Human Resource Roles

Engage Potential Candidates

by Jeanne Knutzen | July 23, 2013

0 Blog, Human Resource Roles Build Candidate Engagement, Engage Potential Candidates, Engage Talented Applicants, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agencies, Seattle Staffing Agency, Seattle Temporary Staffing, Seattle WA Staffing, staffing agencies seattle, Staffing In Seattle WA

You know that your job post provides potential candidates with their first—and sometimes only—contact with your company and your brand. And you know that a well written job post can mean the difference between a vast, highly talented candidate pool and a thin pool with a lower level of average ability. But beyond clarity, honesty, and striking the right tone, what steps can you take to get the best candidates to emotionally engage with this opportunity? Keep these considerations in mind. 1. Encourage daydreaming. If possible, get potential applicants to envision themselves in this position, literally sitting at this desk or working on this job site. The lives they lead in this vision should offer everything they want, whatever that may mean—including glamour, personal reward, new experiences, travel, or any other relevant form of personal satisfaction. 2. Know your target audience. Know what your ideal candidate wants, but more specifically, know what kind of person she’d like to be. Adjust your job post to reflect positively on this goal. 3. Put yourself in her shoes. Remember the last time you were on the job market. Remember the difference between finding a position you felt relatively sure you could tolerate and finding a job post that made your heart beat a little faster. People light up when they get a glimpse of something they truly want, not just something they feel like they should want. 4. Leverage your brand. Even if your company is small and not well known in the larger marketplace, use whatever small leverage you have to grab your candidate’s attention. If you can just inspire a talented candidate to make the two clicks it takes to visit your company’s website, you’re halfway home. (Of course, you’ll need to control what she sees when she visits your site or runs your name through a search engine.) 5. Be ready to draw her into the application process. When your ideal candidate submits a resume, she should get an instant message letting her know her application was received. From that moment forward, she should be treated with respect and kept informed of all relevant timelines throughout the selection process. Turn a great first impression (your job post) into a great second, third, and fourth impression. For more information on how to grab and hold the attention of highly talented potential applicants, reach out to the Seattle staffing experts at Pace.

The Search for a Great Recruiter

by Jeanne Knutzen | June 28, 2013

0 Blog, Human Resource Roles job offer letters, job recruiters seattle, Qualities Of Great Recruiters, recruiters in seattle, recruiters seattle, recruiters seattle wa, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agencies, Seattle Staffing Agency, Seattle Temporary Staffing, Seattle WA Staffing, Staffing In Seattle, The Search For a Great Recruiter, What To Look For In A Recruiter

A sharp, highly experienced recruiter can be an invaluable member of your hiring team. And establishing an ongoing relationship with a well-connected recruiting firm may be the best hiring move you ever make. But even as your recruiters head out into the world to represent your company and help you find the strongest candidates, you’ll still need to screen and select those recruiters based on your own specific staffing needs. So how can you identify the recruiters and firms that are likely to bring the best results? Here are a few signs to look for before you make a commitment. 1. Great recruiters are great listeners. Your positions come with very specific requirements and skill demands, and in order to understand these requirements, a recruiter has to possess a basic understanding of how your company works and how each position contributes to the larger picture. When you sit with your recruiter and explain a specific role, does he or she listen closely, ask the right questions and remember details accurately? 2. Great recruiters are well connected. They’re socially savvy, tech savvy, and have wide professional networks at their disposal, both online and off. They’re an active presence at industry events, they have long lists of contacts and vast online footprints, and they’re known and respected wherever they go. 3. Great recruiters are experienced. The best staffing and recruiting firms have been in the business for a few years and have had plenty of opportunities to get the lay of the land. They’re also staffed with seasoned recruiters who can share with each other what they’ve learned. A team of five recruiters with an average of ten years in the field should amount to a firm with fifty collective years of experience. 4. Great recruiters can tell the difference between “impressive” and “relevant” credentials. They know how to weigh technical skill sets against qualities like adaptability and resilience. They know that “fit” often matters more than any other quality, and they know how to spot red flags and investigate them further in order to protect their clients from expensive mistakes. 5. Great recruiters use proven methods. They rely on efficient phone screening techniques, first round interviewing models, skill testing, and background checks to separate the best candidates from the rest of the pack. 6. Most important, great recruiters are fast and accurate communicators. When employers need them, they’re there. They answer messages quickly, source and screen applicants on tight deadlines, and make the needs of their clients a top priority. If you’re looking for a top-notch Seattle staffing team, arrange a consultation with the experts at Pace. We can help you find the right people with the skills you need to move your company forward.

