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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.

How Procrastination will Hurt You in the Long Run

November 25th, 2019

Do you tend to put off tasks or ignore obligations until you run head-first into your deadline, or miss it altogether? Do you find yourself waiting until the last minute to begin a project and then doing a sloppy rush job that could have been avoided if you had started earlier?

The tendency to procrastinate is relatively common, and in some cases, it can be serious…and it can also bring serious consequences for those who aren’t sure how to get it under control. If you feel like your minor habit of procrastination is slowly becoming a significant habit, or you’ve already missed one too many deadlines or milestones, and you’d rather not miss any more, keep these thoughts in mind.

Address one problem at a time.

Your report is due in three days. You’ve had it on your plate for two months, and you haven’t yet started. So you have two problems: 1) a report that’s likely to be rushed or missed altogether, and 2) a psychological problem (procrastination) that will haunt you and hold you back long after this report is over and forgotten. Don’t let a sense of paralysis cause you to freeze, give in, and give up on both. Instead, take a deep breath and face the first problem, the report. When that’s over, don’t take a long vacation. Face your next challenge and do what you need to do to get help, counseling, or support. Don’t walk away from either of your challenges; face both, but tackle only one at a time.

The second battle will be harder than the first.

Once your report is no longer an issue, face your procrastination problem with courage and conviction. Ask yourself honestly why you behave this way and what you hope to gain each time you do it. Do you feel rebellious and passive-aggressive, and is procrastination your way of claiming control? (“The person asking me to complete this task can’t tell ME what to do!”) Do you feel scared of the task and doubt you’ll be able to do it successfully? (“As long as I haven’t started yet, I haven’t failed.”) Are you so excited about the task that you’re hiding from your strong feelings? (“I really want to plan this wedding/write this novel/ finish this job application, but I just can’t get started!”) These are all very common reasons why people succumb to procrastination…but they’re all very different. Which do you relate to the most?

Break big tasks into smaller tasks.

No matter which reason best reflects your situation, one approach can help with all three: breaking down your intimidating task, so it no longer controls, scares, or overwhelms you. Instead of “planning a wedding,” choose a date. Instead of “writing a novel,” write a rough outline. Once you’ve started, you’ll find it easier to continue.

Merrit can help you with professional challenges.

For more on how to address and overcome the professional challenges that may be holding you back, talk to the career management team at Merritt!

Do You Have a Hiring Need? Ask Your Team for Their Input

November 18th, 2019

Collaborative hiring, or the process of soliciting input from your entire team while bringing on a new member, can vastly increase your odds of hiring success. By making this one change, you’ll bring significant benefits to team productivity, ease the transition for everyone, and ensure that the new person you choose and bring aboard represents the best possible match. Here are a few of the specific benefits you’ll gain when you make an effort to bring everyone to the table.

It demonstrates trust and strengthens your existing relationships.

Hiring decisions are essential, and they come with high stakes for the company. If something goes wrong, or you choose a candidate who doesn’t fit in and leaves within a few months, the results can be costly and damaging. That makes it all the more meaningful when you tap your employees and specifically solicit their input and feedback. It shows you trust their opinions and instincts when it counts the most, and it shows that you’re listening and interested in providing them with the resources and support they need.

It helps you home in on cultural matches.

It matters if your new employee gets along with the team, and it matters if he/she doesn’t. So don’t try to size the person up on your own and make wild guesses. Instead, introduce the team and then ask them to provide their assessments. For example, if your culture is driven, cold, and impersonal, your employees may not take well to someone who is warm, collaborative, and here to make friends. The opposite can also be true: a chatty, friendly, laid-back team may not be interested in taking on a self-interested cool customer.

It spreads out a blanket of accountability.

Team decisions may take longer to make than individual decisions, and they may bring higher levels of risk and more moving parts, which increase the number of potential failure points. But they also come with an upside: When everyone takes a small portion of responsibility, no one person has to bear responsibility for the entire process. Both credit and blame and shared, and so are long term outcomes, both positive and negative.

It increases overall flexibility.

