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We Are All Becoming Millennials

by Jeanne Knutzen | December 23, 2014

0 Blog, Hiring.Best Practices

By Darcy Jacobsen

It's hard to read anything about business today and not trip over references to millennials and the changes they are bringing to the workplace. It has everyone in something of a lather.

It is true that there are major changes afoot in modern business and they have happened with the influx of the latest generation of workers. But those changes are bigger than any one cohort.

This Generation Y, or the Millennial Generation, born between 1982 and 1999, has created an enormous amount of anxiety as employers scramble to figure out what will attract and retain them. Generation Y will, after all, constitute 75% of the workforce by 2025. Those who win the hearts of millennials will win the war on talent. No question. But there are those on the flip side of the issue who argue that nothing is new under the sun, that the differences cited in generational attitudes are fiddle faddle, and that the uniqueness we see in this younger group is largely age and development related. That is, the thought is that millennial attitudes will shift as they age and eventually fall into the same patterns as older generations. Both sides are missing the real story. It is true that our youngest workers have ushered in a lot of new ways of thinking about old ideas. But the truth is, we are ALL becoming millennial. Take this Pew test for yourself (How Millennial Are You?) and encourage those around you to take it as well. You might be surprised at how little the results correspond to chronological age. (I scored 97% millennial although I belong to Generation X.) The fact is, we're looking so hard at this new generation that we are failing to reflect enough on the changes that are sweeping the rest of us—traditionalist, boomers, and Gen Xers included. I've been crunching data recently for our upcoming Workforce Mood Tracker report and I have to say that I've been surprised that millennials do not differ from the workforce at large in as many areas as you'd think. Consider these seven qualities that we tend to attribute to our youngest workers, and how they really describe the way we've all changed: Millennials are digitally connected 24/7. I'm a Gen Xer and I sleep with my phone next to my pillow. So does my Mom. I was in a large meeting yesterday with mixed generations, and it dawned on me that not one person out of the group was wearing a traditional watch—but every one of them had their phone on the table or in their pocket. According to the Pew Internet Project, 91% of Americans now own cell phones and 55% now own smartphones. That number is expected to grow to a near 80% share by 2017. The average person checks their phone 10 times an hour. That's person... not just millennial. We are ALL connected by mobile devices, and those of us who aren't will be soon. Any attempt to connect with your workforce that doesn't take this into account will fail. Millennials don't stay for the gold watch. No one stays for the engraved gold watch anymore. (No one even wants an engraved gold watch anymore, and if they got one they'd probably put it up on eBay). When employees do stay, they stay for their co-workers and their work. When I started my career, a respectable resume had you spending at least five years in every job; then the statistic dropped to two years. Nowadays, some employers even react the opposite way–if you have too few listings on a resume they may worry you might be complacent, in low demand, or resistant to new ideas. Average tenure rates with millennials in the workforce are around 4.6 years–but that number has remained more or less the same, with some economy driven variation, since the 1980s. That means if you're waiting around to reward and thank people until they hit their five year anniversary, they have probably already moved on–regardless of what year they were born. Millennials desire continuous positive feedback. Guess what? No one likes negative feedback... even when it is constructive. And we all like positive feedback. In fact, according to Gallup, managers who give little or no feedback fail to engage 98% of employees. Those who concentrate feedback on strengths reduce employee disengagement to less than 1%. The power of feedback is a recurring topic for us on this blog, so I won't get into too much detail on it, but suffice it to say that all employees are hungry for ongoing, real-time feedback that confirms they are doing good work and shows they are appreciated for it. When we get positive reinforcement, we are more satisfied, more engaged, and happier. Millennials demand flexibility and choice. The Millennial Generation certainly didn't discover individuality or flexibility, but their advent has coincided with a broader recognition that employee well-being–physical, psychological, and developmental–is good for business. That recognition, combined with the millennials' expectation to be treated like special snowflakes, has opened up a realization that our work lives can be much richer if we are given more control, choice, and ownership over them. Companies, too, have begun to understand that when we trust employees like responsible individuals, they will behave like responsible individuals and will work all the harder for it. Most forward-thinking companies have begun to adapt this more flexible way of thinking about their workforce–designing more choice into their total rewards and talent management strategies–and are reaping the rewards. Millennials want meaningful work and to give back. Morality and responsibility have re-entered our cultural dialogue with this generation, but they are not alone in caring about these ideas, which long pre-date them. They want to work for companies with a strong mission and cultural values. They want to work for companies who have strong moral standing and practice virtuousness. Well, so do we all. According to Don MacPherson from Modern Survey, "employees are now 37 times more likely to be fully engaged if they know and understand their organization’s values." Meaning and mission have grown in importance for us all and do not belong only to our youngest employees. Millennials expect to be developed and groomed. Again, desires for advancement and development are highly associated with millennials. Only companies with strong L&D plans have a hope of keeping this generation on board. On the other hand, this is also true for all employees. When BlessingWhite asked workers why they leave companies, the #1 answer was a "lack of opportunity to grow or advance." Stagnation affects employees in every life stage, and we all respond positively to hopes of learning or advancing in our careers. Millennials need social approval and crowdsource everything. Anyone who has a relative under the age of 30 will no doubt have witnessed firsthand the intensely social nature of the Millennial Generation–especially in how they use electronics and the internet to rate and share experiences and to gauge their own success through the eyes of their peers. Social connections and crowdsourcing are advancing not only because of adoption by millennials, but because technology has finally made them possible. Connecting with one another benefits us all, and the more workplaces make that possible, the more workers in every generation will thrive. Academic research bears this out. A recent meta-review of academic studies on generational differences found that "leaders should view generational differences not merely as idiosyncratic inter-group differences, nor as a reflection of age differences at a moment in time, but as manifestations of broader trends in society and work that continue to evolve as the generations move through their respective life courses." The study, published by Sean Lyons and Lisa Kurons in the Journal of Organizational Behavior, goes on to conclude: "This means that past management practices cannot be assumed to work in the modern context and today's practices cannot be presumed to work in the future. The generational trends evident in this review suggest that workers are becoming more independent and self-focused and less committed to their organizations and, as a result, are more mobile in their careers. Workers are increasingly seeking personal fulfillment in their work, and leaders and employers who can satisfy their individualistic growth needs will have a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining talent. Employers may accept these trends and adjust to a new reality of transactional, short-term employment relationships, or must work to provide flexible work conditions, job offerings, and leadership to simultaneously meet the needs of multiple generations." Now to be sure, millennials are further ahead and leading the charge on all of these things I listed above, and Lyons and Kurons' article makes it clear there ARE proven differences among cohorts. But these are changes that affect us all. Millennials are clearing a path to make all our work lives better. It's time we stop thinking of this as a generational shift, and start thinking about it as a workforce shift. We are all millennials, now.
  Darcy Jacobsen is a content marketing manager at Globoforce, the world’s leading provider of SaaS (software-as-a-service)–based employee recognition solutions. Through its social, mobile, and global technology, Globoforce helps HR and business leaders elevate employee engagement, increase employee retention, manage company culture, and discover the power of real-time performance management. Contact Jacobsen or follow her writing at www.globoforce.com/gfblog.

When I’m hiring, what’s more important – skills, knowledge, experience, or “fit”?

by Jeanne Knutzen | December 10, 2014

0 Blog, Hiring.Best Practices, INFO AND RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYERS, Temporary Staffing.Best Practices get connected

When you're hiring you need to know what qualities are most critical to hiring success. Here's how to decide what's most important now.... … Read More »

What’s New in Staffing and ACA Compliance?

by Jeanne Knutzen | November 24, 2014

0 ACA Affordable Healthcare, Blog, Legal Issues - Staffing

A Complimentary Webinar for the Clients and Friends of PACE Staffing Network! MARK YOUR CALENDAR – December 10, 2014 @ 9 AM (PST) After compliance, learn what comes next! Featuring nationally acclaimed ACA attorney, Alden Bianchi. The Affordable Care Act radically restructures how heath care is funded. In 2014, its mandates impacted individuals. In 2015, its mandates impact employers. For the staffing industry and its customers, Obamacare represents the biggest compliance challenge our industry has ever faced. It impacts all of us who do or utilize staffing services—agencies and customers.   The PACE Staffing Network, in conjunction with the Affiliated Staffing Group, has arranged for Alden Bianchi, a nationally recognized expert on the ACA and the Group Practice Leader for Mintz Levin’s Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Practice to present a complimentary webinar for PACE customers and friends on Wednesday, December 10 from 9am-10:15am PST. Click here to register! Webinar topics will include:

  • The increased costs of the ACA mandates and what they are likely to mean for your 2015 staffing budgets.
  • Staffing company costs and price adjustment strategies. What’s going on in the staffing services marketplace?
  • Risk Management – things to do to protect yourself from unforeseen fines and penalties
  • The “Variable Hour Employee” and what that classification means to the customers of staffing agencies
  • What are the strategy “don’ts” under the ACA? When might the IRS come calling?
  • Getting ready for the ACA’s discrimination provisions, and the next round of ACA impact.
  • Staffing Strategies you can use to contain the high costs of ACA compliance while focusing on your business needs
  • The ACA and your 1099 Workforce
  • And More!
If you have any questions regarding this webinar, please email infodesk@pacestaffing.com or contact Reilly Smith at 425-637-3312. Click Here to sign up for this complimentary webinar

Co-Employment – An Over Used Scare Tactic or a Must See Reality Show?

by Jeanne Knutzen | November 24, 2014

0 ACA Affordable Healthcare, Blog, Hiring.Best Practices Affordable Care Act, Affordable Healthcare – ACA Smart, Co Employment, Employee Benefits, Employee Hiring Decision, Employee Placement, flexible workforce strategies, Workplace Harassment

With the launch of the employer mandates of the Affordable Care Act in January 2015, staffing agencies and their clients have one more reason to worry about co-employment. While the ACA clearly states that only the “common law” employer is responsible for “offering insurance,” and case law strongly supports the notion that the staffing agency is the “common law” employer, what happens if your staffing agency doesn’t offer ACA mandated benefits as required by law. Is there any way you might be liable for fines or penalties? Questions about co-employment get triggered any time two parties share rights and responsibilities inside the traditional employer relationship which is the case with all staffing arrangements involving a third party staffing company and their clients.

