Human Resources Archives - Harbor America

Substance Abuse and Mental Health at Work

Addressing Substance Abuse in the Workplace

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What do technology and mental health have in common? They’re both on the rise and intersecting to improve the way we receive medical services. Telehealth is a new and trending approach to modern medicine, so it should come as no surprise that telerehabilitation is pushing its way to the virtual medical services platforms.

Substance abuse in the workplace can certainly endanger employees, especially if left untreated. According to the American Psychiatric Association Foundation’s Center for Workplace Health, roughly 1 in 10 U.S. employees struggle with substance abuse and/or dependence annually, resulting in healthcare costs and work-related expenses averaging a whopping $276 million annually.1 One in five adults will not seek professional help.2

Employers can significantly reduce costs by effectively identifying, addressing, and preventing such conduct, as well as developing a substance abuse program. The substance abuse programs can incorporate telerehabilitation to encourage anonymity, engagement in professional mental health services, and provide education and additional resources for managing such health issues.

Develop a substance abuse program. The first step is recognizing mental health issues in the workplace and identifying the extent to which it impacts your employees. Developing a substance abuse program can provide many advantages for the wellbeing of your employees. It offers professional mental health services, additional resources, and continued support and education on mental health issues.

Incorporate a telerehabilitation service. Substance abuse disorders can be incredibly sensitive subjects, therefore providing a telerehabilitation service can encourage those suffering from such issues to seek help because it can help retain a sense of anonymity for the employee to feel comfortable seeking help.

Build a culture of acceptance. One way to build such a culture is to incorporate diversity and team-building activities to encourage inclusivity. Hosting employer-provided lunches, after-hours activities, weekly meetings to discuss workflow processes and projects are all ways to open honest dialogues about work and personal struggles. Building a culture of acceptance can lead to increased productivity, decrease absenteeism, and increased employee retention.

Find health insurance plans that cover mental health services. Another great way to incorporate mental health awareness, prevention, and treatment is to thoroughly review health insurance plans to ensure they cover mental health services or at minimum, offer the option. From in-patient to out-patient care, it is important to explore all available services and determine which ones are best suited for your employees.

Distribute helpful resources. There are plenty of national helplines for mental health-related crises. Crisis Text Line, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s National Helpline, and other crisis services are available on national and local levels. Ensuring these types of resources are available to those suffering from substance abuse disorders can assist in preventing and treating such issues.

Mental health and substance abuse in the workplace can be delicate, complex issues that need to be handled with the utmost care to avoid lawsuits and/or other liabilities that may result if such situations are not handled properly. Human resources management can provide industry insights to ensure you remain within compliance, address any safety and risk management issues, and handle the HR intricacies that come with an employee undergoing treatment for substance abuse and/or mental health issues. Contact Harbor America to ensure that your employee handbook and policies remain in compliance. We understand the importance of employee wellbeing and can work to tailor our employee benefits and HR services to meet your unique business needs.


1 Substance Use Disorder

2 Mental Health in the Workplace

Source: Benefits Insights: Telerehabilitation

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Avoiding Digital HR Disruptions

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The shift in HR departments from manual to automated systems is not slowing down. HR technologies have helped automate online payroll, human capital management, personnel records, recruiting, hiring, and onboarding, and more. If employers are not prepared, it may seem as though this shift comes with a price.

Digital HR disruptions are caused when HR teams fall behind the technology curve when the business does not support their goal to move to the cloud, or the larger team cannot see the immediate value for employees.

Here are our tips for avoiding digital HR disruptions at any cost:

Invest in Resources for Your HR Team

HR is one area of your business in which you can’t afford to under-invest. Many organizations have decided to update bits and pieces of their HR technology (i.e. recruiting tools or learning and development systems) however, it is far more likely that the entire process requires an overhaul, instead. Review your existing budget to ensure your HR team is well equipped with the tools and resources they need to be successful and help drive business.

Use Social Media as a Tool

Social media can and should play an active role in your HR team’s day-to-day, especially in terms of recruiting. HR departments are using these valuable social media platforms to engage employees, improve company culture, and also for recruiting purposes. Boost company social media profile pages with information, images, and post content to help job seekers learn more about your organization. Social media is great for improving your brand, keep the company name in followers’ feeds, and engaging with clients and employees.