When It Comes To Purchasing Staffing Solutions – Words Matter

by Jeanne Knutzen | June 27, 2013

0 About Staffing Agencies, Agency Pricing Practices, Blog, Flexible Staffing Strategies, Human Resource Roles, INFO AND RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYERS get connected

What you call your flexible worker makes a difference in what vendor you talk to, how much you pay, and what you can expect! Here's why.... … Read More »

In Pursuit of Accountability

by Jeanne Knutzen | June 26, 2013

0 Blog, Human Resource Roles Contract Employees, Fearless Leadership, Loretta Malandro, Managers, PACE Staffing Network, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Industry, Seattle Temporary Staffing, Temporary Employees

Despite the countless management and leadership books written about the virtue of accountability, according to most employees there are significant gaps between management’s knowing and doing when it comes to accountability. Most employees don’t rate their organizations highly in terms of their ability to hold individuals or teams accountable. While they believe they are personally accountable, they don’t always believe that others in their organization are held to the same “high” standards. Well intended managers can oftentimes fuel these perceptions. Excuses like “they’re new to the job,” or “I probably wasn’t clear in my directions,” can sound more like “permission” to underperform or the avoidance of a difficult conversation, than the commitment to fairness it might otherwise represent. The opposite track, an organization being too quick to act or terminate an employee whose results are off target (i.e. “John’s outcomes are awful. He needs to go,”) can often keep a team from looking at larger issues in market conditions or organizational performance that aren’t about John’s performance. Additionally, a manager who is slow to coach and fast to terminate can erode an organization’s commitment to its employees. Management 101 teaches us that by helping our employees to become more accountable, we make our teams more productive. The opposite is also true. When management drifts away from the habits of “accountability,” a culture of finger pointing, blame, and gossip often takes hold. Issues in productivity and outcomes, almost always follow. Unfortunately, individual managers—senior, middle, and entry level leadership roles—don’t always understand their personal role in an organization’s “accountability culture.” While most managers believe they do a good job of holding their team members accountable, it’s sometimes difficult to see how others are doing the same. When the going gets tough and results are off target, even high performing managers can look to “others”—a better resourced competitor, an underperforming colleague, an overly demanding customer, or an insensitive senior management—as the reason for their own subpar outcomes.  Anytime a manager takes their eyes off their own performance and looks for explanations of outcomes outside themselves, the organization’s “culture” of accountability suffers. In her book Fearless Leadership, Loretta Malandro, PhD., says that, for a business to create an accountability culture management accountability must be 100 %—each manager must become “personally accountable for their impact on people, even if others accept zero accountability.” Dr. Malandro is clearly stating the management challenge; it always has to start within. Managers also need to understand that the drift in an organization’s accountability culture typically happens slowly, then suddenly. While accountability is an intellectually simple concept, in reality it is both emotionally and behaviorally complex. For managers who take their mission to develop people seriously, they must find that just-right balance between holding people accountable and empowering them to make mistakes. Their goal is to help employees work from their strengths, while making sure their weaknesses don’t knock them over. Even a well thought out decision to terminate an underperforming but high impact employee, requires careful organizational planning that almost always involves others—which means that many accountability decisions can’t be made in a vacuum, outside the context of the team and its customers. This is a long way of saying that the balancing acts that in their aggregate reflect how you or your company is managing “accountability” are as easy and straight forward as others would like. It is my belief that a fully accountable culture represents an aspirational vision that is rarely fully achieved, but can produce a whole lot of small but “made a difference” successes along the way. So how do individual managers go about creating a culture of accountability? We have a handful of suggestions, starting with a good reflection of where you are now. Go through some of the checklists we’ve provided below and rate yourself on a scale of 1 -5—with 5 being the highest of the rankings and 1 the lowest. How are you managing your own team?

Self-Rating

1. CLEAR EXPECTATIONS. Does each team member know specifically what is being expected of them? How their work will be measured and/or evaluated?
2. ONGOING, HONEST FEEDBACK. Do team members regularly get all of the metrics and/or the feedback they need to evaluate their own work? Do they know at all times how I am viewing their work and outcomes?
3. ADDRESSING PERFORMANCE ISSUES. Do I follow up quickly to work more closely with team members whose results are off target? Do I listen carefully for obstacles, and coach them on ways to overcome them? Do I have clear processes in place to make sure that any potentially job threatening issues are escalated clearly and appropriately?
4. INDIVIDUAL DEVELOPMENT. Do I manage each member of my team as an individual, setting individual performance goals and avoiding comparisons with other team members?
5. PLANNING AND FOLLOW UP. When my team and I are discussing options, do I follow up to make sure what work needs to be done and by whom? That my priorities are clear? Do I regularly follow up on promised deadlines or benchmarks so that I physically inspect work in progress to ensure that each team member is completing work as promised?

