Social media risks

Social-media-risks-850x320

Social media is an ever increasing form of communication for many people in both their personal and professional lives.  It presents people with many benefits in allowing them to communicate a variety of messages to many people with great speed and efficiency.  However, those benefits need to be balanced with the many risks social media presents.

Social media is a very broad term which includes any websites and applications which allow users to interact with other people as well as create or share information (text, photos, videos etc.).

There are endless examples where people appear to have not stopped and thought before they’ve posted on social media.  Poorly considered social media posts can and do affect the personal and professional reputation and image of individuals as well as a businesses; even if the post isn’t directly related to a business.

The following tips will assist individuals and businesses manage their risks when using social media.

Have a business plan for how and why social media is to be used

When deciding whether or not to create a business social media presence, it’s very easy to think ‘if everyone else is doing it, so should I’.  However there needs to be greater thought put into this decision.  The decision to use social media should be well thought out and based on a company’s needs and business plans; the benefits and risks need to be considered.

Business social media should be based on business requirements, not personal views

Business owners and managers need to be sure that when they make a decision on whether to use social media for their business, this decision is based on the needs of the organisation, not the owner’s/manager’s personal views of social media.  For example, a person who chooses to not use Twitter for personal use may still decide it’s a great tool for them professionally.  Business decisions and personal decisions regarding social media use should be separated.

Create clear business guidelines and processes regarding who is able to post on social media and how this is to be done

Due to the risks associated with social media interactions, it’s very important that businesses have a clear process for who is responsible for posting on social media.  The person undertaking this role needs to understand when social media is an appropriate form of communication and what sort of messages are to be shared using social media.  This process should also provide guidance on how often social media is monitored and responded to and how to respond to negative comments.

Consider training for those staff responsible for social media

It’s often assumed that young people are well versed in social media use however this isn’t always the case.  Also, not all users of social media understand appropriate business use and its associated risks.  Therefore it’s worth considering training in social media communications and its risks for the responsible staff members. 

Understand the social media site you’re using

There’s a wide variety of social media sites available to businesses, all providing similar yet different benefits.  When a business is using any of these sites, it’s very important they understand the various functions within that site.  Not fully understanding how a site works is going to increase the risks of using it.

Consider what messages should be shared using social media

All businesses have various ways in which they communicate with their customers and clients.  Social media is generally designed for short sharp messages, yet not all information suits this style of communication.  When businesses are communicating with their customers, they need to carefully consider how that particular message should be shared.

Carefully consider the implications of engaging with clients on social media

Professionals and businesses should consider if social media is an appropriate forum for them to be communicating with clients, both through business or personal accounts.  Engagement through personal accounts can blur professional boundaries.  When using business accounts, some conversations may not suit social media, especially if the conversation appears in a public setting.  It’s important to consider what conversations are best had away from social media and when to take a discussion off line.

Understand that you can no longer separate personal and professional use

Unfortunately many people hold a view that what they write within a personal social media account in their own time will have no bearing or impact on them professionally.  However this is not the case.  Whether fair or not, professionals are always representing their profession and professional self; personal social media posts can be considered to be representing a professional view.  Therefore the professional impact needs to be considered before any personal post is made. 

Don’t believe that any post is ever private

Too often people post information on social media which they intended to remain private and not be seen widely.  However social media can never truly be private.  Many online groups claim to be private and state that members require approval.  However non-approved users don’t need to be particularly savvy to access these groups and then share or copy information being posted.  Professionals need to remember that if they don’t want their colleagues, clients or competitors seeing a social media post, it should never be posted on either personal or business accounts.

Never post in haste, all posts need to be carefully considered

As mentioned earlier, social media is designed for quick short messages to be shared widely.  This means social media can encourage messages to be shared with little thought or planning which on occasions leads to poorly worded messages which are easily misinterpreted.  It’s important to pause and think through a message before it’s shared.

Download pdf here

Guild Insurance

Professional Indemnity Insurance

business

  • Managing complaints in exercise & sports science

    Receiving a complaint is often an unexpected part of running any business, including an exercise & sports science business.  No business is immune from receiving a complaint, regardless of how successful it is or how customer focused staff are.  There can be a tendency to see a complaint as a personal criticism rather than constructive feedback.  However, there can be positive outcomes when the situation is managed appropriately. 

    Why do people complain?

    There are many reasons why clients might complain about your business and the service they’ve received.  Sometimes a complaint will almost be expected following an incident; sometimes it will take you by complete surprise.  Understanding why people may complain can assist with managing a complaint if it occurs and potentially reducing the likelihood of further complaints.  The following are some of the reasons why people may feel the need to complain.

    High expectations consumer expectations are increasingly high when engaging professional services.  Your clients pay for your service and will most likely see you as a highly trained and qualified professional.  This view can influence their expectations about the service and outcomes they anticipate.

    Unrealistic expectations – it’s possible that clients may have unrealistic expectations about what they can reasonably expect from treatment or a session with an exercise professional.  Their high expectations may at times surprise you.  It’s therefore important to remember that most clients will not have the level of knowledge you do and what’s obvious or common sense to you may not be to them.  A professional must assist clients to be clear and fully informed about the treatment or session being provided and the outcomes they can realistically expect.  This requires ongoing discussions with clients and, where possible, written information to assist their understanding.

    To inform and be heard – clients may wish to make a complaint about an incident or poor outcome simply so they are sure you and your staff are aware of what has occurred and how they feel.  They may wish to complain simply to be listened to and acknowledged, especially if they have been adversely impacted.  Not all complaints will lead to a formal demand for compensation. 

    Belief that someone is responsible – when something goes wrong we often try to determine who’s responsible.  Sometimes someone is obviously responsible, sometimes it’s hard to determine who’s responsible and other times there is no one person responsible but it’s just an unfortunate set of circumstances.  However, if a client thought something had gone wrong and this led to them being harmed, it’s quite possible they may complain with the intention of holding someone responsible and possibly liable. 

    The importance of managing complaints

    There may sometimes be a temptation to ignore a complaint and hope it’ll just go away.  Maybe the client won’t follow up.  Maybe the incident won’t occur again.  This is a very short-sighted way to run any business as there are clear benefits to appropriately managing complaints.

