Archive Search

Advanced Search

×

Warning

JUser: :_load: Unable to load user with ID: 2549

Search results
Do you understand the challenges your employees face? If you don’t, you need to. Any work force that has lived through these times of dislocation, reduced disposable income, rising prices for food, gasoline and other necessities and unrelenting worries about the future is, quite understandably, a much-changed group.The confidence these employees have in their company’s leadership and the engagement they bring to their jobs has diminished considerably. As a result, many employees — including those whose contributions are vital to their companies’ ability to rebound quickly and nimbly — are poised to make a career move with the first signs…
Thursday, 31 May 2012 21:01

How to meet your duty of care requirements

Written by
Traveling and working abroad often comes with risks, and savvy employers recognize that having employees overseas heightens their corporate liability. By protecting employees against the risks of global travel, employers can manage risks to their business, finances and reputation.“In today’s litigious society, corporate governance and duty of care are paramount to a company’s crisis management strategy,” says Justin Priestley, executive director for Aon Crisis Management. “Businesses need to react to incidents in a timely and consistent manner, protecting their people, assets, balance sheet and brand reputation.”Smart Business spoke with Priestley and David Drier, an international producer at Aon Risk Solutions,…
Fraud floods the news these days, and any organization that lacks anti-fraud controls places itself at an increased risk of trying to plug leaks after the fact.Many companies assume the greatest risks come from those outside the company, but oftentimes, fraud is committed by longtime employees who know how to work the system and disguise the financial leak, or by disgruntled workers who feel the company owes them something. Creating an anti-fraud policy is not enough; you also need to build an anti-fraud program and conduct regular assessments to truly mitigate the risk.“The main type of fraud we are seeing…
Monday, 30 April 2012 20:01

How to lay the groundwork for your departure

Written by
Pat Whitaker was ready to step away from the day-to-day responsibilities of running Arcturis. But she wasn’t prepared just yet to give it all up and call it a career.With that thought in mind, Whitaker did some research and found that with a lot of workspace design firms, there was no succession plan in place to ensure a smooth transition from one leader to the next.“One thing I didn’t want to do was sell my company to an outside source,” says Whitaker, founder and CEO at the 50-employee company. “I wanted the people here to own it.”In order to make…
It was a moment that was “make or break” time for Douglas H. Yaeger’s future at Laclede Gas Co.In 1993, massive flooding was occurring throughout the central United States, including territory serviced by Laclede. Among the many things homeowners had to be worried about was the effect of the flooding on their gas lines.“Houses were underwater and water was infringing our system,” says Yaeger, who was senior vice president of operations at the time. “Parts of our heavy pipelines where the ground support was, the actual dirt that was around the pipes had washed away and the pipes were floating…
Monday, 30 April 2012 20:01

Andy Kanefield - What motivates your people?

Written by
During a recent client engagement, we were discussing the need for a “burning platform” in order for the necessary organizational changes to grab the attention and get the buy-in of the employees. At one point, a Dialect colleague reminded the group that we need to consider what the burning platforms should be. This was a helpful reminder of what we all know to be true, but often don’t apply: People have different fundamental motivations — especially in their work. While a senior leadership team may be motivated to significant change by the board or key shareholders in a public company…
Insurance is purchased in a confusing marketplace. There’s no sticker price on property and casualty (P&C) insurance and the cost structure can be difficult to comprehend. P&C insurance prices are based on complex market fluctuations and numbers that make it difficult for many to understand.That can be frustrating to those used to having control over the costs in a business, says Bill Goddard, director of insurance consulting at Brown Smith Wallace LLC, St. Louis, Mo.“Insurance pricing is cyclical and difficult to predict, causing unexpected budget surprises,” says Goddard.Over the last several years, the cost of property and casualty insurance has…
There has never been a more challenging time for employers dealing with the dual problem of rising health care costs and declining employee health. As such, employers need to be thinking very differently about how they approach health care, says Jim Winkler, a senior vice president and large employer segment leader at Aon Hewitt.“Employers need to actively, directly and candidly talk with employees about the need to change behaviors for better health,” says Winkler. “You need to build in the right combination of rewards so that employees understand that if they want to spend a large amount of ‘house money’…
The recession caused businesses of all sizes to take stock of their organizations and find ways to run leaner, work smarter and maintain profits.For many family businesses, this has meant asking whether their businesses could continue to support their lifestyle. Change isn’t easy, but those who took serious measures to improve efficiencies are now positioned to leave a successful legacy to the next owners, whether by succession or sale.“By changing the way their businesses govern operations, many family owners have become more nimble and re-energized because they understand smarter ways to work,” says Tony Caleca, member in charge, audit services,…
Darryl Jones has watched each year as the number of convention attendees who travel to St. Louis drops a little bit more. Jones is managing partner at D&D Concessions LLC and is responsible for food service at the America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis.“Now that we don’t have the 20 million people coming in, we may have six or seven million people coming into St. Louis,” Jones says. “It’s a challenge. So in our business, what do we do? We have to look outside the box because we can’t get the big conventions here anymore.”In short, Jones had to…
Lynn Britton saw the weather reports on the evening of May 22, 2011, and knew Southwest Missouri was going to get hit hard. But there was still no way he could be prepared for the tornado that struck Joplin, Mo., and completely destroyed St. John’s Mercy Hospital.“I don’t think there is ever a perfect disaster plan or disaster drill,” says Britton, president and CEO at Mercy, a 38,000-employee company which operates hospitals in more than 200 communities, including Joplin.“You can’t anticipate every single kind of scenario that is going to emerge in a unique situation. What you have to do…
Your own approach to the work that your company does transcends all aspects of your business. It sets the tone for pace, execution, employee engagement and results. By its example, top management must establish the culture of work on which excellence, and thus company success, depend.But as I consult with companies — small, medium or large — I’m continually amazed at how work is getting done. What’s lacking in these businesses is a culture that clearly defines excellence and that values diligence, timeliness, efficiency and, as you’ll read in the case study presented here, honesty.Absent these shared values, the answers…
Saturday, 31 March 2012 20:01

