Employee Morale Archives - Harbor America

Confronting Workplace Conflicts

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Workplace conflicts are inevitable and more common than you might think. From differences in personalities and lifestyle choices to stressors at work and time spent with the same people, workplace conflicts are bound to happen. 85% of employees have encountered some sort of workplace conflict, and 49% of workplace conflicts are caused by incompatible personalities and egos.[1] Unresolved, continuous, and explosive workplace conflicts can adversely affect the workplace environment, which in turn can influence employee morale and company culture. The best way to deal with workplace conflicts is to develop a process, involve the appropriate support teams, and address the conflict(s) as soon as it arises.

Here are some frequently asked questions and tips for resolving workplace conflicts.

When should HR get involved? Typically, it is advised to allow employees an opportunity to resolve minor conflicts on their own. However, incidents or conflicts that require immediate HR intervention include a personal attack or general disrespect toward another employee, an employee threatening to quit as a result of a conflict, or the conflict affects employees across departments or the entire organization.

What does a peaceful workplace conflict resolution look like? Determine a time to meet with the conflicting parties and discuss the conflict. The conflict should be addressed as soon as possible to avoid tension build-up and in a neutral space. Set some ground rules for the discussion, such as not talking over one another, and to be respectful of each side. Encourage a healthy dialogue that focuses on “I” statements that avoid accusatory language. One an agreement is established, discuss next steps. The next steps should include how to prevent future conflicts, ensure the resolution is followed through, and any other follow-up necessary. Lastly, try to end the meeting with a positive anecdote to clear the air.

When should I seek additional and/or external help? Most workplace conflicts can be peacefully resolved with the appropriate plan and training in place. However, should the conflict result in aggressive behavior, such as bullying, harassment, discrimination, or workplace violence, or you do not possess the proper training or knowledge to deal with such conflict, seek additional assistance to protect the well being of employees.

If you’re contemplating if you have adequate training and policies in place for workplace conflicts, please consult with Harbor America. We value the safety and well being of employees and have a team of HR experts who can provide HR best practices, strategize effective workplace conflict resolution, and offer human resource services that can better equip your business for future conflicts. Whether you’d like to revamp your employee handbook or simply explore alternative options for improved business solutions, please contact Harbor America today.


[1] HR Insights: Resolving Workplace Conflicts

Promoting Stress Management

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As a leading contributor to a number of health problems, stress and the workplace is not a great combination. Lowering stress can, in turn, reduce the risk of major medical conditions and improve employee health and productivity day-to-day. Here are our tips for promoting stress management within your workplace. To learn more about reducing employee stress and improving morale, contact Harbor America.

Take steps to ensure the workplace is not contributing to employee stress.  Address negative actions immediately.  Do not tolerate bullying, discrimination, or similar behaviors.  Proper training can help to ensure employees are not overwhelmed with tasks or workloads.  Regularly recognize Employee contributions and successes to positively affect company culture. Contact Harbor America to reduce employee stress and improve morale.


Considering the Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

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Aside from ensuring employee safety, employee happiness and morale is one of the most important elements of any business. It may seem like helping manage your employees’ personal happiness is outside of your realm of responsibility as an employer, however, personal issues may impact an employee’s performance, productivity, and focus.

Employee assistance programs (EAP) are delivered as a no-cost workplace wellness program that offers services to help employees deal with any personal problems they may be facing. This includes substance abuse, stress management, financial problems, and more.

Most EAPs offer 24/7 phone access to trained counselors. The counselors are trained to discuss sensitive issues while maintaining employee confidentiality. The EAP offers direct counseling and treatment rather than just referrals to other practitioners.

Employers will also find benefit from the EAP as they have provided employees access to a resource that can help to remedy personal issues that could cause a decrease in productivity, absenteeism, or eventually abandoning their position.

Harbor America’s EAP includes access to highly-trained and experienced clinical providers, financial consultants, and elder care or child care specialists. With the goal of assisting employees to resolve issues before they get worse, Harbor America has the best interest in mind for you and your business. Contact us today to add EAP to your employee benefits program.


8 Ideas for Boosting Employee Loyalty and Retention

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Fortune called it the biggest problem facing employers in 2017: employee retention. The truth is, considering the high cost of recruiting, hiring, and onboarding new talent, this is a timeless concern that followed us into 2018—and will follow us beyond this year.

When an employee doesn’t feel loyal to your company, you get, at best, a lackluster effort that results in low productivity. You may even find you’re paying someone to browse job listings for a few hours a day. When that employee has finally had enough and leaves, you’re stuck: you need to devote time and resources to finding the right person and then getting him or her up to speed on the job duties. And there’s an unfortunate chance that person might not work out, either.

