The 2019 AACP Apprenticeship school year is back in session! We have nearly 170 apprentices participating in our 4-year program, and I was fortunate to meet with them at their Orientation a few weeks ago. We are proud to welcome our largest first-year class to date – almost 60 students. Best wishes for a great school year to all our apprentices.
Summer is winding down, and so is the busiest time of year for our industry. We have some great events lined up for the fall of 2019 for you to attend! The Annual Golf Tournament is coming up quickly on September 13th in Leesburg, VA. We also will be hosting the Heat Exchanger Experts Seminar on September 30th in Laurel, MD. AACP will be hosting a Legislative & Regulatory Meeting on October 10th in the evening, at Positano’s in Bethesda, MD. This meeting will feature updates and Q&A sessions with some of AACP’s legal representatives. Topics to be covered include Sales Tax on HVAC Services, Minimum Wage Requirements, the Top Ten OSHA Fines & How to Avoid Them, EmPowerMD and the Rebate Program, and an outlook on the Maryland 2020 General Assembly. We’ll close out our 2019 programming with a Leadership & Finance Seminar, Keep Your Cool! Better Leadership for Better Profitability. Commander Mary Kelly, USN (ret) will provide leadership tips and economic advice to improve your company’s productivity and profitability. Your registration also includes a Happy Hour at The Brass Tap following the event!
As always, please reach out to me with any questions about AACP or what we can do for you and your company.
By Larry Stewart
The U.S. jobless rate at a 16-year low multiplies your risks associated with finding and hiring quality people. But tolerating a less-than-polished hiring process is a significant handicap for contractors no matter what employment figures look like.
The cost of a bad hire – one that ends prematurely – is more than 30% of the hire’s salary.
Kathy Cole, president of DK Cole Co., an executive search firm with a specialty division for construction operations and finance management positions, presented a brace of such sobering statistics at the 2017 Construction Financial Management Association Annual Conference. She also offered some great guidelines to improve your ability to compete for top talent.
“Your top performers make the greatest impact on your business results,” Cole said. “Google says they know their top performers make 300 times the business impact of their other employees.”
Cole called the weaknesses she routinely sees in her clients’ employment practices “hiring process risks” because they allow the best job candidates to slip away from talent-constrained construction companies. She broke them down into five risks:
Cole says a good hire begins with writing a good candidate profile.
“The primary reason for wrong candidate profiles is hiring bias,” she explains. “I’m not talking necessarily about gender and race. I’m talking about when hiring managers open a job, they sit down and write a job description based on what they think is required for someone to succeed in that role instead of focusing on the performance objectives for that position.”
“We worked with the CEO of a general contractor with about $500M in revenue and they had big plans to grow,” Cole recalls an anecdote that illustrates the challenge. “One of their biggest performance objectives for the CFO position they were trying to fill was to get better reporting accountability from the operations team, create better work-in-progress reporting and analysis, and to have better internal controls. But the CEO kept gravitating toward CFOs with deal-making in their backgrounds. Which is fine and it impressed the board, but it really missed the mark on the day-to-day important aspects of that role. So they did hire a deal maker, and they ended up replacing this individual after about six months.”
She says the real key to a good candidate profile is to come up with the five or six performance objectives would spell success for the person in the position.
“The goal is to find people who have solved similar problems or delivered similar value,” Cole says.
About the Author
Larry Stewart, editor of ForConstructionPros.com, has worked 30 years discerning the information needs of construction professionals and striving to answer them by creating award-winning magazine stories, rich web pages and ground-breaking events.
By Richard D. Alaniz
The goal of almost every employer is to maximize profits by reducing operating costs whenever and wherever possible. The costs generated by excessive unemployment claims is an issue of particular concern for most employers. Challenging every unemployment claim would therefore seem to be a good business decision. It can have a significant impact on the tax rate the employer must pay to help fund unemployment insurance. The fewer the successful claims the employer has, the lower the tax rate. However, contesting every claim may not necessarily be the best strategy. There may be good reasons for not contesting some claims.