Total Score

  How are you conducting yourself as a company leader?

Self-Rating

1. PERSONAL ROLE MODELING. When things go wrong, do I walk the talk of personal accountability—avoid making excuses or blaming others over explaining myself? Do I personally model my own “empowerment; engaging my team in ways to overcome obstacles, solve problems,   and make progress?
2. COACHING. DEVELOPING OTHERS. Do I spend enough time coaching others to success, avoiding   getting disappointed or angry when a team member doesn’t “get it?” Do I look for ways for my employees to work from strengths, even if that means some adjustments in how work gets done?
3. TRANSPARENCY. Do I make sure I always work from a plan, making my personal contribution to company goals transparent to my boss and colleagues?
4. WORD CHOICES. Do my word choices set a tone with the team and others of “positive problem solving” around things we can control, rather than focusing too heavily on issues and obstacles we can’t?
5. TEAMMEMBER SUPPORT. Do I always communicate in ways that demonstrate my respect for others, my ability to find value in “different” people, talents and perspectives? Do I avoid conversations with team members or colleagues that are more about gossip than problem solving? Do I listen when issues are brought forward, but avoid lengthy discussions about another team member’s performance?

Total Score

  Are you avoiding the assumptions that can erode the habits of accountability?

Self-Rating

1. Good team members always understand what’s expected of them. Am I mindful that clarifying expectations is an ongoing process?
2. Good team members will automatically self-correct. When a mistake is made or a ball dropped, do I help others determine what they will do differently next   time?
3. Everyone knows what I do/what I’m accountable for. Do I demonstrate daily the transparency in my own work that I want from others?
4. Everyone knows what changes need to be made now. How often am I communicating about change, and what we need to be doing differently?   How clear am I about my team’s priorities?

Total Score

  Accountability is an important element in the work we do to help our clients find and place the right employee for each request we fill—either for a job candidate to be hired by our client directly, a short term temporary or contract assignment, or a complex project level assignment involving full team engagement. We always want to know what each of our employees is accountable to produce—what outcome our client needs them to achieve. One of the important side benefits of “temporary” workers is that their accountabilities can generally be defined in simple terms, “achieve this result in this way, ” but the degree to which our customers can spell out these simple statements, the greater the probability that our employee will perform as expected. Our client’s chances for a successful temporary or contract assignment are directly impacted by the quality of information they can provide to all of their employees up front about their business (the context) and their expectations (the deliverable). NancyWe also encourage our clients to provide their temporary and contract employees with timely feedback relative to those expectations—as early in the assignment as possible and as ongoing as is needed. Many issues in employee performance, particularly in temporary or contract roles, stems from the employees not clearly understanding the client’s expectations. Keep in mind many temporary and contract employees go from assignment to assignment with their client’s expectations changing at each assignment. Early course corrections to clarify your expectations can make a huge difference. If you’d like to discuss any of these editorial comments, feel free to contact me at nancys@pacestaffing.com. I’m Nancy Swanson, Vice President of Partnership Development for the PACE Staffing Network.      

Summer Hiring: Are You Ready for a Fun But Unpredictable Staffing Season?

by Jeanne Knutzen | May 28, 2013

0 Blog, Human Resource Roles staffing resources in seattle, staffing resources in seattle wa, staffing resources seattle, staffing resources seattle wa, summer hiring trends seattle, summer hiring trends seattle wa

Summer is upon us. And if you haven’t started thinking about what this season may mean for your staffing needs, now’s the time. If your workforce is like most, you’ll need to prepare for some of these contingencies and events:

1. Academic cycles. The ebb and flow of the calendar year may not mean much to employees above a certain age, but for students, the demands of the school year come first. When your summer help said good bye in the fall, some of them planned to return the following year, and some of them didn’t. Most of them were probably unable to make a commitment at that point. So you may see them again, but you may also need to hire and train a completely new staff. The experts at Pace can help with this process.

2. Vacation planning. Summer is vacation season, so if you provide your employees with two weeks per year to hit the road, chances are several of them will want to leave during June and July. Hopefully these absences won’t overlap in a way that slows your productivity, but if this happens, you may need temps and contingent workers to fill in. Contact our office for details about our fast and accurate short-term hiring strategy.

3. Over and under-staffing. The summer can have an impact on any business model, even those that don’t seem cyclical. Some companies slow down during the season, and some experience a maddening rush. And both over and under-staffing can be very expensive for business owners. Make sure you don’t have extra hands sitting idle in your workplace or overstressed employees burning out and making mistakes.

