How to focus on building future relationships, even if you aren’t hiring

Sarah Finch, Business development manager, The Daniel Group

Many businesses may have taken a step back from hiring, especially when faced with uncertainty from the fiscal cliff changes, health care reform and overall budget costs.

However, Sarah Finch, business development manager at The Daniel Group, says even if you’re not hiring right now that doesn’t mean you should lose track of planning for the future.

“The current landscape of your business environment may not dictate adding to your work force, but it’s important to be proactive and plan accordingly with a staffing company if that’s the route you choose to go,” she says. “Communication is key so be very open and honest with your staffing company. They can help save you time and money by creating a plan that fits your budget and then sourcing qualified candidates to stay within that budget.”

Smart Business spoke with Finch about how to create long-term relationships so your staffing representative is always aware of your company’s hiring needs and can build a strong candidate pipeline accordingly.

Why should you always be aware of the current talent pool in your industry when planning for future needs?

It is a tough market right now for finding qualified candidates. While the demand for jobs is there, the supply of strong candidates actively seeking new jobs is low. Candidates who are actively seeking new positions move quickly, so forecasting what your future needs may be in advance and discussing that with your staffing representative gives you an advantage when it comes time to hire. Staffing companies will be aware of the current market and supply based on location and industry.

Working with a staffing firm allows communication lines to stay open between the candidate and the client. This can easily prevent losing excellent candidates because of delayed feedback or lack of candidate involvement.

How critical is it to hire quickly? 

It’s imperative to acquire the talent your business needs quickly. Strong job candidates, especially for higher-level positions or with niche industry experience are always in high demand. If the candidate is interviewing elsewhere, he or she is more likely to take another offer if they do not hear a response from the hiring manager in a reasonable amount of time.

Therefore, be open and honest — ‘that position is on hold,’  ‘we’re looking to fill it in two months,’ or ‘the position was canceled or filled by someone else.’ If working with an agency, it can be as simple as letting your representative know the candidate is a top choice, but that the hiring manager isn’t available to make a decision.

What can employers do to leverage the best relationship with their staffing firm?

It goes back to keeping the candidate warm and being open with your staffing firm. Let the staffing company know every step of the hiring process so they can relay the feedback to the candidates. In all aspects, communication is most important. The staffing firm will also try to gain as much information from the candidate to relay back to the client.

Having a relationship with the staffing agency, even if not currently hiring, allows the agency to know your business and what type of people you typically target. Once each division has created its budget, meet with your staffing firm, even if just for a few minutes, to discuss your goals and evaluate your upcoming needs. The agency can work with you to help create different options to build the best candidate pool while staying within budget. Doing this in advance also allows the staffing firm plenty of time to build a strong pipeline specifically for your industry needs.

What if you are unsure of whether your budget allows for the assistance of using a staffing firm?

The staffing agency can discuss alternate options to accommodate your budget, such as hiring a contractor and allowing the agency to cover workers’ compensation, unemployment and benefits. Staffing firms deal with companies of all sizes and budgets so firms will do their best to suit your needs and cut costs simultaneously.

Sarah Finch is business development manager at The Daniel Group. Reach her at (713) 932-9313 or [email protected]

Website: Visit www.danielgroupus.com to access more information on this subject.

Insights Staffing is brought to you by The Daniel Group

Making the business case for diversity

Lizabeth Ardisana, CEO, ASG Renaissance

True diversity is not found in numbers. It is found in people with varying backgrounds using their experience to everyone’s benefit, says Lizabeth Ardisana, CEO, ASG Renaissance.

“What we’re trying to achieve is not actually diversity, although that’s the buzzword for all of this, it’s really inclusion,” Ardisana says. “It is one thing to say you have employees who are minorities, old, young, African-American, Latino or Asian, but you have to value those differences and use them to your advantage, not just tolerate them. That’s what it takes to be successful with diversity.”

She says inclusion adds value to companies by providing diversity of thought, access to understanding other markets and a more interesting workplace.

“If no one told me I should do this, I would still seek out people who are different than I am because it would add significant value to me and my company. Until we get to that level of understanding and position, we have not truly experienced the value of diversity,” Ardisana says.

Smart Business spoke with Ardisana about diversity and its value in the workplace.

You hear a lot of talk about diversity, but do companies follow through by taking action?

Counting the number of people you have who come from different backgrounds or putting a diversity section on your website isn’t enough. It doesn’t give you the value. You have to follow the talk with action. You have to move past diversity to a level of value in order to truly have inclusion.

Does that mean you need diversity in promotions as well?

Absolutely. You can’t just talk about it; you have to do it from the bottom up. If you’re going to embrace diversity of thought and diversity of ideas, you must also embrace it at the senior management level. Otherwise, you are not valuing it. If you’ve never promoted someone of a different background, you would be sending the wrong message to the rest of your company.

How do diversity and inclusion benefit companies?