  • Most staffing companies recruit and screen candidates, conduct background and reference checks, pay wages, calculate and pay wage related taxes and benefits, complete required reports, and retain at least some right to hire and fire an employee.
  • Most of their employer clients take on the responsibility of supervising, directing, and controlling the employee’s daily activities.
What creates confusion is when the client starts to specify pay rates, directs the hire or fire of employees, or involves themselves in administrative processes that should only be performed by the staffing agency. Since I’ve been in the staffing business, I’ve heard it countless times, “Don’t do ______________, or you will create an issue with co-employment.” And the “what we can’t do” has ranged from “allow our temporary employees to attend a client’s company meeting” to “allow an employee to work on an assignment for no longer than a (year, six months, or other time period “du jour”). Some of these “rules” have blurred the fact that co-employment covers many different types of overlapping liabilities—some that need to be avoided; some requiring co-management and partnership. Here are some of the co-employment scenarios we see on a regular basis and our somewhat common sense approach to how we look at each: Employee Placement/Hiring Decisions “I’m Perfect” (IP) Staffing Agency recruits and screens candidates for “I’m Even More Perfect” (IEMP) client for a 3-month technical help desk role. IEMP refuses to interview Julie, an African American female who appears to meet most, if not all, screening requirements. IEMP chooses instead to interview and hire Andrew, a Caucasian man. Julie believes she has been discriminated against because her application was not considered. Without IP’s awareness, Julie files a complaint with the EEOC. What will the investigator want to know about the roles of IP and IEMP?
  • What reasons were given to IP about why IEMP didn’t interview Julie? Were those reasons valid? Staffing companies who do not ask their client to disclose reasons for considering or not considering each candidate submitted for a job and employers who do not provide those reasons, often leave themselves open to charges of (unfounded) discrimination.
  • What screening requirements did IEMP give to IP? Were all of IEMP’s screening requirements job relevant? Screening requirements that aren’t clear or are so broad that everyone is lead to believe they are qualified, are asking for trouble. Establishing job relevant screening criteria is a joint responsibility of the staffing agency and their client.   
If IEMP’s hiring manager requested only male Caucasians and IM complied with that request, both parties are liable for that violation. If IM rejected IEMP’s illegal screening request and refused to work their request, only IEMP is liable. If IM rejected IEMP’s illegal screening request, but continued to work the request even when the client was discriminating, IM would be considered complicit. In today’s world, claims of discrimination rarely stem from overt acts of discrimination. Usually, they stem from perceptions of impropriety created by poorly designed or improperly executed screening processes. Both the staffing agency and their clients should be reviewing all recruiting and selection processes regularly to ensure that what they are doing is free of unintended consequences. Claims of Workplace Harassment… …often happen because employees don’t know who to talk with about things bothering them at work. George is 60-year-old Caucasian male working for IM, but being supervised on a daily basis by Andrea, a “20-something” supervisor who works for IEMP. Andrea is constantly harassing George about how he doesn’t fit in, and accuses him of “being slow” even though he is meeting all production requirements. George is frustrated but doesn’t know who to talk with about his concerns. He can’t go to Andrea; he goes to the Washington State Human Rights Commission. Who’s at fault? Clearly any staffing agency who doesn’t set up a formal process to receive and manage employee “concerns” is asking for a problem that can impact both themselves and their client. Most investigators consider the question “did they know” less important than “should they have known” and if IM doesn’t have clear communication policies for their employees, they are subject to liabilities stemming from workplace harassment. If, on the other hand, IM went to IEMP with George’s issue and IEMP chose not to do anything about it, it is only IM who would have a valid defense, not IEMP. Access to the Client’s Benefits As we learned from the early 90’s Microsoft settlement (90 million+ paid to its temporary and contract workers), if employers don’t adequately spell out the employees who will and will not be covered under their benefit plans, they can face serious and unexpected benefit liabilities. But avoiding unwarranted claims of benefit entitlement is not about shortening assignment lengths or requiring “breaks in service”—it’s about making sure benefit plans clearly spell out who is and is not eligible for benefits, specifically excluding employees from all third party employers. Unfortunately the core reasons behind the Microsoft settlement were never fully understood by the business community and ended up putting a whole lot of Microsoft staffing policies into mainstream HR policy without a clear understanding of what might have been an easier, less costly, solution.    Co-Employment and the Affordable Care Act… …should be as simple as making sure all contracts with staffing providers clearly state (affirm) the agencies role as the common law employer and their responsibility to administrate all ACA related requirements. This means that while it may be of interest to an employer whether or not their staffing agency is “playing or paying,” and who they would be offering benefits to (or not) they would not want to involve themselves in those decisions.    I-9. Immigration. Privacy Issues. Your staffing agency is responsible to administer the I-9 process. If they purposefully or thru negligence place an illegal employee into your workforce, they are liable for that violation. If an employer becomes aware of this practice, and fails to take action, they would be complicit in the violation and fined accordingly. If an employer stipulates that only US citizens work for them, they would be subjecting themselves to claims of discrimination based on national origin. Additionally, if they require copies of I-9 documents or any materials that include social security numbers, they incur risks of violating certain “privacy” requirements which could result in significant and costly damages (ex. identity theft, etc.). In general, employers should stay at arms length from any administrative process used by their staffing agency including how they administrate qualifications to work, pay and benefits. FMLA. ADA. Accommodation Issues. The co-managed version of co-employment is definitely alive and well when it comes to most FMLA and ADA requirements. If an issue or need comes up, particularly on a long term assignment, both staffing agency and their client are responsible for providing employees with time off to address a medical issue (FMLA) or to provide an accommodation (ADA).  Safety. All employers, both the staffing agency and their client, are responsible to provide a safe and hazard-free work environment for their employees. While the lion’s share of that accountability lies with the client, a staffing agency cannot knowingly assign its employees to work in environments where there are known violations of OSHA standards. As a matter of routine, staffing agencies should be inspecting their client’s worksites, ensuring that OSHA standards are being followed; that the work is being properly described and that employees are being issued the appropriate clothing, equipment, and instruction to ensure their safety. An employer’s safety record is a matter of public record and should be reviewed by the staffing agency before assigning an employee to begin work. Staffing agencies and their clients will typically work together to address any and all safety issues as they are revealed. Staffing agencies, who are concerned about an employer’s safety practices and repeated failures to act to remedy known issues are duty bound to remove employees from those assignments. Property Damages Frank is working in an IEMP warehouse, placed by IM. Frank drives a forklift and accidentally drives it into a wall, destroying $25,000 in product and doing another $10K in damages to the wall and the forklift. Who pays for the damages—IM or IEMP? Here are the factors that will likely make a difference to the final outcome:
  • What does the contract between IM and IEMP say should happen? Typically these contracts indemnify the other from acts of negligence—so who’s at fault? Which party was negligent?
  • Did IEMP require that IM screen Frank be a qualified forklift driver? Did they disclose that he would even be driving a forklift?
  • What training or instruction did IEMP provide Frank before asking him to drive a forklift?
  • How closely did IEMP supervise Frank’s work on the forklift?
If Frank was in an administrative or professional role, his damages might be different (ex. a violation of confidential information), but the considerations are the same:
  • Did IM screen Frank for a job that required him to handle confidential information?
  • Did IEMP properly protect the information they needed to be kept confidential?
  • Did IEMP properly instruct and supervise Frank on how to handle confidential information?
For more information on co-employment or how to implement flexible workforce strategies that minimize the impact of unforeseen co-employment liabilities, contact PSN at infodesk@pacestaffing.com or by calling 425-637-3312 to arrange a complimentary consultation with a member of our Partnership Development Team. jeanneThis article is intended for general informational purposes only and in no way is intended to provide legal advice or to circumvent the need each employer has to seek competent legal counsel. This article was written by Jeanne Knutzen, founder and CEO of the PACE Staffing Network.          

Will Unlimited Vacation be the Death of Vacation?

by Jeanne Knutzen | November 21, 2014

0 Blog, INFO AND RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYERS Employment Vacation Policies, Inc., Michael Haberman, Omega HR Solutions, Paid Vacation Days

By Mike Haberman As many of you have probably heard by now, Richard Branson has created a "non-policy" vacation policy. He said he modeled it after the Netflix policy. According to writer and entrepreneur Daniel Green, "Branson described the 'non-policy' as giving employees the flexibility to take as much vacation time as needed when they feel 100% comfortable that they are up to date on every project and that their absence will not in any way damage the business or indeed their own career.'" Green then raised the question, "Is this a good or bad thing?' I raise the question of whether this could be the death of vacation time in the United States. AMERICANS ARE NOTORIOUS American companies are notorious for their vacation policies that give just about the least amount of time off in the entire world. Denmark is a much happier place because of time-off, and more productive, too. Despite having the least amount of vacation in the world, many U.S. workers still don't take all their allotted time. According to Venessa Wong at Bloomberg Businessweek, as quoted by Anna North, "Already, some 40 percent of American workers don't use all their paid vacation days." The criticism of Branson's move is that the non-policy states that:

The policy-that-isn't permits all salaried staff to take off whenever they want for as long as they want. There is no need to ask for prior approval and neither the employees themselves nor their managers are asked or expected to keep track of their days away from the office. It is left to the employee alone to decide if and when he or she feels like taking a few hours, a day, a week or a month off, the assumption being that they are only going to do it when they feel a hundred percent comfortable that they and their team are up to date on every project and that their absence will not in any way damage the business–or, for that matter, their careers!"
The emphasis in the criticism is the statement that the employee must feel "100% comfortable that they and their team are up to date on every project and that their absence will not in any way damage the business–or, for that matter, their careers!" The naysayers feel that few Americans will ever have that confidence in their work and thus by that being the provision to live by, this policy could actually spell the doom of vacation. Not only will employees not take unlimited vacation, they will resort to taking no vacation because the work is never caught up and most people are unsure of their standing in the company to feel absolutely sure their careers will not be harmed. THERE ARE COMPANIES WHERE IT DOES WORK. Branson, by his announcement, got a lot of press; but in reality there are many companies that offer unlimited vacation. The Motley Fool is one such company. If you want to read some testimonials on this policy read the comments attached to Anna North's article in the online version of the New York Times. US VERSUS THEM One problem I see in these policies is the potential "us versus them" situation that is being set up. These unlimited vacation policies only apply to salaried exempt employees. The Fair Labor Standards Act does not allow them to be applied to non-exempt employees because you have to track their time. That is the basis on which they are paid. Just saying "work whenever you want" becomes very difficult with an hourly, non-exempt employee. Additionally, many of those positions are not ones where the employee can just take off anytime they want. Customers have to be served, food has to be delivered, and products have to assembled. That is a much different situation than that of a manager, consultant, advisor, marketing specialist, IT professional, etc. With this divide, what are the employee relations issues that companies will be faced with? I like the idea of unlimited vacation, but I have to tell you that even I, as an independent consultant, feel guilty if I take too much time off. I don't think I am alone in that mental dilemma. Michael Haberman is cofounder and senior HR consultant of Omega HR Solutions, Inc. His company offers HR solutions that include compliance reviews, wage and hour guidance, supervisory and managerial training, strategic guidance, executive advisement, and more. He can be reached at mhaberman@omegahrsolutions.com.

