Workplace Wellness Programs for Small Businesses

Workplace Wellness Programs for Small Businesses

Promoting healthy lifestyles in a healthy workplace

By Christina Martinez

For a small business, losing just one employee to frequent sick days (absenteeism) or an extended absence can lead to significant productivity losses. It can also damage morale as the remaining employees are then forced to pick up the slack.

Large businesses are no longer the only ones who are implementing employee wellness programs.  Small businesses are following in their footsteps, realizing that these programs can not only reduce healthcare costs, lessen worker’s compensation claims, decrease absenteeism and prevent employee turnover, but they can also increase productivity, reduce stress and improve the attitudes of employees.

If you are considering a wellness program to save money and have a healthier, happier workforce, consider some of these ideas to get started.

  1. Encourage employees to include healthy activities into their workday. And, make this both practical and possible. For example, organize walking meetings, allow extended lunches for employees to work out or go for a run, or support standing desks.
  1. Ask for employees’ feedback. Ask employees what they feel can be done by the business to help improve employees’ health.
  1. Leadership Buy-In. Start wellness program activities at the leadership level and lead by example. Make your leaders the health promoters for the company.
  1. Make your work environment reflective of a healthy culture. Take a look around your work space. Does the physical environment make it easy for employees to get or stay healthy?
  1. Request employees to share their success. Encourage employees to share health-related efforts and successes with others.
  1. Discuss health and wellness alongside business decisions. For example, if you’re considering relocating or changing working hours, consider employees’ health as an important factor in decision-making.
  1. Provide rewards and incentives. Use a rewards, incentives or recognition program to recognize, award or celebrate health success.
  1. Clean out the kitchen. If you have an open kitchen, cafeteria or vending machines, provide healthy options. Get rid of the junk.
  1. Encourage occasional web surfing. Don’t get me wrong, chronic web surfing is a productivity killer. However, research shows that occasional, passive web surfing really boosts employees’ moods.
  1. “Off the clock”? Encourage employees to disengage from work. The ‘always on’ atmosphere at many small businesses can lead to stress, burn-out and poor employee wellness. Encourage productivity while at the office and encourage employees to disconnect from work during off-hours. Leadership can set the example by leaving at a reasonable time and limiting non-urgent communication outside of business hours.

Whatever you as a company decide, decide to do something to actively promote the health and mental well-being of employees.

Christina Martinez is Triune’s Director of Marketing and Business Development. Christina brings over 10 years of high level marketing experience to Triune. Triune is a leading, integrated, design-build General Contractor founded in 1997. Triune is headquartered in Dallas, TX –

The Punch List is Triune’s proprietary blog for discussing issues and providing insight specific to the commercial construction industry. Copyright 2013 TMV, LLC (Triune). Any and all rights reserved.


Healthcare Occupied Spaces, Best Practices

Healthcare Occupied Spaces, Best Practices

Quiet down, there are sick people in here!

By Bill Goodman

Renovating occupied healthcare facilities can be challenging as construction activities may disrupt the optimal functioning of the facility. In days past, there were no special requirements for healthcare clients. Skilled, prepared people and an extra level of supervision helped to minimize the amount of disruption for patients, healthcare providers and staff. From the beginning, immense pride was taken in the working conditions maintained at facilities, and that attitude carried over to the clients. From a long history of past experience, here are the following six best practices that can be utilized to minimize disruption to patients, physicians and staff.

