Priority Personnel Blog

10 Ideas for Better Staffing Results

July 19th, 2011

Great staffing results don’t happen by accident.

They occur when smart people (like you) invest in creating the best possible relationship with a quality staffing firm (like Priority Personnel).  Don’t leave your staffing success to chance.  Use these 10 ideas to achieve better staffing results:

  1. Give temporary employees formal job descriptions. Job descriptions should be well-defined, prioritized, current and submitted in writing to your staffing firm.  They should include your expectations in terms of candidate abilities and experience, along with specific performance goals and standards.
  2. Give your staffing service as much lead-time as possible. This will optimize your chances of finding an ideal candidate for the assignment and may give you more than one suitable candidate to choose from.  And when lead-time isn’t an option, let your staffing provider know which skills and traits are most critical for the assignment.
  3. Be mindful of cut-rate deals. People – including temporary employees – are your organization’s most important asset.  They should be viewed as an investment, not an expense.  When it comes to staffing, you get what you pay for, so work with a staffing service that takes the time to fill your needs correctly.
  4. Train your staffing services representative. Educate your staffing representative on your company’s mission statement, goals, culture, history and current performance.  Tell them what types of work styles or personalities will fit best in your organization.  Familiarizing your representative with your company’s needs and preferences helps your staffing partner become a more knowledgeable extension of your human resources department.
  5. Take full advantage of your staffing vendor’s resources. Invest a little time to learn about your staffing firm’s full range of capabilities and value-added services, so you can take maximum advantage of their resources.  A good service can provide not only qualified candidates, staffing flexibility and cost savings, but staffing expertise and employee relations support as well.  To learn more about your staffing service, request a tour or a capabilities demonstration.
  6. Set clear expectations. Establish mutually agreed upon expectations for interaction with your staffing supplier at the beginning of your relationship.  This may include order-placing procedures, appropriate quality control checks and feedback methods.  Setting expectations will ensure clear communication and expedient service.
  7. Benchmark performance. Find out what tests candidates are required to take at your staffing firm.  When candidates are referred to you, ask what their test scores are.  Establish preferred scoring levels for placements within your company, using your own employees as benchmarks.  Additionally, encourage your temporary employees to take advantage of training available at the staffing firm.
  8. Provide feedback. Maintain an ongoing dialogue and honest relationship with your staffing contacts, keeping them abreast of changes in your company.  Provide feedback on their service and the performance of their temporary employees.  Meet regularly to obtain their input on what you can do to improve the quality of service and placements.
  9. Create a partner in your success. Consider involving a staffing firm in your company’s business planning.  For example, you might include your staffing representative in an annual meeting to plan staffing strategies.  Staffing experts can offer valuable insight regarding the possible uses of strategic staffing to meet your needs for workload variations, new hires and managing attrition.  They can also offer valuable market data to help you retain key employees.
  10. Reward results. High quality staffing firms focus on more than filling orders.  They want to help you save time, lower expenses and get work done.  When you find a vendor who does a great job, look for opportunities to enhance the relationship.  Invite them in.  Challenge them to help you solve problems.  See what you can do to reward their good results.  Not only will you make your top vendor happy, you’ll increase their commitment to your success.

What can Priority Personnel do for you?  Give us a call.  Together, we can explore opportunities to enhance your staffing results by:

  • identifying inefficiencies where work could be performed at a lower cost;
  • providing access to qualified and diverse candidates seeking temporary employment;
  • offering the staffing flexibility you need to stay fluid during economic challenges.


Time Out! U.S. Workers are Foregoing Vacation Plans, But is This Really in Your Company’s Best Interest?

July 5th, 2011

Work/life balance.  It’s one of those nebulous issues with which employers continually wrestle.  On the one hand, work needs to be done.  On the other hand, the pressure to get that work done can lead to a host of problems which zap employees’ productivity.

Financial constraints and demanding work schedules have made work a higher priority than ever for Americans.  A recent study by CareerBuilder shows that, as a result, many U.S. workers are foregoing vacation plans this year:

  • 24 percent of full-time workers say they can’t afford to take a vacation in 2011, up from 21 percent in 2010.
  • An additional 12 percent can afford a vacation but don’t have plans to take one in 2011.

