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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  Is it that your employees have skills that are simply outdated?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.

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.

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.

Gallagher Bassett – Your Risk Management Solution

September 28th, 2012

This year, Gallagher Bassett celebrates 50 years of excellence in risk management. Now a global corporation, Gallagher Bassett offers services to a large and diverse client base in every segment of the economy, with nearly 3,400 clients, more than 100 branches and over 4,200 skilled professionals partnering with companies like yours to manage risk.  Here is a brief summary of what they can do for you.

Claims Management.   Gallagher Basset professionals have developed powerful resources and creative strategies to help you balance your need to both control costs and at the same time be able to settle claims fairly yet aggressively.  You will directly benefit from their 50 years of experience.
Consultative Services.  The goal of Gallagher Bassett Consultative Services is to help you minimize risk, reduce your costs and help you provide a safer work environment for your team.  There are three areas:

  • Risk Control Consulting Services or RCCS – Gallagher Bassett truly partners with you to prevent injuries and loss through specific risk control applications of Assessment Services, Program Development, Program Implementation, Training and Educational Services and Specialized Expertise in a wide variety of business and industry.
  • Appraisal and Property Valuation Services –Getting the proper valuation of possibly your biggest assets, your physical property, will help you to be properly insured for the unexpected loss.  Through facility visits, in-depth surveying, and inputting data into a state-of-the-art, nationally recognized database, Gallagher Bassett will provide you with a final report that includes a replacement cost valuation, GPS coordinates, digital photo, CAD drawing and a signed valuation appraisal certificate.  Other valuation provided include replacement costs, reconstruction costs, Real Estate appraisals and more.
  • MountainView Software, a division of Gallagher Bassett – claims software products to help you manage your business risks.  Designer for the professional adjuster, their innovative software programs provide you with the claims management tools to handle many aspects of risk management on your own.

Information Management.   Gallagher Bassett offers an entire a suite of online data management tools to allow you to handle your risk management program from start to finish with their risxfacs.com. With risxfacs.com you will have the ability to report workers compensation, liability, and property losses online, view your monthly reports and develop new ones as needed, view complete information related to a specific claim, or look up past incidents that you entered into the system.

Integrated Disability Management.  The professional team at Gallagher Basset will help you to lower the costs associated with absences and disability claims as well as work toward improving your worker productivity by reviewing your current policies, analyzing your current cost drivers, helping you understand and define what a successful program for your company will look like.

Cost Containment Solutions.  Their stated goal for cost containment is:  “Maximize both the quality of care provided and the effective use of workers compensation healthcare dollars to help employees and employers reduce the impact of injuries and illnesses by returning employees to productive work as quickly as possible.”  Their unique ability to offer greater flexibility and options for managed care programs and services from their nationwide network is how they can meet this goal for your company.

With four locations in Pennsylvania and three in New Jersey, Gallagher Bassett is available to begin a partnership with you to address your specific and unique risk management needs.

ERG Staffing is also available and right around the corner to help you fill your light industrial job openings.  Call one of our professionals today and take the first step to finding the right worker for your needs.

Develop Your Top Team Members Into Team Leaders

September 7th, 2012

If you are doing it right, you are developing your next generation of leaders at all times. It is not a smooth transition, necessarily, but there is nothing better for your organization that to promote from within when appropriate. It boost morale and maybe more importantly, gives you a larger degree of confidence that the person you are putting in charge is the right fit. Here are a few steps you can take to develop today’s talent pool into the leaders you will need tomorrow.

  1. Know the difference. Not every top performer is going to make a great leader or manager. That’s why the expression “management material” came about. Although many of the skills are the same, there are certainly a larger number of skills used by managers that are not used when one is only in charge of his own performance. Team members are sole proprietors. Team Leaders are responsible for getting all the sole proprietors to put their own needs second to those of the team as a whole. A leader will know how to recognize the strengths of each individual and put them together to form a whole high functioning unit. As the manager you need to be able to identify which one of your team has this ability, and recognize that it is a very different skill set than you have possibly seen before from this person.
  2. Test your theory. Once you think you have figured out who among your team may be “management material”, test you hunch. What better way to find out than to take a few small steps toward leadership and give this person one assignment in which he is the leader and responsible for the outcome of the concerted efforts of many. Observe where he is strong and where he struggles.
  3. Now, you coach. Hopefully this leader-in-training will come to you with questions, or for guidance and advice. But if he doesn’t, don’t assume he doesn’t really want your help. It is a little bit of a sink or swim test, but you also want this person to know he is supported. It is important to know that you believe in him and are there to coach him through this transition from team mate to team leader. Be very specific in your guidance by siting examples of your own past experience with similar situations. However, recognize that he may have his own management style, and you definitely want to know and understand what that is. Is it effective? Does it fit with your company’s overall management style and policies?
  4. Set leader goals and rewards. It is important to set team goals, and applaud successes along the way to reaching them. This keeps moral up and momentum moving forward. But don’t forget to do exactly the same thing for your leader. What specific goals are you hoping he will achieve? Communicate them in writing so you both are clear on what the goals are and what the time frames will be for reaching them. Then, spell out what the benefits are for reaching them. Coach through the challenges and celebrate the successes together.
  5. Give him time. No leaders are born into it. The role being so different from his one a teammate takes time to grow into and be truly effective and successful consistently. Don’t expect him to always know the right way to handle situations. Don’t expect he will do it just like you would. Don’t expect that his way will not be as successful as yours. In other words, give him the space he needs to find his own path to effective leadership. It sure isn’t a straight path, and not everyone chooses the same route, but with time and support from you, he may just be the next best thing to come out of your team.