First, you have to accept that an innovative and creative business is going to be a more profitable business and that new ideas, new capabilities and new markets all add profitability. Diversity of thinking comes from a diversity of backgrounds and cultures and that creates more new ideas and more innovation.

Additionally, if you have a reputation for being an interesting and creative place to work, it attracts better overall talent. We’re all in a race to get the best talent and you have to make yourself attractive. Look at the companies that post one job and get hundreds of applications. These companies have a reputation for innovation, for being fun and interesting. If you look at really successful companies today, they have a significant amount of diversity, or inclusion, in what they do.

Are workplaces becoming more inclusive?

It is improving. One thing that’s dramatically improved is companies are valuing age and experience, combining older employees with employees who are young and aggressive. This creates unique opportunities when they are blended together.

Diversity has to be looked at as broadly as possible and some of it is simply awareness. When I started my company, I looked around and thought about how all the people in this department look alike and all the people in this other department look alike but they don’t look like each other. We hire people we’re most comfortable with and don’t think about it. We weren’t getting the benefits of diversity and inclusion so we consciously started to think about it and took actions to practice it, and it has made a huge difference in our success as a company.

Lizabeth Ardisana is CEO at ASG Renaissance. Reach her at (313) 565-4700 or [email protected]

To view more about ASG Renaissance’s Diversity Services, visit http://asgren.com/diversityServices/diversityServices.asp.

Insights Staffing is brought to you by ASG Renaissance


 

 

How careful attention to screening can produce stronger hires

Lisa Deramo, branch manager, The Daniel Group

An effective screening process tailored to each job opening can help eliminate candidates who are unsuitable for a position early in the hiring process and minimize hiring mistakes. And in today’s sluggish economic environment, the process of pre-screening applicants is more critical than ever.

Lisa Deramo, branch manager at The Daniel Group, says taking the time to create individualized assessments is worth the effort.

“You need to be thorough with your interview questions and your screening process,” she says. “Make sure you’re setting somebody up for an assessment or pre-employment test based on the kind of job for which the person is applying.”

Smart Business spoke with Deramo about the importance of assessing a job applicant’s skills, knowledge and personality through testing.

Why should employers use pre-employment assessments?

Tests and other selection procedures screen applicants by gauging skill levels, which helps determine the most qualified candidate for a particular job. A number of assessment tools can be used, including cognitive and personality tests, medical exams, and credit and criminal background checks.

Pre-employment assessments are important for high-skill jobs such as machinists or welders in the manufacturing and oil and gas industries. A welder applicant, for example, might be required to take a welding test and demonstrate his or her ability to read a blueprint. For other jobs, such as receptionist, the applicant should take a software test to prove they can utilize common programs like Excel.

How should the interviewer approach the interview?

As an interviewer, you should tailor your interview questions to each candidate and ask probing questions. It’s important to investigate any gaps in the resume and discover the applicant’s exact experience. For example, if the job opening is for a machinist, it’s important to determine what kinds of products or materials the applicant has worked on.

In addition, look at the candidate’s social skills, personal presentation and other contextual factors while the interview is being conducted. How are they presenting their self? Are they twitching or not making eye contact? Are they outgoing or just sitting back as if they don’t care?

If an inexperienced employee is doing the hiring, it is a good idea have an experienced mentor help throughout the process and possibly sit in on the interview.

How essential are testing or screening measures?

They are important and are commonly used to screen out unsuitable applicants and minimize hiring mistakes. You might do drug and personality testing as well as aptitude and integrity tests. It’s worth taking the time to create the best tests for the job opening.

With aptitude tests, it’s a good idea to have job applicants take both written and performance exams. For example, if the job requires driving a forklift, applicants should be qualified by a skills test, where they’re asked to successfully perform certain commonly used maneuvers, and a written forklift safety test. It’s surprising how many applicants aren’t as strong on the forklift as they claim to be, which can be shown by how they do with the safety questions.

Personality testing is used a lot. Does it make much of a difference?

Personality testing can make a difference. Maybe you’ve got a number of quiet people working in an office and then someone with a strong, dominant personality comes in, making a big impact.

The personality tests are customized, based on what you’re looking for, and give an indication of how people will likely work with each other. Outside sales is a good position for employers to apply that type of test because it can offer clues as to how successful a candidate is going to be.

Lisa Deramo is a branch manager with The Daniel Group. Reach her at (713) 455-6600 or [email protected]
Insights Staffing is brought to you by The Daniel Group

How to handle salary negotiations for new hires and existing top performers

Shauna Muldrow, Payroll coordinator, Ashton Staffing

Salary negotiations can be one of the most challenging facets of the hiring process.

“Salary negotiations don’t exist in a bubble, whether you are interviewing for a new job or looking for a salary increase at your current job,” says Shauna Muldrow, payroll coordinator at Ashton Staffing. “Salary negotiation windows exist from the time you offer a job to a candidate until the candidate accepts the job.”