While these statistics may mean more total hours worked in your organization, your company might actually see greater benefits from encouraging employees to take time-off.


Overwork can increase absenteeism, burnout and turnover, and make employees more prone to errors on the job.  Conversely, workers with a healthy work/life balance tend to have less burnout, greater creativity and higher quality output.  And when things get stressful on the job, “balanced” employees are better equipped to handle the burden.  Bottom line, taking time-off is vital not only to an employee’s well-being and performance, but to your company’s, too.

As our economy heals, here are a few recommendations for encouraging your workers to take the time-off they need, while keeping your business running smoothly:

  • Require sufficient notice.  If you don’t have one, develop formal policy outlining guidelines for taking vacation (i.e., giving adequate notice, coordinating with other employees’ requests for time-off, scheduling time-off before or after big projects/events, etc.).  The more lead-time you have, the better equipped your company will be to handle the extra workload.
  • Encourage shorter, more frequent breaks. If employees can’t take a number of days off at once, suggest they take long weekends or midweek breaks.  Shorter vacations still afford employees the ability to recharge, with less disruption to your workflow.
  • Ensure adequate coverage. Require employees to cross-train and prepare co-workers, to ensure adequate coverage while they’re gone.  At a minimum, ask employees to review: critical responsibilities, upcoming deadlines, where information is stored, key contacts and parameters for reaching them while they’re on vacation.
  • Lead by example. Are you a workaholic?  If so, here’s a perfect reason to reform your ways.  Management support for work/life balance is critical and must come from the top.  Set an example of maintaining a healthy balance and make it known that the same is expected from rank-and-file employees, too.
  • Call Priority Personnel for the support you need. If your business is like most, your staff is already stretched thin.  When one person goes on vacation, it can be difficult for others to manage the additional workload.  Call Priority Personnel to provide the talented, reliable individuals you need during vacation periods.  Our employees hit the ground running and keep your business running smoothly, so your employees can take the time-off they deserve.

Hiring Still Slow? Now is the Time to Review Your Employment Screening Process

March 15th, 2011

The BLS Employment Situation Summary continues to paint an anemic economic picture.

Economists continue to talk about a “jobless recovery,” with many employers focusing on productivity gains, as opposed to hiring, to manage any increases in business.

What’s the upside?

Well, if your company isn’t focused on hiring right now, it may be the perfect time for you to review and improve your employment screening process.  Doing so could help you:

  • increase compliance;
  • reduce theft, fraud and accidents;
  • prepare you to make even better hires when the time comes.

As experts in employment screening, Priority Personnel recommends taking the following steps to reduce the potential for negligent hiring and discrimination:

Consult with your attorney. If you hire on your own, you should have your legal counsel review your screening process to ensure you’re complying with all current legislation and hiring regulations.

Be consistent. Your screening process should be the same for all candidates within comparable job descriptions.  If you do a background check on one manager, you should also conduct the same background check with candidates for all similar positions.  In addition to preventing anyone from “slipping through the cracks,” a uniform process helps minimize your exposure to litigation.

Use social media carefully. Social media has made access to candidate information fast, easy and free.  But if you intend to use this publicly available information to screen candidates, make sure that you obtain written permission and follow all EEOC and FCRA provisions.

Formalize and document your process. If you don’t already have one in place, now is the time to standardize, formalize and document your background screening policies and procedures.  Creating a formal policy makes screening more effective, efficient and consistent.  Furthermore, should a problem arise, your ability to show that you applied fair, consistent and documented screening processes will limit your legal exposure.

Reduce your risks and make better quality hires with Priority Personnel.

Hiring top talent – honest, hardworking individuals who do what they claim they can do – is critical to your organization’s continued success.  Priority Personnel’s Direct Hire Services can help ensure that success.  Here are just a few of the benefits our comprehensive, accurate screening process provides:

  • transfer employment screening risks such as discrimination and negligent hiring;
  • create a safer work environment;
  • build a more productive workforce;
  • save time and eliminate process bottlenecks employment screening creates;
  • hire the best talent available – pre-screened, reference-checked, skills-verified and ready to perform for you.

Work with Priority Personnel and your hiring decisions can be made with confidence – guaranteed.

