All posts by Marketing BaseBuilders

It Might Be You: Why Your Management Style Might be Making Your Projects Fail (And How You Can Fix That) Pt. 1

Importance of a Positive Attitude in Project Management:

Being a great project manager involves several factors. You, of course, have to be well organized and capable of leading the individuals who are under your supervision. However, you might be surprised to learn that being a superb manager has more to do with your attitude than it does with your intellectual capacity or experience. In fact, it really doesn’t matter what you know or how extensive your work history if you can’t or don’t inspire the individuals who are working under you.

Perhaps, you used to be inspiring when you first started your management career. You used to do well relating to your employees, but now, you just don’t. Now, you find yourself lashing out and being generally negative. Unfortunately, this attitude is all wrong in terms of good management, because to be a great manager, you have to be a positive manager. The following outlines what you shouldn’t do in terms of handling your employees—attitude wise—and how you can fix these issues and begin inspiring those who work under you once again.

Realize You Might be Out-of-Touch on Occasion:

As you transition into a management position, you naturally lose touch with what it takes to produce a product. After all, it’s no longer your job to be the production, but instead to oversee that production. As a result, there are many times that your employees will know more than you in terms of what’s going on with a project. When you get out-of-touch and yet still demand to be “in charge,” you frustrate those who work for you. You start setting deadlines that are unrealistic and you create a stressful, negative workplace. This dynamic is a recipe for disaster.

How to Change It: The way to change being out-of-touch is simple. Just listen. It sounds easy, but it’s amazing how many managers won’t do this small thing. By listening to your employees and their concerns regarding a project, you won’t set unrealistic deadlines or make impractical demands. Consequently, your employees will work harder for you than ever before, because they feel you have their back.

 

Be Willing to Get Your Hands Dirty:

As a manager, you are in charge of many aspects of a job that regular employees are not. You have to meet with owners, attend countless meetings and flatter clients. They don‘t. They just have to make the product. However, you can’t forget the stress involved in the production part of the job, especially in regards to meeting deadlines. Nor can you refuse to get involved and help when the need arises. You can’t become “above the job,” or this will make your employees unwilling to do anything to help you, including meeting productivity demands.

How to Change It: To ensure your employees remain motivated and productive, you occasionally will have to pitch in, roll up your sleeves and help get a job done. When you do this, you show your employees that you understand how difficult their job is and that you aren’t above good hard work. To best understand this, consider this example: Picture a dictator standing on a ledge pointing out towards the distance, demanding his soldiers fall in and obey orders. In this scenario, the employees are being treated much like slaves. As such, they have no motivation to go the extra mile or to work overtime to get a job done. Consider the alternative, that being a picture of a leader. A leader is a person who stands on the frontline, helps pull the weight and win the battle right alongside those soldiers. They lead from in front. They get their hands dirty and work up a sweat too. They aren’t “above” work. This is how you want to manage, as a leader, not a boss or dictator.

Understand How Your Own Unhappiness Alters Your Behavior:

If you are overly stressed, having issues at home, or struggling with finances, you will almost certainly take this stress out on your employees. You will be short with them, not be sympathetic with any issues they are dealing with and just basically become difficult to be around. In general, you will have a bad attitude, which will in turn lead to a negative atmosphere in your workplace, and reduce productivity.

How to Change It: If you are overly stressed, start to work on that in your own life. Don’t take it out on your employees. To reduce stress, begin a workout regimen, become involved in a ministry of some sort that gives back or start a new hobby. You can even suggest a company fun day and go play golf or even paint ball, or really anything else you all find fun. Just in general, make an effort to reduce your stress, and this will in turn help you relate more positively to your employees and they to you.

 

As the above points have illustrated, your attitude as a manager is vastly important in regards to the productivity of your employees. The saying made popular by motivational speaker Zig Ziglar is worth noting, “They won’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” This saying wasn’t necessarily speaking towards a workplace, but it relates well. As a manager, your employees need to know you care; they need to see a positive attitude and they need to know you are willing to pitch in and help. When you make sure to showcase these attributes, you will be rewarded with hardworking, loyal and productive employees.

So You Don’t Get Along: How to Manage Personnel Conflicts

You’re working on a team with another person you know is skilled and experienced. Perhaps you are working to engineer or design a solution to a multi-million dollar problem. He or she isn’t on the same page as you. Whether you are the leader of the project or just a member of the team, this type of personal conflict is going to hold your success back. How can you overcome it and achieve your ultimate goal of exceeding the expectations of your client?

