Trade Tip: How to Hire & Retain the Right People in Construction

It’s no secret that in the construction industry, one of the biggest battles business owners face is finding good people and keeping them. In exploring efforts that could enhance the hiring process to be sure you’re getting the right people in the right seat from the get go, we found the following tips:

• Lean on local or close by schools and industry specific programs. This is a great resource because students graduate and immediately look for employment, oftentimes with the intent to stay in the community where they already have roots. A lot of times, this can start early on at the intern level, which gives a huge opportunity to mentor and mold them to become a more long-term member of your team.
• Get plugged in to apprenticeship programs that are gaining huge popularity and admitting more students constantly. These teach the perfect balance of employment and academics in certain trades so that students can learn and work at the same time.
• Consider pre-employment physicals or health screenings in addition to the drug testing, background checks, etc that you already have in your hiring process. This can paint a picture of the prospective employee’s overall health and well-being so you can be sure you’re investing in a long-term relationship and a reliable player for your team.

• Focus on culture and how your team feels over what they’re being paid. You may think they care more about their paycheck and yes, benefits are important too, but you might be surprised at how much your team culture and morale means to them. That may be flexible schedules, employee appreciation efforts, team building events or performance-based competitions and incentives.
• Emphasize and encourage training. A team that never stops learning together will always succeed. Providing them with courses and material that can make them better and help your team grow together is proof that you want them around for the long haul.
• Be transparent and celebrate the small wins. As imperative as it is to be open about and share financial information, the state of the company and growth goals, it also speaks volumes to celebrate and show appreciation for the daily strides in the right direction. The construction industry in general can easily get hung up on measuring success by landing the monster jobs but the little ones count to and as long as you’re transparent and honest, your team will buy in, feel like a piece of the puzzle and genuinely care.
• Stay on top of technology and provide your employees what they need to be efficient, safe and profitable. There are many apps and tools out there that could make jobs run more smoothly and most of the time, it’s worth the relatively small upfront cost to invest in those. Making your employees feel as if they have support in that regard alone goes a long way.
• Show how much you care. This speaks for itself but is incredibly important and should be a top priority.

It seems to save everyone time, effort, money and headache to get the right people in the right seat early on in the game. Then keep them happy and well taken care of for a long-term relationship of them serving your clients while also fostering a culture of a work family.

If you’ve never considered your income an actual asset worth protecting, now is the time!

Most people think their biggest asset or need for protection is their home, since that’s typically the largest financial obligation or equity that they have. It’s often times overseen that your income is extremely worthy of protecting too.

Imagine not getting a paycheck for a month… maybe you have an emergency fund or savings to cover all of the bills temporarily. What about six months? Or a year? Things could get tight really quickly and some Americans are unfortunately experiencing this first hand right now with our current pandemic.

Disability insurance comes in to help in the event of injury or illness causing the insured to not be able to work, or even only able to work a reduced number of hours or abilities. Unlike the limited disability coverage that some employers offer, a personal disability insurance policy would follow the insured wherever they go in life and wouldn’t be lost if their job was ever in jeopardy (like health and retirement benefits would be).

The premium of this coverage varies based on income and overall health of the individual. There are typically medical exams but some companies are currently waiving those for up to $10,000/month coverage. And these policies can usually be bound rather rapidly so there aren’t long waiting periods.

It seems like a no-brainer, especially for high income earners, in the work force today. However, we find that many people just aren’t even aware of this type of coverage… which is why we use Disability Insurance Awareness month in May of every year as an opportunity to share this information.

There are a lot of moving parts with disability insurance causing things to vary from person to person so please reach out anytime you have questions on what this might look like for you and your situation. Nick Deas can be reached at [email protected] or (352)371-7977.

COBRA and Medicare… Oil and vinegar or two peas in a pod?

There are lots of things that are consistent when it comes to Medicare. It runs very smoothly, is a pretty well-oiled machine, and policy holders are overall very pleased. But we also see a lot of uncertainty or overwhelm when trying to fully understand it all. It can be intimidating with the regulations and guidelines to follow that could result in financial penalties if not abided by appropriately. But it doesn’t have to be scary or stressful. That’s what we’re here for.

One of the areas that can seem confusing is when people are approaching age 65 (Medicare eligible) and planning to no longer work. There are options to select COBRA coverage, essentially extending the employer’s group coverage, or enroll in Medicare. Here, we’ll break this down as simply as possible to provide a little guidance.

First, let’s be sure we’re on the same page with what exactly COBRA is. COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) gives employees the right to choose a continuation of the previous employer’s group health plan for a limited time. Usually, that time frame is 18 months but may be extended up to 36 months in some situations. There may be some instances where the coverage changes slightly and the premium is usually a little higher than it was for an active employee prior to retirement, up to 102% of the cost of the plan. Employers with 20 or more full time equivalent employees are generally required to offer COBRA. Spouses can also be eligible for COBRA if:

• The covered employee either voluntarily or involuntarily leaves the job
• The covered employee’s number of hours are decreased making them ineligible for benefits
• The covered employee becomes eligible for Medicare
• Divorce or legal separation from the covered employee
• Death of the covered employee

A commonly used term when entering the Medicare world is “creditable coverageâ€. This is referring to coverage outside of Medicare being qualified to take the place of Medicare so that there are no late enrollment penalties if you don’t enroll on time. “Creditable†also means that the coverage is expected to pay on average as much as the Medicare coverage would. COBRA is NOT considered creditable for Part B of Medicare. Only active employer group coverage for an employee still working would suffice for that. Regarding Part D prescription drug coverage, it is plan specific whether or not it’s creditable.