Employers frequently complain that they have little control over the decision to award unemployment benefits to former employees. While it may at times appear that way, a company has significant power over whether or not a former worker will receive unemployment benefits. The state unemployment office will ultimately decide whether benefits are to be awarded or not. However, the employer decides whether to contest the former employee’s application for benefits. In many states, failure to challenge an application for benefits can result in a presumption that no disqualifying conduct occurred. The granting of benefits becomes almost automatic. As with any other business decision, careful consideration must be given to the decision.
When Contesting Benefits is Not Advised
There are a variety of situations where an employer may not have adequate grounds to contest an application for benefits and the effort made would very likely be in vain. Employees who are laid off for business reasons, such as a reduction in force (RIF) or downsizing, provide no legitimate basis for challenging an application for benefits. A company may also voluntarily give up its right to contest unemployment benefits as part of a severance agreement entered into with the departing employee. It would be part of the “consideration” given in exchange for the employee giving up the right to contest the termination under any of the various state and federal laws that provide protection against discrimination or improper termination.
Some human resource professionals as well as some employment attorneys advise that employers carefully consider challenging the benefit applications of terminated employees. They argue that fired employees are very likely to be angry ex-employees. No matter the actual reason for their termination, the company will be viewed by them as acting unfairly. That angry former employee will have his/her anger stoked by the attempt to deny them unemployment benefits. They may seek out a lawyer for help. With the ever-growing number of lawyers and the litigious mentality that is so pervasive today, that former employee could easily find a lawyer willing to challenge the termination. Claims of an unlawful discriminatory motive such as race, gender, age, disability, or some other legally protected status are easy to file. All that is required is the filing of a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the equivalent state human rights agency. Many plaintiff lawyers promptly submit a request that the agency immediately issue a “right to sue” letter. Such a letter permits the filing of a lawsuit against the employer within 90 days. Today it is not uncommon for a manager and/or a supervisor to also be named as a defendant. Defending a lawsuit, even when successful, can be an expensive and time-consuming proposition.
It should also be noted that some employment professionals believe that even when an employer chooses not to contest an unemployment benefit claim, the former employee is just as likely to file a discrimination claim. Some in fact suggest that it is even more likely since the employee may conclude that no challenge was filed because the employer knew that it could not defend the stated reason for firing. They also argue that by successfully challenging the application for benefits, the employer demonstrates that they are confident in their case against the employee, which may serve to discourage lawsuits.
Disqualification from Unemployment Benefits
Contrary to what some employers believe, even fired employees can successfully claim unemployment benefits in many circumstances. Where the termination was the result of the employee simply being unable to satisfactorily perform the job duties or had poor work habits, the likelihood is that benefits would be awarded. Also, termination for minor rule infractions such as attendance requirements would similarly not be grounds for the denial of benefits in most cases. Poor attendance is one of the most common issues that causes employee termination. Generally, unless there are other serious acts of misconduct or there are egregious circumstances, termination for poor attendance rarely disqualifies someone from receiving benefits. In most states, it is only when an employee is fired for misconduct that he/she is disqualified to receive unemployment benefits. Unfortunately, what constitutes “misconduct” sufficient for disqualification has been substantially limited in most states. It requires willful conduct that harms the company. Such things as theft, fighting, engaging in workplace violence, and sexual harassment would almost always be grounds for denial of benefits. Obviously, employees who voluntarily quit their employment are generally ineligible for benefits. If there is an issue with regard to a voluntary quit, it usually revolves around whether the employee had just cause to quit. Deciding to leave a workplace with abusive supervisors would probably not be considered a “voluntary quit”. It is much more likely to be seen as a constructive discharge.