When your team has a hand in choosing the new employee, they’re more likely to be flexible and accommodating during the unpredictable early stages of the transition. If they don’t understand the person’s motives or tumble into a miscommunication, they’ll be more willing to ask the right questions and patiently work through the issue. If the new person is thrust upon them, they may be more resistant to change and adaptation.

Merritt will help with your hiring needs!

For more on how to make a candidate selection and onboarding as easy and successful as possible for everyone involved, turn to the staffing pros at Merritt.

Are Candidates Ghosting You?

October 4th, 2019

Since the recruiting world holds many parallels to the world of dating and relating, it’s usually only a matter of time before the terms and trends of the second realm work their way into the first. Interviews are often compared to first dates, and our awkward attempts to establish a connection and impress the other party can seem eerily similar in both endeavors. At the core, it’s because both actions involve the same goals: in each, we’re trying to establish a partnership that brings mutual benefit. And along the way, we need to break off or leave potential partnerships diplomatically if they aren’t giving us what we need.

Ghosting, or disappearing from a mismatch with no communication and no explanation, is considered rude, but there are several reasons why people tend to ghost employers (and dates). Most often, it’s because initial conversations have fizzled and ghosting seems like the easiest and most drama-free way to the exit. If you’re getting ghosted by your candidates, keep these considerations in mind.

They don’t want trouble.

When we ghost, it’s not because we’re trying to provoke, hurt or upset the other person. We’re not trying to teach them a lesson or compel them to respect us. The opposite is usually true. We just want out. When candidates ghost, their behavior isn’t personal, and it certainly does not warrant any attempt to pursue them, punish them, try to blacklist them, ruin their reputations or seek vengeance in any way. To do so is unprofessional and a terrible idea. Just let them go.

Review your behavior.

Did you treat your candidate as if he or she would never find a better offer? Did you ask for too much in terms of submitted paperwork or “test” projects? Did your words or behavior convey disrespect for the candidate’s time? Did you tell him or her that you would touch base in three days and then allow three weeks go by? If so, don’t do that with the next one.

Did you disrespect yourself, your company, or the position?

If you sent the message that the position is not important, or the company is a joke, the candidate may have taken your message at face value. This often happens when the position is portrayed as very low-skill, or the salary offer is low enough to present the role in a devalued light. If you send the message that you don’t care much about the job or who holds it, the candidate may consider it harmless to just disappear.

Unless unemployment rates are high, candidates always have alternative options, so it’s a good idea to put some effort into enticing them and shining a spotlight on what you have to offer. To get some help with this process, contact the staffing team at Merritt.

Motivate a Bored Team With These Three Tips

September 6th, 2019

Each member of your team entered the workplace because he/she/they showed promise. The company or interviewer truly believed (at that moment) that this person could come on board, accomplish something important for the company, and change things for the better. Some of these hires have certainly done this, and continue to do it every day. But for most of the team, a more realistic scenario eventually sets in: On good days, they fulfill their promise. On regular days, they just show up, do their best, and clock out.

A little thoughtful motivation, properly applied, can help increase the overall number of good days, and reduce the number of days that are just meh. Here are a few ways to make that happen.

Rely on the power of teamwork

Recognize a key truth about all important endeavors: nobody accomplishes them alone. To do something big, we need multiple areas of expertise, multiple varied skill sets, and a combination of different strengths. We need to come to the table and pool the assets we have. We need to compensate for each other’s weaknesses, share our specific areas of knowledge, and talk through problems from multiple angles and perspectives. Make sure each person knows that they don’t have to shoulder the weight of an entire project or effort on their own. They really shouldn’t try. Collaboration and interdependence, not isolation or silent suffering, will get us to our goals.

Pay people what they’re worth

It’s nice to talk about employee engagement, and it’s wonderful to see workers having fun with each other and enjoying their projects. But under lots of cheerful, friendly, positive language about “passion” and “commitment” and “loyalty to the company”, no rational person would come in every day and work hard for the company if they weren’t getting paid. The bottom line for employee motivation is the bottom line: dollars. Make sure spending the entire day here is well worth your employee’s time. If you do, they’ll work hard. If you pay the minimum they’ll accept, they’ll only show up until they find something better.

