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  Is it that your employees have skills that are simply outdated?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

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.

Job Assessment Test? Don’t Sweat It!

November 16th, 2012

More and more frequently, employers are using assessment testing as a way to narrow down the number of viable applicants for job openings.  These can range from basic skills tests to personality tests or mechanical ability assessments.  Whatever the case, doing well on these will improve your chances of getting through to the next level of interviews and possibly a job offer.  Here are a few things you can do to be better prepared and do your best.

  • Find out what you are up against.  Ask some questions to discern exactly what sort of testing they are requiring.  Also, find out how they will be administered:  will there be group testing, via phone, online or one-on-one in person?  Find out how the test results are used in the hiring decision.  Once you know what you are dealing with, you can better prepare.
  • Prepare yourself.  Look online for practice tests and take them until you feel comfortable.  Ask others you know if they have ever taken the same sort of tests and get their advice and feedback.  The day before the test, make sure you get some exercise even if it is just a walk outside.  This physical activity will help clear your head and give you a better night’s sleep so you will feel completely rested on test day.  The morning of the test, get up early enough to allow yourself a healthy breakfast with some protein to give your brain the energy it needs to function well.  Dress in layers so you can deal with a too warm or too cool testing room.  In other words, remove any potential distractions so you can have the best focus possible.
  • Practice good test-taking skills.  This may sound silly, but the little rules of test taking are rules because they work.  Read questions slowly and completely.  If it is multiple choice, read every answer even if you think you spot the correct on right away.  Generally, your first answer selection will be the correct one – try hard to avoid second-guessing yourself.  Unless you have compelling evidence to change your answer, don’t.  If you don’t know an answer, skip it and move on.  Return to it later if there is time.  Be honest and truthful in your responses.  In personality tests, you will be asked the same question a number of different ways to measure your honesty in responding.  Keep in mind the company culture when responding to situational or behavioral questions.  Above all, take your time and do not rush to just get done.

What now?  If you feel like you really tanked in a certain area of the test, it might not hurt to let the hiring manager know.  There is a chance that he may have the ability to disregard it or not count it too heavily against you. Take a minute to write down the names of the tests you took and any questions you remember.  This will help you later if you want to discuss the test with the hiring manager or if you ever have to take the test again in the future.  Ask for your results.  If you did well, congratulations!  If not, be open to advice and make sure HR knows that you are very eager to take training in your areas of poor performance.

It is in your best interest to seek out improvement in these types of assessment tests.  They will always be a valuable tool for HR managers seeking to hire the best people for the job.

Why Outsourcing Your HR and Hiring Needs May Be Your Best Option

November 2nd, 2012

Does this sound like the way your small business handles HR?

You have one manager, maybe the Business or Finance Manager, who handles payroll.  You have a couple of other department heads who handle hiring decisions, and employee’s issues.  All of you sort of take care of helping employees get set up with your insurance benefits plans, etc.

Many small businesses, out of sheer necessity,  have this set-up, with varying degrees of success.  Once your company gets to a certain size though, problems can creep into this system.  Here are some of the main problems with this structure:

  • Sometimes, managers may feel as though they are not passing along the most accurate or current information to employees.
  • There may be inconsistencies among different managers’ techniques for handling employee issues.
  • The busier department heads get, HR duties tend to get pushed further and further down the to-do list.
  • Employees can become increasingly upset by this perceived lack of attention to their needs on the part of management.
  • The company may be unwittingly putting itself at risk of lawsuits by having department heads who are not properly trained in the laws and regulations pertaining to hiring, firing and other HR roles performing these tasks.  This is dangerous and potentially very costly and harmful to the company and its employees.

There are two solutions to this problem.  You can hire another manager who is specifically trained to handle all of these HR tasks and be a one man (or woman) department for your company.  Or, you can outsource all of your HR needs.

You must go through a cost benefit analysis to determine which route is most cost effective for your company.  Many companies are choosing the outsourcing route today since there are many highly qualified and affordable firms out there to effectively handle these functions for them.

When you work with ERG Staffing Services, we are really your partner.  We believe that effective communication is critical to this partnership so our staff will work with you to uncover exactly what your needs are, to understand your culture and make a plan with you for success.

Our services include, but are not limited to:

  • Temporary Staffing for short-term projects needing staff immediately, family and medical leave absences, coverage for vacationing employees and additional workers for your peak season.
  • Temp to Hire and Direct Hire Staffing
  • On-Site Staffing Manager.  When you have many temporary/contract employees, we can provide a staffing professional to manage these workers at your place of business.  There’s no additional cost for this service.
  • Safety Training for everyone we send to your site.
  • Payrolling.  If you think you have found the right employee but are not yet prepared to put them on your payroll, we will make them our employee, and handle all payroll paperwork, taxes, unemployment etc.

Call ERG Staffing Services to learn more about how we can solve some or all of your staffing problems immediately, and for the future.

