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Is Your Company Suffering From a Skills Mismatch?

April 12th, 2013

This term may be a new one to you, but a skills mismatch is something that many organizations are suffering from all across the US.  By definition, a skills mismatch means that your workers do not possess the current skills to meet the demands of your new industry developments, or even worse, you don’t have any employees on board who even have relevant skills.  How do you know if this is your challenge?

  • Do you feel that your team is working as hard as possible and still falling short of reasonable goals?
  • Do you frequently have tasks that no one, or only one or two people seem to be able to handle well ?
  • Do you feel that your company is losing ground in the marketplace, despite your best efforts?

Read on for some tips to begin to address your skills mismatch problem.

Determine what your problem is.  Is it that your employees have skills that are simply outdated?  Or, do you need to hire people who possess these skills because the learning curve is too long.

Determine who is best suited for each task and position.  Perhaps you have the right individuals in your organization, who possess passion and skills that you need, but they are working in the wrong position.  By evaluating each workers actual skill set and where their interests really lie, you can shift their responsibilities to make them more effective and probably much happier too.

Train, retrain, educate.  Once you understand who should be working where, see where your gaps are, and endeavor to fill them through education and training.  Seek out educational opportunities outside your workplace at community colleges and industry-specific training facilities.  And if you cannot find a resource, you need to create your own.  Many companies now are working closely with their local community colleges to create curricula that will provide the job market with employable people with the skills they will need.  You may need to get creative in your education solution, but the effort will pay off in increased productivity and more fulfilled workers.

Evaluate and reevaluate your progress.  Skills mismatch is not a new problem, and it will continue to rear its ugly head in the future as our technology increases at lightning speeds.  You must stay on top of so many advances in so many arenas, and make sure that your staff is able to keep up with their training at the same pace.  Again, your attention to this will have great payoffs.

Make it your culture.  The easiest way to keep up is to incorporate your training and education programs into the overall culture of your company.  One that is driven by education is one that enjoys satisfied employees being fulfilled by working in a forward thinking, cooperative and mutually beneficial environment.

At ERG Staffing Services, we understand how important it is to have the right people in the right positions.  Contact us today to get started on solving your employment challenges in light industrial and warehouse staffing.

Best Practices for Your Onboarding Program

March 8th, 2013

You have taken the time and devoted the efforts to finding and hiring the right candidates.  Now, you need to retain them.  One way to increase your employee retention is to establish an onboarding program.  A few reasons to put effort into this program:

  1.  New hires will immediately feel that they are a part of something bigger, and that they are important.
  2. They will get a good sense and understanding of your company culture.
  3. Newbies can become hooked into your social and professional networks more quickly.
  4. The training time required to get new employees up to full productivity is reduced.

When establishing your onboarding program, you should consider the following:

  1. Establish an official time frame for your program, probably 3 to 6 months or more, depending on the position.  There will be a few days of intensive immersion at the start, and then a schedule for the remaining weeks.  You may want to set up a “shadow” rotation so the new employee gets to spend some time in each department following another employee through their day to day tasks.  Also, schedule periodic check- ins with supervisors or managers to make sure the new hire is feeling settled and learning from the experience.
  2. Make sure that your new employee has all the necessary resources available at their fingertips.  This means everything from training manuals, videos and office equipment, to a peer mentor.  Make sure they know where the break room is and what is available to them for their use such as a microwave, refrigerator, etc.   It may seem overly simplistic, but you need to make sure they know how to use the telephone and have a phone list handy.  Make sure they get a crash course in how the copier works.  These are small items that can really take away some new-job stress for a person beginning with your company.  And, it will allow them to be able to focus on becoming productive right away.
  3. Help them assimilate.  So much employee turn-over is actually because a new employee never really feels that they fit in with the rest of your staff, or that no one is paying attention.  Make sure that you have a supervisor or a mentor directly responsible for insuring that your newest staff members get included in all team meetings or functions.  The manager should help the new hire to set goals, and then help them create a plan to meet and exceed those goals.   Further, the manager should monitor the employee’s progress and give them feedback all along the way.

Once you find the right applicant for your open positions, you really want them to stay long-term.  The time and energy you put into establishing your onboarding program will be paid back to you with increased employee retention.

