management, and only 40% of businesses have a perpetuation plan in place. This means that business owners are not taking the future of their company into account like they should.
Many business owners are either bogged down by day-to-day facilitation of their company, or are so focused on the strategic direction of their business that they do not have the time to evaluate what would happen to the company if they were to be suddenly unable to perform their role. Unfortunately, departure is inevitable, be it from retirement, new business endeavors, disability, death, etc. The importance of planning for the inevitable cannot be overstated. Here are a few items that should be evaluated for any successful perpetuation plan:
- Establish the core vision, mission and goals of the company. Make these the litmus test for all decisions moving forward. If the decision does not align with these factors, it is not the right decision to make.
- Identify the successor(s). Ensure that there is a united front from management in trusting the successors and their abilities. Invest in leadership training programs to prepare them for the future.
- Hire an attorney and/or CPA that specializes in perpetuation planning. There are many tax and income hurdles to jump through when transferring ownership of a business, so it is best to be prepared beforehand.
- Assess key strategic financial options, such as life insurance policies on each stakeholder and a buy-sell agreement.
- When replacing any key position, remember that you are planning to replace a position, not a person.
Many businesses thrive due to the direction and vision of their owner(s) and lead managers. The last thing any business owner wants to do is have their hard work lost due to lack of planning. Take the time to review your business perpetuation plan and do not forget to reassess it periodically to ensure it continually adapts to your ever-evolving company.
For more information on business perpetuation planning, contact Alison Henck at email@example.com or call our offices directly at 1.800.682.7741.
By: Clifton Waters, Vice President
Every year the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) comes out with statistics of the most common safety violations. The key to taking this information and utilizing it for the development of your risk management plan is to not look so much at the violations, but focus instead on why the violation occurred in the first place. This will allow you to tailor your risk management efforts to ensure that you have none of the root causes of the violation in common with those commonly cited.
Here is a list of the Top 10 Violations:
- Fall Protection: 7,250 violations
- Hazard Communication: 4,696 violations
- Scaffolding: 3,814 violations
- Respiratory Protection: 2,371 violations
- Ladders: 2,310 violations
- Machine Guarding: 2,097 violations
- Powered Industrial Trucks: 1,993 violations
- Electrical – Wiring: 1,744 violations
- Lockout/Tagout: 1,572 violations
- Electrical – General: 1,332 violations
Although these are all very unique violations, all 10 of these violations have three root causes: Equipment, Policy, and Training. This means that it is of the utmost importance that you incorporate up-to-date equipment, strong policies, and effective training into your risk management efforts. With these is place, the rest should fall into place.
It is also worth noting the importance of a strong safety culture in any organization, which will undoubtedly be a positive outcome of ensuring that your employees appreciate your investment in equipment, both employees and management have the proper written policies and procedures to follow, and both employees and management have been properly trained not only in their specific job functions, but also in the safety procedures of the organization as a whole.
For more information regarding risk management and safety efforts, contact Clifton Waters at firstname.lastname@example.org or our offices at 1.800.682.7741.
Do you ever wonder why companies hire the wrong employees? Is it out of sheer laziness or lack of knowledge? While it could be a combination of both, many times it is because the company has no true hiring process in place that allows managers to stop hiring out of need and start hiring out of want. If you are the HR representative for your company and know how difficult it can be to find the “right employee”, you may be wondering “where do I start?”
- Are you diversifying your advertising resources and benchmarking the results to know your best return on investment?
- Are you thinking like a marketer when you are posting job openings to attract qualified candidates? How are you standing out amongst your competitors?
- What is your pre-interviewing process? Do you have one?
- Are you preparing for the interview to be sure that you are compliant and consistent?
- Are you following the 80/20 rule? During an interview, you should spend at least 80% of the time listening to the interviewee, and only 20% talking.
- What is your process once you have made your decision on the best candidate to fill that position?
These are only a few items that you must consider when it comes to your hiring process. When are you in the process of interviewing for potential candidates, the best model is to take your time while avoiding wasting your time or the interviewees’ time. This way, you can truly express your expectations to your candidates and listen to what they can bring to the table.
Contact SIA Group today to audit your current hiring process and learn the best ways to utilize your resources to hire the best!
By: Sherry Whaley, CRIS, AAI, PWCA , Commercial Lines Account Manager
Disaster occurs all around us every day. How many times do we hear on the local news about a tornado that has damaged a community wiping out all homes and businesses or flooding in communities that have never flooded before or even the wild fires in California that damaged entire communities? It is easy to think that this will ever happen to us. But when disasters do strike, we seem to always be rushing to buy batteries, flashlights or whatever else is needed to prepare. Why not protect your family and be prepared for disaster rather than waiting until it is nearly too late?
On another note, we often forget to protect our livelihood (our business). Business continuity planning can be a time consuming process, but it is very important to protect your business. Planning ahead and prioritizing your recovery needs will help your business survive if and when disaster strikes.