9 Low-Cost and No-Cost Ideas for Motivating Employees

by Jeanne Knutzen | November 21, 2014

0 Blog, Human Resource Roles Coaching Employees, Employee Motivation, Job Shadow Program, Mentoring Programs Work Place, Val Grubb, Valerie Grubb

By Valerie Grubb Managing employees can be one of the most challenging–and also most rewarding–responsibilities as you move up within a company. When your management works and you see your employees surpass even their own expectations, it's wildly exciting and incredibly fulfilling! If you're new to managing employees – the great news is that you don't need a big budget to inspire your employees. The strategies listed below can help you motivate and engage your employees, even under the tightest financial constraints. 1) Provide Interesting Work Management theorist Frederick Herzberg once said, "If you want someone to do a good job, give them a good job to do." So give your employees good jobs by making sure that at least part of their responsibilities includes something of great interest to them. Even for those jobs that are inherently boring, having at least one or two stimulating projects can motivate employees to perform well in the mundane tasks, too. Recommend your employee to a new task force your CEO is forming, for example, or let him or her take the lead at your next staff meeting. Find out your employee's career aspirations, then identify assignments that will expand his or her skill set in the desired direction. The increased productivity you gain by providing interesting projects beyond the day-to-day tasks will more than compensate for the time your employees are away from their regular jobs. 2) Require Managers to Coach and Develop This strategy may sound like a no-brainer. But it bears repeating, because we all know managers who are slackers when it comes to coaching and developing their employees–and in these uncertain times, employees need feedback more than ever. Remember, employees join companies, but they leave managers. So hold your managers accountable for coaching employees to achieve outstanding results and developing their staff through mentoring and training opportunities (see the next two bullet points). If they aren't fulfilling those responsibilities, replace them with people who will. 3) Establish a Mentoring Program Seventy-one percent of Fortune 500 companies offer mentoring programs to their employees. Why? Because those companies recognize that such programs bring a multitude of benefits to both protégé and mentor. Mentoring employees (especially new hires) can lead to better retention while mentoring aspiring talent can form the cornerstone of succession planning. Mentoring programs traditionally pair a junior employee with a more experienced colleague, but there's no need to stick only to this format. Reverse mentoring, for example, can help senior executives keep up with cutting-edge technology and with company issues that are usually only on the radar of junior staff. Group or situational mentoring is also on the rise for issues such as diversity or high-potential training. And if your company doesn't have a formal program, create your own! Establish mentoring relationships for your employees by tapping fellow executives (and agree to mentor their employees in return). 4) Train Your Employees Training doesn't have to cost money. No-cost and low-cost internal training options include:

  • Establish a job-shadowing program – even if you're the executive your employee is shadowing! Allow your high potentials to gain exposure to senior executives through the projects on your plate.
  • Arrange for monthly luncheons with your top executives whereby they can interact and ask questions.
  • Allow your employees to represent the company at a public function (charity fundraiser, sporting event, etc.), teaching them the responsibilities when in front of clients.
  • Expose employees to organizations with relationships to yours (e.g., visit a vendor, take a trip to customer's site).
  • Rotate employees into areas in which they need to improve their skills or gain exposure for continued growth.
  • Invite employees to spearhead projects in areas where they need improvement.
  • Read case studies and books on issues that are relevant to your organization, and discuss with fellow executives. (Be sure to find out what books your CEO recommends!)
  • Encourage employees to volunteer for industry organizations where they can develop leadership and management opportunities. Local non-profit groups, school organizations, or community-based programs may also be an option.
5) Roll Out Financial Training All employees need to understand how your company makes money, how individual department budgets connect to the organization's products and services, and how all that information describes the company's financial health. Unfortunately, most employees (including some senior leaders) are woefully ignorant in this area. So have your HR and finance departments team up to teach classes on budgeting and its connection to your company's financial well-being. By teaching fiscal responsibility, you'll soon have employees identifying cost-cutting measures, because they'll be as eager as your CFO to save the money and improve the company's finances. 6) Invite Involvement and Ownership in Decisions Most companies don't prioritize involving employees in decisions that affect them. Perhaps it's time to reconsider that practice, though. Keeping employees in the loop is not only respectful, but it's also practical: people who are closest to a situation typically have the best insight on how to improve it. Employees on the ground floor of an issue often know what works (and what doesn't) and can provide valuable insight into how to resolve the issue quickly and effectively. In addition, employees who have a hand in crafting a solution are more invested in working toward its success. 7) Increase Visibility and Opportunity Motivate employees by recognizing when their performance goes above and beyond. You can do this through publicly crediting them for their work, for example, or by giving them new assignments or additional responsibilities. Keep in mind, however, the first strategy in this list: make sure those additional responsibilities are of interest or value to the employee. (After all, having to deal with even more mundane tasks isn't the reward most people are looking for.) Remember, you get what you reward. 8) Provide autonomy Employees value the freedom to do their jobs as they see fit. So if your employees are able to get their jobs done (and done well) on their own, leave them alone! When you give high-performing employees more autonomy, you increase the likelihood that those employees will continue to perform as desired. Even with new recruits who haven't yet proven themselves in your company, you can provide autonomy in work assignments by telling those employees what needs to be done without dictating exactly how to do it. 9) Train your Managers to Provide Greater Recognition A 2012 Bersin & Associates study indicates that, compared to companies without recognition programs, those organizations that do have such initiatives enjoy 14% higher employee engagement, productivity, and customer service and 31% fewer voluntary turnovers. So tout the accomplishments of employees–and require your managers to do the same. And if your company doesn't already have a formal recognition program, perhaps now is the time to push for one. Next Steps Even if you do have a big budget, simply throwing money around rarely creates a more engaged and motivated workforce. Don't get me wrong–if your employees are underpaid, money is the first step toward making them happier and more valuable members of your organization. But if you really want to engage them, you need to think beyond the paycheck. Many employees work longer than an eight-hour day because that's what it takes to get the job done, but all of us probably know people who put in the extra time and effort because they are totally committed to their company (or have a passion for a particular volunteer organization or cause). They have this drive in large part because they're getting more than a paycheck. There's something that motivates them to go above and beyond–and with the strategies outlined here, you can cultivate a similar commitment and drive in your own employees! Valerie Grubb of Val Grubb & Associates Ltd. (www.valgrubbandassociates.com) is an innovative and visionary operations leader with an exceptional ability to zero in on the systems, processes, and personnel issues that can hamper a company's growth. Grubb regularly consults for mid-range companies wishing to expand and larger companies seeking efficiencies in back-office operations. Her expertise and vibrant style are also in constant demand for corporate training classes and seminars. She can be reached at vgrubb@valgrubbandassociates.com.

Stuck In the Middle

by Jeanne Knutzen | November 21, 2014

0 Blog, Human Resource Roles Employee Development Opportunities, Employee Recognition, Employee Training Opportunities

By Chad Savoy Who gets the bulk of your attention? The people who do really, really well at everything, consistently exceed targets, go over and above and serve as a shining beacon of light, hope and inspiration to the rest of the organisation? The people who never seem to get anything right, to the point where you're left wondering why exactly they're working for you in the first place? (For a given value of 'work'). Or the other people. The quiet inoffensive ones who come in and do their work with zero fuss and then go home? It's always never the quiet ones Nearly 80% of employees are 'consistent performers' (* Bersin & Associates High Impact Performance Management research 2011), while managers spend about 80% of their time focusing on the other guys. What usually happens is that these solid workers live under the radar, going largely unnoticed while attention and energy gets spent on the flashier people; your stars or problem children. The people in the middle may have the potential to be stars themselves, but without development that potential may just go to waste. Stars get retreats, fancy rewards, training and development; low performers get more supervision, additional coaching and mentorship...and the middle child usually gets by with a performance review. How many of them interpret this lack of attention as a sign of their work's unimportance and slip quietly away? Look past the stars It costs you less to keep your average workers around than it does to hire in new people. ESPECIALLY stars, who – frankly – you just can't afford outright. Hiring new people also usually results in losses from a drop in productivity due to onboarding and upskilling and orientation and all that just starting out stuff – and even then the new hires might not fit. Your consistent performers are already attuned to your culture, and hold a wealth of company-specific knowledge and experience. They've already proved themselves reliable, stable, sane workers so they're pretty good ambassadors for all things you and shouldn't go maverick if elevated to management positions. They're a known quantity, and that quantity is a decent one. And face it: every company needs employees who'll just...produce. Solidly – without requiring a parade when they deliver, and without needing constant supervision. Your reliable performers have a history of supporting your stars and picking up the problem kids' slack, so why wouldn't you want to keep them around? Be the phone booth How then do you make sure you hang on to these solid if unremarkable performers; maybe even encourage your Clark Kents and Peter Parkers to live up to their superhero potential (costumes optional)? Figure out who they are and what they do. Collect detailed information on their skills, competencies, what they've worked on and how they've worked with others. Profile them and record their progress over time. Then explore these things: Recognition. By making thanks and recognition part of your culture, you start actively looking for things to celebrate – big things, small things, the kind of things the quiet people work quietly on. Training opportunities. Open access to a range of professional and skill development courses would be a good start for your average joe. Just don't waste resources pushing them into something generic and irrelevant that's not going to pay off! Career paths and obvious development opportunities. Give them somewhere to go and something to aspire to; make the path to stardom an obvious one and support them on their way. Goal contribution. So they AND YOU can see how their good work is actually making an impact on the organisation's overall achievement. Bottom line: you hired them for a reason It's easier to keep these people than to hire new people. So show them a little love and one of two things will happen: 1. They'll stick around and keep on keeping on. This is good. 2. They'll thrive under the attention and join the ranks of your stars. This is better. Then you just have to work on keeping them! Chad Savoy is Cornerstone's VP of worldwide sales for the SMB market. A seasoned sales professional, Chad is passionate about recruiting, hiring, training, and mentoring high potential professionals to become high performing stars.

Countdown to ACA Compliance – Part III

by Jeanne Knutzen | October 28, 2014

0 ACA Affordable Healthcare, Blog, Legal Issues - Staffing, Management.Supervision ACA and Temporary Staffing, ACA compliance, Affordable Healthcare – ACA Smart, Employment Agency Bellevue, Employment Agency Everett, Employment Agency Kent, Employment Agency Seattle, Employment Agency Tacoma, Employment Agency Washington State, Hiring Bellevue, Hiring Everett, Hiring Seattle, Hiring Tacoma, Temporary Staffing Bellevue, Temporary Staffing Everett, Temporary Staffing Kent, Temporary Staffing Seattle, Temporary Staffing Tacoma, Temporary Staffing Washington

The PACE Staffing Network has been preparing for the employer mandates of the ACA for well over two years. As members of the American Staffing Association (ASA), we provided input into several areas of proposed regulation, and attended countless hours of ACA related training. With the ACA’s employer mandates ready to launch January 1 2015, we wanted to share information on the specifics of how the ACA impacts your use of temporary/contract employees. For ideas on how to better manage your needs for staff in light of new ACA mandates, contact a member of our Partnership Development team by contacting infodesk@pacestaffing.com or calling 425-637-3312.

In what ways has the ACA already impacted your temporary and contract workers?  

The Individual Mandate has been in effect since 2014, requiring all temporary and contract workers to purchase ACA qualified insurance for themselves and their dependent children. While we do not know what percentage of temporary/contract employees complied with these mandates in 2014, we suspect that number will increase in 2015 as penalties for non-compliance increase.

What changes go into play in 2015?

The Shared Responsibility component of the ACA, known as the Employer Mandate, goes into effect on January 1, 2015. This provision requires that all staffing companies employing 100 or more employees offer affordable and ACA qualified insurance to 70% of its eligible employees or pay significant fines and penalties. The taxes/fines/penalties for not offering insurance are $2K/year ($167/month) per eligible full time employee—excluding the first 80; if the insurance offered does not meet ACA requirements or isn’t affordable, the fine/tax penalty is $250/month (up to $3K annually) for any employee going to the exchange for insurance and receiving a subsidy. This mandate will impact most but not all staffing companies in 2015.

Are most staffing agencies already offering insurance?

The short answer is YES. PACE along with most staffing agencies has been offering some form of health insurance for well over a decade. Unfortunately these health insurance products do not meet ACA requirements, so new products for our industry had to be developed over the last year.

What requirements must be met in order for a temporary or contract employee to become eligible for ACA benefits on January 1st, 2015?

There are several ways an employee can be qualified for coverage as of January 2015. Using a look-back period, any temporary or contract worker of a “large” staffing agency who has been on assignment through their staffing agency for at least 1560 hours during 2014 must be offered insurance. These look-back periods will continue on through 2015 so that all employees meeting the full-time requirement must be offered insurance within 30-days of the end of their look-back. For all full-time employees hired after October 1, 2014 they will become eligible for insurance on the first day of the month following the completion of their administrative period—no later than the first day of the fourth month from date of hire. Full-time employees are considered any employee intended to work 30-hours per week or more at the point of hire.

What must a staffing company contribute to the employee’s insurance costs in order to ensure “affordability?”

Staffing firms must contribute to the employees’ premium so that no employee is required to pay more than 9.5% of their base pay for their own personal coverage. For example, if an employee earning $10/hr. is offered an ACA compliant insurance plan that costs $400/month, the employee cannot be required to pay more than $123.50/month for their own coverage, requiring their staffing firm employer to pay $284.80.

