Monthly Archives

July 2018

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Is Your Construction Business Prepared for Hurricanes?

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Hurricanes can be very destructive, but they are also often predictable, which allows your construction business time to plan and prepare for the weather event. If a job site is located in an area that regularly sees hurricanes, your business should have a hurricane plan in place to prevent any loss at the job site.

Preparing For Hurricanes: The Necessities

A project office or trailer should be equipped with a portable battery-operated weather radio and extra batteries in order to keep up with the potentially devastating weather. You will also need to determine what the potential risk is to your area and have the job site surveyed for exposure to high winds and flooding.

Here is a list of things to do to prepare your construction business for hurricanes:

  • Develop a checklist. A checklist should be developed to identify needs of protection including heavy equipment, generators, tools, trailer equipment files, compressors, large machinery, fuel tanks, vehicles, permanent materials, and forms.
  • Create a list of emergency phone numbers. Develop a list of emergency phone numbers and e-mail addresses for employees, subcontractors, other workers, and authorities and distribute the list.
  • Have a relocation plan. Be ready to relocate all equipment and workers in the case of a hurricane. If the job site is on or near a body of water, be ready to relocate all equipment including any watercraft being used. Account for the amount of time it will take to relocate.
  • Obtain the necessary supplies in advance. Some supplies that are helpful during a hurricane include tie-downs, banding material, blocking, and anchors. When a tropical storm has been identified, make sure all of these supplies are readily available and organized to quickly be used.

Stages of a Hurricane

There are also different stages of a hurricane that should be watched and monitored closely. A construction business should treat every stage seriously, and they should also prepare for each stage carefully. The different stages include tropical storm, hurricane watch, hurricane warning, landfall, and post-hurricane.

Tropical Storm

Once a tropical storm has been identified, the construction business should carefully track the location of the storm and monitor its activity. The necessary supplies to protect equipment and materials should already be purchased and ready to use if necessary.

Hurricane Watch

By the time a hurricane watch has been put into place, the project manager should review the hurricane preparedness checklist and formulate a plan to protect the job site. Any items that need to be tied down or banded together should be identified, and the business should be prepared to quickly secure these items.

Hurricane Warning

A business must be ready to take action at this point. Project superintendents should be ready to implement all protection measures. Ensure that all materials are stacked and banded and that all items that can be damaged by water are removed.

Landfall

When landfall is close to occurring, the hurricane plan should be finalized. All work should be suspended, employees should be evacuated and relocated to a safe and secure location, and new timetables should be assigned for completion.

Post-Hurricane

After the storm has passed, start by assessing the damage, taking the right steps to prevent theft, and beginning to clean up. Look for hazards such as unsafe structures, downed power lines, or damaged electrical panels. Secure the site and notify the utilities of any damages. Also, notify employees when it is safe to return to work.

Improve Your Hurricane Safety Plans With Harbor America

A hurricane preparedness plan is important for keeping your employees safe and securing materials and equipment on the job site. By preparing and having a plan, a construction business can reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster. If you are looking to improve your safety plans, please contact us today! At Harbor America, we help you improve your safety and reduce your risks while saving you time and money.

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Avoid Bad Hires With These 5 Tips

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Ideally, interviewing a candidate would tell you immediately whether or not they were a good fit for your company. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes, the candidates who give the best interviews simply lack the skills to be a good fit once they’re really on the job. If you want to bring better candidates into your workplace, try following these tips to help improve the quality of your hires.

Tip #1: Bring in the Team They’ll Work With

Sometimes, you have different teams or departments that accomplish different tasks throughout their day. By bringing in the specific members of those teams–or even construction site superintendents who will be working directly with these employees–you can ensure that the questions asked will accurately reflect what is actually asked of the individual on the job site every day. Bringing in people they’ll actually be working with can also help establish rapport and ensure that they’ll be a good personality fit for the team.

Tip #2: Assign Candidates a Task During the Interview

If you want to see whether or not candidates have the specific skills for the job they want, use the interview as an opportunity to conduct a simple task. This might be as simple as putting a printer back together in order to join your IT department, organizing a handful of files in order to become a secretary, or completing a basic construction task when you’re hoping for a new member of your crew.

When you set a task during the interview, you not only get to see whether or not the candidate is capable of completing the task, you get to see how they react under pressure–both valuable windows into the candidate’s suitability for your open position. You’ll also be able to determine whether or not your candidate is following basic safety procedures as they complete the task, which could make the difference between a good hire and a bad one.

Tip #3: Let Candidates Ask Questions

Many times, candidates are the ones who know best whether or not they’ll be the right fit for your company. Let them ask their own questions during the interview. Be honest about what it’s really like to work for your company, from the hours you typically put into the types of jobs you usually take on. If you’re a construction company that ends up doing a lot of dirty work, make sure the candidate is aware of it! This gives them the opportunity to walk away during the interview process, rather than after you’ve already made an offer–or worse, started their training.

Tip #4: Listen to Your Instincts

Sometimes, a candidate who looks great on paper just doesn’t leave you comfortable making the decision to hire them. Even if you find yourself unable to define what it is about a particular candidate that makes you uncomfortable, listen to those instincts, especially if they’re shared by other members of the interviewing team. It’s better to wait for the right candidate than to be disappointed in your hiring choice.

