January 3rd, 2012
Voice mail. E-mail. Smart phones. Tablets.
Technologies like these are making managers more self-sufficient than ever – or are they?
I recently read a Harvard Business Review article entitled “The Case for Executive Assistants,” by Melba J. Duncan that changed my thinking. In the article, Duncan justifies the expense of having an assistant by showing the true value he can deliver. She argues that the average company has actually gone too far in cutting back on administrative help, and that – beyond merely writing business letters and scheduling meetings – a skilled executive assistant can:
- boost productivity and free you to focus on your top priorities;
- assist in on-boarding new managers;
- provide reverse mentoring;
- and act as the air traffic controller of an office, particularly for managers who travel frequently.
The bottom line? In many cases, having an assistant makes good business sense – but only if he’s used properly. So if and when you decide to add this valuable resource to your staff, remember these suggestions maximize his effectiveness:
- Develop a checklist of responsibilities. Consider tasks that could be shifted from higher level employees and add in new tasks that are important, but not currently being carried out. If several people are sharing the resources of your new assistant, be sure to clearly establish how he should allocate work time, to whom he should report, etc.
- Properly introduce and orient your assistant. Let your colleagues know that your assistant speaks and acts for you (or your work team/department).
- Don’t be afraid to delegate. If you hire intelligently, you should trust your assistant to figure out how to do the things you need accomplished.
- Have your assistant attend important meetings. This will facilitate his understanding of the issues facing your staff or department and help him to be viewed as an important contributor.
- Offer training. Technology and managerial training may help your assistant fill his changing role effectively – while making him a more valuable team member.
- Keep the lines of communication open. Make it easy for your assistant stay in touch with you, and let him know your preferred methods of communication. When delegating and giving instructions, be sure they are clear and precise. And since communication is a two-way street, listen to your assistant. Because he plays such a central role, he may be privy to vital information that you don’t readily have access to.
- Show him your appreciation for a job well done. Your assistant’s job is to help you be more successful in yours. Don’t forget to thank him when he’s made your job easier or helped you look good.
Let Priority Personnel Find You the Perfect Administrative or Executive Assistant
Surprisingly, hiring the ideal executive assistant can actually be more difficult than filling other management jobs. Priority Personnel can make the search quicker, easier and more cost-effective.
As an award-winning central Texas staffing firm, we know that personal chemistry between you and your assistant is paramount to long-term success. To that end, we will work diligently to understand the key traits and skills you require, as well as your company’s culture, business philosophy, values and goals – and then find you the perfect assistant. Contact us today to get started.
November 15th, 2011
Fact: Around our country, every day, employees and job applicants encounter discrimination.
Although today’s typical workplace may be generally more welcoming and accepting than one of generations past, many employers and workers still struggle with issues of diversity and tolerance. For a variety of reasons, employees continue to feel excluded from certain occupations – regardless of their qualifications and experience.
Earlier this year, President Obama signed an executive order creating an initiative to “promote the federal workplace as a model of equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion.” While this order applies specifically to the federal government as an employer, it drives home the importance of workplace diversity for all American organizations.
Promoting diversity in the workplace is vital for a number of reasons:
- It helps organizations actively identify and remove barriers to equal opportunities in all aspects of employment, including recruiting, hiring, promoting, retaining and developing professionals.
- It improves workplace cultures and team performance, by helping employees and managers alike to overcome long-held stereotypes and misconceptions.
- It encourages employers to develop and retain diverse, competitive workforces that draw on the talents of all parts of our society.
Unfortunately, factors such as age, race, gender, sexual preference and religious affiliation still influence recruiting, hiring, promotion and daily interaction in the workplace. The good news is, you have the power to change this reality. In addition to providing diversity training for your employees, use these ideas to help improve and promote diversity in your workplace:
Formalize anti-discrimination policies. Make it clear to all employees that discriminatory hiring, promotion and other practices will not be tolerated. If you haven’t already, formally introduce, implement, enforce and update clear anti-discrimination policies. Countless resources are available online, such as the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website. Their site provides guidance to help you add anti-discrimination policies to your employee handbook.
