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Case of the Mondays: Three Ways to Face Monday Like a Pro

April 24th, 2020

It’s Sunday afternoon, and even though it’s a sunny day and you’re relaxing and enjoying yourself, you can already feel it coming on: the Sunday Scaries. That feeling of unexplained irritability, inability to concentrate and stay present, a queasy foreboding feeling in your stomach…These are all signs that anxieties about the workweek ahead are getting the best of you. And in a way, your precious free time is being coopted by the workplace, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Except there IS something, you can do about it. You can get ready for Monday without giving half of your weekend over to queasiness, crankiness, anxiety and dread. And when you walk in the door on Monday morning, you can feel a little bit more like yourself…not someone facing a five-day jail sentence. Here’s how.

Breath deeply.

Breathing deeply for a few minutes and simply feeling and concentrating on your breath as it moves in and out can bring you back into the present moment and pull you away from the stressors of a future that hasn’t even happened yet. Just controlling your breathing for five minutes can bring you back into Sunday and leave Monday far away, where it belongs.

Take pleasure in small preparations.

Yes, you need to pack your lunch (and maybe lunches for other family members). And yes, you need to choose an outfit and do whatever else you need to do to get ready for Monday morning. But try not to view these little preparations as a sort of dismal ritual and instead, just take them step by step and find things about them to enjoy. For example, the fact that you have to pack a lunch for your wife and child may be a chore… but it also means you HAVE a wife and child who you love very much, and this little gesture offers an opportunity to demonstrate your love and appreciate the fact that they’re part of your life.

Remember what you like about your job.

Note that we said “like,” not love. If you force yourself to pretend or act like you LOVE your daily work, or feel “passion,” or a sense of deep, visceral commitment, you set the bar unrealistically high and only increase Monday morning feelings of dread and stress. Your job is a job. You do it for all kinds of reasons, and the reasons don’t have to include passionate love. Try to focus on the small details that bring you a sense of accomplishment, a sense of purpose, or a sense of camaraderie with your team. Then go back to step one, take a deep breath, and face the day with courage and grace.

For more on how to stride into Monday morning with your head high and your step light, turn to the workplace experts at Merritt. Contact us today.

Promoting Mental Health Awareness at Work

April 10th, 2020

How do we define “mental health” in a workplace setting, and how can we—as managers, business owners and coworkers—protect our own mental health and that of others around us?

First, workplace mental health means finding a balance between positive stress (engagement and focus) and negative stress, which can be damaging. It also means finding a balance between energy dedicated to work, and energy dedicated to life outside of work. It means finding ways to deal with workplace pressures without resorting to unhealthy coping strategies like drugs, alcohol, or harmful behaviors. And it means developing mentally healthy ways to interact with others and allay the harm caused by bullying, isolation, and other interpersonal stressors.

Like physical health, mental health is often something we can manage, maintain, and balance on our own. But sometimes…it isn’t. When pressures get too high and our current coping strategies just aren’t working, mental health becomes an issue we can’t (and can’t be expected) to resolve on our own. When it’s time to reach out for help, the help should be available and accessible and nobody who needs it should hold back due to fear of stigma or retaliation from bosses and coworkers.

Spread the Word about Mental Health in the Workplace

Raising awareness means making sure that everyone (including ourselves!) can feel free to take advantage of the services and support that are available to us. Others should know that support and care are a visit to HR, a health care appointment, or a phone call away. And if the culture of your workplace offers no flexibility or practical support for those who need help, it means changing the culture.

Do you know where to turn if your mental health burden becomes too strong for you to handle alone? If you don’t, find out now. This information will help you if you ever need it, and in the meantime, if you know what to do and where to turn, you can pass that information to a coworker if they ever find themselves facing the same question. If your company’s health plan doesn’t offer mental health resources, how can you apply pressure for change? If your boss is inflexible and uninformed about mental health issues, how they are educated or pointed in the right direction? If your coworker in need fears reaching out due to stigma, how can you support and encourage him or her?

Mental health—just like physical health—is a community responsibility. We need to take care of each other while we learn to care of ourselves. For more information on this timely topic, contact the workplace experts at Merritt.

