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December 2017

addressing employee discipline issues

Addressing Employee Discipline Issues

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You finally have your dream business off the ground and running. Your hard work has paid off and you now have a staff of some thirty employees. Then, out of nowhere, you have an employee who is showing unacceptable behavior in the workplace and is now in violation of your company policy. You have been watching the situation for a while, but now another employee has brought it to your attention, placing you in a position to address the issue.

Unfortunately, having to put in place a progressive employee discipline policy is now the norm. While it is always in the best interest of both management and employees to quickly address any unacceptable behavior in the workplace and to have it immediately corrected, addressing the issue can become quite challenging.

Following are some reasons to address this issue sooner than later:

  • If you have noticed the employee’s behavior is in breach of company policy, know for a surety that his/her co-workers are also aware of the issue and may become negatively impacted by the unacceptable behavior.
  • When left unchecked, employee morale amongst the other staff can and will begin to suffer.
  • When employee morale begins to suffer in the workplace it sends a message to others that the employee NOT following company policy has been given a “green light” by management or company owners to continue the same unacceptable behavior.
  • A familiar adage states and loosely quoted as “one bad apple CAN spoil the batch.” In other words, the employee in violation of company policy may encourage other employees to practice the same unacceptable behavior!

Following are a few first steps you may want to immediately put in place to dispel the behavior of the employee in violation of company policy:

  • Documentation is a MUST! Document any unacceptable behavior committed by the employee that YOU have personally witnessed.
  • Document any information that has been shared with you by other co-workers regarding the employee in violation. It would be helpful for others to witness the unacceptable behavior to write up their own version and sign it.
  • You may want to schedule a meeting promptly to address the issue of the violation in an open forum with your entire staff in hopes that the employee in violation will recognize they are at fault and immediately begin to correct the behavior. Again, be sure to document all material discussed in the open meeting.
  • If the actions of the employee in violation persist, you then may wish to address the employee in a confidential setting with a verbal warning that the behavior must change immediately. Again, document!
  • Any continuation of unacceptable behavior from this point could and may lead to the employee’s termination if you have been unsuccessful in resolving the issue through other progressive means.

REMEMBER to use available resources, namely your Human Resources Department, which should be your FIRST place of reference when addressing employee disciplinary issues within the workplace.

* Please note: there are some violations that require immediate action including termination.

Other helpful links:



Workers’ Compensation 101

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What is Workers’ Comp?

Workers’ Compensation is a form of insurance that provides a replacement wage as well as health benefits to help workers who become ill or injured on the job. In return for receiving a workers’ comp settlement, the employee gives up their right to sue the employer. This can save the employer from multi-million-dollar lawsuits in return for providing healthcare coverage and wages while the person is out ill or injured for a predetermined amount of time.

Employers Must Understand Workers’ Comp:

It’s vital for employers to understand what the workers’ compensation requires the company to pay and when the company will have to pay for it. The following are 7 things that companies must understand about workers’ comp:

  • Hospital Bills: The workers’ comp packages will pay hospital bills that are related to the illness or injury sustained at work. Workers’ comp may also pay for rehabilitation or other services related to the illness or injury that occurred on the job.
  • Workers’ Comp Covers Most On-the-Job Illnesses or Injuries: Workers’ comp will typically cover medical expenses and lost wages relating to documented on-the-job illnesses or injuries. These may include serious illness caused by exposure to chemicals or injuries caused by equipment or actions taken on the job site. These are costs required to be covered by the company’s insurance policy.
  • Situations Workers’ Comp Won’t Cover: Some situations workers’ comp won’t cover include any injuries that are self-inflicted or injuries that were sustained while the worker was committing a crime while on the job. Workers’ comp does not cover injuries that happened while the employee was not on the job or while an employee was violating company policies, especially in regards to safety.
  • It Must Be a Problem Caused At Work: Workers’ comp does not cover long-term illnesses or injuries that started outside of work. Workers’ comp is only for illness or injury that can be directly related to something that happened on the job while working, barring self-harm, criminal interactions, or going against company policy.
  • Employees Covered By Workers’ Comp: Only some employees are covered by workers’ comp and state laws vary in each state. Coverage will depend on how many employees the company has and what type of workers’ comp insurance the company is covered by. Seasonal or casual workers may or may not be included. Sometimes only full-time employees are included.
  • Employees Seeing Their Own Doctor(s) For Injuries: In some states or instances, employees will be allowed to go see their own doctors and specialists for injuries caused by the jobs. Other states will require the employee to see a select set of doctors chosen by the company, or the insurance company providing the workers’ comp benefits.
  • Workers Can Sue: Workers have a right to not accept the workers’ comp coverage offered by an employer in lieu of suing the company if they feel their injury is caused by company negligence or lack of safety precautions. However, once an employee does accept workers’ comp benefits, they can not sue.