    Clients will generally expect to see their complaint dealt with quickly and fairly.  When this doesn’t happen it’s possible that further complaints will follow and the issue or concern could become a much greater one.  Complaints may also escalate to complaints entities in your state or territory.

    Managing complaints should be seen as good ‘customer service’.  You rely on clients to keep your business afloat.  When clients are unhappy with a service they’ve received, they can talk with their feet by not returning to the business.  Keeping clients happy and satisfied is more likely to see them continue to utilise your service and recommend your business to others. 

    Complaints can provide a business with an opportunity to review and improve their service.  Receiving a complaint may highlight an issue which the business had not been aware of.  When investigating and dealing with the complaint, the business may wish to consider a change in a procedure to avoid that issue arising again in the future. 

    How to manage complaints

    It’s advisable that all businesses have a complaints policy.  This means that the business will have an agreed-to process which allows for all complaints to be managed in a fair and consistent manner.  It also means staff know what to do which is important as managing complaints can be challenging. 

    A key aspect in dealing with any complaint is listening to the person.  Where possible, make time to sit down in a quiet space and give them time to express their concerns.  Make the effort to hear what they have to say and take on board what they have told you.  You may not agree with all they are saying, however it helps if you can try to understand the situation from their perspective.  You may wish to ask them to document their concerns so you both have an accurate record of the matter.  Avoid being defensive or taking the complaint personally as this may inflame the situation. 

    With low level complaints you may be able to offer a solution there and then.  However, this won’t always be the case.  With more serious complaints you should provide the person with an assurance that you’ll investigate the matter and get back to them with a response at a later date. 

    Guild Insurance expects those insured with us not to admit liability or name someone else as being at fault, or to offer any compensation without contacting us first.  However, this doesn’t prevent you from apologising or showing sympathy for any pain or inconvenience the person may be experiencing. 

    Contact Guild Insurance on 1800 810 213 as soon as you’ve received a complaint; don’t wait till it escalates to a claim for compensation.  We will provide advice and support to assist you to deal appropriately and professionally with what can be a challenging and possibly upsetting situation.  Utilising this support can be the difference between sorting a problem quickly and it escalating to a serious claim.  

    Download pdf here

  • Understanding employment law

    Employment related disputes are an increasing trend in claims reported to Guild Insurance.  These claims indicate that some employers may not be fully aware of their workplace rights and obligations and the laws governing them as an employer.  This can have serious consequences for businesses; there are a number of legal avenues available to employees if they feel they have been treated unfairly and there can be serious repercussions for the employer.

    Examples of what can go wrong...

    • An employee lodged a complaint with Fair Work Australia claiming she was expected to attend meetings outside of work hours and was not paid for these. Her employer claimed attendance was optional and that’s why she wasn’t paid.
    • An employee resigned and the employer did not pay all of the outstanding wages and leave entitlements. The employer stated this was because of the unprofessional conduct and behaviour of the employee whilst leaving. A complaint was lodged with Fair Work Australia.
    • An employed staff member undertook a course of further study. During this period his salary was dropped to a trainee salary.The employee disputed this and claimed back pay.

    Reducing employment complaints

    • Be sure you understand that as an employer you have legal workplace obligations you must adhere to. There are laws regarding matters such as salaries and awards, leave entitlements and terminating employment. Employers can’t simply do as they please, no matter how their employee behaves. And not knowing the law is no excuse for not following it.
    • Make yourself aware of the employment laws you need to follow. The following two websites contain a great deal of easy to follow information to assist employers, and employees, understand their obligations.

    www.fairwork.gov.au
    www.fwc.gov.au

    • And using the link below you can learn about the National Employment Standards (NES) which are 10 minimum employment entitlements that have to be provided to all employees.

      https://www.fairwork.gov.au/employee-entitlements/national-employment-standards

    • Whilst preventing complaints is the ideal goal, employers need to accept that despite their best efforts, complaints may still occur. This is when a business needs to think about how they’ll manage those complaints. Employment Practices Liability insurance exists to provide support to businesses when they’re faced with an employment related complaint or allegation. For further information about Guild Insurance’s Employment Practices Liability insurance and how this could be of benefit to you, please contact Guild Insurance on 1800 810 213.
    Download PDF here
  • When clients see multiple AEPs

    Guild Insurance regularly analyses claims data to understand factors contributing to claims and complaints.  This analysis has highlighted a trend where claims involve treatment by at least two people within the same profession.  This finding led Guild Insurance to explore why a client seeing more than one AEP may lead to a claim arising and what can be done to prevent this. 

    Why would a client see a second AEP?                    

    Common scenarios where a client would see a second AEP includes: 

    • some clinics operate in a way where seeing a client is shared between various AEPs
    • clients may change clinics over time, such as when they’ve changed work location or moved house
    • a client may require an urgent appointment and can’t get in to see their usual AEP so chooses to see another

    The situations which are most concerning are the occasions when a client is unhappy with the treatment or session they’ve received and therefore chooses to go elsewhere for a second opinion or further treatment/sessions.

    What can go wrong?

    Not all situations where more than one AEP is involved in treatment will lead to issues arising.  However, the following cases highlight how complaints can occur.

    Case example 1

    A client was receiving treatment for chronic shoulder pain by her AEP over a period of a few months.  She then moved interstate so went to see another AEP for the same complaint.  This second AEP disagreed with the course of treatment and proceeded down a different path.  The client then complained to the first AEP, and demanded a refund of fees paid, alleging he provided treatment which exacerbated her condition.

    Case example 2

    A client had been undertaking an exercise program with an AEP.  He didn’t feel that he was experiencing any benefit after a number of sessions so decided to see another AEP.  The second AEP made some minor changes to the exercise program.  As the client’s condition improved, the client formed the view that original program was unsuitable and therefore complained to ESSA alleging professional negligence.

    How can this be avoided?

