Archives for Decisions

Differentiators

Have you given much thought to the impact that differentiators have in your business or your daily life? Those are the sometimes subtle, or sometimes ‘in-your face’ things, that help each of us to make decisions through-out the days and weeks ahead.

A differentiator might be the color of a dress or the pattern on a necktie so far as clothing goes.  It might be the sweep of a body panel on that new automobile, or the interior trim option that you just had to have.  Differentiators can either be subtle or ‘in-your-face’.

WFA Staffing relies on differentiators every day.

We seek out those differences between various candidates that make the choice of one versus another apparent.  At the same time, we rely on differences to break ties between candidates.  Whether you think about that or not, they likely are part of your decision-making process as well as ours.

  It is for this reason that we pay a lot of attention to meeting you, our customer, on your turf.

We want to get to know you and your business.  Every business has a different something about it that resonates, which sets it apart from all the others in that same business.  Our visits in the field tell us a lot about the types of candidates that will fare better for each organization.

We strive to better understand who you are and what your company is and that is an immense help as we screen candidates, a number of whom are likely to have the qualifications but one or two of whom are simply better-suited for your needs in our opinion.  That is the real ‘magic’ of this business if there is any magic to it.  This also helps us save you time; we have gone through the process of sifting and winnowing and arrived at those who best fit the needs.

Our staff has years of experience in this differentiating process.  Visits with you on your ground help us to hone in on just the right set of attributes in the numerous people we interview.  Most of this experience is subtle; it is simply the way we do our ‘thing’ since it has proved to be best for us and our clients (both employers and prospective employees).  You might not be able to place your finger on it, but it is there nonetheless.

We look forward to the next opportunity you provide us in which we can show you how differentiation works to your benefit, too.

 
Al Campbell

 

 

 

 

“Procrastination is the Thief of Time…”

This blog is about procrastination (I’d have done it earlier but something else came up).  Maybe a poor attempt at humor, but there is a factual basis for the statement. How many times can you think of when you had an unpleasant or difficult task to perform, and you found ‘reasons’ to put off that task?

procrastination-1Charles Dickens is quoted as having said:  “Procrastination is the thief of time”.

This is similar to holding a mirror in front of our face hoping to see someone else’s reflection.  We are all, at one time or another, more or less often, guilty of procrastinating.  Maybe one of your associates walks past your office and stops to talk about something.  Perhaps you see an interesting thing on the Internet and take the time then and there to review it.  You may even shuffle that vexing matter to the bottom of the ‘stack of things’ to do; maybe you have even shuffled it to the bottom before.  Maybe the chit chat at the coffee pot was particularly engaging this morning.

A blog on leaderchat.org laid out the steps one can take to overcome the issue of procrastination:

  1. Establish your objective.
  2. Define what you want to achieve in the order of importance of each task.
  3. Gather whatever information you will require in order to make a decision.
  4. Consider all the sensible options and then select the best of these.
  5. Finally, take action.

Getting payroll ready is a tapaper-office-procrastinationsk that has a defined end date.  There are steps that have to be taken sequentially in order to make that happen.  You need specific information to complete the task.  There are usually no options since there is one system to use, one date by which it needs to be done, and the usual elements of information such as hours worked, people placed, client positions filled, etc.

While this is a reasonably well-defined task, these same steps can be used in more free-form situations which might lack the definition of doing the payroll.

The more complicated the task, the more time it is likely to require.  That might well suggest that this task be placed at the top of your ‘to do’ list since it will take more time to complete and you’ll likely need to be ‘fresher’ to get it done.  You might also find that holding off on tasks you enjoy in order to complete the tasks that are more a burden works since you’re rewarding yourself for a job well done by having cleared a less desirable task from your list, and giving yourself the chance to go after a more enjoyable task.  It may also stand to reason that the less enjoyable task could well be the more important task.

We usually know when we are procrastinating.1216_procrastinating-stay-on-task_650x455

Procrastination once in a while may not be a bad thing, either.  It is sort of the forbidden fruit thing, so long as it does not become a habit.  Maybe we procrastinate occasionally by taking a walk and re-energizing ourselves.  That can have a great effect on attitude.

And, finally, by thinking about procrastinating, we might also find that we are serving others as their excuse to procrastinate by stopping to chat.  This is a beast that can be difficult to bring under control, but, as usual, simply concluding that you do procrastinate can go a long way toward curing yourself of the problem.

 

021_phixr     Alan Campbell, Account Executive

Trust Your Team

trust“A team is not a group of people who work together.  A team is a group of people who trust each other.”      Emmanuel Giavarini, Managerial Comm. Mgr. for a French Transportation System 

This quote attributed to the person identified above was found on her Facebook page and immediately made an impression on me.  I suspect it may have that same effect on other readers.

We, in business, work diligently to craft teams that perform at acceptable levels.  This is true almost without exception across all kinds of business organizations if the organization has more than one employee.  We tend to think about this in terms of the word ‘teamwork’; we are taught this from the time we can remember throughout our education.

Teamwork, teamwork, teamwork!

How often, if at all, do we translate teamwork into trust in each other?  When that is stated, it makes sense without much thought being given to it.  If we watch our favorite football team, we see that teamwork is obvious in the level of trust amongst the players.  There is a chemistry that is immediately recognizable.  The quarterback calls a play and everyone immediately knows what each of the other teammates will be doing during the coming action.  Each player trusts that each of the other members of the team will be doing exactly what is expected, where it is expected and when it is expected.  This is especially true in practice when there may not be an opposing team involved in trying to thwart the play.

trust-me

Do you trust each of your team members to be where they’re supposed to be. Are they doing what they’re supposed to be doing when they’re supposed to be doing it?