Workers’ compensation is a complicated subject for most business owners. Hiring a PEO to handle this task for you and ensure you remain compliant may be your best choice. For more information on workers’ comp and our other managed services, contact Harbor America anytime.

outsourcing hr to a peo

8 Benefits of Outsourcing HR to a PEO

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Outsourcing HR to a trusted PEO is one of the wisest business decisions you can make when looking for ways to get some of your time back. Read on to learn more.

If you look at any successful business, you’ll find that their employees are one of the most valuable assets. For an employee to succeed, 100% of their focus needs to be put towards increasing the company’s profitability and growth. A lot of times, employees dealing with time-consuming HR issues such as paperwork and legal stipulations spend too much on these aspects and lose sight of company growth. The various functions of the HR department are often way too complex to handle and maintain within the company. This is where PEOs come into play.

PEO stands for Professional Employer Organization, which essentially takes over all HR functions of a company allowing employers to boost their productivity, reduce costs, gain more time, avoid legal penalties, improve accuracy, and hire and retain new employees.

Outsourcing HR to a PEO has many great benefits for your business. Here are the top 8:

Streamlined Processes

By streamlining many HR functions, (such as compliance management, payroll, or benefits administration) your company will spend less time on endless paperwork, and more time dedicated to growing your workforce.

Time Savings

You know the saying “time is money.” This especially rings true for money-making businesses. Stop wasting time on things you can easily outsource for an affordable price.

Reliable Compliance With Changing Laws

Regardless of the company’s size, employment and labor laws are constantly changing. It can be a challenge to remain up-to-date on all of the regulations that are specific to affecting your workplace. When you outsource to a PEO they stay up-to-date on federal and state employment laws so you don’t have to. In turn, this helps your company comply with these laws and avoid lawsuits. PEOs also maintain company policies to guarantee your organization and your employees stay protected.

Seamless Hiring and Onboarding Experience

Increased efficiency when going through the onboarding experience means less hassle for your company. PEOs use tested, informative, and efficient screening and hiring strategies using proven methods for success. Helping you upgrade your employee training programs to suit the needs of individual employees and your overall company vision.

Easy Payroll and Accounting

Maintaining a company payroll is expensive and time-consuming. PEOs can also be responsible for employee pay stubs, tax, and dedication questions. PEOs even offer payroll analysis for accounting purposes. Freeing up the hassles of payroll can only be a positive asset to your company.

Financial Savings

By outsourcing payroll and accounting, you won’t need to hire a dedicated HR staff or pay employees like office managers to manage payroll when they could be working on other, more profit-driven tasks. Small businesses often struggle with this expense. It’s much more cost-effective to outsource these functions so you can save time and money, and focus more on your company rather than the non-revenue generating aspects.

Health Benefits

Small and medium-sized organizations often struggle to provide competitive health benefits packages at attractive rates for their employees. PEOs can leverage their large group buying power to get these packages at a more affordable price, creating better benefits and enticing employees to join or stay with the company.