Establish responsibility and accountability. Diversity promotion and training usually falls to HR. If no such department exists, create a committee to help implement the policy you develop. Encourage members to continually develop new ideas on how to attract more diversity to your company.
Reach out to local organizations. Take a look at your existing workforce. Does it resemble the communities in which you operate? If not, develop a hiring strategy that allows for greater inclusion and representation. Talk to community leaders from churches, cultural institutions and colleges. Ask them to help you better connect with potential candidates who are under-represented in your workforce.
Ask employees for referrals. Your current staff may have peers in the industry or know qualified candidates who may be looking for work. The referring peer can help your new employee more easily adjust to his new work environment, especially if he is part of an under-represented group.
Expand your reach. Appeal to a wider audience by participating in job fairs and career expos. Make available postings more attractive to diverse job hunters by emphasizing details that will attract them.
Offer benefits that appeal to a diverse workforce. Demonstrate your willingness to hire from all segments of the workforce by offering programs such as:
- onsite daycare
- flexible work schedules
- job sharing
- childcare subsidiaries
- religious holiday accommodation
- diversity-friendly (but office appropriate) dress codes
Support new hires. As you develop a more diverse workforce, make sure the new employees you hire feel welcomed and valued. The first few weeks can be challenging for a new employee, so do what you can to help him get acclimated. Pair him with a mentor to help him develop new working relationships, and clearly communicate opportunities for advancement. Show him that he has a future in your company and he’ll be much more likely to stay.
Priority Personnel understands and promotes the value of diversity in the workplace. We are an Equal Opportunity Employer in Central Texas, helping all job seekers find rewarding employment opportunities.
October 4th, 2011
“The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple: to put more people back to work and more money in the pockets of those who are working.”
—President Barack Obama, September 8, 2011
In a time when some workers are living week to week, paycheck to paycheck or day to day, President Obama claims he can help our ailing economy by: introducing new tax cuts to help small businesses hire and grow; putting workers back on the job while rebuilding and modernizing America; creating pathways back to work for the unemployed.
Here is what President Obama says his American Jobs Act will do, if it is passed in its current form:
- Lead to new jobs for construction workers, teachers, veterans, first responders, young people and the long-term unemployed.
- Provide a tax break for companies who hire new workers or raise workers’ wages.
- Cut payroll taxes in half for every working American and every small business.
- Repair and modernize at least 35,000 schools.
- Give companies extra tax credits if they hire veterans.
- Give companies a $4,000 tax credit if they hire anyone who has spent more than six months looking for a job.
- Extend unemployment insurance for another year.
- Jolt our stalled economy and give companies the confidence that if they invest and hire, there will be customers for their products and services.
Follow this link to read the full text of the American Jobs Act.
Follow this link to read the short fact sheet for the American Jobs Act.
Follow this link to watch President Obama’s American Jobs Act speech on September 8, 2011.
What will the American Jobs Act mean for your business? That depends upon whom you ask. Here are two differing perspectives:
From Mokoto Rich (New York Times):
“The dismal state of the economy is the main reason many companies are reluctant to hire workers, and few executives are saying that President Obama’s jobs plan – while welcome – will change their minds any time soon…The plan failed to generate any optimism on Wall Street as the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index and the Dow Jones industrial average each fell about 2.7 percent.”
From Dan Pfeiffer (The White House Blog):
“Today, we’ve seen reports from economic analysts and statements from CEOs. All of their statements underscore the same message: the American Jobs Act will create jobs and is good for the American people. It will grow the economy, help middle class families and strengthen communities across the nation.”
As you can see, opinions about the potential effectiveness of the American Jobs Act vary greatly. The fact is, San Marcos employers won’t know for sure how it will impact business until Congress passes it (and there’s a chance it may not even pass).
In the meantime, Priority Personnel continues to help drive the local recovery. We deliver customized staffing solutions to help Central Texas employers achieve sustained business success in a volatile economy. What can we do for you? Contact Priority Personnel today.
September 6th, 2011
U.S. workers are working longer – and retiring later. Why?
According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s Retirement Confidence Survey (as reported by Workforce.com):
- about 36 percent of respondents cite the poor economy;
- 16 percent say their lack of faith in Social Security is forcing them to postpone retirement;
- 13 percent claim they simply can’t afford to stop working.