Don’t punish employees for failure

As a manager (especially an inexperienced or first-time manager), you may believe that your job depends on an equal blend of carrots and sticks. Half your day should be spent on encouragement and the other half on correction and constructive criticism. That’s fine if you’re correcting a course of action to help an employee find a better outcome. But watch out; the stick should be used only for acts that seem both consciously negative and consciously counter to the interests of the company. Bad behavior and “failure” are not synonymous, and trouble brews for a manager who treats failure like a conscious decision to hurt the company. Encourage effort, risk and bold ideas. When they fail or don’t pan out as planned, encourage them even more.

For more on how to keep your teams inspired and get the most out of their efforts, contact the staffing experts at Merritt.

Is It Cheaper to Pay Overtime or Hire More Staff?

August 2nd, 2019

Eventually, almost every business owner or decision-maker faces a familiar choice. Orders are piling up, business is steadily increasing, and you need more hands to handle the workload (unless you’re ready to turn customers and clients away, which most of us would rather not do). So which path should you choose: Hire a new person (or several), or simply pay your existing teams overtime and expect them to stay after standard working hours are over?

Of course, for some businesses, the decision makes itself. If you simply can’t expect your workers to stay late (because you know their personal schedules, public transportation, or the limits of workplace don’t allow that flexibility), you’ll need to let them go at five and hire a new pair of hands. And the same is true in reverse; if you know that it’s unreasonable to simply put the word out and attract hundreds of resumes from well-qualified candidates, you’ll have to work with the teams you have, end of statement.

But if either option seems reasonable, factor these metrics into your decision.

Crunch the numbers.

Sit with a calculator and make some assumptions. Assume you WILL, in fact, be able to find qualified candidates and bring them on board within three weeks. Assume you WILL be able to convince your teams to stay late and pick up some extra cash. Then run a comparison based on the period in which you expect to be swamped.

Take a look at that time period.

Are you dealing with a seasonal rush that will ebb as soon as the busy season ends? Or are you dealing with what appears to be steady and sustainable growth in your orders, deliveries, and invoices? If this looks like long term growth, save yourself some headaches and start your candidate search now. Find the very best available and invest serious resources in attracting them, onboarding them, training them and retaining them. This may mean ensuring that your salary offers are competitive.

On the other hand, if this is a seasonal rush, just keep a short-term view and cut costs where you can. Look for temporary helpers who can pitch in with minimal onboarding and training. Or of course, you can just cut the cost of hiring altogether and pay time and a half until the rush settles down in a month.

Anticipate problems.

New workers bring a social shake-up that can be somewhat unproductive—at first. Over the long term, the social fabric resettles and work returns to normal. But will you lose more money during that time than the contributions of the new hires are worth? Remember that new employees also come with necessary, but expensive, mistakes. The same can be said of overworked or tired employees who are pushed past their limits.

In the end, you’ll need to roll the dice but enter into the decision with as much data in hand as possible. For more on how to get the most out of your hiring resources, turn to the experts at Merritt.

Does Being Bilingual Increase Your Worth to a Company?

June 21st, 2019

You’re bilingual. Which means you can speak fluently (or somewhat fluently), read, write or all three in at least two languages. You have a special skill that’s far from universal in the U.S., and you have the ability to communicate on a level others can’t, even if the need doesn’t arise every single day. So, what does this mean for your job prospects?

If you grew up speaking this language at home, you may be shrugging at the idea that your “special skill” holds monetary value for your employer. You may be thinking, “Big deal. So, I can talk to my grandma in Farsi/Hindi/Spanish/Italian. But what does that mean to my employer? I’ve never been asked to use this skill on the job as a regional account manager in New Jersey, and I’m not sure this gives me leverage during my career climb.” If this is you, think again. Here are a few reasons to hold that card like an ace up your sleeve and be ready to use it as you interview and negotiate for raises and promotions.