How to protect your company from political risk

Written by
Political risks are generally unpredictable and often unexpected, which makes them a concern for business owners. Losses that occur as a result of political unrest are often excluded from typical property coverage, so companies must be diligent.“These losses, when they happen, have the potential to be financially severe,” says Roger S. Schwartz, senior vice president, Political Risk Practice with Aon Risk Solutions. “They have the potential to have a very definite negative impact on the company’s well being. Executives should be aware that operating in emerging markets has its risks, but the risks can be mitigated.”Smart Business spoke with Schwartz…
For many executives, their eyes glaze over and their minds wander to other, more pressing, issues when the topic of enterprise risk management (ERM) is broached.But yet the topic is getting considerable attention these days from regulatory bodies and many of the world’s most successful companies. So where’s the disconnect?“Risk management practices have been around as long as businesses have been around,” says Ted Flom, member in charge, Risk Advisory Services, Brown Smith Wallace, St. Louis, Mo. “But as businesses have grown and the world has become more interconnected, risk management approaches need to evolve. While many companies are already…
Rakesh Sachdev did not see this day coming. Sure, he and Jai Nagarkatti had talked about leadership transition and succession planning at Sigma-Aldrich Corp., but that was years down the road.Sachdev insists the thought of being CEO of the 7,890-employee life science and technology company had not crossed his mind for even a moment.“Obviously, this came as a surprise to all of us,” Sachdev says.The “this” Sachdev is referring to is the unexpected death in November 2010 of Nagarkatti. He had been with Sigma-Aldrich since 1976 and had served as CEO since 2006 and chairman since 2009.“It was hard for…
Natural organisms have sensors to help them survive in the natural world. Sidney Winter of the University of Pennsylvania points out that some moth species can detect the sonar of bats. To avoid becoming a bat snack, a moth initiates evasive aerial maneuvers to survive yet another day in the competitive animal kingdom. However, in the environment of your family’s living room, these same moths can't detect the sound of a rolled up newspaper whizzing toward them.Just like nature’s organisms, manmade organizations may have highly developed sensors that help them survive in a competitive marketplace. The key is to make…
Wednesday, 29 February 2012 19:01

Beyond the Basics: Be an inspirational leader

Written by
It’s a moment everyone faces at some point in his or her life. That time when you’re not sure if you’re doing the right thing, but you need to make a decision and so you take the plunge.Perhaps you’ve gotten past the anxiety that comes with such decisions. But your employees probably don’t have the same level of wisdom and experience. They may be looking for someone who has been through it all before and who better but you, their boss, to be that voice of reason.Here’s what a few of the leaders we’ve spoken to over the past year…
Wednesday, 29 February 2012 19:01

