Why the Third Shift May be Right for You

July 25th, 2021

The “third shift” is a term that applies to almost any hours worked during the night, but most often, it means a shift that begins soon after midnight and ends at about eight in the morning. The third shift, or the graveyard shift, isn’t an evening; it’s a whole workday put in during the very dead of the night. Taking on this responsibility usually means reversing your circadian cycle so you’re sound asleep while everyone else is bustling through the day, and rising for breakfast at 10 or 11 pm. Not for you? That’s not a surprise. Most people are put off by the physical stress this lifestyle places on the body, not to mention the extreme inconvenience. (It’s hard to schedule personal appointments, talk to friends and family, or run errands when you’re only awake at night.)

But keep in mind, most employers recognize the unpopularity of the night shift, and they really need team members who can do this valuable work. Without night shift workers, some companies would quickly go out of business. Before you give this awkward schedule a hard pass, consider the benefits.

Night shifts come with higher pay per hour.

This can be called a shift bonus, a shift differential, or simply higher pay for doing the same work as the day-shifters, but doing it at night. Paying more for the night shift is standard business practice for 24-hour employers. (Don’t be bamboozled into thinking it’s a “perk” or a benefit. It’s expected. If a potential employer doesn’t provide this differential, walk away.) Over weeks, months or years, a few extra dollars per hour can really add up.

Night shifts are typically less stressful.

In almost every company, through no specific design, night shifts tend to be quieter. Even on a factory floor where the line moves at the same essential pace, the vibe is calmer, voices are quieter, and the overall level of demand tends to change. And most factory or warehouse environments do actually slow down lines and production speeds, for practical reasons; people tend to move slower at night and they often make more mistakes, so slowing down demand is good for business.

Some people don’t respond biologically the same way others do.

Most people experience a level of biological stress while working on a reverse circadian schedule. But just as some of us require eight hours of sleep and some require six or fewer, some suffer from the night shift and others don’t. For reasons that can’t really be explained, some people just aren’t negatively affected by working as night owls. You may be one of them. You’d have to try it for a while to find out.

If a quiet, calm atmosphere, a little darkness, and an introverted lifestyle seem like a match for you, and you don’t mind making more cheddar for doing the same job–just on an unpopular schedule—give the third shift a try. Employers usually scramble to staff these positions, and you might find out you’re the exact employee they’re looking for. Reach out to the team at PSU to learn more.

Questions to Ask your Skilled Laborers in an Interview

July 15th, 2021

You’re on a hiring mission, and you need a candidate who can do a very specific task. Sure, you also need a friendly, adaptable person with a can-do spirit who can learn new things quickly—who doesn’t?—but in this case, all of those qualities pale in comparison to the one you need the most.

You may need a CDC machinist, a cook, a translator who can speak fluid Hindi, or someone who can step up to a podium and command a crowd with their public speaking skills. You might need a trained electrician, an X-ray technician, or someone who can clean the soot out of an industrial chimney. In all of these cases—and many, many more—it’s not practical to hire a cheerful, smart, friendly employee who lacks these skills and simply train them on the job. These are tasks that take years to learn and a lifetime to master, and you need an employee who can step up to the plate on day one.

So how can you be sure that your candidate has what it takes? Here are a few questions to pose during the interview so you can rest assured that you and your candidate are on the same page and both of you understand what’s required and what’s being offered in terms of skill and value.

Ask them to describe their training.

This is a quick way to get a sense of how many hours (or decades) your candidate has been immersed in this activity. Depending on the nature of the skilled task and the needs of your company, a completion statement for a 20-hour training course or a simple state certification may be enough. In other cases, you may need someone who’s possessed this skill since childhood, or someone who has been taking formal lessons for five years or more. It’s easy for a candidate to say “I can do this”. It’s more helpful if they can say “I’ve studied with a master craftsman for a year”, or “I’ve been licensed and practicing since my early 20’s”, or “my grandmother taught me to do this when I was a teenager.”

Ask for a quick demonstration if the circumstances allow.

Of course you can’t usually ask a candidate to bake a cake or cut a child’s hair for you during an interview, but you can ask them to speak a few words in a non-native language or solve a common

puzzle that the task in question may present. Make the task or demonstration reflect the level of difficulty that the person will be likely to experience on the job.

Use tests.