4. Illnesses. Summer is an outdoor season, and with active lifestyles come everything from bad sunburns to waterskiing injuries to post-Memorial Day hangovers. Make sure a rash of unfortunate incidents won’t leave you and your customers high and dry.

Whether you need last minute fill-ins when your team comes down with a "summer bug" or if you'd like to take a proactive approach to planning for upcoming employee vacation time or other seasonal demands, PACE Staffing can help. Contact the Seattle staffing experts today!

Your 1099 Employees – Avoiding the High Costs of Misclassifications

by Jeanne Knutzen | April 24, 2013

0 Blog, Human Resource Roles, What's New in Staffing? 1099, 1099 workforce, Independent Contractors, PACE Staffing Network, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agency, Seattle Temporary Staffing, Temporary Staffing, Workers Compensation

While companies who have effectively used independent contractors to provide quick and easy access to specialized talent or consulting expertise are often considered amongst our most nimble, some of these same companies have recently found themselves facing hefty bills for back taxes, or complicated law suits stemming from workplace accidents or injuries involving a member of their 1099 workforce. Here’s the deal, if the IRS determines that a worker originally considered “independent” was actually an employee, companies can find themselves liable for unpaid Social Security, Medicare, and Unemployment taxes. The IRS couldn’t be clearer, they see “employee misclassification” as a source of hidden revenue, and has budgeted several billion dollars to “identify and prosecute” employee misclassification issues. But unpaid taxes aren’t the only risk associated with the 1099 workforce. Additional issues have developed around workplace accidents where, because a worker was classified as an independent contractor and not covered under the employer’s Workers Compensation policies, the employer was not protected from the limited liability provisions of Workers Compensation and found themselves sued for double and triple damages. A nuance in Washington State law is that employers who use Independent Contractors are required to pay the Workers Compensation insurance and the state’s SUTA tax on hours and dollars paid to their 1099 workers. Not all states have this provision, nor do all employers in the State of Washington abide by this little known component of our state law. Bottom line, employers are at risk of incurring serious damage costs from a workplace injury by an “independent contractor.” One of the confusions we have seen employers make regarding their use of “independent contractors” stems from the mistaken notion that if the “contractor” is legal, meaning they have a business license or legitimate UBI (tax ID)  number, then they automatically pass the “test”, and can be considered “independent”.  The IRS, on the other hand, makes it clear that the “legality” of the claim of independent contractor status lies with the nature of the work to be performed and the degree of control the employer has over how and when it is performed.   The IRS offers several tests an employer can use to determine a worker's status:

  • The degree of control over the worker’s behavior, which addresses the extent to which an employer controls the work performed. The more control an employer has over how a worker performs the work—specifying where, when, and how the work is done—the less likely the worker will be considered “independent.” Employers who place their independent contractors on work teams with required hours of work, mandatory attendance at meetings, required collaborations around work products, etc., often put an independent contractor at risk of being re-classified as an employee, subject to all the provisions and benefits available to an employee.
  • The degree of control over a worker's financial opportunity, which relates to how a worker gets paid for the work performed or reimbursed for the costs they incur in performing the work. The more control an employer has over a workers total source of income, the less likely that worker will be considered “independent.” An agreement to pay a regular wage/salary for example, can be just as suspect as is an agreement to pay a worker hourly, but with an estimated work schedule of 40 hours each week. Work agreements that tie a worker to an employer who then becomes their sole source of income, suggests a less than “independent” relationship with that employer. A related financial consideration is how much personal investment the worker has in the tools they use.  Are they using their own tools/equipment or the company’s tools/equipment?
  • The type of relationship that is formed between worker and company, oftentimes construed as the exclusivity of the relationship, or the duration of the work commitment. Case law around the permanency of a relationship suggests that work assignments intended to last six months or longer better support the notion that a worker is an employee, compared to shorter term work arrangements. A related factor is whether or not the worker is free to pursue other business opportunities during the term of their agreement to provide their personal services to a company. If an employer is asking or assuming someone will work 40 hours/week on their behalf, it is hard to make the argument that they are free to pursue business opportunities elsewhere.
Unfortunately, case law on the use of these IRS tests to determine employee or independent status is riddled with inconsistent outcomes, making it hard for businesses to make quick, definitive classification decisions. An employer who wants to fully protect themselves can file IRS Form SS-8, Determination of Worker Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding. The downside, it often takes several months to get a response on a particular request. In light of the growing number of state or federally generated tax audits, we are seeing more and more companies who have historically relied on independent contractors for specialized work in the IT, engineering, or other professional services areas now looking differently at that staffing solution. Some companies have elected to hire these workers directly; others have elected to end long term relationships with 1099 contractors, sometimes leaving significant expertise holes in their organizations. A third option involves a new category of staffing service that allows an employer to continue to utilize their highly valued but flexible 1099 workforce, while avoiding the legal or financial risks being created by the revitalized audit efforts of state and federal agencies. The PACE Staffing Network now offers a full range of  Employer of Record services that can quickly and cost-effectively convert a client’s current 1099 workforce into a “legally compliant” W2 workforce without adding the additional costs normally attributed to a core workforce. The PACE Staffing Network regularly provides Employer of Record services to customers who are looking to optimize workforce flexibility, while avoiding the risk of unforeseen liabilities. For a complimentary discussion about how your company currently uses 1099 contractors and the options you have to mitigate the risk of misclassification, contact infodesk@pacestaffing.com.