  1. Site Investigation. Prior to work beginning for the project, a preliminary investigation should be completed by the construction team. The purpose of this investigation is to confirm the location of utilities and valves as drawn and to gain knowledge about the space and possible problems or issues. At this time, the contractor should work with the medical facility to acquire knowledge and/or issues specifically related to the facility. This investigation should help in getting the schedule off to a good start.
  1. Interim Life Safety. Before construction, an interim life safety plan (ILSP) should be drafted and submitted for approval by the facility. During any construction, the approved ILSP should be posted in a conspicuous place. It provides information regarding:
  • Emergency egress
  • Muster area for safe assembly
  • Existing and future wall ratings
  • Temporary partitions and their location/ratings
  1. Infection Control and Risk Assessment. Prior to construction, the contractor should request an infection control meeting with the facility as well as a thorough review of the risk assessment procedures. The meeting should cover the following:
  • Project Scope of work
  • Air monitoring requirements
  • Duration of the project
  • Pressure monitoring requirements
  • Location of the construction project
  • Project phasing
  • Requirement of disposal coveralls
  • Proposed filtration plan and procedures
  • Barrier construction/deconstruction
  • Final cleaning
  • Daily documentation
  1. Utility Interruptions. Most renovation work requires a planned, temporary interruption in utility services. When these are required, the contractor and/or its subcontractors will schedule the shutdown in accordance with the facility’s procedures. The service that is being interrupted must be identified, and the affected areas or people must be notified so that interim measures can be taken. Any utilities that are shut down must be locked/tagged out. The plan needs to be clearly communicated to the facility’s engineering staff so that it is clearly understood what services are being disrupted.
  1. Accidents Prevention Planning. Prior to construction, the contractor should prepare and submit for approval an accident prevention plan from the owner. This plan should be written to address the specific work and hazards of the contract and detail the requirements for safety and occupational health. The safety plan should include at a minimum:
  • Background information on the project
  • Contractor’s emergency contact number
  • Description of work to be performed and location of work to be performed
  • A listing of phases of work and hazardous activities
  • Means for controlling the work activities of subcontractors and suppliers
  • Plans for safety orientation of new employees and subcontractors
  • Means for recording inspection results
  • Plans for maintaining job cleanup and safe access
  • Prevention of drug/alcohol abuse on the job
  1. Close out Documentation. Upon completion of the project, the contractor should provide the facility with the proper closeout documentation including record drawings (as-built), owner in-service training, and equipment operation and maintenance manuals – as well as any required commissioning. The contractor’s role is to ensure that the project is constructed in accordance with the design. Referring to the contract for specific requirements, the contractor should assemble the following:
  • Compliance letter
  • Flame spread and smoke development test information
  • Fire and smoke dampers with product information and installation instructions
  • Electrical ground resistance test reports
  • Medical gas certification and test reports
  • Domestic water certification
  • Fire stopping product information
  • Mechanical test and balance reports

The proper documentation helps to ensure that the medical facility’s project functions as required and that patients receive the healthcare that they deserve.

Although there are hundreds of great practices that need to be put in place prior to construction within an occupied medical facility, these six have been an integral part of every successful healthcare project we have completed.

William Goodman, Senior Project Manager for Triune, is a highly accomplished, multi-talented project manager with over 30 years of construction experience. He encompasses excellent skills in preparing schedules and managing job costs, budgeting, contract negotiation, design-build and pre-construction services.

The Punch List is Triune’s proprietary blog for discussing issues and providing insight specific to the commercial construction industry. Copyright 2013 TMV, LLC (Triune). Any and all rights reserved.


Construction Contractors – Are you Compliant with the Davis-Bacon Act?

Construction Contractors – Are you Compliant with the Davis-Bacon Act?

By Christina Martinez

One of the hottest issues in the construction industry today is that of wage theft–theft of wages paid to workers who are employed on construction projects. With wage theft being a hotbed issue and with strengthened legislation for this type of theft, the spotlight is shining even brighter on The Davis-Bacon Act for enforcement of applicable laws and rules against non-compliant parties.

What is the Davis-Bacon Act?

The purpose of the Davis-Bacon Act (DBA)–created in the 1931 by the Department of Labor–is to protect communities from economic disruption from federal government contracts by leveling the playing field. It requires payment of “local prevailing wage rates and fringe benefits to workers and mechanics employed on federal government contracts in excess of $2,000 for construction, alteration or repair of public buildings or public works.” This prevents non-local contractors from coming into an area and underbidding local wages.

During contract performance, it is mandatory that employees are paid at least once a week with full wages and fringe benefits or cash in lieu of benefits.

Basic recordkeeping rules of Davis-Bacon for compliance

Companies must maintain payroll and basic records for all laborers and mechanics during the course of the work and for a period of three years thereafter. Below are several basic rules for compliance.