Simply offering a written test can cover a lot of ground when it comes to skill assessment. But keep a few things in mind: some experts at a craft may not be able to convey that in a written test format, so don’t risk losing an expert candidate because you relied on only one weak metric. Also, it’s essential to use the same test for every candidate who applies for the job.

Ask tough insider questions.

If you don’t know what to ask because you yourself cannot bake a cake, speak Italian, or wire a house, then get your questions from someone else—someone who’s fluent in this area of expertise. Bring the candidate’s answers back to that person or source to find out how valid they are. For more, reach out to the staffing experts at PSU.

Is Your Team Following These Commonly Broken Safety Rules?

June 25th, 2021

Safety rules are an important part of work, life, productivity and success for any company that operates an active non-office workplace. (Offices can be dangerous too, of course, but that’s a subject for another post.) If your business requires the use of a warehouse, manufacturing facility, shipping and receiving area, press, cold storage, or any other place where the unexpected can and will happen, make sure these frequently ignored safety rules are actively enforced.

Hard hats and protective coverings.

Hard hats, safety goggles, masks, and other items that slip easily on and off without interfering with regular clothing can provide a powerful layer of protection. But only if employees can be bothered to grab and apply them when it matters. Far too often, they can’t and don’t. Once a few managers get away with casting aside this rule, it becomes acceptable for rank-and-file employees to do so also. And since what we wear (or don’t wear) can have a strong influence on social cohesion, a little bit of peer pressure can easily expose employees to grievous harm, and the company to expensive claims. Think a bunch of tough factory workers don’t care how they look and always put responsibility and safety first? Think again.

Certification-only machinery.

If an employee hasn’t received official (and completed!) training on the forklift, meat slicer, box crusher, or chromatograph, they shouldn’t use it. End of story. It doesn’t matter if deadlines are looming and certified operators aren’t present. Employees usually bend this rule when pressured to help “get things done” and motivated to impress their bosses by “pitching in”. Don’t let this tendency work its way into your workplace culture.

No entry zones.

No entry means no entry, even if the forbidden area provides a shortcut between one frequently used area and another. Find a way to re-route foot traffic or physically close the area off to those without keys or digital access cards. If a “no-entry” sign is placed at the entrance and it doesn’t really need to be there, take it down. Otherwise, signs in more important areas are likely to be ignored.

Floor protection measures.

Wet and slippery floors can be a leading cause of accidents and problems in the workplace, and these incidents and tragedies are often entirely avoidable. Protect indoor-outdoor thresholds with carpets or rubber floor coverings, and keep danger zones clean and dry. Meanwhile, make sure employees take proper precautions in those areas, such as slowing down motorized carts. Clean up spills and leaks immediately; don’t let them sit.

For more on how to encourage employees to pay attention to the rules under dangerous circumstances, contact the workplace experts at PSU.

Stay Safe While Operating Machinery

June 15th, 2021

We all know that sawmills and meat processing facilities are dangerous places to work. Giant spinning blades, boiling vats, and mechanized lifters and crushers are hard not to notice, and anyone with an instinct for self-preservation will increase their level of vigilance in an environment where injuries are common and obvious. But far too often, quiet and seemingly harmless machinery can lull workers into a false sense of safety and oblivion. Don’t let this happen in your workplace. Here are a few tips that keep everyone in a healthy and appropriate state of heightened awareness.

Post signs when needed, take them down when not.

Too many safety and warning signs can be more dangerous than none at all. Take a tour of your facility and review each warning sign for its level of effectiveness. Is the sign clear? Is it visible and readable? Does it make proper use of text and graphics? Tiny font, faded letting, unclear drawings, and excessive intensity can all make safety warnings useless. Fix what isn’t working, and if a machine is actually safer than the sign suggests, take the sign down. Otherwise, more important warnings will be ignored as well.

Don’t drive distracted.

Most workplace operators of forklifts, reach trucks, crushers, and conveyors are not intoxicated while on the job. But distraction and sleep deprivation are just as dangerous and are far harder to detect and prevent. Encourage your employees to use their common sense and trust their instincts if they aren’t in a safe state of mind. If an employee is ill or working on no sleep and they tell you this to protect themselves and others, thank them for their honesty and keep them away from the machine until they’re ready.

Horseplay is never okay.

