The Best Shoes for Machine Operators

March 27th, 2020

If your machines and table tools require operators to stand on their feet for long periods of time, you may or may not be obligated to provide them with proper footwear. Sometimes a cushioned mat can be enough to protect feet, ankles, and hip and knee joints under pressure. But sometimes a cushioned mat won’t do the trick, because employees spend the day moving from place to place. And sometimes you can’t just require employees to choose and purchase their own footwear as they see fit.

If you need to take responsibility for footwear and incorporate shoes or boots into a mandated uniform, keep these considerations in mind as you make your choice.

Injury protection should be top of mind.

There are two types of health threats faced by feet in the workplace: short term or acute danger from accidents and falling objects, and long-term stress injuries cause by inappropriate support or an improper fit. Focus on the first category first. In a high impact workplace such as a construction site, shoes must absolutely include ankle support and reinforced toes. They should also be breathable, warm, and waterproof if the environment is damp or cold. Soles should provide adequate traction and should be puncture-proof.

Chronic stress should be the second area of focus.

If employees wear slightly ill-fitting shoes for a few hours, that’s not really a problem. But when an hour of standing or walking becomes eight hours a day, five days a week, under high-wear and high-stress conditions, a small problem can mean serious pain, injury, and compensation that can damage your bottom line. Cushioning isn’t just important; it’s essential. And cushioning doesn’t just mean comfort. It means the difference between a safe and unsafe workplace. Cushioned shoes bring better focus and more energy that employees can dedicate to their work, and appropriate shoes can also decrease fatigue and back pain.

Moisture management.

The right shoes for a labor environment handle moisture that moves in both directions: in and out. Waterproof shoes are essential for wet, muggy, indoor/outdoor environments, but choose the right ones; make sure the shoes wick away or release moisture that becomes trapped inside. Feet should not get wet, but if they do, they need to dry out quickly.

Don’t ever let your employees’ feet become uncomfortable, constricted, or subjected to repetitive stress. But most important, protect them from crushing, puncture and impact. The right shoes can do all of these and more. For additional information and tips on workplace safety, contact the team at PSU.

 

Soft Skills to Look for In Any Labor Candidate

March 13th, 2020

When you hire a machine operator, CNC expert, warehouse worker, or any hands-on employee for your factory, shop floor, or kitchen, you know that specific skill sets are crucial. Testable and measurable areas of expertise, sometimes called “hard skills,” are often easy to identify, at least on the surface. Can the applicant operate a sensor-balanced narrow-aisle forklift? Ask them. Can they find their way around an industrial bake oven? Put them in front of one and see. Hard skills can be checked and proven during initial screening and interview.  

But what about “soft” skills, the kind that can’t always be measured, but are vital to success? Here are a few traits to look for in your applicants that are worth more than gold in a labor-intensive environment.  

Flexibility.  

Does your candidate listen and absorb new information quickly? Or does he believe he knows it all? Can she adapt her approach when the circumstances around her change? Can he adjust his words and actions based on the needs of the moment and the people in the room? Can she change her schedule and plans at a moment’s notice without being given a clear explanation?  If you can answer yes to these questions, this person may be a great hire.  

Attention.  

Is your candidate alert and dialed in? Candidates that pay attention to the world around them can also be relied on to care about small details that can make or break the success of their work. They’re safer to have in the workplace since they’re alert to what’s happening in the environment. And by showing up and tuning in, they contribute immeasurably to the success of your business.  

Teamwork.  

Teamwork means knowing when to step up and lead, and when to shift gears and follow, and it means switching back and forth easily when the need arises without letting a weak ego or a fragile sense of self get in the way. Team players take care of themselves, but they also recognize that the needs of the team sometimes come first. They can put aside their own needs and fears and personal ambitions to help the team reach its goals.  

Social awareness.  

Can your candidate read a room? Can he or she tell if someone is annoyed, relieved, embarrassed, or concerned? Does he know how to respond appropriately to these feelings in others? Can he recognize the feelings of others as separate from himself? If not, your candidate may not thrive in a workplace that requires team interactions and team trust. But if so, he’ll bring out the best in others as well as himself. 

Find Labor Candidates Today

For more on how to spot the best candidates for your workplace, contact the staffing experts at PSU.  

