SOLUTIONS Staffing Better Staffing Results Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:23:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Why Your National Staffing Contract Isn’t Working (And What To Do About It) Thu, 13 Mar 2014 17:59:37 +0000 alt text image of a grung version of the United States map

Over the years we have seen many companies sign national agreements with staffing firms. The idea behind the national agreement is that the client company consolidates their spending allowing them to command a lower price, ensure consistency across all their locations, and exercise control over their processes. These are all important goals. But national agreements also come with a cost.

We’ve seen many client companies with national agreements struggle to get what they need at the local level. When the national agreement fails some locations, it’s often for one of these reasons:

  • Presence: The national or international agency doesn’t have a strong enough presence in some area where the client has a location with real needs. The national or international staffing firm may have an office, but the office may not be strong enough to handle a particular location’s business. These locations tend to be neglected and ignored. They are often forced to abide by the national contract even though doing so damages their overall results.
  • Misaligned incentives: Sometimes a national or international agency will assign a location to a franchised branch office. These offices have their own goals, and the amount of business they are awarded may not make it worth their time or trouble. They may also have their own clients who take priority, making it difficult for them to serve the national contract. (One of us worked for a large, international staffing firm. The franchised locations refused to fill orders on a national agreement because the rate was too low to make it profitable. They served their own clients instead).
  • Resources: We’ve also seen national agreements fail when an agency wins a contract and opens the satellite office to serve a particular location. These offices are often run with minimal staff, because there isn’t enough business in a particular location to command greater resources. The client company’s location suffers, even though the rest of the organization may benefit from the national agreement.

How to Get Help

  1. Speak Up!: The first step in obtaining an alternative service to your national contract is to openly share your challenges with your corporate office. If you’ve given the staffing firm an opportunity to make corrections, document those conversations and your internal metrics so you can share them with your corporate office. Your corporate office’s staffing program doesn’t succeed if you don’t, and we have found that most are willing to do what is necessary to ensure all of their locations succeed.
  2. Alternative Provider: The second step is to identify an alternative provider that can meet the requirements of the national agreement. Even though your location may not be able to command as low a price as you might obtain through a national contract, investing slightly more in the outcomes you need can help ensure that you reach your goals—and that you don’t lose more money than would be gained by adhering to the national agreement. By sharing your existing agreement with an alternative staffing service, you can ensure that they are willing and able to abide by all the requirements of your corporate office.
  3. Present Options: Finally, work with the local staffing firm to present options to your corporate office. The staffing firm you choose will be willing to help meet the requirements of your national agreement, and they will be willing to communicate to your corporate office how they intend to ensure their compliance.
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6 Qualities That Make A Great Employee Fri, 31 Jan 2014 17:12:47 +0000 alt text image of a gold appleHiring well is as much an art as is a science. It’s easy to believe that a person with the right work history and the right skills will make a good employee. But it isn’t that simple. Most of the qualities that make an employee great don’t show up in their work history, and they aren’t necessarily “work” related skills either.

Here are six of the dozens of qualities that we believe make an employee great.

Integrity: Integrity means honesty. But it also means something more than that. It means that you are consistent in your words and your actions, that you walk your talk. This is the foundational quality that makes an employee  great.

Empathy: An employee with the ability to understand and share the feelings of another employee is a good team member. That ability to recognize how someone else feels eliminates all kinds of workplace conflicts and misunderstandings. This quality is especially important for someone in a leadership, management, or supervisor role.

Humor: A sense of humor helps make even the most difficult situations easier. The ability to interrupt people’s patterns with laughter helps to keep things in perspective and can make work more enjoyable.

Persistence: The ability to keep at something when it is difficult is an important and overlooked quality. But when the work is challenging, you want an employee who will keep at it until they find a way to achieve the necessary outcome.

Enthusiasm: Enthusiasm, or passion, is infectious. An employee who is fired up about their work tends to set the standard for those around them. Enthusiasm isn’t visible on a resume, and it is sometimes difficult to gauge in an interview, when a potential employee may be nervous. But if you can find and unleash it, it is a powerful quality of great employees.

Courage: It takes courage to challenge negativity, cynicism, and snarkiness. It takes courage to share your ideas about how things might be done better. When you are faced with a real challenge, you want to be surrounded by courageous people who will help you deal effectively with that challenge.

What qualities do you look for in an employee?

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6 Ways to Ensure You Hire the Right Candidate Mon, 27 Jan 2014 11:00:46 +0000 alt text image of a person stacking dice with people on the sides

Hiring the right candidate is never easy. It takes time and effort. Following these six steps will take a little bit more time, but following them will make up for that investment of time by eliminating your need to rehire later.