Horseplay on or around dangerous machinery should never be tolerated in the workplace. Impose and follow through on strict penalties for dangerous clowning, and don’t let good cheer and friendly bonding interfere with a culture of responsibility, maturity, professionalism, and safety.

Walk the walk.

Make sure your managers and senior staff take safety rules as seriously as employees are expected to take them. There’s no excuse for walking in a hard hat zone without a hard hat, no matter how busy or important the non-wearer may consider him or herself to be.

For more on how to keep your workplace safe and your employees compliant with the rules that protect them, talk to the management experts at PSU.

It May be Time to Update Your Job Descriptions

May 11th, 2021

You hire new employees on a somewhat regular basis (or at least a few times per year), and each time you do so, you create new files and accounts for the employee for HR, IT, and a variety of departments and projects. So why not take a few minutes to update the job description that made that new relationship possible? In fact, why not update all of your job descriptions? This may seem like a non-urgent task, but in the long run, doing so can save you both time and money.

Here’s how to update your job descriptions:

You should have access to updated and accurate job descriptions during the hiring process.

You don’t need to hire for this role anymore. After all, you just brought a promising new star on board. But time flies by quickly, and it’s a good idea to be prepared for the day you’ll need to go through all of this again. It may not be tomorrow or even three years from now, but when it happens, save yourself a headache and simply access the file you’ve already created.

Clear away confusion and disputes before they happen.

Disagreements about an employee’s level of responsibility, the sphere of influence, or control over specific tasks all begin with a clear job description. Disputes may arise during performance evaluations (“I didn’t realize that customer service was essential to this role”) or salary negotiations (“You accomplished a lot, but we never asked you to do this”), or even accountability investigations when something goes wrong. Having a job description in writing can reduce the cost and drama associated with this process.

New employee onboarding will be easier for both parties.

Job descriptions let an employee know exactly who they’ll be reporting to and who they can turn to when they have questions or need resources to do their jobs correctly. Clear job descriptions can also allow both parties to set accurate expectations for success. Far too often, new employees clear every hiring hurdle and step in the door only to find out the job isn’t the one they thought they were applying

for. That kind of disappointment can be frustrating for them and expensive for you. If everyone knows exactly what to expect, employees are more likely to stay with the organization for a long time.

Update and take out the buzzwords and fluff.

When you’re pitching a position to potential star applicants, you’ll likely use exciting, attention-getting language that suits the culture and the time period. But all trendy language goes stale eventually. Modern job applicants look for different keywords now then applicants did ten years ago. As times change, talented candidates want and need different forms of compensation and flexibility. Stay in touch with these changes. For more on how to bring success to your hiring process, contact the experts at PSU.

Why Confidence is Key in Any Job Interview

April 26th, 2021

Despite what our culture might have us believe, shouting affirmations at yourself in the bathroom mirror won’t change a few essential facts: either you know how to do a specific task or you don’t. Either you possess a strong base in a specific area of knowledge, or you don’t. You can’t shout or affirm yourself into being better at something than you are. Cheering yourself on can be a hollow gesture if you don’t truly believe you have all the tools and experience it takes to accomplish a difficult thing.

But here’s the counterpoint: Before you land a job and start working, you don’t actually KNOW if you’re qualified and ready. You have no real idea what the job will require. Nobody does. And in most cases, the employer doesn’t either– That’s why they’re hiring someone.

So with that in mind, confidence is like money left on a negotiating table: It’s yours if you take it. If you don’t take it, it just lies there. You don’t know for sure if you’re ready…so give yourself the benefit of the doubt. You may not have it all, but what you do have is plenty. Here’s why.

Confidence is sometimes all that matters.

Someday you might interview for a job as a juggler, and if you can’t juggle you won’t get the job (it’s for the best). But sometimes, the confidence you radiate IS actually the reason why someone may want to hire you. Sometimes the skill set makes or breaks the deal, but sometimes confidence ITSELF is the capital in which you trade. Your confident demeanor may be the actual item your employer would like to buy…so sell it.

Confidence helps other people relax.

The next time you step into a room, try an experiment. Step across the threshold as if you’re looking for someone. Then cast your glance around the room making brief eye contact with every person present as if that person is the one you’re looking for. Smile as you do this. As you rest your eyes on each person, say in your head “there you are!” See what happens.

Confidence in yourself will make the whole team stronger.

If you believe you can do it (whatever it is) others will believe it too. As they relax and put their trust in you, their own confidence will build, as will their trust in each other.