What Financial Managers Should Look For In a New Hire

by Jeanne Knutzen | April 19, 2013

0 Blog, Finance/Accounting Roles, Human Resource Roles financial staffing seattle, financial staffing services seattle, Hire Talented Financial Employees, Hiring Financial Employees, Jobs In Seattle WA, Screening Financial Employees, Seattle Staffing, Seattle WA Financial Jobs, Staffing In Seattle WA, Temporary Staffing Seattle, What Financial Managers Should Look For

As you factor in the state of the financial job market, the unique needs of your company, and your available position, what kinds of traits should you consider valuable in a potential candidate? Which qualities should you consider red flags? When you see signs that seem promising, should you act fast and make a decision? Or should you consider the depth of your candidate pool and hold out for more? Keep these considerations in mind as you move through the selection process.

1. First, review the hiring successes and failures of the past. Gather a few profiles for careful examination, including those of the best candidates hired in the past five years and the worst (those who stayed for only a month, were difficult to get along with, or were dismissed after expensive mistakes). What made the great ones stand out? Why did the weak ones fail? And were there any signs of either success or failure that were visible before the candidates were brought on board?

2. Second, separate cultural considerations from technical knowledge and skill. A great candidate means a great “fit”, and fit includes a combination of both attitude and aptitude. Technically skilled candidates won’t thrive if they resist the culture, and likeable candidates will only prosper if they can master the job without excessive stress.

3. Choose candidates who will stay. This may mean letting go of the highly qualified or overqualified superstars, and turning instead to slightly less trained or less experienced applicants. These applicants can be hired at a premium, trained while on the job, and end up just as skilled and a little more grateful and loyal than their superstar counterparts. No matter who you hire, superstar or not, be sure to implement retention strategies to keep your valuable employees.

4. Choose candidates that are flexible and ethical. New regulations affect the financial industry on a regular basis. Are your candidates ready to let go of old models and embrace new ones quickly and fluidly? Are they interested in doing what’s right and going the extra mile to stay aboveboard? Or are they entrenched, entitled, sullen about change, and reluctant to break old habits and patterns?

5. Choose candidates who show respect—Not just for the company, but also for its business model, its customers, its clients, its stakeholders, and the larger community. Look for candidates who consider the big picture and are interested in how the entire company works, including revenue generation.

Reach out the Seattle staffing experts at Pace for more information on screening, hiring and retaining only the most talented financial employees.

Tips for a Competitive Recruiting Strategy

by Jeanne Knutzen | March 26, 2013

0 Blog, Human Resource Roles Competitive Recruiting Tips, Keys To Successful Recruiting, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Temporary Staffing, Seattle WA Staffing, Staffing In Seattle WA, Temporary Staffing In Seattle, Tips For A Competitive Recruiting Strategy

Recruiting is a tricky business with a definition of “success” that varies widely from one open position to the next. Sometimes a position needs to be filled fast, above all else, and candidate credentials are flexible. Sometimes only one credential matters, and the identification of a candidate with this unique skill set can be considered a home run, even if the process takes six months. Sometimes strong recruiting requires a sharp eye for red flags, sometimes it takes a wide network, and sometimes it takes the ability to pitch a company and position to a star candidate buried in competing options. And of course, sometimes excellent recruiting requires all of these things and more. Here are a few recruiting tips that help you leverage your advantages and overcome the obstacles that stand between you and the candidates you need.

1. Set clear goals.

Before you set off on a sourcing mission, make sure the requirements of the position are crystal clear. Maintain open communication channels with the client if you’re an outside contractor, and if you’re recruiting in-house, stay in touch with HR, the position manager, the department head, and even the financial pros who set the budget for this specific salary. Know what you want—and what you can afford—before you start looking.

