Specialized Business Insurance & Risk Management Blog
TwitterLinkedIn

4 Ways to Kill Worker Productivity (and How to Avoid Them)

work productivity

As a leader and business owner, you understand that your most important asset is your employees. When their productivity suffers, the bottom line of your business suffers too. To maintain high performance and efficiency within a contracting business, avoid these four productivity killers.

1. Inadequate Communication

Lack of communication can leave employees confused and unmotivated. When directions and goals are not clear, mistakes and rework occur more frequently. This means more time taken to complete a task or project.

Communication plays a large role in engagement too. Employees who don’t have an understanding of how their efforts contribute to the company’s mission or are not empowered to express ideas can become disengaged from work quickly. This leads to higher employee turnover, absenteeism, and other issues that hurt your overall productivity.

Ways to avoid: Open communication is key. Encourage employees to provide input and ideas. Communicate job expectations clearly and provide feedback. Make sure they understand how their work adds value to the company.

2. Micromanaging

Controlling every detail of employee work slows projects down and hurts organizational progress. Micromanagers often spend unnecessary time overseeing even simple tasks, stifling the progress of other workers. Employees may hold back from taking the initiative to improve services and processes as a result. With little to no autonomy or empowerment to make decisions, employee motivation declines and efficiency is lost.

Ways to avoid: Employees are hired because of their skill set. Delegation of tasks, training, and trust in their ability are important. Give ownership of increasingly more challenging tasks, only stepping in to supervise larger issues or when needed. Focus more on results produced and less on every detail of execution.

3. Lack of Acknowledgement and Appreciation

Failure to acknowledge and show appreciation for accomplishments and ideas leads to high employee turnover and low individual productivity. This lack of recognition can make any employee feel like they’re not valued, destroying the motivation to keep performing at their best.

Ways to avoid: Acknowledged and appreciated employees are more likely to go above and beyond their job expectations. A sincere and timely “thank you” or “great job” can go a long way in boosting morale, leading to increased productivity. Be specific when expressing this appreciation (e.g., how did the employee/team do a great job or what great idea did they come up with?). Tie recognition to performance goals. Celebrate team successes.

4. Insufficient Training

Not enough training in the job and company processes can result in costly errors and time-consuming rework later on – a death sentence for productivity. Tasks may be performed inaccurately and opportunities for improvement may go unnoticed, hurting the effectiveness of a business. Where safety is an issue, workers that are unaware of safety procedures are more vulnerable to injury and time away from the job to recover.

Ways to avoid: Adequately trained employees are not only better prepared to meet performance goals, they’re often more invested in the company’s success too (a win-win). Provide continuous training for each specific job function. Make safety a priority by providing comprehensive training and materials.

 

While the right technology and processes are also key components to an effective work environment, employee knowledge and engagement drives enhanced productivity. When their productivity improves, the bottom line of your business is more likely to improve too.

Interested in learning more helpful tips and best practices relating to your business? Visit our blog at http://www.nipgroup.com/blogs/programs/.

NIP Group, a business insurance and risk management intermediary, helps businesses with specialized risks avoid financial loss and keep operations moving forward.

Do I Need Umbrella Insurance for My Business?

Umbrella Insurance for Your Business

If a client sues your business or an employee causes a devastating car accident, will your current insurance policy cover the settlement and defense costs? If not, your business could be in serious financial trouble.

With lawsuits and claims occurring more frequently, an umbrella insurance policy can be the safety net to keep your business out of financial harm. This coverage pays the remaining costs of a claim when your primary insurance limits are exhausted. For example, you’re hit with lawsuit settlement and defense costs of $1.5 million after your employee driving the company van strikes another vehicle. If your auto liability policy only covers $1 million of this cost, the umbrella insurance will pay the outstanding $500,000.

Advantages of Commercial Umbrella Insurance

An umbrella insurance policy offers benefits that your primary liability insurance policies can’t provide.

Affordable, high coverage limit. For only a few hundred dollars a year, you can have $1 million in umbrella insurance. This coverage is available in increments of $1 million and comes with low premium payments.

More protection. Umbrella insurance is there to back you up financially when your primary liability insurance isn’t enough to cover the costs of lost assets, bodily injuries, legal fees, and more. This extra coverage better protects your business from financial loss, particularly when hit with a costly lawsuit.

