Monthly Archives

November 2017

Preventing Workplace Injuries: Our Top Tips

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Safety on job sites is no laughing matter. Preventing workplace injuries by ensuring employees are up to date on protocols in their work zone is of the utmost importance. Worksite accidents are not only scary and dangerous for the affected employees, but they’re bad for business. Accidents can lead to everything from expensive worker’s compensation claims to lawsuits and fines.

Accidents are bound to happen, however with the right rules and preventative measures you can avoid further mayhem. Keep reading for our top tips on avoiding injuries in your workplace. Whether your workplace is a construction zone or manufacturing warehouse, we have you covered.

Safety Training

Before beginning any new job, employers need to educate their employees on all of the safety guidelines or hazards they might encounter while on the job. Health and safety policies should be fully understood before putting a new employee to work. Set up quizzes to ensure they know the safety materials you’re providing them with. Any kind of written safety policy should include the name and location of a first aid responder along with the procedure name. Make sure all employees are knowledgeable about the equipment they will be responsible for handling or operating. If they’re not yet qualified they should not attempt to use it.

Safety Crew Meetings

Daily meetings between the crew and superiors should take place to ensure all employees are on the same page. The use of repetition about safety procedures in high-stress aspects of the job is crucial for employees to stay motivated to follow the rules every day.

Protective Clothing/Gear

All workers need the appropriate safety equipment for their position. This type of gear depends on the job at hand. For example, hard hats, reflective clothing, gloves, steel-toes shoes, goggles, protective suits, heavy jackets, wide-brim hats (sun protection), long sleeve shirts, etc. Ensure that protective clothing or necessary gear is worn at all times during working hours.

Maintain Tools & Equipment

All tools and machinery need a strict inspection schedule. One of the leading causes of workplace injuries is faulty machinery. Workers have gotten stuck or trapped under heavy equipment that wasn’t working properly. Any missing parts, insufficient gear, or broken pieces can also cause death or serious injuries. Each time before a worker is going to use a tool or machinery, they need to make sure it’s in proper working order, as this will aid in preventing workplace injuries.

Give Breaks

Frequent breaks for employees will reduce fatigue, which can lead to fewer accidents. A foggy head may forget an important step for a machine, or lose their footing on a roof. Taking a few 15-30 minute breaks throughout the day will help their heads stay clear and focused on completing the job safely. Be sure to stay up-to-date on break requirements in your state and industry.

Keep Work Environment Clean

Slips, falls, or trips can easily happen if there’s debris lying around. Encourage employees to keep the workspace clean, including storing tools, materials, etc. when finished. Any common hallways or walkways should be swept daily to avoid nails or other random objects to cause potential injuries.

Prevent Falls

A leading cause of death in the construction world is due to falls. It’s very important to take the necessary precautions in place such as installing guard rails, nets, screens, toe boards, or scaffolding. Make sure scaffolding is inspected daily and held together well enough to support workers.

Monitor Vehicle Safety

Job sites often have a lot of commotion happening around them from large trucks, machinery, and other vehicles driving around. Make sure the operators are driving slow and monitoring any workers nearby. Workers are susceptible to being hit from backing up accidents, being crushed, being pinned between an object and vehicle, or other miscommunications between the driver to the worker.

Physical Overexertion

Be keen on the amount of work your employees are putting on their bodies. Repetitive injuries can develop over weeks or months in the back, shoulder, hip, and knee specifically. Ensure your workers are healthy and in peak physical condition before hiring. Take into consideration weather as well, since heatstroke, hypothermia, or frostbite can occur in extreme conditions. Enforce regular breaks to give their bodies a break throughout the day to avoid injuries.

Encourage Healthy Diets

Encourage switching soda or energy drinks with water or a sports drink to provide hydration and electrolytes. Provide plenty of water on the worksite. Increased hydration equals reduced fatigue and better concentration. Grease-free food such as sandwiches, salad, fruits, and veggies will prevent drowsiness and encourage energy. A healthy diet can highly impact the safety and overall functioning of the workplace.

Implementing these 10 tips is a great first step to preventing workplace injuries. Remember to practice a consistent, engaging, and supportive attitude to ensure all of your employees are on board with the safety procedures.

If preventing workplace accidents seems like a lot of work, remember that this one of the many tasks you can outsource to a PEO. For information regarding accident prevention strategies, visit Harbor America today.

keep employees happy

Unconventional Benefits That Keep Employees Happy

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A high salary is nice, of course, but retaining top talent means putting together an appealing employee benefits package. In some cases, those benefits can even make up for a slightly lower salary. Failing to do this could result in your best employees moving on to a job where their skill is rewarded with better benefits.

When we think of employee benefits, we most often think of medical and dental coverage or a 401K. These are important, but in today’s working world, they’re not enough. More and more companies are adding unique perks to the benefits packages that boost morale and offer great value to employees. Consider adding some of these unconventional benefits that truly keep employees happy.

Unlimited Time Off

Companies who implement a policy like this generally find it to be respected and appreciated. Employees know they can’t be gone all the time, so they use the freedom responsibly and enjoy the ability to take the time they need for weddings, funerals, family events, and more. This article quotes a human resources director at a company who offers flexible time off:

“‘Most people kind of self-regulate. And they know when they can and can’t take off,’ she said. ‘You build that trust that if you need it you’re going to take it. And making people comfortable to take that time is probably the underlining element there.'”

 Paid Volunteer Time

Encourage connection with the community by offering your employees paid time off to volunteer. They can choose any cause they feel passionate about. This article mentions Salesforce, a company that offers six days of paid volunteering and $1,000 donated to the employee’s favorite charity. This has several far-reaching benefits:

  • Employees feel good about contributing.
  • Employees appreciate your commitment to the community.
  • Local organizations get the help they need.
  • Your business shines as one that cares about the community.

Professional Development

A CIRT survey found that “training opportunities” was the third most important way to retain top talent in the construction industry. Offering employees a way to build their skills not only makes them better at what they do for you, but it’s another good reason for them to stay with your company.

Keep in mind this development might include training to learn new skills as well as leadership training and seminars. Personal development is also an option, since a happier, healthier human being is a happier, healthier employee. As your benefits budget allows, consider seminars and conferences, on-site training, webinars, and even an allowance to buy books or subscribe to trade journals.

Meals and Snacks

Don’t overlook the power of a free lunch! Feeding your employees saves them money and time because they don’t have to worry about packing lunch in the morning or driving somewhere to eat during their break. If a full meal every day is not in the budget, consider a weekly or monthly treat, or supply of healthy snacks throughout the day.

Health and Wellness

A gym membership is a classic, but consider extending that benefit to the employee’s spouse or another family member. Other benefits could include massages, chiropractic adjustments, or a meal delivery subscription.

Comforts and Conveniences

This Forbes article highlighted Merchandize Liquidators, a company that offers employees shampoo, cosmetics, cleaning products, and more. Not having to buy those day-to-day items puts more money in each employee’s pocket. Consider other items or services your employees need: childcare, pet grooming or boarding, transportation to and from work, hair cuts, oil changes, and more.

Anything that makes life easier (and less expensive) for your employees helps build morale, loyalty, and job satisfaction, which means you’ll keep your most talented employees for as long as possible. When you keep employees happy, your retention issues often vanish. Employee benefits are an important part of the hiring package, and by adding a few unconventional benefits, the best workers are more likely to choose your company.

Tips for Preventing, Avoiding or Resolving Conflict in the Workplace

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Conflict is in our everyday lives. There is conflict at work, at home, and in the business world. The fact that conflict occurs is not the issue. How conflicts are prevented, avoided, or resolved is what matters most. Managers and leaders should set a positive example for their employees by dealing with conflicts in ways that employees are expected to deal with conflict.

Here are some tips on preventing, avoiding and resolving conflict:

Positive Encouragement

Open communication and active listening are the keys that will help avoid unnecessary conflict. Giving positive feedback encourages employees and makes them feel valued.

Work and Humor

Lightening up the mood at work by promoting humor can prevent conflicts. All work and no fun can also impact an employee’s productivity and longevity. Starting a meeting with a fun exercise or a funny non-offensive humorous story or joke promotes an attitude that can prevent conflict.

Awareness

Managers and leaders should stay alert and be aware of any conflicts that could be brewing. Conflicts may arise over work-related tasks, someone’s personal space or a work rule. Defining the cause of the conflict, observing how conflict is disrupting morale and efficiency, reviewing options, and looking for solutions that will benefit everyone allows managers to quickly resolve conflict.

Seek Advice

An outside perspective can be helpful in resolving conflict. Managers and leaders should seek advice from the HR Manager/HR Department. It is always best to resolve the issues as soon as possible.

Step Ahead

Training employees on how to handle tense situations is the best way to avoid conflicts. Hosting a conflict resolution seminar will build a healthy work environment. Employees who have learned to use a respectful tone of voice, how to actively listen, and how to choose the right words are steps on the path to preventing, avoiding, or resolving conflict.

Harbor America’s HR Department has training materials and videos available to help our clients with these critical skills.

outsource payroll to a peo

7 Reasons to Outsource Payroll to a PEO

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Small and medium-sized businesses are increasingly turning to professional employee organizations (PEOs) to handle their payroll administration. It’s not difficult to see why. Payroll administration is a time-consuming, complex and often tedious task that can pull your talented team away from your core business. Six of the most burdensome payroll-related tasks include IRS-compliance, direct deposit, check printing, payroll software upgrades, time-and-attendance bookkeeping, payroll adjustments, and special reporting requirements. Below we take a closer look at how a PEO can handle each of these six payroll administration tasks for you.

Meeting IRS payroll requirements

Small and medium-sized businesses often complain that payroll-related mistakes are costing them hundreds, even thousands, of dollars annually in IRS penalties. When a PEO performs payroll on your behalf, you have professionals in charge of every aspect of the payroll process to ensure that you will meet all your IRS requirements, penalty-free.