    • Don’t make comments to a client judging the treatment or session another clinician has provided. It’s possible that the situation you’re seeing is not exactly the same as the first AEP saw. Also, if the client has told you what the diagnosis and treatment was, it’s possible they might be wrong due to their lack of understanding. Making even what you see as a small or insignificant comment to a client regarding the choice and quality of treatment provided by another AEP could be enough to encourage that client to make a complaint or a demand for compensation.
    • If you’re seeing a client for the first time, be careful to not fall into the trap of simply relying on the client telling you what their regular treatment or session entails or just relying on previous client notes. You need to have a thorough understanding of the client’s condition and how it may have changed over time. Only then can you decide what will be most appropriate.     
    • If you’ve taken over the treatment of a client from another AEP whose notes are insufficient, you may need to spend some time doing further assessment before continuing on with their ‘usual’ treatment. It’s advisable to engage the client in a positive conversation on why you’re doing that, so as to manage their expectations.
    • Managing client expectations from the outset is vital. Make clients aware of what to expect from their sessions; they won’t want surprises. The more they understand about their sessions and likely outcomes, the less likely they are to be dissatisfied and go elsewhere.
    • Building relationships with clients is an important element in running a successful business. Get to know your clients and give them a reason to trust you and come back to you.
    • Where appropriate, contact your clients after their treatment/session. If you expect them to be in some pain or discomfort following the session, they may appreciate you making contact to check how they’re feeling. If your clients haven’t returned for a follow up appointment, call them to find out why. This gives you the opportunity to discuss any concerns they may have about their treatment/session.
    • Clients can become frustrated with ongoing costs of sessions, especially if they aren’t seeing the benefit they’d expected. Always be open and upfront about the cost of treatment/sessions. And where possible, let them know how many appointments you anticipate they’ll need as well as what they can do to self-manage their condition.
    • When you’ve been seeing a client over a long period of time, continue to keep your communication with them up to date and professional. Clients generally expect to be given the most current information on their treatment and what outcomes are likely. Never assume they have a complete understanding and continue educating them on positive lifestyle habits.
    • Avoid offering refunds or free sessions in the event of a poor or unexpected outcome. This may be seen by the client as an admission of responsibility or liability and they may expect that discounted or free sessions will continue. Always contact Guild Insurance on 1800 810 213 before offering any form of compensation to a client.
    • Documentation is vital! The key to dealing with a dissatisfied client who’s considering making a claim or complaint against you is your accurate client records. If your work is being questioned by a client, another AEP or ESSA, you’ll need a record of the facts behind your decision making.
    • And finally, maintain a high level of professional and appropriate behaviour at all times, both when treating clients and also anytime you’re communicating and interacting with them. This not only reflects well on you, it can also improve the public perception of exercise and sports professionals.
    Download PDF here
  • Guild's guide to a risk free holiday season

    With the holiday season approaching, it’s time to remind ourselves of the possible threats to our homes and cars during this time. In the lead up to what should be a fun and festive time with loved ones, it’s important to think about what you can do to protect your valuable assets during this period.

    Thefts and burglaries increase at this time as a lot of crime is opportunistic; thieves know that houses and cars might be full of newly purchased gifts. Thieves also know that with people away on holidays, there is an increased opportunity to break into cars and homes.

    However, holiday dangers aren’t just about thefts and burglaries. People also need to think about what they can do to protect their homes and cars from damage or unnecessary costs while on holidays, as well as keeping themselves safe.

    Protecting your home
    Before heading off on holidays:

    • Be mindful of how you dispose of packaging of gifts or newly purchased items. A bin full of boxes for items such as televisions, game consoles or tablets lets people know what valuable items are in the home.

    • Ask a friend or neighbour to collect your mail. A build-up of mail is a sure sign someone isn’t home.

    • Use a timer to have your house lights turn on and off at certain periods of the day, creating a look of someone being in.

    • Consider what appliances can be turned off within your home. While usage is low, many appliances continue to use power even when they aren’t being used. Items to consider turning off include hot water tanks, televisions, microwaves and computers. However, be sure to think about what you’re turning off before you quickly switch off all power; for example, fridges and freezers, unless empty, should be kept on.

    • Clear out your gutters. A build-up of leaves and other debris creates a fire hazard as well as a risk of an overflow of water entering the roof space during a storm.

    Protecting your car

    • If leaving your car at home while on holidays, where possible leave it locked securely in a garage or somewhere else out of sight. Thieves will notice a car sitting in the sam spot every day which hasn’t moved.

    • Don’t keep valuables in sight that could entice those opportunistic
    thieves. This applies to items used all year, such as mobile phones. However, over the holiday season it also applies to shopping bags which are clearly full of new items.

    • When taking your car on holidays, be sure you have some sort of roadside assistance or breakdown coverage to protect you during those
    unexpected moments.

    • If sharing driving duties during a road trip, be sure the insurance policy for the car covers all drivers.

    • Take regular breaks on long drives by either swapping drivers or taking rest breaks. Also, when on long drives, plan your stops to allow for petrol fill ups and food and drink stops.

    • Be particularly careful when driving at dawn and dusk as visibility generally isn’t as clear as during the day.


    Download the printable version

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  • Don't let social media damage your career

    Although social media can open the door to an exciting online community, it has made it harder to separate yourself from your professional life.

    Here’s five tips to help you protect your reputation online.

  • Do you have the right insurance for your fitness business?

    Sally began her career as a personal trainer in 2012. With high hopes and wanting to make sure she did the right thing Sally purchased an exercise professional liabilities policy. Her hard work and focus paid off and a few years later Sally opened the doors to her very own fitness studio. Sally didn’t think to change her individual policy to a fitness centre business insurance policy and continued to renew her insurance annually.

    In February 2016, a personal trainer at Sally’s gym put down a barbell behind another client who wasn’t aware that it is was there, the client tripped over it, hit her head on the floor and was knocked unconscious.

    The personal trainer immediately called 000. After the paramedics arrived, the client was taken to hospital and underwent emergency spinal surgery.

    Two months later, Sally received a letter from the client’s lawyer requesting reimbursement for the ambulance, medical expenses, loss of earnings and pain and suffering. The letter also recommended that Sally should contact her insurer. Taking this advice, Sally informed her insurer and began the claims process.

    After reviewing her cover, Sally found that she held the incorrect policy and unfortunately wasn’t covered for any of the costs arising from the accident. This meant that Sally was held personally responsible for all expenses incurred – the costs nearly ruined Sally’s business. She has since purchased a Guild Fitness business insurance policy to suit her new circumstances, but is still to this day recovering financially from the incident.