Realize Everyone Is Different, and That’s Okay

There is rarely a single way to look at something within a project. Often times, there are multiple viewpoints. When navigating through an engineering problem, these differing viewpoints and opinions can often help your team to find creative solutions they would not otherwise see. In fact, one of the best structures for any firm is to have a diverse workforce. That doesn’t help you on the job, though.

When conflicts arise, take a step back. Discuss with the other person or team that you value their opinion, but you want them to see it from your point as well. Being the voice of reason is important, but it doesn’t mean backing down from what you believe in. Rather, you ultimately want to discuss all aspects of the solution so that the resolution is the best it can be.

Build a Team Through Communication

When personal conflicts arise in an architecture firm, you may feel as if you “just can’t do it” or cannot spend another day at the draft table with this person. However, since every member of the team is generally key to the tasks at hand, there’s a need to work through this. This is when team building and communication improving steps are necessary. Here are some tips:

  1. Walk away from the project and agree to communicate about the conflict.
  2. Recognize each others’ abilities and strengths as a team.
  3. Ask each person what he or she needs to be successful while communicating your own needs.
  4. Agree to respect the differences each person offers.
  5. Create a positive outlook. “If we work together and through this conflict, we’ll impress the client and secure more profitable projects down the road.”

Define a Project Manager

Personnel conflicts can arise and stick around even through these types of conversations and work out meetings. When this happens, it’s ultimately up to the project manager to make key decisions.

  1. Communicate that everyone needs to work together.
  2. Be specific about what isn’t acceptable.
  3. Focus on the productivity and goals of the project, not individuals.
  4. Ask the team to work towards the goals and set aside their conflict.
  5. Always show respect for your team and command authority by being a fair, trusted and true-to-the project leader.
  6. Determine when and if someone refuses to be a dedicated member of the team and take action to mitigate this risk to the project.
  7. Create an action plan and manage the team by setting aside conflicts. Focus on the facts.

Often times, conflicts within the team can be hard to navigate because they are based on feelings and perceived emotions. The project manager’s job in an AE firm is to get the draft completed and to work with the client to achieve success. You can’t do this until you’ve resolved personnel conflicts effectively. The right tools ensure this is possible to accomplish. The key is to know the task at hand and how to work with people to achieve the goals of the project with the least amount of difficulty as possible.

The Importance of Invoice Accuracy

Your architecture firm is busy. You spend your time working hand-in-hand with your team, your clients, and your proposals to keep your business progressing. Invoicing doesn’t seem like a big component of your day-to-day tasks, but common mistakes here can cost your company significantly. Within the architecture industry specifically, invoice mistakes are common, but are often associated with an easy-to-fix problem: project tracking. Are you invoicing accurately and timely?

Why Invoice Accuracy Makes a Difference

It doesn’t have to take long, require a great deal of investment, or necessitate the need for ongoing training, but properly invoicing your architecture clients could very well minimize your risks and improve your client relations. Here are some reasons why it matters.

#1: They cost you your client’s trust

By far the worst part of errors on invoices has to do with your client’s trust. A simple mistake, such as in providing misinformation on a project, leads the client to believe your company isn’t properly tracking steps. If mistakes occur here, will they occur in the final project? Will a simple typo lead to a comprehensive architecture design flaw?

#2: It leads to delayed payments

Providing an invoice that is missing details, lacking in accuracy, or otherwise flawed leads to questioning by both sides. Ultimately, clients will not pay the invoice on time because it isn’t accurate. This can lead to limitations in cash flow within your firm, even leading to difficulty paying your vendors and employees.

#3: Loss of potential income

One of the most common mistakes submitted on invoices from architecture firms has to do with inaccuracies in reported hours billed. If you fail to track and accurately submit hours billed, your client cannot pay you for them. As a result, your company loses money in the process. It is very common for poor tracking to lead to a significant loss of income even in non-hourly invoiced assignments because some of the completed work isn’t clearly reported.

#4: Lost time

Once an error occurs and you or the client determine it is there, a looming question mark hangs over the invoice. This leads to your need to go back and track and rework the information. This also leads to time spent logging information, clarifying the error, finding where the error occurred, and outlining the mistake to the client, especially if you’ve not invoiced for enough.

#5: Critical information is lost

Clients often need invoicing to reflect much more than just the actual amount owed. An invoice from an architecture firm often needs to specifically state the work completed. Missing or omitted information on the invoice may indicate to the client the project isn’t at the stage communicated or is otherwise incomplete. This, again, impacts trust.