  1. Start with a Good Job Description: You have a much better chance of finding the right candidate for your open position if you start with a really good job description. It takes time to write and develop a job description, but it pays dividends later as you work to ensure that the candidate you choose has the skills to succeed. Spend the time to create a job description that helps you verify a candidate’s skills fit the job description.
  2. Use a Behavioral Interview: A good job description can help you verify a candidate has the right skills, but their soft skills are likely more important. A behavioral interview helps you to identify what a candidate believes about work, how they deal with adversity, and the actions they believe should take in real situations. Design questions that put the candidate in the real life situations they are likely to face should you hire them.
  3. Make Sure There is a Cultural Fit: Some people just work better together. Some people just do their best work in certain environments. If the team you are hiring for is fast-paced and high energy, the right candidate needs to fit in that existing culture. If the manager is demanding and expects her people to act independently, the right candidate is going to need to be comfortable and confident with that expectation. Make sure the candidate is going to fit the team they will be joining.
  4. Identify Weaknesses You Can’t Change: There are no perfect people (we’ve checked). Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. The trick is to identify the weaknesses that an individual has to determine whether or not you can live them, or whether or not you can give them training to mitigate those weaknesses. Make good choices about what you can help people with and what you can’t.
  5. Get a Second Opinion: No matter how strongly you feel about a candidate, get a second opinion. The more important the position, the more opinions you should gather. We all have blind spots. We’ve all fallen in love with a potential employee only to be disappointed after hiring them. Someone else can often see things you don’t see. Schedule second interviews with someone who sees your blind spots.
  6. Stop Screening Resumes and Interview More: If we could offer our clients only one piece of advice that would radically change their hiring results it would be to stop looking for  magic words on resumes and start interviewing more candidates. We successfully place thousands of candidates that some clients passed over because they didn’t see what they believed they needed to see on the candidate’s resume. Those candidates go on to successfully work somewhere else. Do more, shorter interviews to build a pool of candidates. Then do longer interviews with the candidates that stand out.
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What Temporary Employees Want Tue, 21 Jan 2014 19:24:02 +0000 alt text image of a graph

[Click here for a larger version of this chart]

The fourth quarter in Columbus, Ohio is always a difficult quarter. There aren’t enough employees to meet the demands of all of the retail distribution companies whose enormous demand for temporary employees all peak at the same time. Last year, 2013, was the toughest and most competitive peak season we’ve ever experienced.

Over the last three weeks, we have begun to survey our candidates to help our clients dial in their employee value proposition. Some of the results have been surprising. Others have been exactly what we expected. We are still collecting surveys, but the preliminary results already provide some insight.

Pay Rate

Our survey asks our candidates to rank 9 factors in order of importance. The dominant factor is pay rate with 25% of all candidates ranking this number one. We didn’t expect to see anything different. But we were surprised to discover that women rank pay rate higher, with 29% ranking pay as the most important factor (compared with 22% for men).

Over all, 63% of all respondents ranked pay rate in their top three factors for selecting a position, which leads all other factors by 31%.

Shift Hours

Based on our experience last quarter, we believed that shift hours would have been ranked highest. We had more candidates refuse work for shift than pay. Just over 10% of all respondents ranked shift as their number one deciding factor. However, combining the responses that rank shift hours either first, second, or third results in 48%, our second highest factor.

Potential for Full Time

We didn’t expect this factor to rank as high as it did. We thought it would follow location. But 19% of all respondents ranked potential for full time hire first. The total ranking potential for full time hire as the first, second, or third factor also results in just under 46%, another statistical tie with shift hours.

The fourth most important factor in selecting a temporary assignment is too close to ignore or overlook. That factor is location, coming in at almost 45%.

The Implications for You and Your Company

These are our preliminary results based on just over 350 surveys from our offices in Columbus, Cincinnati, Charlotte, Atlanta, and Phoenix. We will publish the full results later, but we believe this points to some clear guidance in designing your temporary employee value proposition.

Pay rate is important. It is the factor that ranks highest by itself, as well as the dominant factor when you look at the top three factors.

Our survey asks about children and their ages, and we suspect that shift ranks second because of day care issues and schedules—and the escalating costs. We’ll share more data in the full report later. We believe that acquiring the talent you need is going to require that we be more creative in shifts that serve the business and the employees we need.

Many of our employees convert to full time positions. The fact that it is third means that your value proposition should show a temporary employee what the path from temp to hire looks like—and what they have to do to make that transition.