2. Lean hard on your network

Don’t leave any stone unturned, and don’t leave any option unexplored. You may start by running a keyword search through your current resume database, but don’t stop there. Attend networking and industry events, visit job fairs, and collect resumes from any likely candidate through any available source.

3. Don’t waste time.

If excellent, top tier candidates have special requirements (like salary adjustments, moving allowances, or the ability to work remotely) then go ahead and negotiate. Present them to the client anyway and be clear about the terms. But if a candidate is a marginal match and comes with a list of deal breakers, just move on.  The right match is out there, and the longer you wait to find her, the more likely she is to land another position first.

4. Most important, when you find your star, move fast.

Don’t lose your top choice to a competing offer after you've made up your mind. Put the HR wheels in motion, cut through the red tape, and get the offer in to her hands before she’s lured away.  During the entire process, treat the candidate with respect and keep her updated whenever your timeline changes.

For more information on competitive recruiting strategies, or for a consultation on how to turn your contingent staffing strategies into a competitive advantage, contact infodesk@pacestaffing.com.

When is Work, Work?

by Jeanne Knutzen | March 7, 2013

0 Blog, Human Resource Roles Employer of Record services, Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, FLSA, Non-Exempt Employees, PACE Staffing Network, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Staffing Agency, Temporary Workforce

Under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), all non-exempt employees must be paid the minimum wage for all hours worked in a work week and must be paid overtime at the rate of 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a work week. What isn’t often discussed is what hours of work or work related activity must be included in the count of hours of work paid at either regular or overtime rate. We run into these issues periodically when working with our hourly paid flexible workforces. Whether these workers are categorized as exempt or non-exempt, they must be paid for all hours of work. The following is a list of situations where we frequently field questions from our clients:

  • Pre and Post-Job Activities. All job-related activities required as a part of an employee’s work must be calculated as hours of work.  This includes work performed either before or after the employee’s  actual work schedule and includes pre-start orientations, required after hours meetings, or any hours spent by workers for their employer’s (or our client’s) benefit. Examples of time to be paid would be the time it takes to complete a time card, to change in or out of required work clothes or equipment, to assemble materials needed to perform the work, or to receive instructions about the work—all are considered hours worked and the employee must be paid.
  • Waiting Time. Employees who arrive at a work site early—earlier  than the required start time—are not automatically entitled to be paid for any time they spend waiting to begin work.  However, if an employee reports at the required time and then waits because there is no work to start on, the waiting time is compensable.
  • Stand-By Time. Workers who are required to stand-by at a worksite “ready” to work, must be paid for this waiting time.  Stand-by time typically refers to short-term time periods where a worker is not officially working but is asked to “stand-by” ready to work. The defining rule for stand-by time is that if the employee remains under the employer’s control to the point where they cannot use their time for their own purpose or benefit, the stand-by time must be paid. 
  • On-Call Time. On-Call time is different from Stand-By time in that it includes time spent by an employee “available” to be called into work while free to pursue activities for their own benefit. The FLSA requires employers to compensate workers for on-call time when such time is spent “predominantly for the employer’s benefit.” This means that an employee, who is only required to be available for work if asked, is not considered working and is not paid for their time on-call.
  • Meal and Break Periods. Under FLSA rulings, time spent for meal or rest periods may or may not be compensable, depending on the amount of time provided for the break and to what extent the employee is relieved from their work duties while on break.
Bona fide meal periods need to be of sufficient duration (30 minutes or more) and free of work duties in order for the meal period to be exempt from required pay regulations. If, for example, an employee is asked to sit at their desk to answer phones during their lunch break, they should be paid for their meal break. While employers can have policies prohibiting employees from leaving the work site for a meal break, it is only when work is required of them during the break, that their time must be compensable. Rest periods, on the other hand for shorter periods (5 to 20 minutes) are always counted as hours worked.
  • Unauthorized Hours of Work. Employees who, with the direct or implied awareness of their employer, start work before their work is scheduled,  work through unpaid breaks,  or continue to work after their work schedule is officially over, are considered to be working during all these times periods and their time “at work” must be paid. This is true even if these hours of work were performed voluntarily and are considered by their employer to be “unauthorized.” If the work performed during these “unauthorized hours” benefits the employer, the FLSA requires that the employee be paid. This puts the burden on management to make certain that regular work time rules are rigorously enforced, perhaps even promising disciplinary action for employees who work in unauthorized ways.  Merely stating that all work be authorized is not sufficient.
For more information on the work rules outlined by FLSA regulations and as applied to either your temporary or hourly workforce, contact our infodesk@pacestaffing.com.