Safer Workplaces and Lower Workers’ Comp Costs

At construction or manufacturing companies, risky activities mean a greater concern for safety. Lots of costs come into the equation when an employer faces an injury including medical expenses, lost productivity, and higher premiums. A PEO’s risk management department can work hard to keep their clients’ workers safe and costs low by preventing accidents in the first place while also managing any claims that happen.

Outsourcing HR functions to a PEO seems like a no-brainer. With so many benefits, you can eliminate the daily headaches you encounter trying to comply with legal factors, wasted time, and precious money you could be investing in your company. See for yourself all the ways hiring a PEO, like Harbor America, can help your company. We’re always available to answer any questions and provide further information.

boosting employee morale

Affordable Ideas for Boosting Employee Morale

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A company is only as good as its employees, and employees are good when they’re happy.  Low morale not only leads to grumbling, dissatisfaction, and a high turnover rate, it can also put people at risk on the job site if the workers are not thoroughly engaged with and committed to the task at hand.

Boosting employee morale comes down to one basic concept: people want to feel appreciated. No matter what job we’re doing, we all want to know our work matters and we’re valued as a part of the company. Not only that, it’s important to be seen as a human being, not just a cog in the machine, a way for the company to make a lot of money.

With that in mind, here are a few affordable ideas for boosting staff morale:

Respect Their Work-Life Balance

Honor who your employees are as individuals with families and outside interests. If possible, implement a policy that makes it easier for employees to leave to handle family emergencies or even to make sure they don’t miss a child’s dance recital. Of course, you have to make sure the privilege isn’t abused, but often employees are grateful for this sort of flexibility and will police themselves.

Acknowledging birthdays with a card and maybe a cake is another simple way to show you notice and care.


You don’t have to give away the company secrets, but your employees are on your team. Keep them updated about what’s happening with the business, and ask them for feedback on issues that concern them.

Encourage Professional Development

If conventions and workshops aren’t in your budget, consider other ways to help each employee reach his or her full potential. That could mean a mentoring program within your company, a company library full of industry-specific books, or subscriptions to trade journals.

Offer Incentives

Hard work should pay off, and having something to work toward is fun and motivating. Of course, not everyone can become the vice president, but there should be a path to allow for advancement or at least an understanding of what might be possible so people know what they’re working toward. As this Business Insider article points out, “This doesn’t have to be a new job title or more money. It could mean more responsibility, leadership, access to new resources and industry events.”

The reward for a job well done could also come in the form of an extra day off, a free massage, or even lunch on the boss. Since construction workers use their bodies and may be worried about on-the-job injuries or pain, rewards that encourage relaxation and recovery may help them work happier and healthier. Check out our post on unconventional benefits for more ideas.

Surprise Them

Little surprises break up the monotony of the day-to-day. This might mean a catered lunch, a holiday party, or a financial bonus.

You could also forge partnerships with nearby businesses. The restaurant next door, for example, would probably be happy to see your employees stop by for lunch, and maybe the owner would be willing to offer a 15 percent discount for your workers. The restaurant gets new customers, and your employees get an extra perk for working for you that you don’t have to pay for. Explore the possibility of this type of program with other services your employees need and want: dry cleaning, pet grooming, barbershop and salon services, and more.

Trust Them

Hire people you trust, and then let them do their jobs. Micromanaging is a sure way to deflate an employee. If he is lacking in some regard, take him aside and explain how he could improve, offering a way to get him back on track.

Boosting employee morale doesn’t have to cost a lot. Where there is respect and appreciation, you’ll find happy workers. However, you choose to boost morale, focus on showing your thanks and acknowledging the hard work your employees do to make your entire company a success. For more tips and to learn about how a PEO can help you streamline your HR processes and get hours back each week, visit the Harbor America website.

construction team firing tips

How to Fire Construction Employees with Minimal Drama

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No matter how well-screened and well-trained your construction employees are, there’s a good chance that, at some point, you’ll have to fire some of them. As of 2015, more than twice as many people were laid off than quit in the construction industry, though this is partially because employees are let go after a construction project is finished, and they may be rehired for a future project.

