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6 Tips for Expanding Your Construction Business the Smart Way

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If you’re in the construction industry, you probably know this has been a good year for growth. In fact, the first three months of 2018 showed a four percent increase in construction projects when compared to 2017. But what about your construction business? Has your construction firm been around for several years but still isn’t growing? Then, it may be time to expand your company.  Or perhaps you are growing quickly but are doing so without a plan or strategy for growth in place. Here are six tips for expanding your construction business the smart way, along with what not to do:

1. Use the Internet for Marketing Your Company

Even though word-of-mouth is still the best way to get new customers, you need to take advantage of the internet when promoting your construction business. This means having your construction business visible on sites including LinkedIn, Facebook, yellowpages.com and other platforms.

Furthermore, create a professional website for your business that includes pertinent details about your company, such as its services and past projects. Include a contact form, and make sure your website is designed with strong SEO in place so potential new customers can find you.

2. Develop a Reputation for Delivering Exceptional Services

For your construction company to grow quickly, it needs to be known for providing exceptional, high-quality service. A huge way to develop a good reputation is to be known for being accessible when clients try to contact you. Moreover, when you don’t notify customers that you’re running late for an appointment, don’t expect them to give you more business or write positive reviews.

Look for customers whom you know you can easily satisfy and who will likely give you lead to referral business. The more clients you can retain, the less you’ll need to spend on marketing. Additionally, you won’t have to devote as much time to seeking new customers for replacing the ones who have left.

3. Earn a Reputation for Safety

As the construction trade is at a higher risk for accidents than most industries, it’s important your company has a good reputation regarding safety. In addition to having mandatory meetings on how to safely do each job, provide seminars on safety procedures. It’s also important to have a solid safety plan in place.

4. Network

Networking with other people is critical if you want to get more work for your company. For example, get involved in trade associations or your local Chamber of Commerce, so you can find more vendors and generate more leads. Also, giving back to your community by volunteering is another effective way to network for your company.

5. Choose a Niche Market

The key to success for a small business is finding and choosing a niche. Determine what you want your construction company to be known for doing well. In other words, emphasize your business’s strong points. Do you want to have a reputation for providing general contracting services, or would you rather be known for a specific service, such as renovating older buildings while maintaining their original character? When a company specializes or finds a niche market, it stands out as unique from its competitors.

6. Be Willing to Invest Money and Time into Your Business

For your construction company to grow, you’ll need to invest money and time into it. Regularly update your technology and buy new equipment, when needed. It can also be worth your time and money to provide ongoing training for your workers.

What Not to Do

  • Don’t hire people off the street. Always ask for references and do comprehensive background checks. Only hire skilled, knowledgeable and dependable workers To keep your top employees, offer them benefits, rewards and promotions.
  • Don’t cut corners to reduce expenses since this can tarnish your construction company’s reputation.
  • Don’t be afraid to adjust to new ways of doing things. Instead, be adaptable and open to new ideas, remembering that change can be a positive thing. Consider that not keeping up with the current trends can be detrimental to your business.
  • Don’t expect new jobs and customers to magically “fall into your lap” without doing any legwork. If you want your construction business to grow, you’ll need to be more proactive. This entails reaching out to general contractors and architects, asking them about their upcoming projects. If you’re reactive, rather than proactive, chances are, your company won’t expand. Even worse, you could be forced to go out of business.
  • Don’t expect to be “all things to all people.” This means being honest and realistic about what you can and cannot do.

Learn More About Harbor America’s Wide Range of Services

Another smart move is to hire a PEO (Professional Employer Organization) like Harbor America, so you can have more time to run your growing business. Please contact us for a free quote and learn more about our wide range of services.

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5 Steps to Starting a Construction Company Employee Wellness Program

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An employee wellness program has a lot of benefits for your company. Healthier employees miss fewer days at work, are less likely to spread illness, and are overall more productive. Not only that, they’re more likely to stick with your company, since they have a strong incentive for staying with you.

