Archives for wfastaffing

Race Together or NO?

Starbucks_Annual_Meeting.JPEG-05ce9_c0-298-4548-2948_s326x190Should an employer encourage or discourage political/social viewpoint discussions between employees and customers?

Likely for the majority of us employers, the answer to this question would be a resounding no to such a thought about political or social position discussions between employees and customers especially if those were prompted by the employee.

There is a major employer with a very well-known name that is actually encouraging such activity…Starbucks.  Starbucks’ baristas are being encouraged to write some social/political comment on each cup as it is being prepared for the customer.  This is apparently in the interest, from Starbuck’s viewpoint, of provoking discussion and/or thought on the part of its customers.

This is probably going to prove to be a short-lived and seldom adopted ‘trend’ no matter what the outcome is for Starbucks.  Not many of us employers would encourage any action by an employee that would have the potential for disrupting a client relationship.  As a matter of fact, we would far more often be seeking to quell anything of this nature if we learned it was happening.

There is also the significant potential for employees to have differing opinions especially on the subject of politics.  Most employers do not engage in a ‘litmus test’ of political views as part of the hiring process for good reason.  That is not something that is usually felt to be within the purview of an employer except possibly for an employer that is somehow involved in a campaign for a political candidate.

Starbucks has admittedly been a leader in the business it has chosen to be in, and it has a certain culture about it that might handle such comments well.  Most of the employers we know are very much tuned in to not becoming involved in things that do not relate to product or service delivery.  That can help to keep the workplace a more comfortable and argument-free place with one mission: creating profit for the employer through delivery of great service and great product.

We’ll not soon be mimicking Starbucks…except in the arena of solid customer service.  But we will stay tuned into the results of this Starbucks campaign.

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Alan Campbell, Account Manager

What Do the Wal-Mart Pay Hikes Mean For Us?

walmartWal-Mart has taken a position on the minimum wage by setting its own minimum wage.  Wal-Mart says it will increase its minimum wage to at least $9.00 per hour by April and to at least $10.00 per hour by February of 2016.   This will affect some 500,000 Wal-Mart associates.  It is a big step for the 48-year old CEO, Doug McMillon, who states that he believes this move will help to improve customer service; McMillon earlier said he thought this had slipped across the Wal-Mart universe based on results and on his surprise store visits.

What is this likely to mean for all the rest of us employers?  There may be some downward availability of temporary labor that could drive that cost up at least in the short term. We do not expect this action to materially impact the bulk of our client employers.  Wal-Mart’s competitors will have to decide if they will follow the leader.  Stockholders are already registering some concern over this move; it will be interesting to track the price of Wal-Mart shares over the next few months.  Wal-Mart shares dropped 3.2% on the announcement.

In the world that WFA Staffing and its client employers occupy, the Wal-Mart move is probably more ‘water-cooler’ talk than anything else.  Things are not likely to change much, if at all, except for the large box retailers…and it may not change much for them either.

For the customers that patronize Wal-Mart, there may be an improvement in customer service although that is difficult for anyone to accurately assess.  The result will be shown over time as Wal-Mart posts sales numbers and profit numbers.  The profitability of a large box retailer that raises its labor cost may lag as the company takes the hit that the increased expense will cause.  Any sales increase will probably be more gradual and any profit increase will be slower yet.

It is difficult to see how Wal-Mart will be able to avoid raising prices through an increase in sales volume since that would likely only happen gradually.  There is also the question of what the reaction of the major competitors of Wal-Mart will look like.  If they choose not to follow suit, they might eke out a more apparent pricing advantage.

It might well be that Wal-Mart will find at least some of this extra money by driving even harder bargains with its suppliers.  That is not an unusual approach for this company.  The reality for many of those suppliers is simple; they are very dependent upon the volume they do with Wal-Mart, and consequently do not have much leverage over the retail giant.  When Wal-Mart hollers “jump”, they do their best to clear the new hurdle…or they suffer the loss of business that might threaten their existence if they do not have substantial bank balances.

In the meantime, WFA Staffing will continue to work to earn your business by fulfilling your staffing needs with good people at competitive prices.

 

Alan Campbell, Account Manager

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Employment Equation

02d06a5  “The strongest pace of job growth we’ve seen since 1997” was the statement recently attributed to Paul Ashworth, the chief U.S. economist with Capitol Economics.  The U.S. Labor Department advised that employers added 257,000 new jobs in January, 2015 besting the forecast of 228,000.  Job growth estimates in November, 2014 were upwardly revised to 423,000, the most in 17 years.  December job growth estimates were increased to 329,000 up from the original estimate of 252,000.

There was a slight increase in average hourly earnings of $0.12 per hour in January, 2015 and that suggests the labor market is tightening.  What does all this mean for you and for us?  It may well mean that our job of finding the talent you need is going to get a bit more difficult, and it might mean that the talent we are able to locate will expect a bit more money in hourly wage or salary.  Predictions are that wage growth will continue into 2015, and that this is likely to show itself across all sectors.

