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  Is it that your employees have skills that are simply outdated?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

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.

Interviewing 101: How to Answer “Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?”

December 14th, 2012

If you are fortunate, you are looking for a new job while you still have a job.  More and more likely these days, you are looking for a job because you lost your last one.  If you were laid off due to the bad economy or any other reason, the question in the title is an easy one to answer.  But, if you quit or were fired, then just like Lucy, you may have some ‘splaining to do.  The time to think about how to answer the question is now, before you get asked.  Here are some tips on how to respond gracefully.

First of all, stay positive.  Do not go to the dark side.  Do not start complaining about your old boss, or how disorganized your last company was, or anything of the sort.  Nobody likes a whiner, and if you go off on how bad it was at your last job, the hiring manager is going to bristle imagining how you will talk about his company when you quit.  All companies are flawed.  Complaining vehemently just makes you an unattractive candidate.

Explain it in terms of cultural fit, or lack thereof.  The most graceful way to explain why you are not with your last company without assigning any blame either way, is to say that you and your last employer were simply not a good fit.  Perhaps it was the right company but you didn’t fit the position or department you were in.  Maybe you would feel more comfortable in a small to midsize company culture, and your last employer just got too big.  However you spin it, make it about a bad “fit” and you are able to remain neutral, without assigning blame to your old employer or yourself.

Focus on your skills.  Now that you have established why you were not a perfect match for your last employer, let these new guys know why you are a good fit with them.  Focus on how your skills align beautifully with the set required for this new position.  Point out that the cultural vibe is just what you are looking for and why.  Describe how you can contribute to the company culture and how you feel you already fit in.  Demonstrate similarities in style.  However you can align your strengths with their needs – that’s what you should focus on.

The most important item to remember is to not talk badly about your previous employer.  Think of it this way:  You know that woman who is always gossiping and talking badly about everyone?  Well, you know how you wonder what she says about YOU when you’re not around?  If you are trashing your previous employer, you are that gossip lady.  Don’t be that gossip lady.  Be the gracious host of the party and offer positive information on what you can do for your potential NEW employer.  That’s what gets you lots of friends, and gets you invited back.

In the market for a new job?  Contact the professional staff at ERG Staffing Services and let us begin the placement process to get you into a new light industrial job today.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Building Loyalty Among Your Light Industrial Workers

June 15th, 2012

Light industrial workers make up such a large percentage of the work force, it’s important for employers to stay adequately staffed and retain their employees. High turnover is costly to your business and frustrating to your team. Assuming your compensation and benefits are comparable, what other factors will keep your employees working for you?  Here’s how to build loyalty in your staff, maintain a productive work environment, and save your company time and money.

Communication is key. 

  • Have a definite plan and direction for your team with specific goals.  Make sure everyone knows what the goals are and what their responsibilities are to reach them.  Holding employees accountable shows your respect for them, and this builds loyalty.
  • Try to interact one-on-one with each worker.  If your company is too large for this, the direct manager should handle this task.  Each worker should know that they are valued and that they aren’t an anonymous cog in the wheel of production.
  • Keep the lines of communication open.  The days of the suggestion box in the break room are gone.  It’s important that workers know their concerns will be heard.  You can even set up an email address specifically for this purpose.

Employee and team recognition – a little goes a long way.

  • When your team meets a goal, make sure they know their accomplishment is appreciated.  Yes, they get paid for their work, but verbal, public recognition is important in maintaining morale, and therefore company loyalty.
  • Recognize individuals as you observe them doing a good job.  A handshake and eye contact – personal interaction – is all it may take to make en employee feel valued and part of the team.  That small act can bring big results in an employee’s dedication to his job.
  • Don’t miss an opportunity to praise.  Too often managers focus on correction and negative feedback when positive reinforcement is actually more productive in changing behaviors.
  • A high functioning team creates a satisfying work environment.  A dysfunctional team can be destructive to morale and good workers will get frustrated and look for jobs elsewhere.  Don’t let poor performers get away with it.  Don’t keep weak managers in power.

Create the right environment.

  • Provide opportunities for growth.  If there aren’t many opportunities for upward mobility in your business, help employees develop new skills and give them new responsibilities.
  • Provide clean and inviting spaces for employees to have a break.
  • Provide all the tools necessary for people to do their jobs well.  Make sure equipment is up to date and in working order.  This shows that you respect their efforts and that you are willing to help them reach their highest potential.
  • Be as flexible as possible with schedules.  One of the main stresses workers feel is a conflict between their work life and their personal life.  Costco has a turnover rate that is one-third of the industry average—and they count flexibility as a key reason.  If you can offer flex time, job sharing or alternate schedules without hampering your team’s performance, you should consider doing so.

When a productive team member leaves, he takes all his organizational knowledge with him, and it only benefits his new employer— who is probably your competitor.  Fostering employee loyalty should become a priority for your entire management staff.

Contact the professionals at ERG Staffing if you want further tips on employee retention—and more!

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!