Floods happen – and nearly half of all deaths related to them involve vehicles, says the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The best advice for drivers during periods of heavy rain or flooding is to stay off the road. If that’s not possible and you see signs of high water or stranded vehicles, pull over or take a different route (“Turn around, don’t drown”).
However, an unexpected flash flood can easily catch you unawares. If this happens, safety experts recommend taking these precautions to prevent an accident or a water-damaged car:
- Never drive beneath an underpass during a heavy rainstorm because they’re prone to flooding.
- Be wary of water levels. According to FEMA it takes only one foot of water to float a car, or even an SUV, sweeping it off a bridge or down a road.
- If your vehicle gets caught in a flood and stalls, or you lose control, get out before the car is carried downstream.
- If you can’t escape and your vehicle is going under, don’t panic. Once the car is submerged, open the doors, hold your breath, and climb out.
The good news: If your car is involved in a flood-related accident, Auto insurance can make sure that you don’t get swept away financially. Comprehensive coverage will pay for any type of damage to your car up to its actual cash value caused by natural events, such as flooding. If you hydroplane during a storm and flip your car or hit another vehicle or tree, Collision insurance will pay to repair it or cover the actual cash value of the car.
To learn more, please feel free to get in touch with our agency.
I listened to an outstanding NYC Radiolab podcast on the subject of speed. To begin with, Radiolab is one of my favorite podcasts. The subjects are always interesting, but this was one of those episodes that causes you to really do some deep thinking. Many years ago. the great thinker Buckminister Fuller coined the phrase “accelerated acceleration.” In a sense, things happen faster at an ever faster rate: Speed feeding on itself.
The podcast discussed relative aspects of speed; for example, how it affects stock trading. No longer are stocks traded on the floor, but through ten thousand servers, all connected to a motherboard on Wall Street. Trades are made in microseconds. This technology-driven speed has ended the career of many old school traders. While we might bemoan the good old days, this change has lowered the cost of trading for you and me.
The whole concept of speed is reengineering the workforce dramatically. Pretty soon, there will be an algorithm or program that solves just about every puzzle — the Watson computer being an excellent example. Our best and brightest will continue to create those tools and figure out how to put them to good use. Technology has driven the middleman out of stock trading, just as in many aspects of business and much of the retail sector
How is this affecting your company?
Where will the speed of transactions have an impact on your career?
Who will get squeezed out next?
What new jobs will be created?
Speed is directly related to time. All of us feel the stress of this speed on how we manage our time. I describe it as running 75 mph. Many think they can outdo the other guy if they run 80 mph. Years ago this was termed the rat race – and as Lilly Tomlin reminded us, “even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.” Nothing less than a fundamental reexamination of how we do our work will be required to survive the speed of change.
I highly encourage you to listen to this podcast: http://www.radiolab.org/2013/feb/05/. The last part of it is amazing and will blow your mind. It certainly made me want to learn more about the latest discovery that is shared. I won’t spoil it by telling you what it’s about. I had to listen to it three times for it to fully sink in. I’d be curious to know what you think after listening to this podcast.
PS…If you haven’t yet done so, get thee to the Time Management Training Module on HR That Works. In order to manage the rate of speed better we have to better manage our time.
In an issue of Corporate Counsel an article entitled It’s a Systemic World Out There discusses the EEOC’s pursuing large “systemic” cases. For example, in fiscal year 2011 they conducted 580 systemic investigations, filed 84 systemic lawsuits, and settled 35 systemic cases for total $9.6 million. Although your company might not be large enough to be on the EEOC’s radar screen, I can tell you that attorneys are also suing small to midsized companies on a class basis. An employee walks into a lawyer’s office because they didn’t receive their final paycheck, and before you know it they’re filing a class-action lawsuit against your company for missed overtime and meal periods. The article provided a few golden nuggets of advice:
- When responding to an EEOC inquiry, don’t use the phrase “pursuant to our consistently applied policy.” This only invites a broader request for information.
- Do not submit more information than is necessary.
- Conduct your own statistical analysis before submitting data.
- Do preventative analysis looking for adverse impacts in the hiring, promotion, or termination practices.
- Validate pre-employment tests.
- Conduct preventative compensation analysis periodically.
- Cover all internal analysis with attorney-client privilege. This might be impossible in smaller organizations, but you can certainly retain outside counsel to instruct you on how to conduct such analysis and report back to them.
- Listen to your employees. As I have always recommended, you should survey your employees, including use of the Employee Compliance Survey that can be found in HR That Works.
- Invigorate that underutilized internal complaint system. Again, go one step further and ask if there’s a problem –don’t wait for them to tell you there is one.
