Boost Your Productivity in the Fall

September 26th, 2014

The transition from summer to fall can be a jarring shift for many workplaces, even those with a business model that doesn’t fluctuate based on the seasons. Employees with children are making the move from summer vacation to scheduled activities, and those who are still in school themselves are moving back into academic life and making adjustments that will have an impact on their productivity. Overlapping vacations are beginning and ending, clients are closing their books for the year, and temporary summer employees are leaving. Keep your workflows on track amid these fluctuations and you’ll come out on the other side of the season without missing a beat.

1. Keep the focus on work.

Busy employees can start leaning away from their desks during this time, so keep their attention, even if you have to use cheap ploys. For example, an occasional free pizza in the break room, an unexpected sandwich delivery during a meeting, a sponsored happy hour every Friday, elevated praise for those who go the extra mile, and an understanding attitude from direct supervisors can go a long way.

2. Tap into the mood of the season.

Fall is often a dreamy season, and dreaminess tends to bring creative boosts, which in turn bring great ideas, new innovations, better methods, and more effective and spontaneous brain storming sessions. Channel this energy. Be receptive to suggestions during this time and try not to close down employees who are bold enough to share their visions.

3. Plan retreats and networking events.

If you’ve ever considered sponsoring a networking event or lecture series, the fall is a great time to do this. It’s also a great time for leadership retreats and trust workshops that can take a single hour or an entire weekend.

4. Start the strategic planning process for the year ahead.

Where do you hope to take this company in the coming year? If your influence doesn’t extend that far, then where do you plan to take your own team or your own department? Where do you plan to take your own career? Now is the time to start thinking about your long term timeline and encouraging your employees to do the same.

5. Start thinking about performance reviews.

When you sit down to evaluate your employees in a few months, you’ll be looking carefully back over the year for accomplishments and highlights that contribute to a complete picture of their annual progress. Start putting the pieces together now, and you’ll be less likely to let key details fall through the cracks.

For more on how to keep your teams in motion and keep your own productivity track during the season ahead, reach out to the staffing experts at PSU.

Promoting a Culture of Safety in the Workplace

September 19th, 2014

About half of your overall workplace safety—including minimal incident and accident reports, minimal workman’s comp claims, and minimal lost workdays—will come from strongly enforced, sensible safety policies. But no matter how wise and sustainable your policies may be, rules and regulations can only take your workplace so far. In order to encourage compliance even when nobody’s looking, you’ll need to cultivate an ingrained respect for safe behavior and healthy habits among your staff. In order to shape your culture and reinforce the message that safety is everyone’s responsibility, keep these tips in mind.

1. Set the right example.

Nothing undermines safety policies quite like managers who ignore or disrespect them. If higher ups in the company think they’re immune from traffic rules on the shop floor, hand washing policies, hair nets, or hard hat requirements, something is wrong. Make sure your managers and supervisors are walking the walk at all times.

2. Change posted warnings periodically.

Don’t change the warnings themselves, but change the font, the posters, the color scheme or the positioning of warnings and advisories that are going ignored. People tend to tune out posted messages after they become part of the daily landscape.

3. Encourage employees to speak up and take control.

If rules are being bypassed, advisories are going unnoticed, or unsafe habits are taking root in the workplace, encourage employees to take personal action. Reward them for speaking up and pushing for change that can keep themselves and others safe.

4. Target the influencers.

As always, when seeking to change or elevate a culture for the better, target those who others tend to follow. Make sure the leaders among your teams are sending the right message and helping to keep the workplace safe. If they aren’t, find out why. Obtain their input before you draft yet another ignored policy or overlook a dangerous situation that needs attention.

5. Discourage heroism.

This is especially important when it comes to colds, flu, and communicable diseases. When employees are sick, send them home. Don’t encourage them to “power through”, don’t reward them for doing so, and don’t let others reward them either. The same applies to risk-taking around heat, water, heights, fast moving heavy equipment, or other unsafe situations where employees may push the limits hoping to be rewarded for their commitment to the company.

For more on how to encourage a positive workplace culture and cultivate respect for safety among your teams, contact the Charlotte staffing and workplace management pros at PSU.