Even though a PEO can help you with recruiting and hiring, it’s much wiser to retain the employees you have. Here are eight ways to help you do that:

Invest in Employee Development

Your top talent wants to continue to learn and grow. When you offer opportunities to do that, whether via in-house training, seminars, and conventions, or even an allowance for purchasing books or online courses, your employees learn skills that will help them be better at their jobs. They also know you value them enough to provide such opportunities.

Respect Their “Other” Lives

They are more than just workers: your employees are human beings with families, hobbies, and goals that have nothing to do with the workplace. Offering benefits and perks that acknowledge this is one way to build their loyalty to your company. People striving for a work/life balance are inspired to work for someone who gives them space to achieve this. This could mean onsite childcare, flexible work hours, the option to telecommute, wellness programs (which could include gym memberships, healthy workplace snacks, etc.), and more.

Put Safety First

This seems obvious, but a lack of concern about safety is immediately felt by employees. It’s hard for them to trust you if you’re not looking out for their health and well-being, and it makes sense for them to move on to another job if they feel like they’re putting themselves at risk every day.

Provide a Career Path

There should be opportunities within your company for promotions and raises as merited. Those who have the ambition to climb higher should understand the path to do so. When that path is murky or littered with unexpected roadblocks, morale drops quickly.

Pay Them What They’re Worth

A higher salary for the same job somewhere else is an easy choice for someone who’s already dissatisfied with his or her working situation. Provide a competitive salary and top-notch benefits to encourage top talent to stay with you.

Trust Them

They’re adults, and you hired them for a reason. Micromanaging is deflating. If you don’t trust their work, you shouldn’t have hired them in the first place.

Have a plan in place for when someone’s work starts to slip. An appropriate warning and a game plan to help them get back on track shows them you care about the work they do, and you want to keep them around to do it.

The “trust” theme may also include keeping employees up-to-speed on company developments, even the difficult ones. When it’s time to make changes within the company, ask your employees for suggestions and include them in the decision-making process when appropriate.

Give Back

Many employees today want their employers to be environmentally and socially responsible. It’s a source of pride for an employee to say, “Look how much my company cares,” and they enjoy getting involved in the process. Get involved in your community, and look for opportunities to give back in ways that align with your vision.

Show Your Appreciation

Don’t assume your employees know what a good job they’re doing. Everyone wants to feel valued and appreciated, and this may be as simple as writing a quick email congratulating someone on a recent sale or a handwritten note thanking someone for coming in early this week to finish a project. Bigger gestures might include surprises like a catered lunch, a party or outing, or a gift.

Building employee loyalty is all about creating a culture of teamwork and appreciation where employees know their work matters. Implementing some of these tips may take time and money initially, but they will save both in the long run when your company is full of happy, longtime employees.

Let Harbor America Help You Boost Employee Loyalty and Respect

Harbor America can help you with employee benefits packages, as well as payroll, HR, and more, so you can spend more time nurturing a positive company culture that encourages retention. Contact us to learn more about our services and how they may help you build employee loyalty while saving time and money.


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.


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.

financial wellness benefits employees

Financial Wellness Benefits: Should You Offer Them to Your Employees?

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The 2017 Employee Financial Wellness Survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found that 53% of employees are stressed about their financial situation, and only 45% say they would be able to meet their basic expenses if they were unemployed for an extended time. Their financial concerns affect everything from their health to their relationships to their productivity at work.

That is a big concern to you as an employer.

A distracted, worried employee may become an unhappy or unhealthy employee, which comes with enormous costs to your company. If the employee is constantly concerned about money, she may be putting that ahead of her job–and your vision for the future of the company. If another job came along that offered more money, she may be more likely to take it to help ease some of those financial concerns.

Taking these financial concerns into consideration, you might be wondering if you should offer financial wellness benefits to your employees.

What Are Financial Wellness Benefits?

Many people simply don’t know how to manage their money, or what their options are for investing and saving for their futures. Financial wellness might include workshops on budgeting, managing debt, or preparing for retirement. Here are a few examples of financial wellness benefits you could offer your employees:

  • Confidential Financial Assessment
  • Retirement Planning
  • Healthcare Cost Planning
  • Tracking Tools to Meet Financial Goals
  • Investment Planning
  • Customized Financial Education
  • Saving for College
  • Paying Off Debt
  • Daily Budgeting
  • Financial Wellness Guest Speakers or Conferences

The Growing Popularity of Financial Wellness Benefits

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) suggested that 2017 was the year of financial wellness benefits (although USA Today noticed the trend back in 2014), noting that such programs can reduce employee stress and increase productivity. While retirement has long been a part of traditional benefits programs, today’s focus on financial wellness includes student loan management, security, and more.