- Stay current with legal trends. This is one reason why HR That Works membership is so valuable.
- Walk the talk. Are you sensitive to the potential for your practices to cause adverse impacts? Frankly in my experience I can tell you that some business owners could care less about whether a practice causes an adverse impact. All they care about is getting the best employees they can, damn the EEOC. Of course, few companies appreciate a risk until they’re hit with it.
Finally, the article points out how large corporations can gather the data requested by the EEOC easily because they have such large HRIS systems. However, most companies with less than 500 employees don’t have this data readily available, and t collecting it can be an over-burdensome process. This is one reason to make sure that you hire an attorney any time you receive a communication from the EEOC or another regulatory agency.
Three out of five firms that suffer a major disaster go out of business or are sold. Preparing your business to survive a disastrous event involves a multi-step process: assessment, planning, implementation, testing, and documentation.
- Assessment: Brainstorm and list all potential losses. Then rate them on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the most disastrous and 1 having the least impact on the business.
- Planning: Formulate a comprehensive, detailed action plan, using both in-house and outside sources. The plan should include both steps to prevent the loss and remedies to take if the loss occurs. Be as specific as possible.
- Implementation: Act on the plan. Determine what steps you must take to now insure a positive outcome if disaster strikes; Who will be accountable for taking these steps when and to whom will they report?
- Testing: For example, if you’re planning to deal with a computer crash, data recovery is essential. Test back-up media regularly to ensure that they will be available when needed. All too many businesses lose data due to malware or mechanical breakdown only to find that their backup is either corrupted or unavailable when needed.
- Documentation: Put the details of the plan (who, what, when, and where) in writing. Keep one copy in the office, another on the computer, a third off premises – and make sure that every manager knows these locations. Finally, review and update the plan every six months.
Although nothing is foolproof, implementing these five steps can go far to prevent a disastrous loss, or at least, mitigate its impact.
To learn more about developing a disaster plan for your business, feel free to give us a call at any time.
Most people who commit fraud at work are not career criminals – and are often trusted staff with no criminal history. According to criminologist Donald Cressey, there are three factors (the “Fraud Triangle”) that lead an ordinary person to fraud: opportunity, pressure, and rationalization.
Take this example: a bartender who splashes a little more scotch into his friends’ drinks when they come into the bar is succumbing to opportunity; his peers’ expectations that he’ll do this create pressure; while telling himself that “everybody does this – and we’re too stingy on our pours, anyway” provides a rationalization.
How can you use this three-legged tool to detect and deter fraud?
You can’t do much with about rationalizing fraudulent misbehavior because everyone does it without announcing their decision in advance.
You can’t learn whether employees might be under financial pressure to commit fraud without investigating their personal finances – which is impractical and illegal. However, you might be able to minimize work-based pressures they face (for example, forbidding managers from ordering them to hit their goals at all costs).
Opportunity provides the most effective leg in the triangle to curb fraud by making it more difficult. Here’s how:
- Segregate duties so that no one has sole control over accounting, reconciling, custody of assets, and approval of transactions.
- Make sure that transactions which are unusual or involve large amounts have strong managerial oversight and follow-up.
In other words, develop effective control systems so that any larcenous employee will need to be clever enough to avoid several pair of eyes while running a gauntlet of people who reconcile accounts and monitor budget.
If fraud does strike despite these precautions, make sure that you have the right insurance to protect you from loss. For more information, just give us a call.
It’s always difficult to terminate an employee – especially in this age of employment litigation and privacy concerns. Even if a worker leaves voluntarily, you need to make sure that he or she no longer has access to confidential information
The key to making sure that you’ve covered all bases of your bases is to follow a Departure Checklist:
- When an employee leaves, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, notify all staff immediately to help reduce rumors, hurt feelings, and concerns. Keep the announcement positive.
- Remove the employee from your facility soon as possible. Offering to have the person stay is nice, but might not always be helpful. If you decide to let the employee stay for the customary two weeks, assign him or her specific tasks to complete. Collect keys immediately and assign someone to work with the departing employee for the duration of their stay.
- Once the decision has been made, restrict the employee’s access to sensitive company information at once; be sure that this restriction includes any VPN or private access.
- Have the employee review all items on which he or she is working and write a synopsis of what’s needed to complete each item. Then review these items to create a specific workload transition plan, and assign them to other employees. The sooner you do this, the better.
The more you think through this process before a problem arises, the more effectively you’ll be able to deal with it. We stand ready at any time to help you develop and implement an effective plan that can go a long way to help you protect your business from this risk.