How to List Temporary Jobs on Your Resume

February 28th, 2020

If you’ve spent a few years taking on temporary jobs for a few months or weeks at a time, documenting your recent job history in list form may result in a pretty long list. In a similar fashion, if you’ve held one full-time nine to five job at a time for the last few years, but you’ve worked side jobs along the way, this can present some challenges as you try to put together a simple, self-explanatory resume.

How can you format your past jobs in a way that’s easy for employers to read and understand? And most important, how can you make this information most useful for them…and for your own career? Here are a few tips.

Use clear titles.

Create a title or subheading for each section of your resume that clearly explains the content below. For example, title your section “Temporary positions held in 2019.” Separate this section from another called “Full-time positions.” Titles can tell a story and alleviate confusion before it happens.

Prioritize.

No matter what you’ve done in the past or how you’ve worked to pay your bills and advance your career, always prioritize the positions and jobs that best reflect what you’re looking to do next. Place the most relevant and most helpful past roles at the top of the page and/or at the top of each subsection. These are the positions that best reflect what your current target employer is looking for, or what you’re looking for in terms of your next role. Put these jobs at the top, no matter how long you held them. Just be sure to include your employment dates clearly next to your job title.

Don’t be burdened by a long list.

If you’re seeking a marketing role and you’ve held five jobs this past year, you don’t have to list them all. List the ones relevant to your marketing goals. Leave the non-relevant jobs out of the equation. If you worked in manufacturing for a few months and don’t anticipate much interest from employers on that point, don’t dedicate page space to it. There are no rules that say you have to do this. If your

interviewers ask what you were doing during that unexplained period, you can tell them. Meanwhile, devote your resume to highlighting and showing off your marketing experience.

Be careful not to mislead.

If you held one highly relevant job during the past five years of temporary gigs, don’t intentionally lead your employers to believe you held this role longer than you did. Placing dates next to each role will help them greatly, and if you help them, they’re more likely to help you. For more help with your resume and job search process, turn to the experts at PSU.

What to Expect from Gen Z Employees

February 14th, 2020

Ready or not, it’s time to welcome the next culturally distinct “generation” of workers into the office, factory, clinic, and classroom. Millennials are now officially aging out of the entry-level and stepping into mid-level and management roles. They’re being replaced by new graduates who show tendencies that are distinct enough from their predecessors to warrant a generational title of their own. So what are these tendencies, and how can employers better understand them in order to build more productive relationships with their young teams?

Generation Z works hard.

All young workers typically set out to prove themselves, but Gen Z employees take a slightly different approach to the process than their predecessors. They work hard and hold themselves to high standards, and they tend to be all business. Younger workers always like to have fun, and new grads in 2020 are no exception, but they take their work and their careers very seriously. This is no surprise given the high pressure placed on them by an uncertain economy, global turmoil, and high levels of student debt.

Gen Z gives respect and expects the same in return.

Gen Z workers face high pressures, but they also face a wide landscape of opportunity. This means that if you treat them well, pay them fairly, and provide them with training and mentoring, they’ll stay. If you don’t, they won’t. End of story. New grads face diverse new forms of employment and ways to make a living that didn’t even exist ten years ago, from gig jobs to startups and opportunities to join new business models. The old stigma associated with “job hopping” no longer prevails, and in fact, career stagnation has become a larger concern. Don’t expect young workers to stay on board for more than two years, and if you want them to stay even that long, you’ll need to make it worth their while.

They know more than previous generations of young workers.

Don’t expect a 22-year-old employee to be starry-eyed or naïve, especially when it comes to important issues like pay standards, discrimination, safety laws, retirement/healthcare benefits, and other

workplace issues. Don’t blow any smoke their way. That means don’t tell them sunny stories while you offer them substandard conditions, a toxic workplace culture, or below-market pay. They’ll see through you, and if they have a poor experience with your company or brand, expect them to share it with others.

Enjoy their energy.

One thing today’s young workers have in common with all generations is still prevalent: they’re innovative, creative, fearless and optimistic. Encourage these traits, and you’ll profit from them every single day. For more on how to attract and retain Gen Z workers, talk to the hiring experts at PSU.