Smart Business spoke with Muldrow about the ins and outs of a successful salary negotiation for both sides — employer and employee.

What are some key factors to understand about salary negotiations and employee compensation?

Some key factors are the level of the position within your company, the skills and experience needed for the job, the fair market value for the job and the salary range for the job within your geographic area. Employers’ budgets are also a contributing factor in salary negotiations. You should align pay with organizational goals; make sure that the performance you are rewarding supports the organization’s mission and goals. Ensure the compensation system is procedurally fair.

Lastly, implement an excellent and measurable pay schedule. No compensation system can succeed without a clear, concise and comprehensive pay schedule.

What are some best practices for salary negotiations with new hires?

There are a variety of factors that determine which employee benefits a company offers. A company should view benefit packages as part of the total compensation of an employee. There are mandatory benefits such as unemployment and some optional benefits such as health insurance and paid vacations. A few practices for new hire salary negotiations are:

• Friendly approach — Your goal is for everyone to be on the same team. Approach the process that way from the beginning.

• Prepare — You risk offering too little or too much if you go in unprepared.

• Other options — If you simply cannot increase the amount of the salary, consider adding a few perks. Sometimes, something as simple as a gym membership may be enough to bring a desired candidate onboard.

• Honesty — If the candidate is an absolute superstar and you do not want to risk losing that person to the competition, make your best offer up front.

How should employers handle negotiations with existing top performers? Is this any different from new hire negotiations?

Yes, it is different from new hire negotiations. Negotiating a salary increase requires research, industry analysis, knowledge of economic trends and professionalism. You should review your company policies concerning compensation and benefits. Schedule employee meetings during a time when you can devote your full attention to an employee seeking a salary increase. Let the employee fully state his or her case for an increase. Present the company’s position on pay practices, using your research and expertise to support the company’s compensation structure. At some point, a factor in salary negotiation should be a sense of fair play. Both sides — you and your employee — should feel as if they have won.

What common mistakes do many employers make and how can they mitigate them?

A couple common mistakes made by employers are:

• Lack of documentation, and failure to document promptly and accurately. Pay attention to preparing every document regarding warnings, complaints and disciplinary action. The document should include the date it was created, the name and signatures.

• Policy issues. Employers should always follow company policies and standards.

• The failure to conduct adequate background checks on potential employees. Make sure you have a complete background.

• Ethical problems, such as the failure to appropriately evaluate employee performance. Make sure your assessment of your employees is accurate.

A great way to avoid these mistakes is to follow policies and standards. Keep a hard copy or electronic file on all employees and uphold ethical standards of behavior in all situations.

In today’s economy, what role are nonmonetary compensation packages playing and how can you make them work best for your company?

Nonmonetary incentives are proving themselves as much more effective tools in the workplace. A small startup, for example, might offer you a smaller salary but could instead offer you a nonmonetary option. Nonmonetary incentives have been used to reward employees for their good work by providing opportunities for training, flexible work schedules and improved work environments.

You can make nonmonetary incentives work best by using one of the most effective incentives: Praise is a powerful motivator.

What should you tell employees who are unhappy with their final salary?

Compensation is one of the major ways companies attract and keep employees. When a company no longer can provide a salary that satisfies an employee, it is best that the managers deal with the employee’s unhappiness directly. Once the employee comes to understand the company’s position, he or she may be less likely to vent the grievance to other employees.

Explain in detail how the company came to its salary decision and what the employee can do, if anything, to earn a bonus or salary increase. Provide positive feedback for the employee when it is appropriate. Being unhappy with pay sometimes is symptomatic of feeling underappreciated. Recognizing the employee’s talents and efforts will help them feel like the positive work atmosphere compensates for the salary. You should also encourage your employees more, restore trust in your employees and take an interest in your employees’ development, as well as keep employees in the loop as to what is going on.

SHAUNA MULDROW is the payroll coordinator at Ashton Staffing. Reach her at (678) 359-3786 or [email protected]

Insights Staffing is brought to you by Ashton

How an employee training and development program can help your company

Jeremy Wilcomb, Operations Manager, The Daniel Group

Training really sets a foundation for your staff as to what you’re trying to get accomplished — your goals and visions. In addition, it gives employees an idea as to what’s in the future, because as an employee goes through the interview and training process, he or she wants to know what he or she gains from taking the position.

“Specifically in Houston, there are so many competitors here that if we don’t have a good training program in place — if we don’t have a good development program in place — we can lose some of our good talent to our competitors,” says Jeremy Wilcomb, the operations manager at The Daniel Group.

Smart Business spoke with Wilcomb about some best practices to follow when implementing an employee training and development program.

Why might some employers hesitate to put formal training or employee development in place?