How will newly assigned temporary and contract employees become eligible for coverage in 2015?

Starting in October, 2014, PACE will categorize all new hires as one of the following:
  • Full-time – working 30 or more hours per week and projected to work at least 1560 hours in the coming 12 months,
  • Part-time – working less than 30 hours a week, or
  • Variable hour – employees whose status as either full- or part-time can’t be determined at point of hire.
  • Seasonal – employees working 6 months or less at specific times throughout a calendar year.
While you might assume that all the employees we hire are either Variable Hour or Seasonal, there are very specific rules staffing companies must follow to put an employee into those categories. What’s at stake is that for employees categorized as Variable Hour, they are allowed to work for their employer for a defined “measurement period” (typically 12 months) without the benefit offer requirement. The IRS is not going to give this classification away easily.

How will most staffing companies decide to become compliantwill they pay or play?

To be ACA compliant, a staffing agency can either offer benefits or pay the $2000 per employee “did not offer” penalty. They can also offer a qualified benefit but not participate in its costs, running the risk of incurring the $3000 per subsidized employee penalty for not making their plan “affordable.” Each approach to ACA compliance has offsetting costs and risks, requiring each staffing agency to choose a strategy that meets their customer’s needs for cost containment and their positioning in the marketplace.  The American Staffing Association commissioned a study by Towers Watson (2014) which provides insight into the choices likely to surface over the next 60 days. According to the TW study, 54% of staffing companies will be offering some level of insurance to its eligible temporary and contract workers. The remaining 46% are either planning to pay penalties or are too small to be covered during the transition year. A popular compliance strategy used by many staffing agencies, including PACE, will be to offer two insurance options:
  • A plan that meets both the “minimum value” (MVP) and the “minimum essential coverage” (MEC) definitionswith a 60% actuarial value covering core services. This plan will meet all the requirements of the employer mandate.
  • A plan that meets only the “minimum essential coverage” (MEC) definition – A less costly plan that meets only individual mandate requirements.
This strategy provides a low cost way for our employees to become compliant with the individual mandate (avoiding their own fines and penalties), while protecting PACE from penalties stemming from employees taking subsidies because our plans don’t meet ACA requirements or are unaffordable.

Do you need to know if and how a company providing temporary or contract staff to your organization is ACA compliant?

Theoretically no. Provided you have the right contracts and agreements in place you will have no responsibility for your staffing vendor’s decisions regarding how they will get and stay compliant with ACA mandates. Thinking more pragmatically, the expertise your staffing vendor brings to the table to not only ensure their own compliance with the ACA but to help you with yours, can be invaluable. First of all, a vendor who hasn’t prepared to become compliant can easily find themselves facing fines and penalties of a size that can end their business. Secondly, like most overly ambitious legal undertakings, the ACA contains opportunities for smart employers to use the provisions in the ACA to create new and more competitive ways of doing business. If staffing agency does not understand the ACA and its nuances, they likely won’t be able to offer fresh ideas on ways to lower your ACA related costs!

What will be the” added costs” for staffing agencies to become compliant with the ACA in 2015?

There are two categories of costs associated with ACA compliance:
  • The increased costs of ACA related administration which will be considerable—starting with changes in point of hire administration, monthly reporting, annual reporting to both employee and the IRS, etc.
  • The increase in direct costs associated with either offering the required insurance coverage or paying the penalties associated with not offering.
The direct cost increases will be agency specific, depending on several factors:
  • How many "full-time" employees they have in their workforce relative to their total workforce?
  • What percent of their eligible full-time employees will take the insurance once offered?
  • The eligible employees rate of pay to arrive at the costs the agencies will incur to make their plan "affordable."
  • The costs of the insurance products they are offering.
Based on the costs we are currently projecting, PACE is anticipating a 3-5% increase in our direct costs with another 15% increase in our current administrative costs.

For staffing companies who elect to “pay,” are they subject to taxes/penalties on all their temporary employees?

No. The application of taxes and penalties for “not offering insurance” only applies to full-time employees (minus 80 in 2015). Excluded from penalties for unaffordable insurance are employees who either reject an offer of coverage, elect coverage that isn’t affordable or delivering minimum value, or who are enrolled in state Medicaid programs.

What ACA related costs are still unknown/unclear?

Historically, the staffing industry has faced serious challenges finding a health insurance product that will serve their high turnover, low participation workforces. Six months ago there were no insurance products available to the staffing industry that would meet ACA actuarial standards. We now have insurance products, but it is not clear if these products will be attractive enough to our temporary and contract workers to incent their participation. We’ll all know much more in six months than we know now about what percent of the people being offered insurance will chose to take it.

How will the individual staffing company deal with their cost increases?

There are as many different pricing philosophies and strategies as there are staffing companies—with the key factors being geography, local business and government taxes, employee type, market positioning, and service offerings. While the pricing structures of staffing companies providing long term professional staff typically have room for premium level healthcare benefits, for staffing companies working in more competitive markets, there is little room to absorb any increased in direct costs. Some staffing companies will offer only the low cost MEC plans, taking the chance that the employees electing their insurance will not go out to the exchange and seek subsidies for better plans. We consider this strategy risky. The ASA study by Towers Watson study revealed that 91% of the staffing firms polled are planning on passing their ACA costs (penalties or insurance costs) back to their clients in the form of across the board increases in bill rates. Most (38%) are planning 2-5% increases. 9% are looking to increases of 16% or more. 19% are still not yet sure how much they will increase bill rates.

How will the price increase be handled?  

Most of the pricing programs we have viewed are designed to smooth out the costs of providing insurance to all eligible employees and spreading those costs across an entire workforce and customer base.
The Towers Watson study indicates that employers can expect their price increase to come in a number of forms. Some will simply do an across the board increase in bill rate; others will see increases in mark ups; some will be adding a line on each invoice for ACA Costs.

How will the increased costs of temporary and contract workers compare with the increased costs associated with the ACA for other types of employees?    

Since the passage of the ACA, actuarial firms have been predicting increases in overall employee costs to be in the area of 5-8%. If this projection plays out, the per hour increase in costs for a temporary or contract employee may end up being much less than the increase in costs associated with the same employee, hired directly. For example, an employee earning $15/hr. hired directly may cost an additional $3.25-3.75/hr. in healthcare benefit costs in 2015 compared to 2014. The same employee provided by a third party staffing agency, might cost $.45-.70 more per hour than they did in 2014. For a more detailed discussion of ACA related “staffing math” and to compare the relative costs of employees hired directly with employees placed through a third party employer, contact our Partnership Development Team at 425-637-3312.

What other cost increases will employers experience in 2015?

We anticipate ACA related cost increases will touch just about every part of our customers’ businesses in 2015. Administrative cost increases alone could be staggering.
Part of the services and costs savings we are delivering to customers in 2015 and beyond is full administration of ACA related compliance.

When it comes to managing staffing providers, are there other elements of the ACA that employers should be paying attention to?

Yes. It may be time to review your staffing contract or agreements. The ACA has its own common law provisions, reinforcing the notion that it is the common law employer who is responsible to offer and pay for ACA mandated benefits. In most temporary or contract staffing arrangements, there is clear legal precedence for the staffing company to be the common law employer, accountable for ACA compliance. That said, we recommend that employers consider adjusting agency contracts to clearly spell out each party's respective roles in managing ACA mandates. PACE is happy to provide language recommendations upon request. For employers purchasing payroll services from their staffing provider, the law is less straight forward and the need for contractual adjustments more important. Again, we recommend that the role of your third party payroll service provider be spelled out clearly and contractually in any ongoing payroll services agreement. We recommend that specific indemnifications related to the ACA liability should become standard clauses of all payroll service agreements and contracts. NOTE: A nuance of the ACA regs specifically requires that if there is a chance or a reason for a payroll agent to not be considered the common law employer, the costs of providing insurance to an ACA benefit eligible employee should be passed back to that client as an increase in rate for the particular employee. Between now and early January, PACE will be speaking with all clients to ensure the proper ACA compliant contracts are in place.

Do we need to be concerned about “abuse” clauses?

The IRS has been very clear that it will be looking closely at staffing firms and their clients to ensure that ACA benefit requirements are not purposefully skirted. For example, an employer who turns their entire 50 person workforce over to a staffing firm, so as to avoid falling into the “large employer” category, would be highly suspect. An employer who employees 48 people and regularly uses a staffing company to provide 5-10 employees for its peak busy periods, on the other hand, is likely not suspect, even though their use of temporary staff keeps them below the 50 employee benchmark. The difference? Their temporary staffing strategy was designed to address a business need—not to avoid offering benefits. Splitting employees between a staffing company and their client or between two staffing companies so that no one “employer” reaches the 50 employee benchmark has been specifically prohibited. While PACE will continue to be strong advocates for all of the business reasons to use more flexible staffing strategies, we will only recommend changes that are based on business need, not ACA avoidance.

Is there future ACA stuff that we should be thinking about for 2016 and beyond?

Yes.
  1. Discrimination Issues. Current thinking is that all the ACA specific regulations related to discrimination will come out in 2015 and be implemented in 2016. The ACA is clear that any plan or employer contribution that provides a differential benefit in favor of highly compensated employees will be specifically disallowed. This means that once discrimination regulations have been written and put into play, employers will no longer be able to provide special plans or higher levels of contribution to their higher paid employees—short of making them available via post-tax dollars.
  2. Special tax on Cadillac Plans. In 2018, employers will be taxed on Cadillac benefit that cost more than $10,200 ($850)/month per individual. The tax on Cadillac plans is 40%—making these plans prohibitive for most employers. Employers with Cadillac plans will likely look for alternative approaches.
We hope you have benefited from reading this primer on the ACA and how it will impact your use of temporary and contract workers after January 1, 2015. For more personalized consultation, please contact our infodesk@pacestaffing.com or by calling 425-637-3312 to arrange an appointment with one of our ACA Specialists.
jeanneThis article was prepared by Jeanne Knutzen, CSC, the President and Founder of the PACE Staffing Network. PACE remains committed to full compliance with the ACA and offers a variety of staffing products and services designed to ensure that our clients have options for containing the costs associated with ACA compliance. For a confidential discussion of how these services might be applied to your workforce, particularly your temporary and contract employees, contact a member of our PSN partnership team at infodesk@pacestaffing.com or 425.6376.3312.    

PACE Enters into Partnership with Prominent Customer Satisfaction Research Firm

by Jeanne Knutzen | October 28, 2014

0 Blog, PACE News! customer satisfaction, customer satisfaction research company, Customer Satisfaction Research Firm, Employment Agency Bellevue, Employment Agency Everett, Employment Agency Kent, Employment Agency Seattle, Employment Agency Tacoma, Employment Agency Washington State, Inavero

The PACE Management Team is excited to announce that we have entered into a new partnership with Inavero, a highly specialized customer satisfaction research company. Inavero will conduct regular surveys of our relationships with our customers to find out how we are doing—through our client’s eyes. One of the reasons we chose Inavero is that their research methodology is very simple, plus works in real time to identify and address issues that any one customer might have with their interactions with us. NancyIn the next few weeks, we will be emailing clients who we have done business in the last three months asking for their feedback on 3 short survey questions designed to score your satisfaction with our service. Responses showing ratings of less than 6 will be routed to our internal quality control team for immediate follow up and remedy. The use of a third party customer satisfaction process is new for us and reflects a program we will be piloting for the coming year. The goal is to tap into anything out customers believe would strengthen their partnership with us and we are looking forward to getting your feedback.