Are you looking for a few good leaders? Maybe you are looking for a few more great teammates? At ERG Staffing we specialize in finding you just the right light industrial team members and managers, and do it quickly and with your specific needs in mind. Call us today to set up a consultation.

Pump Up Worker Productivity in 4 Easy Steps

August 17th, 2012

It is so easy to fall into a “turn the crank” mentality when your company is running pretty smoothly.  No major problems and many of us feel that all is well.  That may be, but is it as good as it can be?  Don’t we all want more?

Utilizing your existing team, you can increase productivity in a few easy steps.  These have to be maintained consistently to see long term results.  But your leadership can absolutely get your team to work smarter, not harder, increase productivity and boost employee morale and loyalty in the process.

Set goals as a team.  Top-down goals setting works, to a point.  The way to really get your team on board is to set achievable goals together.  Of course you are steering the ship, and the largest goals will still be set by top management, but all the smaller goals that will get you to the bigger ones can be worked out with your team.  By engaging employees in the goal setting process you create ownership of the goal for them.  Everyone thinks ideas are better if they are their own, and if seen as their own, employees will work harder to achieve them.  They will also get a greater sense of satisfaction from attaining success.

Establish metrics by which to measure success.  Now that you have established where you want to go, you will need to establish ways to measure your progress, individually and as a team.  The team may feel they are working so hard and making good progress toward their goals, but how can you tell?  Not having hard data to look at leaves you at the mercy of hunches, theories and opinion.  You need actual facts to back up the feelings of success, and to guide the team in specific directions where their efforts need to be increased.

Employees will see these metrics as their actual goal, so establish 3 to 5 metrics per quarter that are quantifiable and measureable.  Involve the employees in figuring out how to reach the goals, and then set up ways to measure those tactics.   Say one of the goals is to increase orders processed by 10%.  You know how many orders you process currently, so you will be able to measure progress in real time with actual numbers. You should establish metrics for individuals that will measure how they can get there, such as increasing order accuracy (which will decrease time spent on corrections).  This way when an employee sees his accuracy numbers going up, he will know for certain that his order accuracy is directly contributing to increasing the number of orders processed.

Share successes along the way.  Once the goals are established for the quarter, and everyone knows how you are measuring success, measure it.  Then, share it.  Frequent updates on how well (or poorly) your team is performing toward achieving their goals are critical in keeping them engaged in the process.  If they are doing well, knowing that will reinforce all the behaviors that have gotten them this far.  If they are falling short, they will know where, and you can coach them and guide them to better results.

Reexamine your metrics quarterly.  You work in a dynamic environment, so your metrics cannot remain static.  Have you raised prices lately?  Have you increased or decreased the number of employees?  These types of changes may directly affect your metrics, so reevaluate often to make sure you can still measure the same way.

This process of goal setting and measuring can be an incredible team building and motivating experience for your company.  People like to know what is expected of them, how they can meet those expectations, achieving them and being recognized for those achievements.  Satisfied and motivated employees are productive and loyal, and are your greatest asset.  Protect it.

Are you looking to increase your employee assets?  At ERG Staffing we have our own highly trained team that can help you find yours.  Call us today to get started.

Increase Efficiency and Reduce Costs in your Warehouse

June 8th, 2012

An increase in efficiency will usually lead to an increase in profitability, which is everyone’s ultimate goal in business.  Knowing that you can’t improve what you don’t measure, it’s critical to analyze what’s currently being done in your warehouse.

To do this, you may want to conduct an operations audit to systematically look at your labor, work flow, systems and facilities and determine how you’re performing in some key areas. Ask yourself the following questions:

How is your space being used?  One of the biggest culprits in lost profits is an inefficient use of the cube. Receiving, picking, packing and shipping tend to use up to 50 percent of your space, with product storage taking up the rest.  Using racking, a multi-level order picking concept and power conveyors can increase your effective use of your cubic feet.  Can a simple reconfiguration lead to more product storage?