You and we all have been here before.  When jobs are plentiful and labor is tight, the cost of new employees rises while the supply is obviously diminished.  When workers are more plentiful, the cost of employees holds steady or reduces.  We usually think of an expanding economy as being good for most of us, and that is our feeling with today’s news.

We’d rather participate in a growing economy and most of our client employers would prefer that as well.  If you are seeking a better job, give us a chance to help you with that search.  This is a great time to be seeking to improve your situation.  If you are seeking to add employees, this is also a great time since employees recognize this is a better job search market than they have seen for several years.

If you expect to need more employees, this is a good time to begin that search.  If you would like to confidentially explore the market for a new position, this is a good time to begin that effort, too.  We are ‘matchmakers’ and we are good at it.  We have had a lot of experience on both sides of this equation.

Let us hear from you.

Alan Campbell,  Account Manager

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Supporting our veterans…

FullSizeRender6This past Friday  we at WFA were blessed to be able to support Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.  Stars and Stripes Honor Flight honors all veterans by flying WWII, Korean War and terminally ill veterans from other conflicts to Washington, DC to visit their memorials. They actively promote educational aspects of this mission in our schools and our communities. The Greatest Generation is slowly fading away, and Stars and Stripes Honor Flight has pledged to celebrate each and every remaining WWII and Korean War hero before it is too late. This is their mission.

FullSizeRender                        FullSizeRender4Stars and Stripes Honors Flight: Bringing SE Wisconsin’s WWII and Korean War Veterans to DC–With Honor. Donate now at: www.starsandstripeshonorflight.org

Good News/Bad News

goodGreat news!  The economy continues to improve and unemployment has gone down to 5.6%!  That ‘great news’ also brings a potential downside where WFA Staffing can help.    Unemployment standing at 5.6% means much of the formerly available talent is likely already employed.  That can limit the number of people you might be able to interest in your direct ‘help wanted’ advertisements, and that hits you at the very time your business is picking up and your need for new people is critical.

We can help with this ‘good news can be bad news’ situation.  We understand the needs of employers and have worked on delivering qualified talent for many years.  Those years have seen high unemployment as well as low unemployment.  Interestingly, we find that our business, the business of recruiting talent, isn’t necessarily adversely affected by these swings.

The growing economy helps to create an awareness in many of the already employed that there might be a more desirable position available given business expansion, and that helps us recruit some talented and experienced people that otherwise wouldn’t be in the marketplace.

The growing economy also helps by getting currently unemployed or under-employed people thinking that they might be able to find a better job even though they might’ve given up on that during the past year or two.  We find some very good people in this group who have simply become demoralized and given up searching.  They often blossom very quickly into some of the best people an employer could ask for.

We have ‘staffing’ in our name for a reason.  Give us a call.  We can help make ‘great news’ even better!

 

Tom Krist, President

Tom Krist

Farewell to 2014!

Creative-2015-new-year-background-material-set-07As we approach the end of the current year, we are reminded of the many friends we have made while working with and for each of our client companies, as well as with and for those whom we’ve recruited and with whom we’ve maintained a friendship.

Our business is a ‘people’ business and we never want to lose sight of that. Without our clients, we’d not be able to be in business. Without our staff members, we’d not be able to be in business. Without those who have come to us for positions, we’d have not been able to be in business.

We take this time as the New Year approaches to thank everyone who falls into one of those categories…and we sincerely look forward to that group of people being significantly larger next year at this same time.

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Our prayer for all is simple: may you find peace and comfort; may you be loved and may you love; may you have good health and good friends; and may you have hopes and dreams, for without those this can be a dreary world.

We bid a fond farewell to 2014 and we look ahead to an exciting and rewarding 2015.

Again, thanks to all those who’ve made this a great year for WFA Staffing!

 

Tom Krist – President

Tom Krist

Solving the Affordable Care Act Puzzle

Affordable Care Act Puzzle b

Four and one-half years after its passage, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obama Care as some prefer, still raises a lot of questions from employers.  We in the staffing industry have had our own unique questions and WFA Staffing has managed to solve that puzzle for itself and for its client companies.

The basics are these:

  • Businesses of 100 or more active full-time equivalent employees must be insuring their employees by this coming January 1st.
  • Businesses of 50-99 full time equivalent employees have until January 1, 2016 to be in compliance.
  • Businesses of less than 50 full time equivalent employees are not required to provide insurance for their workers.

Employers who have variable hour employees have the most difficult time in determining which is a full time equivalent.  Those with this issue are well-advised to contact a qualified health insurance broker for help in making that determination.