Tip #5: Look for Career Dedication

When you’re hiring, you want a candidate who is committed to their career: someone who is interested in learning more, bettering him- or herself, and taking their job skills to the next level. Ideally, you want a candidate who is excited to be noticed by the quality of their work, not just someone who is out to punch a time card in order to get a paycheck. By finding candidates dedicated to their careers, you’ll get candidates who are more interested in giving their all to your business.

Finding the right candidates for your open positions can be a challenge. Let us help! Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you get the perfect candidates into your open positions–and how you can screen out the ones who simply aren’t a good fit for your business. Harbor America offers full-service HR solutions designed to save you serious time and money.

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5 Reasons You’re Getting Turned Down by Job Candidates

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You’ve gone through the recruiting process. You’ve interviewed candidates and sorted through the ones who are the best fit for your business. Now, it’s time to make a job offer–and your top candidates are turning you down. While it’s not unusual to have a candidate occasionally decide to decline, if you’re noticing that highly qualified candidates regularly turn down your job offers, you might need to adjust your hiring approach.

Reason #1: Your Hiring Process is Too Long

You can offer candidates the best hiring package they’ve ever seen, but if they’ve recently accepted a job somewhere else, candidates may be unwilling to make the move to your company. A hiring process that stretches out for weeks or months is a surefire way to lose even the most interested candidate–especially if they’re some of the best talent in the field. Instead, look for ways to streamline your hiring process so that you’re able to move quickly from interview to job offer.

Reason #2: You Aren’t Offering Reasonable Compensation

Most candidates in your field have a pretty good idea of what industry-standard compensation should be. They know what salary they should expect, and while workers who are eager to get into a job as soon as possible may be willing to stick with you short-term, they’re going to keep looking for another job, too. Check your industry standards to make sure that you’re offering reasonable compensation. Keep in mind that it’s not all about the money, either! Great businesses that are able to attract the best talent in their industries also offer excellent benefits, including good health insurance, enough vacation days, and financial wellness benefits.

Reason #3: Your Team Displayed Unprofessional Behavior During the Interview

When you bring candidates in for an interview, it’s not just your opportunity to evaluate them. They also have the chance to evaluate you and see whether or not they feel that they’ll be a good fit for your business. Make sure that when candidates come in for their interviews, they’re treated professionally.

While it’s fine to try to get to know candidates on a more personal level, you don’t want to ask questions that are excessively personal. Try not to leave candidates waiting unnecessarily; stick to your schedule, and treat them with respect. Savvy job candidates know that the treatment they receive during an interview reflects the treatment they’ll receive when they sign on with your company.

Reason #4: Your Company has Poor Work-Life Balance

One look at your schedule tells candidates that they’re going to be spending all of their time at work, with no time left over to play–and that’s not the type of lifestyle most candidates are looking for. While they’re willing to dig in and work hard for your company, they want to put just as much time and energy into their own lives. A company that offers great work-life balance has much more appeal for most candidates.

Reason #5: Your Online Reviews Look Bad

What are other people saying about your company online? From the experience that other candidates have had during their interviews to the information posted, even anonymously, by current and past employees, your online reputation precedes you–and candidates are doing their research, too. Take the time to check through your online reviews and try to build a positive reputation. This simple step will help convince many candidates that your job will be a good fit for them.

Finding the right candidates for your open positions is only one step of the process. Convincing them that your company will be a great fit for them is equally important–and can, in some cases, be just as difficult! If you need help streamlining your hiring process and finding more great candidates for your open positions, contact us today to learn how we can help.

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Bad Vibes at Your Construction Business? 6 Tips for Boosting Morale

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There’s nothing more frustrating than the feeling that morale is decreasing at your construction business. You can tell that employees simply don’t want to be at work. They’re in bad moods much of the time, communication is down, and you’re beginning to feel that this isn’t even a great workplace environment for you! Fortunately, with these tips, you can help boost employee morale and make your construction business a better place to work.

Tip #1: Recognize the Good

People naturally crave recognition, especially when they accomplish something impressive. Are you letting your employees know that you notice when they reach important milestones or achieve something big? If your feedback model includes more criticism than praise, it isn’t going to take long for your employee morale to start dropping. On the other hand, if you remember to regularly include praise as part of your employee interactions, you’ll discover that you’re able to build happier employees who enjoy working for your business.

Tip #2: Recognize Their Lives Outside of Work

The workday may take up a large chunk of your employees’ time, but they have lives outside your company, too! Take the time to get to know your employees and send an acknowledgement of the big events in their lives. Send a token for weddings and births; acknowledge birthdays; offer employees recognition when they achieve big education goals. By building up your employees personally, you create a better overall workplace environment and let employees know that you genuinely care about them.

Tip #3: Offer Time Off

Have employees been working for large chunks of time without a break? Do you catch employees on busy job sites grabbing a fast lunch on site, then heading straight back to work? Encourage employees to take time off, whether that means heading out to a fast food joint or going to the park for lunch or taking a few days off for a vacation. While you may not be able to offer long stretches of time off when deadlines are tight, scheduling in some paid downtime when you have a little extra time can significantly impact employee morale.