Implement a Human Capital Management Solutions

Human capital management solutions (HCM) are cloud-based platforms that provide specific competencies across acquisition and retention, employee management, and workforce operations and administration. These systems employ multiple functionalities in one single solution with role-based permissions. Employers can quickly manage demographics, strategize salary adjustments and requirements, and efficiently onboard new employees. This type of HR administration is what the incoming workforce of Millennials expect for a forward-thinking, technology-driven workplace.

HR cannot transform itself. But the technology that will help advance this industry into the digital age will definitely help get it on the right track. HR teams that are working from old, manual processes will be left behind. A modern HR team, however, can help lead the business toward a modern operations and administration foundation. Contact Harbor America to learn more about how your HR team can lead the digital revolution in your business and have a bigger impact on the bottom line, overall.

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Encouraging a Bond Between HR and IT

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Productivity and efficiency have brought technology to paper-only departments, including human resources. This new technology gives businesses the opportunity and power to take on additional security and responsibility while innovating new and better ways to improve business operations and administration. As more technology is added to the HR team’s available stock of resources and tools, their relationship with the IT department will become even more relevant.

New HR platforms will add an immense amount of power and functionality to the team; however, the security and base integration requirements will have to come from IT. Working closely with IT is one of the only ways to verify the company’s data remains secure and protected.

A lack of mutual understanding can cause issues in HR and IT collaboration. If both teams have independent goals for a project and are not on the same page, the project will not likely meet the timeline or budget. Top-performing companies make this inter-departmental collaboration a focus and goal.

Questions that need to be considered when reviewing a new HR technology platform from an IT perspective include:

  • How will this improve employee productivity?
  • Does this solution have the ability to grow as our company and the demands of our employees and clients grow?
  • Will this new solution help attract and retain top talent?
  • Is the solution a benefit to all employees or only those in a particular role or department?

HR and IT are both high-functioning departments that require budget and engagement to positively impact the organization’s bottom line. For example, HR will evaluate the proper tools needed to encourage a positive swing in employee morale and help keep the workforce motivated by reducing turnover. IT will ensure employees have the right tools to excel at their jobs productively and efficiently. Together, HR and IT are focusing on creating a constructive employee experience.

Identify a liaison to work between the departments. This person would be knowledgeable in both HR needs and IT-speak to make the most of the partnership. From utilizing cross-functional tools such as videos or training materials to help bridge the gap between the departments, a liaison will help make the most of the collaboration and ensure both parties are getting what they need to be successful.

The combination of HR and IT will also optimize the employee experience by keeping all of the business-critical resources on a single platform. Together, both departments can deliver a consistent user experience within the organization, helping to solidify positive employee morale.

Harbor America is committed to helping business owners get back the one commodity they can’t recreate: Time. Our all-in-one human capital management (HCM) software encompasses payroll,
employee benefits, compliance, paperless on-boarding, and robust reporting, all through an easy-to-use, cloud-based application. Contact Harbor America to help close the gap between your HR and IT departments.

Breaking Down Organizational Silos

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Organizational silos are somewhat the nature of being in business, working in a specific department, or out of a regional office. While it’s hardly the intention of any employer to construct silos, they will eventually creep up, separating groups of people by department, project, geography, function or role, or skill set.

A block against collaboration, communication, and sharing, silos can inadvertently cause duplication of effort and potentially cost. For example, one group may be working on a project and be unaware that another department is nearly done with a very similar project which will yield the same outcome. Managers will find this to be a waste of time and resources, and ultimately, cost.

There are a number of ways to implement a more collaborative environment and break down the existing organizational silos. Here are our top recommendations:

Adopt a Team Collaboration Software

Team collaboration software is an application that contains all of the possible elements needed for a team to work collectively on a project. This software helps employees of any organization come together to more effectively track, report, communicate, and manage projects.  Software like Microsoft Teams, Slack, or Asana are just a few of the available platforms. Each has their own pros and cons, however, the most valuable aspect of each platform is the collaboration where departments can get more done with a joint-mindset.

