Increasing Safety Awareness in the Construction Industry

Encouraging and enforcing safety standards on construction sites is vital to maintaining a safe and effective team. However, safety programs for the sake of safety programs doesn’t do anyone any favors. If employees don’t feel compelled to make changes for the sake of their safety, supervisors need to find ways to get them motivated.

Start with Management

Employees won’t take safety initiatives seriously if their managers and supervisors don’t. For example, if workers overhear their boss griping about the cost of safety training, they may infer this as the boss doesn’t care about safety. Another element of leading by example is responding to employee concerns as soon as possible. If a construction worker reports a safety hazard, but management takes weeks to address it, it sends a message that the business’ leadership doesn’t care about their employees’ safety. When management makes employee health and safety a priority, employees are more likely to do so as well.

Reward Good Behavior

Many supervisors take a penalty-based approach to safety, but this can backfire. When employees are afraid of accruing penalties, they are more likely to hide concerning situations like near falls. While management needs to know about unsafe behavior or workplace hazards, they should focus more on correcting unwanted behavior and rewarding safe behavior. For example, supervisors can provide an incentive or reward for employees who always wear their personal protective equipment (PPE), participate in safety meetings, make safety suggestions/identify safety issues, etc.

What Not to Do

In their zeal to foster a culture of safety, some site supervisors end up making decisions that hurt safety initiatives. These include:

  • Disciplinary action. As mentioned above, focusing on penalizing unwanted behaviors isn’t an effective safety approach. Part of the issue is it requires near-constant supervision of the site, which is unrealistic. The other half of the problem is it provokes hostility from workers, especially if they feel like management is targeting them. Supervisors can’t overlook unsafe behavior, but their approach to correcting it should be safety-centric rather than disciplinary.
  • Poorly focused incentives. Reward systems and incentives can produce great results if supervisors put the focus on the right safety elements. For example, focusing on reducing the overall number of accidents is a good goal, but a poor incentive. Workers may stop reporting incidents for fear of losing a bonus. Safety incentive should focus more on behavior such as accruing points for wearing reflective clothing, safety glasses, etc.
  • Safety signs and posters. Putting up posters professing a passion for safety is only effective if management lives up to and promotes it on a personal level. In other words, if management’s only approach to safety is to put up posters, safety signage will swiftly become a joke.

Job site safety is critical to a successful construction company. If unsafe worker behaviors or injuries plague your construction sites, The Reilly Group can help. We can help you identify risks and enhance the safety of your business. Contact us to learn more.

Leveraging Employee Benefits to Attract and Retain Talent

With the competition in the job market showing no signs of slowing down, employers need to step up their game to become an employer of choice. Obtaining this status means talented job candidates want to work for the company, and the existing workforce wants to stay with the company. While recruitment is important, most employers have figured out that element of the equation. Now, they need to turn their attention to retention.

Employee retention is so important because of the high cost associated with turnover. When employees leave, it will cost their employer 21% of their annual salary to replace them. Keeping employees engaged is one way to keep them happy. However, having a high-quality benefits package is one of the best ways to retain talented employees.

Employee Benefits Strategy

Knowing that a superior benefits package can retain employees and implementing one are two very different matters. Employers may have questions regarding how many benefits to include, how detailed they should be, and so on.

  • Matching benefits to employees’ needs. Benefits packages muddle the debate of quality versus quantity. While a one-size fits all approach to benefits won’t work for most workforces, throwing every benefit option that exists at new employees will only confuse them. Employers need to create a benefits package that matches employees’ wants. For example, pet insurance is popular among animal lovers, but it may be an unnecessary addition to a benefits package if most employees don’t have pets.
  • Tailoring benefits to employee’s lifestyle. This may seem like a repeat of the above, but it delves much deeper than that. Employees now expect to see what were once voluntary products and more. For example, if a benefits package doesn’t offer short-term disability, life insurance, coverage for critical illness, and more, it’s likely falling behind the competition. Not only that, employees are now seeking benefits options that improve their work-life balance. This means seeing options for flexible work arrangements, parental leave, and even telemedicine.
  • Guiding employees through the process. Selecting the right benefits is an intimidating prospect. Helping employees determine which healthcare offerings are best for them is crucial to their long-term happiness. If they feel misled by their employer, they are likely to harbor resentment and even begin looking for other job opportunities with clearer benefits packages.