As a result, workers say they are more than twice as likely to work up to age 70 or older – a 25 percent increase from just a decade ago.
Rising numbers of older individuals remaining in the workforce creates both challenges and potential benefits for employers. On the one hand, workers delaying retirement adds pressure to companies already struggling to reduce payroll as profit dwindles. A glut of older workers also threatens to clog the talent pipeline for organizations who want to bring in new employees – at lower salary levels.
On the other hand, companies for which knowledge loss is a concern stand to gain a welcome benefit from a more mature workforce – less “brain drain.” Key managers have more time to plan for the departure of older workers, and therefore can be more strategic in retraining or transferring institutional knowledge.
As older workers continue to delay retirement, HR needs to respond by reevaluating the way they manage human capital. Instead of paying older workers to retire, HR should look for creative ways to take advantage of the shift in workforce demographics:
- Create cross-mentoring relationships. In a traditional mentor relationship, older, more experienced workers share knowledge with their less experienced counterparts. When it comes to technology, however, younger employees are often more savvy. Organizations can foster reverse mentorships, in which younger workers share their knowledge in areas like online social networking.
- Find new ways to attract younger workers. In a time when career advancement is likely to become more difficult, organizations should focus on new ways to bring top performers on board. When HR can’t necessarily offer rapid upward mobility to new talent, they can offer lateral movement. Lateral moves can help younger employees broaden their knowledge bases, become more valuable to the employer (increasing job security) and become more marketable overall.
Priority Personnel can help your organization proactively manage its personnel needs as our workforce changes. We provide temporary, temp-to-hire and direct placement services to employers throughout Central Texas. We are able to recruit and assess candidates for the following types of positions:
- Light Industrial
How will your organization address the shifts in workforce demographics? We at Priority Personnel would like to know. Please leave your comments below.
August 2nd, 2011
Has business picked up for you? Is your company experiencing growing pains? Are your employees putting in overtime?
All of these may be signs that you need to start hiring again. But with fluctuating workloads and an uncertain economy, determining whether or not you need to add permanent headcount can be a real challenge. On the one hand, you need to control overhead – hiring employees and then not having enough work for everyone can be financially devastating. On the other hand, you need to have sufficient staff to meet deadlines, keep employees working at peak efficiency and capitalize on new business opportunities.
So how do you know if you really need to hire someone? These questions will help you determine if you’re adequately staffed:
- In the past two months, have you needed to extend deadlines to meet commitments to your customers or employees?
Although managers often rationalize missed deadlines by pointing to factors unrelated to headcount, lack of people is usually the primary reason.
- Are employees complaining about working conditions?
An increase in the number of complaints – either casually or formally – may be a result of overwork or inadequate staff.
- Is your increase in business likely permanent?
If your organizational capacity is strained, but you’re not sure if the surge in demand will be permanent, you may want to consider using contract or temporary staff. Staffing services can quickly deliver the experienced talent you need to get work done – without adding to your direct headcount. If the increase in business proves permanent, you can then approach your staffing provider about converting contingent staff to direct employees.
- Are employees calling in sick more and more, or have health insurance claims risen?
Some employees choose not to express their dissatisfaction verbally. If they’re under too much stress, they may turn to doctors (medical or mental health professionals) for help, or simply choose not to come into work at all. If there’s been a recent rise in sick time or health insurance claims at your company, it may be caused by an overworked staff. Your employees may be doing too much with too little.
- Are employees taking advantage of vacation time?
If employees are not taking the time off they’re due, this could also be a symptom of overwork. They may feel like there’s simply too much to do, so they can’t take time off.
- Are overtime costs consistently on the rise?
If your overtime costs are going up on a regular basis, then you may be understaffed. You simply do not have a large enough workforce to meet the needs of your workflow.
- Have you turned down new opportunities because you don’t have enough people?
You’ll lose your competitive edge without the right people with the right skills in place.
- Are you following your business plan?
You created a business plan for a reason. But if you’re not following through with it, it may be due to a lack of time and resources.
Is it time to hire?
Priority Personnel can help you answer this important question. As a leading staffing and employment services company serving central Texas, we can help you determine if you need temporary, contract or direct staff to cost-effectively get your work done.
