employees

In Partnership with Simply Business

businessBy Rieva Lesonsky

2nd in a series of articles exploring how to make 2019 your business’s best year yet.

With the economy at nearly full employment, it’s increasingly difficult to find workers—especially for small businesses. Some 61% of employers in the NFIB’s most recent monthly jobs report are either hiring or trying to hire; of those, 87% say there are few or no qualified workers available.

How are employers handling the situation? A record net 37% of small business owners NFIB polled say they are raising overall employee compensation to try to attract and retain workers. In the construction industry, where 75% of employers plan to hire this year, average hourly construction wages recently hit record highs. Despite the increase, jobs are still going begging.

Being short-staffed can have serious ramifications, especially for construction, remodeling or field service businesses.

  • Projects will fall behind, negatively affecting customer satisfaction
  • Employees may have to work overtime, costing you extra in overtime pay
  • Employees working long shifts or multiple days without time off can increase the likelihood of accidents and injuries, leading to insurance claims or even lawsuits

What’s a small business owner to do? If you are struggling to find qualified full-time employees, you need a backup plan. Review upcoming projects to estimate whether you’ll need extra workers, skilled tradespeople, or specialty subcontractors. Create a shortlist of alternatives you can call in if necessary.

Using a temporary staffing service is one way to meet last-minute labor needs. A service that specializes in construction workers can provide temporary employees who have the specific skills you need. In addition, temporary staffing companies handle payroll, tax withholding, background checks and hiring, and may even provide workers’ compensation insurance.

New Rules on Independent Contractors

In some states, regulations about independent contractors are changing, which may make hiring the extra help you need more complicated. A California Supreme Court ruling in April 2018 revised the guidelines for determining whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. Essentially, workers are assumed to be employees unless all three of the following criteria are met:

  1. The worker is free from the control and direction of the employer;
  2. The worker performs work that is outside the hirer’s core business; and
  3. The worker customarily engages in “an independently established trade, occupation or business.”

This 3-factor “ABC Test” is already used in Massachusetts and New Jersey to restrict the number of workers classified as independent contractors, reports Forbes, noting, “Other states use the ABC Test for specific situations, such as determining unemployment compensation.”

If you have both independent contractors and employees working at multiple job sites, tracking time and accurately calculating compensation, overtime, time off and other factors just got even more complex.

Scheduling and Time Tracking Tips

How can you effectively track employees’ time, manage their schedules, and keep on top of legal issues when you have workers at different job sites? Start by taking advantage of technology. Let’s face it: The construction industry is unpredictable at best, and there’s no way to schedule a multitude of workers at multiple sites with pencil and paper.

Scheduling software simplifies the task. Look for software that

  1. Has a robust mobile app so you can adjust schedules when you’re on the go
  2. Offers time-saving features such as drag-and-drop scheduling
  3. Automatically notifies employees of schedule changes
  4. Syncs with the calendaring apps your employees use

Software that handles both scheduling and time-tracking can really simplify your life. Save your employees time by using time-tracking software that lets them clock in at the job site using their smartphones or a tablet instead of driving to your office to punch in. For example, TSheets by QuickBooks offers a time clock kiosk that works anyplace with an internet connection. Supervisors can use the time clock’s crew function to clock in the whole crew at once.

Today’s time tracking apps offer features such as:

  • Geofencing technology that tracks when employees leave or enter the job site and reminds them to clock in or out
  • PIN user codes, biometric ID, and face detection identification to prevent “buddy punching”
  • The ability to clock in via a phone call
  • Integration with your payroll and accounting software to eliminate repetitive data entry and reduce human error
  • Calculating wages, overtime, salary costing based on local laws, union regulations or industry requirements

Check out these popular job scheduling and time tracking apps designed specifically for workers at multiple job sites.

You rely on technology to run so many other aspects of your business. Why not harness it to manage your employee scheduling and time tracking, too?

Be sure to read our Countdown to 2019 post on managing cash flow

(Disclaimer: TSheets is a client of my company.)

Clock stock photo by mogilami/Shutterstock