Archive for February, 2015

The lay-off is done and you’ve had a meeting with the remaining staff. Together you have formed a game plan on how to spread the workload evenly and get things moving in a positive direction. What you may find out though, while the lay-off eased the financial strain, you’re still going to need an extra pair of hands from time to time.

Employees will take vacations. A large order or project comes in that needs a quick turn-a-round. This doesn’t mean you have to hire anyone either. The use of staffing agencies, like Clear Choice Staffing Solutions, for temporary workers has become a significant part of companies around the world. In this two-part series, we are going to cover both the pros and the cons of temporary help.

Don’t Need A Kelly-Girl?

Did you know that certain times of the year, there are as many as 2 million people on the job market in the temporary environment?   The first agency was opened in 1946 by William Russell Kelly, known today as Kelly Services. They created the image of the “Kelly Girl” with a clerical look.

Today though, Clear Choice Staffing Solutions doesn’t just provide clerical and secretary type temps. The temp field of work consists of many other jobs like accountants and assembly-line workers. Even doctors and nurses, lawyers and scientist fields have temporary workers today.

Would A Temp Benefit Your Business? 

After reading our segment on the pros of hiring a temp, you may be surprised to realize that you should have had one all along. Or maybe you don’t need one now, but you may keep this information at hand and think about it sometime down the road.

After the lay-off, a temp placement will enable you to adjust the workload easier and faster. Here at Clear Choice Staffing Solutions, we provide quality candidates for your business. Some of the most common reasons we here a temp is needed are:

Short Term Absence: Sick Days and Vacations.
Long Term Absence: Disability and Maternity
Abrupt Departure
Large Orders or Special projects
Peak and Seasonal Periods

 

Today – The Pros Of Hiring Temp Hires

Flexibility
Flexible days and hours are becoming more and more popular for businesses because it allows them to staff only when necessary.  It allows you company to be more efficient, improve productivity and enhances your bottom line.

Commitment Not Needed
By going through Clear Choice Staffing Solutions, you can evaluate a quality candidate without be committed to long term relationship. You determine if you need them long term or short term, full time or part time. Hiring a temp allows you test them out and see if they are what you’re looking for an needing.  

Save Money And Time
By hiring a temp, you won’t need to go through the background check and employment verification. Here at Clear Choice Staffing Solutions, we do all that for you. If that isn’t enough to convince you, then consider the time interviewing takes.  We also take on all the other expenses like payroll, withholding taxes, unemployment and workers’ comp insurance. There is also the burden on the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. It is up to us to have health insurance offered to the temps we place.

Specialized Skills Of Temps Vary 
You’d be hard pressed to find an industry that doesn’t have a temp worker or could use one. At one time, temp workers were for the lower-skill jobs. However, today’s temp worker is often highly skilled with various levels of education and experience.  These are the employees that are great for critical projects where time is valuable.

A Long-Term Relationship Is Possible
It is important to establish a relationship with a staffing agency like Clear Choice Staffing Solutions. We learn your business, we learn your industry and this enables us to provide you the quality candidates you need. When you build and establish a good relationship with a staffing agency, you’ll have a better chance that your company needs will be met fully.

Next Week – The Cons

Come back here next week as we discuss the cons of hiring temp workers. We feel certain that you will find the Pros well outweigh the Cons, but none-the-less, you should see both sides.

 

When there’s been a lay-off, it is usually because of a company’s financial distress. Payroll is the largest expense, so a reduction in staff is the first step. For the ones that survive the lay-off, they know that the next step will be freezing wages, ie, no raises. 

How you announce and implement this wage freeze can make all the difference in how your employees handle it.  Clear Choice Staffing Solutions offers some suggestions that can help you and your staff get through this tight financial time: 

Time Frame

 Before announcing there is a wage free, determine how long you will have to do this. One quarter? Twelve months? Two years? When you make the announcement to you employees, they will know that you do see a positive upturn in the company.  

Be Honest

The lay-off has made everyone nervous, even after the company wide talk and all the department or one-on-one talks. It is only human nature. You’ve been honest with them up until now, so don’t stop. By being honest and upfront about the company’s financial crunch and explain that the wage freeze is what will keep any further lay-offs from happening, your employees will likely be appreciative and supportive.