Prepare for a Changing Hiring Landscape

by Jeanne Knutzen | February 28, 2013

0 Blog, Hiring.Best Practices, Human Resource Roles Adjust Your Hiring Strategy For 2013, Hiring Strategy Challenges For 2013, Prepare For A Changing Hiring Landscape, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Temporary Staffing, Seattle WA Staffing Agency, staffing agencies in seattle, staffing agenciesi in seattle wa, Staffing In Seattle, Staffing In Seattle WA, Temporary Staffing In Seattle

In the world of HR and business management, every era brings a new set of exciting opportunities, and along with those opportunities come challenges unique to the age. 2013 is no exception, and savvy hiring managers are already looking for ways to adjust and streamline their approaches to candidate sourcing, and screening in the year ahead. Here are a few of the most important ways in which recruiters, managers and HR pros will need to adapt.

Prepare for the 2013 Hiring Landscape

1. Optimize Mobile Utilities

A few years ago the world started to go digital, and companies that ignored or shrugged off the arrival of the Internet age did so at their peril. Those who weren’t ready to launch websites and start thinking about SEO were swept aside, and online selling and marketing are now commonplace for almost every business model, product, and service. Now it’s time for the next step: taking web utilities and making them accessible by mobile device. If talented job seekers can reach you online, that’s great. If they can reach you from a mobile device while on the go, that’s better.

2. Match Skills with Positions

Workforce shaping and in-house training are becoming watchwords for the next decade. It’s no longer enough to simply hire smart young candidates brimming with potential. In a world of increasingly focused and narrow skill sets, you don’t need ambitious go-getters; you need Level 2 CNC programmers, licensed and certified technicians, designers, engineers, and artists who specialize in your tiny corner of the marketplace.

3. Cultivate a Pipeline

How far into the future does your long-term staffing plan extend? If your answer is “three years or less,” that’s no good. Get the most out of your existing talent by making sure your best employees have a place to go when they’re ready to advance. And if you have a position that’s likely to open up during the next few years, groom and train someone in-house; you’ll mitigate risk and save countless resources when that day arrives.

4. Use Visual Media

Visuals are fast becoming the most effective message delivery system to your pool of talented potential employees. Find a way to incorporate graphs, illustrations, videos and multi-media into your job posts and other targeted information, like the “careers” tab on your webpage. Every open position in the company should have its own frequently updated blog, and that blog should be heavy with visual media and visual messages.

For more information on preparing your hiring strategy for the challenges ahead, reach out to the Seattle staffing and HR experts at Pace. Our years of experience allow us to look into the future and see what’s coming, and we can help you do the same.

Top 10 Suggestions for Supervisors – 2013

by Jeanne Knutzen | February 14, 2013

0 Blog, Human Resource Roles Employee Evaluations, HR tips, human resources, Job Performance, Job Performance Evaluations, Management Tips, PACE Staffing Network, Seattle Staffing Agency, Temporary Staffing In Seattle, Work Place Environment