Share Company Goals. Create Joint Team/Department Goals.

Every company has its own annual goals, which are typically in addition to its mission and vision. Team and department missions should include an effort to localize the larger company goals, finding elements of the goal attainability that apply directly to the team. Continue the “one-team” mentality by either creating key initiatives that feed the company goals. Led by a unified team of managers, each department’s employees will encourage one another to step out of the silos.

Employ Cross-Training or Interdepartmental Liaisons

One of the reasons silos are not a preferred operational method is the innate separation in communication and collaboration. In addition to streamlining processes to eliminate any gaps or segmented roles, nominate one person from each team to act as an interdepartmental liaison. This person will work to encourage cross-team communication and collaboration during a project or specific time-frame.

If this additional role doesn’t make sense for your company, the idea of cross-training may be more your speed. Cross-training allows members from each team to learn aspects of a different role. This helps the teams eliminate a single point of failure. This is where only one person knows how to do one specific task or use a specific application. If they are sick or leave the company, that process fails. Cross-training also ensures employees know what their available resources are, where to get information, and how to enlist the assistance of other departments.

While each of your departments and teams may be operating at full capacity that doesn’t mean they are communicating or collaborating effectively with other teams or departments. Don’t let working silos derail your business’s forward momentum Contact Harbor America to see how we can help by providing a professional team of HR experts ready to assist with employee onboarding, handbook development, or regulatory compliance. Our help can give you the necessary time back to focus on eliminating existing inter-departmental silos.

WorkplaceInvestigation x

Workplace Investigation Best Practices

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Workplace investigations are a critical element in establishing a safe work environment. The investigations, however, can involve negotiating several sensitive and personal topics or disputes. Conducted properly, a workplace investigation can actually help to reduce conflict, positively promote inclusion, and reduce the organization’s legal liability.

A workplace investigation can be initiated by suspected substance abuse, discrimination or harassment threats, theft, or outright violations of work policies, or other reasons. All investigations or reasons initiating the investigation will be different, so there is no cut and dry workflow to handle each, but basic procedures should be outlined.

The person(s) chosen to lead investigations should be respected, knowledgeable about company policies, procedures, and employee rights (including employment law), and trained in conducting workplace investigation interviews. When necessary, some situations may require a member of the executive team to be involved. This person should also exhibit these same areas of experience.

Here are some recommended steps for ensuring workplace investigations are executed effectively.

  • Ensure the HR team is equipped and prepared to recognize and introduce an investigation when one is needed.
  • Work quickly to identify involved parties and interview them in a specific manner. For example, start with the person who brought forward the complaint, the accused harasser, any witnesses, and then follow up with a second conversation with the complainant.
  • Use your company’s standard tracking and record-keeping system to maintain and establish and maintain secure files pertaining to the investigation.
  • Document everything. Take notes throughout each interview and compose a summary once complete.
  • Don’t make promises you can’t keep. For instance, promising an interviewee that the information they share will be completely confidential. This is untrue. Elements of the investigation will likely be shared with people who are required to understand the full scope of the incident to take appropriate action in response to the pending investigation.

After the investigation concludes, review all of the steps taken in addition to the final report. Make suggestions for essential improvements to increase effectiveness and ensure future investigations will continue to run smoothly. Contact Harbor America to learn more about workplace investigations, developing the proper policies and procedures, or to customize a solution for everything related to the HR functions you’re unable to give your full attention.

NewManager x

Overcoming New Manager Challenges

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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.

Going Paperless with HR

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It’s no surprise that companies around the world are doing their part to become eco-friendly and reduce their footprint. For organizations looking for a more tangible list of reasons as to why a paperless HR is a better HR, here are our top three.

The first benefit of going paperless is reducing physical paper storage. Paper files can cause offices and teams of people to inadvertently become disorganized and induce a false sense of chaos. Switching to a digital system not only offers additional physical office space, but the information is easily organized in a digital filing system. It automatically makes more sense.

