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October 2017

construction site employee retention

Improving Construction Site Employee Retention: 5 Strategies to Try

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When a company loses too many employees, it can suffer significantly from financial loss as well as lose a sense of unity. Often, business leaders have a high rate of employee turnover because the demands involved in running their businesses don’t give them enough time to meet the various needs of their workers.

Employee turnover can negatively affect just about any industry, but it can be even more detrimental for the construction industry. The employee shortage in this specialized industry continues to increase as about 66 percent of contractors have a hard time finding skilled workers, and once they do, they struggle to keep them. Here are five practical tips for improving construction site employee retention:

Be Sure Your Workers Understand Your Goals         

It’s essential you explain the mission statement of your company, along with your specific goals in any given project. Consider how employees who have a clear understanding of their company’s overall purpose tend to be more content at work. In other words, workers need to know the role they play in a larger picture as this promotes productivity. It also results in a project continuing to the next phase.

Don’t Be Too Controlling                                                                              

There are several ways to reduce micromanagement, which refers to a management style in which an employer has too much control over the work of his or her subordinates. Rather than being too controlling, it’s more beneficial to give your workers more independence and autonomy. One way to do this is by being open-minded to their suggestions when it comes to completing a job. Another idea is to listen to their particular needs and goals. Additionally,  aim to be patient when they make mistakes.

Train Your Employees Well

Unfortunately, some construction companies fail to train their workers properly. As a result, workers are unprepared to do a job, leaving them frustrated and wanting to leave. You should also provide learning opportunities designed for mastering construction skills. Training in safety procedures is equally critical for making workers feel more secure at work, so they want to stay with a company.

Be Aware of Your Employees’ Needs

When you see your workers as human beings with real needs instead of only what they can do for you, you’ll be more likely to have them stay with you. Make an effort to let your employees know you care about their welfare by encouraging them to speak up when they’re having personal problems. Providing health and wellness programs is also important.

Look Out For Their Health, Safety, and Comfort

Because construction work entails a greater amount of physical labor than most other industries, there should be more focus on the health and safety of employees. For example, health benefits need to cover physical problems, such as back conditions, repetitive motion disorders, muscle strain, and other issues. Be sure your staff has a comfortable area where they can relax for breaks and that they have access to drinking water. In addition to improving their physical health, this can also improve job productivity.

Other Considerations for Improving Construction Site Employee Retention

  • Employee retention should begin as soon as an onboarding period starts. In fact, workers going through the onboarding process have a 70 percent higher probability of remaining with a company for at least three years.
  • Check-in with your employees on a regular basis so that you can be aware of any concerns before they get worse.
  • Be sure you have a workplace environment in which your workers feel comfortable enough to tell you about any problems they’re having on the job.
  • Promote a workforce that doesn’t exclude women and minorities. Keep in mind that a common problem that many construction companies experience is a lack of diversity in their workforce.
  • Make sure your employees are paid well.
  • Offer great benefits.

How a PEO Can Help Keep Employees Happy

When you hire a PEO (Professional Employer Organization), your employees are more likely to be happier at work and not leave. A major job of a PEO is managing HR. These professionals perform several other tasks, such as handling payroll and promoting a much more professional work environment in which workers feel cared for and valued.

If you’re overwhelmed with everything you have to do as an employer and are worried about keeping your employees, please call us. Harbor America is a PEO providing HR, payroll, benefits, compliances and other valuable services to small and mid-sized business owners in the construction industry and other blue-collar industries. Please contact Harbor America for a free consultation.

Prepare Your Residential Construction Business for Winter

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It feels like you’re in a race right now. Winter is peeking around the corner, and you know this means the inevitable slowdown is coming for your residential construction business.  But with some careful preparation and adept planning, you can maximize your time and hopefully minimize the downtime for your workers as well as your income.

Here are 6 ways to prepare your residential construction business for winter:

Make Hay While the Sun Shines

Get outside and get as many houses winterized and ready for indoor work as you possibly can. Unless you’ve promised a lot of homeowners the chance to be in their houses for the holidays, delay as much interior work as you can now to focus on exterior projects.

Once the siding and the roof go up, you can focus on the interior work when the weather gets cold and take advantage of those warmer, dryer days in winter to take care of the smaller detail projects outside.

Pour, Pour, Pour

Make sure all of your exterior paving work is done before you get the winter rain and snow that turns your work site into a big pit of muck. Having driveways and sidewalks ready will allow your workers to move around the site more easily without making a big mess.