A business’ employee benefits offerings can mean the difference between a thriving workforce and a tumultuous one. If your company is experiencing high turnover rates, your benefits package could be the problem. Contact the experts at The Reilly Company to learn more about reducing your costs while improving your employee benefits offerings.

How to Prevent Benefits Enrollment Catastrophes

Human Resources (HR) employees have a lot to juggle. With open enrollment being one of their more important and stressful tasks, it is vital that HR understands the common pitfalls for employees trying to sign up for health insurance. Knowing what issues trip up employees can help HR professionals implement solutions and strategies to prevent them from occurring in the first place.

Missing Deadlines

Employees miss open enrollment deadlines for a variety of reasons. While HR professionals can’t do much about employees who procrastinate, they can fine-tune their approach to help employees in unusual job situations. For example, truck drivers spend a significant portion of their time on the road. It’s possible for them to be gone from their homes for weeks at a time, leaving little opportunity to address other responsibilities.

Many companies mail home reminders about open enrollment or send out emails. However, for truck drivers, this can be problematic. They can miss mailed information due to being on the road. They can also miss emails since they can’t check their smartphones while driving. By the time they reach their destination, a mountain of other pressing emails could be burying the open enrollment notification. Another problem is confusing websites. Even if the driver does realize the open enrollment deadline is soon, he or she may run out of time from not understanding how to navigate the benefit’s website.

How to Prevent It

Truck drivers are just one example of the people who miss open enrollment due to outside circumstances. Any individual that travels often for work or works unusual hours could wind up in the above scenario. To prevent this from happening HR can put the following practices into place:

  • Don’t add to the email clutter. Sending email reminders may seem like a great communication strategy, but it’s easy for employees to overlook messages mired within dozens of other daily emails. Instead, HR should take a note from marketing strategist and build a communication plan that is compelling and hard to miss. For example, employees receive a lot of junk mail and can overlook an email notification. However, it’s easy to connect with Millennials and Generation Z over apps or social media. Consider sending out notifications via a company app or social platforms to reach them. Baby Boomers and Generation X still prefer face-to-face interactions, but a phone call can suffice as well. Get their attention in person or over the phone to ensure they remain cognizant of open enrollment.
  • Build an app. Employees who are on the go need solutions they can access anywhere—this means a mobile app. The app should include benefits information, simple explanations for various plans, clear notifications about deadlines, and help tools in case they run into trouble.
  • Improve the user experience. Technology baffles some employees. While this isn’t usually the case for younger generations, an outdated or difficult to navigate website can confuse them just as easily as it can Boomers and Gen Xers. To address this, HR needs to make sure their website is intuitive. If employees have to follow several instructions or navigate to multiple different pages, they are likely to put off the task, forget it, or do it wrong.

Employees who miss open enrollment or don’t understand their options can end up uninsured or underinsured. Healthcare is of vital importance to employees across the board, and failing to obtain is erodes their trust in their company as well as their morale. Contact the experts at The Reilly Company to learn more about the importance of employee benefits.

How to Reduce the Likelihood of Hackers Cracking Employee Passwords

Cybersecurity has been making headlines due to a number of significant data breaches. Yahoo, Target, and Equifax are just some of the biggest successful hacks to gain attention. Most data breaches are the result of human or process errors. The top five causes are:

  1. Lost or stolen paperwork
  2. Posting or sending data to the wrong individual
  3. Emailing data to the wrong individual
  4. Insecure website (i.e. hacking)
  5. Lost or stolen unencrypted device

How Hackers Obtain Passwords

By now, most businesses know their employees need to use strong passwords including a mix of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Some even go so far as to implement a rule requiring employees to change their password every few months. However, even the strongest of passwords are vulnerable in traditional practices.

Adding a layer of difficulty to password strength is an employee’s propensity to reuse it. An employee may believe he or she has a strong password and thus reuses it with simple alterations. This is a problem if a hacker learns the basic password. The cybercriminal can brute force their way into several applications by adding 1s, !s, and other common password variations. To help employees manage their passwords, some companies are utilizing password storage software that encrypts the passwords while giving access to the employee.

Two factor or multi-factor authentication (2FA/MFA) can help cut down on hacker success since they rely on two or more separate methods of confirming an individual’s identity. The most common methods are inputting a password in combination with a code texted or emailed to a separate account. Some companies go so far as to implement biometrics (i.e. fingerprint logins) or single sign on (SSO) systems. SSO systems allow a user to login to several applications with a single login. This makes tracking unusual activity simple and allows companies to monitor accounts better.

