~The Productivity Advisor~

Vacation- Casualty or Necessity?

Boss-at-the-beachA recent story by Gail Rosenblum in the Star Tribune (Minneapolis – St. Paul) highlighted an interesting set of statistics from a report originally titled “The State of American Vacation: How Vacation Became a Casualty of our Work Culture”.  That report queried more than 5,600 American workers (including some 1,200 managers) and was conducted by Project: Time Off.  Conclusions:

Fifty-five percent of the American workforce did not take did not use all its vacation time in 2015.

That represented the first time this report has found more than half of workers not using all their vacation time.  658 million vacation days were left unused and only 436 million of those were able to be ‘rolled over’ and used later or paid out.  222 million vacation days simply vanished.

Obviously there were hits to the economy as the result of vacation dollars not being spent but more significantly there were also hits to those not using their vacation time such as simply burning out at the job.  But there are more interesting statistics, too.  Half the group of those using all their vacation days included government employees and non-exempt employees who were paid hourly wages. The least likely to use all their vacation days were professional, white collar exempt employees.  The author wondered if they had the “out of sight, out-of-mind” kinds of thoughts driving their decisions.

Beach vacation

Many laid claim to finding their desks piled high with work left undone upon returning from vacation as the primary reason for not using any or all of their vacation time.  Others said that no one
else could do their job.  Still others expressed feeling guilty for taking vacation when co-workers didn’t take vacation. There is no doubt that we need our vacation time to recharge our batteries.  We need to be able to turn off the workplace and turn on the vacation time effectively rather than to be constantly worrying about what isn’t getting done, or what will be waiting upon our return.

If you have slipped into the mindset of not using all your time off, maybe you need to work to get out of that rut, because it is a rut that can be bad for you as well as being bad for your employer.  Some employers deal with that issue by closing their plant completely if they have that luxury.  Not many can afford to do that, though.

This is a mutual problem; it is a problem of prospective burn-out for the employee and of diminished results for the employer.

Maybe we each need to step back and take a long look at ourselves, and if we are the employer, at our employees and their habits so far as vacation time is concerned.

If you are an employer, have you looked at this kind of statistic?  If you are an employee, have you fallen into the rut of not taking all your time-off in favor of bumping up your income or simply not being ‘out of sight, therefore out of mind’?

 

Fred D'Amato

 

Fred D’Amato, President

Authenticity- Be yourself!

Be-yourself-in-a-worldAuthenticity is important.  Authenticity in interviews is very important.  What is authenticity?   How can we be authentic in interviews?  It is actually quite easy to define.

We define interview authenticity as you being you in the interview.

You are who you are. You have hair of a certain color; you are so many inches tall; you weigh so many pounds, you talk the way you talk, and your attitudes and experience are what they are.  That is the authentic you.  Authenticity is not something you can conjure up for specific occurrences such as an interview.  Too often, we have seen the situation where a person studies all he or she can about the company with which they are about to interview.  Is that a bad thing?  Absolutely not; you ought to learn as much as possible about your prospective employer before you interview.  But you should not try to be someone you are not and never have been.

Being authentic during the interview simply means that you act like yourself.

You don’t create some new version of yourself because you think that might work better for you during the interview.  You might be able to fool the interviewer once in a great while, but even then what have you gained?  The company thinks they have hired a person who doesn’t really exist.  You cannot be someone other than who you really are.  Actors and actresses play roles but that is only for the time they are onstage or in front of the camera.  You cannot play a role as an employee for 40 or more hours a week and for 50 weeks out of the year with two weeks of vacation to be your real self.

It is important tauthentic-self-picture-quotehat you be your real self during interviews.  That is how you achieve authenticity in the interview.  If the employer isn’t willing to hire the real you, then you are spared having to act the part of someone different for the rest of your career with that employer.  You know that would be impossible, but it is amazing how many times people who are seeking a new position are tempted to do just that.  There can be a lot of pressure to land that new job.  Bills are piling up; your spouse is counting on it; you need that ideal position to feel good about yourself.

But, no matter how rough the situation might be, do not fall into the trap of trying to act like a different person because you think that’ll get the offer to come your way.  It will almost always do just the opposite.  Even if that acting works once in a while, you would be miserable from the first day on.

Be yourself.  Walk the way you walk.  Talk the way you talk.  Tell the truth about your experience and education.  Act the way you’d want to be able to act if you were hired.  Be the real you; that is authenticity in the interview.

Tom Krist

 

 

Tom Krist, CEO

 

Congratulations to this year’s Future 50 class!