5 Ways to Make Your Job Feel More Rewarding

January 24th, 2020

You’ve been avoiding the truth for a while now, but it’s time to face facts: Your job just isn’t sparking your interest anymore. You trudge in every day because you have to and because you’re entrenched in your routine (and dependent on your paycheck), but the passion for your work is gone. What now?

Here are five simple things you can do to make your job feel more rewarding on a day-to-day basis.

Start drawing a map to the door.

In 2020, there’s no cultural or societal reason—and usually no personal benefit – involved in keeping the same job for more than five years if the job doesn’t feel rewarding anymore. Studies show that “job hopping,” once considered a negative behavior, actually leads to much higher lifetime salaries and more enjoyable careers. Don’t assume you’re impressing anyone by staying beyond your expiration date. If that date is on the horizon, it’s time to get excited about planning for what comes next.

Look at how far you’ve come.

The passion that brought you here a few years ago may not reflect your current personality and goals. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s better than okay; it’s a sign that you’re alive, growing, and evolving as a person. If you swept in the door with stars in your eyes and a genuine desire to (fill in the blank), it’s okay if that desire is no longer part of who you are. Don’t try to relight an old flame. Instead, figure out what lights you up NOW. Embrace the present and get ready to chart a new path.

Help someone else.

Look around at the interns and entry-level coworkers in your workplace and ask yourself if you’d like to become a mentor. Can you help one of these youngsters learn what you know and gain your skill sets? Sometimes just talking and teaching someone else can remind you of the things you once loved about this work.

Ask for a new project.

If you aren’t quite ready to leave the company or the industry just yet, ask your managers if you can take on a new project, ideally an initiative you can shape from the ground up and call your own. A sense of empowerment and ownership may make you feel like you’re regaining control over your days.

Ask for a shift in your tasks and responsibilities.

If there’s some aspect of your job that grinds you down, something you find especially burdensome or tedious, see if there’s a way to cut that aspect out of your life. This may be easier if you’ve paid your dues and dedicated yourself to this task long enough to reasonably hand it off. Speak your mind, explain what you need, and see what happens.

For more on how to retake the steering wheel of your career, and regain your lost passion, talk to the job management experts at PSU.

Is Your Hiring Process Scaring Talent Away?

January 17th, 2020

Like it or not, the hiring process is a two-way street. Much like dating, sizing up the other person, and assessing your feelings for them will only get you halfway to the finish line. You’ll also have to win the person over, which may mean treating them with respect, enjoying their company, showing interest and curiosity as you ask them questions, and giving them the benefit of the doubt as they answer.

If you don’t take these steps and you don’t work hard to show what you have to offer, you may decide the candidate is simply perfect… the minute before they wander away. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be more likely to attract talent instead of scaring great candidates off.

Be the first to tackle every task.

Reach out first. Proactively contact great candidates (through a recruiter or search service), and make the interview process easy. Start with a phone call and move from there to an in-person meeting. Keep both short. Pay for the candidate’s travel. Be on time. Greet the candidate warmly. Take responsibility for breaking the ice and keep the conversation flowing. Make them comfortable; don’t expect them to do that for you.

Be polite when it comes to timelines.

There’s no need to rush your decision, but be polite when your candidate asks about it. Never rudely shut down applicants who call for an update, and don’t curtly forbid this behavior from the start. Candidates have a right to plan out their lives. To the best of your ability, give them the information they need. If you can’t tell them anything, say so professionally.

Keep the tone of the interview in context.

Always remember the goals of the interview process and keep the tone in line with those goals. An interview should never be confused with a trial. And it isn’t a cross-examination, either. Don’t try to poke holes in your candidate’s statements as if you’re trying to catch him or her in a lie. Don’t corner or bait candidates (even if you’re doing it politely), and don’t draw details from their background and hold them up as accusations. (“It says here you majored in biology. What does that have to do with a company like ours?”). Even the most subtle antagonistic behavior can push a candidate to accept an offer elsewhere.

Treat the candidate as you would wish to be treated.