Your Productivity – A Strategic Approach to Success

October 26th, 2012

The best example of hard work that accomplishes little is the hamster wheel. You feel like you are running all day, busy from the time you wake until the time your head hits the pillow at night, but when you look back on your day, you feel like you haven’t gotten very far. You’ve surely heard the term “work smarter, not harder.” Here are a few steps to consider on your way to increased productivity and happiness.

Determine where you are going. Begin with the simple (or not so simple) task of establishing your long term and short term goals for your business. This vision you have for yourself is what should be guiding your daily activities, so make it a clear with which to view your day.

Make a plan of how to get there. You want to make a plan every day to get you to your expressed goals. Realizing from the start that you cannot accomplish everything you want every day, you will feel more fulfilled and productive if you break down your activities into manageable chunks and prioritize them on a daily basis. Begin by segmenting your goals into smaller mini goals. Then select 5 or 6 activities that will reach each mini goal. Work each day with this to-do list, focusing on these activities. Your plan may look something like this:

Goal: to become a paid presenter at your industry trade shows.
Mini Goal: gain industry recognition as an expert
 Activity 1: start a thread on LinkedIn
Activity 2: research how others have gained recognition
Activity 3: contact vendors to schedule further education on product lines
 Activity 4: respond to existing questions on industry sites, offering opinions and advice
Activity 5: schedule public speaking classes

You would continue with each mini goal, adding activities under each one. On a daily basis, decided which mini goal you are going to work on and set out to accomplish as many of the listed activities as possible. Any that you do not complete, work on first the next day.

You can see that when broken down, these pieces seem completely manageable and you should be able to achieve most of them in a day. And, your sense of accomplishment is amplified by the knowledge that each of these tasks is directly related to accomplishing you bigger goal. This is the definition of productive.

Analyze what you are doing currently. Take a look at how you are spending your days. Make a list of the following things: what “jobs” you are currently doing (father, husband, manager, soccer coach, household accountant, sounding board, etc.) List them all. Next, list all the projects you are currently working on. List all the things you feel you should be working on but haven’t gotten to yet. This is a big list! Now look at it and cross out all the ones that are not going to help you reach your work goal. What is left is what you should be focusing on during your work day. The other roles and tasks will fall under activities to reach other personal goals – yes, this formula will work for any aspect of your life, personal and professional.  In fact, it is important to focus on other aspects of your life too, so you can have a sense of balance and serenity.

Imagine yourself putting your head on the pillow at night and not fretting about all the things you didn’t get done. This can become an every night routine for you once you break down your to-do list into manageable pieces that are all designed to reach your goals.

ERG Staffing Services will help you reach your professional goals of attaining a full staff of qualified professionals.  We are the leading light industrial staffing provider in Southeastern PA, and we are ready to help you.  Contact us today.

Land the Job with Effective Post Interview Follow Up

October 19th, 2012

It is so easy to get this part wrong.  You have a great feeling when you leave the interview.  The HR Manager says “You’ll be hearing from us.”  And you don’t, at least not soon enough, so you start to second guess every word you said.  You think that if you could just have two more minutes to talk to him, you could solidify your bid for the job.  What is the right way to follow up?  How soon?  How often?  This process is taking too long!

The first thing to remember is that these hiring decisions almost never happen as quickly as the HR Manager would like!  There are usually multiple people who have to meet, discuss and decide on which candidates to consider and which one to make an offer. So, be patient.

Rewind for a moment.  At the interview, you should always ask the best way for you to follow up.  This is such a wonderful question, because it shows you are serious about wanting the job, and it helps you to do exactly what they want you to do as far as a next step.  All this comes from a simple question.  In case you forgot to ask this question this time, here are a couple of guidelines.

Send a thank you note.  The same day as the interview, while all the names and conversations are still fresh in your mind, write out a few thank you notes, one for each person you met with that day.  Each one should contain, briefly, 3 important items:  appreciation for their time, your interest in the job, and your feeling that you are a great match for the position and why.  The keys to success here are brevity, sincerity and accuracy.  Keep it short and to the three points.  Speak honestly.  Get the names correct and check all spelling.

Leave a voicemail.  It is a good idea to make one call in an attempt to speak with the person with whom you interviewed, providing you are prepared for the call.  Odds are you will not get through to this person and will be given the option to leave a voicemail for him.  This is where your preparation comes in handy.  Your script is basically the same 3 point message as the thank you notes, spoken clearly and succinctly, with your phone number and email address at the end.  Do not leave more than one message.  Do not leave a voicemail message that has much more information than the 3 pieces necessary.  Doing this right is effective in keeping you top of mind and in a positive light.  Doing it wrong is curtains.

The follow up process really is simple.  As a matter of fact, simplicity is the key to success.

Contact ERG Staffing Services and we will help place you with the position and company that best suits your skill set.  Our staff of highly trained staffing professionals is ready to connect you with the right people, right now.

Time Management – A Little Secret of Happy, Successful People

October 12th, 2012

We all say we wish we had more time.  We only get 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes per hour.  That never changes.  What we do have control over is what we do with those hours and minutes.  To be effective, successful and happy, we simply need to master our use of the time we have.  Here are some tips to help you manage your time.