Why Written Job Descriptions Yield Better Temporary Staffing Results

March 1st, 2011

Ever play “whisper down the lane”?

Also known as ”telephone,” this popular children’s game provides a simple, yet critical illustration of how important information can get lost in translation.

Great fun if you’re just playing around, but not so great for business.

When it comes to ordering temporary personnel, many of our clients call in their job orders.  Sure, it’s quick and convenient, but did you know that placing your order verbally is not the most effective way to work with us?

The reason is simple – verbal job descriptions can change as they’re transmitted from person to person, resulting in a “whisper down the lane” effect.  Consider, for example, how many people are potentially involved in the “lane” of communication when a job order is placed.  A department manager contacts HR with a need; HR contacts a staffing service coordinator with the order; the coordinator speaks with the staffing firm’s recruiter; the recruiter then communicates the job description to an employee.

See the potential problem?  While a verbal approach may seem easier, challenges can arise when duties get added or subtracted, or if job titles change over time.  As a result, the staffing provider may not send you the best match for the assignment.

At Priority Personnel, we highly recommend that you submit or approve a written job description to which everyone in the line (or “lane”) of communication can refer.  Doing so will eliminate miscommunications, misunderstandings and confusion, and ensure that you get the best employee for the assignment.

Improve your temporary staffing success by working with Priority Personnel, your Central Texas staffing service.

10 Things That Good Bosses Do

February 24th, 2011

This month in Great Ideas, we’re focusing on a topic that’s critical to the success of any business–being an effective boss and leader.

Check out these 10 attributes of great bosses, and discover new ways you can motivate and inspire employees to perform at their best.

Co-Employment Law: Quick Quiz and Tips for Success

November 8th, 2010

Test Your Knowledge
Co-employment laws are those that govern any situation in which two legally distinct employers (typically a staffing firm and their business client) have employer-employee relationships with the same person.  Over the past several years, co-employment law has rapidly evolved in response to the increased use of temporary and contract staff. 

So how up-to-date is your legal knowledge?  Find out by taking the American Staffing Association’s Staffing Smarts Quiz on Co-Employment Law.  This quick 5-question quiz tests your knowledge of the legal issues involved in temporary and contract staffing arrangements.

Tips for Making Co-Employment Work
When co-employment problems occur, they often stem from situations in which a client company unnecessarily assumes employment responsibilities over temporary or contract workers.  To maximize the effectiveness of your co-employment arrangement, while minimizing the potential for problems, use these practical tips:

  • Let the staffing firm do its job.  When you pay a temporary or contract employee’s hourly bill rate, included in that rate are the services the staffing firm provides – recruiting, interviewing, testing and selecting candidates.  To head-off potential problems, allow the staffing service (who is the employer of record for these workers) to perform these tasks.
  • Take advantage of on-site coordinators.  If you have a large temporary workforce, ask your staffing service to provide an on-site representative.  This individual can reinforce the staffing service’s role as employer, by carrying out administrative functions, handling performance counseling and addressing disciplinary action.  Although there may be a charge involved, the benefits usually far outweigh the costs of an on-site coordinator.
  • Give the staffing firm specific feedback on their employees’ job performance.  If performance issues arise, it may seem natural for you to speak directly with the temporary or contract worker assigned to you.  But to steer clear of potential co-employment problems, you should instead speak with your staffing representative about your concerns.  That way, when the individual is subjected to disciplinary action, the staffing service will be able to provide him or her with the performance-related reason for the action – making the individual far less likely to consider the action to be discriminatory, or to file a charge.
  • Allow the staffing firm to handle employee termination.  If you are dissatisfied with a temporary or contract worker, ask your staffing provider to handle disciplinary action and / or termination and replacement.  Provide information about the individual’s work performance to your staffing representative, and then allow them to handle the rest.
  • Review your benefit plan descriptions.  Ask an expert to make sure that the language in your benefit plan effectively excludes temporary employees.  To guard against lawsuits that stem from ambivalent wording, be sure to incorporate exclusionary language that makes benefit entitlement dependent upon your employment classifications – regardless of common law definitions.