Complete the Linkedin Puzzle

September 12th, 2014

When recruiters and potential employers use Linkedin to launch their candidate searches, they do so with specific questions in mind. Most of the time, these employers aren’t just browsing through profiles hoping to find a candidate who grabs their attention; instead, they’re conducting targeted keyword searches and skimming through the results with a focus on four areas: Has the candidate experienced this type of work before? Is she interested in a job that fits this description? Is she likely to accept the job if it’s offered? And what will she bring to the company that other, equally qualified candidates can’t? Make sure your profile provides all the information your potential employers need.

1. Include your geographic area in your profile.

You don’t need to include your exact address, but give some indication of your state, region, or nearest metropolitan area. Don’t suggest interest in a job outside of your commuting distance or the areas to which you’re willing to relocate.

2. Use keywords in your work history section.

If you’ve skimmed through thousands of job posts, then you know the kinds of acronyms, certifications, and software systems your target employers are looking for. Make sure you include these in your work history and make sure you list or describe them using the most common phrases and spellings.

3. Refer to your industry.

If you’re looking for a job as a physician’s assistant, a phlebotomist, or an LPN, make sure your profile includes at least one use of the phrase “healthcare” or “healthcare industry.” Every job falls into a broader category that describes the industry or field, and employers often narrow their search results using these terms.

4. Include your specific targeted job title.

Include the exact title of your ideal position at least once in your profile. Instead of just saying “I’d like to work with animals”, use the term “animal care specialist” or “animal behaviorist”. Again, these terms are often used as keywords by those who are looking for you.

5. Make it easy for employers to contact your or obtain more information.

Help yourself by helping your reviewers, and do this by including clear contact information in your profile, plus at least one or two links to sources that contain additional information about you, like your website, your blog, or your social media profiles.

For more information on how to help employers find you on Linkedin and how to provide answers to their most important questions, reach out to the Shelby staffing experts at PSU.

Stop Workplace Stress

September 5th, 2014

There’s a simple law of physics at work in all professional workplaces: There are only 24 hours in a day. And for each individual employee, hours and energy can’t be added or taken away from the total. If you ask an employee to work 10, 13, or 23 hours instead of eight, he or she will still need to find the energy and time required by personal responsibilities that have been left unattended.

In other words, if you keep an employee running at top speed all day long, personal activities and the mental space they require will simply be deducted from company time. Deadlines and quotas may be met, but at a cost, and the cost will be paid by you, not just your employees. Eventually, both productivity and work quality will suffer, and your most important assets will become exhausted, sick, disengaged, and—as it happens—untalented. Skilled employees will leave in search of better circumstances, and you’ll be left with only those who have no other options.

If you assume your employees can keep burning their own candles at both ends in order to keep up with your demands, prepare for surprises. As an alternative, consider these six ways to keep stress levels low and productivity high.

1. Remember the Eight Hour rule.

Each day, your employees owe you eight hours of their time. Everything after this limit is voluntary, even if you’re paying for it. So show respect for this time, treat it like a gift, and thank these hard workers appropriately. Don’t take this sacrifice for granted.

2. Their needs are your needs.

Allow and encourage your employees to take breaks. If you keep them from running short errands or using the internet to browse, shop, make dental appointments, and connect with family members, don’t expect them to stay late. And don’t expect them to give their full energy and effort to their projects. If you demand more than you deserve, expect to receive the minimum.

3. Don’t use competition to manipulate.

Encourage friendly competition within the workplace and direct serious competition outward toward your company’s competitors. Never pit employees against each other.

4. Feed them.

Nothing diffuses stress and resentment among employees like free meals. A few catered meals or 20 dollar pizzas a week can save your company thousands in lost work time and turnover.

5. Help them with personal problems.

If employees know that you care about them, they’ll be more willing to take care of you. Even a simple verbal gesture of support can go a long way.

6. Handle criticism with care.

Criticism may bring benefits occasionally, but more often it leads to demotivation, discouragement, resentment, high turnover, unnecessary anxiety, and reduced social cohesion. Use it constructively– or better, avoid it altogether.

For more on how to get the most out of your employees without pushing them too far and losing them altogether, reach out to the staffing professionals at PSU.

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