Susan G. Komen 3-Day in Seattle with PSN Recruiter Amber!

by Jeanne Knutzen | October 23, 2014

0 Blog, PACE News!

1 On September 19th, 2014 Amber Van Horn, a PACE Manager responsible for Recruiting and Service Quality, participated in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day event in Seattle, WA. The 3-Day was all about making a commitment to honor someone who is battling breast cancer—or in memory of someone lost. And it was also about playing a role in creating a world without breast cancer. 4 We could not be more proud of Amber for challenging herself on this life-changing journey. It was a 3-day journey, that for Amber, will last a lifetime! Way to go!

Political Arguments in the Workplace

by Jeanne Knutzen | October 23, 2014

0 Blog, INFO AND RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYERS political arguments, Robin Throckmorton, Strategic Human Resources, Strategic Human Resources Inc., workplace policies

By Strategic Human Resources, Inc. Question: With election time drawing near, we have some employees who have been very vocal about their political beliefs, including making insulting remarks about those who do not share their views. This is making other employees uncomfortable. What can we do as an employer to control political arguments in the workplace? Answer: Under the Federal Election Campaign Act, employers have the right to regulate and control employee work time and, as a result, may restrict any political activity during work time by prohibiting certain activities and behaviors that interfere with an employee's (or other employees') work. This includes wearing campaign buttons or t-shirts, leafleting, and disruptive commentary in the workplace. According to Michelle Reid, Esq. of Dallas-based Employment Practices Solutions, intelligent political dialogue can increase camaraderie and interaction between coworkers, but it can quickly escalate into arguments and lead to formal complaints and a divisive work environment. Reid states all organizations should have a policy that addresses discussions that may not be suitable for the workplace and the importance of maintaining a tolerant environment. Further, since political discussions between two people with opposing views rarely have a happy ending, train managers on how to diffuse an impassioned political discussion. Strategic Human Resources, Inc., is a national full-service HR management firm based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Our president and founder, Robin Throckmorton, can be reached at Robin@strategichrinc.com.

Beware of the Counteroffer: What it Really Says . . .

by Jeanne Knutzen | October 23, 2014

0 Blog, Management.Supervision counteroffer, Don Charlton, Employee Raises, Employee Retention, employment counteroffer, Employment Staffing, The Resumator

By Don Charlton Think about it: an employee successfully went through the process of finding, interviewing, and accepting a new job, only to be pulled back in by the company they already committed to leaving. It may make you ask, "Should I make a counteroffer?" We've talked about instances in which it might actually be beneficial to have employees who are motivated by money, but this isn't one of them. Whether their reason is salary, position, a better company, or sheer boredom, there are very few instances, if any, when a counter offer should be made–or accepted. The reality is even if a counter offer is accepted, the employee will soon fall back into the funnel of unhappiness or doubt that originally caused him to look for a new job. More often than not, the offer just delays the inevitable. What does a counter offer truly say from an employer? "Hey, you know what? You called our bluff! We have been underpaying you for years. You are truly worth a lot more than we are currently paying you, so let's make this right." "We understand your frustrations. This $20k increase in your pay will make those frustrations disappear." "Now that we have "committed" to you as a vital cog in our organization's success, we expect you to up your game. You didn't expect that $20k raise to come without more responsibilities did you? You owe us!" What accepting a counteroffer truly says about the employee. "For sale!" "I'm going to go with whoever makes me the best deal! Their commitment to me doesn't matter." "I'm probably going to do it to you, too! Each day without a raise starts the clock ticking!" What does giving a counter offer tell your co-workers? "Wait a second–two days ago, that guy was hacked off and out the door. Now he's walking into a bigger office with a bigger smile? Gee, I wonder what could have happened. . ." "The only way to get a raise around here is to threaten to leave." "That guy gets $10k more than me, so shouldn't I have to do $10k less work? Or should I just tell them I got a better offer?" Sounds bad, right? Here's the alternative. Great employees don't act randomly. They're too talented, and in too much demand for that. Instead of scratching and clawing to keep them, ask yourself: "Why is this super-talented person leaving my company? And how can I stop it from happening again?" The effects of counter offers–even juicy ones–are temporary. Bad workplaces are much longer-term. Put the $20k to good use and invest in your current employees. Use the savings to invest in the employees that deserve to be invested in. Simply put: counter offers may work for professional athletes, but leave them out of the office! Don Charlton is the CEO and founder of The Resumator, a Pittsburgh-based company founded in 2009. The Resumator provides a social hiring platform to companies of all sizes. Boasting over 10,000 users, it has helped over 1,300 companies generate 1.5 million resumes in only three short years and is also the chosen hiring system of Pinterest, Instagram, and Atari, among others. Charlton can be reached at editor@mamumediallc.com or via Twitter at @Dontrepreneur.

3 Lessons Companies Can Learn From Kindergarteners

by Jeanne Knutzen | October 23, 2014

0 Blog, Uncategorized Darcy Jacobsen, Globoforce, Shout Out Friday, work friendships, Workforce Mood Tracker report

By Darcy Jacobsen Last week, my daughter completed her first month of kindergarten. It was an overwhelming and incredibly exciting experience for her. (And let's face it, for me, too.) I'm sure a lot of you have been there. During the first week of school, parents are invited to hang out for morning assembly. I spent a lot of time waiting around and observing, and thinking about how, minus all the shouting and tears, the first week of school is a lot like starting a new job. Though obviously employees are not children, in a lot of ways kids are simply a more expressive, honest version of the adults around them. With this microcosm in mind I wanted to share three things I noticed that I think also apply in the adult work world: 1. Shout Outs Inspire Everyone Every Friday at my daughter's school is "Shout-out Friday"–when the presenting class chooses a person who best displayed the school's values of Be Responsible, Respectful, Safe and Kind. Last week the second grade class chose Finneas. "Finneas," they said, "you always include everyone and you are so very kind and nice to the new kids. We're going to miss you so much when you move away." Finneas' jaw (quite literally) dropped. He turned pink and absolutely beamed. But what struck me was the way the rest of the class also lit up. The delight on their faces as they grinned at him. The way they all moved a little closer to him. The evident pride and excitement when they handed him the oversized card they'd all written notes on. The moment was about Finneas. But it inspired every child on that stage, because they were able to share it with him and because they had created it for him. When we miss the opportunity to include an entire community in a moment of appreciation, to invite them to participate and to invite them to witness it, we rob that moment of its potential. 2. Values Are Not Just Words The first month of school is all about getting the routine down. I was struck by how grounded my daughter and her classmates became by something as simple as the school values. Values are a very important thing at her school, and the teachers are in the habit of referring to them often and actively pointing out when they see the kids do something in support of them. "Awesome way to be respectful, Charlie!" "That was very kind, Fiona." My daughter is a rules kid, and she went to kindergarten after three years in the same program, so the adjustment of learning new rules and setting new and entirely different goals was daunting for her. But in just five days I noticed a difference as she not only learned the new routine, but she began to really internalize those values as a guiding light. "Be Responsible, Respectful, Safe and Kind" has become part of her vocabulary. The words matter to her–not just as words but as guiding principles and as something she can do and be. When we offer people a chance to really understand and practice our values, we offer them a sense of security and alignment that is invaluable in helping them thrive. 3. Emotions Are Contagious The fact that emotions are contagious can cut both ways. Anyone who has worked in a toxic company or department can attest to that. But a lot of times at work, we express the negative emotions and keep the positive ones to ourselves. Yet the positive emotions have the most incredible power. As my daughter and I were leaving the playground the other day to come home, a little girl she'd been playing with ran up to me. "She's my friend," she announced, pointing to my daughter. "Bye friend." "Goodbye," Nell said, beaming a little. The little girl started to get misty-eyed. "Will you come back tomorrow? I will miss you. I like having you as a friend." Nell reassured her saying, "I'll be back." But now my daughter's smile was huge, and she left the playground skipping. "She really likes me, Mommy," she grinned. "I really like school." It's the people who make our work experience. And it is the undercurrent of emotional connection and a shared journey that keep us committed to our co-workers and companies. When people express to us how important we are to them, it makes them more important to us, and therefore makes our experience infinitely more rich. That's one of the reasons that social recognition and social service anniversaries work so well. Last week Globoforce launched our latest Workforce Mood Tracker report, which has some really interesting findings about the power of work friendships and the sharing of emotions. But for me, the simple observation of children expressing themselves and the incredible power of being appreciated is enough to keep me going. Darcy Jacobsen is a content marketing manager at Globoforce, the world's leading provider of SaaS (software-as-a-service)–based employee recognition solutions. Through its social, mobile, and global technology, Globoforce helps HR and business leaders elevate employee engagement, increase employee retention, manage company culture, and discover the power of real-time performance management. Contact her or follow her writing at www.globoforce.com/gfblog.

The Number of Employees Testing Positive for Marijuana Is Up Significantly

by Jeanne Knutzen | October 21, 2014

0 Blog, Legal Issues - Staffing, Management.Supervision drug testing, Employment Agency Bellevue, Employment Agency Everett, Employment Agency Kent, Employment Agency Seattle, Employment Agency Tacoma, Employment Agency Washington State, hiring, Hiring Bellevue, Hiring Everett, Hiring Tacoma, Marijuana testing, Marijuana testing Colorado, Marijuana testing Washington, Temporary Staffing Bellevue, Temporary Staffing Everett, Temporary Staffing Kent, Temporary Staffing Seattle, Temporary Staffing Tacoma, Temporary Staffing Washington

As reported by Allen Smith, Manager of Workplace Law for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), in a mid-September announcement. Using data provided by Quest Diagnostics for calendar years 2012 and 2013, the increase reported represents the FIRST INCREASE in marijuana positives since 2003! After reaching a high of 13.6% in 1988, positive drug testing outcomes had been steadily decreasing. In 2013, positive test results were up 3.7%, following a 3.5% increase in the positive rate the year prior. The connection between this increase and the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington did not go unnoticed. Positive results for marijuana use in Washington increased by 23% and in Colorado 20%, compared to a 5% increase among the US general workforce covering all 50 states. The PACE Staffing Network has been offering and then administering drug testing on our client’s behalf since the early 1990s. Initially, our clients got a lot of push back on their drug testing policies, but today, both pre-hire and random drug testing practices are considered the norm with only an occasional challenge from the ADA related to screenings for prescription drugs. While “for cause” testing is more frequently contested, according to Quest, it is the most common reason why workers are drug tested. At the current time, our clients range from zero tolerance employers who require all applicants for either permanent or temporary employment to be rigorously drug tested, to employers who openly request that we not drug screen, concerned that recruiting results will fall short of the numbers of employees needed—particularly when the workers are being used for short term, temporary assignments where product out the door is the driving factor in HR policy. Some employers claim that while some of their workers are known weekend marijuana users, they are amongst their best workers and don’t want an unnecessarily “restrictive” HR policy to interfere with their “business as usual” mentality. The type of drug testing our clients ask us to administer provides some clue as to their level of “tolerance” they are willing to enforce and at what cost. Employers who are serious about eliminating any type of drug use from their workforce typically require hair testing over urine or saliva testing because of its ability to uncover signs of drug use for up to 6 months. Unfortunately, we anticipate these will be the first types of drug testing methods to be legally challenged. While at the current time employers in both Washington and Colorado retain the right to restrict the recreational use of marijuana by employees and can impose sanctions on employees testing positive for marijuana whether it was ingested during a work day or on the weekend. Many believe that the court test of these “one size fits all” types of drug testing policies and sanctions are just around the corner.