Cost savings. A single umbrella insurance policy extends the coverage limits on multiple liability policies – and for a lower premium, too! Instead of paying to increase the coverage limits on each of your general liability and auto liability policies, for example, one umbrella insurance policy gets you extra coverage on both of these liability policies. And, if hit with a costly lawsuit that your primary insurance policy can’t fully cover, umbrella insurance saves you money by paying the outstanding costs.

To decide how much umbrella insurance coverage is needed for your business, identify the risks your business faces and any assets that would be covered under this policy. Then, review your current insurance coverages to determine if these terms cover all of the areas where your business is vulnerable to a claim.

Knowing this information helps you better determine the umbrella insurance coverage limits required to keep your business out of financial harm. Your insurance broker can answer questions regarding insurance options and get you coverage specific to your business needs.

Looking for an umbrella insurance policy that will save you money and provide more protection for your business? Check out NIP Group’s business insurance programs that include umbrella insurance and other coverages specific to your needs by visiting http://www.nipgroup.com/programs.

Please note: All coverages are subject to conditions, coverage limits, limits of liability, limitations, and exclusions as contained in the policy.

Snowblower Safety Tips

Snowblower
Brought to you by LandProTreePro, commercial insurance for landscapers, arborists, and tree services.

The winter months have arrived and – especially in some parts of the country – plenty of snow has arrived with them. This means that it’s time to bring out those snowblowers and start the snow removal process. While the snowblower is an extremely helpful tool, it also poses some serious safety hazards if not handled properly. Here are some safety tips to help reduce the chances of these hazards taking place.

It’s important to always wear the proper gear when operating a snowblower. Non-slip boots should be worn for improved traction, along with goggles and earbuds to avoid damaging eyes and ears. Jackets and gloves should be worn to protect from the cold weather conditions. Scarves or hoods with strings attached should NEVER be worn, as these low-hanging items can easily get caught on handles, or even stuck in the impeller blades. If you must wear them, be sure that loose ends are securely tucked-in and out of harm’s way.

Prior to using the snowblower, make sure to read the instruction manual and make sure that everyone using the machine knows how to use it. During use, make sure to keep clear of the discharge opening and keep bystanders at a safe distance from the machine. Chunks of ice and gravel can be thrown out at high speed, and can be very dangerous, even lethal. Keep hands and feet away from the moving components on the machine and never operate the machine without all guards and other safety devices in place and working.

If the snowblower jams:

  • Turn off the machine!
  • Disengage the clutch.
  • Wait at least five seconds after shutting the machine off to allow blaces to completely stop rotating
  • If you need to clear impacted snow, always use a stick or a broom handle…NEVER use your hands for this.
  • Keep a clear head and maintain your concentration. Having a conversation with a neighbor while operating a snow blower can be a recipe for disaster.

http://www.assh.org/

These guidelines can help landscapers and other users to mitigate the risks that are inherent with operating a snowblower in cold, snowy conditions.

For more information about our LandProTreePro commercial insurance program, please, visit LandProTreePro.

Greenhouse Growing Businesses: Preparing For Severe Weather

Severe WeatherSummer is right around the corner, and all growers know that with summer season comes inclement weather. With weather patterns in the last couple of years throwing us curveball after curveball, it’s never too early to prepare for multiple types of severe weather like lighting, tornadoes, hail, and thunderstorms.

Disaster can strike at any time, severe storms have already begun to hit the midwest, and NOAA is predicting an active hurricane season for the east coast; so precautions must be taken.

Following these key tips to prepare for inclement weather can help mitigate the risk associated with the greenhouse structure and business:

Make Preparations
To reduce the impact of a possible loss, it is of utmost importance to have an emergency procedure in place for the protection and safety of all employees and business property. Emergency instructions, safety guidelines and a chain of command must be clear and understood. Procedures such as tornado drills should be reviewed and practiced quarterly to allow for adaptations due to changes in the business operations and staff.

Tornadoes and Heavy Rains
Greenhouse structures can be designed to withstand winds up to 100 miles an hour with minimal to moderate damage. It is recommended that growers located in active tornado areas consult with a structural engineer before investing in replacement or new structures. Local building codes may satisfy the authorities, but they won’t protect your business from catastrophic damage. Thunderstorms that bring gusty winds can cause a great deal of immediate damage. However, it is the torrential rain that often accompanies these storms that can be more damaging than the wind itself. Flash floods happen in all 50 states. Just an inch of water in your business can cause thousands of dollars of damage.