We invite you to contact us today to schedule a free workforce consultation. Together, we can critically examine your workforce challenges and design a staffing plan that makes the most sense for your business.
June 14th, 2011
The use of credit checks has grown over the last several years. According to a 2010 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, 60 percent of employers used credit reports for some or all of their background checks.
Employers use credit reports as a screening tool for a number of reasons:
- They believe it allows them to predict future behavior based on a candidate’s financial history.
- They are trying to prevent employee theft and assess the applicant’s trustworthiness.
- They want to reduce legal liability and negligent hiring.
But checking a job applicant’s credit is not without its potential drawbacks:
- An applicant who has been unemployed for a long period of time may have no choice but to incur inordinate amounts of debt and fall behind in paying bills. If the candidate has been out of work for months, that doesn’t necessarily mean he should be disqualified for employment.
- Credit reports fail to provide context. For example, if debt problems are the result of expensive medical procedures, a low credit score may not indicate anything about future job performance.
- Credit reports are not perfect. Ambiguous, dated, inaccurate and/or redundant data create the potential for credit score errors. While these errors are generally minor, employers should be aware that they exist.
- Credit reports may not be relevant for the job in question. Unless the person you’re hiring will have access to sensitive financial information, make financial decisions or handle money, a candidate’s credit report may be of little significance.
Given the potential benefits, as well as the potential drawbacks, are credit checks a legitimate screening tool? It depends on whom you ask.
According to Christine Walters, a representative for the SHRM during last October’s EEOC public hearing on the practice, effectiveness and impact of credit checks as a screening tool, “SHRM believes there is a compelling public interest in enabling our nation’s employers – whether that employer is in the government or the private sector – to assess the skills, abilities and work habits of potential hires.”
She and other hearing panelists pointed out that the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) of 1970 restricts employer use of credit reports to employment purposes. Under the law, the employer must give a job candidate the right to defend himself against (including refuting, explaining or correcting) any collected credit information that might weigh against him.
Chi Chi Wu, staff attorney with the National Consumer Law Center in Boston, expressed a different opinion. Given the state of the economy, she said that using credit history as a screening tool is “a practice that we believe is harmful and unfair to American workers. The use of credit history for job applicants is especially absurd when you are looking at an unemployment rate of 10 percent and have many workers looking for a job.”
As an employer, you are within your rights to check a job candidate’s credit. Before you do so, you should consider:
- how relevant the information you’re collecting is to the available position;
- the cost involved versus the benefit to be gained;
- whether or not your internal staff is trained in how to interpret the complex information contained in today’s credit reports;
- whether or not there may be potential adverse effects to checking an applicant’s credit.
Ensure Successful Placements with Priority Personnel
Finding the perfect candidates for your organization requires experience, in-depth knowledge of your business and a comprehensive screening process. Priority Personnel combines all of these to ensure the success of your next hire. Partner with Priority Personnel today and connect with Central Texas’ top light industrial, office/clerical, technical, professional and retail talent.
May 17th, 2011
Benefits. Perks. Extras. Whatever you call them, they really make a difference in today’s changing job market. Here are a few key ways the benefits we offer our temporary employees directly benefit you and your organization:
- Attract the best candidates. Today’s job seekers are savvy. Most know to choose a reputable staffing firm that provides extras like health insurance, dental/vision benefits and direct deposit. Priority Personnel’s value-added services help us attract, recruit and retain central Texas’ top talent – and put them to work for you.
- Keep the best candidates. Some staffing services are plagued by extremely high turnover rates, which translate into a “revolving door” of temporaries for their clients. The benefits and value-added services we provide not only attract top candidates, but keep them working for us. When temporary employees stay with us, they’re much more likely to stay working for you, delivering greater continuity throughout your assignments.
- Ensure workers stay healthy, focused and productive. The medical, dental and vision benefits we offer allow our employees to take care of their health issues. When employees are healthier, they have better attendance records and stay more focused on the work they do for you.
Priority Personnel Benefits – The Right Thing to Do
The economy is still tough and we realize that many people who come to us have lost their jobs and health benefits, too. Admittedly, Priority Personnel offers benefits to gain a recruiting advantage and deliver the best results for our clients. But honestly, the main reason we do it is because it’s just the right thing to do.
