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FOXCONN IMPACT

Foxconn has become virtually a household name in our part of the country given its decision to build a new complex in S.E. Wisconsin.

We have all heard much about the Foxconn deal so far.  We’ll be talking about the impacts, both good and not-so-good, for some time to come.  There is, of course, that distant nagging doubt that this all seems too good to be true.  After all, there is at least one other example where Foxconn left an area after a brief time given that it couldn’t get to agreement with which it was comfortable.

All indicators are that Wisconsin, with some $3 Billion in subsidies provided over the period of the agreement and the S.E. Wisconsin area land owners have been very obliging; and, that this is as real as it can be before the campus sprouts.  Average wage earned may be be some $52,000 per job, and some 13,000 people are being and will be hired as this all comes to fruition.  At full staffing and that average per employee, this will generate $676 Million dollars of wages paid per year.

The economic boost for the area, as well as the state, is almost beyond comprehension.

Its impact on other businesses will be mixed.  Some will benefit significantly whiles others may be threatened.  Inflation may be at a higher rate in S.E Wisconsin than elsewhere given the stimulus by Foxconn.  This has the earmarks of the classic double-edge sword.  It will obviously be a great thing for many.  But, it may have a different impact on many others.

For example, the additional spendable income will boost the retail sector, will likely cause a bit of a housing boom given new workers coming to the area, and will help area merchants gain a leg up.  Simultaneously, or very nearly, the impact of wage increases, etc. will trickle down and impact other employers.  Some skill sets will become much more difficult to find and the costs for those available will likely increase more quickly than had been anticipated.

Public facilities, schools included, will begin to seem too small.  Police and fire organizations will need to be increased quickly to stay abreast of the population increases.  Educational institutions will be adding space and courses to support the near-term needs.  Transportation capacities may be reached considerably sooner than had originally been thought when those were designed and constructed.  For example, Project Superintendents have been “scarce as hen’s teeth” and the newly expanding demand likely will cause further disruption in that area.

There will be a ‘ripple effect’ and it will be felt throughout S.E. Wisconsin and Northern Illinois.  The increased demand will probably spur migration of various skillsets to this area.  Other skillsets will simply become very difficult to locate and hire, and thus those costs will increase.

If you are about to expand staff or think you’ll need to do so, beginning that process sooner rather than later would seem to be wise.
Al Campbell

 

 

Challenges of a shrinking workforce…

There is a shrinking workforce in Wisconsin and a recent BizTimes publication highlighted that fact.

WFA Staffing is in the business of locating qualified talent for our client employers, and have been doing that for a long time.  We know the difficulties in searches since we live it day-in and day-out.   Our recruiting staff has come to understand which searches will require a longer time frame, and we have had the opportunity to see what the going rates are in some of the toughest recruiting categories.

WFA views ourselves as partners with our client employers.  Our company has always thought in those terms and we find that many of our client employers are also thinking along these lines.  Our seasoned staff can help employers gain a feel for what timespans ought to be planned for in recruiting.  They can also advise on going rates for the talent being sought.  We know that some positions will simply be tougher to fill. We also want to be open with our clients in that regard.

Frankly, if you are not having those same discussions with our competitors, you might want to give us a call.

We are all looking for the right talent at the right price.

That may sound a bit crass but that is often the name of the game in today’s market.  Especially in certain sectors of employment, available people are in very short supply.  Even though it might be tempting, we do not reach out to former employees whom we have placed.  That is simply not the way we choose to operate.

Given the shrinking workforce, we have had discussions with good long-term clients who are re-thinking their staffing plans. Some are even at the point of relaxing their standards a bit just to be able to continue to serve their clients.  Gone are the days when an employee performing at 80% of requirements could be released.    Finding a good replacement in a few weeks, no longer is an option, at least in certain categories of positions.

Another critical aspect adding to this shortage of talent quite frankly is the numbers of candidates who fail the requisite drug tests.  That seems to be an increasing issue rather than simply being better some months and worse other months.

The laws of supply and demand are active in today’s marketplace.

 

The skill sets in greatest demand carry the highest costs but will also deliver profits in return.  Profits don’t flow if product quality or service is degraded, or if delivery times stretch out to untenable lengths of time for customers.

If you know you’ll have needs over the next few months, please let us know what those are likely to be so that we can be aware and get those wants into our system soon.  A new hire a week or two early is far better than a new hire a week or two or more too late.

Fred D'Amato

 

Fred D’Amato, President

 

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

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

 

The Early Bird Gets the Talent…

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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

 

Exciting Management Changes at WFA Staffing

wfa partners“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity…”  There truly is a time for everything and that includes the passing of the title of President from one person to another.  The time for that to happen is when it does not need to be done, when there is not some pressing situation or condition that mandates such action.  We determined that the time for this in our organization was now!