Don’t Let your Coworkers Make You Sick: How to Stay Healthy At Work

March 26th, 2020

With springtime illnesses spreading and 24-hour coverage of COVID-19 on the news and in the rumor mill, it’s more important than ever to protect yourself and your coworkers from bugs and germs. And keep in mind: news-making coronavirus and the flu aren’t the only troublemakers lurking on our phones, hands, and keyboards. Just a simple cold is still enough to bring on misery and lost workdays. Here’s how to stay a step ahead.  

Wash your hands.  

We all know that handwashing prevents illness, but make the practice easy for yourself. Make a note or set a timer so each hour, you stand up, walk to the sink and wash your hands, no matter what else you’ve been doing. Most of us don’t think about handwashing at all outside of trips to the bathroom or notably germy encounters. Wash for no specific reason, several times a day, on a schedule. Use lotion to keep your skin from drying out and to prevent the practice from becoming unpleasant.  

Place fun or fragrant soaps by the office sink.  

Again, making the experience pleasurable in a sensory or amusing way can keep it from becoming a chore. If you manage the office, place pleasant soaps and lotions at the sink. If you’re just an employee, consider making a generous gesture and buying a delightful soap that you can leave by the sink and share with everyone.  

Control coughs and sneezes.  

Sneeze and cough into the crook of your arm, not your hands. Use your tissue one time and then throw it away. When you see others practicing controlled coughs and sneezes, thank them or quietly show your approval. Always say, “bless you.” If you see someone coughing incorrectly, don’t scold them, but be sure to lead by example.  

Clean your keyboard and phones at least twice per day.  

Again, set a timer if it helps. Otherwise, resolve to wipe down your screen, keyboard, office phone, and cell phone at least once in the morning and once more before you leave for the day.  

Use and share your hand sanitizer.  

Use the office hand sanitizer, but also carry a small bottle of your own. Be generous with it. If you see someone coughing or sneezing, offer them your bottle. Don’t be possessive or stingy with your gel and your tissues. The more you share, the more health benefits you provide to everyone in the office, including yourself.  

Call Us Today to Learn More

For more on how to keep your workplace clean and germ-free, contact the team at Merritt. 

 

Seven Strategies to Bring Introverted Employee Out of Their Shell

March 13th, 2020

If you have an introverted employee on your team, you may notice a few distinctive traits that allow her strengths to come forward, but may also keep her disconnected from others in the group. For example, she may not jump enthusiastically into boisterous brainstorming sessions; introverts often need time to process data and ideas before sharing them. Your introvert may also leave meetings as soon as they end instead of staying to engage in small talk and banter. She may optout of chats in the break room and Friday happy hour gatherings, and even if she’s friendly and pleasant, she may not actively seek out non-work-related social interactions with others.  

So what can you do to make sure your introvert stays in the loop? How can you make sure others on the team get to know her as a person? And how can you encourage her to see the value in banter and small talk? Here are a few tips.  

Let her know that she’s seen and respected. 

Let your introvert know that you see and respect her nature. Instead of saying (or allowing others to say) things like “Why don’t you ever spend happy hour with us? What’s wrong with you?” try something like: “I can see that you’re introverted and you appreciate space. I want you to know that whenever you feel like it, you’re always welcome to join us for happy hour. We’d love to see you!”  

Create balance instead of forcing your introvert to change.  

Introversion is as common as extroversion, but extroversion is often given more respect and leeway in office settings. Turn the tables now and then. Instead of encouraging your group to engage in endless pre-meeting banter, cut the banter short and get the meeting underway to show respect for your introverts and their time.  

Cultivate a non-threatening environment.

When introverts feel comfortable and they’re treated fairly, they tend to relax and open up, and they may be more inclined to share their thoughts and true personalities.  

Draw him out politely. 

If you’d like to hear more from an introvert on your team, simply say so. If he hasn’t contributed his thoughts or ideas to a discussion, turn to him directly and ask him if he has anything he’d like to say. Ask politely; don’t make demands or accusations as if he’s done something wrong.  

Listen when he talks.

Ask your introvertfriendly personal questions about his weekend plans or his hobbies and listen quietly when he answers.  

Reward and criticize in private.

Even when you have something positive to say about your employee’s accomplishments, do so privately. Don’t embarrass her in front of the group.  

Praise her other strengths. 

If your introvert doesn’t respond well to too much chatter or rushed intimacy, don’t let those become her signature qualities. Instead, draw attention to her math skills, creativity, infallible memory, or problemsolving abilities. When dealing with introverts, it always helps to put effort into building their confidence. 