Ask if they had trouble finding the venue. Make sure they know how to leave the building after they exit your office. Offer them a comfortable seat. Find an interview area free of distractions, noises, smells, and interruptions. Show off a little by dressing well, preparing in advance, and choosing a venue that showcases the best aspects of your company. Leave a positive impression, even if you don’t ultimately hire the person.

For more on how to form a positive relationship during every interview, reach out to the staffing pros at PSU.

Researching a Potential Employer? Here’s What to Look for.

December 20th, 2019

Before you get dressed and ready to roll on the day of your job interview, you’ll want to spend some time researching the company so that you can impress your potential managers with your knowledge of the organization, its culture, and your potential role here. But AFTER the interview, when you have an offer in hand, and you need to decide whether to sign on the line, your research matters even more.

Here are a few things you’ll want to search for at each stage of the process. Remember: smart career management always starts with planning, preparation, and informed decisions.

What do these managers admire, and what qualities do they prize?

To answer questions like these, start by scrutinizing the job post. Read between the lines and look for words or phrases that appear more than once.  Then go online and look for the kinds of words and cultural expressions the company likes to associate with its brand. If, for example, you’re researching a service provider and you see lots of references to speed and quick response times, that’s a signal. If you see a few references to speedy service but lots of emphasis on quality work or a personal touch, make a note of it. In the second case, your managers may prefer an employee who gets things right over one who does things fast.

How does the company make money?

Do your best to understand the company’s business model fully. In our modern world, that can sometimes take a close look and a little effort. Media organizations often make money by selling ads, not delivering information. Bulk retailers often make money selling subscriptions and memberships, not necessarily products. Insurance providers, solutions architects, and third-party agencies often have business models and departmental structures that are not clear at a glance. A little homework can help you impress.

Does this company share your values?

There are few things more disheartening then accepting a job and finding out only months or years later that you’ve signed on with a company that’s committed to personal values you don’t share. If you aren’t sure where this organization and its leadership stand on the issues that matter most to you, from the specific (like politics) to the general (like kindness, giving back, or community service), consult the internet. Scrolling through search results and news articles can give you a sense of what – if anything – this company stands for beyond making money for its shareholders.

Understand the organization you’re dealing with, what you can offer them, and what they can provide you with. For help, turn to the career management team at PSU.

Utilize Your Talent Pool to Save Money

December 13th, 2019

Do you maintain an active “talent pool”? Do your hiring managers know exactly where to turn when they have an open position to fill? Are you proactively pursuing excellent candidates, or are you waiting until your positions open and then accepting a resume from whoever happens to stumble upon your job posts?

Smart employers recognize that recruiting and hiring are not one-time events. Staffing is an ongoing process, so when you think about selecting new candidates, stay focused on “when” not “if.” Maintaining a talent pool can help you come out ahead when it’s time to bring a talented employee on board. Here’s how to take action.

Plan way ahead.

Take a strategic look at your position pipeline. At least a year in advance, recognize who’s retiring, who’s facing a promotion, and who’s about to go and leave a valued position unoccupied. If you know, you’ll need to staff those positions soon, and you don’t see a steady stream of internal candidates who can step comfortably into those roles, be ready to turn to outside contenders.

Value passive talent.

Many of the best outside candidates for the role share one common trait: they aren’t actively seeking new jobs. Their feelers are out, and they’ll consider new opportunities that could advance their careers, but in the meantime, they’re happy where they are. They’re employed and fine. They have all they need. But their Linkedin profile settings may indicate that they’re open to new offers, or they may have resumes posted on job search sites. These are the candidates you want in your talent pool.

Appreciate active talent (and be grateful).

When active applicants submit resumes, show respect and appreciation for their interest, even if you can’t offer them a position right now. Active candidates are those who are between jobs or searching for a new position right now, and for this group, time is a factor. If you can’t hire them, someone else will soon, but that’s no reason to let them disappear. Keep their names on file and deliver a message of goodwill and interest in a long-term positive relationship. Let them know that you’d like to hear from them as soon as they return to the market.

Prepare a plan for talented applicants you can’t hire immediately.

You want Candidate A to work for you. But she has a job, she’s not desperate, and she’s being (or has been) courted by other employers. Also, the position you want her to step into is currently occupied by someone who won’t leave for another six weeks. What to do? Keep her name in your talent pool! When the moment arrives, you’ll be ready to make the call and deliver the offer that will grab her attention.