Take Part

Let you employees know that management is a part of the wage freeze too. It lets them know that everyone is bearing the burden from the receptionist to the president. Where not head by contractual agreements, as is often the case of upper execs, this should include bonuses too. It may be in the contract, but the employees don’t see it that way. If they aren’t getting raises because business is down, why should anyone get a bonus?

Reward Loyalty

It is common to see employees jump ship after a lay-off. They get nervous and feel like they need to get out while the getting out is on their terms. In a recent blog “NOW, HOW CAN YOU RETAIN THOSE HIDDEN GEMS” we offered ideas on how to do just that. Remember there are inexpensive ways, even no cost ways, to show the survivors you appreciate them staying on board and seeing the company ship to higher waters. You employees feel relieved they still have a job, however, that doesn’t mean that coming to work, taking more responsibilities with no pay increase is something they enjoy Keep them motivated while staying on course to recover the financial hard times.

When the economy is shrinking and becoming weak, lay-offs are one of the ugly results for many companies. Whether it is what the government sees as a “massive” lay-off (50 percent of the staff) or a minor lay-off of a handful, it isn’t something that employers want to do.  As an employer, when a lay-off happens, you need to be prepared to protect the company and the survivors. 

Know upfront and expect the tension to increase following the lay-off. As we have discussed here earlier, those left behind are wondering “Am I next?” as they adjust to the workload changes. It is your job as the employer now to not only address any rumors and give you staff reassurance, but minimize the workload stress by spreading the workload.

Simply because there is a lay-off, there doesn’t have to be a major doubling or tripling the surviving staff’s workloads. Management of all levels needs to stay in constant communication with Human Resources. Discussing how to retain the employees left, minimize burnout by minimizing workloads and still keep production moving.

Clear Choice Staffing Solutions offers you some suggestions of what steps should be taken first:

1). Identify the objectives and priorities strategically

2). Identify the employees that have leadership abilities

3). Create a new organizational structure

4). Reorganize responsibilities of each employee

Number 4 is the most important thing in the lay-off aftermath. Reassigning the workloads from those that are no longer there so that the remaining staff doesn’t get burned out and production still increases. This may re-prioritizing certain things, meaning some goals, meetings and reports may not be as necessary as once believed.

Management of each department should visit with each team member and review their existing responsibilities and workload.  Where does their work come from and where does it go after they’re done? Find the connections on both sides of each employee’s job so that you can reassign and re-calibrate accordingly to get the most from less staff.

Often, management will discover things that could have been done away with and not harm the end results. You may see where new equipment has been needed that would improve production. You can find better ways of doing things that lessens the time it has been taking and this will lessen the burden on the surviving employees.

Metrics Are Needed

After determining the important steps and reassigning the work, metrics that identify productivity and quality will help assess performance. So if production is slipping, you can concentrate on finding the reasons and re-calibrate. You may see that training is needed for some employees to take on any reassignment of responsibilities. Metrics will also let you know those who should be rewarded for a job well done.

 

When you make assumptions, you are setting yourself up for problem. Instead of assuming, always ask questions. What does that have to do with hiring the unemployed, recently laid off candidates or long time unemployed? Maybe you do it intentionally or maybe you’re unwittingly discriminating against candidates that have been unemployed for long time. Of course, what you consider a “long time” may be 6 months.

Studies have shown that employers will hire a candidate with little to no appropriate experience before they would an experienced candidate that has been unemployed for a period of 6 months or more. The reason why varies from company to company, hiring manager to hiring manager.

Here Clear Choice Staffing Solutions offers a few reasons why companies and hiring managers should take a longer look at those who have been unemployed a long time.

Employment Gap

When judge a candidate by an employment gap, you could be passing up knowledge, skills and talent that may be a valuable asset to the company.

Help Yourself By Helping The Unemployed

The opportunity you give a long-term unemployed person will be appreciated and they won’t be as likely to leave for better opportunities.

You Miss Quality Candidates

Unemployed candidates are often the best candidate but employers pass them up because of their employment history. You could be missing almost 40 percent of qualified candidates.