  • First, you should figure out how you are using your time now.  What are you doing each day?  What are your thoughts, actions, intentions and conversations?  How much time are you spending on each, and which are productive, that is, giving you the desired results?  Carry around a notebook for a week, or as long as you can stand it, and jot down this important information.  It is from here that you can begin to make changes.
  • Now, look at which activities, conversations, thoughts and actions were giving you the results you wanted.  Those are the things to plan for.  This is now your new to-do list.  Budget time specifically to get these things done, as they are what is giving you satisfaction and productivity.  You probably want to set aside half of your time for your to-do list.
  • You will want to start each day by planning what results you want to achieve.  Plan which activities, thought, conversations and intentions will get you there.  Plan an order of activities, or at least prioritize them.  Some people list things to be done before lunch.  However you break it up is your own choice, just find some landmarks in your day that will work for you.  Set goals, and stick to them.
  • Make sure you budget time for interruptions.  It sounds silly, but you are operating in reality, not a vacuum, and you know one thing is certain- you will be interrupted, knocked off course temporarily, diverted.  So, just plan for it to eliminate any stress associated with “wasting time”.  It’s not wasted – it’s just part of the plan!
  • Don’t make yourself available all the time.  It is ok to let the phone go to voicemail.  You’ll get to them in your own time.  Set aside a certain time for checking emails each day, maybe once in the morning and once in the afternoon.  Address those messages as necessary, in your own time.  (Of course you can only do this if your business isn’t dependent on your constant availability.  For many of us, the world can actually wait a few minutes.)
  • Block out, turn off and otherwise disengage distractions during your desired productive period, like facebook and other non-essential social media.

This time is all yours.  You own it and you can manage it however you choose.  What’s funny is how our perception of time changes based on what we are doing with it.  Time flies when you’re having fun, but seems to stand still when you are plodding or rushing through an unrewarding or frustrating work day.  But, when you feel you are the master of your own time, it will seamlessly float by leaving great satisfaction and peace in its wake.

The time is right to call ERG Staffing Services.  We are ready to help you with all your light industrial staffing needs, from applicant screening to testing to final offer.  Contact one of our professionals today to get started.

Entry Level Recruiting – How to Interview a Newbie Worker

October 5th, 2012

When hiring for entry level positions, you may very well find yourself with a pile of resumes showing little or no work experience.  This can sometimes present interesting challenges when it comes to interviewing.  You need to understand the same things about them – their past experience, their aptitudes and attitudes, their cultural fit – but you have no past employment record to delve into.  Here are a few ways to get the information you need to make an accurate assessment of those who may have no real world experience.

Determine her communication skills.  This is so critical to every job, and the easiest way to assess communication skills is by asking questions that require explanation.  “Tell me about the class in school you liked the most.  Why did you enjoy it?  What was the work load like?”  Even if this answer has little to do with the job for which she ise applying, you will get to listen to er language skills and speech patterns, and get a sense of her ability to convey information.  You may also learn a bit about work ethic and outside interests with this answer as well.  Essentially, the entire interview should give you this information, but you can start right out with a non-essential question to get her relaxed and talking, so you get to see and hear her best.

Assess time management skills.  Ask targeted questions that can get to the root of how she manages all her responsibilities and obligations on a daily basis.  “Talk to me about how you keep your life organized.  What methods do you employ?  What works best for you?”  This should uncover if she is a procrastinator, a planner, a post-it junkie, uber-organized or uber-relaxed about deadlines.  If you are unsure, ask more probing questions:  “So, how do you decide what to tackle first?”  Keep probing until you have a good sense of her organizational skills.

Analyze problem solving skills.  How does she handle adversity?  Does she think in straight lines, simply, with simple solutions, or is she one to take a circuitous route to the answer?  Since you may have no prior work experience to mine for information, go to her past school experiences.  “Tell me about a time when you were working on a group project that wasn’t going very well.  What role did you play in the group?  What steps did you take to fix the problems?  How did things end up?  What did you learn from that experience?  What would you do differently in the future?”

Take her temperature.   Find out how passionately she wants to work with your company.  Find out why she decided to pursue this opportunity.  What does she already know and what information is she seeking?  “What drew you to our company and this job?  Why do you want to work here?  What questions do you have about the job responsibilities and requirements?”  Listen for key motivators – money, future, security, advancement, experience, personal growth.  If there isn’t much more than a paycheck that has brought her to your door, you may want to keep searching.  You want to invest your time and money into an employee who sees this opportunity as more than a way to pay the bills, more like a stepping stone to a brighter future.

Once you’ve found a candidate for your entry level position, clearly explain the specific job requirements, performance evaluation timing and process before making a formal offer.  You want her to make a thoroughly informed decision as well.

Trust ERG Staffing Services to fill with your next entry level positions.  Our team of experienced professionals is ready to screen and qualify candidates according to your specific requirements, quickly and efficiently, every time.

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.