Tip #4: Feed Your Team

Food has an incredible way of boosting morale and bringing your team together. Take the time to feed the members of your construction company. Send lunch to the job site, have food brought in for meetings, or reward team members who are working overtime to finish up a job with a free meal. Food is a comparatively inexpensive way to show your appreciation, but it will also significantly boost morale.

Tip #5: Communicate

With construction teams heading off to job sites across your city, it’s sometimes difficult to create a solid model for feedback and communication–but those two key things are exactly what you need to boost morale and improve employee engagement. Take the time at the end of each job to talk with at least a few key members of each team–not just superintendents, but the construction workers who are responsible for the grunt work, too! Ask for feedback on how they would improve various job situations and provide real change as a result of the information you get back.

Tip #6: Offer Training

Whether it’s adding a little electrical work to their skill set, delving into plumbing, or providing training that will help them eventually move up to site superintendent, provide your employees with the training they need to become more successful on the job. Sometimes, hands-on training and teaching opportunities are enough. Other times, you may want to provide continuing education help in the forms of seminars, certifications, and classes. Employees who are offered training opportunities are more likely to show high levels of satisfaction at their job since they’re able to improve their qualifications while continuing to offer more to your company.

Employee morale can significantly shape overall performance and transform the way your employees feel about coming to work every day. By using these morale-boosters, you can create a more positive work environment where employees feel valued and appreciated–and as a result, they’ll be more likely to dive in and give you their best. If you want to free up your time so that you can focus on your employees instead of having to worry about tasks like payroll and benefits services, contact us today.

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Stop Wasting Resources and Make Your Job Interviews Count

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Hiring new employees is expensive. For every open position that an employer has, there are recruiting costs, background screenings, drug testing fees, and labor associated with going through all of the applications, and this is not considering the costs associated with payroll for those who are interviewing the candidates. Inefficient interviews can lead to hiring the wrong people, which costs money and causes frustration down the road.

To keep costs down, employers should make the most of every candidate interviewing experience so they can select the right candidates to fill their positions and save money in the process. In order to make your job candidate interviews more effective, consider using the following best practices:

Complete Phone Screening Interviews

Phone screening interviews should be the first task on every hiring manager’s checklist when it comes to choosing the right candidates to bring in for a face-to-face interview. Phone screening interviews will help you get a sense of who the candidate is and if they are serious about coming to work for the company. You should be prepared to ask basic questions of the candidate, like what their understanding is of the position, what their salary expectations are, and if the candidate feels like they can perform all of the job duties.

Online employment portals like Indeed, Monster, and Zip Recruiter have made it easy for candidates to quickly submit resumes and apply for jobs without doing much research to see if they are even qualified to work in a specific position. Phone screening interviews are a great opportunity for employers to find out if a potential candidate really understands the position they applied for.

Have a Specific List of Questions Ready

Before interviewing any potential candidate, you should make a specific list of the questions that you intend to ask during the interview; pre-planned questions will alleviate potential moments of awkward silence while you think of the next question and will ensure that you remember to collect the information to make an informed decision about the candidate. If you come up with a question during the interview that is not on the list, you can always make a note of it so you can hit on the point when appropriate during the interview. Important questions to ask during the interview should include:

  • Discuss a time when you made a decision you were particularly proud of/not proud of?
  • What do you consider your greatest strengths to be? Weaknesses?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What skills can you bring to this company?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • Could you give an example of a time when you did not agree with the decision that was made by your supervisor? What did you do about it?

Listen to What Your Candidates are Telling You

During the interview, pay attention to what the job candidate is really saying to you. Let the candidate talk openly and you may learn some things about the person that you really like or that can cause you concern. Listen for contradictory statements that do not match what is included on their resume or job application.

Provide Details About the Job

While candidates should complete some research on your company before arriving for their interview, it is important that you take some time to discuss your company and details about the job you are hiring for. There is nobody that can explain a position better than those who work for the company, and those who are hiring for a specific position.

This is an opportunity for you to break the ice with a nervous job candidate and showcase all of the positive aspects of the job. Be sure to explain bonuses and benefits that are offered with the position, should the candidate get offered the job.

Set the Right Tone with your HR Solutions

Some hiring managers have a tendency to interrogate job candidates as opposed to letting the conversation flow naturally. An aggressive interview leads to some candidates feeling intimidated and deciding that your company is not the right fit for them.

When creating your list of interview questions, be sure to add some open-ended questions for your applicant to answer so that they can have a chance to really sell their skills and abilities. It is also important to choose the appropriate setting to hold the interview so you and the candidate feel comfortable engaging in a meaningful conversation.

At Harbor America, we can help take the pain points out of hiring new employees. We are a PEO (Professional Employer Organization) that specializes in taking on the time-consuming administrative and HR  tasks of small and medium-sized businesses. We have resident experts who can provide advice for tackling a good candidate job interview as well as make the new hire paperwork seamless once you have found the right person for the job. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can create HR solutions for you.