The satisfaction of your client is paramount but simple mistakes on invoices can cost you much more than lost hours tracked. It can lead to a high level of distrust between you and your client, often leading to fewer projects down the road.

With BaseBuilders.com, an intuitive, easy-to-use project management tool, you can easily track all data as it is completed, leading to fast, seamless invoices that deliver key information to clients on time and accurately.

15 Ways to Manage Conflicts on Your Team

In every project, workplace, office, and team, conflict will occur. It’s not possible to avoid it, but what you do to manage it can define the success of your engineering or architectural firm. To truly define your success, consider these simple-to-implement conflict management strategies.

#1: Focus on productivity

When managing conflict on the spot, aim for a solution that improves productivity rather than one that focuses on drawing out the conclusion. In short, stop the problem, and set a time to discuss it thoroughly after the task at hand is complete.

#2: Realize conflict stems from perceived misunderstandings

In nearly all situations, conflict starts and builds from the perceived incompatibilities of individuals. This isn’t necessarily an actual incompatibility but rather one that one or both individuals believe. By communicating this, you, as the project manager or team leader can stop the misunderstanding taking place.

#2: It’s often about feelings

Many people are passionate about the way they feel and what they believe. When someone else has an opposing view, a conflict can easily arise. However, you can often use team building exercises to show that, even if two people don’t seem to have the same view, they can work together.

#3: Acknowledge the conflict

The biggest mistake you can make is in not acknowledging there is a problem. Don’t avoid it, push it to the side, or just “let it alone.” State that you understand a conflict is present.

#4: Watch for the first signs of struggle

It’s easier to fix a problem when you can spot the conflict early on. Address the first bickering or communication undertones right away. If it seems like there’s a problem, or could be one, address it.

#5: Sometimes, people need to talk it out

Bring two parties into the office for a frank discussion. Provide them both with the opportunity to state their opinion and concerns. Don’t favor either. Just listen and let them work through it.

#6: Discuss the impact

Every conflict in any project will have an impact. Discuss what that is with the team. Make it clear that it is the conflict (not the individuals) which is putting the project on the line.

#7: Get people to agree that a solution is necessary

To manage the conflict with your team, you initially do not need them to agree on a solution. First, they need to agree that a resolution is necessary.

#8: Then, agree to communicate

Once they agree that a solution is necessary, everyone involved needs to agree to communicate respectfully to find a solution.

#9: Find some common ground

Discussions start when people let their guard down. To do this, find some common ground for the two or more people to agree on.

#10: Talk about the issue in a formal discussion

Level heads are important here. Talking through conflicts is critical, though rarely easy to do when everyone is angry or frustrated. Those are valid feelings. Recognize the need for a calm conversation.

#11: Make a list

When individuals cannot see eye-to-eye, sometimes it takes making a list. Write down the facts of the situation. Write down assumptions and beliefs as well. Clarify each position with each person.

#12: What can we agree on?

Asking open-ended conversations instead of offering a decision on your own is important. The goal here is to get people to come to an agreement together. Questions like this can help to get people thinking about the solution rather than the problem.

#13: Should we continue this conversation?

It’s a valid question and one that you need all parties to agree to in order to move on. Allowing people to voice all of their thoughts and opinions is important. Only once they do this will they agree to move on.

#14: Determine what each person wants to occur

Conflict management often comes down to you, as the manager, making a decision about the outcome. However, for that to happen, you need to know what everyone involved believes as the best solution – at this point, after having a thorough conversation.

#15: Make key decisions as the leader

Ultimately, the project manager needs to make a decision to resolve the conflict. Everyone at the table needs to agree to your decision. And, you need to document what occurs and what the end result was for later reference.

In many cases, conflict management is all about structuring and overseeing a conversation. Eventually, people can vent, listen, and overcome the communication problem or other areas of concern. Your job is to organize and manage the conflict resolution.

Top 10 Project Management Tips to Help You Complete Your Projects on Time

Perhaps the worst way to interact with a new client with plans for numerous projects is to be late in responding, communicating, or even submitting the completed project on deadline. As the manager of an architecture or engineering firm, it’s your job to keep the deadline in sight. If you’re struggling to complete projects on time, these project management tips and tricks can get you back on track.