However, sometimes those layoffs reflect a more serious issue: employees are chronically late or absent, or maybe even caught stealing equipment. There’s a host of unprofessional behavior that could crop up even after a few years of successful employment, and you have to be prepared to deal with that in an efficient, professional, and legal way.

When it comes to firing employees, there are several steps you can take to ensure the smoothest possible transition during an event that can be difficult or even devastating for your employees.

Give Warning

Carefully document behavioral issues or concerns throughout employment so there’s a record that provides a basis for firing. If the behavioral issues are new (or if they’re reaching a breaking point), it’s important to warn the employee. Have a meeting in which you share your concerns and outline what the employee needs to do to improve his performance and continue with your company. This way, they understand exactly what will happen if they don’t make some changes.

Seek Guidance

An improper firing can lead to a lawsuit. Protect yourself with an expert human resources teamOutsourcing your HR not only gives you help with crafting an employee handbook, hiring employees, and managing payroll; you also get expert advice and guidelines when it comes to letting an employee go. It’s critical to understand the laws in your state and which language to use (and avoid) when firing an employee.

Keep It Short and Kind

Being fired has immediate and often frightening implications for employees: they have bills to pay and family members to feed. Aside from the practical challenges of looking for a new job, there can also be a sense of failure or defeat for the employee.

Being conscious of this helps you deliver the news simply and empathetically. Treat the fired employee with respect, and keep the conversation under 10 minutes to avoid lengthy discussions that could turn into arguments or lead you to say something you shouldn’t.

The less you say the more dignity the employee retains…don’t let yourself get sucked into an argument. If you’re certain about your decision and have the documentation to back it up, there is no argument.

Have the Discussion Early in the Week

It’s not always easy to look for a job over the weekend when offices are closed and potential networking connections are trying to relax. If you wait until Friday to fire someone, they may not be able to take any action toward his future over the weekend, which could give them too much time to dwell on the firing and look for an opportunity to sue. Instead, do the firing on Monday or Tuesday.

Know What Happens Next

professional human resources team can help you prepare a severance package, deal with an unemployment claim, and answer any questions your former employee will have about what happens with their benefits.

Tell Your Remaining Employees

You should address the firing without making it into a spectacle. There’s no need to call a meeting or invite discussion; instead, simply tell your team you had to let go of an employee, and reassign any tasks as necessary.

The two keywords when it comes to firing a construction employee without drama are compliance and compassion. When the process is carefully documented and the firing is clearly with cause, you reduce your risk of a lawsuit. When your former employee feels understood and respected, they’re less likely to sue in the first place. As the boss, compassion is your job, but compliance is ours. Allow Harbor America to guide you through the firing process so you can be sure you’re doing it the right way as you focus on delivering the difficult news in the most compassionate way possible.

The Importance of a Positive Work Environment and How to Create One

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A positive work environment is an aspect of a company that is sometimes overlooked. Some employers focus solely on getting the work done but do very little to foster an environment where employees can thrive. Although it’s very important to ensure productivity, it is equally important to take time to establish a positive work environment.

Why is a positive work environment so imperative? A positive work environment can help employees reach their full potential, which in turn creates positive results for the business. Below are some benefits of a positive work environment:

  • High productivity
  • Increase in employee retention
  • Higher employee engagement
  • Happier employees

If you have a negative work environment, the negativity can seep into every part of your organization. This can prove to be detrimental for your business and recovery can be difficult. A negative work environment may cause the following:

  • Low productivity
  • High employee turnover
  • Employee burnout
  • Employees feel unappreciated

There are many cost-effective and efficient ways that employers can create a positive work environment. No matter what size your company, it’s important to invest in your company’s environment because it matters! Improving a company’s culture may take time, but investing in a positive work environment will reap favorable returns on your investment.