Real life example: Bill decides to retire right at age 65. He’s been on his employer’s group plan for 25 years. He can elect COBRA to keep that plan but also needs to enroll in Medicare, now that he’s eligible. Medicare would then become his primary. If he didn’t enroll in Medicare and stayed just on COBRA, he could face a substantial gap in coverage. Let’s say he sees a doctor, they bill Medicare A&B for the standard 80% payment but he doesn’t have any Medicare. So then they bill COBRA, who could pay just 20% of the total cost or possible nothing at all, since they’re secondary with him being 65+ now and he technically doesn’t have any primary coverage. Bill could now be stuck with a bill (see what we did there?) for 80-100% being his responsibility to pay out of pocket. So, Bill, lesson learned… what he should have done is upon retirement, enroll in Parts A&B as soon as he stopped working and then compared his COBRA coverage and premium to that of a supplement or advantage plan to decide on the best secondary coverage.

A few things to consider if you’re going to stop working or are 65+ with COBRA:

• What are the options for your spouse or family?
• Is your employer’s COBRA coverage “creditable†for Medicare?
• What is the cost of COBRA vs a Medicare supplement or advantage plan?
• You have 8 months from when you stop working to enroll in Parts A&B without penalty

It may seem like a lot but this is a big transition from working to not, so don’t take it lightly. We can help work through the details and relieve some of the stress. The positive part of it all is that there are options for care and you get to pick the best fit for you.

Additional auto insurance carriers are issuing premium refunds

Some people may think insurance companies are only there for them when they need to file a claim. Well, we are pleased to share some good news that shows how much auto insurance carriers across the board really do care.

These are challenging times and your insurance company wants to help! Many drivers are using their vehicles less as they abide by our current stay-at-home orders. Therefore, the following companies will all be issuing a one-time premium refund for personal auto policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each company is handling it slightly different so we’ve included the details below. This only applies to motor vehicle policies (not including golf cart, motorcycle, ATV or boat). This is still awaiting final regulatory approval but is headed in the right direction.

The best part about this is that policyholders don’t need to do anything! Refunds will automatically be either credited to their policy account or refunded.

*Nationwide: $50 per policy active as of March 31, 2020

*Safeco: 15% of premium as of April 7, 2020 for 2 months

*Auto Owners: 15% of premium for April and May, 2020

*Mercury: 15% of premium for April and May, 2020

*Progressive: 20% of April premium (refunded in May) and 20% of May premium (refunded in June)

*Chubb: 35% of premium for April and May, 2020 upon annual renewal

*Travelers: 15% of premium for April and May, 2020

*MetLife: 15% of premium for April and May, 2020

*AAA: 20% of auto premium for April and May, 2020

Geico: 15% of premium as the policy comes up for renewal between April 8-October 7, 2020. The credit will also apply to any new policies purchased during this period.

Allstate: 15% of premium for April and May, 2020

USAA: 20% of premium as of March 31, 2020 for 2 months

State Farm: 25% of premium for policies in-force between March 20-May 31, 2020

Hartford: 15% of premium for April and May, 2020

Liberty Mutual: 15% of premium as of April 7, 2020 for 2 months

Florida Fam Bureau: 15% of premium for April and May, 2020

*The companies with an * are the carriers in which we, at McGriff-Williams, represent and received this data directly from. Information regarding the other companies listed here was collected from their individual websites.

What does “furlough” mean anyway?

Furlough. It’s a rare term to hear in the workplace until something like a government shut down or pandemic such as Covid-19 happens. There’s a difference between a furlough and a layoff and it’s extremely important for both employers and employees to understand them fully.

A “furlough†is when the employment is maintained but hours are reduced or the employee is placed on unpaid leave. This would make sense if an employer wanted to keep the employee and thought a temporary hardship would be better than terminating them completely. With a furlough, the employee may still qualify for unemployment as well.

Exempt employees (those not eligible for overtime) have to be paid their normal weekly salary if they do any work at all so it is usually, in a situation like our current Covid-19 quarantine, employers would encourage employees to NOT work at all. Non-exempt employees can be paid for actual hours worked without any further pay implications.

Typically, the furloughed employee can keep their health insurance but will be responsible to pay their portion of the premiums throughout the furlough. Often times, companies will restore employment following a furlough and provide back the following:

• Retention of seniority
• Maintained benefits such as health insurance with no lapse in coverage
• The ability to use any PTO/vacation time/sick leave as accrued

A “layoff†is less promising as it’s usually permanent… but a temporary layoff could be an option if it’s just due to a short period of time where there is no work for that employee. A layoff does include actual termination of employment, whereas the above mentioned benefits would not apply.

In an ideal world, neither furloughs or layoffs would happen. However, as we’ve quickly learned, they can become reality and we all need to be prepared to make appropriate arrangements in the event something like this occurs.