How do you get that important wellness program started? Try some of these key tips:

Step One: Learn What Your Employees Need

Before you design an employee wellness program, you need to get to know your employees! What are their health challenges? What does your company culture look like? If you have employees who are struggling to get healthier due to chronic illness, you may need a different wellness program from a company where employees are overall relatively healthy, but simply need to get moving more frequently. Consider what your employees need most, whether it’s:

  • A company fitness center located on-site
  • Fitness challenges throughout the company
  • Healthy foods offered as company-sponsored meals
  • Flexible lunch periods that allow employees time to cook in the office or take other options

Keep in mind that as a construction company, you may have unique needs with regard to your wellness program. Your employees are often off-site: does that mean that they will benefit more from a discounted gym membership elsewhere than an on-site wellness center? Is there a way to make it easier for your employees to find healthy food options for lunch? Listen to their feedback to learn more about what each employee considers most important and what they face every day.

Step Two: Decide What You Can Afford

Your company might not be able to dive in with a full, big-picture company wellness program immediately. In fact, you might need to start a lot smaller: virtual challenges, healthier food at corporate events, and other options. Take a solid look at your budget before you start your company wellness program, and know what you’re able to spend. Then, prioritize based on what you know your employees need most.

Step Three: Offer Incentives

If you really want to motivate employees to take advantage of your wellness program, offer incentives! You might, for example, offer a reduced-price gym membership for employees who visit the gym at least twice per week. You could conduct a company fitness challenge, where the employees who complete the most steps per week or month are offered a reward. Conversely, you could encourage employees to join you at company events with reduced prices: take a team to a fun 5K race or head out together for an enjoyable hiking challenge, all with rewards for employees who meet specific goals.

Step Four: Spread the Word

Your new wellness program doesn’t do you any good if no one knows about it! While it might be hard to miss the grand opening of a new fitness center, employees who have avoided the vending machines for years might not notice that it’s suddenly been filled with granola bars, nuts, and yogurt. Make sure that you spread the word about your new offerings! This could include:

  • Sending out newsletters
  • Announcing wellness program changes in meetings or at company events
  • Posting memos or signs

The more employees know about the new program, the more likely it is that they’ll take full advantage of it–and that means you get to reap the benefits.

Step Five: Collect Feedback

Your new wellness program is a great idea, and you’ve put plenty of time and effort into planning it. That doesn’t mean, however, that it has no room for improvement. Make sure that you’re taking the time to collect feedback regarding your program. In many cases, this will enable you to make changes that will make it more accessible to or enjoyable for employees.


Your company wellness program can be a big step for your company–especially if you launch it the right way. By following these steps, you can ensure a smooth transition that will allow more of your employees to take full advantage of the program.

Do you want to learn more about the types of benefits that help your company attract and retain the best candidates? Check out this new eBook to learn more about how the right benefits (like a great wellness program) can transform your company. At Harbor America, employee benefits are only one of the many great services we provide.

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Staying Healthy On the Job Site: 6 Health Tips for Construction Workers

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When you’re out on a construction job site all day, every day, it can be difficult to make sure that your health stays at the top of your priority list. Still, you don’t want to start racking up sick days or find your overall health deteriorating. If you want to stay healthy on your job site, try some of these handy health tips!

Tip #1: Pack a Protein-Packed Lunch

All too many construction workers find themselves hurrying off the job site without a lunch box in hand each day. By the middle of the day, you’re starving, so you find yourself looking for the nearest fast-food restaurant, preferably one with a drive-through. Unfortunately, that leads to an unhealthy diet that can leave you feeling less than your best and your health suffering as a result.

Instead, take the time to pack a healthy lunch filled with things like lean meats, hard-boiled eggs, and protein bars. This will give you more energy to tackle the tasks on your list every day.

Tip #2: Avoid Repetitive Stress Injuries

Hauling shingles onto the roof, swinging a hammer, or even painting a room can all cause repetitive stress injuries over time. Don’t leave yourself open to these injuries! Instead, take steps to protect yourself. Perform these movements correctly. Don’t overload yourself when lifting heavy objects, and ask for help if you need it. If you start to notice continuing pain or soreness, talk with your doctor about what you can do to alleviate symptoms.

Tip #3: Plan Your Breaks

When do you take your breaks each day? Some crews will all take their breaks at the same time, but others prefer that you take your lunch break when the job is done. Try to plan your breaks effectively. You want to take your lunch break before your blood sugar crashes, which can lead to irritability or overeating. If your job allows it, taking a quick break every few hours just to stretch, clear your head, or go on a short walk will also help keep your energy levels up.