Contesting a Claim
As noted above, there may be circumstances where the company will decide not to contest a claim even though it may have adequate grounds to do so. Ultimately, an employer should contest a claim for benefits only if they have sufficient grounds that will likely result in disqualification. Termination for poor work performance, inability to learn new procedures or operate new equipment, and similar common reasons for employee termination provide no basis for contesting the award of benefits. Only those cases were serious misconduct has occurred are good candidates for a successful challenge. As in any other legal matters, they require substantial time and attention to detail. The rationale for the denial of benefits must be clear and convincing. In addition to a clear narrative that describes in detail the basis for termination, all applicable rules violated, documented oral warnings, and all written warnings should be attached to the contest. The natural tendency of most state unemployment offices is to err on the side of granting benefits. Often their view is that the state-managed fund is there precisely to care for unemployed individuals. It is seen as part of the social safety net intended to protect people in need. They tend to ignore the fact that the former employee only became unemployed as the result of their own serious misconduct.
Appealing an Award of Benefits
It is quite possible that benefits will be awarded even in circumstances where the “misconduct” appears evident. Overturning an award of benefits is difficult. If the decision is made to appeal the granting of benefits in a particular case, most states have a limited period for the filing of an appeal. It will be stated on the notice to the employer of the award of benefits and is usually 10 days. Proving that there was sufficient “misconduct” to overturn a prior award requires substantial evidence. The employer must show that the employee’s conduct was intentional or in willful disregard of the employer’s interests. The employer may also be required to show that the employee intentionally disregarded his/her duties or obligations. Documentation is critical and should include all the documentation submitted at the content stage including any last chance agreements or performance improvement plans provided to the employee. In addition, witnesses that can testify as to the critical events and why the termination decision was made are critical.
In cases when the appeal involves the granting of benefits to an employee who voluntarily quit, the burden is generally on the employee to prove they were eligible to receive benefits. Here the employee’s written resignation or some written confirmation of the voluntary quit would support the appeal. Even a saved voice message from the employee resigning or quitting should be sufficient. Having available a witness who spoke directly with the employee about quitting would be important evidence.Despite the appearance of a system that is stacked against the employer, with careful consideration and proper presentation of what is needed to prove your case against the granting of benefits or to overturn a prior award, an employer can exert at least some control over whether unemployment benefits should be awarded or not.
About the Author
Richard D. Alaniz, of Alaniz Law and Associates, has been at the forefront of labor and employment law for over 30 years, including stints with the U.S. Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board. Alaniz is a prolific writer on labor and employment law and conducts frequent seminars to client companies and trade associations across the country. Questions about this article, or requests to subscribe to receive his monthly articles, can be addressed to Rick at (281) 381-2219 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today’s competitive scenario effects reflect the need for adopting new technological innovations to stay on top and lead the market. Moreover, it becomes equally important to equip your sales force with a contemporary solution, which can even make its management seamless and boost its productivity.
Companies nowadays have even started strengthening their field force with competent field force tracking applications to monitor their sales team activities and performance. Automating your sales processes not only enables you to track their activities and movement, but also give elevated customer service.
Field Force Automation has numerous business benefits and even helps organizations to win a competitive edge. With the latest evolving technology, the dynamics of field force automation constantly keep on changing.
Till date, we were just introduced to the limited functionalities of best field service management software such as defining their routes, reports generation, tracking executive’s live location, defining their routes, etc. But the latest changing trends will take field service automation to an advanced level. So, let’s throw some light on the latest trends, which experts’ belief will carve its future:
With the field service management, there is seamless connectivity between the staff, business owners, and customers. The leaders are instantly updated in case there is a problem with the carriage. In case there is a request by a customer, and if there is a delay in delivering products to the staff at the office, this portal can alert the customer of a delay, or even customer themselves can check on the app and calculate how long it will take before the product reaches with the help of GPS.
Similarly, the drivers are alerted of the nearest route to reach their intended destination, which even helps to saves fuel consumption, thus saving the company of extra expenses.