Language skills are valuable because they’re difficult to acquire.

As you may know, it’s easier to gain language fluency in childhood than it is later in life. Which means that, like art or any other limited commodity, the market isn’t flooded, and new sources aren’t easy to access. Teaching language skills to existing employees isn’t as simple as teaching them to use Excel. No matter how infrequently used your skill may be, it’s harder to find than you think, which makes you that much harder to replace.

Bilingual brains are different.

Studies show that learning a second language expands our brains in complex and still not fully understood ways. Our understanding of the world and our ability to grasp and retain complex new information are broader when we have two words (with subtle implications and tones) for every noun and verb that we use to make sense of things. Put another way: bilingual people are smarter. They possess a certain mental flexibility the rest of us just don’t. Even if you don’t speak or use your language on a daily basis at work, you use your big flexible brain, and wise employers recognize this as an asset.

Resumes, interviews, and negotiations all benefit from this detail.

Always mention your second language in your resume. And always bring it up (even if you aren’t asked) during job interviews. Are you bragging when you do this? Maybe a little. But it’s a skill that most employers won’t ask about without prompting, and it should never go unnoticed or undiscussed. The same applies to salary negotiations.

Need help making the most of your language skills during your job search? Contact the career experts at Merritt.

 

4 Ways to Make Sure People Are Using Their Vacation Time This Summer

June 7th, 2019

Paid vacation time isn’t a frivolous perk. It isn’t a luxury or a gesture of generosity from a benevolent company manager. It isn’t a gift. It isn’t something that benefits the employee at the expense of the company’s bottom line. And it isn’t optional … for either party.

Vacation time may have become part of the workplace landscape after hard-won union victories in the 19th and 20th centuries, but since that time, research and empirical evidence have revealed an additional truth: Vacation time isn’t just necessary for the health and safety of employees, it’s also essential to the health and growth of a business. When employees live balanced and sustainable lives, companies live balanced and sustainable lives as well. When people are granted the minimum necessary for their well-being, including manageable schedules, clean conditions, safe tools, fair wages, and yes, vacation time, they’re better able to make smart decisions and productive contributions on the job.

So, employees need to take their vacation time.

But some employees need to be pushed out the door, mainly because they believe they’ll be scolded or judged for leaving. Here’s how to improve compliance and overcome those obstacles.

Monitor schedules and provide notice.

Your employee won’t take her vacation time and she seems to think nobody will notice, so what does it matter? She appears to believe that her schedule isn’t being monitored and HR won’t recognize if she lets a year slip by without taking her break. Let her know that she isn’t correct. Have HR send notices and warnings to employees who haven’t taken any vacation time in the last six-month period, and make sure the notice is phrased as a warning and censure, not a form of back-handed praise.

Use monetary incentives.

Just as you might use monetary incentives and gift rewards for employees with exemplary attendance records, do the same for those who use their vacation days regularly and fully. Everyone who finishes the year with an empty tank of vacation days should receive a bonus or gift card.

Disparage attempts at heroism.

Develop a culture that actively discourages employees from coming to the workplace with contagious illnesses and do this by withholding approval from those who soldier in with fever and chills. Meet these flu-ridden heroes with an eye-roll and a dismissal home, not a pat on the back. Do the same for those who boast about skipping vacations or who mock and belittle peers who use their time. Culture shaping starts with management; pay attention to your subtle messages of approval and disapproval.

Set an example.

The best way to encourage vacations and make employees feel safe from judgment is to start with yourself. Use every one of your days each year—no excuses—they’ll be more likely to do the same.

For more on how to shape behavior and culture in your workplace, turn to the team at Merritt.

Personality and Personal Expression at Work

May 10th, 2019

A few generations ago, rigid personal conformity in the workplace was seen as a good thing … at least for employers. If employees were dressed the same and had the same haircut, the effect (so the theory went) would be positive. Rules would be followed; hierarchies would be respected without question; and the company would benefit in more or less the same way that uniforms benefit military organizations; a sense of teamwork and mutual trust would arise as individual identities fell away.