Tip #4: Hydrate

You’re working out in the hot sun all day–or perhaps working inside, often in a hot environment. Chances are, you’re sweating. Are you drinking enough to make up for it? Symptoms of dehydration often don’t show up until you’ve waited way too long to start drinking water. Keep a jug of water next to you on the job site to increase the odds that you’ll get enough throughout the day.

Tip #5: Invest in the Right Gear

As a construction worker, you don’t always get a choice about the weather conditions you work in. You might find yourself working out in the heat of summer or shivering through the cold winter months. Make sure that you invest in the right gear to keep you safe and comfortable! High-quality gloves, shoes, and other gear can make you much safer on the job, not to mention making you more comfortable.

Tip #6: Know Your Risks

Every day, you work with solvents, glues, and other materials that have the potential to be hazardous. Take the time to read those safety training materials and know what the risks are when you’re dealing with them. Make sure that you know how to safely operate all the equipment that you use on the job site, and don’t cut corners with safety precautions. Your health and wellness aren’t worth a slight increase in productivity!


Staying healthy on a construction site is an ongoing process–and it’s one that you have to pay attention to. With these tips, you’ll increase the odds that you’ll stay healthy, keeping you working in spite of what’s going on around you.

Does your company need more help handling HR tasks, including instituting a solid company wellness policy? At Harbor America, we’re here to help! Contact us today to learn more about the great services we offer, all of which are designed to help you save time and money. We even have services dedicated to improving your company’s safety and risk management.

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Hiring Seasonal Workers During Peak Construction Seasons

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Depending on your market, your seasonal peaks for construction may vary. Your workforce availability may be different in your area as well. However, there are a few constants in the construction industry every company can agree upon. One such common ground aspect of the business is the need for additional workers during seasonal upticks. Today, we’re highlighting four tips for hiring those seasonal and temporary construction workers.

Plan Ahead of Your Peak Seasons

The key to being fully staffed with quality construction employees during your peak season is to plan ahead and start your process before your peak season begins. Allow yourself at least two months to prepare for recruiting, interviewing, onboarding, training, and solidifying your crews.

Know that you may struggle to find the right candidates and be prepared for turnover by building a backup list of potential hires. Don’t wait and try to execute this process the week or two before your busy projects are scheduled to start. Create a timeline for yourself for each step of your hiring process. Allow enough time to fill your crews to capacity and complete all hiring documentation accurately.

Consider a Staffing Agency or PEO

To relieve yourself of the additional work and hassle of bringing on seasonal crews, consider partnering with a temporary staffing agency or Professional Employment Organization. Agencies will offer every service from recruiting to payroll and can be a time and money saver for a construction company with a seasonal influx. Instead of paying payroll taxes, workers’ compensation insurance coverages, drug screens, background checks, and unemployment for your temp workers, place them through the agency and only pay the agency a percentage add-on to each workers’ weekly pay.

This can protect you from long-term compliance costs of I-9 verification and W2s at tax time while also saving you a ton of money. The agency will carry all employment responsibilities for those workers and will be on call to send replacement candidates should you experience turnover. You might even find one or two seasonal workers who do such a great job that you choose to hire them on full time. Most staffing agencies offer free conversions for candidates who have worked temporarily for a seasonal period of time.

Consistency Among the Ranks

Remember when bringing on seasonal workers that the best practice is to treat them no differently than you do your full-time crews. Because it’s temporary work, you may find yourself offering incentives, bonuses to complete the season or other perks. Don’t forget your full-time crews are loyal and may resent any special incentives the temporary workers may be offered.

Be consistent with your onboarding process as well and make sure your short-term hires are being held to the same standards as your long-term crews. You’ll find that with equal treatment throughout, your temporary workers will feel more included on the teams, thus presenting the potential for better productivity.

Safety & Equipment

In construction, PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is a staple on the job sites. You know the importance of enforcing safety best practices with all your crews, so don’t forget to reinforce the safety requirements with your seasonal hires. Because they have less experience working for you, your temporary staff will need to be trained on safety restrictions and codes of conduct on the sites. Consider creating a safety orientation specifically for your new seasonal hires to help coach them on how to identify unsafe practices, contingency planning, and required equipment before starting.

Harbor America and Your Construction Strategy

Many construction companies have needed to augment their working crews during the peak seasons. The most successful companies have solid plans in place for managing those influxes. Tap into a few of these best practices mentioned here or contact us for more ideas on how to streamline your process. If you need a partner to review your current strategy and help save you valuable time and money, Harbor America can help. Call today to learn how!