ERG Staffing Services will find you qualified applicants for your light industrial jobs, and even prequalify and hire them for you.  This saves you time and energy so you can focus on all the other aspects of your business.  Contact our trained experts today to learn exactly how we can help you, and we can get started right away.

How to Maintain Productivity During a Temporary Hiring Freeze

March 1st, 2013

Forecasts for our country’s economy indicate sloth-like growth in 2013, with estimates of 1.4 percent for 2013. For recruiters, this poses a real challenge, because slower growth inevitably leads to layoffs and hiring freezes.  And for managers, an even bigger concern is how to keep up your output and productivity in a climate of fear and uncertainty.

It all starts with you.  As a manager or team leader or senior staff member, you have the eyes and ears of the rest of the staff on you.  The mood and morale of the group can be directly affected both positively and negatively by your actions and words.  So when your team freezes up and morale starts to sink for fear of losing jobs or at the very least not getting ahead in their career with your company, it is up to you to lead the way.  The team is looking at your level of commitment as a guide to what their own should be.  If you are committed to the goals of the company and it is obvious by your behavior, your team will pick up on that and follow suit.  However, if you are scared, and you show it, they will follow your lead there too, and you will end up taking everyone down with you.  Be positive and energized and lead your team to higher morale.

Give them the state of the union address.  Fear usually comes from ignorance.  If a hiring freeze is announced, no matter how short term it may be, workers immediately lose confidence in the company’s security and assume that layoffs cannot be far behind.   This in turn will bring morale crashing down and productivity will grind to a halt.  If layoffs are not around the corner, tell them so.  Do not let the rumor mill take the place of actual information.  Ask your team what their concerns are.  As soon as possible, have a team meeting to address their questions and discuss exactly what the hiring freeze means for your company, giving them insight as to why this is a good decision.  By being up front and forthcoming with facts and information, workers should be able to keep their faith in their leaders and will hopefully be able to focus on their goals.

Set new goals for the new climate.  A team can be defined as a group of individuals working together toward a common goal.  There is no better time than now to rally your team around some common goals that you will establish.  This renewed focus gives workers confidence and allows them to maintain and even increase their productivity if they feel they are making progress toward a goal.  Communicate what the new goals are, how you plan to achieve them, why they are important and what the rewards are for reaching them.  Now is the time for motivators and cheerleaders.  Celebrate all milestones, small and large, and keep your team focused and motivated with continuous feedback and updates.

If you are faced with a hiring dilemma, let the trained professionals at ERG Staffing Services guide you to a solution.  Contact us today and we will get you in touch with the right candidates to fill any light industrial or clerical staffing needs you have – the right people, right now.

Employee Burn Out – Diagnosis and Solutions

February 22nd, 2013

“Burn Out” may be a somewhat antiquated term, but it is alive and well, unfortunately, in today’s workforce.  According to Jonathan Alpert, a NY psychotherapist and author, nearly everyone “is facing more pressure.  With people laid off, people are taking on more responsibilities, working harder and having les support and that amounts to burnout. No one wants to complain for fear of losing their job”, so most employees stay and suffer in silence, all the while becoming less and less productive.

There are other possible factors that can cause burn out, too.  Unrealistic deadlines can result in the hamster wheel effect – employees keep running at full tilt but are never able to reach the goal.  Compounding this feeling of high stress, managers who never recognize or reward such hard work  create an atmosphere of despair and eventually, apathy.  Don’t let things get this far.

How to spot it:

  1.  Missing deadlines
  2. Not living up to previous standards of work quality
  3. Doing less work and being less productive
  4. Increase in lateness or absenteeism
  5. Negative change in demeanor or attitude

How to remedy it:

  1. It starts with communication.  Meet with effected employees one on one or even in a group setting to uncover root causes of burn out.
  2. Really listen to what they are telling you.  There may be some messages you don’t want to hear.  But to save your workforce and protect your team’s productivity, listen.
  3. Work out a plan together of how to reedy these issues.  For example, if a worker feels completely overburdened, consider redistributing his workload.  If someone feels that work is completely taking over her life, figure out ways to help her achieve better work- personal life balance.
  4. Write it all down.  Document the individuals who are feeling burned out.  Write down what the causes are, and describe in detail what solutions you have come up with together.  Distribute these notes to all appropriate parties.  Treat this as a living document and revisit it frequently to see if your solutions are working or if they need modification.