 Contact Us Today to Get the Most Out of Your Team

For more on how to get the most out of every member of your team, introverts and extroverts alike, turn to the management pros at Merritt.   

Go to the Interview Even When You’re Not Looking

February 28th, 2020

You’ve been summoned for an interview by an employer—or maybe a recruiter—who seems interested in your background and skills. Accepting the invitation will require a bit of an investment on your part; you’ll need to set aside at least an hour of your time, and you may need to dry clean your interview outfit, take some time away from your current job, arrange pet or childcare, or simply do some research and planning if the interview will happen via phone or video. So before you respond, you’ll need to ask yourself: Is it worth it? If you already have a satisfactory job and you aren’t actively looking for new work, should you take a closer look at this new opportunity?

Nobody can see into the future, but in most cases, the answer is yes. Here’s why.

You’ll learn something.

Attending the interview can help you gain a deeper understanding of what’s available to you in your industry and your geographic area. You’ll learn more about the job landscape around you, and you’ll also learn more—and gain a new contact—within a specific company near you. Even if you never speak to the employer directly and you only talk to a recruiter, you’ll find out more about what these employers need and what they’re trying to accomplish.

You may change your mind.

Every negotiation starts when two people sit down at a table. Even if you think you aren’t interested in switching jobs right now, give the interviewer a chance to convince you. This new opportunity may put you on a faster track to your goals. Or maybe the job offers a shorter commute or more flexible hours. Maybe you’ve been dealing with some minor headache or pain point in your current role and this new job can make that issue disappear. And of course, the new job may pay more. In order to find out, you’ll have to lend your ear.

If this job doesn’t suit you, another one might.

If you engage in an open and honest conversation with your interviewer, you may discover that this job isn’t a perfect fit for you, and the interview won’t lead to a hiring agreement. But she may have something else to offer you or someone else in her web of contacts who can present you with a closer match.

Interview practice makes perfect.

Time spent interviewing is never time wasted, despite the minor hoops you may jump through to make it happen. Hearing yourself as you highlight your skills and tell your professional story can help you work out the kinks and make your story tighter, stronger, and more convincing. When the next opportunity comes along, you’ll be that much better prepared. For more help with your job search and interview skills, contact the experts at Merritt Staffing.

Can a Staffing Firm Help Fill an IT Position?

February 14th, 2020

Employers who aren’t familiar with modern staffing solutions often come to the process with a few assumptions. One of these common assumptions involves staffing for highly specialized or narrowly skilled positions. Too often, hiring managers facing an open position in IT rule out the support of a staffing firm, since they need to find a candidate with a deep background in web development, or cybersecurity, or database management, and they aren’t sure a staffing firm has the depth or breadth to handle such a tall task.

If you’re looking for an IT candidate with specific training and certifications, trust a competitive, resourceful staffing team, like Merrit Staffing, to have your back. Here’s why.

Your candidates are out there. We know where to find them.

The technology and communication platforms available to our team are more sophisticated than you might think. Our reach is wide and our connections extend across multiple counties, all of New England, and as far as you’d like your search to take you. We use filters based on your needs and we prescreen every candidate that fits your parameters to make sure they bring the qualifications you’re looking for. We can employ testing, background checks, reference checks and skill screenings based on your needs.

IT candidates use staffing services more than ever.

A growing number of highly skilled IT pros are finding their employers through recruiters and staffing firms, and employers are increasingly able to find ideal matches by handing this task off to professionals. Generations ago, staffing firms typically found temporary help for the warehouse or typing pool, but not anymore. Specialized IT staffing represents a major component of our service offerings.

Communication is key.

One core trait sets Merritt apart from the competition: listening skills. We maintain strong communication channels and use every tool available to make sure we understand exactly what you’re looking for, how your terms and priorities line up, and how either of the two may change. We keep our

ears and our minds open so we can help you find the right candidate with the right skills and a set of goals that align with your business needs.

We know that not all experts are the same.

Even if a given candidate has the right training and certifications to handle your specific back-office platform implementation, you need to know you can trust them as a person. And you want to find someone who can get along with your existing teams and adapt to your company culture. Maybe you even want a candidate who will consider a long term future with the company or one who may be willing to travel. We can help. Our sophisticated sourcing and screening process can provide you with the best possible odds of a successful relationship. Call the team at Merritt Staffing and make an appointment today.