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Four Types of Commercial Insurance Construction Businesses Must Have

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Do you operate a construction company? If so, you know that your business is more at risk for injuries and property damages than most industries. In fact, on an average day in the United States, two people die from injuries linked with construction sites, and 20 percent of workplace deaths are related to construction work.

We’re not trying to scare you. It’s just important to recognize you’re in a business with more risk than many others so you can take the right steps to protect your livelihood and that of your employees. Here are four of the main types of insurance policies a construction contractor must have, along with a few considerations and warnings.

General Liability Coverage

Also known as commercial general liability (CGL) insurance, general liability insurance is the insurance policy that’s the most common. This type of policy provides insurance against liability that’s related to property damage and bodily injury. For example, it protects your company’s assets and pays for medical costs and other obligations. It also covers expenses from property injuries and damages by your employees or those caused by you.

Builder’s Risk Insurance

This type of commercial insurance policy is designed to protect people insured from various hazards during the construction process, such as fire, storms, hail, lightning, wind, and vandalism. In most cases, general contractors are required to buy a builder’s risk insurance policy that insures them and their subcontractors.

The policy may also include the structure being built in addition to the building materials. Besides materials that are already at the building site, the coverage also includes materials that are haven’t even been transported to the workplace. To determine the correct limit of insurance, consider your construction budget.

Commercial Umbrella Insurance

This type of commercial insurance, which is also referred to as “excess liability” insurance, is used for filling in gaps and exclusions to a primary policy. If you operate several large construction sites, you may want to consider an umbrella insurance policy, which is usually a supplement to a CGL insurance policy.

Keep in mind that a CGL policy is limited in what it covers, so you may need more coverage. In other words, an umbrella policy gives you additional coverage that exceeds what would be covered by a CGL policy. Let’s say your CGL policy has already covered $1.5 million for a claim, but that’s all it will pay. However, you still need $200,000 more. When you have a commercial umbrella policy, the remaining cost is covered.

Professional Liability Coverage

Today, an increasing number of contractors are choosing professional liability insurance. This is the result of more and more contractors doing design work. As a result, they take on even more responsibility. Because most CGL policies don’t provide coverage for professional liability, a separate policy is needed. Professional liability insurance covers litigation costs from omissions and errors that can result in losing client investment or when failing to carry out your duties as a contractor.

Considerations and Warnings

  • If your business involves demolition, grading, excavation, paving, tank installation, and other hazards, you may want to have pollution coverage, which covers third-party claims for property damage and bodily injury.
  • When deciding on insurance requirements for a contract, consider the common risks linked with a construction job to ensure you have enough coverage.
  • Furthermore, when choosing an insurance provider, consider the class of insurance carrier.
  • The two classes of insurance carriers are admitted carriers and non-admitted carriers. While admitted carriers are required to conform to the regulations outlined in the state’s Department of Insurance, non-admitted carriers do not have to conform to these regulations because they aren’t residents. An advantage of choosing an admitted insurance carrier is that the state is responsible for covering the cost of claims that are made to an insurer.
  • Consider that a CGL insurance policy does not include the cost of repairing defective work. It only covers damages that are caused by defective work.
  • The top causes of deaths from construction-related accidents include falls, being struck by objects, getting stuck between objects, and electrocution.
  • If you’re an independent construction contractor, it’s even more critical you have the right insurance coverage. This is because you’re the sole proprietor, making your personal items at risk when you’re facing legal disputes.

Commercial Insurance Solutions from Harbor America

At Harbor America, we offer a wide range of commercial insurance solutions. Starting a new business can be risky, and this is especially the situation for construction contractors. Download our free eBook and find out more about how you can protect your business.

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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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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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Is Your Construction Business I-9 Compliant?

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If you’re a small business owner, you probably already realize that one of the main factors for expanding your company is being able to attract and keep exceptional employees. But regardless of the number of high-quality workers you may have, your business is still at risk if it’s not I-9 complaint.

The I-9 form is what businesses use to confirm that their new hires are legally allowed to work in the United States. Unfortunately, too many small business construction contractors don’t understand the importance of being an I-9 complaint, and as a result, their businesses suffer.  Because the Trump administration has placed even more attention on immigration issues and not employing undocumented workers, I-9 compliance is even more critical now.