Ensure Successful Co-Employment with Priority Personnel

As a leading staffing firm in San Marcos, Texas, Priority Personnel’s staffing experts can work with you to develop effective co-employment procedures from both a legal and operational standpoint.  Give us a call to learn more .

Improve Your Staffing Results: Educate Direct Employees, Take Advantage of Training

September 7th, 2010

Temporary employees can be a great asset to your organization.  They can help you meet critical deadlines, fill-in for unplanned absences and free your core staff to focus on their most important tasks.

But if your company uses large numbers of temporary employees, it’s easy for your direct staff to fall into an “Us vs. Them” mentality.  And while treating temporary workers as an entirely separate workforce may seem innocuous, the practice can have unintended consequences for your direct employees. 

For example, research from the University of Arizona has found that direct employees (particularly at lower levels) are less satisfied with co-workers and bosses when working with a higher proportion of temporary employees.  Why?  The responsibility of training and socializing temporary workers on company-specific processes is often assigned to direct employees.  As a result, having more temporaries can complicate full-time workers’ jobs.

Here are a few suggestions for improving the working relationship between temporary and direct employees to achieve even better staffing results:

  • Make temporary employees feel welcome.  While temporaries are, in fact, a separate part of your workforce (and must be treated differently because of co-employment laws), you and your staff can still make them feel welcome in your organization.  By encouraging social interaction (e.g., formal or informal introductions) among all workers, you can foster social ties that are essential to a cohesive workforce.
  • Educate your direct staff.  Take the time to clearly explain the role and value of temporary workers.  The better your direct employees understand the benefits temporary help provides, the more likely they’ll be to work productively with them.
  • Take advantage of training.  If you use large numbers of temporaries, many staffing services will develop customized orientation and training programs for specific positions.  This shifts the time-consuming burden of getting new temporary employees up-to-speed off your direct employees’ shoulders.

Bottom line, there are a number of steps you can take keep relations between temporary and direct employees positive.  And the more positive their working relationship, the better your results will be.  Contact Priority Personnel today to learn more about our staffing services for San Marcos employers.

Hiring: Tips for Writing Effective Candidate Rejection Letters

August 3rd, 2010

These days, with a greater number of candidates vying for the same openings in your company, you may find yourself having to say “No” more often.  Needless to say, writing rejection letters can be an unpleasant and stressful part of the hiring process.

But even when you can’t offer a job applicant the position, you can still end the interview process on a positive note.  Here are some quick tips for writing candidate rejection letters in a constructive way, to build good will with candidates and position your company as an employer of choice:

  • Send out the rejection letter promptly.  If you’re certain you will not be hiring the individual, let him know that he was not selected as soon as possible.  Even when the news is bad, your timely follow-up will convey a high level of professionalism.
  • Always use formal company letterhead for a rejection letter and never handwrite it.
  • Address your candidate by name.  Further customize the letter with the position for which he applied, as well as a supportive comment about the applicant’s qualifications, experience or enthusiasm.  Although a rejection letter is basically a form letter, your candidate shouldn’t feel as though it is.
  • Be direct, but gracious.  Make it clear that there were other candidates more qualified for the job, but do so in a respectful way.
  • When appropriate, encourage further action.  If the candidate is a good culture fit, and may be qualified for other openings with your company, say so.  Encourage him to stay in touch and apply again.
  • Always end on a positive note.  Thank the candidate for applying and interviewing.  Wish him good luck in his career development.  Remember, this may be the final impression this individual has of your company – make sure it’s a favorable one.
  • Close the letter formally with “Sincerely,” or “Best wishes,” and sign your name.

Don’t want to write rejection letters? 

Call Priority Personnel, a leading Central Texas staffing firm, with your direct placement needs.  We’ll handle every step of the process – from recruiting to testing and initial interviews - and only present you with the most qualified candidates.  If you decide not to hire an individual we refer, just let us know and we’ll take care of the rest.