The MMAC’smmac_cosbe_future50_wisconsin_steel_tube Council of Small Business Executives (COSBE) has just made its decision about those companies that are on this year’s Future 50 list.  This is particularly important from our perspective since WFA Staffing was fortunate enough to make the Master Mettle level as a 3-year winner. The MMAC/COSBE began the Future 50 program to recognize the outstanding achievements of local, fast-growing entrepreneurs.  The Future 50 Program recognizes privately-owned companies in the seven-county region that have been in business for at least three years and have shown significant revenue and employment growth.

We note clients of WFA Staffing that have made the prestigious list of Future 50 honorees and recognize them for this accomplishment.  Those include the Kowal Investment Group, both a client and a provider of services to WFA Staffing,  Bliffert Lumber & Hardware,  Briohn Building Corporation,  BSI (3 year MM), General Plastics, and Innovative Signs.

Each of these 50 fine companies would, we’re sure, be very quick to recognize their team of employees and advisors as a significant part of their winning combination.  We at WFA Staffing take great pride in serving as members of the team of many area employers who seek out the best talent available for their hourly, salaried and executive teams.

We’d be proud to join as an advisor to your company, as well.

Tom Krist- CEO        Fred D’Amato- President

Tom Krist                 Fred D'Amato

 

Moving Forward Together

1913-Ford-Highland-Park-Plant-engine-installationThis quote from Henry Ford, a visionary and innovator in manufacturing and the automotive industry, caught my eye this morning.

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

Quotes that say so much in so few words are great.  Think of a marching band and think about the coordination of movement required to make it look so professional.  Think of a football team that can’t move the ball, isn’t it immediately apparent when there is someone not aligned with the rest of the group?

When we transfer that thinking to the production line, or the selling process, or the welding department or the grease and lube facility, we can see the merits of a well-orchestrated human element working in tandem with the equipment that goes along with each job.

Imagine the Project Manager losing focus on the need for all aspects of the project to be moving ahead in lockstep.  That would not yield a project being completed on time and on budget.  And it certainly wouldn’t create a happy customer.

Imagine the assembly line employee who misses a beat thus sending the whole line into shutdown.  That is not conducive to that “well-oiled machine” we all shoot for every time we undertake a job.

This simple concept is the most critical office machineof all the steps in any well-operating company no matter what the product or service of that company may be.  There is sometimes a tendency to focus on the stuff that seems more important when the really important aspects are that we are all on the same page at the same time and moving in the same direction each doing what we are responsible to do.

Another name for this coordination of efforts is teamwork.  We each have to be at the top of our game, with our minds focused on the important issues and we must be putting forth the effort required if we are to be part of the well-oiled machine we spoke of earlier.

 

 

021_phixrAlan Campbell, Account Executive

Your Role on the Team….

team 2“Sometimes a player’s greatest challenge is coming to grips with his role on the team.”      

 Scottie Pippen, Basketball player

This quotation really hits home for many of us, and it is important to think about it whether we are reacting to a change made by others or we are the person making the decision to announce a change.  Our role on the team is critical to both the team and the players.  There is usually only one point guard to set up the play on the court at a time and the point guard doesn’t always call the play.  The plays available are usually called by the coach from the bench.  Sometimes the defense requires that a subtle change be made in the play, and the point guard has the responsibility to both decide when and how that happens, and is held responsible for the decision’s timeliness as well as for the outcome.

Similarly, we are part of the team in our workplaces.  We may operate day-to-day quite independently but we are still part of a team, and we are accountable for doing our part in making the team successful.  We may well need to alter our game plan given occurrences in our world, but we do so knowing we are responsible for the outcome.  Unless we are exceptional, we will not always make the right call, or even if we do make the right call, it may not always work out.

It is important that we recognize that we are part of the team, and that the rest of team may be affected by some action we take on the spur of the moment.  We need to be aware of the impact our action will have on the team if it fails, just as we need to be sensitive to the feelings of the others on the team whether it fails or succeeds.

Sales people may not have the authority to alter pricing or promise more rapid delivery without conferring with their manager.  Their manager may not have the sole authority team 4team 3and might need to confer with his or her boss.  Production line workers have little leeway in how they perform their jobs for obvious reasons.

If we have been around for any time at all, we probably can think of situations where someone took the initiative and made a decision impacting the entire organization.  We might have had the experience where that was a bold but successful move.  Or, we might’ve watched as that decision caused significant problems for the team.