The following article was published by the ASA, as written by A. Kevin Troutman of Fisher & Phillips Law Firm.  As the New Year unfolds, supervisors may have even less time to manage all the complexities that arise in the world of employment law. With goals and deadlines to meet, well-intentioned managers may be tempted to rely on experience and “common sense” to guide them. Unfortunately, this approach often creates headaches and even litigation, despite managers’ good intentions. Today’s alphabet soup of employment laws (ADA, ADEA, FMLA, OSHA, NLRB, etc.) are simply too vast and complicated for most supervisors to digest on their own. Other issues are so subtle or counterintuitive that even seasoned HR professionals can find it difficult to recognize and/or deal with them. There is a silver lining to this cloud. A few basic practices can help supervisors avoid many problems—or at least recognize when to turn to HR for guidance. 1. Always tell employees the truth This rule encompasses more than avoiding outright falsehoods. Instead, it emphasizes the importance of making sure that employees always know how you assess their job performance. Of course this includes telling employees what they are doing well—but perhaps even more important, it means telling them how and where they are not meeting expectations. While many supervisors may prefer to avoid delivering “bad news,” this rule is an increasingly critical aspect of their jobs. Performance evaluations illustrate this point.  Audits routinely show that well over half of all evaluations rate employee performance above average, a de facto impossibility. Unfortunately, evaluations that overrate employees’ job performance can be devastating during litigation. Judges and juries are generally unsympathetic toward supervisors who suggest that they did not really mean what they wrote on a performance evaluation. This simple rule is so important that companies should consider discontinuing annual performance evaluations unless they can be done accurately and honestly. 2. Communicate clearly and directly Going a step beyond Rule No. 1, supervisors should expect employees to do their jobs and cannot let “politically correct” language obscure their message. Specifically, they must communicate clearly without being insensitive or disrespectful. For example, instead of telling an employee that he or she has an “opportunity” to improve, identify what specific aspects of performance are below expectations and what must be done to improve. Offer to assist, but make it clear that you expect improvement. When documenting these communications, be succinct and explicit. Always try to address “who, what, when and why.”  (As simple as it seems, this includes ensuring that documentation is legible, dated and signed where appropriate.) This rule applies to policy violations, poor attendance and simple coaching or reminder sessions. 3. Avoid surprises Many lawsuits result from anger or hurt feelings, which may be the result of an employee being surprised by disciplinary action or a termination. Remember, a supervisor’s silence is typically interpreted as approval, but if communication is consistent, clear and direct, employees should never be surprised by disciplinary action. They may not agree with the supervisor’s decision, but they should never be able to say truthfully that they did not see it coming. 4. Always get both sides of the story It’s surprising how often supervisors violate this simple rule. As a practical matter, there should be no exceptions to it. No matter how egregious or clear-cut the facts appear to be, always give accused employees a chance to tell their side of the story. (The only possible exception might be when there is a legitimate objective or safety concern that would prevent this from occurring.)  Consistent with this rule, do not document conclusions or prepare termination paperwork until the investigation is finished. 5. Keep your promises Don’t make promises that you cannot keep. Supervisors who promise to meet periodically with employees or to provide periodic feedback must do so. Again, jurors are unlikely to forgive supervisors who criticize an employee’s job performance, but fail to abide by their own follow-up schedule. So do not set deadlines or timetables that you cannot meet—instead, maintain some flexibility. Don’t make oral promises such as, “as long as you do your job, you will always have a place here.” In some states, these promises can be legally enforceable. 6. Do not ignore protected status in making employment decisions At first blush this rule may seem illogical, but when considering disciplinary action it is always important to consider how you have handled similar situations in the past. If an employee in a protected classification (race, sex, religion, age, disability, etc.) is treated differently under the same circumstances from someone who is not in the protected class, supervisors and HR must be able to justify the reasons clearly. When considering which employees fall in a protected classification, don’t overlook employees who recently took FMLA leave, sought an accommodation under the ADA, or provided information in response to an investigation of alleged workplace discrimination. These activities protect employees from retaliation and likewise require consideration of comparable situations where no employee had engaged in protected activity. 7. Think before hitting “send” Email traffic provides increasingly fertile ground for both sides in employment cases. Supervisors must therefore recognize that their email messages are potential trial exhibits. A quick, off-hand message has the potential to be extremely embarrassing if presented out of context to a jury. Therefore, it is never a good idea to fire off quick responses, especially when emotions are running high. Wait a few moments before hitting “send” and be especially careful about using the “reply to all” button. 8. Document important facts when they’re still fresh Important details can easily get muddled in today’s fast-paced work environment, so make a habit of jotting down those key facts when they occur. When doing so, be sure the documentation is dated, legible and understandable (see Rule No. 2). Always include objective language describing “who, what, when, where, why” and identify any witnesses. Identify the author of the documentation—sometimes nothing can be more difficult than retrospectively trying to determine who prepared unsigned material. 9. Send it to HR When supervisors keep files containing notes or information that has not been forwarded to HR, it almost always creates problems when litigation ensues. This can force the employer to change a representation it has already made to the EEOC or plaintiff’s counsel. More importantly, it can support a plaintiff’s contention that the supervisor (who is usually the alleged wrong-doer) cannot be trusted or is hiding something. On a related note, always refer employment verification and reference inquiries to HR, who will ensure company-wide consistency in responding. 10. Never forget that you are the boss Even during meal breaks, after hours, on weekends, or away from the workplace, supervisors still carry the mantle of company authority. Unguarded, inappropriate or “joking” comments can and do come back to haunt supervisors who forget this. When an employment relationship goes bad, seemingly innocuous comments often emerge. Comments made in jest rarely look good in front of a jury.  This is a critical and sometimes painful lesson for supervisors to learn. Bonus Rule 11 Always strive to be fair, consider “how would this look to a skeptical third party (like the EEOC or a jury) who knows nothing about me or the employee?” The workplace is complex and demanding, especially for supervisors striving to meet deadlines, maintain positive employee relations and avoid legal pitfalls. While they are not a “cure all,” these suggestions can help supervisors manage more effectively.