If you want more information, email us at, and we’ll be sure to share the results with you as we complete them.

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Here Lived a Great Street Sweeper Mon, 20 Jan 2014 14:55:09 +0000 alt text image of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

You’d be hard pressed to come up with the name of a person who fought harder to make America a better place than Martin Luther King, Jr.. King followed the difficult path of passive resistance, like Jesus, Socrates, and Gandhi before him, a living example of his core convictions—and his morality.

Everyone knows Dr. King’s I Have a Dream speech. It’s one of the best speeches ever given, and it inspired many to take action. But King shared many other wise words, among them one of our favorite quotes:

If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of Heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’

We believe that there is honor in work. We believe that work is a portrait of the person who does it. We believe that any work, regardless of its nature, is honorable work. And more still, we believe that all work has the potential to make some difference in the lives of others—as well as in the person doing it.

We believe this is what Dr. King meant when he spoke of “street sweepers.” The work each of us does has the power to make a difference. It has the power to create a positive change. It has the power to create a positive outcome in our little corner of the world.

Today we sweep streets.

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The Book Is Not the Cover Wed, 06 Nov 2013 20:51:06 +0000 alt text image of a book with a coffee stain on the coverA long time ago, I interviewed a candidate for a light industrial job. He had long ratty hair, ratty jeans, and he brought his girlfriend to the interview with him. Three strikes and he was out.

But he persisted. He called and called until one day I had a short term opportunity where his appearance wasn’t going to be a problem. It was a large retailer’s distribution center and, since it was Los Angeles, the long hair and ratty jeans didn’t make a difference. I had my reservations, but I sent him anyway.

Within one week of being assigned my grungy candidate was running his own line. Within two weeks he was the onsite manager. By the end of the three months he had been hired on as a supervisor.

The lesson? You can’t always judge a book by its cover.

Not the Cover

But we do judge a book by its cover, don’t we? Appearance is an indicator that we use to determine whether or not to hire someone. And rightfully so; it demonstrates a sense of pride, attention to detail, and caring.

But if were honest, we start judging a book by its cover before we’ve seen the book or the cover.

How About We Look At the Book?

We look at a resume for the “magic words” that suggest the applicant is worth seeing. When we don’t see the magic words, we don’t invite the candidate in for an interview.

We look at their work history for clues that they can succeed in the position for which we are hiring. When we don’t see that experience, we pass on the resume—even though it’s likely that many of the candidates in the stacks on our desk have the attributes to succeed.

We look at their education, what college they went to, and what they majored in, forgetting that the decision to choose a college was mostly based on what they could afford, and the choice of major was made when they were 18 or 19 years old.

When we recommend that our clients interview a candidate that we send instead of reviewing resumes, we do so having interviewed that candidate, having spent time with, and after getting know about their experience, skills, attributes, goals, and desires. We’ve seen a good part of the book. We have a better idea of what’s behind the cover.

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Our Not So Secret Recipe for Getting Hired Full Time Tue, 05 Nov 2013 20:16:52 +0000 alt text image of a recipe boxWe’ve already written a series of posts to help you turn your temporary assignment into a full-time position. Because so many people are employed in peak season assignments, it bears repeating our not-so-secret recipe here.

  1. Have perfect attendance. Someone once said that success is 80% showing up. In this case, it’s true. If you really want to move to the top of your assigned company’s “keepers” list, be there. Nothing positions you better than your client knowing that they can count on you.
  2. Have a positive, upbeat, and optimistic attitude. Look, someone has to make the decision that they want you to come back. Every day. From now on. Your attitude separates you from the crowd. People want positive people on their teams.
  3. Be flexible. The company you are assigned to needs someone to do whatever work necessary to get the job done. You need to pitch in in a new department? Do it! They need you to learn to do something new? Dive in! (And do it all with your positive attitude)
  4. Do good work. You are being measured by your ability to make a contribution. If you want to be there when the season ends, then you need to produce measurable results. No company can carry people who don’t produce results. Perform!
  5. Sometimes problems show up. Everyone wants to hire people who can solve problems. The people who get hired are the people who use their resourcefulness to come up with new ideas.
  6. Finally, you’re going to need to take initiative. You can’t wait to be told what to do. If for some reason you run out of work, find someplace where you can contribute and make a difference.

We’ve helped thousands and thousands of people find their way into a place that they can call home. This is a big part of the recipe they’ve used to help themselves once they are assigned. Follow this recipe and see how it works for you.