How Long Should I Keep Electronic Recruiting Correspondence?

by Jeanne Knutzen | September 29, 2014

0 Blog, Management.Supervision Electronic Recruiting Correspondence, Hiring Practices, HR Management, Inc., Strategic Human Resources

By Strategic Human Resources, Inc. Question: Much of our recruiting is now done online and via email. Do I need to keep the emails generated from our last round of hiring? Does it matter if the candidate followed through with a response or not? Answer: You need to keep any records from the search for one year–those that you were considering AND those that you were not (even those that applied but may not have followed through with a response to your email). Keeping them in an electronic file is great–date it and pitch it next year. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requires employers to keep employment records for one year. After that time, employers can either discard the record or archive it, provided they maintain the confidentiality of information contained in each record. Suppose you have a resume, cover letter, list of references, and brief notes from a telephone screening, yet you decided to select other candidates for in-person interviews. The records generated, including electronically, during the course of the preliminary screening are, in fact, hiring records. They must be kept for one year, pursuant to EEOC regulations. Another important reason to keep hiring records on file even if the applicant wasn't hired is so applicants don't have possible recourse if they are rejected during the hiring process. Applicants who claim they weren't hired based on factors not related to the job (i.e, race, sex, national origin, age or religion) have up to one year to file a formal discrimination charge with the EEOC. Should the EEOC decide to investigate the applicant's complaint, the agency can ask employers to produce records used during the hiring process. The company's hiring practices don't look favorable if the employer can't comply with the request because it has discarded the hiring materials. Strategic Human Resources, Inc., is a national full-service HR management firm based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Our president and founder, Robin Throckmorton, can be reached at Robin@strategichrinc.com.

Tips for Finding and Developing HiPos in Your Company

by Jeanne Knutzen | September 29, 2014

0 Blog, Hiring.Best Practices Darcy Jacobsen, high potential employees, HiPos, HR position, IED and Stanford Business School, succession plan, succession planning

By Darcy Jacobsen According to a study by Quantum Workplace, 1 percent of executives believe that their succession plans are excellent. Okay. You might be in the lucky minority. You might be that rare company that has a fantastic multi-level succession plan based on substantive, nuanced data, which not only makes your high-potential employees feel invested, but also yields great leadership for your organization. But it's statistically unlikely. You're probably more like the rest of the world. You would love to have that kind of succession plan. It comes up in meetings all the time, but when it comes to actually creating it, there's a sort of paralysis that sets in. Shoulders are shrugged. Helpless looks exchanged. There's no clear path. No sense where to start. And it all gets pushed off to the next meeting. Or quarter. Or decade. "The majority (of executives) do not think that their organizations are doing enough to prepare for eventual changes in leadership at the CEO and C-suite levels," says Stanford professor David Larcker in the 2014 Report on Senior Executive Succession Planning and Talent Development. "Nor are they confident that they have the right practices in place to be sure of identifying the best leaders for tomorrow. These findings are surprising, really, given the importance that strong leadership has on the long-term performance of organizations. Research shows that companies with sound succession plans tend to do better." I got an email from a reader the other day who provided a great view from the trenches on this topic. He is a candidate for a director of HR position at an IT company, and after an interview where the CEO and COO grilled him about his ideas for succession planning, he wrote: "Succession planning from my experience (or lack of) is like the HR equivalent of searching for the Holy Grail! I have yet to work for a public or private company that has been able to even dip their toes into this sacred pool." According to a 2010 survey by Korn/Ferry, 98 percent of companies believe a CEO succession plan to be important–but only 35 percent actually have one in place. Likewise, DDI's 2011 Global Leadership Forecast found that only 1 in 3 organizations have high-quality, effective development plans for leadership in general, and in a 2011 AMA Enterprise survey only half of survey respondents said their organizations were somewhat effective in their ability to retain high-potential employees. Would we all like to have a great succession plan? Yes. Do we all know where to start? Apparently not. According to the 2014 Report on Senior Executive Succession Planning and Talent Development published by IED and Stanford Business School, here are the Six Key Elements of Successful Succession Planning:

  1. Strategic Planning – Determine what capabilities, roles, and talent are needed to execute the business strategy today and in the future.
  2. Talent Assessment – Gauge the executive team's bench strength. Do we have who we need (now and in future) and if not, how do we get there?
  3. Recruiting – Develop a talent pipeline for key roles/jobs.
  4. Performance Assessment – Let people know they are valued contributors and provide them opportunities for development, exposure to executives, networking across divisions, etc. (Get them on the corporate radar screen.)
  5. Development – Create development plans for individuals. (e.g., leadership workshops, classes, on-the-job learning, assignments, special projects, 360s, external classes, etc.)
  6. Retention and Engagement – Rewards and recognition, work environment, opportunities for development, job autonomy and scope of responsibilities, etc.
This is fantastic advice, but it may not have gotten you any closer to implementation. If you're like most companies, there are three underlying challenges that are preventing you from putting that plan into practice. They sound like this:
  • How do we identify and assess succession candidates and HiPos in the first place?
  • What are the components of a development plan that keeps them engaged and onboard?
  • How do we track their work performance and growth over time?
Here are five brass-tacks tips we can offer for overcoming those challenges:
  • Stop talking in generalities. What is the definition of "high potential" in your organization? Not the Wikipedia definition. YOUR definition. Your culture is unique, and so is your leadership style. If you have not defined what it means to be high-potential–specifically at your company–how can you expect people to execute on that? This paper from Kenan Flagler Business School at UNC includes some nice case studies, and did find some commonalities among the competencies organizations look for in their high-potential candidates. 70 percent of respondents looked for future performance potential and 69 percent looked for strategic thinking ability. Other criteria included a drive for results, current and sustained performance, culture fit, and commitment to the organization. Ultimately, though, the definition has to come organically from your own company culture.
  • Use recognition data to find your HiPos. This is the single best piece of original advice I have in this article. Want to find your best future leaders? Look at who your employees are already recognizing as informal leaders. Performance management cannot always discern high performance from high potential. According to the Corporate Leadership Council, only 29 percent of high performers are also high-potential employees. If you want to see who the informal leaders in your organization are, look at the recognition work circles. Those people who are in the center of them? Those are the people who have the biggest influence on your company. Chances are, all of your future leaders are there.
  • Be more incremental. Many companies focus all of their planning on their chief executives, and go no further. Succession planning cannot be for the CEO alone and focusing all your attention only on getting people to the top spot can be paralyzing. Creating a healthy talent pipeline means developing at all levels. As former Campbell's Soup leader Doug Conant recently shared in an interview: "To succeed in an enduring way, you must develop well-rounded leaders who can work in a frenetic environment. If you're not looking forward, watch out. Even the mighty will fall. While the CEO manages succession, the board needs to champion the development of talent. Leaders change, markets change, and it's hard to find and maintain an enduring proposition without an enduring stream of talent." Instead of worrying about getting the elite on a direct track to the C-suite, concentrate more of your succession efforts on simply getting a pipeline full of people with leadership potential.
  • Use positive feedback as a development tool. There's a raging debate out there about whether or not you should tell your HiPos that they are being developed for leadership. No matter which side you fall on, it is critical to make these employees feel that you are developing and valuing them. Positive feedback is critical to this process, and it will keep HiPo employees feeling aligned, engaged, and relevant. I think this CCL paper has some other terrific insights into what specifically companies are doing for development of HiPos, and how HiPos feel about it. Note the word "cloud" on page 13 of the CCL paper. HiPos equate their identification with recognition, so it is important to continue that reciprocal process throughout their development.
  • It's a marathon, not a sprint. Identifying candidates and throwing development their way isn't enough. You need to assess, track, and continually evaluate their progress. Mentoring is a fantastic method for both development and assessment, because it puts someone on the ground with the candidate who is focused on their progress and well-positioned to judge their progress. Performance evaluations are also important, of course; but again, recognition can be an invaluable tool to give you insight into how those identified future leaders are performing, and how valid that assessment continues to be. There's some good advice in this Aon Hewitt paper on both initial identification and ongoing assessment of succession candidates.
I hope as you seek to transform your organization's succession plan into one that's a cut above the competition. Let us know how you do, and please share any insights you might have with us. Darcy Jacobsen is a content marketing manager at Globoforce, the world's leading provider of SaaS (software-as-a-service)–based employee recognition solutions. Through its social, mobile, and global technology, Globoforce helps HR and business leaders elevate employee engagement, increase employee retention, manage company culture, and discover the power of real-time performance management. Contact her or follow her writing at www.globoforce.com/gfblog.

Countdown to ACA Compliance

by Jeanne Knutzen | September 23, 2014

0 ACA Affordable Healthcare, Blog, Legal Issues - Staffing Employment Agency Bellevue, Employment Agency Everett, Employment Agency Kent, Employment Agency Seattle, Employment Agency Tacoma, Employment Agency Washington State, hiring, Hiring Bellevue, Hiring Everett, Hiring Seattle, Hiring Tacoma, Temporary Staffing Bellevue, Temporary Staffing Everett, Temporary Staffing Kent, Temporary Staffing Seattle, Temporary Staffing Tacoma, Temporary Staffing Washington

Part II. ACA Requirements and Penalties - 2015! Yes, the 2,300 pages it took to write the law, followed by the 10,000+ pages of regulatory interpretation can be daunting, but with the January 1st launch of our transitional year just around the corner, we are taking the time to boil down the complication into the “critical few”—things our clients MUST KNOW about what lies ahead. In Part I, we provided a complete glossary of ACA terms—just so you would have a playbook. In Part II, we are providing a simple outline of employer and employee requirements for 2015.