Hail
Polyethylene film roofs impacted by hail may not be able to maintain the necessary inflation pressure between double layers. Keep poly tape on hand to temporarily patch any holes that are discovered. While broken glass remains in the roof structure, there is a substantial risk of personal injury due to falling glass. Timely action on removing the glass and making repairs is critical.

Lightning
Point-of-use surge protection devices help protect computer systems from the tremendous voltage lightning strikes can deliver. Easily available at minimal cost, these devices offer a critical line of defense for the safekeeping of a business’ electronic records.

http://www.greenhousemanagementonline.com/

Being ready for severe weather before it arrives and knowing how to quickly react to any damage that may happen is one of the most effective tools in mitigating risk in any business. This is especially true for greenhouse growing businesses due to having large structures largely covered in glass; seeing as how even industrial glass can be fragile when pitted against severe weather.

For more information on greenhouse grower insurance and risk management, visit GrowPro.

TMPAA Announces 2013 "Program Marketing Campaign" Award Winners

Three Member Agencies Score Highest in Competition Co-Sponsored by the IMCA

Wilmington, DE — The Target Markets Program Administrators Association (TMPAA) announced at their Mid Year Meeting in Baltimore that 20 entries were received for the third annual marketing campaign competition. TMPAA’s co-sponsor, the Insurance Marketing & Communications Association (IMCA) has sponsored its own marketing and communications “Showcase Awards” for 55 years. IMCA provided a panel of independent judges that reviewed all TMPAA member entries for both creative design and marketplace impact.

The winning member agencies were Venture Insurance Programs from West Chester, PA, K&B Underwriters from Reston, VA and MiniCo Insurance Agency from Phoenix, AZ. Venture’s entry was for its “Suite Life” campaign in support of its hospitality program. K&B Underwriters’ entry featured its multi-media campaign in support of its “DigniCARE” senior living facilities program. And MiniCo’s entry was the launch of its new “Family of Products” campaign featuring a branded icon supporting four of its specialty insurance programs. All three Award of Excellence winners supported their entries with impressive marketplace metrics that achieved desired upfront marketing objectives.

David Springer, TMPAA President, presented the winning award plaques at the recent Mid Year Meeting. The semi-annual association meeting attracted 600 agency, carrier and vendor members. Springer commented, “The TMPAA was thrilled to continue the creative competition in partnership with IMCA. We hope to have even more entries in 2014.”

Additionally, Springer announced that two other member agencies were named runners up in this year’s competition – GMI Insurance from Valley Forge, PA and Willis Programs of Portsmouth, NH.

The Association’s recent Mid Year Meeting was held in Baltimore, MD, May 6-9. Complete details of this event are now on the TMPAA website. The 13th Annual TMPAA Summit is scheduled for October 21-23 in Scottsdale, AZ.

Program Administrators / MGA’s interested in learning more about the TMPAA and the Program Marketing Awards can visit the Association website at www.targetmarkets.com, or contact Ray Scotto, Executive Director, at (877) 347-5700 or ray.scotto@targetmkts.com.

Risks of Hiring Temporary Workers

Summer is right around the corner. Colleges and high schools are wrapping up their semesters and letting loose many students who will be looking for summer jobs.

Many local businesses will take on these students as summer help to get an extra set of hands on the job site. This is a great way to help out neighborhood kids who need to make some money and to keep your jobs on schedule, but there are risks involved with hiring summer help; most of which stem from their inexperience with the job.

Every type of artisan project has plenty of elements of danger for a seasoned pro, but throw an inexperienced worker in the mix and the risks are exacerbated.

However, if you keep in mind that they are inexperienced and give them guidance, the risks can be significantly lessened. Take the time to teach your summer help about these safety tips:

Dress Appropriately for the Task At Hand
While working, one should always wear clothing that is bright and of a highly-visible color. There are preventative fashion measures that can be taken: long pants, closed-toed shoes, gloves, and ear and eye protection are essential to preventing flying debris or tools from causing injury. It’s also important to avoid wearing any jewelry or loose clothing that could get caught in any tools they may be using.

Respect the Power of Power Tools
The tools used to perform projects (saws, drills, nail guns, etc.) can result in serious personal injury if operated incorrectly. Before using a power tool for the first time, it’s important to read the safety manual first. Doing so will tell a user not only how to effectively operate the equipment, but what to do if it malfunctions as well.