Pricing of health plans has so far been reasonably stable.  It is feared that with the ACA law dropping some of the protections for insurance companies as of January 1, 2017 this could cause a spike of significance in premium rates.  Those protections were written into the law to keep insurers from being hit with large losses given the elimination of health questionnaires and given the fact that all comers had to be provided with insurance.  The artificial stop loss and reinsurance protections go away at the end of 2016.

Knowledgeable sources have projected that this change in the law will account for as much as a 96% increase in single rates and 46% for family rates in 2017.

There is much remaining to be seen so far as the ACA is concerned but for now at least health insurance protection is available to anyone regardless of past or current health and at what pass for reasonable prices.

Todd Strehlow- CFO

Todd Strehlow

Whatever Happened to the Suggestion Box?

is_there_an_idea_under_your_hat

Have you ever seen or heard something that triggered a great idea? Maybe it was something totally unrelated to your business or to the issue you were wrestling with in your subconscious. But it was that one thing that made a crystal clear impression…and from which you were able to proceed to solve the other issue.

This quotation attributed to the American Poet, Mark Van Doren caught my attention:

“Bring ideas in and entertain them royally, for one of them may be the king.”

It is all too easy in our day-to-day business lives to skip over what might be solid ideas as we move from solving one problem to the next. We stop every once in a while to take some time to simply think, but then all too quickly we move on to the next item on our agenda.

What would happen if we asked our team members to write down ideas as those come to them, and then to bring those to the next staff meeting? Even better what if we gave them the opportunity to set their idea to writing and place it in an “Idea Box” created for your place of business. I suspect that if we gave just one public thank you for a good idea, we would find more and more good ideas being submitted.

As we do this, we do need to keep in mind that every idea submitted must be acknowledged privately by the team leader. If the idea is good ‘as is’ or becomes good with a little further thought, the person originating the idea should be rewarded in some way.

Imagine how much you will have helped the morale of your team as you take the time to discuss their ideas in an earnest manner that makes them happy to be on a contributor to your team, even if the idea didn’t earn them an award. The ‘award’ of being listened to and recognized as a valued, contributing team member will have been reward enough.

Al Campbell Pic

Al Campbell

You Don’t Need a “YES” Man

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This quote from a famous ‘name’ jumped out at me and provoked some serious thought:

When two men in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary.
~ William Wrigley Jr.

What struck me was the opposite of what the quotation was telling us.  If we never have competing opinions in our businesses would we be as successful as we could be?  It is so often the differences of opinion that help us to refine our ideas.

There are companies where all employees bow to the positions of the leader of the firm.  How much more successful could those firms become if there were some discussion, at least, about how best to proceed.  Before that healthy internal dialogue can exist, we who lead our companies need to make known that discussion is valued, and that disagreement is not always unhealthy so long as the disagreement is constructive and not destructive.

In the final analysis the boss must make the decisions about the major directions of the company, but wouldn’t it be better if there were healthy discussion, both pro and con, on these decision points before they are made official?  If our employees feel comfortable in expressing somewhat opposing points of view, is that not a better environment than blind obedience?

It takes self-confident person to be able to place an idea on the table and to then invite constructive criticism, but that person is a much more adept leader for being willing to expose his or her ideas to that constructive criticism.  If we don’t get that criticism, maybe we need to step back and apply some introspection.

 

Tom Krist – President

Tom Krist

 

 

Experience VS Pay

Experience VS Pay

We find the following quotation to be a truism in our business for it is the experience gained that hones the skills that lead to a better income for virtually all of us:

In the business world, everyone is paid in two coins: cash and experience. Take the experience first; the cash will come later. ~Harold Geneen

Our business is obviously that of finding the right people with the right skills and the right experience at the right price for the position we have been hired to fill by the employer-client.  That is anything but an easy job, especially if the person being recruited has a differing set of expectations than those we’re seeking in the ideal recruit.

Obviously we are between the proverbial rock and hard place if either the employer-client or the employee-candidate is not willing to accept the going price; that happens but it doesn’t happen as often as you might expect.

Among the reasons for that are the experience we have in this business.  We earned our experience the hard way; we worked at it, had the necessary disappointments along the way and got better and better at the business we chose to be involved with until we reached today.  We have many employer-clients with whom we’ve worked for years and we are thankful for those long-term relationships.

We are always interviewing new prospective placements and we are always anxious to interview, and be interviewed by, prospective new employer-clients.  If you are an employer in need of good people with the skill sets you require, we’d be proud to work for and with you.  We work in good faith rather than on retainer so we meet your needs or you bear no cost for our services.  We know that we need to perform well for you if we expect to have you as a repeat employer-client.  We recognize that if we do that repeatedly, your company might just be another of those employer-clients with whom we work regularly.  That would be good for us both, but we know that it is on us to earn that privilege.

 

Tom Krist – President

Tom Krist