Is Remote the Future of Accounting?

January 22nd, 2020

Remote work arrangements are springing up and becoming mainstream across a wider range of industry sectors every year. Where once “working from home” only made sense for a limited set of positions and tasks, changes in technology and culture are bringing offsite possibilities to positions that were once bound to specific offices, labs, clinics, and other settings. Remote work options are now gaining a deeper foothold in the accounting field, and since employees want these options, competitive hiring managers are wise to offer them.

Here are some of the tools that make remote accounting not only possible but more profitable then requiring employees to stay on site.

Automated Workflow Management

Workflow management tools provide dashboards and real-time updates that let you keep track of who’s working on what, who’s waiting for the next step, and where a specific return lies on the path from submission to completion. Returns are far less likely to fall through the cracks if you—and all relevant accounting staff—know exactly where they are and what’s impeding progress.

Video Conferencing

An accountant may not be in the office, but that doesn’t mean he or she is unreachable or unavailable for a meeting. Even the briefest updates, check-ins, and Q and As can be dealt with face-to-face if your video conferencing software is connected, tested, and updated regularly. You can even record meetings and playback complex details, which can be harder to do in a spontaneous office setting.

Mobile Time Entry and Expense Tracking

Like many other accounting tasks, neither of these need to be done onsite anymore. Time entry can be handled remotely, even through a smartphone, with secure cloud-based tools. And expense tracking can also happen in real-time. Mileage, meals, supplies, and other expenses can be recorded immediately, with no need to collect paper receipts.

Email and Scheduling Tools

Written communication hasn’t required an onsite presence since the arrival of email decades ago. And now with modern email account features and accessories, your teams can check each other’s schedules, plan meetings, receive acceptance and reminder notifications, and make last-minute changes with no difficulty. They can share conference and meeting materials in the moment, share screen access, play and record audio, and make presentations and announcements that can be accessed from anywhere.

Not sure if you have the set-up, tools, or trust to allow your accounting team to work remotely? You may be underestimating your preparation and abilities. Contact Merritt! We can help you determine if you’re ready to cut the cord, and if you aren’t, our staffing experts can get you there.

Four Reasons to Hire an Aging Workforce

January 8th, 2020

While some employers may scramble to grab the attention of recent graduates, you may find some distinct benefits by rotating your gaze in another direction. Younger workers in their twenties bring energy to the workplace, and they may have fresher and more vivid retention of the lessons they picked up in the classroom. But if you widen your reach and work to draw older people into your entry and mid-level applicant pool, here are some of the benefits you may gain for your overall productivity, your workplace culture, and your bottom line.

Older workers (surprise) are often more flexible.

Since they’ve lived full lives and they’ve been exposed to a wider range of human experiences, older workers are less likely to become rigid, confused, paralyzed or outraged by events and expectations. For example, if you ask them to stay late to finish a rush order, they’re more likely to respond with calm clarity. They’ll say yes, or no, and move on. Younger workers may be caught off guard by your request, become resentful or flustered, offer more then they’re comfortable with in order to gain your approval, and/or get upset when the approval doesn’t arrive in the form they expect. Is your request reasonable or not? They can’t tell, because they don’t have the life experience to place the request in a context.

Older workers bring the benefits of diversity.

We all know that diversity makes workplaces stronger, more resilient, more innovative, and more productive. Diversity breeds success because any group can accomplish more when the group contains a wider range of talents and worldviews. Just as you work hard to make sure your workplace reflects differences in gender, race, and personal background, make sure the birth dates of those around you are as varied as possible.

Older workers respond to different motivators.

Younger workers often go the extra mile because they’re making long term career plans that extend decades into the future. They know that if they show off, complete training courses, or make valuable mistakes now, the lessons and gains they see will pay off as they move from job to job and promotion to promotion. Older workers don’t usually envision climbing ladders that go on for decades, so they respond to motivators their younger counterparts may ignore. A friendly (if boring) workplace, a fair (if not extravagant) paycheck, meaningful work, a stable company, and generous benefits may keep them cheerfully on board, even if you can’t offer excitement and huge potential for career growth.

Older workers can be more honest and forthright.

Again, older workers are often less fearful of minor upsets or social misunderstandings. Because of this, they can find it much easier to communicate clearly and set clear boundaries and expectations.