Evaluate the Unemployed In 3 Steps

Go Beyond The Resume

The cover letter may tell you more about the candidate than their resume. Often you can find clues about their experience as well as why they are unemployed

During The Interview

Assess their activities while they have been unemployed. Did they sit around surfing the internet or watching television? Or did they take classes or do volunteer work? You want a candidate that has initiative.

Don’t let long-term unemployment status distract you from you goal: Hiring the best candidate for the job.

 

Now that you have completed the lay-off and had the “team talk” with those who “survived”, how will you retain those key employees? What do we mean by retaining the survivors? It is common during a lay-off, there is restlessness and worry among the staff. They wonder if they are next, even if you have reassured everyone that all is well going forward.

So do you throw money at them? And at which employees do you throw money at?  Will it be members of the senior staff and the top performing people? Studies have shown that those financial incentives are a waste because the recipients would have stayed on board anyway. What about the average, every day, normal employee? The ones we call “Hidden Gems“. 

You know that even though you have laid-off some staff, there will be some expenses to come as you merge, reorganize or restructure. Clear Choice Staffing Solutions has done some research and found an approach that is not only better, but will be easier on the budget for you as well.

Discover Your “Hidden Gems”

While going through this re-organizational period, it is a must for HR and managers to work together and identify the staff members you need to retain. While high level execs and star employees may be your first though, the average staff members have something you need too. Approximately 30 to 45 percent of your remaining staff will be on this treasure hunt of gems. Ask yourself these 2 questions about each remaining staff member:

1). What impact will the company have if he or she depart?

2). What are the chances that he or she will depart?

The Mind-Set Is What Matters

When you have a diverse group of people on staff, you need retention packages that are just as diverse. Meaning, one-size-fits-all isn’t going to work. Your approach to retain each employee needs to be tailored to fit them.  What works for the single mom won’t be appealing to the older man approaching retirement. By taking the time to have a one-on-one talk with each member and determine what is important to them.

Money Isn’t Everything

Incentives that include money are important, but they aren’t everything. Your staff wants more than just financial gain to feel a job is worthwhile. Examples that studies have found are desired by those who survived the lay-off include:

* Praise and recognition from management

* Management attention

* Promotions

* Opportunities to head projects

* Opportunities to join management programs

When you do use financial incentives, you should create them appropriately and make them targeted like stepped bonus programs. In the end, you’ll find that you have got to know your team better and you’ll see a better outcome from making that effort up front. 

 

Maybe you’ve heard rumors that there could be a lay-off where you work currently. Are you ready for that to happen? What do we mean by “ready”? When a lay-off happens, your world can turn upside down and knock you off your feet in a matter of just minutes.

As such, being prepared is probably one of the most important things you can do to land safely on your feet.  In this blog, Clear Choice Staffing Solutions offers you some tips that will help you prepare for a lay-off possibility. 

1). DO NOT search the job market while at work!

As we have covered here before in this Clear Choice Staffing Solution blog, your employer can observe your activity on your computer or on the company’s internet. This includes your computer if you work from home.  This includes using your own laptop while in the break room. They can see your history of site visited and emails sent. They won’t have to group you in the lay-off because they’ll have grounds for dismissal.

2. Get LinkedIn

If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, now is the time to get one. Then when a co-worker says something to you about the possible lay-off, recommend you exchange profiles with each other. Then utilize it! Give your co-workers a recommendation and ask they do the same for you. Talk each other up!  What better selling point than somebody that worked with you?

3. Your Benefits

See what benefits you may have available right now such as sic time, vacation time. Then verify the company’s policy on how unused benefits are treated. You could have some unused vacation time that you’ll be paid upon departure. While it is rare, some companies will pay for unused sick time as well.

4. 401k and Pension

Did you join the company’s pension plan or do you contribute to a 401k? Take the time now to find if your 401k can be rolled over and if you have a pension coming that you can take with you. Some pension plans are held until your reach a certain age.

5.  Your Personnel Records

If possible, get a copy of your personnel records. Your awards, letters of commendation, performance reviews and even warnings will be helpful going forward in the job search. A visit to the HR department is probably necessary unless you’re employer has these things available via intranet. In addition to those things we mentioned, you need to look for a copy of a “non-compete agreement” you may have signed during on-boarding. This is a definite must for anyone in Sales.

