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Exact Staff News

  • Work/Life Balance is Starting to Blend Together – and that might be alright

    02/21/17 10:00 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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    “Balance” is out. “Blend” is in.

    In recent years, technology has virtually erased the boundaries separating home and work. The same tools which have allowed employers to enhance workplace flexibility – things like email, mobile tech, videoconferencing and the Cloud – have also allowed employees’ work life to spill over into home life.

    Instead of completely disconnecting from work at days’ end, employees are remaining available to employers, clients and customers. In fact, this national, workplace-flexibility survey of 1,087 professionals by WorkplaceTrends and CareerArc shows that:

    • Roughly 20% employees spend an average of 20+ hours per week working outside the office on personal time.
    • 64% of HR professionals expect employees to be reachable outside the office on their personal time.

    The reality? The boundary between home and work life is dissolving. It’s time to stop helping employees strive for “balance” – and facilitate a healthy “blend,” instead. Here’s how:

    Encourage a new mindset.

    Give employees a broader range of what’s considered acceptable each day, as long as their overall goals are achieved:

    • Focus on target “ranges” instead of target “points.”
      Determine the ultimate goal, and then allow a little latitude to accommodate the realities of employees’ workflow. For example, if an employee is supposed to spend 10 hours per week on sales activities, permit them to break those 10 hours up as they see fit – instead of requiring two hours per day.
    • Take a longer-term view of progress.
      While it’s still imperative to track results daily, measure employees’ performance over a longer term to determine if targets are achieved. Giving employees just a bit of wiggle room alleviates persistent stress, accommodates natural swings of time and energy, and produces better long-term results.

    Permit “homing at work.”

    Research cited in this Inc. post shows that allowing employees to do personal chores (e.g., scheduling appointments, shopping online) at work actually boost productivity and reduces work/life stress.

    Be proactive about hiring needs.

    Candidate shortages are at critical levels in many industries and job functions, which is dramatically increasing time-to-hire. When positions often go unfilled, existing employees bear the extra burden until hires are made.

    To promote a sustainable work/life blend, proactively manage talent acquisition. Partner with a national employment agency like Exact Staff to develop a plan that stays ahead of hiring needs. You’ll help employees preserve a healthy work/life mix that ultimately promotes happiness, high performance and loyalty.

    Final Thoughts

    No matter how progressive your culture is, or how blurred the line between home and work becomes, all employees need time off. Make sure your business is prepared to handle short- and long-term absences with support from Exact Staff. Whether you require a single temporary for a day or an entire project team for a month, we provide a range of staffing and placement services to increase productivity, promote a healthy work/life blend and create a healthier bottom line.

     

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4 Obstacles to Organizational Agility

02/17/17 9:15 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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Would you describe your business as nimble? Innovative? Flexible?

Or stuck in the mud?

Organizational agility helps your business adapt to its changing environment, by deftly executing initiatives in support of your overall strategy. It’s what allows your business to:

  • respond quickly and effectively to urgent issues and risks;
  • stay profitable in turbulent markets;
  • identify and capitalize on emerging opportunities – before your competitors do.

Stagnancy is death in business. So if your business is slow to adapt or respond, it’s time to get unstuck – by identifying and removing the following obstacles:

Fear

Willingness to change is critical to agility. Yet despite working in a volatile, uncertain environment, many leaders refuse to let employees test new ideas. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure and especially fear of financial setback prevent them from giving their teams the freedom to experiment. The result? Zero innovation. Leaders in agile organizations empower their employees to take calculated risks and systematically test new concepts – and they have their employees’ backs when they fail.

Silos

Too often, employees are so focused on meeting their own department’s objectives that they have little communication with, or appreciation for, other departments. Over time, a lack of cross-functional communication leads to silos that bog-down processes and make change extremely difficult. Agile companies thrive on sharing information and ideas. By effectively managing knowledge organization-wide, these organizations capture, share and use information better than their competitors.

Rigid Hierarchies

Processes and channels are important (especially in larger organizations, but excessive bureaucracy and structure delays decision-making and slows reaction time. Agile businesses understand the need to plan AND execute simultaneously when speed is essential. Does this lead to mistakes on occasion? Sure. But breaking work into small segments – and assembling cross-functional teams to execute it – allows agile companies to fail fast and quickly make changes.

Lack of Work/Life Balance

Too many businesses are stuck in an “all work, no play” mentality, still buying into the fallacy that more hours worked = better results. Agile employers like Google and Apple, however, realize that people are their most focused, creative and productive when they have adequate time to lead a fulfilling life. Instead of focusing on running a tight ship, these organizations focus on amplifying the human element of their employees – and the results speak for themselves.