This does mean you want to schedule all of your sewer, water, gas, and electric lines into the house before you’re ready to pour.

Plan, Plan, Plan

This points to the need for you to really work your schedule to have subcontractors and utility crews meet the goals you need to reach before winter. Subcontractors especially will be motivated to work toward your schedule if it gives them better guarantees of having more interior work from your company during the winter months, as well.

Manage Your Crew

In the rush to prepare for winter, you might consider whether spending a little more on wages right now will pay off in the long run. If you can get more houses secured and ready for winter work, you’ll keep more revenue coming in over the winter. Look at two options here:

• Hire temporary help to get a boost in output over the next couple of months. This is the more budget-friendly option, as you won’t pay these workers as high wages as your permanent employees. The downside is you will be unsure of the skill level and motivation of these temporary workers.

• Authorize some extra overtime for your best crews now. While this might cost you more, you know you’ll be getting the best quality work. You’ll also be boosting morale among some employees who might face short-term layoffs during the winter.

Evaluate Your Work Force

This is also the time to assess your staff and determine who are the workers you want to keep on for the most time during the leaner winter months. It’s also best practice to be honest with your work crews and let them know if and when short-term layoffs are most likely. You certainly want to keep your best workers on as long as possible and also ensure they want to come back to work for you in the spring when business picks up.

Consider Cash Flow

Speaking of looking ahead, you also could improve your cash flow during the winter if you get some of those spring projects paid, at least partially, in advance. Consider offering a percentage discount for spring customers if they are willing to pay in advance. They might be planning to pay with their tax refund, so if they can save a little and already have the money sitting in a bank drawing no interest, they could jump at the savings.

The trend you might notice in a lot of these ideas is that you, as the owner, need the time to make sure all this happens. That could mean passing along some of the administrative duties for your residential construction business to seasoned professionals so you spend your time leading your company into the leaner months. Let Harbor America take some of that weight off your shoulders so you have adequate time to map your winter strategy.


6 Things a PEO Does (So You Don’t Have To)

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If you’re like most business owners, you’re probably overwhelmed with employee paperwork, HR matters and other tasks that keep you from achieving your primary business goals. Fortunately, you don’t have to be burdened with these concerns when you outsource them to a PEO (Professional Employer Organization).

According to a fairly recent article, more and more small and mid-sized companies are discovering the benefits of PEOs. In fact, roughly 6,000 small to mid-sized businesses partner with PEOs each year. Simply put, a PEO is a firm that provides human resources services for small to mid-sized companies. Here are six important things a PEO does, so you don’t have to:

Payroll Administration

One of the most costly and time-consuming aspects of managing a business is payroll processing. In addition to dealing with details, there’s the worry of making mistakes as even a tiny error can mean significant losses to a company.

But when you hand over this job to a PEO, you can be assured that your employees will be paid correctly and on time. Making mistakes on income taxes can be even more devastating, which is another reason to use a PEO who can file and distribute W2s, in addition to handling state and federal tax filings.

HR Solutions

One of the main tasks of a PEO is to provide outsourced HR solutions. A PEO can be a huge help in managing Human Resources issues. For example, PEOs provide employee handbooks, manage leave of absence requests, offer substance abuse prevention services, give employee relations support and provide both basic and complex HR services and support.

 Changing Industry Laws

The demands of managing a business can make it difficult to keep updated on the constantly changing industry regulations. That’s another reason many business managers use PEOs. When you connect with a PEO, you can don’t have to worry about new laws regarding background checks when hiring new employees. Consider how most business managers don’t know whether their states allow them to examine credit scores on employee candidates, so it can be used as a determining factor in hiring them.

Workers’ Compensation Coverage

When you join a PEO, you receive coverage for workers’ compensation. Furthermore, a PEO takes care of claims management involving on-site injuries.  Additionally, PEOs help in preventing injuries before they occur by offering workplace safety reviews helping your company come up with effective safety programs.

Training for Supervisors on Important Policy Issues

Partnering with a PEO gives you access to HR professionals who can assist in training supervisors on critical company policy concerns. These include those, such as anti-harassment policies, sexual harassment, workplace violence prevention substance abuse prevention, employee counseling and others.