  • Employer (Shared Responsibility) Requirements: In 2015, employers with 100 or more full time employees (or full time equivalents) must offer a healthcare insurance plan that provides Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) to 70% of its full time employees and their dependent children or be subject to “failure to offer” penalties described below.
  • Individual (Shared Responsibility) Requirements: As in 2014, individuals must enroll in a healthcare plan that provides themselves and their dependents with MEC level coverage. If they do not obtain MEC insurance, either through their employer or Medicaid, they are required to purchase an ACA approved plan through a State or Federal Exchange—in Washington we have a “working” Exchange.
  • Employer Penalties: It is important for employers to distinguish between two important differences in mandated plans:
    • MEC/Minimum Essential Coverage plans are typically very low cost plans that meet both the individual and the employer mandates.
    • MVP/Minimum Value Plans are most costly plans that must meet ACA actuarial value standards in addition to “affordability” standards. Most MVP plans will meet MEC requirements, but not vice versa, making employers subject to two types of penalties.
1. Failure to Offer Penalties. Employers who fail to offer a MEC plan to 70% of their eligible employees (and their dependent children) will pay a monthly tax/penalty of $167 or $2,000/yr.—for each eligible fulltime employee. This tax/penalty is calculated on your entire eligible workforce and will include all those employees who have been offered and accepted coverage. Deductions: In 2015, you can deduct 80 employees from your count of eligible employees. In each year after 2015, you can deduct only 30. For example, in 2015 if you have 100 employees working for you in a month and do not offer coverage to at least 70 of those employees, your monthly penalty will be based on 20 employees (100 minus 80) calculated at $167 each for a total of $3,340 tax or penalty each month you fail to offer. 2. “Inadequate Plan” Penalties. If the plan an employer offers is either “unaffordable” or does not provide “minimum value” (MVP) the tax/penalty per month for employers increases to $250/month (up to $3K annually). This penalty is unique and much more complicated to administrate in that it is applied only to those employees who seek and are granted a government subsidy as a result of applying for insurance on a State Exchange. If an employee is offered both a MEC and MVP plan and EITHER refuses both, or ELECTS only the MEC option, they WILL NOT BE ELIGIBLE FOR A SUBSIDY. NOTE: Most employees are not aware of this special provision of the law and may enroll in a low cost MEC plan believing that by enrolling they will become compliant with the individual mandate while preserving the option of receiving subsidies at a later date. An employee who has been offered both MEC and MVP coverage and elects the lower cost MEC coverage, loses their eligibility for subsidy. 3. Individual Penalties/Taxes/Fees: For your employees, the penalty (technically referenced as a tax or fee) for failing to obtain the required insurance coverage is either a flat dollar amount per person or a percentage of household income. These penalties are already in effect for 2014, but go up significantly in 2015.
  • In 2014: the penalty is $95 per person, $47.50 per child (up to $285 per family) or 1% of household taxable income, whichever is greater.
  • In 2015: the penalty is $325 per person, $162.50 per child (up to $975 per family) or 2% of household taxable income, whichever is greater.
  • In 2016: the penalty is $695 per person, $347.50 per child (up to $2085 per family) or 2.5% of household taxable income, whichever is greater.
  • In 2017 and beyond: the penalty will be the same as 2016 with Cost of Living increases.
4. Your Employee’s Eligibility for Subsidies: Individuals with household incomes determined to be 100-400% of federal poverty levels may be eligible for government funded subsidies to buy their insurance. Employees become ineligible for these subsidies if:
  • They are already on Medicaid.
  • They have been offered and refused an employer’s offer of a healthcare plan that is both affordable and meets MVP requirements.
  • They purchase insurance through venues other than a “qualified” Exchange—in our case the Washington Exchange.
In 2014, the poverty level for an individual is $11,670, which means that for families of four, subsidies will likely be available if the family earns anywhere from $23,050 and $92,200 annually. The eligibility boundary for 2015 is not yet available, although current estimates are that in 2015 over 26 million people will be eligible for subsidies. 5. Discrimination. The regulations relating to the new discrimination provisions embedded in the ACA have not been written and the IRS has promised it will not enforce any of its discrimination provisions until regulations have been published. We know that sometime in the near future employer funded plans will become subject to tests ensuring that differential treatment not be awarded to highly compensated employees, but it is the nature of these tests that has not been determined. Employers need to be paying attention to these regulations likely to be published in 2015 as the challenge of avoiding discrimination will be a significant cost management issue for employers with diverse workforces and an historical pattern of providing unique benefit options to their highly paid employees. In the meantime, in 2015 employers will be able to offer different plans to different employee groups and can contribute differently to employees based on “their group.” If the plans offered meet MEC, MVP and “affordability” tests, typical tiered/pay up plans are allowable in 2015 without risk of penalty. 6. Record Keeping. 2015 adds several new layers of administrative and reporting requirements for ACA defined “large” employers (50 or more employees), regardless of whether or not you are subject to the employer mandates in the 2015 transitional year. Notices to Employees. Since October 2013, all “large” employers have been required to provide new hires with a statement of their eligibility for coverage that they can either obtain through you or the Exchange. The IRS has made this compliance requirement easy to administer by providing samples of required letters. They are available for download via the IRS website: http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/healthreform/regulations/coverageoptionsnotice.html Forms 1095 C. In accordance with section 6056 of the IRS code, employers offering a self-insured MEC plan AND employers considered “large” under ACA standards will be required to report annually on all employees who worked for them as a full time employee for at least one month during 2015 and each reporting year thereafter. These reports, using Form 1095-C need to be prepared monthly throughout 2015, but will not be submitted to the IRS until March of 2016 (if filed electronically). Form 1095-C must be submitted to employees by end of January 2016.
  • The data required, organized by month, includes:
  • The number of full time employees (each month).
  • The name, address, and SSN of each full-time employee (each month).
  • The months during which coverage was available.
  • A certification, month by month, of the employer size.
  • A certification, month by month, as to whether the employer offered the full time employee (and his or her dependents) the opportunity to enroll in employer-sponsored coverage.
  • The amount the employee would need to pay if they accepted the lowest cost monthly premium (for self-funded programs only).
  • The months, if any, during which the employee was covered.
Forms 1095 B. The ACA also added section 6055 to the IRS Code, requiring all insurers and self-insured employers providing minimum essential coverage (MEC plans) to submit annual reports (Form 1095-B) identifying the costs of their plan and who was covered. If you are an employer who offers a fully insured group health plan, your insurance issuer is required to submit the returns, but if you offer a self-insured plan, you are required to submit the returns (even though a third party may prepare the return). Employers are generally subject to penalties for failure to file Forms 1095 -B and C; although the IRS has said that in 2015 they will not impose penalties for incomplete or incorrect information if the employer made a good faith effort to comply. W-2 Reporting. The requirement to include the costs of certain healthcare benefits on the employees W-2 at the end of each year has been in effect since 2012, but has only been loosely enforced. From 2013 on, employers filing 250 or more W-2 forms annually are required to report the total value of certain employer-sponsored health benefits to all employees receiving this benefit. The amounts reported are strictly informational and have no impact on the employee’s taxable income. In Part III of our Countdown to ACA Compliance, we will be discussing the special provisions of the ACA that apply specifically to temporary and contract workers—our specialty. There are provisions in the law that you should know about to protect yourself from unforeseen fines and penalties. jeanneThis article was prepared by Jeanne Knutzen, CSC, the President and Founder of the PACE Staffing Network. PACE remains committed to full compliance with the ACA and offers a variety of staffing products and services designed to ensure that our clients have options for containing the costs associated with ACA compliance. For a confidential discussion of how these services might be applied to your workforce, particularly your temporary and contract employees, contact a member of our PSN partnership team at infodesk@pacestaffing.com or 425.6376.3312.    

Retain Employees. Manage Turnover. Which Is It?

by Jeanne Knutzen | September 9, 2014

0 Blog, Flexible Staffing Strategies, Management.Supervision Employment Agency Bellevue, Employment Agency Everett, Employment Agency Kent, Employment Agency Seattle, Employment Agency Tacoma, Employment Agency Washington State, hiring, Hiring Bellevue, Hiring Everett, Hiring Seattle, Hiring Tacoma, Temporary Staffing Bellevue, Temporary Staffing Everett, Temporary Staffing Kent, Temporary Staffing Seattle, Temporary Staffing Tacoma, Temporary Staffing Washington

Okay…while not a pure play contrarian, I’m finding myself reacting less than enthusiastically to all the talk on employee retention that has been hitting the airwaves lately—apparently the hot topic in the staffing world. For me, the mandate that companies do what is necessary to retain their high value talent is HR 101. So when I read all the hoopla on the value of retention, I want to make sure our readers also hear the other side of the story—that for some jobs, the goal can’t always be about reducing turnover/improving retention, but needs to be more about better managing the turnover they have—smartly, proactively! MANAGED TURNOVER is a different sort of staffing strategy that I believe has a legitimate place in any hiring manager’s arsenal of staffing options.    Most (but not all) of the MANAGED TURNOVER staffing models we put together for our clients are developed in response to scenarios involving what we call High Impact/Low Appeal (HI/LA) jobs! You know those jobs—ranging from that pesky front office job that was crafted from all the work no one wants to do, to the folks in your warehouse doing that boring, repetitive assembly type work that no one could pay you enough to do. No matter how great the manager’s motivational skills or generous the company’s pay programs, the nature of HI/LA work lends itself to workforce issues—increases in absenteeism, accident rates, and other workplace mischief that makes HR shutter. Sooner or later most HI/LA jobs suffer from high levels of voluntary or involuntary turnover, directly impacting team or company performance. When asked to find employees for HI/LA jobs, one of the first things we explore is the option of ending the uphill battle for retention, and replacing it with a staffing model involving a strategically rotating group of temporary workers. Here’s why:

  • New temporary workers can come to HI/LA jobs fresh, ready to perform at high levels when their motivation to meet a new challenge is at its highest.
  • Temporary workers are easily rotated out of HI/LA jobs when the work is no longer new; the employee is no longer fresh.
  • Turnover (for the client) goes away, replaced by assignment starts and ends,
  • …as does the costs and hassle of recruiting and vetting new employees. That work is shifted to a third party staffing agency.
MANAGED TURNOVER programs are built around statistically measured cycles of performance that exist for all jobs, all employees. While specific timelines and measurement units (ex. productivity, attendance, etc.) vary, each employee’s performance in an HI/LA job usually comes out in some version of a bell shaped curve. When the employee is new, they are motivated to learn and fit in with the team. Productivity increases until the newness wears off and the signs of boredom or discontent start to surface in the form of issues with attendance, carelessness, and other forms of worker misconduct. Chart for Blog The goal of a MANAGED TURNOVER staffing model is to optimize the number of workers in the earliest, most productive, stages of the performance cycle, while systematically cycling out employees just before they start into the downward cycle. When done proactively, the employee’s temporary assignment begins and ends at predetermined times, most correlated with optimized worker performance. One of the important benefits of a MANAGED TURNOVER staffing model is that it side steps all the negativity embedded in a core employee staffing model applied to HI/LA jobs. Employers no longer spend time outlining their defense of a decision to terminate a core employee. Employees no longer struggle with a job that is no longer challenging. Assignments begin and end in accordance with a custom designed staffing plan based on the performance cycle typical of that particular job or workforce. Minimal hassle, minimal complication. The heavy lifting of replacing departing employees is assigned to a third party staffing agency, reducing if not eliminating internal recruiting costs. Another side benefit of a MANAGED TURNOVER staffing model is that your temporary workforce becomes an always-available pool of candidates for hire. As all hiring managers know, when it’s time to hire the ramp up time, costs to find, screen and hire a new employee can be significant. And there is no guarantee that who your hire will work out. Having a large number of auditioning workers continuously available for hire allows employers to hire in a timely way, selecting only the very best to become a part of their core team, reducing the costs and disruption of hiring errors. Not to worry, a MANAGED TURNOVER model doesn’t mean your entire workforce becomes "temps." Depending on the work to be performed, there are identifiable ratios of core and non-core workers that optimize overall performance. Too many temps and stability suffers. Too many core workers and your operational costs will eat away at your bottom line during your less busy periods. Ratios of temp to core workers can range anywhere from 10-15% to a high of 85-90%, depending on your business cycles and the nature of the work. Here are two examples where one of our PSN partnership teams implemented “managed turnover” staffing models that improved worker outputs, dramatically reduced recruiting costs, and/or improved overall team performance and morale: Some of our earliest converts to a managed turnover staffing model were call center clients who were hiring large numbers of entry level employees for service roles. One particular call center was facing a serious issue with first year turnover which was both increasing their internal recruiting costs, while also impacting service levels. 1. In partnership with our client’s HR team, our call center recruiters augmented the client’s recruiting team, reducing our client's internal recruiting costs. We worked in partnership to implement a uniform staffing process where all employees, sourced either by the client or our own recruiting teams, were screened and onboarded in the same way. All new call center reps were employed by PACE during the first 90-days of their employment. This “audition period” allowed employees who were unable to meet the client’s expectations to be systematically removed from their assignment so that at the end of the audition period, the client offered employment only to those employees who were able to meet the full scope of their expectations. Those not measuring up were either given an extended “audition” period or their assignment was ended. Using this “managed turnover” staffing model in effect transferring most of the first 180-days of turnover to PACE, the client’s first year turnover rates were cut in half. Employees whose assignments were ended during the audition period became available to be placed on other PACE assignments, better suited to their personality or skill sets.  2. A second example is provided by one of our large healthcare clients who were experiencing turnover, attendance and workplace injury issues in their laundry area. After viewing the work, it was easy to see the classic HI/LA profile—physically demanding, repetitive, and ultimately boring work. While the client initially asked us to help them improve their hiring outcomes (i.e. reduce turnover), our recommendation was that they focus instead on better managing the turnover we suspected was there to stay. With the client’s guidance, we implemented a MANAGED TURNOVER staffing model.  As each core employee left we replaced them with a temporary employee, whose assignment varied in length depending on our client’s anticipated needs. The employer’s workforce was soon “mostly temps” who were hired for specific work performed for a specified time period—and were oriented and managed accordingly. The PSN partnership team set up a performance management system which, with our client’s help, was used to manage the employee’s performance. When an employee started to fall below defined standards, PACE, not the client, invested its recruiting resources to find a replacement candidate. For this client, the MANAGED TURNOVER staffing model delivered a level of orderliness and predictability to their staffing process they hadn’t experienced in the past. It eliminated the negative impact of unexpected turnover, as well as taking away the pressure on their internal recruiting teams to staff a high turnover workforce. For our temporary employees, it provided them with assurance that when their assignment ended, their performance would earn them the opportunity to be placed elsewhere.   Workplace injuries were reduced by cycling temps in and out of the performance cycle, avoiding the burnout that had been a contributing factor to both attendance and workplace accidents.             Obviously this MANAGED TURNOVER staffing model can’t be applied to all jobs and all work environments. And even if you determine that one of the HI/LA jobs you manage would lend itself to a MANAGED TURNOVER staffing model, there are some basics that need to be in place: The Right Staffing Partner. A staffing agency who only knows how to recruit people is not the partner you need to implement a MANAGED TURNOVER staffing model. Look for an agency who knows how to address productivity issues, has tools and systems in place to help you manage employees, and can bring you ideas about how to implement a managed turnover staffing plan. Look for a staffing partner as interested in solving your operating challenge as you are. The Right Financial Model. You will need to keep your CFO aware of what you are doing and why as you will be purposefully expanding your budget for temporary staffing while decreasing the monies you spend on high cost core staff. While the per hour costs of temps and core employees is almost identical (by the time you factor in all the regulatory and benefit costs of core employees), depending on how your company organizes its budgets and expense allocations, the costs of these two different types of employees can end up in different places on your financial reports and may trigger questions from “up the chain.” You will likely need at least one senior manager on your team who understands the shift you are making in how you are doing “staffing,” and why. The Right Mindset. Most of the MANAGED TURNOVER staffing models we implement with clients tend to migrate into very objective, data driven, staffing processes. Even though you are no longer managing core employees, the need for clear performance standards, transparent metrics, and fair administration does not go away! jeanneThis article was written by Jeanne Knutzen, the founder and CEO of the PACE Staffing Network. The PSN partnership teams are well versed in a variety of flexible staffing strategies, including MANAGED TURNOVER programs. For a complimentary consultation on what flexible workforce recruiting and staff strategies might work in your organization, contact us via our InfoDesk at infodesk@pacestaffing.com or by calling 425-637-3312.

