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.

Personnel Services Unlimited Turns 40!

February 4th, 2021

Here at Personnel Services Unlimited, we’re celebrating a big milestone this month: Our 40th anniversary! Our doors have been open since 1981, the year NASA launched the first Space Shuttle mission and audiences lined up to see Raiders of the Lost Ark on the big screen. Beverly Shurford founded the company that year with a mission to provide staffing and job placement services to companies and job seekers in the local area, and since then, that mission has expanded across three offices and multiple counties in North Carolina. Our second office in Rutherford opened in 1990, and our third office opened in Gaton County in 1995.

As we move forward into the new century, the company keeps growing, driven by strong ethical principles founded in a dedication to quality service, ongoing education, effective partnerships with our clients, and the promotion of safe, healthy workplaces for all employees. In the year 2000, Beverly Shurford retired, and Tim Blackwell took over as president.

Tim remains as committed as his predecessor to the success of the company and its role as a member of the community. “Being independently owned, we answer to our clients and candidates…not our stockholders,” he says. “It is our valued employees that really differentiate us from our competitors. Companies don’t do business with companies…people do business with people! And we are fortunate to have dedicated and committed employees!”

PSU has built a reputation as a principled company in an ever-changing industry. The employment landscape shifts and evolves over time, but our commitment to our workers remains as steady as ever. We find great people and connect them to great employers, and we’re proud of what we do and who we serve. Here’s to the lessons, growth and relationships of the past 40 years, and here’s to continuing success in the years to come!

Where are All the Good Workers?

January 22nd, 2021

Does your candidate pool seem to be missing some all-stars? Maybe the pool is large enough, and the top candidates on the list are okay…but they don’t seem like the best of the best. You expected at least a few applicants who would blow you away. But most of the resumes in the pool offer the bare minimum. What are you doing wrong? Here are a few possible answers.

You’re not looking in the right place.

If you’re just posting your ad on a generic job board, you’re doing the equivalent of putting a want-add in a local newspaper. Everyone can see it, sure, but most of them won’t. And the highly qualified and interested applicants you’re targeting definitely won’t, because they’re looking for postings on more specific sites. In fact, your all-star candidates may not even be spending their time looking online, and may instead be exchanging calls with recruiters and staffing agencies. The best candidates are usually the ones who don’t have to work as hard to collect options and opportunities—the opportunities come to them. So to attract their attention, you have to get there first.

Your post is not appealing.

If your post gives off an aggressive vibe with a long list of all the qualities you’re NOT looking for, that may be part of the problem. By the same token, a long list of demands may also work against you, especially if your demands are confusing. For example, don’t ask for more than five years of experience if you’re looking for an entry-level candidate. And don’t expect a candidate with more than five years of experience to accept an entry-level salary. Don’t ask for qualities that are vague or contradict each other (someone who “doesn’t follow the crowd” but is also a “team player”) and be as clear as possible about the requirements and parameters of the job.

Your post doesn’t offer meaningful information.

These days, you can assume candidates will ask a set of specific questions about the job, so don’t make them ask—Just offer this information upfront. For example, is the job full or part-time? Will the candidate be working remotely or not? (Because of the pandemic, this issue should be immediately addressed to avoid confusion and misunderstandings). And if you can’t give a clear picture of the salary, at least state a maximum that you can’t go above. Explain the title of the job, explain where the company is located, and explain what the company does.

You aren’t selling yourself.

To attract true superstars, you need to offer something…anything. You’re trying to entice a candidate who could work anywhere, so why should they work for you? Say something positive about the job or the company that might grab a busy job seeker’s attention.

For more on how to bring highly qualified candidates into your applicant pool, and eventually, into your company, turn to the staffing pros at PSU.

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