Maybe in the past, you’ve hired experienced employees or didn’t have the manpower to put forth a formal training program or dedicate anyone to training employees. You just trusted that those you hired had enough experience to develop themselves. You might hesitate because of the time and effort that goes into putting a program in place. With any company, you want to see an instant return on your investment, and that isn’t always clear with a training and development program.

Also, employees sometimes have the tendency to hop to the next best paycheck, so it’s hard for companies — small companies specifically — to put a lot of money into training or development with the fear that trained employee will inevitably leave. However, that’s why it’s so important to set the standard up front with employee training, career development and constant education throughout the course of an employee’s employment. It will help the employee feel more valued and assist with retention.

What training and development opportunities should employers make available to employees?

Industry-specific training is always good to have, whether employees have been in the industry for a long period of time or are new to the industry. Make the training specific to their job so they are constantly getting educated about changes. That constant training will help keep them up to speed and potentially allow them to think ahead of the curve.

Even if it’s just little tidbits here and there, you can try to do some sort of continuing education quarterly. A lot of the continuing education is very minimal in cost — maybe someone comes up with a new idea that you can share. As long as someone is taking some sort of nugget away from a training session, you can consider it to be successful.

What type of training you should implement depends on the employee and situation. A lot of companies do online training. It can be inexpensive and really effective, but there’s no one-on-one interaction and it’s hard to ask questions. It’s more of an information dump, which works with busy schedules and provides people time outside of the workplace to continually educate themselves. With open forum topic training, there’s a dialog that is created between the trainee and the trainer so you can dive a little bit deeper into a particular topic. There are also webinars, which always open up to questions at the end.

You can create a combination that works for you. For example, it’s great to have some sort of roundtable or open forum training quarterly, with other supplemental training as necessary.

How should you deal with the cost while ensuring employees are making the most of the training?

There’s never a perfect science to that. However, you can have anyone who undertakes training write up an overview of what they learned — what they took away from it, what they liked, what they didn’t like. This can help you decide whether it was worth the cost. If you’re sending employees to a conference, which is expensive, that’s always the big question: Is it worth the cost, and which employees are ‘A players’ who can get the most out of it?

You should set up goals and parameters that you want your staff to meet, while budgeting additional training costs for new employees up front. As long as they are bringing some sort of piece out of any type of training and using it in the field to some success, the cost often will justify the means.

What are some common mistakes employers make when creating an employee training and development plan?

Some of the common mistakes include reading too much into it and putting too much information in it, or being too vague by rushing through it and saying, ‘Hey, here’s a pamphlet. Go get ’em, tiger.’ It’s like training your kids; there’s that medium level that you need to have to make sure that it’s comprehensible and that they can retain the information, while bringing in different inserts into the ongoing training. Another mistake is if there’s no followup.

The plan should have a small overview, a table of contents, as well as go over company values and all of the pertinent information of whatever area they are in. Then later, you can do the ongoing education and training and key in on specific points of their position. This keeps them from information overload.

Jeremy Wilcomb is the operations manager at The Daniel Group. Reach him at (713) 932-9313 or [email protected]

Insights Staffing is brought to you by The Daniel Group

How to develop programs that will benefit employees and your business

Lisa Speaks, Director of Human Resources, ASG Renaissance

Healthy employees are happier and more productive employees, says Lisa Speaks, director of Human Resources at ASG Renaissance. A wellness program instituted three years ago has helped ASG Renaissance control health care costs, but the biggest benefits have been in increased productivity and employee retention.

“We hope we can see a decrease in insurance rates if our employees are healthier. But the other two pieces are more critical in terms of having an immediate impact on our bottom line,” Speaks says.

A 2012 report from the U.S. Department of Health showed wellness programs reduced health care costs by 20 percent to 55 percent, cut short-time sick leave by 6 percent to 32 percent and increased productivity by 2 percent to 52 percent.

“Employees spend a good portion of their waking hours at work, so the work environment can have a powerful influence on behavior,” Speaks says.

Smart Business spoke with Speaks about employee wellness programs and their benefits.

What are examples of employee wellness programs?

A wellness plan can be anything from a small health seminar held on-site for your employees to a yearlong initiative focusing on different health topics each month. For example, you might want to offer blood pressure screenings at the work site in February in recognition of Heart Health Month. The most important point is to make it convenient for your employees, so they can get the information and health screening they need without missing a lot of time away from work.

Another way to positively affect employee health is to schedule a day for a masseuse to visit the workplace. Stress can have a huge effect on your health, and relieving that stress may help your employees avoid catching a cold or flu that’s circulating in your area.

One popular program in our office has been healthy cooking classes, where we’ve brought in an outside professional to educate our employees about healthy eating and talk to them about what they eat and how it affects their body.

Once you have taken your first step in offering a wellness program, it’s important to continue to develop the program each year by adding new components. You always have to be looking for a new approach.

How do your determine what to offer?