Paperless On-boarding
When a new employee joins your team, instead of handing them a packet or booklet full of physical paper documents to fill out, sign, and return, what if you had emailed all the digital onboarding documents prior to their start date? This would not only alleviate more paperwork, but it would further streamline the hiring and onboarding process.

Digital Payroll
Digital files ensure that all information is kept in one place and the files are free from damage or loss. But when it comes to payroll administration, a streamlined, digital process can save hours of work for your payroll and finance teams. Digital payroll removes the risk of printed check fraud or theft and ensures employees are paid on-time or sooner.

The future of business, and HR, is paperless. While the act of fully implementing a paperless office can be quite cumbersome, the idea of creating a paperless HR is more manageable. Digital filing and organization have taken the place of reams of printed materials and physical filing cabinets. Let Harbor America help your HR team transition to an electronic document management system. Contact us today to learn more.


Focus Areas for Human Resources in the Manufacturing Industry

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Industries that rely on outsourced HR services span the gamut from healthcare to retail and industrial to farming. Manufacturing, as a labor-intensive industry, requires an experienced, well-oiled human resources machine to operate at 100%.

Unionization Knowledge

In many instances manufacturing facilities are unionized, which means the HR team must not only familiarize themselves with the union rules, but also contract issues and compliance. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that almost 10% of all manufacturing employees have union representation, while only 9% are union members.[1]

Training and Compliance

Compliance for HR professionals employed in the manufacturing industry means assisting the company in avoiding dispute lawsuits and liabilities. As manufacturing companies are sprinkled across a variety of industries, including food, automotive, and technology, among others, regulations for one do not apply to all. These HR professionals must have up-to-date knowledge of the regulations that apply to their sub-industry and spend time training employees on applicable practices and procedures regularly.

Employee Retention

A constant in most industries when it comes to employee retention is the relationships built between employees and managers. In the manufacturing industry, this element of the business is even more important. Connect with employees by finding out what they really need to be successful in achieving their long-term professional goals. Responses may include new equipment, a tool to make their job easier, or more time off. Whatever the reason, listen, document, research to see what is feasible, and put a plan into action.

HR professionals across all industries are willing to do what it takes to help the business achieve strategic goals. This can only be done by committing to a complete understanding of association or union regulations, providing compliance training to employees, and attracting and retaining top talent. While this can be a time-consuming process, Harbor America has you covered. Contact us today to learn more. 

[1] https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/union2.pdf

LumberYard KeyPersonFAQs

Key Person Disability Insurance FAQs

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Each company, regardless of size, employs persons who are essential to the continued success of the business. Key person disability insurance was created to protect the business in the event one of their key members suffers an illness, injury, or accident resulting in a disability. Investors, stakeholders, and business owners are able to continue operations and manage finances without major disruption.


How are Key Persons defined?

A key-person or employee is defined as someone who may hold either the most important relationships, accounts, or sensitive information, knowledge, or skills vital to the continued success of the business.

To whom is the payment dispersed?

If needed, coverage is paid to the employer or business.

How are these claim premiums taxed?

Generally, in the US the premiums are not tax-deductible.

Aside from finances, what is the benefit of Key Person Disability Insurance?

Planning for any unforeseen events allows the business to have a contingency plan in place for recruiting, hiring, and replacing the key person.

What types of companies should consider adding Key Person Disability Insurance?

Any business that employs someone whose contributions cannot easily be replaced should consider Key Person Disability Insurance.

Clients have come to rely on the Harbor America team for expert advice pertaining to the continued success of their businesses and protecting the future of their employees. Contact Harbor America to learn more.

Short-Term Disability (STD) Basics

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Front-loaded with a short waiting period, short-term disability plans are in place to assist employees in replacing all or part of their income due to temporary inability to work.

What You Need to Know:

  • Trigger events are any illness or injury that prevents you from working will initiate Short-Term Disability.
  • Depending on your policy, coverage will start anywhere from one to 15 days after the employee suffers a condition leaving them unable to work.
  • It is not uncommon for employers to require employees to use sick days and/or provide medical documentation prior to starting short-term disability as part of the terms.

Many states have varying rules about coverage. Contact Harbor America to understand your state’s mandatory coverage guidelines.