Employee education is the best first line of defense against data breaches. Many employees are unaware that their password is weak or that their login is vulnerable. After bringing employees up to speed on modern cybersecurity, businesses need to invest in quality cybersecurity personnel and insurance. The specialists can help keep the hackers out while the insurance can help manage the aftermath should a breach occur. To learn more about protecting your business from cyber risk, contact the experts at The Reilly Company.

5 Ways to Save Money on Homeowners’ Insurance

When it comes to homeowners’ insurance, customers get what they pay for. This creates a huge risk potential if homeowners’ opt for less coverage to save money in the short term. By neglecting coverage needs, homeowners may find they are underinsured or lack the coverage options they need in the event of a claim. That being said, there are several smart changes a homeowner can make to their home that reduces overall insurance costs without increasing the homeowner’s risk profile.

  1. Improve plumbing, heating, or electrical. Upgrading home systems can net homeowners some savings because their home is less vulnerable to fires or burst pipes. Replacing all the plumbing can net up to 6% savings while upgrading electrical can pull in another two percent. Discount potential: 6-8% depending on the upgrade(s).
  2. Increase home security. Installing a burglar alarm or a full security system can reduce insurance premiums because it reduces the likelihood of a burglary claim. In general, the more sophisticated the system, the greater the insurance discount. However, homeowners should be sure to obtain certification proving that their alarm system sends out a signal to local police or a security company. Otherwise, insurers may not provide a discount. Discount potential: 2-5%.
  3. Invest in water sensors. Most homeowners’ insurance policies cover flood damage due to burst pipes. However, by installing water sensors, homeowners can detect the presence of water right away before it can cause damage. Insurers often provide a discount for this as it reduces the likelihood of a water-related claim. Discount potential: 3%.
  4. Upgrade the roof. If it’s time to replace the roof, homeowners should consider upgrading to an impact-resistant roof. Most insurers cover roof replacement related to hail damage so they often provide a discount to homeowners that invest in fortified roofs. Discount potential: 5-15%.
  5. Install a generator. Generators keep major home systems and appliances running if a significant storm knocks out the power. For example, if the power goes out during the winter, pipes may burst without proper heating. A generator can prevent such incidents and the related claims. Discount potential: 4-10%.

Homeowners can take other measures to reduce their premiums as well. Increasing the deductible is a simple way to do so, but homeowners need to be sure they can afford it first. Increasing a deductible from $500 to $1000 or even $2000 will yield significant savings. Bundling insurance policies can reduce premiums as well. If homeowners are happy with their auto insurance provider, they should see if the company also offers homeowners’ insurance and compare rates.

If you have questions or concerns about your homeowners’ insurance, The Reilly Group can help. Contact us to learn more.

5 Summer Safety Risks Construction Workers Need to Know

Summertime is a great time for construction, but the summer heat creates significant risks for work crews. Once temperatures start to rise above 90 degrees, heat stress becomes a significant concern. Excess heat can cause fatigue, distraction, and loss of attention to detail. All of these factors can lead to workplace accidents, injuries, or even fatalities. The following recommendations can help construction workers stay as safe as possible during the summer months.

  1. Stay hydrated. Water is the best source of hydration for construction crews, but it’s not the most interesting for taste. While many crews opt for Gatorade or other electrolyte-heavy beverages, even adding a few slices of lemon to the water cooler can help boost water consumption to keep crews hydrated. This suggestion includes limiting caffeinated or sugary beverages, as they don’t aid hydration and caffeine acts as a diuretic.
  2. Bring on the shade. It’s not always possible to work in the shade so construction companies should consider bringing the shade to their workers. Bringing canopies or umbrellas to offer a cooler place for crews to assemble parts or take breaks can make the difference when it comes to crew safety.
  3. Eat healthier lunches. Junk food is faster to pack and easier to come by on construction sites than healthy alternatives, but they come with their own set of problems. Junk food is high in fat and calories, which requires more for the digestive system to process. In extreme heat, this can put excessive stress on the body.
  4. Make smart uniform choices. Designing a company logo doesn’t seem like a safety concern, but it can be. Construction companies should opt for lighter color schemes so workers clothes can reflect the light. When choosing uniform materials, opting for cotton can help clothing breathe better as well. Some companies even specialize in sweat-wicking fabrics to help keep workers cool and dry.
  5. Stay alert. Construction supervisors should ensure their crew knows the signs of heat exhaustion. Keeping an eye on one and other can help workers keep each other safe. If a worker notices someone dropping tools, slurring their speech, stumbling, or appearing disoriented, that individual should report it right away.

