Writtten by Brenna Lemieux - check her out at Google+ or Twitter
When Pope Benedict XVI announced he would step down from his post this week, people around the world were shocked – the last time a pope resigned was 598 years ago. In addition to shaking up the structure of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict’s resignation serves as an important reminder of the risks that having an workforce with retirement on its mind bring to your business.
Of course, there are many ways older employees benefit small businesses: they bring unbeatable experience, expertise, and dedication to the work they do. But if you or members of your staff are nearing retirement age or planning on retiring soon, you should make sure your business insurance is the right fit.
Insurance Risks of Aging Employees
If you or members of your team are starting to think about retirement, be sure to take into consideration the following potential risks…
- Disengagement. Without the proper support systems in place, older employees may withdraw from their work, becoming less engaged with clients, coworkers, and projects. Disengagement is often the result of multiple parties consciously or unconsciously treating aging workers as if they are on the way out the door. As a business owner, you can insure yourself against disengagement (which can lead to lower productivity, negativity in the workplace, and poor customer service) by discussing your older employees’ current values and benefit preferences. Making sure you have talked about how your employees want to transition to retirement will go far toward maintaining optimal engagement.
- Higher health insurance costs. Studies show that older workers have the lowest rates of depression but the highest rates of cancer. Even Pope Benedict has some health concerns: the day after announcing his resignation, the Vatican revealed that he has a pacemaker. If you provide health insurance for your employees, your costs may increase as your staff members age; however, you may be able to manage costs by implementing wellness programs that reward healthy behaviors.
- Prolonged disability or unexpected illness. Research shows that older workers take short-term disability leave less often than younger workers, but they tend to stay out of work longer for each incident. Still, if a key member of your team is incapacitated unexpectedly, your business could be left reeling. In some industries, you may be able to purchase key persons insurance to protect yourself against unexpected illness, disability, and death among the key players in your business.
Older workers are an invaluable part of our workforce, and probably an invaluable part of your business. To help them achieve at their highest possible level so they can thrive and help your business flourish, be sure your business carries insurance appropriate to the age of your employees.
Many small business owners have one question: “How flexible is my small business insurance policy?” Many times, small business owners need to increase their policy limits for a specific job or for a limited time and are unsure if they can do so without rewriting an entire policy. The short answer is “yes” your policy can be fairly flexible depending on your carrier, although, if you are adjusting your policy monthly, this might not go over well with the carrier.
Keep in mind that most adjustments to policy limits are increases to the amount of coverage necessary. If you are lowering your coverage limits, then something was probably wrong with your policy to begin with, or you are running the risk of being underinsured if a suit is ever brought against you.
You should also keep in mind that the amount of coverage you are able to utilize is based on your policy limit when the claim is filed, not when the job is delivered. This means that once you are done with a project, you should not immediately lower your policy limits in case a suit is brought against you. It is sometimes difficult to determine how much coverage you will really need when taking on a new job, so thankfully your existing policy can be flexible to handle necessary adjustments to your policy.
For more information on adjusting your insurance policy limits or determining how much coverage to purchase, please visit the TechInsurance Small Business Center.
When one thinks of risky jobs, a computer programmer is probably not at the top of everyone’s list. It depends on which list you’re looking at, however. From an errors & omissions insurance standpoint, programmers have some of the riskiest jobs in the world. A single error in a line of code could turn into an exploitable flaw allowing hackers & web criminals to have access to private information. The impending lawsuits could mean millions or billions in payouts and damages.
Although the situation I just painted looks fairly grim, the shining light in this muddled mess is proper E&O coverage. Programmers and systems integrators would be foolish to operate without this most basic of coverages. Do yourself a favor and make sure that your business insurance policy is up to date with the most comprehensive errors and omissions insurance coverage.
For more information on protecting your programming business from lawsuit risk, visit the TechInsurance Small Business Center.
As a systems integrator, it is your job to make sure that assembly line and similar systems function flawlessly. The only way to make sure that your programming works is to literally try your best to break it. You have to think of any possible commands that an assembly line tech might input and see if any problems arise with your software. Assuring the quality of your software is the foundation of managing your risk as a systems integrator.
If a client comes back and claims that you delivered faulty software and sues you, it is important that you can back up your work by proving that you have an effective quality assurance testing program in place. Not only does having this process documented properly help you in the event of a lawsuit, it should help to prevent the lawsuits from ever occurring cause it will catch most, if not all of the potential problems that could exist with your final product.
For more tips on managing your risk as a systems integrator, visit the Small Business Resource center from TechInsurance. Here you will find tips and resources that will help you manage your software projects from idea phase to final product delivery.
Projects, especially large ones with many moving parts, will fall victim to “scope creep” if left unchecked. Where scope creep comes from, is irrelevant at this point, however, the proper management of it is not. Whether scope creep comes from your upper management or from the client themselves, it is important to have a system in place to mitigate the scheduling problems that come about from requests that fall outside the parameters of the contract.
There are systems of checks and balances within every project hierarchy, meaning that in order for extra items to be added into processes, they must be approved and then scheduled. To learn more about how to initiate a scope change process, visit the small business tools and resources section of the Tech Insurance Small Business Center. Here you will find tools to help you manage scope creep, initiate change processes and manage project timelines, everything a project manager needs to keep things running smoothly.
Make sure that you understand all of the processes that need to go into making project changes before exposing your team to unnecessary scope creep. For more articles on project management, visit the specialized section of the Small Business Center.
When looking to create successful marketing programs for your clients, as a consultant it is important to focus on two different items:
- Where does the client currently stand in the market?
- What factors will the success of this marketing campaign be judged on?
By answering those two simple questions, you will be able to create a project that is both beneficial to you as well as your client. By understanding where your client stands in the market, you can strategize a more custom campaign and project for them. Also, by understanding what factors your project will be judged on, you can maintain the focus of the project in the necessary areas.
Visit the TechInsurance Portal for more tips on creating and managing successful marketing programs.
As a web developer, you create or maintain websites every day. It is important that your visions and goals for the web development project are in line with what the customer expects to be receiving from you. It doesn’t matter if you create the world’s best website, if it’s not what your customer had in mind, the project will be seen as a failure.
Constant communication with your client from start to finish will ensure that you both wind up on the same page once the project is completed. The fewer surprises your client experiences when viewing the website you just created for them the better! This does not mean that you cannot be creative when designing your client’s website, just make sure that you run all of your ideas by the client first, especially if they were not part of the original plan.
It takes more than just communicating ideas for a website development project to be a success, however. For more tips on managing client relations and customer needs as a website developer, visit the Tech Insurance Portal and view our website developer resources section.
If you own a consulting or services company that has access to client accounts or infrastructure, your business will require a special type of insurance; Fidelity Bond Insurance Fidelity Bond Insurance. This will cover your business in the event that one of your employees illegally accesses your clients’ accounts. Fidelity Bond Insurance is actually an extension of property insurance that covers claims of your employee’s “theft” of their company property.
When a client initially decides to do business with your company, many times they will want to ensure that you have this policy in place to mitigate any losses they might incur as a result of dishonesty on the part of your employees. Having this policy in place will not only protect your company from any dishonesty by your employees, but will also instill client confidence in your company and allow them to comfortably conduct business with you. So while not only protecting you as a business owner, Fidelity Bond Insurance can be an integral part of your negotiations with new clients.
Performing background checks on potential new hires will help reduce the possibility of employee dishonesty claims as will consistent business process checks and balances to ensure that access to client accounts is properly monitored.