    You can learn from Sally’s mistake. Keep in mind if you do change from being an individual fitness provider to a business owner, you need to make sure you’ve got the right cover.

    Not sure if you’re on the right policy for you, call us on 1800 810 213. We’d be happy to help.

    The above case study is based on general claims scenarios and do not reflect any particular claim. Names are fictitious and any resemblance to a real person is purely coincidental.

business

  • Managing complaints in exercise & sports science

    Receiving a complaint is often an unexpected part of running any business, including an exercise & sports science business.  No business is immune from receiving a complaint, regardless of how successful it is or how customer focused staff are.  There can be a tendency to see a complaint as a personal criticism rather than constructive feedback.  However, there can be positive outcomes when the situation is managed appropriately. 

    Why do people complain?

    There are many reasons why clients might complain about your business and the service they’ve received.  Sometimes a complaint will almost be expected following an incident; sometimes it will take you by complete surprise.  Understanding why people may complain can assist with managing a complaint if it occurs and potentially reducing the likelihood of further complaints.  The following are some of the reasons why people may feel the need to complain.

    High expectations consumer expectations are increasingly high when engaging professional services.  Your clients pay for your service and will most likely see you as a highly trained and qualified professional.  This view can influence their expectations about the service and outcomes they anticipate.

    Unrealistic expectations – it’s possible that clients may have unrealistic expectations about what they can reasonably expect from treatment or a session with an exercise professional.  Their high expectations may at times surprise you.  It’s therefore important to remember that most clients will not have the level of knowledge you do and what’s obvious or common sense to you may not be to them.  A professional must assist clients to be clear and fully informed about the treatment or session being provided and the outcomes they can realistically expect.  This requires ongoing discussions with clients and, where possible, written information to assist their understanding.

    To inform and be heard – clients may wish to make a complaint about an incident or poor outcome simply so they are sure you and your staff are aware of what has occurred and how they feel.  They may wish to complain simply to be listened to and acknowledged, especially if they have been adversely impacted.  Not all complaints will lead to a formal demand for compensation. 

    Belief that someone is responsible – when something goes wrong we often try to determine who’s responsible.  Sometimes someone is obviously responsible, sometimes it’s hard to determine who’s responsible and other times there is no one person responsible but it’s just an unfortunate set of circumstances.  However, if a client thought something had gone wrong and this led to them being harmed, it’s quite possible they may complain with the intention of holding someone responsible and possibly liable. 

    The importance of managing complaints

    There may sometimes be a temptation to ignore a complaint and hope it’ll just go away.  Maybe the client won’t follow up.  Maybe the incident won’t occur again.  This is a very short-sighted way to run any business as there are clear benefits to appropriately managing complaints.

    Clients will generally expect to see their complaint dealt with quickly and fairly.  When this doesn’t happen it’s possible that further complaints will follow and the issue or concern could become a much greater one.  Complaints may also escalate to complaints entities in your state or territory.

    Managing complaints should be seen as good ‘customer service’.  You rely on clients to keep your business afloat.  When clients are unhappy with a service they’ve received, they can talk with their feet by not returning to the business.  Keeping clients happy and satisfied is more likely to see them continue to utilise your service and recommend your business to others. 

    Complaints can provide a business with an opportunity to review and improve their service.  Receiving a complaint may highlight an issue which the business had not been aware of.  When investigating and dealing with the complaint, the business may wish to consider a change in a procedure to avoid that issue arising again in the future. 

    How to manage complaints

    It’s advisable that all businesses have a complaints policy.  This means that the business will have an agreed-to process which allows for all complaints to be managed in a fair and consistent manner.  It also means staff know what to do which is important as managing complaints can be challenging. 

    A key aspect in dealing with any complaint is listening to the person.  Where possible, make time to sit down in a quiet space and give them time to express their concerns.  Make the effort to hear what they have to say and take on board what they have told you.  You may not agree with all they are saying, however it helps if you can try to understand the situation from their perspective.  You may wish to ask them to document their concerns so you both have an accurate record of the matter.  Avoid being defensive or taking the complaint personally as this may inflame the situation. 

    With low level complaints you may be able to offer a solution there and then.  However, this won’t always be the case.  With more serious complaints you should provide the person with an assurance that you’ll investigate the matter and get back to them with a response at a later date. 

    Guild Insurance expects those insured with us not to admit liability or name someone else as being at fault, or to offer any compensation without contacting us first.  However, this doesn’t prevent you from apologising or showing sympathy for any pain or inconvenience the person may be experiencing. 

    Contact Guild Insurance on 1800 810 213 as soon as you’ve received a complaint; don’t wait till it escalates to a claim for compensation.  We will provide advice and support to assist you to deal appropriately and professionally with what can be a challenging and possibly upsetting situation.  Utilising this support can be the difference between sorting a problem quickly and it escalating to a serious claim.  

    Download pdf here

  • Why every business needs an asset register

    When considering an insurance policy, it’s easy for many of us to think “it’ll never happen to me”.  However, the vast experience of Guild Insurance tells us ‘it’, being events that require insurance claims, unfortunately can happen to people like you. 

    Guild Insurance is dedicated to providing risk management information to those insured with us to help reduce the likelihood of events occurring which will have a detrimental impact on their business and lead to an insurance claim.  However, we also know that not everything can be prevented.  Which is why business owners also need to consider what they can do to reduce the severity or impact on their business should an event occur.  And this is where asset registers become so important.

    What is an asset register?

    An asset register is simply a list of assets held by a business.  These can be created and stored in various ways, such as paper format or electronically, yet should always be stored safely and be easily accessible.

    Why are they needed?

    All businesses should hold an asset register as they serve a number of important purposes.

    It’s estimated that well over half of Australian businesses are underinsured.  A detailed asset register will help a business understand the value of what they own and therefore the level of insurance required to be adequately protected.

    An asset register also assists businesses when there is a need to lodge an insurance claim due to property loss or damage.  When there is an up to date asset register, this necessary information can be provided quickly to an insurance company which is likely to speed up the settlement process.  Making an insurance claim for property damage or loss can be quite a stressful process for any business.  An asset register can reduce some of this stress by making the process more straightforward.

