With summer’s busy project season in full swing, this midpoint provides an opportunity to reassess your processes and make this season a success. Chances are, a lot of the finer details that were uncertain at the start of the year — like how many bids you might win and the number of additional workers you need to hire — should be at least a little clearer now, allowing you to focus on how you’re managing your expanded workforce and making improvements.
One area that contractors can specifically look at for those improvements is how you’re tracking employee hours, both for handling the frequency of overtime occurrences and the scheduling of employee PTO.
Minimizing Accidental Overtime
As an employee, a reasonable amount of overtime can be great. As an employer, however, excessive overtime can be detrimental to the business since it’s an additional cost that ends up cutting into profits.
Occasionally, overtime is unavoidable — and that’s perfectly fine — but you should always be aware of when it’s going to happen before it actually does. You could be in for an expensive week if you lose track of hours and assume only one employee is eligible for overtime when really an entire crew is. Suddenly, what you thought would be a tiny loss on your budget could turn into a fairly sizeable dip in your profits.
You can help maximize those profits by keeping an accurate, real-time list of hours that each employee has worked during the week — not just adding them all up the day payroll is due. Without some type of system for reporting in place, it’s easy to lose track of when an employee could be approaching hourly thresholds that would obligate you to pay them overtime.
By keeping an up-to-date record of each employee’s hours, you can proactively track if they’re approaching the point where they’re eligible for overtime. Whether you’re manually entering hours on a spreadsheet or using a mobile app that does the work for you by tracking hours in real time, knowing how many hours everyone has worked during the week can help you to make better-informed decisions as to who should work at which job and when — ultimately saving you from paying for any unintended overtime.
As the temperature outside rises, everyone’s dreaming of the beach or their other preferred destination for some well-deserved relaxation. As a result, you likely are — or will be — witnessing an uptick in the number of employees using their PTO. While you want to make sure that your employees are able to take their planned vacations, letting multiple employees take off the same days can drag your business to a standstill.
Whenever possible, attempt to stagger employee PTO to help you avoid any bottlenecks with your jobs. If, for example, you know that only two of your employees can perform a certain type of work, it’s a good idea to make sure at least one of them is around so that work gets completed without any delays. The last thing you want is to have a job come to a halt because one of those employees you need is vacationing in the Bahamas while the other is sunbathing in Waikiki.
Though it may not seem like it, limiting or denying PTO requests that would leave you understaffed doesn’t have to be a confrontational experience. By setting clear standards when it comes to employee PTO — even through something like a simple “first-requested, first-approved” policy — you can avoid being the “bad guy” and still let your employees plan their vacation time accordingly. In the end, just be clear with your employees about the expectations regarding PTO, and give them prior notice of any changes to those policies that might be occurring.
Similarly, try to encourage employees to submit PTO requests as early as possible. When you know who’s going to be on vacation and when you can begin creating a schedule in advance. This will give you adequate time to make accommodations should you find yourself shorthanded during an important week.
Finding Extra Help
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you still end up in a situation where you find yourself understaffed. Staying in contact with local contracting associations can help you to find workers quickly when needed. Additionally, by preparing an advance schedule to show when you might be shorthanded, you’ll also give yourself enough time to post employment opportunities through online job boards. By getting preparations in order, you can minimize the potential for delays on your projects.
Making the Change
The goal with any reassessment should be to evaluate how your policies and procedures are working for you and to make changes if they’re not. You probably already know where the pain points are in your processes, and it can be intimidating to start changing the ways in which you do things, especially in the middle of what’s likely your busiest time of year. But keep in mind that your policies and procedures don’t have to stay the same just because it’s how you’ve done things in the past.
Even relatively minor adjustments can sometimes yield major results. And if you notice after making any changes that the problem hasn’t been solved or that the new procedures are eating up too much time, consider what other improvements you could make. You might also think about what you could potentially save — whether that be time, money, or stress — by outsourcing your payroll.
A little legwork now can save you a lot of time throughout the rest of the year, but whatever adjustments you do end up making, just make sure they make sense for your business.