Check out some of the links below for tips and ideas on how to create a positive work environment:

gen z millennial blue collar

How Blue Collar Industries Can Attract More Generation Zs and Millennials

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One of the best age brackets for construction and other types of blue-collar work is young people. But unfortunately, too many Generation Zs and millennials aren’t showing enough interest in working in blue-collar fields. Gen Z (people born from 1996 to now) and millennials (those born between 1982-1995) are willing to work hard, provided they’re able to balance their jobs with their personal lives. Since blue-collar jobs are known for their long working hours and difficult schedules, finding a balance can be challenging.

That’s why employers need to listen to what appeals to young people and alter their traditional polices so that these young adults can find more balance between their work and personal lives. Here are some of the ways the construction industry and other blue-collar fields can attract more GenZs and millennial workers:

Advantages for Blue Collar Industries Hiring Younger People

There are several benefits for blue-collar industries hiring younger people. In addition to younger people being more physically fit, another main reason for hiring them is that they’re highly tech-savvy, which is a huge advantage for many industries. Additionally, younger generations tend to be very socially minded. When technical abilities are combined with social skills, blue-collar companies can enjoy a stronger web presence, which benefits productivity. What’s more, when a more personal touch is added to a business, customers feel more valued.

Understand What Makes Gen Zs and Millennials Tick

It helps to understand the world in which GenZs and millennials grew up. For example, there was more focus on teamwork than in prior generations. Many younger people were protected by their parents a bit more than older generations. Therefore, they may tend to expect employers to protect them more.

Rather than preferring a chain of command at work, they’re more interested in collaboration or teamwork. In other words, compensation isn’t their top priority. Although they want to make money and be able to pay their bills, they’re more concerned about being respected and feeling like they’re a valuable part of a team.

Offer More Competitive Salaries

A major way to attract more young people to blue-collar jobs is to offer salaries that are more competitive so that they won’t be tempted to take jobs in industries that pay more. Just offering a salary that’s only a somewhat higher than what your competitors offer shows that you really do care about your employees.

Offer More Flexibility and Unconventional Benefits

Maybe you’re unable to offer more pay or even provide additional benefits, but you could still offer work schedules that are more flexible. Furthermore, consider adding to their vacation time by including more job-sharing, so they can see that you appreciate their skills and the time they spend working for you.

More flexibility in the work schedule is another type of unconventional benefit that young people appreciate. Companies should also offer time-off policies that are more flexible, which can mean a reduction in absenteeism.

Offer More Competitive Healthcare Benefits Along with a Wellness Program 

Healthcare coverage is especially important to GenZs and millennials. Thus, to attract these young people, you need to offer healthcare benefits that are more favorable. Besides wanting better healthcare benefits, young adults are also highly interested in employers providing wellness programs. This means that employers need to stay on the cutting edge when it comes to offering wellness programs by knowing what their competitors are advertising, so they can present programs that are more inviting. Examples of wellness programs include those such as fitness center memberships and smoking cessation programs.

Use Social Media

Social media networking plays a big part in recruiting young adults to blue-collar jobs. Instead of advertising in newspapers, the primary methods for recruiting talent today is by using social media platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and others. If you’re part of an older generation and are unfamiliar with these platforms, you may want to use a PEO (Professional Employer Organization) like Harbor America to devise recruitment strategies that work well through social medial.

A Few Considerations and Warnings

  • Offer counseling for employees in practical skills, such as tax preparation and how to save for retirement.
  • Provide training on how employees should conduct themselves in the workplace.
  • Because young people spend a lot of time watching online videos and other types of technology, why not create a simple YouTube video showing what your industry has to offer.
  • Create your company’s presence at community colleges. Keep in mind that some students who are struggling academically may realize they’re better suited for blue-collar work than for white-collar industries. 

Attracting and keeping GenZs and millennials is much easier when you hire a PEO. Besides providing HR services, a PEO handles payroll, benefits, compliance and other types of services to small and mid-sized business owners in construction and other blue-collar industries. Please contact us at Harbor America for a free consultation.