Start by conducting an analysis of where your employees might have issues related to illness and disease. For example, asthma, weight management and diabetes are common areas of concern. There are many resources available through advocacy organizations focused on these health issues that can help you provide information to your employees explaining the risks and what they can do to alleviate the situation.

You also can work with a benefit broker, which works with firms that create wellness programs. For some programs, you might work directly with a wellness company.

ASG Renaissance has been recognized as one of the 101 Best and Brightest Companies and is invited to symposiums where managers hear what other companies are doing. Likewise, you can collect information from other firms that are interested in engaging employees and keeping them happy.

Are employees offered a participation incentive?

There are several insurance programs centered on wellness that offer incentives for participation. We offer the Healthy Blue Living Program. As part of enrollment in Healthy Blue Living, employees are encouraged to visit their primary care physician in the first 90 days of the plan year for a thorough health evaluation. Following the evaluation, their physician will develop a plan to help them improve their health. Because of their participation, employees are eligible for lower copays than if they do not participate. This doesn’t mean that employees have to meet their goals to be eligible for the plan incentive, they just need to take steps to improve their health.

How does encouraging employees to stay home when they are sick reduce absenteeism?

For a number of reasons, it’s better to stay home when you are sick than come into work and risk getting everyone else sick, too. You’re not as productive when you’re sick, and co-workers are not as productive because they are concerned that they might get sick, too. If loss of work time is an issue for your employees, telecommuting — the ability to work from home — may be a benefit to add to your wellness program.

How do you measure results?

Key measurements are absenteeism and work force productivity, which could be measured in performance reviews, retention rates and the overall wellness of employee population as measured by your insurance carriers.

ASG Renaissance has not seen direct savings yet in terms of health care costs. However, the rates haven’t increased as much as they were previously, and employees are getting better benefits out of their health care insurance for the same cost. The goal is to encourage prevention to avoid bigger issues down the line.

What steps should a company take to develop a program?

The key is to get feedback from your employees. There is no benefit gained by spending thousands of dollars on a workout facility that no one will use. The other thing is to take small steps. If you jump in and implement a full-blown wellness program from day one, it can be intimidating to employees. Develop a three-year plan and introduce one new initiative per quarter in year one, every other month in two year and then by year three have a different wellness initiative once a month. Have a strategy behind what you’re trying to accomplish.

Lisa Speaks is director of Human Resources at ASG Renaissance. Reach her at (248) 477-5046 or [email protected]

Insights Staffing is brought to you by ASG Renaissance

How to determine whether to recruit from outside the company or promote from within

Mary Delaney
Account manager
Ashton Staffing Inc.

When a position opens up at your company, a decision must be made whether to fill it with someone working in the company or hire someone from the outside. Each course has its benefits and drawbacks.

“When assessing your current staff, consider possible positions that a highly skilled employee would benefit from,” says Mary Delaney, an account manager with Ashton Staffing, Inc.

She says it may be the case that certain employees are outperforming or underperforming in their current roles and highly skilled employees may not be using their abilities to their fullest in their current positions.

However, there is reason to exercise caution. Delaney says, “Internal hiring immediately limits the prospective hiring pool and the company may miss out on a better-suited candidate.”

Smart Business spoke with Delaney about the difference between promoting from within and seeking to fill a position with a new hire.

How should a company evaluate the talent it has on its staff?

Aside from role-specific evaluations, monitor the employee’s work ethic. Look to see if they abuse sick days, are consistently tardy, if they share the company’s values and mesh well with its culture and if they’re able to adapt to changes within the company.

Consider the dedication level of the employee, which can be measured by the number of years they’ve invested with the company and what they have contributed in that time. Don’t just rely on numbers for this. Think back to instances where the employee succeeded in building and creating a flawless name for the company. Seek feedback on the employee from customers, phone surveys, email responses or co-workers.

Discuss your findings with the employee. Let the employee know they are not going unnoticed. Choose areas in which an employee has overachieved and acknowledge them for his or her hard work and dedication. Suggest ways of improving specific areas of concern you have with them. If there is a suitable promotion or role change, offer it to them.

What are the risks and benefits of looking inside the company to fill an open position?

Hiring from within can be very beneficial. A current employee’s familiarity with the company will allow for a cleaner and simplified transition period. Already aware of the company culture and policies, the current employee will most likely get up to speed much faster than a person new to the organization. Time spent interviewing and negotiating with an external employee is eliminated. Many companies use promotion from within as an incentive tool and a reward for good work or longevity with the company. This increases motivation and loyalty from internal employees. Hiring from within is typically economically beneficial. The position to be filled immediately transitions to a lower-level, less skilled position. This can significantly reduce the costs of recruitment and training expenses.

Hiring from within the company can also have some drawbacks. An internal promotion may inhibit the opportunity for innovation and progression. The company may lose out on fresh ideas and the creativity that can come from an external hire. Company morale could be negatively affected and friction among colleagues may arise if an envious employee feels slighted by a colleague’s promotion.