Of course you do since that is what it takes to produce consistent results.  This might be more easily observed in a manufacturing environment but it is equally as important in an office.

How often thotrust-e1400663980941ugh do we actually think of a team as being based on all the members knowing they can trust their other team mates?  If one member of the team doesn’t have implicit trust in each other member of that team, the team won’t function as well as it should. .  This is fairly easy to picture in a physical activity since there are physical actions that intertwine with the physical actions of the other team members.  Think of firefighters who instinctively know what every other person is going to be doing.

When we transfer this team trust concept to the office, it is potentially more difficult to picture. Thoughts are impossible to see.  Teammates know that there are things that need to happen but we are not necessarily able to see them happening.  We take it on faith that each step will occur as it needs to occur.

We trust each other; therefore we function as a team.  If that trust isn’t there, we do not function as well, if at all.  As the quote said,

A team is a group of people who trust each other.

021_phixr     Alan Campbell, Account Executive

 

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

New World of Social Media

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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.

 

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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

 

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

Silver Tsunami

happy-retirement-150x150We hear about the impact millennials (those typically with birth years from the early 1980’s to the early 2000’s) are having and will continue to have on the workforce.  But, there is another phenomenon that has been given the name “silver tsunami”, and that is the growing segment of employees nearing or at retirement age, and concerning just what impact the loss of that experience pool will have going forward.

Employers are faced with ‘silver tsunami’ issues such as who will retire and those who will want to continue working, and what those decisions will do to employee benefit practices for example.  If you haven’t given any thought to this, you might wish to engage your employee benefits broker or consultant to begin the planning for this possibility.

There is another very intriguing aspect to this ‘silver tsunami’ wave, and that centers in our world, the world of employment and recruitment.  ‘Silver tsunami’ workers have significant organizational wisdom that might be lost upon their retirement. Silver tsunami 34 There is also the intriguing potential for employers needing skilled talent no matter the age, to focus some recruiting efforts on the ‘silver tsunami’ group.

There are ‘supply issues’ in the current employee talent pool and you probably know that as well as we do.  There are simply too few qualified people available in certain fields to meet today’s demand.  The ‘silver tsunami’ group might provide part of the solution.  Recruiting in that pool may provide more talent and better availability if the attained age is not a problem for the hiring employer.

We need to review our recruiting practices to assure that we can find those who may have ‘aged out’ in one company while they still want and need to work.  A recent Society for Human Resource Management and Sloan Foundation survey found that 66% of HR professionals said their organizations now employ older workers who have retired from other organizations or careers.  Of those people being hired from that pool, 58% said they went to work after retirement because they enjoyed it and needed to find something to do with all the time they suddenly had available.  Another 45% said their reasons centered on health care benefits.

Obviously, millennials are very important, but we need to be reminded not to lose sight of the value to be found among those in the ‘silver tsunami’.

 

Tom Krist, President

Tom Krist

Politics as Usual

thGEO34GX5   As if you weren’t already aware, we are in the midst of a prolonged political season that already shows signs of deep emotional investment by people on both sides of the aisle.  Given 17 current presidential candidates in one party alone, there is plenty about which to disagree even in a single political party.  We have enough issues in our day-to-day business operations to keep us all on our toes without introducing something as potentially volatile as politics.

A Packer-Bear rivalry can sometimes be fun in a workplace environment because we seldom are as deeply committed to a football team as we can become to a particular politician.  Differing political views, while healthy and normal are simply not desirable for display in a work setting.

Many of us are very committed to our political party or candidate of choice and are active in those events and in supporting the candidates of our choosing.  Even then, we are wise to avoid politics in our respective businesses because that can lead to dysfunction.  And dysfunction is the opposite of what we all strive to create.

The staffing business is especially prone to these kinds of disagreements since our ‘product’ is people, and our customers are people and it is people who have political opinions.  If we were to display political banners or wear political buttons in the workplace, we’d likely lose a few candidates or customers if not more.  And we’d probably lose them for a long time since those memories stay with us for a long time.

So we, understandably, are more tuned in to this kind of thing but it can be just as concerning in a warehouse or on a factory floor or within a sales force.  There is more than enough in the normal course of things that can produce workplace angst without adding fuel to the mixture.

Now to work at practicing what has just been preached…

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Alan Campbell, Account Executive

To the Class of 2015- Attitude is your key to success

GraduationGraduation ceremonies are occurring or have recently occurred across our state and nation.  Many young men and women will walk away from high schools and colleges with diploma in hand.  Some will move on to the next higher step in education while others will have reached the point of seeking employment or marriage or both.

Employment is something with which our firm is intimately familiar; we are involved in that world daily.  We see the wants and needs of individuals and recognize that employment is among the keys to the satisfaction of those wants and needs.  We also are exposed to the wants and needs of employers and we learn daily from that exposure.

Regardless of the level of education attained, there are important criteria that determine, or help to determine, employability.  Employers seek some basic things in prospective employees almost without regard to the level of education attained.  Employers seek honesty, good judgement, a set of solid human values, and the willingness to work hard, be reliable and be able to perform the duties that are part of the position.  Employers expect that we will be at work on time, that we will do our level best every day, that we will be cheerful with others with whom we work; and, very importantly, that we will be conscious of what the customer expects.  All of these attributes are important no matter in what position we are working from the delivery driver to the company president, the receptionist to the surgeon.

Attitude is a simple thing, but it is a critical thing, too.  If our attitude is not what it should be, we will not be employed for very long…or we won’t be very successful in whatever it is that we’re doing.  Attitude is important regardless of one’s position in life.  With a good attitude, we attract people because they want to be around us.  With a bad attitude, we do the opposite; no one wants to be anywhere near us…and who could blame them?

Alan Campbell, Account Executive

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