Prevention is key, too:

  1. Keep it fresh.  Whether it is tasks or just the environment at large, variety is truly the spice of life that keeps us coming back for more.  If there are routine tasks that need to be performed regularly, change who has to do them.  Maybe it can be as simple as redecorating the breakroom, or changing the location of the weekly staff meetings.  Anything you can do to periodically break the monotony of reoccurring tasks is positive.
  2. Cross train.  The benefits of cross training employees are vast, but in this case the big benefit is that it keeps workers interested.  Everyone enjoys learning new things, and they feel more valued as employees if they know you are investing in their training.
  3. Team building.  This doesn’t have to be a huge company outing, but if you have it in your budget, why not?!  If not, think small, like a company night out to the local ball park, or even breakfast at a favorite spot near the office.  In nice weather, have a pot luck picnic and organize games for the families.  Helping employees to enjoy each other’s company outside the workplace promotes teamwork and productivity in the workplace.

“Ultimately the biggest price companies’ pay for burnout is a loss of talented people.  As the economy improves, they will leave the enterprise,” says John Izzo, author of Values-Shift: The New York Work Ethic and What It Means for Business.

Let ERG Staffing Services help you in finding staffing solutions for your warehouse business.  We are highly trained staffing professionals and we are a phone call or an email away.  Contact us to get started.

5 Ways to Increase Loyalty of Your Warehouse Workers

February 8th, 2013

Your employees are your company.  They are ultimately what determines the success or failure of the organization.  There are steps you can take to insure that you retain your team, such as increasing employee engagement.  Here are 5 more tips to try to increase your workers’ loyalty.

1)      All employees want to be respected.  They need to feel that they are valued as important assets.  This usually comes from their manager.  It is often said that workers leave their manager, not their job.  A good manager will make sure that workers know that their efforts are noticed, important and appreciated.

2)      All employees value the truth.  They respond well to an open-door approach of management.  Obviously, not everyone will or should be privileged to all the particulars of your business.  But, workers do appreciate you presenting them with an honest assessment of the state of the business.  Hold a meeting with your workers at least annually, to let them know in as much detail as you feel comfortable with, how well the business is doing as a result of their hard work.

3)      All employees need a good manager.  If you have an ineffective or just plain bad manager, you need to do something about it fast.  A poor manager can have a tremendous negative ripple effect throughout many layers of your business.  You have two choice:  retrain them or fire them.  If you don’t, you will lose workers.

4)      All employees want to be compensated fairly.  Understand that many workers feel that they work to make managers and owners rich.  Also understand that perception is reality.  Instead of trying to change their perception, work with it , and guarantee that their efforts are appropriately compensated.  If you can afford to pay more than the going rate, and you choose to do so, make sure that your employees know that.  Tell them that they are compensated at this higher level because you value them and know they are worth that and more.

5)      All employees want their personal lives respected.  It starts with knowing them a little.  Do you know the names of your warehouse staff?  Who has children?  Who has a long commute?  Who might be dealing with some personal struggles that are making it difficult to work, and yet are showing up every day and getting the job done?  Thank them once in a while for doing what they do every day, not only when they go above and beyond.  Workers want to know that you see them as people, not cogs in the wheel of the business.  They value their time greatly and if you respect that time, they will respect you and you will have their loyalty in spades.

Increasing your workers’ loyalty to you begins with hiring the right workers and managers.  This process can be extremely time consuming.  That is how ERG Staffing can help.  Our staff of trained professionals is able to supply you with qualified light industrial staff to meet your needs, freeing up your time to do what you need to do:  focus on driving your business forward.  Contact us today to get started.

7 Tips for Retaining Your Light Industrial Talent

January 25th, 2013

Once you have a great team in place, you want to keep it that way.  The costs associated with training a new hire can be pretty large, not to mention the time and energy required from your management team to get the newbie up to speed.  And, during this training period, the rest of your team may be under increased pressure from being short-handed.  So, all in all, keeping the talent you have is important economically and culturally as well.  Here are a few tips for retaining your team.