If we have any doubt about when and where we have authority to make calls to change the usual approach or pricing or promises made to clients/buyers, we know those decisions require the approval of our manager, who may also need the approval of his or her manager.  If we operate in a more autonomous working world, these kinds of uses of individual authority may well have been part of the initial hiring discussions.  Even then, we need to be sure we have a winning track record when we make such decisions.

Too many bad calls may get us benched or traded.  Team players are a valuable commodity to the company and to their fellow team members.

 

Fred D'Amato

Fred D’Amato, President

 

New World of Social Media

iStock_000048141232_Large

Chipotle has suffered for an extended period of time as health scares plagued it after several of its locations literally had to close their doors for a period of time.  The illnesses that appeared to have been contracted by Chipotle customers in those stores/restaurants were severe in many cases.  Of course, that caused the Chipotle chain to suffer whether there had been similar health scare issues or not. While that was happening, Chipotle also was Chipotlebecoming involved in another potential legal case involving social media.  An employee tweeted negative comments about Chipotle on Twitter and was subsequently terminated by the company.  A National Labor Relations judge has ruled that the termination was improper and ordered the former employee to be reinstated.  We don’t know what the comments were in a specific sense but it is becoming more and more obvious that employers need to be very careful, especially as they make their way through the new issues posed by social media.

The waters have been muddied.

What we thought was ironclad before is not necessarily being viewed in a similar manner in this ‘new world’ of social media.

drafting-employer-social-media-policies-350x431There appears to be a more lenient view of what is actually free speech and of what might be actionable language; if not more lenient, then certainly more problematic as the social media world’s issues are further legally defined.

The Chipotle example, at the least, lets employers know there needs be some further thought given to reprimands that might be considered, especially where social media is involved.  This might well prove to be a topic worthy of some legal review expenditures if there are unresolved issues in your workplace that involve social media.

The phrase ‘cut and dried’ does not appear to apply to the legal environment surrounding social media and its use/abuse in the workplace.  It is, in these kinds of cases, better to be wary than sorry as we watch the new social media world unfold and take shape.  It is certainly a double-edged sword.  While it probably goes without saying, we’ll say it to be safe:  contact your legal counsel and be sure you are in the proper and defensible place with regard to social media policy in your organization.

 

021_phixr

Alan Campbell, Account Executive

The Early Bird Gets the Talent…

your hired'

Hire early for best results.  This seems a recurring theme for a WFA Staffing Blog, but that is the case for a reason:  there is a shortage of qualified people seeking positions as has been the case off and on for the past year.  We find candidates who have interviewed and made favorable impressions not being available any longer after a wait of only a week to ten days.  This seems more and more to be the ‘new normal’.  Frankly, we had expected this to be a passing phenomenon since we have seen that pattern before, but this seems to be more widespread and of longer duration than we’ve experienced in a long time.So consider a new hiring strategy…

If there is one message that seems to be apparent, it is this:  when you find a qualified person who seems to be a great fit for your organization, you may want to consider expediting your normal hiring timeline.  The chances are increasing that this person may no longer be available when you decide to pull the trigger.  That has happened to us several times very recently.

As we stated at the beginning of this blog, what has been the case in select categories now appears to be the case almost across the board.  Obviously, those positions with stiffer qualification and experience requirements might remain open for a bit longer, but the qualified candidates for those higher level positions seem to also have more choices.

The early bird indeed is coming away with the deal.

Talent is in the driver’s seat today and the talent we see does not seem hesitant to make life-altering decisions very quickly when the ‘right person and the right employer’ find each other.  Consider free agency; the top athletes usually receive immediate offers and are not left ‘on the market’ very long.  It is the wise employer who recognizes this market and alters the process accordingly in order to bring the right people on board.

As always, we are here to help and part of that help in today’s market is the advice you have just read.  If we seem to be pushing a bit, please understand that we are trying to help you avoid being disappointed.  Open positions, or under-performing employees, are costly to any business.

Fred D'Amato

Fred D’Amato, President

 

Habits – Are they good or bad?

habits-wordle1Habits come in all varieties, but we tend to think of ‘bad’ habits whenever the word ‘habit’ is mentioned.  Maybe that is natural from childhood on through adulthood.  Maybe we were admonished so often as youngsters that we see the word as having a bad connotation.

Habits are defined as: a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.

Even this definition of a habit is tinged with the stigma that a habit is usually bad.  But, that is far from reality.  If you have the habit of smoking you probably realize that is, by definition, a bad habit.  But, if you have turned that habit into a habit of no longer smoking, then you have traded a bad habit for a good habit; maybe that is chewing gum.  But be sure you don’t have the habit of loudly chewing your gum.