    When a business has multiple sites, keeping track of all assets is quite a challenge.  An asset register provides the business with a way to manage all assets, even when the assets aren’t physically in sight of those responsible.

    What information should be included?

    For an asset register to be of any benefit to a business, it’s important that the information is up to date and correct.  Businesses should have a process for how and when the register will be updated and by who.  This process should require adding a new asset as soon as it is purchased.  However, it would also be beneficial doing regular checks of the asset register to be sure nothing has been accidentally left off.

    The asset register should include a list of all items which could be lost or damaged if there was an incident at the premises.  Don’t just focus on the costly items; damage to a lot of items which are of lesser value can still add up and you will want a record of these items.  The types of assets to be recorded may include:

    • Furniture, both indoor and outdoor
    • Computer and other office equipment
    • Electrical items such as fridges and air conditioners

    The information to record about each of these items may include:

    • Description of the item
    • Brand, make or model
    • Serial number
    • Purchase value
    • Purchase date
    • Location of the item
    • Warranty information
    • Invoices

    Creating an asset register

    As previously mentioned, asset registers are really just a list of items so the creation of them doesn’t need to be overly complex.  There are a number of template examples which can be found through internet searches. 

    However, the challenging aspect of creating an asset register is being sure the information you have on there is detailed and correct.  It’s therefore recommended that businesses use their accountant to assist with this task.

    Download pdf here

  • Social media risks

    Social media is an ever increasing form of communication for many people in both their personal and professional lives.  It presents people with many benefits in allowing them to communicate a variety of messages to many people with great speed and efficiency.  However, those benefits need to be balanced with the many risks social media presents.

    Social media is a very broad term which includes any websites and applications which allow users to interact with other people as well as create or share information (text, photos, videos etc.).

    There are endless examples where people appear to have not stopped and thought before they’ve posted on social media.  Poorly considered social media posts can and do affect the personal and professional reputation and image of individuals as well as a businesses; even if the post isn’t directly related to a business.

    The following tips will assist individuals and businesses manage their risks when using social media.

    Have a business plan for how and why social media is to be used

    When deciding whether or not to create a business social media presence, it’s very easy to think ‘if everyone else is doing it, so should I’.  However there needs to be greater thought put into this decision.  The decision to use social media should be well thought out and based on a company’s needs and business plans; the benefits and risks need to be considered.

    Business social media should be based on business requirements, not personal views

    Business owners and managers need to be sure that when they make a decision on whether to use social media for their business, this decision is based on the needs of the organisation, not the owner’s/manager’s personal views of social media.  For example, a person who chooses to not use Twitter for personal use may still decide it’s a great tool for them professionally.  Business decisions and personal decisions regarding social media use should be separated.

    Create clear business guidelines and processes regarding who is able to post on social media and how this is to be done

    Due to the risks associated with social media interactions, it’s very important that businesses have a clear process for who is responsible for posting on social media.  The person undertaking this role needs to understand when social media is an appropriate form of communication and what sort of messages are to be shared using social media.  This process should also provide guidance on how often social media is monitored and responded to and how to respond to negative comments.

    Consider training for those staff responsible for social media

    It’s often assumed that young people are well versed in social media use however this isn’t always the case.  Also, not all users of social media understand appropriate business use and its associated risks.  Therefore it’s worth considering training in social media communications and its risks for the responsible staff members. 

    Understand the social media site you’re using

    There’s a wide variety of social media sites available to businesses, all providing similar yet different benefits.  When a business is using any of these sites, it’s very important they understand the various functions within that site.  Not fully understanding how a site works is going to increase the risks of using it.

    Consider what messages should be shared using social media

    All businesses have various ways in which they communicate with their customers and clients.  Social media is generally designed for short sharp messages, yet not all information suits this style of communication.  When businesses are communicating with their customers, they need to carefully consider how that particular message should be shared.

    Carefully consider the implications of engaging with clients on social media

    Professionals and businesses should consider if social media is an appropriate forum for them to be communicating with clients, both through business or personal accounts.  Engagement through personal accounts can blur professional boundaries.  When using business accounts, some conversations may not suit social media, especially if the conversation appears in a public setting.  It’s important to consider what conversations are best had away from social media and when to take a discussion off line.

    Understand that you can no longer separate personal and professional use

    Unfortunately many people hold a view that what they write within a personal social media account in their own time will have no bearing or impact on them professionally.  However this is not the case.  Whether fair or not, professionals are always representing their profession and professional self; personal social media posts can be considered to be representing a professional view.  Therefore the professional impact needs to be considered before any personal post is made. 

    Don’t believe that any post is ever private

    Too often people post information on social media which they intended to remain private and not be seen widely.  However social media can never truly be private.  Many online groups claim to be private and state that members require approval.  However non-approved users don’t need to be particularly savvy to access these groups and then share or copy information being posted.  Professionals need to remember that if they don’t want their colleagues, clients or competitors seeing a social media post, it should never be posted on either personal or business accounts.

    Never post in haste, all posts need to be carefully considered

    As mentioned earlier, social media is designed for quick short messages to be shared widely.  This means social media can encourage messages to be shared with little thought or planning which on occasions leads to poorly worded messages which are easily misinterpreted.  It’s important to pause and think through a message before it’s shared.

    Download pdf here

  • When a break-in occurs

    A break-in or burglary at work can have far reaching effects.   

    While it’s always better to prevent incidents from happening in the first place, everyone should know what to do if the unexpected does occur. 

    STEP 1:   STAY SAFE AND PRESERVE THE SCENE

    • DO dial 000 to report the incident to Police.
    • DON’T enter the premises if there are signs a break-in may have occurred – e.g. open or damaged windows or doors etc. An intruder may still be inside.  In the event you enter the premise before you realise a break-in has occurred, leave immediately if damage to buildings, equipment or infrastructure makes the area unsafe –e.g. broken glass, water damage, upturned equipment etc.
    • DO promptly contact your manager or business owner to report the incident.
    • DO preserve the ‘evidence’ until Police arrive. Take care not to disturb the crime scene. Make a note of anything you’ve touched and inform the Police when they arrive. This will also assist a Guild Claim Assessor, should one be appointed.
    • DO seek advice from Police before re-opening the premises for usual trading.
    • DO provide support for any staff, contractors or visitors who may be impacted or distressed by the incident.