Ultimately, each company’s hiring decision is going to be unique. What’s best for one company may not work for another. Be sure to consider both positive and negative implications of internal versus external hiring before opening the position. Consider your budget, time frame, company culture and prospective talent on hand first. Internal hiring is generally faster and cheaper but may create hostility between colleagues and leave the company without the best-suited candidate or fresh innovative ideas.

How can a company ensure it has qualified candidates prepared to fill positions as they come available?  

Both mentoring and cross training are great tools for motivating your employees and sharpening their skills. By implementing a combination of these two, your employees will step out of their normal role and comfort zone by taking on new challenges. This keeps both the employee and job role from becoming stagnant. The challenge gives the employee a sense of achievement, which increases confidence and overall job performance.

Mentoring establishes a positive atmosphere of teamwork and success. When a talented employee displays initiative to go above and beyond, support that with cross training. Give them higher-level responsibility. Invite that employee to participate in more company-wide planning and decision-making meetings. Give them room to establish more goals and priorities. Reassign responsibilities that the employee does not like or are routine. A great way to promote company-wide training and development is by providing access and reimbursement to continuing education classes or company-specific training seminars, which ultimately sharpen employee skills.

In terms of cost, which is most often the more prudent: hiring internally or from outside the company? 

Hiring internally can save you time and money. You avoid expenses on advertising, screening and in-depth job training. Current employees are familiar with company policies and culture, and generally transition instantaneously into their new position.

However, if you strictly hire internally to save on these costs, you may lose out in the long run. Consider the risks and benefits of internal and external hiring before you make your decision. Each company is unique. Consider how your company morale will be affected if you hire internally. Do you already have a candidate who is an excellent fit? Or would you be sacrificing the need for ‘new blood’ and fresh ideas?  Hiring internally to save on costs up front may lead you to losing out in the long run. Determine which is the best route for your needs before you decide to open the position.

Mary Delaney is an account manager with Ashton Staffing, Inc. Reach her at (770) 419-1776 or [email protected]

Insights Staffing is brought to you by Ashton

How a strong relationship with your staffing firm can strengthen your recruiting

Jacque Myers, Senior Recruiter, Engineering Services, The Daniel Group

Your staffing agency should be much more than an order taker. Instead, an effective agency can serve as a partner to your company, creating a relationship that develops over time, similar to those with other professional partners you may have whom you rely on for advice when making a business decision.

As the relationship develops, your recruiter will learn about your business culture and, most importantly, what your hiring managers are looking for regarding their current staff, future projects and even potential layoffs, should that be the case.

“Companies need the best candidates to fill an open position, not just warm bodies,” says Jacque Myers, senior engineering recruiter with The Daniel Group. “When we have the opportunity to develop a partnership with a client, we can understand their challenges and help them resolve these issues with one of our hiring solutions.”

Smart Business spoke with Myers about making the most out of your relationship with your staffing agency by developing a strong partnership for the long term.

Why is it important to form a long-term relationship with one staffing partner?

Companies with a consistent and sizable need for temporary staffing stand to benefit from forming a long-term relationship for several reasons, including having access to a broad, specialized pool of employees who can be qualified to meet the specific needs of your industry or business; having a single point of contact who can handle all of your staffing needs; and realizing the potential cost savings that comes from working with someone who has knowledge of your business and your industry.

From the agency’s perspective, having a long-term relationship helps your recruiters build familiarity and a knowledge base that will help them prepare a cadre of pre-qualified candidates for you to review and consider. Doing this means that when your project begins, your recruiters should be prepared to provide you with better-qualified candidates in a much shorter period of time.

However, failing to establish a long-term relationship with your recruiter can result in a ‘revolving door’ situation with hires that can lead to frustration on the part of the hiring manager and co-workers, as well as a delay in the completion of the project.

Should you be looking for direct hire placement, the staffing partner who, once again, understands your culture, long-term goals and the industry in which you work, will be much better able to find a candidate who fits within your organization.

What should you expect from your staffing partner in addition to resumes?

Your staffing partner can begin finding and earmarking potential contract and direct hire candidates long before your business enters its crunch time. Let your staffing agent know what you are dealing with, both from a budget standpoint and in regard to the long-term goals of the resource they are looking for.

This will put your staffing partner in a position to advise you of the best way of getting the right talent and ultimately realizing staffing success. It will also help to make sure that you do not have any skills gaps by implementing the right mix of direct hires and contract consultants.

The qualification process is equally important. Having a staffing partner who understands your culture and is clear on where your employee or contractor will be spending their time gives you a much better chance of accomplishing your goals through the hires that are made.