Here are some basic guidelines for ensuring your business is I-9 compliant, along with a few considerations and warnings.

What Is the I-9 Form?

Maybe you’re unfamiliar with Form I-9. This is the form used for confirming employee identification and authorization for workers hired in the United States. All American employers are required to have everyone they hire for employment complete this form.

The I-9 Is Not the Same as E-Verify

A common misconception is that the E-Verify form is the same as the Form I-9, but this is not true. These are actually two very different, although related, processes. While the Form I-9 is used to verify and identify employment authorization, E-Verify is an internet-based system used for determining employment eligibility.

Another difference is that Form I-9 is mandatory for all employers, while E-Verify is not a requirement for federal contractors and employers in every state. What’s more, Form I-9 doesn’t require an employee’s social security number, but E-Verify does. Additionally, Form I-9 is completed by both employees and employers. On the other hand, E-Verify is electronically submitted by an employer.

Be Sure All Your New Employees Fill Out Section 1 of Form 1-9 

Section 1 of Form I-9 form needs to be completed by all new employees or others you hire on their first day of work. However, it can’t be done before a potential employee has been presented with a job offer and has accepted it.

Section 2 of the form must be filled out by you, the employer. You need to complete it within three business days after a new employee begins his or her employment at your business. If you hire someone for less than three business days, Section 2 has to be completed on an employee’s first day of work.

Set Up an I-9 Compliance Strategy

Although there’s no guarantee your company won’t be audited by ICE, the best way to make sure you’re I-9 compliant is to create a compliance plan. Assign one or more compliance officers to manage and enforce your compliance plan. Be sure anyone you designate with this responsibility thoroughly understands the I-9 procedure.

Your compliance plan should include methods on how to solve documentation that looks suspicious. It should also include storage and maintenance procedures for I-9s.

Conduct Internal Audits

It’s essential that you conduct internal audits on a regular basis. This is important for ensuring that all your forms are in order and accurate. If there are any mistakes, you’ll need to correct them before your business is forced to undergo an ICE investigation.

Don’t File I-9s with Your Employees’ Personnel Files

Your I-9s need to be in a separate location and not filed with your employees’ personnel files. Usually, I-9s are stored in an electronic file or hard copy. They can also be kept in a binder that’s available to very few people, such as in a human resource department.

Considerations and Warnings

  • Except for independent contractors, all employees must have a valid Form I-9 on file. Another exception is people who only do periodic domestic work, such as within an employer’s home.
  • Even when employees leave your business, their I-9s still need to stay on file for a period of one year after they’ve left your company.
  • All I-9s need to be kept for three years or more after the date that an employee is hired.
  • Since January 22, 2017, employers are required to use the new version of I-9.

As a small business owner, you have enough on your plate without having to worry about I-9 compliance. That’s why more and more construction business contractors are turning this job over to a PEO (Professional Employer Organization). Compliance support is only one of the many services a PEO offers to make running your business easier while saving you time and money. Please contact us at Harbor America and learn more about how a PEO can add more hours to your workday for running your business.

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Your Construction Business NEEDS a Safety Plan: Here’s Why

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Construction site safety is a hot topic of conversation lately. Everyone seems to have something to say about how to accomplish it if the number of articles and blog posts published online are any indication. From must-implement procedures to DIY safety plan templates, the spectrum seems to be covered – except for one question.

 Why does my business need a safety plan?

If your business is in the construction industry, and you do not already have a safety plan, here are a few of the biggest reasons you truly need one.

 1. Safety plans prevent avoidable accidents.

Not every construction accident is avoidable, but a safety plan helps to lower the overall risk of them occurring on a job site. Start by identifying the most common types of accidents and the steps necessary to stop them from happening. Add procedures for others as necessary. As your workers follow procedures, the number of these accidents will decrease.

 2. Keeping your workers safe helps your bottom line.

This does not just apply to your budget for a specific job you are working on. It applies to your entire business. Workers will not stay long with a business that cuts corners and puts them in danger just to save a few dollars here and there.

Some employees may find it irritating to have to continually sign forms saying they understand and will follow the safety procedures for whichever site you send them to. However, they would rather do that than get hurt because there was no safety procedure to stop it. You, on the other hand, may have to go through the hassle of generating the paperwork your workers need to sign off on, but that is nothing compared to the costs you may incur if an accident happens.  Besides, with a streamlined and efficient safety plan, there should be minimal time or paperwork involved.