We often become creatures of habit, and we do not always recognize that in ourselves.  We tend to go to the same restaurants and we might have a habit of ordering the same dish since we’ve developed a liking for it.  We patronize the same gas stations.  We watch the same TV shows.  We have a favored news program that has become a habit.  We have a favored theatre.  We have a favored meal.  We have a favorite kind of music.  We may even have a favorite Bible verse.

In the workplace, habits, even good habits, can be the source of irritation for our associates.  Have you ever tired of the person who slurps her soup at lunchtime?  Do you annoy others with the tune you habitually hum?  Do you always begin a conversation with the same opening line?  Are you constantly clearing your throat?

The most innocent thing we do might be the source of irritation for others without us even recognizing that.

It is, unfortunately, usually easier for us to identify the bad habits of others than it is to identify habits we have that bother others.  It takes a very good friend, a kind-hearted person, to help us see those kinds of things about ourselves.

When we demonstrate that we can take a bit of criticism without ‘losing it’, we have taken a huge step toward being a better associate.

Habinew-habitsts during employment interviews can make or break the interview.  A good habit played to excess will be as damaging as a bad habit displayed during the interview in your job search.  A good friend can be an excellent source of constructive criticism…if we are confident enough to make that request and to handle the resulting discussion positively.

 

 

021_phixr

Alan Campbell, Account Executive

Planning your day to make every moment count

plan your day 2The well-known ‘philosopher’, Oprah Winfrey made this observation:  “Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.”

We tend to think of time in larger chunks than moments.  In fact, we most often think of time in days or weeks or even months.  I don’t remember the last time I thought: Wow.  That was a great moment!  I know I have done that, but not very often.

How would we do in our day-to-day lives if we were to be more conscious of smaller increments of time?  After all, time is limited for each of us.

Many of us watched the last Packer game of this season, and recognize that it was made up of moments; some of those moments are ones which we wish dearly could be re-done.  Of course that is not possible no matter how much we wish it were.

When we consciously recognize that time is a commodity that is limited and that can never be recovered, no matter how we might wish that were so, we can begin to cherish the moment, and we can begin to wring as much good frhourglassom that moment as is humanly possible.

I believe this is what Ms. Winfrey was implying since it is almost impossible to break time down into moments.  Maybe, if we focus on our daily calendars and try to step back for self-analysis each hour, we would find that we are managing time better than before.  Maybe if we plan out increments of time for specific tasks, we could be better stewards of our time.  Maybe planning what we are going to do with each hour, or even planning what we need to accomplish in the morning would be an improvement for us.

What would you do with an ‘extra’ hour each day?

 

Tom Krist, CEO

Tom Krist

 

New Year’s Resolution: Daily Planning

The New Year is Happy New Yearat the same time a bit of a mystery and an enticing possibility.  We have completed the old year even if there are a few things still hanging on from that period.  We are gearing up for the exciting next twelve months.  There is an aura of excitement over the unknown.

If you are like most people, you are making, or have made, your high level plans for 2016.  Those plans would be for the big things you see or hope for in your 2016.  Maybe they include the next vacation location or seeing a child off to a particular college.  Maybe you feel you are due for a different/newer vehicle in 2016.  Maybe you are even thinking of searching out a ‘better job’ which might mean simply a different boss, or better pay or even a position in a different city.

It is easier for most of us to make these high level plans than it is to make the detailed plans that week-by-week will get you to the place your high level plan calls for, and you are not alone.   Too often it is easier to dream the big dream than it is to deal with the realities that each day and each week bring with them.

We create problems for ourselves if we only do the big dreaming and never quite get down to the plan for today and tomorrow and next week.  We too often fall victim to the excitement and joy of the big plans instead of dealing with the day-to-day.

It is wonderful to have the big plan…but it is essential to have that daily plan, that plan that gets you from Monday to Friday with the accomplishments of each day upon which to build.   We need both the dream of the future as well as the plan for today and for this week and for this month.  And, we need for those to be properly aligned with one and other.  Today comes before next month.  And next month comes before the vacation you have planned.

Plans are important so long as they are workable.  Planning has to include a decided dose of reality if it is to be a successful plan.  We put twelve months into last year; each of the days came in the order they were shown on the calendar.  In order to be successful for the year, we need to string a lot of successful days together.  That sounds like a tough task but it is much easier since we can deal with today without worrying about next week or next month.

If we have a bad today, we can plan for a better tomorrow.  We have a whole New Year ahead of us, but we are in much better shape if we take that New Year one day at a time and get the most possible from each day.

 

Tom Krist, CEO

Tom Krist