To determine if you have a strong relationship with your staffing agent, ask the following questions:

  • Does the agent have true ‘partnership’ aptitude? Is the service built around the need to invest sufficient time toward understanding your business, your hiring managers, key drivers, value proposition, and both the hard and soft skills of the candidates?
  • Does the agent provide scope, reach or expertise that complements what you are able to do yourself? For example, can the agent identify and penetrate strategic talent populations that are out of your current reach or otherwise not on your radar?
  • Will your agent be a true consultative partner who is willing to share constructive feedback and provide recommendations instead of telling you only what you want to hear?
  • Is the staffing agency prepared to be your partner in this for the long run and not just the one-time placement?

How soon should you discuss your staffing needs for 2013?

Now is the perfect time to begin meeting and discussing your hiring challenges for the coming year. It is important to share with your staffing agent what you expect your budget for staffing might be, as well as the overall challenges you expect to face so that your staffing consultant can determine how he or she can best accommodate your hiring needs for the upcoming year.

Once all of the information is gathered, the right staffing partner will help you reach your goals by making insightful, timely recommendations and determining the best staffing arrangement that will be most effective for you and your company or department. <<

Jacque Myers is the senior engineering recruiter with The Daniel Group. Reach her at (713) 932-9313 or [email protected]

Insights Staffing is brought to you by The Daniel Group

How to better manage your accounts receivable

Nick Heintzman, Staff Accountant, Ashton Staffing, Inc.

Inefficiencies in your accounts receivable functions can dramatically impact your business.

“If a company is not managing its accounts receivables, it faces a greater risk of not collecting the money on a timely basis or, even worse, not being able to collect on the funds at all,” says Nick Heintzman, staff accountant at Ashton Staffing, Inc.

Managing your accounts receivable can be one of the most time-intensive duties your company faces, but it is also one of the most important functions

“It lays the groundwork for solid financial footing,” he says.

Smart Business spoke with Heintzman about how companies can better manage their AR to ensure fiscal stability.

How much control can a company really have over its AR?

A company has as much control over its accounts receivable as it can devote to it. The accounts receivable process is more than just managing the account once it is established. The process should start before the client ever begins doing business with you. A credit check should be run so you can evaluate the financial history of a prospective client to better protect you from losing money on the back end. If you notice a trend of late payments, you are better prepared to negotiate terms with the client that will help you still be profitable in the event that you are paid late. A credit report will show bankruptcies and liens, which could help you avoid getting tangled up with a client that would be more likely to fail and leave you with pennies on the dollar.

Another important part of evaluating a credit report is to set credit limits for prospective clients. This will help to protect you and also let the client know it will have to keep up with payments in order to maintain the relationship.

What are some of the more common problems companies face regarding AR?

Three problems that seem to be the most common are short-pays, payment beyond terms and companies failing to pay because of economic difficulties. All three can become significant difficulties in a very short time.

If a client is short-paying invoices, you are not capturing your full earning potential on the account. A client paying beyond terms will hinder your cash flow and potentially cause you to have to borrow to keep up with your financial responsibilities. And if you never receive payment from a client, you have not only lost the money associated with providing the goods or service, you also have lost the profit potential associated with the sale.

What technologies exist today that can help improve a company’s AR function?

There are several accounting software packages that make managing your accounts receivable much easier. QuickBooks, for example, creates reports that will break down your accounts receivable, in detail if needed, by preset time intervals. It can quickly show you which accounts are beyond terms, and this will help you focus on delinquent accounts on the days when you don’t have a lot of time to allocate to managing your accounts receivable.

QuickBooks also can apply finance charges to delinquent accounts, which helps to offset the cost associated with payment beyond terms. Many times, applying late fees will cause a client to re-evaluate its payment terms for you because paying late fees often is a burden. If a client knows you are serious about staying on top of its account, it is likely to get back in terms to avoid the extra charges.

Overall, what are the key factors to efficient AR management?

Some key factors are to keep up with it daily, be friendly but forceful, follow up in a timely and consistent manner, and do the research before taking on a client. However, being rude toward a client will not get payment any faster and will most likely cause the client to think twice about doing business with you. By being friendly and personable, you can help establish a relationship with the client, and that can go a long way in ensuring you are paid on time.

How can inefficiencies in the AR function, if ignored, affect a business?

The longer an account goes outstanding, the lower your success rate of collecting on the funds. In both scenarios — collecting the money late or not at all — it is going to restrict your cash flow for expenditures. Most accounts are set up on a net-30 term, whether it is accounts receivable or accounts payable. If you are collecting your money at the 45-day mark, it’s because you are not staying on top of your customers and you will most likely end up paying most of your vendors at 45-plus days, beyond terms. This can create conflict between you and your vendor, straining the relationship or even causing the vendor to require payment up front. Going one step further, if companies report to credit bureaus, your credit rating will drop if you are consistently late on payments. Poor credit ratings lead to higher interest rates for borrowing, which costs the company more money and restricts cash flow even further.

How should a business go about getting its AR functions back on track?