    STEP 2:   DOCUMENT AND REPORT

    • DO make note of what items, if any, have been stolen or damaged. Again, be careful not to disturb the crime scene.
    • DO ensure you have the identifying details of any stolen equipment readily available e.g. serial number, engraved markings, photos, receipts etc.
    • DO contact Guild Insurance on 1800 810 213 to report the incident over the phone – there are no claim forms to complete.Have your insurance policy details handy. Guild can also arrange any glass repairs for you.
    • DO take photographs of the scene and any damage before beginning the clean-up, or making any temporary repairs.

    STEP 3:   REVIEW WHAT HAPPENED AND APPLY LEARNINGS

    • DO review the effectiveness of your security measures and promptly address any weaknesses. How did the intruder enter the premises? How easy was it to access items of value?
    • DO take this opportunity to review your response to this break-in. Did the staff involved know what to do and did they do it?
    • DO review your policies and procedures so that they reflect these actions and include them in your staff training. Everyone needs to be supported in knowing how to respond.
    • DO take this opportunity to check that your equipment register is accurate and up to date.

    Download PDF here

  • Employee dishonesty

    Someone breaking into your premises or stealing goods at knife point is an obvious threat to any business.  But as claims reported to Guild Insurance show, they’re not the only crimes occurring. 

    Case 1

    A trusted employee was away on leave when her replacement noticed some anomalies in payments made to contractors.  A number of invoices simply didn’t match up.  Although the business name was the same, the layout of the invoice and the style of the font were different.  There were also instances of two invoices for the same amount.

    Further investigation revealed different bank accounts for the same contractor. The police were notified when it was discovered that the employee had been using company funds to pay her personal bills of over $40,000.

    Case 2

    An employee was discovered stealing stock from the business in which she’d worked for many years. Subsequent investigation revealed she then sold the stock through an online business. 

    She went to considerable lengths to systematically steal from her employer by using her unrestricted access to the building to install spyware and remote login software on a number of computers.  It’s alleged she used this software to login into the computer systems from her home and make unauthorized changes to business records.  She was also found to have falsified other documents, such as logbooks and transaction receipts.

    Case 3

    A trusted employee used the Point of Sale (POS) system to divert the proceeds of sales back to her own credit card.  In an effort to cover her tracks, she would report that some credit card receipts had been inadvertently misplaced during busy periods.  Because she had volunteered the information, no one thought to investigate further.

    To make things worse, while the business did have CCTV directed towards the service counter, recordings were not retained. Footage was taped over every 24 hours.

    While people are alert to the threat of crimes by strangers, many underestimate the risk of theft by employees. When it comes to security, successful businesses take steps to address both.

    Employee dishonesty, or fraud, can be hard to manage as it’s less obvious than a burglary or robbery.  People who commit these crimes make a conscious effort to deceive the business by concealing their activities.  They avoid detection by making sure everything seems normal on the surface, while they are systematically stealing cash, stock or other items.  Unfortunately, by the time the theft has been identified, some businesses have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    Three things are widely recognised as giving rise to fraudulent activity.

    1. Pressure – mounting debts or other financial pressures in a person’s life can motivate them to do things they wouldn’t normally do, such as steal from their employer.
    2. Opportunity – a work place that doesn’t have systems and processes to protect against dishonest behaviour presents an ideal opportunity for fraud.
    3. Rationalisation – individuals can easily justify their actions with beliefs such as ‘It’s just a loan, I’ll pay it back as soon as I can’ or ‘I deserve something extra, no-one appreciates how hard I work’.

    While it can be difficult for employers to reduce the financial pressure employees’ face, all businesses can take steps to reduce the opportunities for fraudulent activity.

    Protecting your business against dishonesty

    1. Don’t think it won’t happen to you

      It’s tempting to believe that your people and your business are different to those in the case examples.  After all, you’ve invested so much in developing a culture of trust. 

      While trust is important in any working relationship, it doesn’t protect against fraud.  People who commit fraud often conceal their activities by appearing reliable and trustworthy.  That way, supervisors are less likely to keep a close eye on what they’re doing. 

    2. Protect against fraud with systems and processes

      There are many things businesses can do to reduce the risk.  Work with your accountant to ensure you have the right measures in place. For instance:

      • Make sure reconciliation of financial transactions is incorporated into daily work practices.E.g. checking that sales totals match with cash and EFTPOS receipts.Similarly, always reconciling bank statements against the figures recorded in the business’ financial records.

         

      • ‘Separation of duties’ is essential for combatting these crimes.It’s about putting the right checks and balances in place so that no one person has complete control over a single process.E.g.

         

        While Kate is responsible for paying suppliers, she is unable to enter the supplier’s details in the computer system.  That way, she can’t divert payment to another bank account by altering the supplier’s details. 

        Similarly, while Tran is responsible for entering supplier details into the system, he cannot access or execute the payment process. 

      • Step by step procedures for key business practices, such as accounts payable, are a must. Good procedures help people to know what’s expected of them while providing a baseline for monitoring business performance.

      • Commit to good recruitment practices including background checks for new employees.

    3. Lead the way – zero tolerance to fraud

      The right work place culture is essential.  Owners, managers and supervisors must role-model desired behaviours and have a visible presence in the business.  If they’re not vigilant, no one else will be.

      • Following fraud prevention procedures should be non-negotiable. Periodically audit compliance – don’t wait for a problem.
      • Often other people in the business know that dishonest behaviour is occurring. Establish an appropriate ‘whistle blower’ mechanism for staff to report any concerns. And ensure employees have access to adequate support programs.
      • And of course, be on the lookout for suspicious or irregular activity such as:
        • invoice price differs from the amount approved for purchase
        • lost receipts for credit card transactions
        • negative inventory entries
        • unauthorised bad debt write-offs
        • excessive employee overtime
        • unexplained access to buildings or systems

           

    4. Regularly review all security measures
    • Increasingly employees need keys, access codes and IT system logins.But unless businesses are vigilant in managing these, security may be compromised rather than strengthened. Don’t ever use generic logins or access codes.
    • Invest in reputable security software (firewall, antivirus, antispyware etc).Access the Australian Government’s STAY SMART ONLINE website for a free ‘alert service’, self-assessment tools and practical tips.
    • Finally, cash should only be held overnight if an appropriate safe is available.