6.  Gather Recommendations

Once the layoffs begin, people are going to scatter. So before the ax comes down, ask manager, supervisors, even the owner for written recommendations, preferably on company letterhead. Offer to the same for them and even have them already done and hand them out as you ask for one.

7.  A List Of References

The letters of recommendation are excellent, but some prospective employers are going to want to contact some references. Anyone that worked with you and saw the process and results of your work are good references. This may be your manager or supervisor, your colleagues and co-workers, even your subordinates.

Before everyone scatters, get their outside contact information and ask if you can use them as a reference. Offer your outside contact information to them as well and let them know you’ll be happy to give a good reference.  Anyone that seems hesitant to do this, they probably aren’t somebody you want to list as a reference.

8. Gather Your Personal Property

When the rumor seems to be getting closer to reality, start gathering your personal property and take it home. Be as quiet and as unobtrusive as possible. Once a lay-off is announce, you may not be able to gather all your things. Today more and more companies have the laid-off escorted to their work station and then to the door.

This includes taking home any software you may have loaded on your computer. You also need remove any personal information you may have saved on your computer. In your personnel file, you’ll want to make sure you didn’t sign anything that states the company “owns” any work you created while employed there before you take stuff.  Note that, unless you’ve made other arrangements in advance, your employer

Warning: Do not remove anything that could be considered “proprietary” or “company property”. Things like customer lists, financial reports, patent applications, proposals, etc. If its marked “Company Confidential” leave it alone.

10. Company Assets And Your Personal Use

As soon as you hear rumor about a lay-off quit using the company e-mail for your personal business. If you have a company credit card, don’t use it for personal needs. This can be “abusing company assets” and could hurt you future job recommendations.

12.  Prepare Your “Parachute”

Review severance packages and determine the best way to negotiate a better deal. Ask about “outplacement” services the company can provide. This would include career counseling and resume assistance. Some companies will offer you a space to “work” at finding another job with a desk, fax and phone. Take advantage of any out-placement services that are offered.

Ending It Well

By following these steps and getting your lay-off parachute ready, you’ll be able to land quickly and safely on your feet and headed to great adventures ahead. Consider teaming up with a x-coworker that was laid off to look for a job – sometimes the buddy system is better than going it alone. Experts say that we’ll be laid off at some point, some of us more than once. So by getting prepared at the sound of rumors, you’ll have a better chance of surviving.

 

This week we have discussed the dreaded lay-offs that businesses often have to face. It’s not something anyone looks forward to, but with our blog “SIX WAYS YOU CAN EASE THAT LAY-OFF BLOW”, Clear Choice Staffing Solutions offered some tips that won’t make it pleasant, but softer.  And with our second blog “HOW DO YOU HANDLE THE LAY-OFF SURVIVORS?” we suggested ways to bring your team together and pull through this tough time.

Today, we want to offer you some suggestions with a Valentine Day theme. Love isn’t just a personal thing between two people or between families. Remember, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be for romance only. It can be a day to show your appreciation to your staff!

With that being said, Clear Choice Staffing Solutions offers you some suggestions you can do this Valentine’s Day to bring some love to the workplace. You can even do this year round!

Compensate Competitively

We aren’t recommending you buy your staff’s love, but we are recommending that you offer and provide compensation packages that are in line with your industry. An attractive benefit package, rewards programs that actually provide benefits that your staff will use will make them appreciate the job and be willing to put their best into their jobs.

Update The Equipment

Are the guys out in the warehouse struggling with bad wheel on the dollies? Or maybe the big printer that is faster has been out of ink for a month? Is your IT team working with software that is a decade old? Getting the workplace up to speed with the latest equipment or just getting the current stuff up and going will show your staff that you appreciate what they do.

Challenging and Interesting

Work doesn’t just have to be work. Find ways to make it challenging and interesting. Try to delegate tasks among your staff that will pull them outside of their comfort zone and stretch their abilities, knowledge and skills.

Love Their Feedback

Welcome input and suggestions.  This 2-way communication builds trust and leads to greater acceptance of company objectives.  Even if they are not all accepted, being open to listening to your employees voice leads to more satisfied and productive work teams.