February 15th, 2011
In the wake of historic employment litigation (e.g., Vizcaino v. Microsoft), some companies have adopted policies limiting assignment length for temporary and contract employees from staffing firms. Why? These employers view assignment limits as a way to protect themselves from the kind of “retro-benefits” claims Microsoft faced back in the 1990s.
Unfortunately, these assignment limit policies have downsides. They can cause economic harm to on-time temporary or contract employees whose assignments are terminated prematurely, and they can disrupt your company’s business operations. To better protect your organization, you should closely examine its staffing policies to ensure that such limits are truly necessary – and not based on misinformation.
If you have questions about co-employment law, as it relates to assignment limits and associated benefits, here is a great resource with the answers you need. The American Staffing Association’s Staffing Smarts Intelligence Report: Assignment Limits and Concerns About Benefits Liability, by Edward A. Lenz, Esq., General Counsel, reviews the basic principles of law that apply to employee benefits plans, and then describes steps employers can take to avoid retro-benefits exposure:
Create a plan that expressly excludes staffing firm employees. The report suggests template language (that your legal counsel should review) you can use for the purpose of excluding staffing firm employees from participation in your Erisa plan.
Use employee waivers. In addition to amending benefits plans, you may be able to achieve additional protection through agreements in which the staffing firm’s employees expressly waive their right to the company’s benefits.
Allow the staffing firm to handle employment related functions for temporary and contract staff, such as: recruiting, screening, determining wages, hiring, firing, assigning, resolving disputes, disciplining, etc.
Keep the lines between direct staff and contingent staff clear. The report includes several other steps (such as channeling social invitations through the staffing firm) you can take to avoid blurring the distinction between your core staff and temporary employees.
Make Co-Employment Work with Priority Personnel. Read our tips for successful co-employment, or contact Priority Personnel with your staffing questions. Our goal is to help you use staffing to achieve more.
November 30th, 2010
Planned staffing and an on-site coordinator help San Marcos, TX manufacturer reduce costs while effectively managing their busiest season
For years, Bluescope Buildings North America, a manufacturer of pre-engineered metal buildings, struggled to manage the fluctuating demands of a cyclical business. In the past, the San Marcos company had dealt with their seasonal upswing the way many other manufacturers do – by scrambling to hire workers when business surged, and then either finding enough work to keep those individuals busy once the rush ended, or laying them off and paying unemployment.
Faced with yet another busy season, Plant Manager Joel Williams turned to Priority Personnel, their preferred staffing service, for help.
Dan Roy, President and CEO of Priority Personnel, worked directly with Joel and his HR department to develop a cost-effective way to staff Bluescope’s peak production periods with qualified workers, without incurring the costs (e.g. recruiting, unemployment, workers’ compensation, taxes) of their current hire-then-fire cycle. After examining the detailed records of Bluescope’s ordering history with Priority Personnel, it became clear that a planned staffing option would best suit their workforce needs.
Implementing a planned staffing solution included the following steps:
- Bluescope and Priority set new wage levels to attract the best temporary industrial talent for their needs.
- Together, they then identified the types of positions, required skills and number of workers needed to manage Bluescope’s busy season.
- Priority Personnel began aggressively recruiting, screening and testing candidates to develop a talent pool for Bluescope that was available to work at a moment’s notice.
- Next, Bluescope reduced its core workforce to a level needed to adequately staff the low end of their business cycle.
- Priority Personnel then implemented a just-in-time staffing system, rapidly delivering talented temporary workers to handle Bluescope’s upsurges in production. At one point during their busy season, 1/3 of Bluescope’s workforce was supplied by Priority Personnel!
- To facilitate their large temporary workforce, Priority Personnel provided an on-site coordinator who worked at BlueScope during their busy season. This individual assigned temporary workers, conducted safety orientations and handled daily temporary employee issues as they arose.
Planned staffing now complements this manufacturer’s core workforce to effectively manage the seasonal changes in their production levels. As a result of this proactive workforce management solution, Bluescope enjoys the following benefits:
- Ability to quickly ramp-up staff to manage peak production periods, without the additional expense and administrative burden of hiring and then laying-off permanent staff.
