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Monthly Archives: March 2016

How to Avoid Layoffs During Tough Financial Times

Laoyff noticeTo save money during tough financial times, businesses often resort to layoffs as a way of staying competitive. However, layoffs can damage your reputation and negatively impact the morale of current employees.

Thankfully, there are alternative options to layoffs that often go overlooked, including the following:

  • Reorganization. Instead of hiring multiple individuals in separate roles, always look for opportunities to consolidate. Encouraging employees to cross-train one another is an effective way to ensure that there are no gaps in the workflow, without needing to onboard more employees, which would increase spending. Essentially, you are assigning more responsibilities to strategic roles. An open dialogue between managers and employees is critical here, as you want to ensure that your employees are not overworked and that they enjoy any additional tasks they are assigned.
  • Work-sharing. This is when multiple employees are retained as part- or reduced-time employees and split the job duties regularly performed by one employee. To be eligible for a work-sharing agreement, employers must have been operating in Canada for at least two years, among other requirements. For more specifics on all of the eligibility requirements, click here.
  • Wage subsidies. To save on hiring costs during times of financial strife, many businesses turn to wage subsidies. There are a variety of programs available that give employers immediate access to savings through tax credits when they hire certain types of workers. For a list of programs, click here.

In addition to the above tips, another critical aspect of surviving tough financial times is staying positive. This attitude will be evident to your employees and will instil a sense of security that will be vital in preserving high-quality work.


© Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

5 Trade Show Best Practices

Convention 2015For many businesses, trade shows act as an effective lead-generation tactic that can help build key industry relationships. However, when businesses poorly plan their trade show appearances, there’s a chance they could miss out on such benefits, costing them time and money.

To ensure your business is prepared the next time you attend a trade show, keep in mind the following best practices:

  1. Choose wisely. The first step—and arguably the most important—is to carefully pick which trade show you want to attend. Conduct as much research as possible and choose the trade show that makes the most sense based on your budget, trade show contract terms, etc. Registering in advance can also help you save money. If possible, all of this should be done about 12 months prior to the show.
  2. Determine objectives and exhibits. Getting a grasp on what your goals are for the trade show will dictate the messaging of your exhibit. Consider any technology or signage you will need at your booth to support your objectives and coordinate with the appropriate vendors. Completing this step at least six months in advance is critical.
  3. Focus on logistics. The simple aspects of trade show planning can be the easiest to overlook. About four months prior to the show, ensure that you have chosen and informed the staff that will be attending. At this point, you should have your booth floor plan figured out and any travel or lodging needs finalized. Communicating your attendance to your clients and the general public can be done around this time as well.
  4. Scope out the competition. Many businesses that attend trade shows never take the time to see what competitors are presenting. When you first arrive at the show, map out the booths worth visiting. In addition, you should keep any marketing literature given to you by salespeople, as it can give you insight into other businesses’ messaging.
  5. Follow up. After the show is over, the real lead generation begins. Gather up all of the contact information you collected from the show and sort leads by viability.

In general, it’s important to remind employees that attending trade shows isn’t a vacation; it’s work. Taking the benefits of the show seriously and planning appropriately will ensure that your business gets the most out of the experience.


© Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

25 Most Commonly Stolen Passwords

Internet securityHow clever is your password? If it’s on the list below, your password is just as easily stolen as it is remembered. Protect yourself by making sure you’re not using one of the top 25 most commonly stolen passwords of 2015, as determined by IT security firm SplashData.

To create a more secure password, make sure you are not relying only on numbers, and try to avoid simple keyboard patterns. You may also want to avoid easy-to-find information such as birthdays, favourite sports teams and addresses. Attempt to create a password that is eight or more letters long, and avoid using the same password for multiple access points.    

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 12345678
  4. qwerty
  5. 12345
  6. 123456789
  7. football
  8. 1234
  9. 1234567
  10. baseball
  11. welcome
  12. 1234567890
  13. abc123
  14. 111111
  15. 1qaz2wsx
  16. dragon
  17. master
  18. monkey
  19. letmein
  20. login
  21. princess
  22. qwertyuiop
  23. solo
  24. passw0rd
  25. starwars


© Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

Estate Planning for Your Digital Assets

cloud computingTechnology has become more pervasive, and it’s become increasingly difficult to avoid having at least some kind of valuable data that has to be managed. Whether it’s important photographs, documents hosted in the Cloud, online banking accounts, or Web-based assets like social media accounts or websites, virtually everyone has some digital assets to track.