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Human Capital Is Not a Commodity Mon, 04 Nov 2013 19:38:45 +0000 alt text image of a see through clip board with an org chart on it

We all want to hire talent. We want to hire people with the right skill sets. We want them to have the soft skills that make employees truly effective, the ability to work with a team, to get things done.

More than anything, we want a high level of employee engagement. We want their minds engaged in their work; we want their best ideas.

And we want employees that can execute our value propositions for our clients and customers. We need them to deliver results.

This “we” is the collective “we.” It’s all of us . . . some of the time.

Your Focus

We sometimes focus on employees as if they are just an expense and not also our largest investment. We sometimes  pay less than we need to in order to acquire the talent we need, even knowing that there are no bargains to be had when it comes to human capital.

Other times we interview just to fill the gap in our organizational chart instead of spending the time finding the right candidate, the one who can and will make a difference.

Much of the time, we neglect to give the employees that we do hire the training, the coaching, and the development opportunities they need to grow in their role—and into the future role we are going to need them for.

People Are Not a Commodity

Human capital isn’t a commodity (The words “human capital” suggest that people are a commodity. Come to think of it, so does “human resources.”). Human beings, people, aren’t interchangeable. They’re not commodities.

Treating people as if they are a commodity is a recipe for poor results. It means you likely won’t have the talent you need. It means you also won’t have people with the skill sets, especially the soft skills, that you need.

You Go First

If you want engagement, you have to go first. If you want your people engaged, the price of that ticket is engaging with them first. They’re your internal clients and customers; they are only going to treat your clients and customers as if they’re the most important thing in the world if you treat them that way.

“We” can do better.

Read this post titled Confessions of  a Procurement Guy at  Staffing Industry Analyst.

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Leaders Lead Employee Engagement Mon, 24 Jun 2013 17:40:26 +0000 alt text image of a copy cup with an employee appreciation messageWe recently ran across this article in Fast Company titled Gallup’s Workplace Jedi On How To Fix Our Employee Engagement Problem. In our opinion, it’s probably the most important article we’ve come across in the past few months. The gist of the article is that 70% of employees aren’t engaged in their work. As leaders, we haven’t won their hearts and minds, even though, as the article points out, engagement is called “the wonder drug for maximizing workplace performance.”

The article describes what managers (we’d use the word “leaders”) need to do consistently to improve engagement, but it “begins with a combination of being results oriented and authentically concerned about the development of every worker.”

The list of four essentials includes getting the right people in the right roles, setting clear expectations, giving employees what they need to do their jobs well, and being grateful with recognition and praise. We cover a lot of these principles in our eBook How to Get the Most from Your Temporary or Contingent Workforce.

You can find Gallup’s survey results here.

If you’d like a copy of our eBook, fill out the contact form here and put “eBook” in the subject line. We’ll email you a copy right away.

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PPACA Update – June 17, 2013 Mon, 17 Jun 2013 14:56:41 +0000 alt text image of a person writing Health Care Reform There are still a lot of unanswered questions when it comes to PPACA. We are working diligently to make the necessary changes, and we have every intention of offering medical benefits to our employees. So far, no insurance company has provided us with options that comply with the new law, but we have heard from a number of companies that they will have offerings for us soon.

We’ve have always believed that our employees should have access to affordable medical benefits, and we have a relatively high participation rate in our current program. We believe that offering benefits helps us retain great employees, and it will help us contain the cost of compliance for our clients.

What We Know Now

Here’s what we know so far.

  • We do know that all large employers (over 50 employees) are required to offer healthcare coverage to full-time employees or pay a tax.
  • We know that in order to avoid the taxes, the healthcare coverage must meet minimum standards set by the federal government.
  • We know that the affordability standards require that the cost for single coverage for an employee cannot exceed 9.5% of their gross wages.
  • We also know that employees who do not have health care coverage will pay a penalty when they file their income tax.

The Experts Say

The experts have a number of beliefs as to what some of the major changes in employment might be.

  • The experts believe that many companies will transition lower-skilled workers to part time, working less than 30 hours per week to avoid having to offer coverage or pay penalties. We have already seen evidence of this here, here, and here.
  • Some employers may drop coverage altogether.
  • Health plans will reduce their coverage to meet the federal standards.
  • Employers will shift to health savings plans and high deductible programs to control costs.
  • The overall cost of health care for employers will increase. Or decrease.
  • Staffing firms will increase their markups to offset the costs of compliance.

We will continue to post updates here as more information becomes available.

We do value your comments, and we know there are strong political opinions around the new law. Please know that nothing that we post is based on our political leanings, and please keep your comments civil. Our goal here is to share information to help our employees and clients understand and adapt to the changes.

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