For more on how to build and maintain a staff of the most talented workers in your area, rely on the staffing pros at PSU.

Reasons Why You Should Stay in Touch with Your Former Employer

November 20th, 2019

The idea of staying in touch with a former boss might seem awkward and daunting (depending on what you think “staying in touch” actually entails), but a little effort to maintain contact can go a long way when it comes to personal gain. Just reaching out now and then via social media can remove the awkwardness when you’d like to have a more in-depth conversation. And doing both—maintaining a social media tie and using that tie to connect and chat periodically—can help you with your long-term career growth. Here’s how.

Guidance

You have a tough question about the future of your industry. Or you have two options in front of you, and you need to choose between them. You can ask your mom or your best friend if you want, but who understands your professional life and your capabilities better than your former boss? If you’re connected on social media, it won’t be hard or strange to send a PM with your question or to request a phone call or lunch date so you can ask in person.

Professional Development

Staying linked to your old boss can help you get a sense of what the future might hold for you. Why? Because seeing where your boss goes can help you understand where you might go as well. Chances are, a few years down the road, your boss will have left the job and the company to move onto the next step and the next rung of the ladder. Watching where she goes and what she does, can help you chart your course.

Opportunities

Your boss can share information, updates, achievements, announcements, and event info through social media that you might miss out on otherwise. And if you manage to stay in her true inner circle as a friend or colleague, you’ll get the same info and access from her first-hand.

References

Nobody finds it odd to be contacted and asked for a reference by a person who worked for them a year ago, or even five years. This is especially normal (and even flattering) if the person has maintained a connection through social media during that time. BUT it can certainly be odd to receive such a request from someone you haven’t worked with, seen or heard from in ten years. If you don’t stay in touch at all, don’t expect to be remembered any longer than you would remember the other person if your roles were reversed. Everyone likes to give references! But it’s easier and more pleasant to grant this favor to someone you know.

For more on the whys and hows of staying in touch with a former boss, contact the career management pros at PSU.

How to Help Your Employees Set Goals

November 8th, 2019

You want your employees to fulfill their assigned tasks with energy and commitment. But if you’re a great employer, you also want something more: you want your direct reports to look into the future and make moves now that can both help the company and build their careers. The status quo is fine, and it’s okay to simply punch in, complete the day’s work, and go home. But excellent employees want to set long term goals and focus on growth. And excellent employers want to help them do this. Here are a few simple moves that can help you keep their attention on the horizon, not just down at their desks.

Conduct personal check-ins.

At least once a month (ideally much more often), sit down with each of your direct reports individually for an informal chat. Ask them how they feel about their current work. Do they find it appropriately challenging? Can you help with these challenges? And if they’re ready for more responsibility, how can you help them choose a direction and obtain the training and exposure they need to move forward? These chats should give you some insight that can help you connect them to the right mentors and opportunities.

Keep the goals SMART.

Smart coaching leads to smart goal-setting. Which means choosing goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. It’s easy for employees—especially those with minimal work experience—to wander off the rails when it comes to goal setting, and loose, poorly formulated goals can lead to disappointment and discouragement later on. Rein in goals that are not realistic, and shape goals that are not well defined. Help place timelines on vague goals, and keep workplace goals focused on the workplace.

Attain the minimum standard before climbing higher.

Everybody’s human, and it’s common to encounter an employee who sets his or her sites on brilliant achievements (he wants to be the CEO!) before mastering ordinary ones. (His last several reports were subpar, he often shows up late, and he hasn’t earned the trust of his teammates.) This employee needs a clear performance improvement plan that can get him on track to basic competence. Set a two-week, three-month or one-year plan that leads to success with clear consequences for falling short. If he gets where he needs to be, he can start setting his sites on the next level.

Become an advisor and confidante.

If your employees don’t like or trust you, they won’t share their personal information with you, including their personal career goals. To get them to open up honestly, listen before you talk. When they tell you something, commit it to memory. And most important: give them advice and coaching that works in their benefit. Avoid advice that benefits the company at their expense.

For more on how to coach and manage your teams in ways that bring out their best, turn to the staffing experts at PSU.

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