Five Traits to Help Identify Mentors in Your Organization

July 6th, 2010

An effective mentoring program provides a wide range of business benefits:

  • Facilitated onboarding.  Mentoring speeds up the process of bringing on new hires as well as redeploying existing employees into new lines of work.
  • Increased employee satisfaction and retention.  Research has shown that employees who participate in mentoring programs have higher job satisfaction and reduced turnover.
  • Improved employee productivity.  When employees are mentored, they can get answers to common problems quickly – without wasting time on rediscovering or re-inventing solutions.
  • Effective career growth / succession planning.  Mentoring programs help employees reach their full career potential, grooming them to fill key roles as part of an organization’s succession plan.
  • Knowledge management and retention.  Mentoring promotes effective knowledge sharing, to reduce the risk of losing critical skills and knowledge when employees leave.

Obviously, mentors can play an important role in ensuring your company’s continued success.  But while identifying a budding protégé may be straightforward, identifying a potential mentor can be more complex.  Whether that person is you, one of your managers, or an outside expert, a mentor should possess the following professional and personal attributes:

  1. Senior-level business experience.  To provide guidance, the expert should have several years experience working in senior corporate positions.  At a minimum, the expert should be a professional peer to the protégé.
  2. Interpersonal and political “know-how.”  The expert ought to be proficient in handling all sorts of complex interpersonal dynamics within the context of office politics.  To be an effective trainer, the expert must be able to help the protégé navigate the tricky political waters of his organization.
  3. Integrity and confidentiality.  Professional development involves discussing high-level, strategic, off-the-record information, as well as sensitive personal issues.  Honesty and discretion are essential when broaching these confidential topics.
  4. Organizational and personal insight.  The expert must have an in-depth understanding of the company’s objectives, needs and hierarchy.  Equally, he must also appreciate the protégé’s strengths, weaknesses and goals.  To achieve professional development goals, the trainer must align both the company’s and the protégé’s interests.
  5. Flexibility and ingenuity.  When egos, ambitions and agendas collide, sparks fly.  What works for an organization one day may be thrown out the window the next.  An expert trainer must be able to shift gears, develop solutions on the fly, throw out tactics that prove ineffective and come up with new ones – fast.  He must be comfortable dealing with uncertainty to navigate a corporate environment rife with change.

Need a promising protégé?  Looking for your next mentor? Contact us today.  As San Marcos’ leading staffing firm, Priority Personnel can provide the talented individuals your organization needs.

Land the Best Candidate When Budgets are Tight

June 15th, 2010

Tips for Successful Salary Negotiations

Congratulations!  You’ve found a superstar with the ideal skills, personality and experience for the position.

But you still have one hurdle to overcome – salary negotiations.  Landing the cream of the crop without blowing your personnel budget can be tricky.  To help, here is a quick list of strategies for negotiating salary with high performers:

  1. Have the right mindset.  Negotiation is a process, not a war.  At all costs, avoid the pitfalls of the “us vs. him/her” mentality.  Instead, enter the salary negotiation process open-minded, with the ultimate goal of hiring the best possible candidate for your company.
  2. Do your homework.  Rest assured your candidate will have done his.  Before heading into negotiations, prepare yourself by:  reviewing the candidate’s salary history; consulting relevant salary surveys; knowing what your competitors are paying; understanding current market and economic conditions; factoring in cost-of-living differences; and developing a comprehensive compensation package.
  3. Use a negotiating point person.  In multiple interview situations, a candidate may ask salary questions of more than one interviewer.  Be prepared.  Prevent potentially catastrophic communication errors by designating a single person to discuss and negotiate salary with a candidate.
  4. Never lowball a candidate if there is a good fit.  A top candidate knows what he’s/she’s worth.  If you lowball him/her in an attempt to save a few dollars, he/she will likely be insulted and reject the offer without even countering.
  5. Sell the intangibles.  Identify a candidate’s “hot buttons” – intangibles which are just as important to him/her as money.  Leverage these intangibles (e.g. company culture, stability, challenging work, opportunity for advancement, flexible hours, etc.) to sweeten the deal when your pay range is maxed out.
  6. Be up-front if you can’t negotiate.  If your initial offer is not negotiable (because of budgetary or other constraints), tell the candidate when making the offer.  If possible, provide an explanation.  The candidate will understand that your base salary offer is firm, and will then move on to negotiating other parts of the compensation package.

Work with Priority Personnel.  Avoid the pitfalls of salary negotiations by using our direct placement services.  We can handle every step of the process from initial screening through salary negotiations, to ensure you land a top performer without breaking the bank.