#1: Ensure your deadline is sensible

Don’t over promise. If you know a design project will take 400 man-hours to complete, don’t promise to turn it around before it is reasonable to schedule these hours into your work flow. It’s better to deliver early and impress the client than to overwork your employees and deliver an inferior project.

#2: Create a staggered schedule

Don’t place one date on the calendar as the “due” date and assume everything will fall into line. Instead, create a staggered set of deadlines leading up to the final date the client can expect the project to be completed. This keeps the project on time.

#3: Establish review dates in between your scheduled completion dates

Review the project in between completion dates in your schedule. Maintaining a constant overseeing eye can give your team the confidence needed to know they are on track.

#4: Create a comprehensive list of tasks

How can you know where the project stands if you don’t know what needs to be done? In architecture or engineering projects, the ultimate goal is to submit a completed product. However, to achieve this, it’s necessary to complete dozens of tasks along the way. A list ensures everything necessary is done on time.

#5: Be clear on changes to the plan

As project manager, it’s your job to keep the client happy by adhering to changes and making updates throughout the project. Build-in this extra time whenever possible. And, ensure that your contract states clearly that changes to the project specs will alter the timeline.

#6: Keep individuals accountable

Assign specific tasks to individuals. Then, maintain outstanding communication with these individuals to ensure they understand the tasks and the timeline. Hold them accountable for delays.

#7: Address problems or signs of trouble immediately

The longer you wait to contact the client for clarification or talk to the marketing team about discrepancies, the less time you leave for your team to complete the project. Even within your team, notice, address and resolve all conflicts or other problems as they arise to prevent them from causing delays.

#8: Track time throughout the project

No matter if your architecture firm has two people or your engineering office is made up of ten teams of ten people, it’s essential to track all time spent on a project. Even if the project is not paid hourly, which most are not, tracking time helps you accomplish goals and ensures you can properly budget time going forward on this project and others.

#9: Manage the project’s ever-changing dynamics

Be a proactive, in-the-know manager. That means overseeing the project from start to finish and incorporating changes over time. Instead of bogging yourself down with ten tasks to handle that keep you focused at your desk, delegate those tasks to others. Manage your floor by floating from team to team to oversee each area.

#10: Use software to manage every project

Even the most well designed and laid out project can benefit from the use of project management software. Track everything here including the time you’ve spent on it, who is working on what, and even your invoicing and contracts. This reduces the risk of errors and allows for deadlines to be easily within reach.

BaseBuilders.com is online project management software that can improve the success of any project. Deadlines matter, but with tools specifically designed for your architecture or engineering business, you will worry less and accomplish more.

In It for the Long Haul: How to Manage Lengthy (Neverending) Projects

In some architecture and engineering firms, there’s no end date in sight for a project. It may seem to go on for years, with constant upgrades and changes. As long as your company is managing the actual milestones and receiving payment, it may not seem like too much of a struggle. On the other hand, not all clients are easy to work with and you may not want that lengthy project to tie you down too long. What can you do to effectively manage lengthy projects to ensure your time is being spent wisely?

Create Milestones for Achievement

Perhaps your firm has a development project with goals set over the next five or ten years. You’re confident the project will change at each phase. The work you are doing now may not eventually pan out. That’s why milestones are so valuable. Create milestones that clearly define the goals of the project at this point, what your next step of tasks or goals are until the next milestone, and what changes are to be made. Milestones, then, can serve as intermediate deadlines, providing your team with a clear “finish line” for the current tasks at hand.

Managing the Ever-Changing Project

In some cases, architects are faced with clients that don’t necessarily have a long-term need, but seem to be unable to make decisions. This is often the case when city planning teams are a part of the equation. In these lengthy situations, your team still needs to stay on task without over-dedicating too much time to any specific area that hasn’t been agreed upon as of yet. In this case, keep the following in mind:

  • Set specific goals for the project in small, bite-sized pieces. Ensure your contract allows for invoicing more frequently and without project spec approval.
  • Establish specific guidelines by the hour and then track those hours. For example, each time the planning commission requests changes, your team should track hours spent and apply those to the invoice for that milestone.
  • Ensure everyone is aware of your team’s desire to complete the project according to the realistic timeline initially set. However, be specific about what will delay the project. This ensures the ball is in their court.

When projects don’t seem to be heading in a profitable manner, shift the man-hours spent to other tasks and projects. Meet deadlines as needed, but avoid putting extra time into a project that isn’t going anywhere. Investing your talent into profitable clients sometimes means pulling back from other projects until the scope is clearly planned.