Keeping workers safe from the effects of extreme temperatures is vital for the welfare of employees and the success of the company. To learn more about construction safety, contact the experts at The Reilly Company.

How to Avoid the 3 Most Common EPLI Risks

Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) protects employers against claims alleging wrongful employment practices. The three most common reasons employees file EPL suits are due to sexual harassment, discrimination, and wrongful termination. However, like all insurance policies, there are exclusions and limitations for EPLI coverage.

How Does EPLI Coverage Work?

Insurers draft EPLI policies on a claims-made basis. This imposes two significant limitations.

  1. The policy only covers the insured for wrongful employment practices that occur after the policy start date and before the policy expires/renews.
  2. The insured must report the claim to their insurer during the policy period.

These two restrictions can present a major time trap for businesses. For example, many insurance companies consider a right-to-sue notice as the opening of a claim. However, many businesses don’t recognize it as such because the employer doesn’t have to respond to it. It can be well over a year before an employee files a suit after the employer receives a right-to-sue notice. By then, there is a high chance that the employer’s policy renewed and the insurer will deny coverage for failing to report the claim during the policy period. In addition, EPLI policies only cover financial damages. They don’t offer coverage for bodily injury, property damage, etc.

Understanding the 3 Major EPLI Risks

As mentioned above, the three most common sources of EPLI claims are sexual harassment, discrimination, and wrongful termination.

Sexual Harassment

Employers have seen a significant increase in sexual harassment claims in recent years. With the birth of the #MeToo movement, employers need to take more care than ever to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. This includes maintaining and enforcing a sexual harassment policy. Failure to do so is tantamount to inviting sexual harassment lawsuits. Sexual harassment can take many forms including physical behaviors, verbal comments or jokes, asking for sexual favors in return for promotions, and much more.

Discrimination

Much like sexual harassment, discrimination can occur in a variety of ways. Discrimination lawsuits happen when an employer treats an employee or group of employees differently due to race, religion, color, gender, national origin, age, or other factors. Several laws protect employees from discrimination including:

  • The Equal Pay Act of 1963
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

Employers should familiarize themselves with all of these laws to avoid discrimination lawsuits.

Wrongful Termination

There are several legitimate reasons to dismiss an employee; however, failing to document can lead to wrongful termination lawsuits. Hiring methods can also affect this type of lawsuit. For example, businesses operating in employment-at-will jurisdictions don’t have to provide a reason for terminating an employee. However, termination-for-cause jurisdictions must have a justifiable reason. This can create problems for an employer if he or she failed to document an employee’s conduct.

For example, if an employee filed a complaint, and then the employer fired that employee, it looks very bad on paper. However, if the employer documented the employee’s poor performance, investigated the complaint and determined it was unfounded, and then fired the employee due to insufficient job performance, they will have a much better defense.

Implementing comprehensive policies and procedures are the best methods for avoiding employment practices lawsuits. However, relying on rules and guidelines is not enough protection for businesses. EPLI policies provide peace of mind for when best-laid plans fall through. Contact the experts at The Reilly Group to learn how we can help protect your business.

Are You Making These Life Insurance Mistakes?

There are many common misconceptions about life insurance, which isn’t surprising given that over half of consumers don’t understand how it works. Many people overlook life insurance because they believe in some common myths or because they don’t think it’s important for their current stage of life. However, not having life insurance when they need it most can devastate peoples’ finances. The following are common misconceptions about life insurance.

Employer-Provided Insurance is Sufficient

This misconception is wrong on two counts. First, employer-provided life insurance is usually equal to one to two times the employee’s annual salary. Sometimes, employers provide the option to buy up to six times the employee’s salary, but most people will need up to eight times their income to provide for dependents. Some experts suggest 10-12 times their income.

Second, even if employers offer sufficient coverage, they often sever coverage when the employee leaves the company. This means the employee has zero coverage when they are likely older and less healthy than when they first started working for the company. Some companies have the option to convert the coverage to an individual policy, but this will cost the employee more than if they had obtained a policy on their own in the first place.

Only the Breadwinner Needs Coverage

Many married couples think that only the person bringing in the majority of the money needs life insurance. For example, they may assume the stay-at-home parent doesn’t need coverage because they don’t bring in any income. However, they provide numerous services that would otherwise cost money such as providing childcare, picking kids up from school, transporting children to sports practice, etc. Not only that, but the working spouse would want to take time off work to help his or her household adjust to their loss.