 3. Safety plans lower your insurance rates.

Implementing a safety plan will help you save money on insurance down the line. Why? An effective safety plan reduces the potential for accidents on the job. The fewer accidents there are, the more willing your insurance company will be to lower your rates. The lower your insurance rates, the more money you have to expand your business.

 4. You need to protect yourself.

Safety plans do not just protect your employees. In certain situations, they protect you as well. A thoroughly written and effective safety plan puts procedures in place that everyone agrees to perform before starting the work. A written safety plan and signed documents from all the workers on the project takes some of the liability off of you if an accident occurs.

5. Safety plans help your business’s reputation.

People are attracted to businesses that actively work to keep their workers safe – potential customers and employees alike. If you want to be known as a safe and reliable construction business, setting a safety plan into motion is a step in the right direction. Word of mouth is a power machine, and it will build your reputation as a business that values safety. Customers and quality workers are drawn to that, and they will be drawn to you.

6. Your bids stay competitive.

Do you have to include a safety plan when you send in your bid? Not necessarily, but worksite safety is becoming more of a concern all the time. Companies are starting to add safety plans to the list of required documents in a bid package. Creating a safety plan now and including it in future bids will help you stay in the running for more of the jobs you want to get.

Ready to take the next step and create a safety plan for your business? Harbor America can help with this and many other HR and compliance tasks – click here to get started today.

employee onboarding construction site

The Best Employee Onboarding Tips for Construction Business Owners

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Onboarding new employees is often a time-consuming process. Even if you hire workers who have been in construction for years, they still have to learn the specific procedures that are unique to your business. Employees who aren’t given time and the proper information to adjust to their new position may struggle to complete their job appropriately or fail to note important procedures that will help keep them safe on the job–and it’s even more important that you take the time to properly onboard employees who haven’t worked in the construction industry before.

Tip #1: Assign a Mentor to New Employees

Ideally, you want your mentor to be an employee in a similar position to the new employee, rather than a supervisor or an individual who already has increased responsibilities across the job site. You do, however, want to choose an experienced, responsible employee who will explain things properly to a new hire, rather than hazing them or asking them to accomplish unrealistic things.

Tip #2: Hire a PEO

Working with a PEO can help smooth out the onboarding process and ensure that your employees are in a better position to move easily into their first day on the job site. As you work with your PEO, they’ll take care of the paperwork and basic safety training, freeing your employees up to handle those early days with a new hire on the job site.

Tip #3: Check-In Regularly

In a perfect world, new employees would be willing to come to you whenever they have a question. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Checking in on a weekly basis allows you to get a better idea of how employees are doing, gives them a chance to asks questions, and lets you tackle potential problems before they turn into serious issues.

Tip #4: Provide Appropriate Training

In the construction industry, you’re faced with hazardous activities every day. Because of the nature of the business, it’s important to provide appropriate training to all of your employees. This includes:

  • Strategic review of the company handbook to be sure that new hires understand all of the necessary policies and procedures
  • Specific training in safety regulations
  • Careful training in how to use new equipment or take care of jobs that this particular employee hasn’t done in the past
  • Comprehensive safety and risk management processes

Tip #5: Get to Know New Employees

During the onboarding process, take the time to genuinely get to know new employees. Talk with them to develop a better understanding of their past experience and how that has shaped their current abilities. Make sure you have a strong understanding of the experience that employees already have so they don’t end up with a job that’s over their heads–especially with no one to help.

Tip #6: Observe

Whether you put the superintendent of the job site in charge of observing new employees or check-in yourself, it’s important that you take the time to observe new employees to see how they’re doing on the job. Look for signs of insecurity or that employees are taking unnecessary chances. These observations can be addressed immediately if they are causing safety hazards or left until your weekly meeting if you need more time to discuss how to address your worries.

When you’re onboarding a new employee, you want to make sure that you get it right. Careful attention to the entire process, including assistance from an outside firm or from employees within your organization, can help ensure that you have everything you need on hand, whether you’re onboarding a single employee or working with a cast of dozens thanks to a construction hiring boom.

For more information on how Harbor America can make employee onboarding a snap, contact us today. Our comprehensive HR solutions include recruitment and screening, onboarding, payroll, compliance, and more, allowing you to focus on running your business.