That can be a daunting task in its own right, but what happens to those assets if something should happen to you? If you haven’t taken the time to plan for your digital assets, your loved ones could find themselves unable to access your accounts. And, if one of those accounts is compromised by a data breach, hackers could use your online accounts as a “back door” into your bank accounts or other assets.

Estate planning for your digital assets is a crucial part of your overall estate-planning strategy. While it’s always best to consult with a financial planner or legal counsel when considering estate planning, there are some general guidelines everyone should follow when making plans for their digital assets.

Create an Inventory

“Digital assets” can refer to a broad range of things, but in general, it refers to any part of your digital identity that would require your successors’ attention. The first step in planning is making sure that you have an exhaustive, centralized inventory of your assets so that your executor, attorney or trustee knows where to find everything.

  1. Hardware

Begin by making an inventory of your hardware. It may seem obvious, but don’t take this step for granted. Many people use a number of different devices in their day-to-day lives, with important data stored in each of those devices. Remember to create an inventory and make a note of hardware that may be company-owned, and also remember that pieces of old hardware—computers, cellphones, cameras, etc.—may have important data on them.

Tailor your inventory to your needs, but consider some of the following:

  • Computers, laptops and tablets (including username and login information)
  • Cellphones
  • Digital cameras
  • CDs, DVDs, flash drives, SIM cards, external hard drives and other devices that store data

In addition to making a list of the names and locations of all of your hardware, it could be helpful to your successors to map out the file structures of your data. Write out step-by-step instructions so your successors know how to navigate the file system on your hardware in order to access your important information.

  1. Online Assets

Next, consider your online presence in its various forms. Though it may be daunting, consider every site for which you’ve created a user profile and determine whether or not your successors will need to gain access. In doing so, be sure to log website names, URLs, usernames and passwords:

The list will vary, but be especially mindful of websites that store your personal information or banking information. Consider the following:

  • Online backing accounts
  • Shopping sites (e.g., Amazon, the Apple Store, eBay)
  • Social media accounts (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)
  • Cloud-hosted email accounts (e.g. Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook)
  • Cloud Storage (e.g., Dropbox, Google Drive)
  • Organizational sites and apps (e.g., OmniFocus, Evernote, Pinterest)
  • Subscriptions (e.g., Netflix, Audible, Hulu Plus, HBO Go)
  1. Work

Depending on your job, it might make sense to create a separate inventory for any work-related information that might be among your digital assets. This will vary widely from profession to profession, but as telecommuting becomes more commonplace, it’s an increasingly important consideration. In some cases, it’s a matter of keeping sensitive information secure. In other cases, it’s simply a matter of making sure your successors have access to the work you’ve been doing on projects that they might need to take over. Consider the following:

  • Client files
  • Spreadsheets
  • Online databases or software
  • Projects tasks, notes or drafts

Everyone’s digital assets are bound to be different, which is why making an exhaustive inventory is so important.

Provide Access to Your Assets

Once you have an inventory of your digital assets, it’s important to make sure you provide your successors with access. You’ll want to choose someone you can trust to handle sensitive personal and financial information, as well as the task of carrying out your wishes. It could be a trusted advisor, an attorney, or a family member or friend.

Whomever you choose, make sure you keep records naming that person and his or her responsibilities along with the rest of your estate planning information. Just because someone has your hardware or knows your passwords doesn’t mean that he or she is authorized to use them. Certain laws may prohibit others from accessing or using your digital assets, so having proper documentation is essential.

Write Out Instructions

Once you’ve created an inventory of your assets and assigned the appropriate executor or trustee, you’ll want to document your wishes. It may seem tedious, but it’s important to take the time to be detailed. After all, you wouldn’t want someone mistakenly selling or deleting important documents or photographs.

Planning for the Future

Estate planning may conjure unpleasant thoughts about death, but it’s important to plan now so that your wishes can be carried out and your loved ones and colleagues can continue on without undue stress.

It’s also important to make sure you have the people and the resources that you need in order to make sure your wishes are carried out as you’d like.


© Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.



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