While we have achieved remarkable growth in the past ten years we felt it was time to strengthen our senior management team by adding a new President.  Our ideal candidate would have over 10 years of experience in the staffing business with proven results.  They must also be forward-thinking and a great manager of people who can keep our great culture while continuing our growth and excellent performance.  We could have looked outside for this person but fortunately, he sat in the next office.

I have been President of WFA Staffing and Fred D’Amato has served as Vice President for many years.  We have both been very active with our clients as well as in the community in general, and are both tied to WFA Staffing in the minds of all of our customers and many of our prospective customers.  Along with our CFO Todd Strehlow, we have participated in building WFA Staffing and in guiding it to where it is currently positioned.  We have a great staff and we all get along well with our team.

Fred D’Amato has officially been elected President of WFA Staffing and I have been elected to serve as the Chief Executive Officer or CEO if you prefer. Todd Strehlow will continue to guide our financial growth as our Chief Financial Officer.   I plan to continue my work here at WFA for a long time to come.

For our employees, nothing much will change since we’ll both continue doing what we’ve been doing with whatever modifications seem appropriate going into the future.  There may well be new opportunities for our staff members as we determine what WFA will look like going into the future.  There may be candidates for increasing responsibility in our midst just waiting for the opportunity to show their capabilities.  After all, Fred will be looking for HIS own ’Fred’ .

For our clients, nothing much will change either.  We each will handle the clients we’ve handled and Fred will become intimately familiar with the clients I have largely served in the past.  Our intent is to make this transition as seamless as possible.  I truly enjoy what I do as I have met many wonderful people through the years.  I look forward to enjoying my client relationships and growing our business here at WFA with Fred, Todd and the rest of our awesome staff for many years to come.

Tom Krist, CEO

Tom Krist

Is it time to shorten your hiring process?

Help wanted Our last WFA Blog dealt with what is being called the ‘Silver Tsunami’ and the impact that is having on employers as retirements take valued skill sets off the market.  The State of Wisconsin has released its latest figures showing a total of more than 94,000 open positions across Wisconsin at this time.  This includes all types of positions.  That is coupled with a relatively low unemployment rate of 4.4% in Wisconsin again across all types of positions.

We have seen a lengthening of the recruiting process in our world, and we have seen a near-critical shortage of available candidates in certain specialized areas of employment.  The indication is that this tight market may continue for some time to come, especially in certain specialized areas of employment.  Given this somewhat unique employment environment, we offer some thoughts about how employers might avoid having open positions for long periods of time:

First, the days of having ample time to think about making an offer seem to be drawing to a close in many sectors.  There are segments of the workforce where offers are now being seen at the time of the initial interview or very soon after that point.  That is occurring in most sectors of employment even including certain of the more highly skilled positions, which is a bit unusual, and seems driven generally by the sparsity of candidates.

If you are able, when you see a good candidate, you may need to make a decision, at least by the following day or two.  If you are able, you may find it beneficial to think of extending an offer to Job offera candidate that has 80-90% of what you seek where you might’ve delayed prior to this time thinking you’d see a better candidate soon.  The decision can be likened to a Hobson’s choice of “taking what is available or nothing at all” as that term is defined.  Neither is particularly good but one is probably better than the other in any given situation.  You are the only one who can make that decision.  We’ll continue to seek the best candidates for each job order.

 

Tom Krist, President

Tom Krist

Interesting Times…

 

imagesThe business of finding talent has gotten considerably more difficult of late, and it does not appear that will resolve anytime soon based upon what we see locally and nationally.

With that reality upon us all, there are things prospective employers need to consider.  In some cases, if the desired talent and experience can be located, more money may solve the dilemma but the “more” may be a significant amount given the demand in certain sectors of employment.  There is a distinct shortage of high level, broadly experienced talent.  This may be a time when some decisions need to be made.

Does my company really require a top level person with tons of experience, or is this the time for my company to think about bringing on board a quality person who might not have quite the level of experience we’d love?  Would operating short-handed be better or worse than waiting for, or paying more for the right person?

There is a cost to be paid for not filling positions just as there is a cost to be paid for providing some OJT, but while providing the OJT your company will be gaining the benefit of that employee’s production or sales.  Will every one of those people who were hired with a bit less experience or a bit less education than desired be long term employees?  Maybe not, but they will have contributed something even while you were deciding if they were ‘keepers’ or not.  You may have to refine the training process or the score-keeping process or both.  And you will need to be willing to pull the trigger on termination decisions if that is required; and, that isn’t always an easy thing to do.

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On the other side of the coin there are also the intangible feelings of loyalty that may be created within the person who was given the opportunity to learn on-the-job that might not otherwise be present.   If you are fully staffed or nearly so, you have the opportunity to work through these tight hiring periods.  If you are short-staffed, you are probably going to suffer on production or sales or both and that can’t be offset.

 

Interesting times indeed.

Alan Campbell, Account Executive

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