While the value of uniforms in foxholes is still up for debate, their value in the office is steadily being resolved. It’s low. Forcing employees to dress and act the same may contribute a small military-linked benefit, but this small benefit doesn’t make up for what it takes away. Employees who are required to discard their personal identities at the door and adopt a mandated company identity during the workday do not, in fact, feel greater loyalty to their employers. The opposite appears to be true. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

People like being accepted as they are.

We all prefer to spend our time among people who accept us. And we especially enjoy spending time with people who genuinely like us. This is true in the workplace just as it would be in a classroom or at a family reunion. If we feel liked and respected, we want to be there. If we don’t, we count the hours until we can leave. Being forced to adopt a false identity during the duration of our stay doesn’t change that.

People don’t enjoy fake identities, no matter who they belong to.

Just as most of us prefer to show our true faces and be respected as-is, we also appreciate the same from others. Most of us don’t enjoy extended interactions with someone who is desperately trying to hide their true personality. It’s exhausting. When we show our real selves to others, we relax and life becomes easier, for us and also for them. Trust goes up, teamwork goes up, communication becomes clearer. And when we understand each other, we get more done.

Hair and adornments are serious and should be taken seriously.

It’s dangerous to assume that hairstyles, tattoos and piercings are only skin deep and can be easily removed and put back on again at the will of an employer. To assume this is to potentially misunderstand or disrespect what may be an integral part of a person’s ethnic, cultural or personal identity. Before you assume an external aspect can be tossed aside, pause. Is the aspect hurting you or anyone else? Is it a danger to the company or its stakeholders? If not, recognize its inherent value and show the person respect, acceptance and appreciation by leaving it alone.

If an external trait is truly causing problems for the company, compromises are available. Contact the staffing team at Merritt to learn more!

Five Ways Internship Programs Help You Recruit Top Talent

April 5th, 2019

An internship program can be a magical thing: one of those rare workplace arrangements that benefit both parties in immeasurable ways while costing almost nothing on either side. When an internship is conducted in an appropriate and professional way, both participants gain, and neither side loses.

Specifically, a young graduate is offered her first paid position in her professional field—even if she doesn’t have a lick of experience on her resume—and the company gains access to inexpensive, enthusiastic labor, and possibly a valuable full-time employee later on.

Here are five ways your intern can evolve into a long-term contributor.

Internship programs build loyalty (for life).

If your intern is paid well and respected, and if she receives the training and industry exposure she came for, she’ll develop a positive impression of the company. After all, she has no other workplace to compare this one to, so if you show her your best side, you’ll set the standard. Even if she leaves after one summer, she’ll remember this place and she’ll walk away with lasting warm feelings about your brand. Even long-term employees leave eventually, but fans and customers can stay forever.

Internships help mold young minds (and work habits).

If you scoop up a 21-year-old employee before he graduates from college, you’ve landed more than just an enthusiastic, fresh-faced worker bee. You’ve landed a pristine open mind, a person who has never experienced the professional world before. This is his first professional boss, his first breakroom, his first staff meeting, his first desk. This is also his first exposure to what your business does, what a work day should feel like, how clients and agents interact, and what efficient team contributions look like. He doesn’t have to unlearn anything in order to accept your terms. This can benefit both of you in big ways.

Internships build your social fabric.

The best retention strategy is a culture that feels like a family, and the way to create that family feeling is by maintaining long term employees, as many as you can. Deepen your organizational memory and traditions by reducing your turnover.

Internships set expectations on both sides.

New employees often start their first week on the job frequently repeating (or at least thinking) phrases like “That’s not how we did it at XYZ Co.,” or “At my old job, we always…” Interns rarely do this. Your expectations of them quickly become their expectations of themselves, and vice versa.

Interns train in-house.

Too often, new full-time employees come on board and go through an expensive training process, then when they’ve received a year of training on your dime, they leave. Interns receive the same training period, but since both promises and pay are modest on both sides, your investment returns are almost always positive.

When you’re ready to launch your internship program, contact the experts at Merritt for guidance.

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