- Cost-effective management of variable labor costs. When the demand is not there, neither is the labor cost.
- Reduced personnel expenses. By using temporary labor, Bluescope pays only for productive hours worked – and avoids paying benefits, payroll taxes, workers’ compensation, unemployment, etc.
- Simplified staffing. An on-site representative manages the day-to-day administration of a large temporary workforce.
- More time for HR. Because Priority Personnel handles recruiting, screening, testing and background checks for their temporary workers, Bluscope’s HR staff is free to focus on other important priorities.
- High quality workers. Priority Personnel anticipates Bluescope’s staffing needs. Proactive recruiting has yielded higher quality workers, some of whom have been offered direct positions with Bluescope.
- Minimal discipline, safety and attendance problems. Contrary to what the Plant Manager expected, Priority Personnel’s temporary workforce has been as hardworking, safe and reliable as Bluescope’s direct employees.
“Using Priority Personal to staff our facility during our peak periods of business has allowed us to reduce our variable cost for labor. The strategic plan to engage a higher quality temporary employee with the skill sets needed to meet our business demands paid great dividends for us this past year. Priority’s ability to provide 1/3 of my total workforce with good, trained professional individuals was outstanding.”
Joel A. Williams
Bluescope Buildings North America
Priority Personnel – Your Organization’s Key to Strategic Staffing Success
As a leading San Marcos staffing firm, Priority Personnel can do much more than provide great workers for your short-term needs. Our staffing professionals can help you critically examine your workforce needs, and develop a staffing strategy that makes your organization more successful. Call us today to schedule a free workforce consultation.
November 16th, 2010
The boomers are retiring.
This is not news, of course, but their mass exodus from the workforce does create a potential problem for many organizations – namely, identifying new leaders to fill the boomers’ shoes. In addition to closing the talent gap this generation will leave, other reasons to proactively develop new leaders include:
- Keeping pace with constantly changing business strategies
- Quickly filling new roles created by organizational growth, as we emerge from the recession
- Adapting to job realignments caused by mergers and acquisitions
- Heading-off potential skill shortages
- Increasing employee engagement and productivity
Does your company’s succession plan address all these issues? The truth is, many organizations are too busy managing the daily pressures created by a lengthy recession to look that far down the road. But to win the talent war, you need to start assessing, planning and developing leaders now. Here are a few strategies to make your succession planning more effective:
- Create a plan before talent needs become talent crises. Remove some of the stress caused by finding the right person for a job by planning for future needs now. Careful planning will minimize workforce disruption, increase knowledge transfer and increase employee engagement / loyalty by providing clear career paths.
- Let your best employees know about your plans for them. Tell your key talent that your company has high expectations for them. Prepare them and increase their buy-in by letting them know that you will be investing in their futures and will be facilitating moves to enhance their professional development.
- Define criteria and profiles against which to measure employees’ potential. Logically, you want to develop employees with the greatest potential – but potential for what? Work together with key executives to map out the future requirements for success in key positions (i.e., what will tomorrow’s leaders have to be able to do to succeed in these roles?). Use these criteria as a measuring stick for evaluating each individual’s potential.
- Assess current employees’ skills and competencies. Once success criteria have been defined, you must invest the time and money to objectively and validly assess what your internal talent can do. While each company must decide which tools best fit its individual needs, popular ones include: assessments from the candidate’s circle of influence; career achievement summaries to capture work experiences; psychometric tools; behavioral interviews to probe against established criteria for success.
- Create plans to close the gap. Once you understand where current employees are and where they need to be, you can customize talent development plans to close the gap. As potential leaders progress in their growth, keep them updated on hiring decisions. Monitor their interest and involve them in the development process as much as possible, to keep them invested for the long-term. Most importantly, make sure their career aspirations are aligned with your succession plans, to keep you both working toward the same goal.
After assessing employees, some businesses find a lack of internal talent with the potential for leadership. That’s where Priority Personnel can help. We can recruit, screen and identify individuals who have the skills, competencies and behavior traits to become future leaders within your organization. Call us to find out more about our direct hire services for Central Texas employers.