Still, companies that offer a particular benefit are not the majority: SHRM’s 2016 Employee Benefits survey indicated that 27% of companies offer one-on-one financial advice while 22% offer a classroom learning opportunity. The PwC survey says 40% of employees work for a company that offers some type of financial advice service. There’s plenty of room for growth–and space for you to differentiate your company as one who is concerned about the financial wellness of its employees.

Good for Employees, Good for Your Company

The PwC survey showed that financial wellness means different things to different people: for some, it’s about not being in debt or having to worry about unexpected expenses; for others, it’s about being able to enjoy life and retire when they want to.

As an employer, you’re in a position to help them experience that wellness, no matter what it means to them. It’s a nice thing to do, but it’s more than that: it can improve your bottom line.

The Financial Wellness at Work Report points out that financial stress is, of course, stress, and stress can lead to health problems. That could mean missed days at work, decreased retention, and higher health care costs.

Financial wellness benefits can also increase employee engagement and loyalty. Everyone wants to feel they are appreciated and their work matters. When they feel cared for by the company, they’re more likely to stay in the position–a great thing when you know the cost of turnover. These types of benefits are one more way a company can say, “We care about you, not just about what you do in the office. We want you to live well. Let us help.”

More good news: these programs are affordable for you as the employer. There are many ways to implement these types of benefits, from in-person and online classes to gamified programs that encourage employees to keep learning for the gratification of earning points or badges and mastering “levels.”

Given the financial worries weighing on the minds of the majority of employees, it’s not a question of whether or not you should offer financial benefits–it’s a matter of deciding which ones to offer.

HR challenges

4 HR Challenges to Look out for in 2018

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A new year is a perfect time to evaluate and make adjustments to current Human Resources operations. For the new year, there are some interesting trends and challenges within the HR world to look out for. Keep these trends and potential challenges in mind as you set your HR strategy for the next year:

1) Balancing flexibility with work-life balance

One of the biggest challenges within HR in the new year will be learning to balance agile and flexible working options. Many HR departments will be looking for ways to provide their employees with a better work-life balance. Recent reports demonstrate that almost 61% of workers expect to have agile work opportunities within the next year or two.

Furthermore, research demonstrates that workers are becoming increasingly expectant of more flexible work options and other unconventional employee benefits. The challenge will initially lie in developing and evolving these options, but they are shown to increase overall employee retention, making it worth the investment.


2) Data compliance, security, and privacy

With the increasing amount of data being collected about the company and employees, one of the biggest challenges for HR will be cultivating data privacy and compliance operations. This will ensure the safety and privacy of both employees and the company itself. These changes may extend to a variety of vital HR functions, such as privacy and access to online performance reviews, employee references, and payroll, just to name a few.

Recent data breaches have illustrated how vulnerable companies can be to data breaches, but designing policies that address these issues will be a combined effort by HR and other departments to really ensure it covers the full breadth and scope necessary.

3) Bridging the gap between paper-based and digital operations

Another challenge that HR departments will continue to struggle with is transitioning paper documents to digital or cloud-based systems. Though most departments have already started the process, maintaining that and continuing to innovate will be challenging.

For departments who have not started digitizing more of their operations, the initial implementation process will be slightly tough to navigate. Moreover, The earlier point about data security will tie into this as well. Balancing the digitalization of operations with protecting sensitive data will be a unique challenge for many HR departments.

4) Constantly learning about the company and the industry

The onslaught of digital means that there are constant streams of information from all ends. Keeping track of all this news, as well as industry news, will be another somewhat unique challenge for HR departments as digital continues to reign in 2018. From the industry standpoint, HR departments must ensure that they are aware of new trends and developments within the industry itself. It is also worth exploring what competitors are doing to differentiate themselves, how they are approaching payroll, benefits and compliance and what practices could be adopted from them.

From a company standpoint, though it might sound redundant, HR departments must take time out to develop and learn about company culture, and ways to celebrate and highlight what makes their workplace culture so unique compared to other companies. This will mean diving deeper into employee insights, using their feedback as well as industry trends to continually evolve and update existing HR policies and implement new ones.

Employees who feel valued, and feel like their contributions to the company’s well-being are meaningfully considered will help boost morale and overall employee satisfaction. As companies ramp up their recruiting and benefits, this will become a crucial base upon which to upsell the company’s profile and attract and retain the right talent.

For more helpful tips for business owners and HR managers, be sure to subscribe to our Harbor America blog.

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.

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: