Terminations: A True Test of Your Company Culture

December 21st, 2012

by Jim Roddy

All of us have heard about messy terminations, and some of us have witnessed them firsthand. The most memorable are the employee who is escorted from the building, scowling at managers on the way out, or the guy who punches a hole in the conference room drywall in a fit of frustration. There’s also the person who quits without confrontation or communication, packing up their things when nobody’s watching, and leaving an “I Quit!” note for their supervisor.

The circumstances around other terminations are just plain awkward, and when you see the ex-employee in the grocery store, you unknowingly head to the Tampax aisle (even though you’re a single guy) just to avoid the conversation.

How can you avoid ugly terminations? Here are four suggestions for building the right culture:

  1. Don’t hire based on skill and personality only. Hire high character people. Don’t  think of character as honesty alone. Character includes kindness (considers others feelings), service (good steward and peacemaker), humility (admits personal faults), respectfulness (treats others with  dignity), and gratitude (shows appreciation). Ask questions that give you insight into these traits.
  2. Actually care about the people you hire. Some of the best advice I received as a young manager was, “Care about Aunt Martha’s big toe.” In other words, your concern for employees should go beyond their productivity at work.   Genuinely care about them as people, and they’ll return the sentiment.
  3. Share your organization’s principles and explain the “why” behind your company’s actions. When      employees don’t have all the facts, they frequently fill in the gaps with erroneous information. The more data you provide your people, the fewer gaps they’ll need to fill in on their own. This takes time, but it’s worth the investment.
  4. Stay close to your people. Don’t manage through reports only. Don’t assume your best or most veteran employees are fine and don’t need to talk with you regularly. Make sure you get out from behind your desk and engage in as many face-to-face interactions as you can. Have at least monthly  meetings or lunches one-on-one with your direct reports. There’s no substitute for a competent manager staying close to a person. Be that manager.

US – More Staffing Firms Focus on Culture

December 21st, 2012

The percentage of staffing firms that cite the creation of a “positive company culture” as a management priority has trended up over the past few years, according to a new report based on the 2012 Staffing Company Survey by Staffing Industry Analysts. That may mean more profitability.

“On average over the past three years, ‘creating a positive company culture’ has been the third-most correlated with profitability among all the priorities that we track,” said Theo Vadpey, author of the report.

The survey found that 14 percent of staffing firms in 2012 said “creating a positive company culture” is a top management priority. That compared with 12 percent in 2011 and only 6 percent in 2010.

During the height of the recession in 2009, the percentage dropped to 8 percent. And in 2008, it was 9 percent.

Nearly Seven in Ten Businesses Affected by a Bad Hire in the Past Year, According to CareerBuilder Survey

December 17th, 2012

Nearly One-in-Four Employers Reported a Bad Hire Cost Them More than $50,000

CHICAGO, December 13, 2012 – Hiring the right person to fill a position can be a difficult decision to make, and a new CareerBuilder study shows the cost of choosing incorrectly can be high. Sixty-nine percent of employers reported that their companies have been adversely affected by a bad hire this year, with 41 percent of those businesses estimating the cost to be over $25,000. Twenty-four percent said a bad hire cost them more than $50,000.

“Whether it’s a negative attitude, lack of follow through or other concern, the impact of a bad hire is significant,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. “Not only can it create productivity and morale issues, it can also affect the bottom line.”

Effects of a Bad Hire
The price of a bad hire adds up in a variety ways. The most common are:

· Less productivity – 39 percent

· Lost time to recruit and train another worker – 39 percent

· Cost to recruit and train another worker – 35 percent

· Employee morale negatively affected – 33 percent

· Negative impact on clients – 19 percent

· Fewer sales – 11 percent

· Legal issues – 9 percent

Characteristics of a Bad Hire
When classifying what makes someone a bad hire, employers reported several behavioral and performance-related issues:

· Employee didn’t produce the proper quality of work – 67 percent

· Employee didn’t work well with other employees – 60 percent

· Employee had a negative attitude – 59 percent

· Employee had immediate attendance problems – 54 percent

· Customers complained about the employee – 44 percent

· Employee didn’t meet deadlines – 44 percent

Why Companies Make Bad Hires
The most common reason associated with a bad hire is rushing the decision process. Two-in-five hiring managers attributed a bad hire to pressure to fill the job opening.

· Needed to fill the job quickly – 43 percent

· Insufficient talent intelligence – 22 percent

· Sourcing techniques need to be adjusted per open position – 13 percent

· Fewer recruiters due to the recession has made it difficult to go through applications – 10 percent

· Didn’t check references – 9 percent

· Lack of strong employment brand – 8 percent

One-in-four employers (26 percent) stated they weren’t sure why they made a bad hire and said sometimes you just make a mistake.

Nine Ways Successful People Defeat Stress by Heidi Grant Halvorson

December 17th, 2012

Feeling stressed? Of course you are. You have too much on your plate, deadlines are looming, people are counting on you, and to top it all off, you still have holiday shopping to do. You are under a lot of pressure — so much that at times, you suspect the quality of your work suffers for it. This is life in the modern workplace. It is more or less impossible to be any kind of professional these days and not experience frequent bouts of intense stress. The difference between those who are successful and those who aren’t is not whether or not you suffer from stress, but how you deal with it when you do. In the spirit of Nine Things Successful People Do Differently, here are nine scientifically-proven strategies for defeating stress whenever it strikes.

1. Have self-compassion. Self-compassion is, in essence, cutting yourself some slack. It’s being willing to look at your mistakes or failures with kindness and understanding — without harsh criticism or defensiveness. Studies show that people who are self-compassionate are happier, more optimistic, and less anxious and depressed. That’s probably not surprising. But here’s the kicker: they are more successful, too. Most of us believe that we need to be hard on ourselves to perform at our best, but it turns out that’s 100 percent wrong. A dose of self-compassion when things are at their most difficult can reduce your stress and improve your performance, by making it easier to learn from your mistakes. So remember that to err is human, and give yourself a break.

2. Remember the “Big Picture.” Anything you need or want to do can be thought of in more than one way. For instance, “exercising” can be described in Big Picture terms, like “getting healthier” — the why of exercising — or it can be described in more concrete terms, like “running two miles” — the how of exercising. Thinking Big Picture about the work you do can be very energizing in the face of stress and challenge, because you are linking one particular, often small action to a greater meaning or purpose. Something that may not seem important or valuable on its own gets cast in a whole new light. So when staying that extra hour at work at the end of an exhausting day is thought of as “helping my career” rather than “answering emails for 60 more minutes,” you’ll be much more likely to want to stay put and work hard.

3. Rely on routines. If I ask you to name the major causes of stress in your work life, you would probably say things like deadlines, a heavy workload, bureaucracy, or your terrible boss. You probably wouldn’t say “having to make so many decisions,” because most people aren’t aware that this is a powerful and pervasive cause of stress in their lives. Every time you make a decision — whether it’s about hiring a new employee, about when to schedule a meeting with your supervisor, or about choosing rye or whole wheat for your egg salad sandwich — you create a state of mental tension that is, in fact, stressful. (This is why shopping is so exhausting — it’s not the horrible concrete floors, it’s all that deciding.) The solution is to reduce the number of decisions you need to make by using routines. If there’s something you need to do every day, do it at the same time every day. Have a routine for preparing for your day in the morning, and packing up to go home at night. Simple routines can dramatically reduce your experience of stress. In fact, President Obama, who assuredly knows a great deal about stress, mentioned using this strategy himself in a recent interview: You need to remove from your life the day-to-day problems that absorb most people for meaningful parts of their day… You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make. You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia. –President Obama, Vanity Fair

4. Take five (or ten) minutes to do something you find interesting. If there were something you could add to your car’s engine, so that after driving it a hundred miles, you’d end up with more gas in the tank than you started with, wouldn’t you use it? Even if nothing like that exists for your car just yet, there is something you can do for yourself that will have the same effect… doing something interesting. It doesn’t matter what it is, so long as it interests you. Recent research shows that interest doesn’t just keep you going despite fatigue, it actually replenishes your energy. And then that replenished energy flows into whatever you do next. Keep these two very important points in mind: First, interesting is not the same thing as pleasant, fun, or relaxing (though they are certainly not mutually exclusive.) Taking a lunch break might be relaxing, and if the food is good it will probably be pleasant. But unless you are eating at the hot new molecular gastronomy restaurant, it probably won’t be interesting. So it won’t replenish your energy. Second, interesting does not have to mean effortless. The same studies that showed that interest replenished energy showed that it did so even when the interesting task was difficult and required effort. So you actually don’t have to “take it easy” to refill your tank.

5. Add where and when to your to-do list. Do you have a to-do list? (If you have a “Task” bar on the side of your calendar, and you use it, then the answer is “yes.”) And do you find that a day or a week (or sometimes longer) will frequently pass by without a single item getting checked off? Stressful, isn’t it? What you need is a way to get the things done that you set out to do in a timely manner. What you need is if-then planning (or what psychologists call “implementation intentions”). This particular form of planning is a really powerful way to help you achieve any goal. Nearly 200 studies, on everything from diet and exercise to negotiation and time management, have shown that deciding in advance when and where you will complete a task (e.g., “If it is 4pm, then I will return any phone calls I should return today”) can double or triple your chances of actually doing it. So take the tasks on your to-do list, and add a specific when and where to each. For example, “Remember to call Bob” becomes “If it is Tuesday after lunch, then I’ll call Bob.” Now that you’ve created an if-then plan for calling Bob, your unconscious brain will start scanning the environment, searching for the situation in the “if” part of your plan. This enables you to seize the critical moment and make the call, even when you are busy doing other things. And what better way is there to cut down on your stress than crossing things off your to-do list?

6. Use if-thens for positive self-talk. Another way to combat stress using if-then plans is to direct them at the experience of stress itself, rather than at its causes. Recent studies show that if-then plans can help us to control our emotional responses to situations in which we feel fear, sadness, fatigue, self-doubt, or even disgust. Simply decide what kind of response you would like to have instead of feeling stress, and make a plan that links your desired response to the situations that tend to raise your blood pressure. For instance, “If I see lots of emails in my Inbox, then I will stay calm and relaxed,” or, “If a deadline is approaching, then I will keep a cool head.”

7. See your work in terms of progress, not perfection We all approach the goals we pursue with one of two mindsets: what I call the Be-Good mindset, where the focus is on proving that you have a lot of ability and that you already know what you’re doing, and the Get-Better mindset, where the focus is on developing your ability and learning new skills. You can think of it as the difference between wanting to show that you are smart versus wanting to get smarter. When you have a Be-Good mindset, you expect to be able to do everything perfectly right out of the gate, and you constantly (often unconsciously) compare yourself to other people, to see how you “size up.” You quickly start to doubt your ability when things don’t go smoothly, and this creates a lot of stress and anxiety. Ironically, worrying about your ability makes you much more likely to ultimately fail. A Get-Better mindset, on the other hand, leads instead to self-comparison and a concern with making progress — how well are you doing today, compared with how you did yesterday, last month, or last year? When you think about what you are doing in terms of learning and improving, accepting that you may make some mistakes along the way, you experience far less stress, and you stay motivated despite the setbacks that might occur.

8. Think about the progress that you’ve already made. “Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work.” This is what Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer refer to as the Progress Principle — the idea is that it’s the “small wins” that keep us going, particularly in the face of stressors. Psychologically, it’s often not whether we’ve reached our goal, but the rate at which we are closing the gap between where we are now and where we want to end up that determines how we feel. It can be enormously helpful to take a moment and reflect on what you’ve accomplished so far before turning your attention to the challenges that remain ahead.

9. Know whether optimism or defensive pessimism works for you. For many of us, it’s hard to stay positive when we’ve got assignments up to our eyeballs. For others, it isn’t just hard — it feels wrong. And as it turns out, they are perfectly correct — optimism doesn’t work for them. It is stressful enough to try to juggle as many projects and goals as we do, but we add a layer of stress without realizing it when we try to reach them using strategies that don’t feel right — that don’t mesh with our own motivational style. So what’s your motivational style, and is “staying positive” right for you? Some people think of their jobs as opportunities for achievement and accomplishment — they have what psychologists call a promotion focus. In the language of economics, promotion focus is all about maximizing gains and avoiding missed opportunities. For others, doing a job well is about security, about not losing the positions they’ve worked so hard for. This prevention focus places the emphasis on avoiding danger, fulfilling responsibilities, and doing what feel you ought to do. In economic terms, it’s about minimizing losses, trying to hang on to what you’ve got. Understanding promotion and prevention motivation helps us understand why people can work so differently to reach the same goal. Promotion motivation feels like eagerness — the desire to really go for it — and this eagerness is sustained and enhanced by optimism. Believing that everything is going to work out great is essential for promotion-focused performance. Prevention motivation, on the other hand, feels like vigilance — the need to keep danger at bay — and it is sustained not by optimism, but by a kind of defensive pessimism. In other words, the prevention-minded actually work best when they think about what might go wrong, and what they can do to keep that from happening. So, do you spend your life pursuing accomplishments and accolades, reaching for the stars? Or are you busy fulfilling your duties and responsibilities — being the person everyone can count on? Start by identifying your focus, and then embrace either the sunny outlook or the hearty skepticism that will reduce your stress and keep you performing at your best. Put some or all of these strategies for fighting stress, and you will see real changes not only in the workplace, but in every area of your life. With the holidays around the corner, you might want to work on creating a few if-thens for dealing with the relatives, too. “If I’m about to lose my mind, then I’ll have some more eggnog,” works wonders for me.

Staffing Jobs 4.3% Higher Year-to-Year in Third Quarter of 2012 New Data From the ASA Quarterly Employment and Sales Survey

December 13th, 2012

U.S. staffing companies employed an average of 2.95 million temporary and contract workers per business day during the third quarter of 2012, according to recent data released by the American Staffing Association.

“Even though the rate of growth slowed during the fall, third quarter staffing employment was the highest it has been in five years,” says Richard Wahlquist, ASA president and chief executive officer.

From July through September of this year, the number of temporary and contract workers employed by U.S. staffing firms on an average business day was 4.3% higher compared with thethird quarter of 2011. This is the 11th consecutive quarter of year-to-year staffing industry job growth since the recession ended mid-2009.

“The economy continues to struggle to regain its pre-recession footing and until businesses have more confidence and see sustained increases in demand, new permanent hiring will likely remain tepid as we enter 2013,” Wahlquist says.

Temporary and contract staffing sales in the third quarter totaled $26.63 billion and were 5.9% higher year-to-year.

Job Openings and Labor Turnover Changed Little in October U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (12/11/12)

December 12th, 2012

There were 3.7 million job openings on the last business day of October, little changed from September, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Dec. 11. The hires rate (3.2%) and separations rate (3.1%) were also little changed in October.
The number of openings was little changed in all industries except construction, manufacturing, and accommodation and food services, which increased. The number of openings was also little changed in all four regions in October. The hires rate was also little changed in all industries and regions over the month. The total separations rate was little changed for total nonfarm, unchanged for total private, and rose for government. Over the 12 months ending in October, hires totaled 51.7 million and separations totaled 49.8 million, yielding a net employment gain of 1.9 million.

American Staffing Association Opposes Extending Unemployment Benefits

December 6th, 2012

ASA Opposes Expansion of Unemployment Benefits American Staffing Association (12/06/12) Toby Malara

Earlier this week, the White House and Congress made proposals on how to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff-billions of dollars in government spending cuts and the expiration of tax breaks set to take effect in January. Although both plans focus mainly on tax increases and spending cuts, the president’s proposal is also seeking $50 billion in additional stimulus spending, which includes a one-year expansion of unemployment benefits.

As negotiations continue over the next few weeks, there will be political pressure to further increase spending for regular extended unemployment compensation and for emergency unemployment compensation-despite the fact that unemployment rates are decreasing and that the account funded by employer-paid taxes to cover regular extended benefits is already $20 billion in deficit.

ASA has joined other trade associations and more than 25 state chambers of commerce in a letter reminding congressional leaders that now is not the time to increase payroll taxes paid by employers and that it is imperative that any deal that is struck between the White House and Congress not make it more costly for businesses to hire employees.

2013’s Headlines, Trends and Next Practices

December 4th, 2012

2013’s Headlines, Trends, and Next Practices 

Do you want to be a leader or a follower in the New Year?
Of course, you want to be a leader. And to help you stay in front of the challenges you are going to face, we’ve prepared a summary of the  top 28 trends to watch.
The original list was created by HR thought leader Dr. John Sullivan. You’ll find a link to his full original article at the end of our summary.

Employee misclassification enforcement

December 4th, 2012

Illinois steps up employee misclassification enforcement    

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn recently announced a new initiative to step up enforcement against employers that misclassify workers as independent contractors. The Illinois Department of Labor, Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), Illinois Department of Revenue, and Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission are working jointly to increase awareness, help responsible business owners obey the law, and punish fraud.

“Hiding a full-time employee as an independent contractor creates an unfair competitive advantage. It artificially lowers the costs for the business owner who breaks the law, undermining and out-bidding the honest business owner who follows the rules,” Governor Quinn said. “This initiative rewards those who do it right and punishes those who knowingly do it wrong.”

To be considered an independent contractor, a worker must:

  • Be substantially free from control or direction;
  • Provide services that lie outside the normal scope of the contracting business; and
  • Be engaged in an independently established business or occupation.

Employers breaking the law could face fines of at least $10,000, up to 24 percent interest on unpaid unemployment compensation taxes, unpaid minimum wages and overtime, and other taxes and benefits. Officers and employees of businesses in Illinois that willfully misclassify workers can be held personally liable for payments due, IDES noted. Detailed instructions on properly classifying workers are available at www.illinoismisclassification.com.

Contact Superior Staffing today to learn more about our Staffing Programs and how we can make them work for you.