Safety and Risk Management Solutions

PEOs offer important accident prevention strategies that help in preventing accidents at work. They provide various accident prevention plans, such as issuing safety manuals, for employees to keep them safe and lower the risk of injuries. By evaluating a business’s current situation and giving practical solutions for problems, your business is less likely to have a financial loss.

Considerations and Warnings

  • Because PEOs are specialists on employment-related compliance, they’re able to file all the necessary paperwork required with a business
  • Hiring a PEO doesn’t necessarily replace a company’s internal HR team.
  • Although a PEO helps to manage your business’s risks and employee-related administration, it does not control your business. You are still in total control of all operational decisions pertaining to your company.
  • PEOs are suited for almost all types of industries, such as computer services, engineering services, real estate, and property management, technology, manufacturing, electrical, plumbing/HVAC, wholesale, health services, construction, warehousing, and many others.
  • When choosing a PEO, be sure the service meets the state regulatory requirements.

Wouldn’t you rather invest your energy and time on the jobs that you actually enjoy doing for your company? Why not join the increasing number of small and mid-sized businesses that are using PEOs. Harbor America is a PEO providing workers’ compensation, HR, payroll, benefits, compliances, and other services to small and mid-sized businesses in many industries, such as construction and the oil field business. Please contact us and sign up for a free consolation.

Harbor America Recognized as Best Places To Work – 2017

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Harbor America Named a Best Place To Work In 2017

Porter, Texas  (October 12, 2017) 

Harbor America, a premier service provider of Professional Employer Organization (PEO) services to small and medium size companies, was recognized today by The Houston Business Journal as the 21st “Best Places to Work” in Houston. There were hundreds of companies surveyed so we are very honored to be named on this list for the sixth consecutive year.

“We are grateful for this honor and recognition.  Each employee is treated as a family member at Harbor America.  The loyalty and dedication by each employee validates this prestigious award,” said Doug Lowery, President of Harbor America.  “We have been ranked as high as 2nd place in Houston and know that 2018 will be another great year for Harbor America and its employees.”

About Harbor America

Harbor America, is a trusted partner to small and medium-sized businesses for 20 years, provides a superior level of back-office services, support and a wide array of human resources to its clients and their employees.  Harbor America reduces many of the day-to-day administrative burdens holding back business owners such as: employee benefits, individual retirement services, payroll administration, time and attendance, performance management, insurance services, and a human resource information system (HRIS).  For more information, visit

Media Contact:
Lars Nielson
Harbor America

The Harbor America logo is registered trademark of Harbor America.  All other trademarks, services marks, registered trademarks, or registered service marks are the property of their respective owners.

3 Ways a PEO Saves You Time and Money

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Are you a small business, start-up operation or a mid-sized business owner looking to free up more time? Maybe you should consider the services of a Professional Employer Organization (PEO). A PEO may be one of the best-kept secrets contributing to the success of small to medium-sized businesses. With your administrative and human resources tasks taken care of, you have time to focus on more important aspects of your business such as updating your business plan, keeping your customers happy,  and ultimately – making more money!

A Brief History of PEOs

The earliest beginnings of PEOs in the U.S. were in the 1940s with people beginning to discover co-employment. As time progressed, by the late 1960s and early 1970s, the concept took off, partly due to the success of a popular consultant, Martin Selter, who began a PEO for a doctor’s office in Southern California. Current statistics show there are approximately 780 to 980 PEOs currently operating in the U.S. employing more than 2.7 million people. Industry forecasts show the PEO industry is expected to have better than average growth in the coming years. It is an industry serving more than 150,000 small to mid-sized U.S. businesses.

Now on to some important ways that a PEO saves time and money:

1) Human Resources

By joining forces with a PEO, you can outsource many routine human resource tasks. The PEO has a co-employer relationship with your employees so they can manage tasks while you as a business owner still retain control of employee supervision to the degree you desire. If you choose to do so, however, you can delegate such tasks as regulatory compliance, unemployment claims, employee handbook development, and employee benefits. You can be as hands-on or hands-off as you choose.

2) Payroll/Benefits

With a PEO, you aren’t going to need a full-time staff dedicated to prepare your payroll or administer your benefits packages to employees. With the PEO’s access, it may even be able to secure you a more favorable benefits package than you would have access to on your own. We all know great benefits packages attract top talent for your company. Here is a perk of PEOs that you may not even have considered – lower workers’ compensation insurance rates. How is that possible? The PEO may have agreements with insurers (or have negotiating power) to secure insurance coverage at a lower price.