    Download PDF here

  • Have you prepared for a bushfire?

    We hear it all the time – a disaster has ruined lives and businesses.

    Too often people unfortunately seek comfort in the belief that ‘it could never happen to me’.  Yet claims reported to Guild Insurance tell us otherwise.  They remind us that businesses suffer losses every day.

    Some business owners have unrealistic expectations about how they’ll cope if the unthinkable happens.  Businesses are often surprised at just how much they’re impacted when a disaster occurs.  This is why planning for a disaster is vital.  Once something happens, the time to prepare has gone.

    All businesses need to be realistic about what can happen and be proactive in putting risk management strategies in place.

    Matters to consider when preparing for a bushfire

    • Understand your risk of a bushfire based on location and current weather warnings
    • Know the safest route out of your local area
    • Understand bushfire danger ratings and what they mean
    • Follow and adhere to bushfire warnings when issued
    • Have a plan, and rehearse it, for what to do in the event there is a bushfire.This plan includes but isn’t limited to:
      • Being ready and willing to leave early before you see signs of fire, allowing for how fast fires can travel
      • An evacuation plan which needs to consider not only staff but any clients or other visitors who may be on the premises
      • An emergency items kit which is packed at all times and includes all emergency contact phone numbers, mobile phone chargers and a first aid kit
      • Shelter options in the event you’re unable to leave
    • Be sure all staff are involved in preparing the business for a bushfire
    • Understand what you’re insured for in the event of a fire; contact your insurer if this needs updating

    Bushfire preparation resources

    Each state’s country or rural fire services have a range of resources to assist business and individuals prepare for and cope with a bushfire.  Utilise these resources to ensure you’re as prepared as you can be.

    ACT – esa.act.gov.au/actrfs

    NSW – rfs.nsw.gov.au

    NT – securent.nt.gov.au/prepare-for-an-emergency/bushfires

    QLD – ruralfire.qld.gov.au

    SA – cfs.sa.gov.au

    TAS – fire.tas.gov.au

    VIC – cfa.vic.gov.au

    WA – dfes.wa.gov.au/safetyinformation/fire/bushfire


    Download PDF here

     

     

  • Have you prepared for a cyclone?

    We hear it all the time – a disaster has ruined lives and businesses.

    Too often people unfortunately seek comfort in the belief that ‘it could never happen to me’.  Yet claims reported to Guild Insurance tell us otherwise.  They remind us that businesses suffer losses every day.

    Some business owners have unrealistic expectations about how they’ll cope if the unthinkable happens.  Businesses are often surprised at just how much they’re impacted when a disaster occurs.  This is why planning for a disaster is vital.  Once something happens, the time to prepare has gone.

    All businesses need to be realistic about what can happen and be proactive in putting risk management strategies in place.

    Matters to consider when preparing for a cyclone

    • Understand your risk of a cyclone based on location and current weather warnings
    • Find out if your building has been built to cyclone standards and make modifications where possible
    • Know the safest route out of your local area
    • Where possible, secure loose items such as outdoor furniture
    • Follow and adhere to cyclone warnings when issued
    • Have a plan, and rehearse it, for what to do in the event there is a cyclone. This plan includes but isn’t limited to:
      • Being ready and willing to leave early
      • An evacuation plan which needs to consider not only staff but any clients or other visitors who may be on the premises
      • An emergency items kit which is packed at all times and includes all emergency contact phone numbers, mobile phone chargers and a first aid kit
    • Be sure all staff are involved in preparing the business for a cyclone
    • Understand what you’re insured for in the event of a cyclone; contact your insurer if this needs updating

    Cyclone preparation resources

    The following resources are available to assist individuals and businesses prepare for and cope with a cyclone.  Utilise these resources to ensure you’re as prepared as you can be.

    NT – securent.nt.gov.au/prepare-for-an-emergency/cyclones

    QLD – getready.qld.gov.au/natural-disasters/cyclones

    WA – dfes.wa.gov.au/safetyinformation/cyclone

    Bureau of Meteorology - bom.gov.au/cyclone/about/checklist.shtml

    Download PDF here

  • Have you prepared for a flood?

    We hear it all the time – a disaster has ruined lives and businesses.

    Too often people unfortunately seek comfort in the belief that ‘it could never happen to me’.  Yet claims reported to Guild Insurance tell us otherwise.  They remind us that businesses suffer losses every day.

    Some business owners have unrealistic expectations about how they’ll cope if the unthinkable happens.  Businesses are often surprised at just how much they’re impacted when a disaster occurs.  This is why planning for a disaster is vital.  Once something happens, the time to prepare has gone.

    All businesses need to be realistic about what can happen and be proactive in putting risk management strategies in place.

    Matters to consider when preparing for a flood

    • Understand your risk of flooding based on location and current weather warnings
    • Know the safest route out of your local area
    • Follow and adhere to flood warnings when issued
    • Have a plan, and rehearse it, for what to do in the event there is a flood. This plan includes but isn’t limited to:
      • What equipment and stock can be stored off the floor or on upper levels of a building to minimise loss
      • Which objects can be secured so they’re less likely to be washed away
      • An evacuation plan which needs to consider not only staff but any clients or other visitors who may be on the premises
      • An emergency items kit which is packed at all times and includes all emergency contact phone numbers, mobile phone chargers and a first aid kit
    • Be sure all staff are involved in preparing the business for a flood
    • Understand what you’re insured for in the event of a flood; contact your insurer if this needs updating

    Flood preparation resources

    All states have a range of resources to assist business and individuals prepare for and cope with a flood.  Utilise these resources to ensure you’re as prepared as you can be.