  • Name, address and Social Security number of each employee
  • Each employee’s work classifications
  • Hourly rates of pay including rates of contributions or costs anticipated for fringe benefits or their cash equivalents
  • Daily and weekly numbers of hours worked
  • Deductions made
  • Actual wages paid
  • If applicable, detailed information regarding various fringe benefit plans and programs, including records that show that the plan or program has been communicated in writing to the laborers and mechanics affected

Harsh Penalties for Non-Compliance

The Department of Labor’s Wage Hour Division [WHD]–the group responsible for administering and enforcing the DBA currently have contractors facing more audits and more severe penalties. WHD is generally less willing to negotiate and will quickly use the legal remedies at their disposal to punish non-adherence to statutes by contractors. Some of the penalties are:

  • Payment of back wages and fringe benefits to employees
  • Withholding of payments due the contractor on active Federal contracts
  • Contract termination (including payment for any additional Government procurement costs)
  • Personal liability for company officials
  • Prohibition from all government contracts for a 3-year period

Case in point, according to the US Department of Labor—WHD news release, February 9, 2014, an electric contractor had to pay over $350,000 in back wages earned on federally funded construction projects.  The company was non-compliant with the DBA, The Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act [CWHSSA], and Fair Labor Standards Act [FLSA] because they did not adhere to the requirement of paying workers time-and-a-half for hours worked over the 40-hour work week.

Strategies for Successful Compliance

  • Include key personnel in the compliance process–make sure that you have legal, contracts, human resources, accounting and finance, and project management involved. That way, compliance is an integrated effort from all parties involved in the process with knowledgeable input. The likelihood of errors and/or omissions goes down significantly.
  • Understand the requirements and implement processes to uphold the requirements.
  • Identify DBA requirements early on. It is necessary to know the required wages early in the bidding process to make sure the level of profitability is captured.
  • Knowing and complying with wage rates will help determine the true costs of wages. from the onset rather than dealing with penalties due to non-compliance on the back end.
  • As the general contractor, you are responsible for the compliance of your subcontractors. As such, consider including contractual protections such as audit rights or indemnifications in your subcontract agreements.

Adhering to the above strategies and paying attention to regulating laws and policies will lessen your odds of coming under fire from non-compliance in the future.

Christina Martinez is Triune’s Director of Marketing and Business Development.  Christina brings over 10 years of high level marketing experience to Triune. Triune is a leading, integrated, design-build General Contractor founded in 1997. Triune is headquartered in Dallas, TX –

The Punch List is Triune’s proprietary blog for discussing issues and providing insight specific to the commercial construction industry. Copyright 2013 TMV, LLC (Triune). Any and all rights reserved.


Benefits of Accurate Construction Job Costing

Benefits of Accurate Construction Job Costing

By Mike Crabtree

Job cost accounting is the process of assigning project costs incurred to a specific job. This term is widely used in the construction industry, and it refers to allocating costs to individual construction projects.

The issue with job costing is that it’s an all-or-none commitment. There is no value in getting limited job cost reports that only include some of the job costs.  But running a construction business without good job costing is like driving on a road without a map. You might end up someplace, but you don’t know if it is the right place.

A good job-costing system provides accurate information on how much was spent to complete a job. When comparing that to the income for the job, the gross profit can then be figured. When a job is bid, the cost components of that job are determined to create an offer. Why, then, do so many companies fail to follow through by reviewing projected spending at the completion of a project? Every time one more dollar than anticipated is spent, the net profit is reduced by that same dollar.

The following key information is required to develop an accurate job cost report:

  1. Equipment and Materials. Whether equipment is purchased specifically for a job or equipment that comes from the warehouse is used, it is important to know how much the equipment and materials ultimately used on the job cost.
  1. Labor and/or Subcontractors. The second component of a good job-costing system is the ability to track both labor dollars and labor hours used on each job. This requires the use of timecards and some time tracking capabilities.
  1. Overhead. All too often, overhead is overlooked in job costing, yet it can be crucial. Jobs aren’t created in a vacuum, and proper allocation of company overhead should not be forgotten. Overhead items to be allocated can include:
  • Office Equipment and the cost to keep it in use
  • Computers and their software
  • Interest charges on construction loans
  • Salaries of those not directly working on the projects but overseeing them and the administrative staff that support them

Implementing job costing requires time, a good understanding of what’s required, the right software, patience and persistence. Why should a company invest the time and resources to implement job costing? Here are four benefits:

  1. Proactively respond to changes. Effective and timely job cost reports comparing the actual costs to the amounts estimated allows project teams to identify trends and potential issues on the job. The sooner that adjustments are identified, the better equipped the team is to correct them.
  1. Improve profitability. This is always a favorite benefit from an effective job-costing system. As management is reviewing the reports, it will become clear where savings may be obtained resulting in increased profits.
  1. Manage the team and progress of the job. Performance that is measured, improves. As leaders monitor the jobs, teams will improve their performance.  This lets the owner assist the team as required. For example, when evaluating the progress, a leader may see that 50% of labor is spent on a job, but the job is only 40% complete; is this expected or does an adjustment have to be made?
  1. Enhance estimating for future projects. When costs are identified by job, it enables companies to understand what it really costs to complete a job. This information is valuable in managing the current job but also when evaluating and estimating upcoming projects.

