Monthly Archives

May 2019

CleanroomStandards x

Maintaining Clean Room Safety Standards

By | Blog | No Comments

Cleanrooms are a standard facet in most manufacturing facilities. Cleanrooms control the working and storage environment to regulate air quality, temperature, and moisture (humidity). These rooms are reserved for sensitive electronic equipment, pharmaceuticals, sterile medical devices, or the manufacturing of products where the contamination could compromise the products’ structure or functionality. And of all potential contamination threats, people pose the largest risk of contamination.

There are different cleanroom standards for which organizations should abide by as they help to determine the level of production safety. Ensuring the facility meets the air quality standards begins with employees wearing proper cleanroom equipment and attire, as specified by the organization. Contamination, no matter how inadvertent or small, could cost your company downtime and increased production costs.

Here are some helpful tips to prevent contamination:

  • Encourage employees to practice good hygiene to limit contaminants. Everything from perfume or cologne, jewelry, make-up, or gum can be important to consider when working in a cleanroom.
  • Regularly remind employees of the proper way to put on and take off disposable cleanroom garments. Each company’s garment procedures may be unique, but the one constant is that specific garment procedures will be required, and employees should receive follow-up training on a regular basis.
  • Supplies used in a cleanroom should be designated as such. From pens and notebooks to any other tools or instruments needed to complete day-to-day activities should be used only in the cleanroom.
  • Instruct employees to clean their workstations, tools, equipment, and supplies after their work, or use of those items, is complete.

Ensuring your employees are well trained and reminded regularly of cleanroom guidelines will save your company thousands of dollars in lost productivity or downtime by lessening the risk of cleanroom contamination.

As you understand the best practices for your business, Harbor America understands the areas of your business that will require documented procedures for continual employee development. Adding a Harbor America human resources expert to your arsenal of valuable resources can help to ensure cleanroom contaminants are limited and not the result of insufficient training or miscommunicated policy and procedure. Are you ready to learn more about effectively managing contamination risk?

Implementing a Qualified Transportation Benefit Program

By | Blog | No Comments

Commuting for work is a normal part of life for most employees. But shockingly, only nine percent[1] of workers carpool with one other person.

Qualified transportation benefits (QTB) or commuter tax benefits is a comprehensive way for employers to extend benefits to employees, and save on federal income taxes. As an employer-sponsored benefit program employees are able to set aside pre-tax income to help pay for commute-related costs, including mass transit, vanpooling, and parking expenses.

QTB, however, is subject to a monthly maximum contribution cap. In 2019, for example, the cap is $265 per month for parking and $265 for transit passes and vanpooling (combined). This is a five-dollar increase from the 2018 contribution cap. There are no reimbursement options for bicycle commuting.

Environmental benefits include:

  • Reduced congestion on surface streets and highway systems.
  • Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Improved quality of life for employees and surrounding communities.

To start a QTB program for your employees, consider the following steps:

  • Compile a team of stakeholders and employee members who are interested in assisting with the design and structure of the QTB program. Use this pre-announcement time to decide if the program will cover all transit passes or if employees will be limited to a specific transit system or payment method.
  • Communicate the QTB program’s why’s and how’s clearly and effectively. Post the same information in a public spot where employees can easily locate and reference the material, such as your company intranet.
  • Offer payroll deductions as a simple way of contributing to the QTB program.

Organizations that have adopted a QTB program have found improved job satisfaction among employee participants, along with healthier and more productive employees who are experiencing reduced stress. The QTB program gives employees a financial incentive to spend less time driving, and more time focusing on their lives and personal health.

In addition to standard employee benefits like medical and dental insurance, life insurance, and 401(k), Harbor America can assist you in offering your clients additional supplementary or voluntary benefits. Contact us to find out what else you can start offering to your employees. They deserve it.

[1] US News: How Commuting is Changing

NewManager x

Overcoming New Manager Challenges

By | Blog | No Comments

The candidate pool for quality candidates has shifted, especially when it comes to proper managerial candidates. Employers who are forced to look externally to bring in new management are faced with a different situation that has existed in the last decade, as the unemployment rate is low, and the job market is continuously changing in each industry.