47 is the NEW 40!

by Jeanne Knutzen | September 3, 2014

0 Blog, What's New in Staffing? Employment Agency Bellevue, Employment Agency Everett, Employment Agency Kent, Employment Agency Seattle, Employment Agency Tacoma, Employment Agency Washington State, Hiring Bellevue, Hiring Everett, Hiring Seattle, Hiring Tacoma, Temporary Staffing Bellevue, Temporary Staffing Everett, Temporary Staffing Kent, Temporary Staffing Seattle, Temporary Staffing Tacoma, Temporary Staffing Washington

The 2013.14 Gallup Work and Education Survey (just released) suggests that the average number of hours worked a week by US employees is almost one day more than the 40 hours typically considered full time. In fact, only 42% of the employees reported working only 40 hours—with 47 hours being the average of the 1,271 adults polled. While 39% reported they worked more than 50 hours a week, with 18% reporting their work week got stretched to 60 hours or more. While 40 hours is widely regarded as the standard for full time employment, salaried employees reported working an average of 49 hours a week, while hourly employees reported working an average of 44 hours per week. Our readers should note that the hours of work reported were based on employee’s self reports—not data pulled from payroll records. Our experience is that employees typically over estimate the number of hours they actually work each week. Issues with self reporting set aside, it is clear that the 47 hour/week average is clearly the perceptual norm—being the consistent average being reported by the Gallup survey for well over a decade. While most state and federal employment laws define full time employment as 40 hours/week, the ACA defines full time employment as 30 or more hours/week—that point where the employer’s mandate to provide healthcare benefits kicks in. Critics of the ACA are predicting that more employees formerly considered full time will be converted to part-time status to avoid benefit eligibility. The Gallup poll noted that in their study, 43% of the employees polled were employed full time, down from 50% reported prior to 2007 and the “Great Recession.”

How to “Do” Employee Engagement – Not Just Talk About It!

by Jeanne Knutzen | September 2, 2014

0 Blog, Recruiting. Best Practices Employee Appreciation, Employee Engagement, Employee Leadership, Employee Motivation, Fierce Inc., Halley Bock, Leadership

The following article was written by our good friend and professional colleague, Halley Bock, CEO of Fierce Inc. Fierce is a world class leadership training and development company headquartered in Pioneer Square, Seattle, Washington, but with clients working with Fierce leadership concepts all over the globe.  This particular piece appeared in a recent Fierce newsletter, but was originally posted on TrainingMagazine.com. We thought our readers and other friends of PSN would benefit from reading about simple, hands on ways to engage employees in meaningful ways. Marbles Thanks to Gallup’s annual State of the American Workplace survey, we know that employee engagement statistics continue to fall short of expectations and what we know is possible for our companies and ourselves. The short and sweet of it is that only 30 percent of the U.S. workforce is engaged, with the actively disengaged costing our economy somewhere in the range of $450 billion to $500 billion per year. That’s a lot of dough to leave on the table and certainly nothing to pride ourselves on. And while so many managers are aware of this issue—we know we need our employees engaged and we can discuss this topic at great length—we don’t necessarily know how to do employee engagement. It remains a statistic we strive for: intangible, elusive, and ever increasing in importance. When it comes to employee engagement, three key trends have surfaced as the most critical for increasing and maintaining high levels of engagement: Candor, Collaboration, and Development. Big topics, yes. But when broken down, we begin to see how we can get our hands on the levers and actually do engagement. Candor According to a study conducted by Harvard Business Review, companies rated by their employees as being in the top quartile in openness of communication delivered an average total shareholder return of 7.9 percent over a recent 10-year period, compared with 2.1 percent at companies in other quartiles. According to another study by Corporate Executive Board, the key indicator most strongly correlated with 10-year returns is employees’ comfort in speaking up, even when they have negative things to say. Clearly, candor is important and explains why companies with higher engagement create more profit. Here’s how to do candor: Tell the truth, always. Corporate America continues to squander employee trust, be it through the housing crisis and subsequent collapse of the economy, or the recently revealed GM safety issues and subsequent recall. Little by little, lie after lie and deceit after deceit gets revealed to scores of innocent employees who unknowingly participated in massive schemes rooted in corruption, greed, and mendacity. The devastation to our livelihoods and trust is immense. The only viable way for organizations to regain trust is simple: Tell the truth and keep telling the truth. No. Matter. What. Avoid making excuses for employees, believing they are unable to handle the truth because the truth is, they can handle it. What they can’t handle are the lies and the “massaged” truths. By speaking the truth in a skillful way, employees can rise to the challenge and actively engage themselves in the solution. Ask for the truth, frequently. Candor is a two-way street—an unending feedback loop—that should be traveled often. As much as we deliver candid feedback (both positive and critical), ask for the same in return. No matter what a person’s title, we all have blind spots and could use a refreshing, outside perspective on what we’re doing well and what we could improve. Collaboration In our own survey, The Six Key Trends That Increase Employee Productivity and Engagement, 98 percent of respondents believe exploring other points of view improves decisions. Gallup found that engagement increases at all levels of tenure as employees continue to participate in focused initiatives to improve their engagement. Imagine that: engaging employees in their own engagement through collaborative means. Here are some ideas on how to do collaboration in a way that directly feeds into increasing engagement: Work the lattice, drop the ladder. The ongoing resilience and health of any organism, animate or inanimate, depends largely on its ability to withstand change. Structures that are able to weather these storms are typically well footed, with reinforcements that tie in both vertically and horizontally. Why we believe higher safety, stability, and success exist through creating siloed organizations remains a great mystery to me. Decisions made within a vacuum are dangerous as they are less informed and, therefore, run a higher risk of failure. When making decisions that affect a strategy, customers, and/or employees, take the time to seek multiple, diverse perspectives. Reach across the lattice of the entire organization, pull in insights that will create a better outcome, and strengthen engagement across the board. Create an engagement committee. As per Gallup’s own statistic, employees appreciate having a hand in creating and sustaining their own engagement. This explains why many firms with coveted top engagement levels have teams or committees focused solely on this initiative, or on being a “best place to work.” A company’s engagement culture is not something that can be managed from the top down. Culture is an outcome that results from the quality of relationships employees have with one another, with their company, and with their leaders. Because it is such a vast ocean and because engagement is created through different means for different people, it makes a heck of a lot of sense to create a cross-boundary committee to help guide this ship. By inviting employees in at the ground level we can increase engagement levels immediately. The upside only gets better from there. Development Individual development and the ability to make an impact on an organization is an increasingly hot topic for high potentials and Millennials. To pull another statistic from Gallup’s survey, Gen X and Baby Boomers are the least engaged, but Millennials are the most likely of all generations to leave their companies in the next 12 months if the job market improves. Why? Because they often feel road-blocked from reaching their full potential due to outdated development and promotion programs. These are typically programs that are blindly followed and have very little to do with the individual on the other end. Rather than do development on behalf of others, let’s involve employees so they can do development for themselves. Ask the questions, lose the assumptions. Another danger of living within the confines of a ladder, silo, or closed system is that we lose sight of all the possibilities and begin to view the world in a fairly one-dimensional way. We begin to assume that the only way to progress in a company is to go “up.” Or that it involves managing more people. Or that it means adding an “S” to the “VP” within a title. Or that it certainly must involve a merit increase. In short, we begin to make assumptions that may have a lot to do with our own values and experience but may have little or nothing to do with the individual sitting in front of us. Before envisioning a development path for employees and starting them down that journey, ask them how it is they see themselves growing within the organization. Put the onus on them to create a vision of their future and then develop a path that speaks to them. In essence, engage them in their own development right from the beginning. Challenge status quo. Gone are the days of applying one rule across multiple cases with the expectation that it will “hold water” for an extended time. The world, and thereby business, has become too dynamic and so have the generations of people we employ. To engage today’s workforce and meet their development needs, focus on individuals and their capabilities when assessing new opportunities. For example, revisit how quickly a high-performing employee potentially could make the jump from a junior to senior position. Does it really have to be after a two-year term or after having managed x number of projects or people? If employing a remote workforce is currently off-limits yet a top player requires this shift, lean into the possibility and seriously consider why this would not/could not work. Chances are, those fears are not based on reality and are tied to something else that needs to be challenged. Bottom line, when a top performer challenges your beliefs, rather than defend the policy or your stance, get curious with yourself and the employee. Genuine exploration into a juicy topic alongside any employee automatically will create engagement, and will do so no matter what the outcome. In summary, engagement requires engagement. There’s a lot of doing required—transforming this huge, amorphous topic into something tangible that we can act on. It won’t happen as a result of offering extravagant perks but comes through reinforcing each and every connection within an organization. Creating an intentional culture by focusing on candor, collaboration, and individualized development will put a company well on the path to achieving the statistics we all aspire to.