  1.  Hire the right people to begin with.  If you make good hires that fit in with your existing team and are a nice cultural match, they are much more likely to stay.  Don’t hire and train individuals who you know deep down are not really right for your business.
  2. Help to provide a balance between work and home life.  There are a number of things you could implement that would help workers maintain this balance.  Consider flexible scheduling, job sharing or even, when applicable, telecommuting.  Even things as simple as flexible or extended lunch breaks so employees can run errands or go to doctor appointments during the day instead of scrambling to get these things done after work.  These accommodations can go a long way to easing the stress some workers feel when trying to balance work with family.
  3. Offer opportunities and communicate them.  Today’s workers want to know that they are working toward something greater, whether it is more responsibility or more money or a bigger title.  Not only should you offer ways to advance for employees, you should also clearly map out how they can achieve these goals.  A well communicated plan for advancement gives workers the peace of mind that they are not merely turning a crank and staying still; their efforts are getting them closer to their goal.
  4. Make sure you have adequate staff.  There may be nothing more frustrating than working really hard all day long only to find out that you barely made a dent in the workload of your team.  This can be demoralizing, and may be a leading cause of employees looking elsewhere for a job.  Make sure you have enough hands on deck to effectively tackle daily tasks.  Consider temporary staffing to help you get caught up and stay that way.
  5. Re-examine your benefits package.  Salary is important, but so are the other benefits you offer.  And many times the benefits package is a deciding factor to take one job over another.
  6. Provide an environment that encourages open communication.  Workers need to feel they have a voice and that management is listening.  It is also important that they get help when they need it.  Make sure you are offering opportunities for peers to mentor each other and share their knowledge.  Ensure that employees understand that they can come to management with questions and suggestions, and that their ideas are valued.  Along with this goes feedback from you.  Talk to your team about their progress and opportunities for improvement on a regular basis.  They will know that they are not being overlooked and that their success is important to you as well as them.
  7. Maintain fairness.  All employees on the same level should be offered the same opportunities and be held to the same expectations.  Make sure that your managers are not playing favorites and giving some workers unfair advantages or allowing some employees to slide by while others are expected to uphold a standard.  This creates a very negative environment which will surely encourage people to leave the company in search of equitable treatment.

Whatever your particular staffing needs are, ERG Staffing Services can help you fill them.  Whether you are looking for temporary clerical staff or permanent placement for warehouse workers, contact us today to get started.

Turn a Performance Review into Employee Development

December 21st, 2012

As HR professionals, we have many functions.  One that we strive to constantly improve, and unfortunately sometimes do not look forward to, is the employee performance review.  We always work toward making the process more valuable and meaningful because it is such an important function for us as managers and for our employees as well.  Some of us, both management and employees alike dread it because it feels stilted, uncomfortable and lacking any real relevance outside of a salary increase for the employee.  In fact, in a survey conducted by Leadership IQ of 48,000 CEO’s, managers and employees, only 13% of managers and employees and 6 % of CEOs thought their year-end reviews were effective

The basic components of the traditional performance review are goal setting and measurement criteria, assessment of goal achievement, rating and salary review.  All reviews incorporate most or all of these elements.  Here are some ways to make these meetings a more useful, productive and valued tool for employee engagement and development.

Talk money first.  This conversation always comes at the end of the meeting after all the results of the analysis have been brought to light.  Unfortunately, many times the employee doesn’t really hear what you are saying because they are merely listening for clues to answer their burning questions “What am I getting?”  So bury the lead, and tell them at the outset of the meeting.  This way you can have a meaningful conversation in which you can both fully participate.  Next cover performance evaluations, and finally move along to future goal setting.

Get a self-assessment.  To keep the focus on the employee’s performance in a productive direction, ask for their own assessment.  What does she feel were her greatest accomplishments of the quarter?  What struggles did she overcome?  Where does she wish she could have had more success?  Allow your discussion to be guided by these answers.  Struggles open up discussion for training and mentoring.  Successes can be celebrated and built upon.  The greatest benefit about this tactic is that it is purely employee focused and employee specific.