Can you reduce walking time?  As much as 70 percent of a worker’s time can be spent walking.  Reducing this number will increase orders picked per hour.  Consider establishing a system in which you can store at least one week’s average unit movement in the pick slot as well as a “hot pick” area for extremely fast movers.

Are you taking full advantage of the power of bar codes?  Demand consistent bar code standards from all your vendors, so you can utilize them throughout the process to track products, verify accuracy, speed up processing and eliminate paperwork.

Are the products available when pickers need them? Use a combination of scheduled replenishment of the primary pick slot, utilizing the min-max and demand-replenishment concepts to ensure consistently available inventory levels.

Is your warehouse neat?  Organization and neatness organically increase productivity and worker morale.  Get rid of obsolete equipment.  Keep everything in its place.

Are you flexible?  As it becomes increasingly difficult to predict the future, your flexibility and scalability will be the keys to your survival and growth.   This will allow you to effectively respond to changing requirements, such as merchants increasing their SKUs or changing the types and sizes of items they offer.  Are you allocating space for future growth?

Do you know where all of your inventory is located?  Sound silly? It’s a significant shortcoming if your system does not allow for multiple locations of inventory to be shown.  For efficient operations, your warehouse inventory system must be able to identify what SKU is stored in each location, as well as the quantity of each.

Does your staff know how they’re doing?  The simple act or measuring and reporting key metrics to your workers will improve efficiency.  People like to know where they stand and want to succeed.  By giving them this feedback you will see an uptick in productivity.

Are your vendors meeting your needs?  Because so much of what you do depends on what your vendors do, enforce a vendor compliance policy on everything from bar code standards to packaging standards.  This will prevent you from incurring additional labor costs to repack or re-code products.

This auditing process should remain an ongoing initiative to continuously measure and improve your productivity and efficiency, and thereby your profitability as well.

Want another way to save money and increase efficiency? When you need reliable workers quickly and affordably, call on the staffing specialists at ERG Staffing!

Increase Your Warehouse Productivity with a Strategic Staffing Plan

May 18th, 2012

By keeping your warehouse working efficiently, you can improve productivity. And you can improve efficiency by purchasing current equipment and maintaining safe and comfortable working conditions—and by controlling your labor costs.

Labor is your first or second largest expense after outbound freight, and successful staffing practices can lower that cost.

Strategic Staffing Makes It Easy

Nearly every organization is being challenged to do more with less. To succeed, flexibility is key—especially in your staffing strategy. Flexible staffing is critical for operational efficiency and adaptability. It can help you manage your workload, meet strategic objectives, and fill gaps in your workforce.

Managing Your Workload

  1. Administrative and Low-Priority Tasks

Boost the productivity of your core staff by allowing temporary employees to handle the administrative and low priority activities.

  1. Unexpected Increase in Workload

Many organizations are running lean only to be caught short-handed with an unexpected peak. Hiring for what could be a brief spike is risky, so use temporary help to meet the rise in demand without committing to permanent hires.

  1. Seasonal Cycles

Preparing for anticipated peaks can be just as difficult. Whether seasons, holidays, or other factors affect your business, adapt to demand fluctuations by bringing in extra help only when you need it.

Meeting Strategic Objectives

 1.       The Unknown

Every strategic plan is subject to some uncertainty. If the road ahead is unclear, use temporary staff to keep your workforce flexible. Bring in the labor and expertise when your business needs it and avoid the expense and problems caused by over staffing.

 2.       Expertise on a Short-Term Basis

The contingent workforce includes many employees and many positions including light industrial and clerical individuals, to IT specialists, and other professionals. These individuals not only cover short-term staffing needs, but they can also bring valuable expertise to the table. They can teach new skills to your organization without the cost of a permanent hire. Bringing in someone with specific experience can save you time and money by shortening the learning curve for a new process.

3.       Special Projects

Concerned about a project bringing down productivity? Bring in temporary employees to help directly or to provide support to the people working on the project. Keep daily operations running smoothly and get the project done on schedule.

Fill in Gaps in Your Workforce

 1.       Short-Term Need

Relieve the stress of employee absences by bringing in temporary support in cases of illness, vacation, maternity leave, or other leaves of absence. Don’t forget to prepare for the holidays, with their overlapping vacations and the increase in personal and sick days.

2.       Immediate Need

Take the pressure off your hiring process by bringing in a temporary to fill in immediately. This will allow you the time to find the right replacement. And if you’re satisfied with the individual, your search may be over before it even starts!

Flexible staffing can actually bring stability to your workforce by easing the stress of peak demands, while allowing you to operate lean. The right staffing strategy can be your way of doing more with less.