What you don’t know, you can learn (and you will).

No matter what this job entails, if you don’t have it, you can gain it. Otherwise, you would not have been called in for an interview. You’re in the ballpark, whether you’re an exact match for the role on not. Your interviewer knows this, and you should too.

For more on how to gain confidence and use it to your advantage during your job search, reach out to the staffing experts at PSU.

What Makes a Great Employee

April 12th, 2021

You’ve just reached the end of a promising interview with a candidate who seems to have it all, at least on paper. Everything looks great; the person is friendly and pleasant, the resume checks every box, and you’re ready to cancel the other scheduled interviews and get the onboarding process started immediately. But before you do, pause for a minute. Are you actually sure the candidate will help your company make money and grow? Or do you just feel a warm sense of personal connection?

Keep these considerations in mind before you sign anything.

Great employees and pleasant new friends are often one and the same. But sometimes they aren’t.

If you’ll be sitting beside this person every day, you definitely want a candidate you can get along with. But you aren’t just going to be sitting beside him or her; you’re going to be counting on her to engage with the tasks of the day and tackle them independently and successfully. Can you trust this candidate to care about the work that you care about? Can you leave him alone and know he’ll follow through? If you aren’t sure, make sure the interview entails a few questions about his personal interest in this industry, this company, and this career.

Tests can help.

Will this candidate need to use a certain program every day, like Excel, Word or Photoshop? If so, conduct a hard (as in, measurable) assessment of his or her skills with this tool. Numbers don’t usually lie. If the candidate is brilliant and friendly but totally unfamiliar with the tools of the job, you’ll be investing in significant training after you hire them. Can you afford that time?

Does the candidate seem willing to invest in you?

The candidate seems enthusiastic about the job, but if she’s hired, how long is she likely to stay? If you want someone who will stay on board for at least one, three, or five years, ask directly if she’s likely to do this. She may shape the truth to fit the needs of the moment and land the role, but she may also

simply tell you the length of time she has in mind. Six months may be fine; ten years may be unrealistic. There’s no harm in asking.

Do you find the candidate threatening?

It can be exciting to sit across from a go-getter who will step in the door and start changing the company right away. But in actual practice, many employers aren’t ready for this kind of change-driving problem solver, especially if the “problems” are things employers are not ready to solve right away (or ever). Will you find yourself at cross-purposes with her enthusiasm and ambition? Be honest with yourself. If you’re looking for a candidate who will sit quietly and stay out of the way, put this one in the maybe file and get ready for the next interview on the schedule.

For more on how to hire the right candidate, not just the “best” candidate, turn to the staffing pros at PSU.

How to Stay Motivated at Work Every Day

March 26th, 2021

It’s Monday morning and you feel a familiar sensation coming on. Your eyes keep drifting toward the window, and your thumbs keep scrolling through the internet. You’re daydreaming about parallel lives you could be living, other jobs you might have, other cities you might live in…none of which reflect your actual life. You know you should be focusing on the work your boss has asked you to complete, but it’s hard to channel the full force of your creative energy into this task, because quite honestly, you don’t want to.

You’re not motivated to do your best work, because you ARE motivated to do something else, somewhere else, and the prospect of winning your boss’s approval just isn’t snapping you back into the moment. Here’s something to consider: It’s time to forget about your boss and start working for your OWN approval.

The strongest motivation doesn’t usually come from the desire to please and impress someone else. It comes from the end of a day in which we’ve pleased and impressed ourselves, a day in which we’re truly proud of 1) what we’ve done and 2) what we’ve overcome in order to do it.

To stay motivated every single day at work, keep these simple tips in mind.

Pay attention to how you feel at the END of the day. Before you fall asleep, list the things you’re glad you did. Consider how you’ve spent your precious time. What are you most proud of and why?

When you get up each morning, identify what you’re most excited to experience during the day. Are you excited to give that 2:00 presentation? Are you excited about an opportunity that might come your way today? Are you excited about something you have planned after the workday ends? Clarify what lights you up inside…and what doesn’t.

After a few weeks of this, take a hard look at your job. How much of your excitement, pride and motivation are exclusively linked to this place? How many of these things could you easily find somewhere else? If your answer is “all of them”, it may be time to start looking beyond these walls for your long-term source of fulfillment, ambition, and growth. Contact the team PSU. We can help you apply your self-knowledge, accomplishments, and personal goals to find a job that actually gives you what you need.