How to handle the latest risk management topics

Written by
At the Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS) annual Conference and Exposition, risk professionals including CEOs, CFOs and risk managers come together with brokers, insurers, thought leaders and industry experts to learn about new products and services, share ideas and gather information about the evolution of risk and risk management.“Our goal is to create an environment for clients of all sizes to learn about our breadth of expertise and unmatched ability to support their businesses,” says Kathleen Delaney, a senior vice president with Aon Risk Solutions. “Often, CEOs are not aware of the different liabilities they carry as an officer…
After the hit insurance companies took in 2011, businesses should expect changes in the property market for 2012.“Companies can expect modest upward rate pressure due to severe global property losses,” says Rick Miller, managing director of the National Property Practice for Aon Risk Solutions. “Capacity remains stable and some increased underwriting discipline is apparent, particularly around the peril of flood.”Risk Management Solutions’ (RMS) latest version of catastrophe modeling software is estimating increased damage impact from Atlantic-based tropical storms from Texas to Maine. Miller says the new software has translated to many underwriters pushing for higher pricing for exposures subject to…
With each day, companies are becoming more dependent upon their systems and data. While these changes offer significant opportunities and benefits, they also carry many new and significant risks, including cyber security risks that business owners and management need to be aware of.To protect your business from cyber security threats, it’s time to start thinking like a hacker. What sensitive or confidential data do you collect, store or transfer that could be compromised? And how vulnerable is that data to attack?The risk is significant for businesses that do not make cyber security a priority. Failing to put security measures and…
Steve Giacin has felt the pressure that comes with being the president of a business during a time of economic recession. But he doesn’t try to compare his challenges to those of the people he has had to lay off from Kaiser Electric Inc.He doesn’t think you should either.“One thing leaders say that they shouldn’t say to people is, ‘This is a lot harder on me than it is on you,’” says Giacin, president at the 150-employee electrical contractor. “I’ve heard people say that, and I don’t agree with it. Leadership isn’t a some time thing, it’s an all the…
One day, Derek Glanvill was part of a construction industry that was achieving record growth. Seemingly the next day, the sector was caught in a downward spiral that appeared to have no bottom.“Our industry doesn’t have 9 percent unemployment,” says Glanvill, president and COO at McCarthy Building Cos. Inc. “It has 20 to 23 percent unemployment in the construction trade. From 2006 to 2007, the construction economy was at its highest that it had been in any of our lifetimes. The fact that we’re now in a very different economy, it’s the contrast of that high to this low that…
There are better ways to grow sales than to merely throw money at the problem, whether that means more money spent on advertising, a bigger sales force or beefed-up expenditures in other business areas. A close look at your pricing policies, your customer relationships and your sales team’s needs and capabilities can reveal ways to grow revenues even when times are tough.Look at pricing firstStart with pricing and get over the belief that you can’t raise prices without dampening sales. By keeping prices flat or using price discounts to try to keep demand or close sales, you create two problems.…
After a year marked by unprecedented economic and catastrophic losses, many companies are wondering what impact this will have on the insurance marketplace in 2012.With insured losses expected to exceed $90 billion, 2011 will likely be one of the costliest years on record for insurance companies.“We expect to see rates going up,” says Dave Schaake, resident sales director of Aon Risk Solutions. “Generally, underwriters are becoming more cautious and re-evaluating their books of business, both in terms of rates, as well as terms and conditions.”Smart Business spoke with Schaake about what companies can expect in 2012.What does 2012 hold for…
A colleague of mine recalls the time he switched jobs and found himself having a tough time adjusting to a new corporate culture. He went from a culture of collegiality and warmth to one of competition and hard edges. Every time he walked into his new office, even the different smell of the building made his stomach sink as he was reminded of what he had left behind — people he enjoyed being around who supported each other in serving their clients.You may have had a similar experience, though perhaps you prefer a driven, internally competitive culture. As a leader,…
Michael Benoit took a risk when he launched Total Hockey Inc. in 1998. He had torn up his knee playing basketball and initially chose hockey as a sport, one he could play with less wear and tear on his legs. As he became more intrigued with the game and less excited about his job leading a health benefits consulting business, he decided to take a shot at building a business that sold hockey equipment.The 210-employee company has grown steadily and earned revenue of $18.6 million in 2010. Benoit, the company’s founder, president and CEO, has high hopes to keep it…
It wasn’t arrogance that left Delta Dental of Missouri so unprepared for the sudden influx of competition it was facing. It was the fact that up to the beginning of 2010, there really had not been anyone to challenge the company’s status as the leader in providing dental benefits.“For a number of years, there were limited choices in terms of dental benefit plans,” says David Haynes, the 113-employee company’s president and CEO. “Delta was the premier choice. As the economy worsened, large health payers have started seeing dwindling bottom lines because of increasing medical claims costs. They started looking for…