Bullies Be Gone

The news and social media are all about ending bullying in our schools and that’s great. But there are workplace bullies too and they can pull your staff down. Keep the employees you ‘love’ and get rid of the jerks.

Sickies Go Home

If your company isn’t offering paid sick days, rethink that position. You shouldn’t want sick people around to spread the joy. And those who aren’t sick certainly don’t want to get that way. Have a paid sick day policy and encourage you staff to utilize it.

Say Thanks Openly and Often

Tell your employees thank you. A bonus or raise is always welcomed, but don’t lose opportunities to go the extra mile when that’s not available or timely.  A heart-felt hand-shake, a pat on the back and public acknowledgement that their work is appreciated will go a long way.

 

In our recent Clear Choice Staffing Solutions blog we discussed how to help the employees you have to lay-off. With the suggestions we made in that blog “Are You Faced With Announcing A Lay-Off?”, the things we listed can ease the blow for the laid-off.   

What about the lay-off survivors though? Yes, they were the “lucky” ones, but the ominous feeling that is left behind isn’t going to go away quick. There is always the fear that “they aren’t through yet” and concern about workloads shifting. Not to mention, they may have lost a work friend.  Things are quieter the next day and while those still there are trying to go on about their duties, the hallways and offices aren’t the same. Many are walking around as if they are in mourning and others are shocked. Everyone is preoccupied with anxiety, stress and worry and that can last for weeks, maybe months.

 Business isn’t going to get any better at this rate. Everyone left needs to ‘cowboy up’ as they say at the rodeo and as the manager or the owner, it’s up to you to do something about it. Today, we’re going to offer you a few suggestions to help you get things back on track

 1). Start by having a new game plan in place before the lay-offs. There are going to be people missing that were a part of the company’s process. Determine how each person’s job is going to be handled going forward.

2). Meet with the remaining employees in small groups. Discuss the situation, why the lay-off had to happen and how you see the short-term future.  Demonstrate empathy to those who were let go and empathy for those left behind. Allow the employees to vent their concerns, emotions and worries. By letting them openly talk about the situation and ask questions. This is eliminates possibility of rumors getting started.

3). The actions you take at this point are going to be powerful. Recognize that and be respectful of your staff. Let them know that you understand their concerns about having additional responsibilities now which may add some stress to their days for a time being. Let them know how you are going to be there to help with the adjustments and find the best way to prioritize their responsibilities and help them handle the changes. Reinforce that as a company, you are there is success to be had. If unnecessary duties and procedures can be eliminated, now is a good time to do so.  

4). Make positive action the focus for everyone. Talk openly with you staff positives steps that can be taken to over the difficulties that are ahead. Keep encouraging everyone to discuss their concerns and feelings. Be empathetic and sincere with them.

5). Assure the staff that management and owners are on board for the challenges ahead. Let them know that the door is always open with the management team to answer questions and clear up any rumors uncertainties and performance. Always provide them a way to succeed over the obstacles that are bound to come up.

6). Be sincerely gracious with your staff. Give thanks to everyone for sticking with the company during this transition. Thank them for their patience and understanding as well as their attention and willingness to give the company more.

So will these steps calm and satisfy the employees still there? No it won’t. But it will let them know that you’re on their side, you need them on your side and together, you can make this a positive thing.

Whether you’re a small, medium or large business, the ugly deed of having to lay-off staff is always a possibility. It is probably the hardest thing to do as an employer. Clear Choice Staffing Solutions understands that, we’re all been on both sides of the table when it comes to lay-offs.

Most likely, you’re probably having a lay-off because of financial matters. For a small to medium size business, this usually means you don’t have cash reserves to offer severance packages like the big guys do.  So we have 6 suggestions for to make the lay-off a little easier for those on the receiving end:

Network:

You have most likely been grabbling with this deed for a while already. So when you have come to the realization it has to be done, network for those who are about to be laid off.

Call on your clients, fellow entrepreneurs, vendors and any others you can think of to see if they may have some openings. If they don’t have any, ask if they know of any openings in the industry or otherwise.