The Young and Single Don’t Need Life Insurance

Many people believe that if they aren’t supporting anyone (i.e. a child, spouse, or aging family member), then they don’t need life insurance. However, this is flawed logic. When an individual passes, there are expenses associated with it. The individual’s family must pay for a funeral, burial, remaining medical expenses, etc. A life insurance policy will help cover those costs. Plus, investing in life insurance at a young age means locking in much lower premiums.

These are just some of the most common myths surrounding life insurance. Unless you have enough income and assets to cover your expenses in the event of your passing, you need life insurance. The Reilly Group can help answer any questions you may have. Contact us today to learn more.

4 Surprising Challenges that Impede Construction Safety

Many construction dangers are obvious, such as large machines. However, several hidden perils cause injuries on a daily basis. Construction companies need to keep their construction workers safe, which often requires them to do more than enforce the minimum safety standards. The following are lesser-known construction safety challenges that construction companies need to address to limit injuries.

Shifting Weather Patterns

Construction workers prepare for expected weather hazards. For example, if there was a recent snowfall, they will likely clear the snow to expose hidden risks and take more care when navigating fall hazards like scaffolding. However, it’s a sudden change in weather that causes the most slips, trips, and falls. When a construction worker starts the workday with nice weather, he or she will take mental notes of surrounding perils. However, if the weather takes a sudden turn, constructions workers don’t always make the mental adjustment required. Their minds may remain in fair weather mode while their surroundings evolve and the hazards take new shapes and forms.

Skewed Opinion of Hazards

Bulky or noisy threats on construction sites rarely cause accidents for the simple fact that they are easy to see and hear. Construction crews are safest when they are aware of perils on the construction site. However, over time, experienced workers become complacent regarding smaller threats. These workers stop thinking about those risks because they are not obvious, which is when they become most susceptible to them.

Limited Time for Proper Safety Training

High turnover rates are common to the construction industry. Jobs are often short-term contracts and workers are always on the alert for future job opportunities. Unfortunately, this results in insufficient time to hold safety training beyond the bare minimum set by OSHA. The challenge here is construction companies have to do more than the minimum to ensure safety. This requires figuring out how to provide OSHA’s standard training as well as human error prevention training in a small window of time. Businesses that make safety training a priority will reap the most benefits in the forms of a safe and secure site and uninjured workers.

Disengaged Construction Crews

Construction workers have lives outside of their jobs. Family commitments such as attending their children’s sports games, weekend family trips, and more can weigh on worker’s minds. When construction crews focus on getting to after-work events on time, they may rush through their work. While the urge to finish the workday early is understandable, it can cause significant injuries on construction sites.

Construction sites are inherently dangerous, but construction companies don’t have to accept injuries as par for the course. The Reilly Company can help your construction business assess its risks and develop a plan for improving worker safety and reducing construction site hazards. Contact us to learn more.

Are You Prepared for Climate Risks?

2017 was a record year for natural disasters. Hurricanes, fires, and flooding plagued much of the nation, and the total cost blew previous records out of the water. 2005 represented the previous record, with Hurricane Katrina and Rita racking up $214.8 billion in damages. In 2017, natural disasters totaled more than $300 billion in damages. As a result, many insurers are taking a harder look at how they incorporate climate-related risks into their long-term and sustainability planning.

Insurers Reigning In Coverage

Many insurers are now relying on high-tech modeling to get a better idea of risk areas and what counts as a risk factor. As a result, insurers may limit where they offer for coverage, such as restricting offerings for areas at high risk for tornadoes or wildfires. Homeowners need not panic quite yet, though. Insurers are not permitted to cancel policies during the contracted term and many must renew for the following year beyond the term’s expiration. After that, however, they do not have to renew the policy. They also do not have to renew policies in non-disaster areas, so those less at risk may find themselves without coverage.

Insurers Preparing Clients

Even though some insurers are reducing coverage options in high-risk areas, they are not leaving their clients high and dry. Many insurers are taking steps to educate homeowners in riskier areas of the natural disasters that can affect their home. This includes how to prepare for climate-related weather to reduce damage and protect personal property.

The Reilly Group can help homeowners determine if they live in areas at risk to natural disasters. Common examples in the Midwest include tornadoes and hail storms, though flooding and other climate damage is also a potential source of risk. If you’re at risk, we can help you determine what kind of coverage you need as well as steps to take to mitigate the likelihood of climate-related damage. Contact us today to learn more.