Why You Never Seem to Reach Your Career Goals and How to Change That

March 12th, 2021

Every year you wake up on January first with ambitious career plans. In addition to working out, cutting out sugar, and getting more organized, you decide this is the year to truly shake up your career. You start out with the best of intentions.

But somehow, your plans don’t entirely pan out. You end each year with a few small accomplishments under your belt, but no really significant changes to your circumstances. Why does that happen and how can you fix it? Here are a few possibilities to keep in mind.

You may be aiming in the wrong direction.

Say you work as a middle manager for a small accounting firm. So each year, naturally, you decide you’d like a promotion to a senior position doing essentially the same work in the same industry. You aim to climb the same accounting ladder that you happen to be on, for no other reason than the fact that you’re on it. Stop and think. If you don’t care about accounting and would prefer to be a healthcare professional or a mechanic or an administrator, climbing this ladder won’t get you where you really want to go. Some part of you knows that. Listen to your instincts and climb if you choose, but know that you can’t climb your way to a destination that doesn’t exist.

You may be biting off too much at once.

Instead of a shortlist of impossibly small jumps, like “get a promotion”, “get 20 percent raise”, “become CEO of the company”, try breaking your steps down into smaller and smaller substeps. Take each goal and turn it into at least ten small partial goals. Then break each of those partial goals down into an even smaller set, and keep doing that until the step in front of you is so easy you can do it in ten minutes. Take that step, and you’ll be on your way.

Don’t listen to other people.

In life, it seems like every motivational speech and every inspiring poster tells us to listen and to share. But when it comes to setting career goals, it’s often better to keep your ambitions and plans to yourself, at least at first. Nobody knows you better than you know yourself, so no one is actually qualified to tell you what you can or can’t or should or shouldn’t do. They WILL tell you if you let them. So don’t let them. You have a long journey ahead, so pace yourself by keeping your own counsel as long as you can.

Take yourself seriously, but not too seriously.

Plans change. That’s okay. Give your goals an honest effort, but don’t rigidly cling to a plan of action that doesn’t speak to you anymore. Be strong and flexible at the same time. Hold on until it’s time to let go. Then shift in a new direction.

For more on how to make meaningful progress toward your goals this year and every year, turn to the experts at PSU.

Why You Shouldn’t be Afraid of More Responsibility at Work

February 26th, 2021

Everybody loves getting a promotion, and there’s nothing wrong with taking home a bigger paycheck, especially if it comes with a more impressive title. The move from “associate” to “senior associate” is a celebrated milestone in our culture, and in addition to a roomier budget, it’s nice to give your parents a reason to brag to their friends about your success.

But there’s a catch, of course. Nothing in this life comes for free, and your employer is likely to expect two things from you in exchange for your bump in pay and status: first: more work, and second: a higher level of accountability for your actions and decisions.

At the entry-level, your pay may barely cover the rent. But your boss is there to cover your rear end if you make a mistake or drop the ball, even if the fumble is entirely your fault. As you move up the ladder, the people who surround you and rush in to solve your problems become fewer and farther between…and eventually, they may disappear altogether. That can be scary, especially for a young person with limited skills and experience. Working without guardrails will leave you with fewer opportunities to bounce right back after a mistake, and when you make a poor decision, you may have to face the consequences by yourself.

The Upside to Higher Responsibility

On the bright side, there are huge benefits to accepting new responsibilities, even ones you may not feel ready for—the most important benefit: Growth. Taking on responsibility and accountability beyond your comfort zone is like putting on shoes that are too large for you. They feel awkward and you’ll get a few blisters at first…but you’ll grow into them.

As you start actually to earn the responsibility that you’ve already been granted, those around you will begin to trust you more and more. They’ll start to trust you with business decisions that can impact the comfort, livelihood, financial wellbeing, and even the personal safety of other people. The more you HAVE to do, the more you’ll find you CAN do. And before long, you’ll have a winding stretch of road behind you and a shorter and shorter path ahead toward your goals.

Increasing skill, confidence and experience can start to increase your options. Not just the option to work where and for whom you choose, but the option to move into other roles and even other industries altogether. You’ll be on your way, and you’ll have that first big step to thank. To learn more, reach put to the career development experts at PSU.

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