Handling direct deposit

Increasingly, employees are asking their companies to pay them through direct deposit. This saves your employees the task of having to go to the bank and wait for their check to process. It also saves your business the hassle and overhead associated with paycheck-handling. A PEO will handle your direct deposits automatically, making life easier for you and your team.

Performing on-site check printing

Although direct deposit is quickly emerging as the new standard, there are still many times when printing a paycheck on-site is preferable, or even necessary. A PEO worth its salt will offer on-site check printing as part of its suite of services, and you will no longer have to struggle with printing paychecks again.

Purchasing and updating payroll software

In order to properly and efficiently handle payroll in 2017, businesses require robust payroll software capable of handling direct deposits, tax records, timekeeping, complex reporting and so on. This is a significant upfront expense, and the costs increase with each necessary upgrade. To further complicate the matter, you need to worry about keeping all of your payroll data 100% secure and your software 100% up-to-date. With an experienced PEO, however, the expense of payroll software, along with all of the concerns that come with payroll data, is outsourced to professional payroll experts.

Maintaining time and attendance records

Don’t let the maze of time and attendance bookkeeping get you down. You don’t need to master all the ins and outs of this demanding area of payroll administration on your own. Put your trust in a seasoned PEO that will have the experience and the advanced software to handle even the most complex scheduling and time-keeping demands without a hitch.

Performing complex payroll adjustments

Handling deductions and wage garnishments is best left to the payroll professionals. Let an experienced PEO take over these tedious tasks so that you can get back to your business.

Generating special reports: job costing and certified payroll

In the context of payroll, job costing is a method for associating employee work hours and labor costs with specific jobs. Certified payroll, on the other hand, applies to construction projects funded by the government and is a government-required payroll report. Needless to say, job costing and certified payroll reports are special cases that require a great deal of expertise. When shopping around for the perfect PEO, always look for one that doesn’t have hidden fees for these special payroll reporting services.

Outsourcing payroll to a PEO: a smart move

Outsourcing payroll to a PEO is becoming an increasingly preferred solution for small and medium-sized businesses. With the considerations above taken into account, it’s not difficult to see why. We’ve looked at six of the most demanding payroll-related tasks that PEOs can unburden from your business, including meeting IRS requirements, offering direct deposit, handling on-site paycheck printing, performing payroll software upgrades, handling time-and-attendance bookkeeping, automating payroll adjustments, and meeting special reporting requirements.

If you want to get started with a PEO that provides all of the above and more, contact Harbor America for a free consultation.

Tips for Business Owners: Save Time Without Sacrificing Profits

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In a globalized world, the 40-hour workweek suddenly feels like part-time. For many business owners, the average workweek looks more like 60+ hours, with every indication of a trend into longer hours on the horizon.

New email clogs the inbox, employees have questions, it’s impossible to keep up with social media marketing, not to mention the day-to-day operations of the business. Oh, and tomorrow is payday, so payroll and bookkeeping need attention, as well.

It is all necessary, but where do you find the time?

Here are 5 ways business owners can bank time while boosting profits.

1. Delegate HR Responsibilities

Engaging a Professional Employer Organization, or PEO will free up time for growing your business. Many PEOs provide all the back office staffing you need including payroll, employee benefits, and commercial insurance. By hiring qualified experts to handle these crucial but time-consuming aspects of business, you can free up time to focus on the business of making money.

2. Social Media Marketing Advisor

Social media is almost as necessary as breathing these days. Many businesses find social media marketing a useful tool for growth, but sometimes it is just as confusing as it is useful. By hiring an outside agency to focus solely on social media marketing, the savvy business owner can increase traffic and sales while maximizing time management.

3. Time Blocking

An often overlooked yet simple and effective trick for saving time is time blocking. This is the concept of planning your day in advance, blocking out specific amounts of time for specific tasks, and committing to the set schedule. The first step is to spend one day recording your daily routine from the moment you wake up until you finally shut your eyes. Mark out each task with the amount of time spent. Be sure to note each time you deviate from a task or get distracted.

Use this schedule as a template to begin time blocking your daily routine. As you use this system you will be able to identify your most productive times of day as well as the least productive. Eliminating distractions and having more consistent focus will save you time and help build your empire on a firm foundation.

4. Portion Control

If you feel overwhelmed at the office, take a look at your plate and make sure you are exercising portion control. Many business owners find they have too much to focus on. When we overextend ourselves it is more difficult to focus on a single task and quality can suffer as a result. By delegating tasks to trusted employees and outside services, business owners can narrow their focus and save time in the process.

5. Remember to Breathe

It may seem like a no brainer. How could someone forget to breathe? However, many studies show that taking time out to relax is beneficial to brain function. Ten or fifteen minutes a day is all it takes to significantly improve business owners’ ability to focus and stay calm under pressure. Sitting in a dark room, practicing yoga, meditation or breathing exercises are all good strategies to benefit from this time-saving technique.

If time is money and it takes money to make money, then it is reasonable to say that it takes time to make time. Setting aside a few minutes every day to breathe and relax is just good business sense.

As you can see, it is actually possible to save time without sacrificing profits. By utilizing any of these time-saving techniques you can grow your business and increase your productivity while protecting your profit margin.