You can also reach out to your competitors. Yes, it may be hard to swallow your ego and pride, it is almost like admitting defeat. But what better way to help those you’re about to let go? You can pick and choose which employees you’d want to refer, meaning you don’t have to send them you star players.

Talent Pool:

Either join an existing or set up an online forum where you can pool talent. FaceBook and LinkedIn both have groups already and allow you to form a group as well. What better way to find employment in an industry you know or look for talent with experience? It is a win-win for all parties. When you make your announcement to those being laid off, have this information ready for them.

Give Ample Notice:

In the world of employee and employer, it is expected that employees give a 2 week notice when leaving the company. When you’re faced with issuing a lay-off, give them a notice as well. A month’s notice is gracious and much better than two weeks or simply just announcing “today is your last day”.

Give your employees some wiggle room so they can prepare. Many of us live paycheck to paycheck so by providing a notice, they can start looking for another job immediately.

Find Local Resources:

Before announcing the lay-off, look for career centers offered by local colleges, city, county and federal government agencies. They will usually offer career counseling, job fairs, interview and résumé writing workshops as well as retraining assistance.

Prepare Referral Letters:

Regardless of the economy, potential employers may have the impression that people were laid off due to performance. When you make your announcement about the lay-off, have a letter of recommendation prepared for your employees. Write them individually, not a template and be honest and professional.

Let them know they are welcome to use you as a referral and make sure they have your current contact information including email addresses, cell phone number and even your Skype ID.

Stay In Touch:

Unless you know you’re going a different direction, things can turn around with a pick up in business. By staying in touch with those you lay-off, you can have a pool of talent yourself that you may want to call back. This is another reason you want to stay on good terms: So they’ll want to come back.

In Closing

Following these suggestions can make the blow of being laid off a little less harsh. Have these things in a document and hand to each laid off employee along with their exit package. This will earn you their respect and should you find yourself on the other side of the table from them in the future, they’ll remember that.

 

Well it was fun while it lasted! That love affair you were having with a co-worker. It made coming to work exciting and fun. You had something to look forward to besides payday and Fridays. But now, it’s over. Its time to end it and keep going. Life keeps going on and you need to keep your job going on too.

Maybe the affair has slowly cooled down or maybe it’s a sudden break-up. Either way, going back to work can be awkward and uncomfortable. You may actually have to work together or at the very least, pass one another at some point during the day. If others in the workplace knew about the affair, that’s going to make it even more awkward.

So now, you get to learn another function of you job and add a bullet point to your career: The art of handling the workplace affair aftermath.

Clear Choice Staffing Solutions has done a little bit of research on this subject and want to offer you some suggestions. First things first though: Do you understand why most companies discourage co-workers dating?

Workplace romance is more often than not distracting while you are a couple. Then the aftermath can be uncomfortable for both parties and all those who knew about it as well. Let’s not even go into the how it can affect the personal lives of both if one or both of you are married. That’s a whole other issue.

Keep It To Yourself

Regardless how angry or hurt you are about the breakup, do not talk negatively about the other person with co-workers. This was personal between two people while it was going on and it should remain as such. There will be enough gossip going on about this situation all on its own, no need to add fuel to the matter. Not to mention, it just puts you in a negative light as an employee. The less said the better.

Stay Professional

You need to stay polite and stay professional. Keep any immature actions you’re thinking about or tempted to do in your head. While it may seem funny to those around you, they won’t be just laughing at your “X”, but they will be laughing at you too.

Be Respectful

This could be the hardest part, but treat your “X” with respect. Yes, you have to.  Angry glares aren’t necessary and angry attitude isn’t either. Give them the same respect and treatment you do your other co-workers.

Keep The Tears Out Of The Workplace

The workplace is not the place to cry. Keep those tears at home, in your car or at a friend’s house, preferably a non-work friend. Work is work and personal emotions don’t belong there.

One For The Books

Use this experience to for a reminder before you get involved with another co-worker. You lived through this, so did your “X”, but was it really worthwhile?

Remember

Companies often have written policy in the employee handbook about workplace relationships. If there’s a statement to this effect, know there is a reason why. A break up can be messy and cause fallout and havoc that is disruptive to the workplace. And above all else, remember, when its time to end it and keep going, follow the tips listed here and you can survive this.