Another great time-saver a PEO offers is taking care of tracking employee leave requests. Federal and state law regulations dictate that careful records are kept of employee leave time, including time used for family and medical leave. Federal employment laws mandate employee leave time be granted for personal and family-related illnesses and conditions. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)  has specific regulations for employees governing guaranteed time off (up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year) for health conditions or to care for a family member. As an employer, you are required to continue to provide health insurance benefits to these employees and once they return to work, these employees must be restored to their same or equivalent positions.

3) Compliance

The number of organizations that require regulatory reporting is growing by leaps and bounds. A PEO can help you with state and federal compliance reporting requirements including employee-related documentation for ADA, OSHA, payroll, etc. Without regulatory compliance, your business could face fines or even worse, put employees at risk by failing to meet mandatory safety (OSHA) requirements.

As you can see, a PEO saves time and money in clear and noticeable ways. Whether you are a large or small business owner, a PEO has benefits that can make your life a whole lot easier. If you want to find out more about how you can use a PEO to claim back your time, visit our website for more information on how we can help your business operate more efficiently. You should be working smarter – not harder!

construction employees happy

Strategies for Making Your Blue Collar Business a Great Place to Work

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To do your best work, you need the best people. Especially if your company operates in a blue-collar industry, you cannot afford to lose your star employees to competitors who may seem like a natural fit.   Motivation is key. Do your workers come to work ready to get started every morning, or are they just waiting to punch the clock on their way out?  The best employers in construction and other blue-collar companies take special care by improving their company culture, motivation, and retention.

To accomplish the same goal, here are 5 ways you can make your blue-collar business a great place to work:

1) Be Honest About Expectations

Most blue-collar careers differ from their office-based counterparts in that they’re far more than a 9 to 5 job. Work is often project-based, which means that employees have to work longer hours in some cases. Generally, these long work weeks get balanced out by slower time periods.

But someone new to the industry may not be aware of these types of schedules. From the moment you start talking to a potential employee, be honest about the expectations the job will place on them. The earlier they know what to expect, the more easily they can buy into the concept and get to work.

2) Offer Flexibility

A great way to motivate your workers is to return the demand for flexibility mentioned above in kind. In other words, try to offer opportunities for your employees to build their own schedule, with some stipulations intact that preserve the need to man machinery or get urgent projects done.

Some of your workers may prefer working longer days and shorter workweeks. Some appreciate the extra pay through overtime, while others prefer to be home with their family for dinner. As much as your business model and workload allows, try to offer the flexibility your employees need to stay motivated.

3) Provide Autonomy

Especially in construction-based industries for larger companies, workers tend to stay in their lane. But at the same time, when asked, they might just have significant insights into how to improve work processes or maximize the potential success of a project.

The key here is making your employees feel like they have input into the strategic direction of the projects they work on. In addition to satisfying their need to be involved, you also end up with a bigger diversity of opinions from your boots on the ground that can actually improve your decision making.

4) Offer Performance Incentives

Make no mistake: incentives continue to provide a powerful push for blue-collar workers looking to make a name for themselves or earn a little bit of extra money. They motivate your employees and make them feel like their work is being valued.

Depending on your individual company and industry, these incentives may look very different, from intangible (such as designating a worker of the month or project) to tangible (such as pay bonuses for your top performers). The key is to make sure your employees know that good work will be rewarded.

Even something as simple as taking the time to pull aside an employee you know is working especially hard to tell them they’re doing a great job goes a long way toward boosting morale and loyalty.

5) Communicate the Bigger Picture

Finally, in any type of company, it makes sense to communicate to everyone involved what the bigger picture actually is. A bricklayer might be just a bit more motivated to complete quality work if they know the finished architectural vision of the project. Similarly, an electrician might appreciate knowing just how the wiring on which they work will actually power the building.

Communicating the bigger picture is not difficult and doesn’t cost anything. At the same time, it helps your workers feel included in the larger vision in which they participate in, providing them with additional motivation and allowing them to complete more high-quality work.

Making your business a great place to work requires understanding every worker in your organization. Combine the above factors, and you can ensure that your employees come to work every morning motivated, while also increasing your retention rates.

At Harbor America, we understand the unique challenges that come with operating a blue-collar business. To learn more about how Harbor America can streamline your HR, payroll, and compliance tasks so you have more time to work on the aspects of your business you really love, contact us today.