Keep it that way – Specific.  One chief complaint of employees is that your feedback can sound canned, as if it could apply to half the department.  Keep all your written evaluations very employee specific.  This may be a challenge, especially in the beginning.  We all tend to have a bag of phrases we draw from to describe employees, like “team player” or “self-motivated”.   It is ok to use these when appropriate, (they are catch phrases for a reason, after all) but make sure you make more specific notes of examples of when, where and why you rate them this way.  If your employee feels that your feedback is actually relevant to her, she will be much more receptive to coaching and improvement plans you set up.

Start with the easiest reviews first.  This is nice for you as well, because you get to begin the process with positive results!  This serves an important function for the rest of the department, too.  By meeting with your top performers first, you avoid negative grumblings of low performers, who are not thrilled with their assessment, permeating the attitudes of other employees and setting up a negative environment for the rest of the reviews.

Improving this function of your job is going to drive productivity upward and impart a greater sense of satisfaction for both your employees and for you, too.   At ERG Staffing Services, our staff is expert in providing you with qualified employees for your clerical and light industrial staffing needs.  Beginning with the right people sets you up for future success and satisfaction as well.  Contact us today to find out all we have to offer.

Workplace Policies You Should Have in Place for 2013

November 30th, 2012

With the New Year just around the corner, many of us are going to be thinking about resolutions for 2013. One of yours should be to establish the following policies for your organization, if they don’t already exist. Unfortunately, they probably are not concretely in place yet, leaving you vulnerable to expensive lawsuits and/or ruined reputations. Set your sights on nailing these 5 down:

Social Media Policy. This policy sets out to protect information and the rights of your employees and organization. It should protect your corporate “voice”, brand identity, intellectual property and reputation. Further it should protect the organization from being misrepresented by employees using social media, and seek to distinguish content they post as their own opinion and not that of the company. Additionally, it should address employees discussing other employees in social media forums. There is a lot of ground to cover here, and a good policy will take a great deal of effort to clearly flesh out.

No Retaliation Policy. This sets out to protect any employee from retaliation for reporting an individual of wrongdoing against the company. Simply put, if Mary reports Tom for sexual harassment, this policy would protect Mary from any retaliation from Tom like bullying, intimidation or the like. You need to define which types of activities are protected, and what constitutes “retaliation” as well. Outline to whom, and how, violations are to be reported.

Data Protection and Privacy Policy. You probably have more than one type of data set that you need to protect; company data and private data of your employees (e.g. Social security numbers) and/or customers (e.g. credit card or contact information). This policy will apply to every person employed by the company from line workers to CEOs, and will involve policies on passwords, who has access to what levels of data, quality assurance checks, etc.

Hours and Wages Policy. This policy will cover a lot but is probably already fairly well defined for you, even if it is not written out into a definitive document yet. But, it is important that you take the time to write this policy and make sure every employee is aware of its contents. Cover items like number of hours constituting full time and part time, benefits available to each designation, lateness, vacation, sick time, over time, lunch policies and bonuses.

Confidentiality and Conflict of Interest. Protect your company secrets and proprietary information, operations, methods, formulas, procedures, etc. Also, protect your company from employees working in competition with your products and services. Clearly outline what is considered a conflict of interest, and the terms and time limits of the confidentiality agreement.

Distribute these written policies and obtain every employee’s sign off that they have read, understand and will abide by them. Hold classes for management and others to insure that all understand the policies as they are set forth. You will start the New Year with a new sense of confidence and security.

4 Tips To Help Get Your Employee Referral Engine Humming

November 23rd, 2012

Your current employees are there for a reason:  they work hard, fit your culture, are dedicated, loyal and genuinely concerned with success – both their own and the company’s as a whole.  If they weren’t all those things, they wouldn’t be working for you.  They know exactly what it means and what it takes to work there.  So why not harness that powerful engine to help you hire the right people?  Here are 4 tips that can help you start and maintain a successful employee referral program.