Leading agents who work remotely can be so much difficult to predict how effective they are with the work assigned. With the field service management software, you can even determine how efficient and productive your team delivers. This is because, with the help of an app, the agents can easily check what items need to be delivered so as to prevent dispatching wrong items to the wrong individual.
Also, the leaders can give an appointment to the customers and honor them as per their schedule without even feeling worked out; this is one of the pain points in field service.
Cloud-based Data Storage
With the recent leap in the technological advancement, field service management could not have possible to allow a seamless flow of work in a cloud-based portal. In the former year, it was a drudgery of work, but recently the work is becoming much simpler. Phones are designed to operate highly technical software that would even otherwise not have been possible, and huge data can be accessed in the cloud portal.
Thus everyone in the organization gets hold of information and can even provide help when necessary to the fraught customers.
Reduction in Customer Complaints
The complaints of customer are inevitable in the field of service delivery, especially if the tracking is done manually. In order for your business to leverage its success, Field Service Management enables you to automate tasks to your agents in order to reduce customer complaints.
With the help of the app, you can assign field scheduling for construction to assign new tasks to workers who are free to take on new tasks even when you are not on your dashboard. This even reduces the delays in time.
Reduces Costs and Increases Profit
The integration of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Cloud, and IoT based portal reduces the purchase of hardware and much labor. This saves money for the business.
The power of an app to predict the shortest distance to reach a customer destination, and the right products to be dispatched plus the right person who has the right talent to perform some of the certain tasks with expertise and experience, reduces the cost of production while delivering quality services to the customer. This increases profit to the organization.
Field Service Management is essential if you want to use your business success. Its ability to increase the retention of customer due to stellar service provided, increase profit due to low production cost and its ability to use the AI, IoT and cloud-based technology portal for effective productivity is what you need to take your business to the next level.
More than 90% of the field service executives feel that the need for adapting the service models to customer’s needs. When the field service software solutions have embraced all the trends which are mentioned above and have become tech-savvy, to say the least, field services will be transformed forever.
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The HVACR industry has always been versatile with ever-evolving practices, upgrades, disruptive products and technologies. Though shifts may often seem slow progressing to the general population, the industry is currently primed to utilize and contribute to big tech trends and, more importantly, is gearing up to be on the center stage of global change.
In fact, HVACR has the potential to play a large role in the future of every person on the planet — a notion that is gaining greater realization by industry professionals. Despite this outlook, the challenge ahead remains —crafting an environment for humans to thrive and maximize their potential while keeping negative environmental impacts to a minimum.
To achieve these goals, cross-role communication among industry personnel is essential. In an effort to support the open flow of communication and stimulate ideation, the AHR Expo has gathered a council of industry experts aimed at discussing some of the biggest trends, issues and opportunities that lie ahead for HVACR.
Recently the Council convened to discuss and develop consensus views on five areas that are poised to be hot topics for the industry and at the upcoming 2020 AHR Expo in Orlando. Our goal is to spark conversation and knowledge sharing among industry peers through articles, papers, online networks and on social channels. We encourage you to participate in the conversation, seek out others in the industry and discuss the role of HVACR in these issues and more, as well as how professionals across all job functions might work together to achieve greater success.
Global Climate Change
Global climate change is not a new discussion topic, however, the inclusion of HVACR systems and their potential to support the lowest emission output possible is becoming more mainstream. Moving beyond the political landscape, long-term sustainability goals and embodied carbon are heavily considered in the design, integration, and installation of whole building systems.
Engineers are challenged with designing systems that meet or exceed performance expectations while staying on course with changing regulation. Contractors are faced with new regulations and must adapt to methods for installation and maintenance. On the global scale, net-zero initiatives are driving design and furthering the consideration of the entire HVACR system and its importance to the building function, as well as the necessary energy to support it.
New recommendations for climate change limits suggest a global temperature lower than 1.5C according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a finding that has been referenced in climate change policies and initiatives across the globe.