Perhaps the most important component to managing a lengthy project of any type effectively is to use project management software. These tools, like the AE-specific BaseBuilders.com cloud solution, allows you to consistently track the amount of time you are investing in any given project. It also allows you to manage invoicing and milestones. This keeps your team on track while allowing you to continuously see the profitability at every stage. Lengthy projects can provide long term cash flow and be very profitable when managed properly.

What to Do When You Have Unpaid Invoices

As you know, getting clients to pay their invoices can sometimes be difficult. After all, you worked your tail off to get the job drawn up, sent out to bid, built and closed out. You dealt with all the problems that went along with completing the project. Through it all, you knew that your payday was on its way, which is what kept you going at times. Then, you find out, your clients aren’t paying their invoices. You might wonder what you can do about it. Well, you might be surprised to know that there is a lot you can do.

Make Sure You Have a Good System in Place

The first step in ensuring prompt payment on a regular basis is to have a good system set up for billing. You can do this with software designed for just such a purpose. This will help you track time committed to a particular job and keep up with all the change orders and other additional expenses that alter your billing amount. Good software will also link to your business books, ensuring all your business finances are well organized.

Be Up Front with Expectations

Although the end of a job it’s a little too late to be putting this tip into action, at least you can do this from now on. With new clients or at the beginning of a new job with a current client, you need to explain how you invoice. For example, tell them you send out invoices every 30 days. Let them know how long they have to pay what they owe. Be up front. Then, if clients don’t want to pay in a timely manner, you can remind them about your preset expectations and how they agreed to comply. Make sure you get their signature on a contract that shows the payment terms upon which you both agreed.

Consider Implementing Interest on Late Payments

Believe it or not, the government actually has legislation in place that protects small businesses against late payers. Wow, it turns out they are good for something after all. Who knew? According to this legislation, you can add interest to a debt up to a certain amount and even procure some of your debt recovery costs.

Address the Problem in Person

Sending past due notices, emailing a client and leaving messages are all typical ways to encourage payment. However, they aren’t always effective. After all, it’s a little too easy to simply disregard an email or message. The way to ensure you have an effect and actually get something accomplished is to show up in person. Sure, it takes time out of your busy day, but look at it as a marketing endeavor. By showing up and maybe going to lunch with a client, you can reestablish the working relationship, find out about any upcoming jobs and drop a hint about your missing payment. You might even get a check that day if you let them know you are coming.

This should help you collect on unpaid invoices

13 Ways to Become a Better Project Manager

No matter how many projects you’re juggling, one thing is clear, all of the weight of potential success for your business is on your shoulders. You know your team has the experience and skill. It’s up to you to lead them from the initial proposal to project completion. To do that, you need to be the best project manager possible. Incorporate these tips to become a better project manager at your firm.

#1: Realize your can’t do it all yourself

A project manager’s job is to oversee, not to be doing all the work him or herself. To deliver the very best product to your client, you need to ensure you are leading. Don’t assume you can do it better. Whether it’s in the actual drawings or in scheduling meetings, allow your team to work for you and through you to get the job done. Delegate.

#2: Ask questions and listen

Don’t just go through the motions of completing a project even if you fully believe you understand the scope of it. Rather, show your team and your client that you care about their complete satisfaction by asking questions. By involving many people in the consultations and meetings, you present an opportunity to not only clarify key points, but also to build rapport within your team. Remember to listen – you just might learn something.

#3: Create priorities for each project

A key component of success is not just meeting the clients’ goals, but exceeding their expectations. To achieve this, create priorities and goals for each project. Inform and direct each of your team members towards accomplishing these tasks. If you don’t know where the goal is, how can you excel?

#4: Maintain a natural authority

Skilled project managers don’t have to lay down the rules or borrow the power of another manager or business owner. Rather, they are leaders who show their skill by leading – a skill that comes from commanding a natural authority.

#5: Reassure your team that they can do it

Let’s face it – getting bogged down in a project with endless complications can easily sour any deal and create difficulties within your team. The best way to overcome this is through reassuring your team that they can do it. Being the cheerleader from the sidelines doesn’t always mean having the answers, but rather encouraging the team to find them.

#6: Be thorough

To really command success, ensure you’ve thought about the details. Take your time in creating a plan that’s as thorough as possible.

#7: Share your vision

It’s also important to give direction as a project manager. You can’t just lead them to success. It’s important to show them what your vision really is.