Want to make your business more agile in 2017?
Start with a flexible staffing strategy.

The right staffing strategy can make your organization more responsive, resilient and innovative. With a national presence and a full complement of talent solutions, Exact Staff is the ideal partner to help you become more agile – and successful – this year.

Give us a call to discuss your goals – we’ll help you achieve them.

 

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Does Scarcity Reduce Your Decision-Making Capabilities?

02/15/17 9:15 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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When your employees have the knowledge, resources, time and tools to do their job well, productivity soars. Innovation abounds. And your business runs like a well-oiled machine.

But if even one of these factors is in short supply?

A “scarcity mindset” can creep in – causing mistakes that bring business to a screeching halt.

As this Deloitte University Press article illustrates, even top performers can make poor decisions when forced to operate under conditions of scarcity. Whether it’s a lack of time, focus, money, collaboration or any other valuable resource, scarcity can undermine decision-making by depleting one’s finite capacities for self-control and intelligence.

As a manager, what can you do to combat the harmful effects of scarcity in the workplace? Here are a few helpful takeaways from the Deloitte article:

Guard against the fundamental attribution error.

It’s easy to attribute poor decision-making to a “character flaw” in an individual. He misses deadlines because he’s a procrastinator. She made the mistake on that report because she is lazy and doesn’t check her work. In reality, however, poor decisions often are the result of situational factors. Make sure that you really understand the root cause when someone makes a poor decision (i.e., is it due to an internal characteristic or scarcity of an external resource?). Only by identifying the real culprit can you effectively resolve decision-making problems.

Understand how scarcity exhausts the mind – and impacts decision-making.

When resource scarcity exists, individuals are continually forced to deal with urgent, unmet needs. Over time, this mindset:

  • Depletes mental reserves and leads to “decision fatigue” (i.e., the inability to make smart, careful choices).
  • Can lead to an irrational discounting of future consequences (i.e., instead of making rational decisions, individuals are susceptible to taking lower payoffs now instead of waiting for a much larger reward in the future).
  • Makes individuals prone to “planning fallacy” (i.e., convincing oneself that a task will take much less time in the future than it will now).

Build in adequate “slack time.”

While conventional wisdom holds that “slack time” is just wasted time, emerging research suggests that today’s knowledge economy can’t operate successfully without it. Why? Think-time allows individuals and organizations to grow, adapt and change – all of which are essential to creating long-term competitive advantage.

To find the right amount of “slack time” for your organization, identify the situations which most frequently lead to decision fatigue – and the negative cascade of effects it creates. Then, use simple strategies like effective prioritization, scheduled focus-work time, frequent breaks and meditation to build in the slack your team needs to make better decisions.

Make sure your most important resource – talent – is never in short supply.

Keep your business humming by taking a proactive, strategic approach to staffing – with help from the experts at Exact Staff. Our national staffing agency provides a full complement of staffing and placement services to help you:

  • Analyze talent supply, considering composition (i.e., demographics) and capabilities (i.e., competencies);
  • Consider your demand, giving priority to positions that are the toughest to fill – and most critical to your organization’s success;
  • Create a comprehensive workforce strategy to close the gaps and prevent a scarcity of talent from jeopardizing your business’ success.

Schedule your free workforce consultation today.

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5 Customer Service Lessons to Help You Provide Better Customer Service

02/8/17 1:17 PM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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“You will not BELIEVE this car I just bought. It’s kinda non-descript-looking, the handling is alright, and the fuel economy is mediocre!”

Not amazed?

Neither are your customers if you’re delivering “so-so” service. In a hyper-connected, hyper-competitive business world, customer service provides critical opportunities for differentiation and competitive advantage.

But only if you consistently go above-and-beyond for customers.

So how can you take your service from “meh.” to “WOW!”? Learn from these five lessons:

Understand what “great service” really means.

In other words, know what matters most to your customers. Is it speed? Personalization? Options for self-service? If you’re unsure, just ask! Conduct an anonymous survey to encourage candid feedback.

But regardless of your industry or company size, customers typically look for the following service fundamentals:

  • Clear, honest, respectful communication in all forms (even when work becomes challenging).
  • On-time delivery. People in your organization should honor their commitments, doing what they say they will do, when they say they’ll do it.
  • A commitment to excellence. Everyone in your organization should take great pride and care in serving all customers’ needs (both internal and external).

Surprise your customers.

Ever receive an unexpected gift? How did it make you feel? The truth is, even small tokens of appreciation go a long way with customers – especially when they’re not expecting anything.