  1.  Communicate what you need.  Clearly explain the jobs that you are trying to fill.  List qualification that are required and those that are beneficial.  Employees cannot speak intelligently to others about a job opening they don’t understand fully, so give them the tools for success.
  2. Outline the benefits to them.  You must set parameters for what is expected and what the rewards will be.  Be specific.  For example:  “Any employee who refers a candidate to HR that gets hired and is employed for at least 6 months gets $1,000.”  Obviously that is just an example; your requirements may be very different in scope and reward dollars. You may even set up different parameters for different types of positions; ones harder to fill are of more value to you and may warrant a higher payout. Figure out what works for you and state it very clearly in writing.  Make sure all your employees know about and understand the program.
  3. Market.  It is not enough to set up this program and expect that it will take off.  This needs constant marketing and PR effort by you to your staff.  This is the type of benefit that is exciting at first and then quickly fades to an afterthought, or no thought at all in a month or two.  When you have a successful referral, make sure everyone in the company knows it, and remind them of the benefit the referring employee will enjoy.  Discuss it weekly with your staff.  Post reminders and keep your job opening lists updated.  The more effort you put into marketing this to your staff, the more successful it will be.
  4. Enable social media.  It may be a bit off-putting to think of your staff blasting your job openings to their social media distribution list.  Fear not!  Simply supply them with posts to repost.  This way you will still retain control over the content, and it makes it much more likely that they will actually reach out to their networks if all that is required is a click to “share”.

Employee referral programs may be the best way to find individuals with the best fit for your culture.  Your staff will not refer individuals with whom they would not like to work!  The costs to you are greatly outweighed by the potential savings.  Consider the time and money invested in interviewing candidates who you do not hire.  Also consider the revenue you are losing each day you are without that sales position being filled.  The dollars add up quickly.  Establishing a well thought out employee referral program is worth definitely worth the effort.

For those positions you still need help filling, call ERG Staffing Services.  We are the leading staffing service in the Lehigh Valley and beyond for light industrial and clerical staffing.

Engage Your Light Industrial Employees to Increase Productivity

November 9th, 2012

A recent Harvard study indicates that the act of employee engagement, making them feel involved in multiple facets of the business and their part of it, can have direct positive results on productivity.  The study showed that of 100 CEOs surveyed found that for every 1% increase of the executive’s “face time” with an employee, there was a 2.14% increase in that employee’s productivity.  That is an excellent return on your investment of time!

Here are some ways to increase your employee engagement, in light industrial fields or any other type of industry.

Face time.  This catchy term indicates in person communication with employees.  It is becoming increasingly rare when managers have to do so much more with so much less time and resources.  But simply meeting with your staff periodically, whether it is one-on-one or in group settings, can go an incredibly long way toward getting your staff to feel involved.  Here are some questions to ask when you are sitting together.

  • What do you see as our biggest challenges right now?
  • What solutions do you think might work?
  • What are some changes you feel are needed?
  • In essence you are simply asking:  What do you think?

Many managers are afraid that by asking these questions of their staff, it will be taken as a sign of weakness or that he doesn’t know himself what to do.  What it is actually doing is building a relationship of trust, wherein your staff understands that you value them and their input.  This leads to a better work environment and in turn, a more productive one.

Celebrate small accomplishments.  Far too many times, we as managers focus on what needs to be improved without spending any time at all reflecting on and recognizing what has already been achieved.  We are trained to focus our energy on solutions, which is an obvious necessity.  But almost equally important should be getting the best out of our staff.  This isn’t “everybody gets a trophy”, but rather creating an opportunity to build on current successes by first recognizing them.

Get comfortable with delegation.  This is often a very tricky thing for managers.  We tend to see delegation as a way to unburden ourselves of “busy work” that takes up our time and we can fairly easily train someone else to do.  While this works out well for the manager, it tends to do little for the employee doing the task.  To truly up the employee engagement, managers need to delegate responsibilities, not tasks.  Identify which responsibilities you can pass along to trusted and deserving employees.  Set them up for success by investing some time into getting them comfortable with their new charges.  This will develop them as employees, make them feel more valued and thereby more engaged.  When your staff feels this way you move from being a problem solver to a facilitator of forward progress, all the while freeing up your load a bit so you can continue to be forward-focused.

Employees who are truly engaged feel valued, are more loyal, are more productive and are more likely to move forward in their career with you.  The benefits are full circle for you personally, the employee personally and the company as a whole.

At ERG Staffing Services, our staff is able to locate. Screen and hire employees for your light industrial needs.  By engaging our staff to fill this role for you, you are freed up to work more closely with your existing staff and on setting goals for your future.  Contact us today to get started.