Use Caution While Making Repairs
Jams in a power tool can happen sometimes, and that’s fine. Prior to fixing such problems, always make sure that the power supply is turned off and that every blade is motionless. All too often, contractors undergo impromptu amputations resulting from contact with spinning blades in their tools.

Educating your summer help on the appropriate use of tools and the safest clothing to wear is a simple way to reduce the risk exposure of your staff and will certainly lower the chances of a claim being made.

However, artisan contractor business owners should not take any chances. Accidents happen; and in the event that they occur, any owner should be sure they have the coverage they need to protect their business.

For more information on artisan contractor insurance and risk management, visit:

HVACPro
PlumbingPro
PowerPro

Excavation: Uninsured Subcontractors

ExcavationThere are many risks that are faced in the site improvement and excavation line of business. Many of them are unable to be completely mitigated due to factors that are just out of a manager’s control.

However, there is one risk that excavation contractors have complete control over, and that risk is hiring an uninsured subcontractor.

In short, uninsured contractors are a huge red flag and should never ever be considered when looking to contract a third party for work. When an excavation contractor hires a subcontractor to do work for them, they really must carry at least general liability insurance.

The reason why the team at SitePro, an insurance program designed specifically for the needs of site improvement and excavation contractors, is so adamant about our insureds not hiring a subcontractor who has no general liability, is because after policy expiration it is common practice that an audit is performed on the annual policy term. If the insured cannot provide a certificate of insurance for the subcontractor, the client’s general liability will pick up the exposure. This means the payroll will be added to the audit and they will end up paying the general liability premium for the contractor who chose not to buy the insurance.

Contractors NEED to be aware they could be responsible for the payroll associated with an uninsured subcontractor’s work, and their estimated annual premium could rise. Make certain that a client’s subcontractors have their own general liability insurance, and only work with those who have it. It will protect their interests and their business.

For more information excavation and land improvement insurance and risk management, visit SitePro.

Veterinary Response in the Wake of Fertilizer Explosion

In the wake of disasters, such as the fertilizer facility explosion in West, TX on April 17, 2013, it is not uncommon for veterinary teams to get deployed just as EMTs and paramedics would get deployed. Many animals were injured in the Texas explosion a couple of weeks ago, prompting the response of veterinary teams to the field.

According to DVM360, the Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team (VET), was deployed at 3:30am on Thursday, April 18; not very long after the explosion had taken place.

This represents an extremely unique risk for veterinarians. Heading out into the field where an explosion of a facility containing dangerous chemicals just took place comes with exposures that vets just will not see on a daily basis.

There were many dangers present when the veterinary team embarked out to the site of the explosion:

The threat of chemical exposure, specifically anhydrous ammonia, is still being managed.

Stationed several blocks from where the fertilizer facility still smolders, glass is out, doors are blown in, structures crippled on the ground. The structural damage to homes around the blast site left many residents and pets homeless.

http://www.dvm360.com

The above quote was taken from a Veterinarian, Wesley Bissett, who was at the scene. From the quote it is easy to tell how dangerous of a situation his team was in: chemical exposure, broken glass, busted down doors, crippled structures, and so on.

The moral of this story is that veterinarians can be called upon at any time to the scene of a disaster; and this should always be a factor when providing insurance coverage. Should an accident happen and a vet gets injured at the scene, coverage needs to be provided.

For more information on veterinary insurance and risk management, visit PetPro.

Our Appetite for Risk Just Got Much Bigger

Workers’ Compensation

NIP’s Workers’ Comp solution is designed to be applied across many classes of business. It offers an extra layer of protection that can be combined with the operations below to create a package that maximizes coverage for our insureds. With premiums as low as $1000, NIP Programs provides insureds the coverage they need at a price they can appreciate!

Program Highlights

  • A team of highly qualified and dedicated underwriters available for help when you need it
  • A suite of “A-” and better rated carriers available to help our brokers find the best fit for their clients’ needs
  • Available in All States (based on operation)
  • PAYO (Pay As You Go) / MSA (Monthly Self Audits) available

Eligible Package Operations

Minimum Premium

  • As low as $1000 (based on individual program and risk)

Submission Requirements

For more information on Workers’ Comp, visit http://www.nipgroup.com/programs/workers-compensation/.