The first step is to identify and analyze the types of emergencies that could threaten your business. The second step is to focus on establishing procedures that your business will put into place before, during and after a disaster takes place. Your business needs to decide ahead of time how to best protect itself. Direct your efforts to the areas of protection, preparation, response and recovery focusing on each of the many hazards your business can face.
Protection, planning and preparation such as sprinkler systems to protect against fire, proper building design and construction help prevent building collapse from roof loss due to high winds or snow build-up while shutters protect glass from wind-driven flying debris. Proper bracing can reduce the chance of equipment and shelving tipping over and wall collapse. If the electricity goes out, emergency generators can provide electricity when power lines are down.
The third step is evaluating your business operations and facilities to determine what protection features will resist or reduce damages if a disaster was to occur. The safety of your employees should be top priority. Do you have a response plan in place to deal with actions before, during and after an event occurs? Do you have team leaders to enforce safety if disaster occurs? These items need to be addressed and procedures established.
Here is a simple check list for your review as you establish your disaster plan:
Disaster Response Checklist:
- All-Hazards NOAA Weather Radio ( NWR)
- Working Smoke Detectors and Fire Extinguisher
- First Aid Kit
- Medications and personal items
- Flashlights and Light Sticks
- Battery Operated or Wind-Up AM/FM Radio
- Bottled Water
- Nonperishable Food & Utensils
- Paper Supplies
- Tools and Other Supplies
- Blankets, Pillows
- Cash, ATM/Credit Cards
- Emergency Contact List ( For employees and emergency services)
Feel free to call Sherry Whaley at SIA Group for additional information on disaster planning at email@example.com.
By Bradley Carroll, Sales Executive
A survey by Convergys Corp revealed that one bad tweet on Twitter or a negative comment on Facebook can lose your business up to thirty customers. On just one of the major social media sites, a negative review by a customer can typically reach up to 45 people. Of these 45 people, 30 will not purchase anything from a company they’ve heard bad things about.
You might be asking yourself: So, what does this mean for my business?
Not every consumer will take up an issue with a company directly. Many consumers use social media as an outlet to express customer dissatisfaction. A big change in today’s society is that with the increased use of sites like Facebook and Twitter, people who would have normally remained silent about their dissatisfaction have been given a voice to express such complaints. Unfortunately for business owners, this voice is “heard” by many. With just a click of a button consumers can submit complaints about anything on the internet.
Now you’re probably asking: What can I do about it?
The only solution from a business point of view is that you are going to have to develop some sort of monitoring mechanism. It is crucial to know when someone says something negative about you or your services. HootSuite (www.hootsuite.com) and Twitter Search (www.twitter.com) are two beneficial sites that can help you keep track of your business’s brand on twitter.
Questions to ask yourself:
- How is your company monitoring customer comments and complaints? What tools are you using?
- Who in your company is monitoring what is said about your business on social media?
- Who has been trained to respond to any negative activity that takes place online to prevent it from flourishing?
If you don’t have an answer to these questions, you should. Without a proactive strategy, you’re company is at risk. Now is the time to take action!
Do you consider your insurance agent your partner? For me, there have always been a few people in my life that have a special place. These people are in my life on a continual basis because we have formed a partnership that has helped bring a huge amount of success to my life, both personally and professionally.
I choose to keep these people close for four main reasons. They have earned my partnership by:
- earning my trust,
- putting effort into our partnership,
- working hard, and
- focusing on how they could not only make themselves better, but on how we could both grow and become better through the relationship we continually build as well.
As I mentioned above, few people have reached this level of security with me, and I believe it is because many people have forgotten the value of true partnership. Partnerships are defined as two people who are united or associated by an activity or common interest, and I feel that the common interest, more often than not, is: SUCCESS.
At SIA Group we want to be that partner for our clients because we know success breeds more success, and if we can use our resources to create a stronger partnership with our clients, everyone wins. A partner supplements his counterpart with the strengths he has and believes in creating a stronger team that can accomplish the goals before them.
Providing reactive services and showing up once or twice per year to present a renewal does not constitute a true partnership. Discovering your risks, implementing strategies to help address those risks, and then continuing to evolve with you is what creates a true partnership. Risk is something that affects many individuals and companies. If you are like most, the only way your current agent addresses a few of the risks that affect you or your business is by writing an insurance policy to transfer, and in some cases finance, those few risks. Although this is a very effective way of reducing some of your out-of-pocket expenses, insurance has its “limits” and can only protect you and your company up to a certain point and for a limited number of risks. A true partner will help you fill in those gaps that insurance misses, by finding hiding risks and reducing the likelihood that you will have a claim at all.
At SIA Group we do much more than write insurance policies. We believe in proactively working to address risks in other ways to help improve your Total Cost of Risk. We appreciate each opportunity we have to discuss those different ways of addressing risks that you may not be aware of, and we work hard to create a successful, long lasting partnership with each of our prospects and clients.
For more information, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our offices directly at 1-800-682-7741.