#8: Always respect each member of your team

Respect their opinions, needs, ideas, and concerns. Respect isn’t an option for a project manager. It’s often a defining determinant of either successful relationships or disgruntled employees.

#9: Communicate regularly

Set up tools and resources to allow you to communicate on each project with your team seamlessly. That’s critical. You’ll want to check in each day or every few hours, as needed.

#10: Say what you really mean

People make mistakes, have bad ideas or just plain don’t do what they should. As the manager of the project, its success depends on your ability to correct these mistakes, inform them of the proper solutions and to overcome communication barriers. Don’t belittle, turn it into a learning experience.

#11: Do what you say you will

If you promise a client a set progress plans by noon, get them there. If you tell your team, they are off at 5 for the day, don’t call afterward – it can wait until tomorrow. Do what you say you will do.

#12: Be available

Both to the client and to your staff, it’s important to be available. Listen, guide, and most importantly, keep them on track.

#13: Be organized

A key part of your success when balancing numerous projects is having the means and ability to remain organized. That’s not always easy to do, but it is something that you should aim for on every detail.

The right software and tools can help you to remain successful. As an architect or engineer, it’s up to you to use project management software that can ensure each detail is always at the forefront of the project.

Employee Compensation Plans

How you compensate your employees can make the difference of whether or not or how well you can whether a down turn in the economy. We all saw it hit us in 2008 when the economy took a turn for the worst here in the United States. We saw countless times that companies:

  1. Waited a long time to lay anyone off even though they couldn’t afford too
  2. They were paying wages that just didn’t fit with the new economy.

So how can you get around this?

One of the things you can look at is how your employees are compensated. If you pay lower base salaries that you make up through a profit sharing plan, then if there is a down turn in the economy and the profits aren’t there, you get automatic cuts to your labor costs.

But if the economy is doing well, you will be sharing the wealth and sharing the profits of the company with the employees. By doing this you can reduce that minimum number of dollars that you need to bill each month just to breakeven. If you can reduce that then when they economy does go south you’ve got some cushion in there to maybe be able to whether the storm a little bit better.

The other place to look carefully is at your principle or owner compensation. This too is a place where there can be less salary and greater profit sharing, taking the money out as a dividend or distribution rather than a salary so that on a month-to-month basis when times are tight, your actual cost is not as high. When you do have the money, then you distribute it out. This is a great way to:

Most employees during this last down turn that we all went through, would’ve been happy to just have a job at the end of the day, even if it did pay a little less. And if they had low salaries with a high bonus or profit sharing, then the firm could have controlled costs without having to ask employees to take pay cuts.

In the interest of building your company to withstand a long-term effects of poor economies and to be around of decades, consider looking at your compensation plans to see if you can reduce the base but increase bonus and profit sharing.

The other thing that the bonus plan or profit sharing does is it outs the overall success of the company in the interests of the employees. If their projects are more profitable they get to share in that profit. So now it gives them the opportunity of an entrepreneurial spirit in working for you. It’s in their best interest to help the company succeed rather than just collect a paycheck.

 

Providing Health Benefits to Your Employees

For small businesses, like most architects and engineers, this is a huge expanse. Over the past few years we have seen these costs skyrocket.

But did you know that nearly 20% of Americans have secondary health coverage. What this means is they are covered by two health insurance plans because there are two working parents in the household. When this is the case, the have one plan be their primary coverage and the other is their secondary insurance. And while that is all fine and well, what is it costing you to provide secondary coverage to your employees?

One way to help limit the number of employees who are doing this is to have them participate in the cost of their health coverage. By the way, if an employee is using your insurance as a secondary coverage plan the benefits paid by the insurance company are much less but the premiums you pay remain usually the same- big price with limited benefits.

We did a change at our office where are employees were required to pay for 20% of their health insurances and we covered the other 80% rather than covering 100%. What we found was about 1 in10 of our employees opted out of our plan and elected to be covered by their spouse insurance. Usually this was because their spouse’s employer (hopefully it is a big company providing great coverage) was giving them good insurance and paying for all it.

Now we did not do this in an attempt to hurt our employees in any way, in fact we gave them each a rise to cover what their 20% share was going to be. We weren’t trying to take money out of their pocket, however, when a number of our employees opted out of our insurance plan, the company got the benefit of saving the remainder of those premiums that we had been paying.

For small architecture and engineering firms this can amount huge dollars.

So take a look at the health benefits you are providing to your staff and see if they are in line with what your company can truly afford to do.