Mike Crabtree has over 20 years of experience in the commercial construction industry. He is a lifelong Dallas resident, proud graduate of Southern Methodist University, and Corporate Controller with Triune. Triune is a leading, integrated, design-build General Contractor in the Southwest region of the country.

The Punch List is Triune’s proprietary blog for discussing issues and providing insight specific to the commercial construction industry. Copyright 2013 TMV, LLC (Triune). Any and all rights reserved.


How to Declutter Your Office by Digitizing and Storing Your Documents

How to Declutter Your Office by Digitizing and Storing Your Documents

By Christina Martinez

From invoices to receipts to flyers and catalogs, it seems like the stream of documents entering our lives is endless. In the age of online storage, small businesses wrestle with digital clutter as well as paper. For busy entrepreneurs, separating important items from ones that go immediately to the recycling bin–and keeping from getting swept away by a tidal wave of clutter–can seem like a full time job. With all the other demands on your time, clearing out the clutter can be the last thing on your list.

Getting organized and streamlined can also save you money on rent, too. Our company was looking for storage space outside our office because of all the room we needed to store project files. After digitizing our records, we ended up freeing up an entire room that was filled with boxes with no need to get extra storage space.

Here are some tips to help you clear clutter and keep your small business organized.

  1. Digitize your paper documents. To think paperless and minimal can be scary, but you must get acquainted with the idea in this day and age. Most printers nowadays work as scanners, so this can be done easily; however, if you do not have one with this capability, you can purchase a desktop portable scanner at a very inexpensive price. A variety of desktop scanners help you transform your paper documents into high quality digital images that can be easily stored and accessed electronically. In addition, you can bundle it up with a software that provides added functionality such as scanning multi-page documents of different sizes to a specific file format, printer or application. Some scanners also offer the ability to scan directly to a USB drive or smartphone/tablet.
  1. Organize your digital data. Not only can going paperless save time and resources, but in order to reap its full benefits, you will need to create a system for organizing your digital data. Simply saving to your computer’s desktop is not ideal because it can then be difficult to find specific items quickly as your desktop will become cluttered with more and more icons. Electronic files should be categorized and filed in appropriately labeled folders for maximum efficiency.

It is also wise to create a consistent naming convention for all your files and folders. This will make it easier to sort and organize your documents alphabetically, numerically or chronologically. Below are a few tips for naming your files effectively:

  • Be specific. Rather than naming a Powerpoint file “presentation,” choose something more specific such as “Westside Sales Meeting Presentation.”
  • Add dates at the beginning of your folder and file names for chronological sorts, e.g., “2015 Westside Sales Meeting Presentation.”
  • If you want a file to appear first in an alphabetical list, add an exclamation point (!), a zero (0) or the letters “AA” to the beginning of its name, e.g., 0-2013 Westside Sales Meeting Presentation.”
  • Include the initials of the last person to edit the file if multiple versions are circulated, e.g., “2013 Westside Sales Meeting Presentation-BC.”
  1. Backup and store your digital information. Backing up all of your digital data to another storage component at least once a week is recommended to ensure that important information remains accessible and safe in a separate location. Here are some data backup solutions from which you should consider:
  • USB Flash Drive. While USB flash drives can be small in size, they typically contain from 8GB to 64GB of storage space, making them a highly portable option for storing photos, documents and other files.
  • External Hard Drives. External hard drives are typically about the size of a small book and can offer up to 1TB (1 terabyte = 1,000 gigabytes) or more of storage space. This makes them perfect for storing and transporting large files and image collections, HD videos and more. In addition, many include software that will allow you to back up your data automatically.
  • Network Storage. Network storage provides a central location where computers on a local area network can store, access and share data. Networks are most common in business settings.
  • Cloud Storage. Cloud storage services offer an even more robust option for data storage and retrieval. Data that is located “in the cloud” is stored on a network of public servers accessible via the Internet. Services are available from a host of providers–typically for a monthly fee–and usually include the ability to back up data from all your devices automatically.
  • Personal Cloud Storage. For a powerful storage solution without monthly charges, Western Digital’s My Book Live enables you to build your own cloud storage on a personal network as opposed to a public server. This device will connect to your wireless router to provide shared personal cloud storage and wireless backup for all the computers on the network. In addition, you can access your files remotely via the internet or a specialized mobile app.