    ACT – esa.act.gov.au/community-information/storms-and-floods

    NSW – ses.nsw.gov.au/disaster-tabs-header/flood

    NT – securent.nt.gov.au/prepare-for-an-emergency/flooding

    QLD – getready.qld.gov.au/natural-disasters/flood

    SA – ses.sa.gov.au/site/community_safety/floodsafe/flood_information.jsp

    TAS – alert.tas.gov.au/prepare/pages/Flood.aspx

    VIC – ses.vic.gov.au/get-ready/floodsafe

    WA – dfes.wa.gov.au/safetyinformation/flood/Pages/prepareforflooding.aspx

    Download PDF here

  • Asset registers

    When considering an insurance policy, it’s easy for many of us to think “it’ll never happen to me”.  However, the vast experience of Guild Insurance tells us ‘it’, being events that require insurance claims, unfortunately can happen to people like you. 

    Guild Insurance is dedicated to providing risk management information to those insured with us to help reduce the likelihood of events occurring which will have a detrimental impact on their business and lead to an insurance claim.  However, we also know that not everything can be prevented.  Which is why business owners also need to consider what they can do to reduce the severity or impact on their business should an event occur.  And this is where asset registers become so important.

    What is an asset register?

    An asset register is simply a list of assets held by a business.  These can be created and stored in various ways, such as paper format or electronically, yet should always be stored safely and be easily accessible.

    Why are they needed?

    All businesses should hold an asset register as they serve a number of important purposes.

    It’s estimated that well over half of Australian businesses are underinsured.  A detailed asset register will help a business understand the value of what they own and therefore the level of insurance required to be adequately protected.

    An asset register also assists businesses when there is a need to lodge an insurance claim due to property loss or damage.  When there is an up to date asset register, this necessary information can be provided quickly to an insurance company which is likely to speed up the settlement process.  Making an insurance claim for property damage or loss can be quite a stressful process for any business.  An asset register can reduce some of this stress by making the process more straightforward.

    When a business has multiple sites, keeping track of all assets is quite a challenge.  An asset register provides the business with a way to manage all assets, even when the assets aren’t physically in sight of those responsible.

    What information should be included?

    For an asset register to be of any benefit to a business, it’s important that the information is up to date and correct.  Businesses should have a process for how and when the register will be updated and by who.  This process should require adding a new asset as soon as it is purchased.  However, it would also be beneficial doing regular checks of the asset register to be sure nothing has been accidentally left off.

    The asset register should include a list of all items which could be lost or damaged if there was an incident at the premises.  Don’t just focus on the costly items; damage to a lot of items which are of lesser value can still add up and you will want a record of these items.  The types of assets to be recorded may include:

    • Furniture, both indoor and outdoor
    • Computer and other office equipment
    • Electrical items such as fridges and air conditioners

    The information to record about each of these items may include:

    • Description of the item
    • Brand, make or model
    • Serial number
    • Purchase value
    • Purchase date
    • Location of the item
    • Warranty information
    • Invoices

    Creating an asset register

    As previously mentioned, asset registers are really just a list of items so the creation of them doesn’t need to be overly complex.  There are a number of template examples which can be found through internet searches. 

    However, the challenging aspect of creating an asset register is being sure the information you have on there is detailed and correct.  It’s therefore recommended that businesses use their accountant to assist with this task.

     
  • Preventing equipment breakdown

    It’s tempting to think equipment breakdown will never bring your business to a halt.  Yet claims reported to Guild Insurance tell a different story.  They remind us that businesses like yours suffer losses every day.

    While it’s critical to have quality insurance in place, the best outcome is always to prevent these incidents from occurring in the first place. 

    Don’t

    • Don’t be fooled into thinking that your ‘ever reliable’ equipment will last forever. Replacement parts can quickly become obsolete or difficult to source. And repeated breakdowns can be incredibly frustrating for staff and customers.
    • Don’t be tempted to operate equipment beyond its rated capacity. Don’t push it to its limits or use it for purposes other than what it’s designed for.
    • Don’t overload power points and electrical circuitry. E.g. piggybacking of double adapters, power boards and extension leads.
    • Don’t wait for failure to occur - implement a preventative maintenance program now.
      • Establish maintenance agreements to ensure all major equipment is regularly checked and kept in good working order
      • Implement a timetable for regularly inspecting equipment. E.g. ensure hydraulic hose lines and electrical cords are free of any damage and clear of moving parts. Keep dust away with regular surface cleaning
      • Review and replace consumable items, such as belts and filters, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
      • Keep an accurate log of all maintenance activities.

    Do

    • Do ensure all equipment is installed correctly and operating as intended.
    • Do follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the installation, operation, storage, cleaning and maintenance of equipment.Obtain another copy of the manual if the original has been misplaced. Ensure the manual is easily accessible to all staff - an electronic version, scanned or PDF may be easier to keep track of.
    • Do invest in quality power surge protection for all equipment and electrical switchboards.
    • Do schedule regular electrical testing of all equipment.
    • Do invest in periodic thermal scanning of electrical switchboards, to identify any ‘hot spots’. Consider the benefits of also scanning any other equipment with electrical switchgear.
    • Do consider the merits of installing Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) for critical equipment.
    • Do take preventative action to maintain the integrity of refrigerated stock:
      • Ensure all stock is appropriately placed to allow adequate air flow and cooling
      • Install monitored temperature alarms for refrigerators holding valuable stock
      • Explore alternative storage arrangements or the installation of a back-up power source, to use if the main supply is interrupted
      • Develop clear procedures and checklists for managing refrigerated stock
      • Ensure stock is adequately insured. When using ‘Point of Sale’ programs, consider having a separate category for refrigerated lines in order to assess exposure and substantiate any losses
    • Do keep all equipment well ventilated to prevent it from overheating. Keep moisture away too.
    • Do invest in backing up your business information daily and then storing it securely off-site. Lost data can be the most costly outcome of an electrical breakdown involving computers.
    • Do implement an equipment replacement program. Take the time to choose the right equipment in the first place and work with your accountant to better understand the costs versus the benefits.
    • Do ensure you understand your insurance cover, including what is and isn’t covered with Business Interruption Insurance.
    • Do keep pest control programs up to date. Remember rats and mice are good climbers and can easily chew through wires, cabling and the like.
    • Do train staff in the safe use and maintenance of equipment, including the early warning signs of failure. Remember to induct all new staff and contractors.
    • Do encourage employees to report any problems with equipment immediately.
    • Do promote a safety culture to limit the chance of workplace accidents and injuries.

    Download PDF here

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