For people transitioning to a managerial role for the first time, there is a lot to consider to ensure that your time in the new role is productive and sets you up for your next move somewhere in the future. Managers, however, tend to have the same struggles. Whether an employer is bringing in a new manager-level person to the company or an employee has recently received a promotion, these managers will face similar issues. Navigating learning opportunities, delegating certain tasks, and getting the feel for long-standing dynamics and unwritten organizational rules.

You can help new managers ensure success on your team by:

  • Relying on your human resource team when it comes to your first hire or fire within the organization. The HR team should be more than willing to jump to help support new managers through the hiring or firing process, address any negative emotions from laying someone off or even suggest some helpful tools or conversations with the new manager’s team.
  • Encouraging any new manager to focus on building inter-departmental trust and relationships. New leaders can many times be harboring a bit of anxiety around their team—trust and relationship building can be a great way to overcome this. With new entry-level employees, many companies assign a buddy, someone who has been with the organization, potentially in a similar role, for a while. This gives the new employee someone to lean on from day one. This same strategy should be applied for new managers, suggesting a managerial-level buddy who can help the new manager navigate the choppy waters of taking on an existing team.
  • Helping the new manager find their “sweet spot” in terms of their managerial style. All teams are different, and therefore should not be managed in typical cookie-cutter fashion. There is a sensitive balance between being too distant or hands-off and micromanaging. The best way to gauge where a new manager’s “sweet spot” should be is to simply ask employees what they prefer, how they handle heavy workloads, and how they think they could better align to meet company goals.

Starting a new managerial role should be a fun and exciting time in a person’s life. It is important to remember that a manager’s success is built on the backs of their employees’ success. Over time, the manager’s relationship and report with employees will become more comfortable and familiar. Until then, it is okay to be confident as a new manager, while also remaining humble and self-aware.

Harbor America helps clients breed passionate leaders while supporting the profound desire to build a strong business and strong community. Adding a new manager to an existing team can be stressful for the team, the new manager, and the existing leadership. Let Harbor America help get your organization prepared for new hires by upgrading to an electronic onboarding system. Contact us to learn more.

BenefitsPackages x

Designing a Benefits Package for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

By | Blog | No Comments

55% of employees would accept a position at a company with lower compensation for a more robust benefits package.[1] But how does one compile a more robust benefits package?

It is important to note that regardless of the size of your business, any organization can offer a substantial benefits package. A common misconception concerning small to medium-sized businesses is that they are unable to afford or will not even be considered for good benefit package offerings typically reserved for larger organizations.

In order to start offering better benefits, however, you need to make sure you have a good hold on your finances and have a strong financial planning foundation in place. In most cases, going without benefits for your employees may be a temporary cushion for your bottom line, the long-term effects will inadvertently keep your business from growing.

“Organizations that use benefits as a strategic tool for recruiting and retaining talent reported better overall company performance and above-average effectiveness in recruitment and retention compared with organizations that did not.”[2]

Partnering with a PEO can save businesses of any size from all the legwork of vetting providers and carriers, comparing plans, and pricing. As a PEO customer, you will have access to plans typically available for only enterprise organizations. Your employees will have a larger choice in doctors, hospitals, and will be able to see out of network providers, for an additional out-of-pocket fee.

If working on your own, you will find health insurance to be the most significant portion of your benefits budget. Dental and vision are traditionally not included in base health insurance plans. To include these you would need to source separate plans specific to dental and vision, respectively.

Retirement plans (401(k)s) are also highly sought-after benefits of employees of any age. You will need to decide if your organization will participate in employer-sponsored matching. This will make a difference in your budget at the end of the day.

Other plans that can be added to your benefits package could include life insurance policies, disability insurance, a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA), basic paid time off (PTO) or unlimited time off (a new trend in PTO).

Harbor America is committed to helping businesses of any size add time back into their day. Regarding employee benefits, Harbor America clients are greeted with a wide range of benefit packages to not only attract top talent but retain your top performers. Contact us to start designing a benefits package specific to your employees and your business.

[1] HR Daily Advisor: Research Shows Strong Job Satisfaction, Benefits

[2] LinkedIn: These 5 Employee Benefits are Trending