As you can see, filing and storing data digitally can help tame information overload and ensure that all your information is safe, accessible and easy to find whenever you need it.

Christina Martinez is Triune’s Director of Marketing and Business Development. Christina brings over 10 years of high level marketing experience to Triune. Triune is a leading, integrated, design-build General Contractor founded in 1997. Triune is headquartered in Dallas, TX –

The Punch List is Triune’s proprietary blog for discussing issues and providing insight specific to the commercial construction industry. Copyright 2013 TMV, LLC (Triune). Any and all rights reserved.


How Can Small Contractors Develop Successful Strategic Alliances with Larger Ones? (Part 3)

How Can Small Contractors Develop Successful Strategic Alliances with Larger Ones? (Part 3)

You have an agreement, but have you dealt with the operational aspects?

By Vince Fudzie

This is the third and final part of a series that discusses what to consider in choosing a partner, what needs to be in your agreement and how the venture will operate.

As mentioned in the last posts, many joint venture agreements often neglect to incorporate operational details (i.e. how the venture will operate on a daily basis). Once a project begins, the parties simply start working on the project with little guidance other than the high-level legal jargon included in the joint venture agreement. Again, there are bound to be disputes on any agreed upon procedures. Your venture is likely to experience numerous, unnecessary bumps in the road.

The obvious way to avoid many of these bumps is by anticipating and agreeing on a plan of action before you encounter them. The more both parties can anticipate potential issues unique to construction ventures and agree in advance on how to handle them, the quicker they can be dealt with. For example, if the president of your partner’s company sticks his head into a preconstruction meeting for 15 minutes, is he able to charge his time to the project?

At a minimum, the following issues should be discussed for inclusion in a quasi-operating agreement that supplements the venture agreement. It doesn’t matter if it is a page of bullet points or a lengthy narrative, an operating agreement needs to be useful in guiding the decisions and actions of the venture.


  • What are the management powers of the parties?
  • What are the requirements for certain decisions (i.e. majority vs. unanimous)?
  • When and how will a party be liable to the other for acts or omissions?
  • What notice is required from the other party when an issue arises?

Disputes Resolution

  • Is there an informal means of resolving disputes?
  • Should operational activities continue even while in dispute?
  • What are the requirements of parties to keep disputes confidential?

Preconstruction and General Conditions

  • How will preconstruction costs be accounted for?
  • What costs will be included in general conditions?
  • What portion of employee burdens will be included in the job costs?
  • Will there be limits to employee related expenses such as computers, software, etc.?
  • Will home office overhead be allocated to the project?


  • What meetings do we need and what are the objectives?
  • Who will be required to attend a particular meeting?
  • What will be the frequency of the specific meetings?
  • Who will be responsible for taking meeting minutes?

Labor Distribution

  • What portion of the overall labor will be supplied by each party?
  • Will employees working on the project be evaluated by both parties?
  • What is the procedure for removing an underperforming employee?
  • If an employee is removed, should the replacement come from the same party?

Record Keeping

  • What books will be kept and by whom?
  • Who will have the right to access books and records?
  • How much time does the knowledgeable party have to answer related questions?
  • Who is responsible for submitting periodic reports to Federal and State governments?

I am sure that if you take a moment to think about potential issues, you will come up with many more; however, the issues noted are the one that typically come into play in our ventures.

Obviously, any legal document created by lawyers is going to include a number of other provisions that are needed in your agreement, but you should pay particularly close attention to the ones listed. As always, check with competent legal counsel before entering into any legally binding agreement.

Vince Fudzie MBA, CPA, CIRA, is the Managing Member of Triune. Founded in 1997 with headquarters in Dallas, Triune is a leading, integrated design-build, general contractor in the Southwest region of the country.

The Punch List is Triune’s proprietary blog for discussing issues and providing insights specific to the commercial construction industry. Copyright 2013 TMV, LLC (Triune). Any and all rights reserved.