Set aside time every day to focus on it. If you devote some time every day to contacting aging accounts, you will:

  • Stay at the top of their minds, which will hopefully lead to faster payments;
  • Know which accounts you will need to keep a closer eye on by seeing ongoing trends; and
  • Be able to catch delinquent accounts right away before they spiral out of control.

Nick Heintzman is a staff accountant at Ashton Staffing, Inc. Reach him at (678) 359-3783 or [email protected]

Insights Staffing is brought to you by Ashton

How the employment picture is shaping up in this uncertain economy

Hayden Smith, Account Executive and Consultant, Solid Agency, LLC

The U.S. economy has been volatile to say the least in the past few years, and tumult in markets across the globe is chipping away at companies’ already shaky confidence, which has stalled hiring.

However, some industries are seeing orders or requests for service start to increase, which requires companies in these fields to try to keep up with demand using a pared-down work force. That’s where staffing agencies have been able to lend a hand.

However, the impending implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is likely to have an impact on workers’ compensation benefits, a program for which many staffing and professional employment organizations take responsibility. While the consequences are uncertain, employers and staffing agencies are taking measures to provide safer workplaces to reduce claims but are otherwise bracing for its potential impact.

Smart Business spoke with Hayden Smith, account executive and consultant with Solid Agency, LLC, about how staffing firms have been faring in this choppy economy.

How has employment been impacted by economic uncertainty?

There have been some positive trends in the staffing industry. Temporary and contract employment has grown 24.8 percent since the beginning of 2012, according to the American Staffing Association. There are certainly many rosy predictions and forecasts for the temporary industry, with the consensus saying good times are ahead for well-operated firms.

Since September 2008, 88 percent of employers have either maintained or increased the size of their nonemployee work force and ASA reports that temporary and contract staffing employment jumped 24 percent in May.

Further, reports indicate more college-educated professionals and managers have been hired than blue-collar workers in the past years, signaling that contract workers have become the go-to solution for companies across industries.

This comes at a time when only 23 percent of U.S. companies say they plan to add staff in the next six months. That figure is down from the 39 percent of companies that planned on hiring when they were surveyed in April. Clearly, companies are exhibiting caution when it comes to adding costs, such as those incurred when hiring full-time, permanent workers, while the global and U.S. economies stand on shaky ground.

Workers’ compensation is a significant cost often covered by staffing agencies. How are recent events impacting this program?

Workers’ compensation coverage is the second-largest expense behind payroll for temporary agencies.

When employers use temporary workers, they can avoid the possibility of having workers’ compensation claims made against them as contract workers are covered through the agency’s program. However, the Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act could impact the current workers’ compensation program. For instance, there is some speculation that frivolous claims made by workers could drop as more are provided health care coverage with which to get treatment, instead of filing a fraudulent workers’ compensation claim. A study that examined the impact of health care reform on workers’ compensation medical care in Massachusetts found that health care reform could reduce workers’ compensation billing volume and costs. However, it’s unclear how the findings will apply across states mandated to abide by the Affordable Care Act.

Additionally, alternative markets available for the temporary industry to secure valid coverage have continued to grow and can offer cost-effective, tailored methods other than traditional methods of workers’ compensation.

The temporary agency that does not manage its workers’ compensation very carefully will eventually find out how important this expense is to its bottom line.

How can the number of workers’ compensation claims be reduced for a temporary staffing agency?

While accidents cannot be completely eliminated, several processes and procedures can be used to help reduce the number of accidents and injuries, and possibly stop fraudulent claims.

Implementing a proven best-hiring practices program is first on the list. In depth prehire and post-offer questionnaires will help in deciding the type of work of which a temporary employee is capable. A drug-free workplace is another key component but only if the program is well managed by the employer. Also, most states offer premium discounts for drug-free workplace programs.

Another risk-reducing element that every business needs is a formal written safety program. However, this can be difficult for a multi-industry temp agency to provide. A thorough job description from the client employer will aid in the task of understanding risks and managing safety. Additionally, use these job descriptions with the aforementioned post-offer questionnaire, so client employers receiving qualified labor will be more confident using the services of a diligent temp agency.

A managed care organization is another helpful tool of a well-managed workers’ compensation program. When put in place and enforced, these can help reduce the total number of compensable workers’ compensation injuries. However, if a temporary employee is never informed and updated about the procedures of his or her workers’ compensation program, all will be for naught.

Ultimately, providing a safe workplace for employees is the responsibility of the employer. If employees are hurt, regardless of whether they are temporary or permanent, your bottom line could potentially suffer in several ways, including higher workers’ compensation premiums, loss of production and a negative impact on overall employee morale.

Proper planning, efficient management and complete implementation of components available to the staffing industry can help you avoid ‘the ugly’ in the future.

Hayden Smith is an account executive and consultant for Solid Agency, LLC. Reach him at (678) 460-2965 or [email protected]

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