For more on why you may want to draw applicants from an elder population, turn to the staffing experts at Merritt.

 

Is Your Resume Too Generic for the Job?

December 20th, 2019

Your resume seems excellent on the surface. You use the word “great” at least five times. You also lean heavily on the words “skilled,” “experienced,” and “excellent.” All employers like great candidates, don’t they? So why aren’t you landing more interviews?

Maybe your word choices aren’t giving you the boost that you expect. They may even be holding you back. Here are a few simple tips that can help you get rid of some of that generic language and deliver a more specific, focused, and memorable message.

Review the job post carefully.

All employers want candidates who work hard, show up on time, and look sharp. But these qualities aren’t rare and they won’t set you apart in a crowded pool. To find the traits that WILL set you apart, start by scanning the job post carefully and looking for specific requests that these specific employers find relevant to the position they’re trying to staff. Focus on those traits and on the narrow, measurable skill sets that can bring success in this field, at this level.

Shine a light on the things you offer than nobody else can.

You may be proud of your friendly personality, but you can let that aspect of your candidacy speak for itself. In your resume, focus instead on the skills that took you years to obtain. Focus on your most challenging courses, your most unusual accomplishments, and awards, and the specific lessons you learned in the school of hard knocks. Be most proud of the achievements that came with the highest level of time, setbacks, and difficulty.

Shine a light on preferences few others share.

Do you enjoy some of the aspects of this job that others will merely endure? Do you like humble tasks, dirty tasks, or tasks that others find tedious? Do you like social challenges, public speaking, high pressure, or tight deadlines? Do you thrive in harsh environments, or enjoy extensive work-related travel? Most people don’t. So if you have these traits, you’ll move quickly from a generic scan to a curious second look.

Sharpen your verbs.

Now that you know the specific points that can help your resume stand out go back and highlight those messages by choosing strong verbs. Replace weak choices, like “has,” “was,” “is,” “gave,” and “does,” with more specific ones, like “builds,” “leads,” “directed,” “implemented,” and “organized.”

Add some details that may not be entirely relevant.

Add just one or two proud accomplishments to your resume that don’t directly relate to the job, like sports accomplishments, art awards, or community leadership roles. These small details can help employers notice and remember you as a person.

For more on how give you resume an extra boost and separate yourself from the crowd, turn to the experts at Merritt.

How to Make Temporary Employees Feel Like Part of the Team

December 13th, 2019

Your new employee may not be staying onboard for very long, and they may be here to complete a three-week task and disappear again. But while they’re here, they should feel welcomed, appreciated, and part of the team. Keep in mind that short arrangements often become long term, even if that isn’t part of the plan at the beginning. Here’s how to lay the groundwork for success.

Develop an Official Onboarding Process

Make the most of the employee’s first day. Make sure that when they arrive, they have a computer, a phone, and a dedicated workstation ready, and make sure they understand the lay of the land and what’s expected of them. Most importantly, make sure they have a contact person they can turn to with questions. If you can’t accomplish all of this in one day, aim for one week. In any case, move quickly and efficiently. Don’t let them idle all day long.

Encourage Relationships with the Team

Introduce your employees to the members of the team and allow and encourage them to get to know each other. Even if the new person won’t stay long, take them out to lunch on the first day and give them some time to converse with the others around them. Encourage your teams to be friendly and welcoming.

Give Them the Tools they Need

If your new employee needs a security badge, a list of phone contacts, a map of the job site, an employee handbook, or a set of safety gear, the sooner you supply these things, the better. Make sure the employee feels like an asset, not a burden to the team or company. If this involves coordination with the staffing agency or recruiter who connected the two of you, stay in close communication to avoid bottlenecks and hold-ups.

Don’t Put Them Out on a Limb

Don’t set your temporary employee up for failure by neglecting to explain the most important aspects of the job in advance. This applies to tasks, important workplace rules, dress codes, and safety policies. If the employee comes in blind on day one, make sure they’re fully informed by day two.

Demonstrate the Benefits of Working Here

If there’s a chance, the job may become a permanent role, say so upfront, and explain what will need to happen for this to take place. If certain goals must be met by the time the contract ends, clarify those goals. Work together with the new employee and help them succeed so that they can help the company as much as possible.

For more on how to get the most out of your temporary and contingent staffing agreements, contact the expert team at Merritt.

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