Find little ways to surprise your customers, and make those unexpected surprises part of your regular service process. And remember: it’s not the monetary value of the gesture that’s important, it’s the fact that you thought of your customer, and then went out of your way to do something nice, that makes the experience memorable.

Use technology to improve the service experience.

Often, a real human is the best choice for addressing a customer’s service issue. After all, people do business with people. But as tools improve and our population’s adoption of technology increases, self-service is dramatically on the rise. Consider ways that mobile apps, social media, chatbots, user communities or other technology could allow you to deliver a quicker, more seamless service experience.

But don’t let that technology fragment the customer experience.

The same technology that’s designed to simplify service can actually erode it. Unfortunately, if your approach to managing service interactions across multiple communication channels (like the ones mentioned above) isn’t fully integrated, you have no way of ensuring excellence. To prevent problems:

  • Assemble a cross-functional team to monitor sites and communication channels vigilantly.
  • Create sound, consistent processes for ensuring all incoming service issues (regardless of the communication channel used) are addressed in a timely fashion, and then re-routed or escalated when necessary.

Respond authentically.

Customers today are more savvy and demanding than ever – and most see through traditional sales pitches. So train your entire team to be genuine in the way you communicate with customers. Skip the canned responses and corporate-speak, opting for honesty and transparency instead (especially when you’ve made a service mistake!). More authentic communication lends itself to stronger emotional connections and better service experiences across channels.

Need a staffing partner as committed to service excellence as you are?

Contact Exact Staff, providing national staffing solutions, today.  With a full complement of staffing and HR management solutions – and award-winning customer satisfaction – we’re the ideal partner for your human capital management needs.

 

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How Uncertainty in Business Can Lead to Great Power and Opportunity

01/23/17 1:15 PM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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The only constant in business? Change.

Regardless of your industry, organizational size or the number of years you’ve been in business, today’s operational environment is volatile, complex, and yes – uncertain. As a leader, does that uncertainty cripple or exhilarate you?

A lot of it has to do with how you plan to manage it.

Take, for example, the impact of the recent presidential election. In addition to the uncertainty created by President Trump’s proposed changes during his first 100 days in office (which could impact everything from employee healthcare and overtime pay to our tax code), the campaign and election may have already had an incredibly polarizing effect on your employees.

What’s the best way to handle all the ambiguity, tension, heightened emotions and divisiveness? This SmartBrief post provides two excellent suggestions for leveraging the power and opportunity inherent in uncertainty:

Foster Empathy

If your team seems polarized or anxious, say so. Acknowledging their tension is the first step in understanding and appreciating the unique emotional reaction each employee may be experiencing. By fostering acceptance of differing views (especially in uncertain times), you alleviate some of the pressure tension creates – preventing an “us versus them” mentality from taking hold.

Build on “Sameness”

Your organization is a place where employees feel a sense of belonging. Regardless of political views, external uncertainty, or any other differences or volatility, every employee has one important thing in common: they all work for the same organization.

As a leader, you have a unique opportunity to build on this commonality. Let your team know that, regardless of individual perspectives, you all stand together in facing the unknown. Rally your team around this common purpose, and use it to unite your employees in pursuing a common goal.

Looking for more ideas to help you manage uncertainty?

Read our earlier post on “forward thinking,” which shares practical tips for formalizing processes to determine what’s coming next for your business – and how best to handle change.

Then give Exact Staff a call. We’ll help you:

  • Analyze the potential impact changes in your business, industry, or even the political or economic environment – could have on your workforce needs;

  • Develop a flexible staffing strategy to make your organization more responsive and resilient;

  • Proactively plan your human capital needs, to increase cost-effectiveness and hiring success.

Schedule a free workforce consultation with us today. Together we can assess your challenges, brainstorm options and design smart strategies to help you prepare for what’s next.

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Understand Emotional Intelligence to Predict Future Leaders in Your Company

01/23/17 1:10 PM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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Baby Boomers are retiring. Skills gaps are widening. Retention isn’t what it used to be.

How can ensure your business will continue to have amazing leaders for years to come?

Grow your own.

Developing internal talent and promoting from within is smart business – but identifying your company’s future leaders involves more than measuring their productivity. To successfully predict your best candidates for leadership, you need gauge their emotional intelligence (EQ).

What’s EQ?

At its simplest, EQ is a combination of self-awareness and awareness of others. It’s a unique kind of intelligence that enables you to identify and manage your emotions. The result of effective communication between the rational and emotive centers of your brain, EQ helps you recognize emotion in others, allowing you to understand their behavior better.

It’s also one of the most important measures of potential leadership success.

People with a high EQ:

  • Are better able to manage their relationships with others;

  • Are able to recognize the role emotion plays in their workplace;

  • React appropriately and effectively to others.

As a result, individuals with high emotional intelligence are perceived as strong and authentic; people want to follow their lead.

How can you use EQ to identify your company’s future leaders?

Assessing emotional intelligence starts with asking great questions. Here are a few you can customize to determine if employees have empathy, self-awareness and the ability to effectively manage their own emotions:

Tell me about a high-stress situation you encountered on the job. Why did it occur, and how did you manage it?

This question will help you understand how well an individual controls his emotions in the face of adversity. In his response, look for evidence of situational awareness, proper prioritization and sound decision-making.

Describe a situation in which you did something which negatively impacted a customer or co-worker. How did you know it affected this person, and what did you do about it?

An individual with high emotional intelligence will describe cues (e.g., body language, tone of voice, pattern of communication) he noticed which indicated something was wrong, and then explain how he adjusted his own behavior accordingly.

When has your mood impacted your performance – either positively or negatively?

Individuals with leadership potential realize that they must keep their own emotions in check to manage situations (and others) effectively. Look for a response that shows the employee not only understands his emotions, but can control his behavior in spite of them.

Growing your team?

Experts in behavior interviewing, Exact Staff’s recruiters can help you identify candidates with the experience, aptitude and emotional intelligence to thrive in leadership roles. Contact your local Exact Staff location to make hiring leaders faster, simpler and more successful .

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Four Rules Every Great Boss Follows

01/20/17 3:19 PM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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Wouldn’t it be great if every management position came with its own rulebook?

Unfortunately, no leadership role is that simple (or static). But that doesn’t mean you have to “reinvent the wheel” if you want to grow as a manager. The truth is, following these four rules will help you become an even better boss – regardless of your industry, functional role or the size of your team:

Lead through Empowerment

Great bosses are not micromanagers. They hire smart, trust their employees and empower them – creating an environment in which staff members have ample room and resources to perform their jobs well.

Set your employees up for empowered success before you “hand over the reins” by delegating effectively:

  • Choose the right projects for delegation. Ones that are discrete, yet challenging, work best.

  • Set clear expectations. Employees must understand the goals for the project, important deadlines, and key deliverables.

  • Keep instructions simple. Provide essential information, but don’t over-explain (your employees are smart and want to think for themselves).

  • Make sure individuals have adequate time, tools, authority and other resources to complete the work.

  • Be available to answer questions and provide feedback, but resist the urge to hover.

  • Circle back once the project is complete to review results, reward exceptional performance and learn from any mistakes that were made.

Continually Develop Your Employees

You’ve built an amazing team of talented people. But if you aren’t helping them learn, stretch and grow as professionals, you’re doing yourself, your employees and your entire company a disservice.

The great news? If you follow rule #1 and create a culture of empowerment, your employees will, by design, have ample opportunity to stretch their wings, take on more responsibility, and continually grow.

Beyond that, make professional development an integral part of every performance review. When you meet with each employee, revisit and update a three-to-five-year career-development plan that provides the challenge and clear direction he needs.

Connect the Dots

While it’s fairly easy for some employees (e.g., sales professionals) to understand their importance to your business, the value other employees (e.g., those who serve internal customers) provide may not be as apparent to them.

If you want to be an exceptional boss, make sure each employee understands the impact he makes on your organization. Help individuals understand your company’s “big picture” – and how their daily activities directly affect things like quality, efficiency, customer retention, and profitability. Finally, show your team the future of your organization – and their role in it. Doing so unites employees to work hard toward achieving long-term goals.

Walk the Walk

A great boss is only as good as his word. So make sure your words always match your behaviors – in everything you do, large and small. And, on the rare occasion, you can’t honor a commitment (for whatever reason), be forthright about the reason why. Even if you can’t live up to what you initially pledged, honest communication will help you preserve the trust and respect you’ve worked so hard to earn.

Want to be a Great Boss?

Build a great workplace with Exact Staff. With a full complement of national staffing and placement solutions, the Exact Family of Companies provides the right resources, exactly when you need them, to fuel success. To learn more about how we can help, schedule a free consultation today.

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Trying to Instill a Healthy New Habit in 2017? Here’s How to Stick to It

01/20/17 3:08 PM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Job Seekers | Leave a Comment
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Your co-worker just started her third year of crossfit training.

Your cousin quit smoking for good in 2016.

And that employee of yours? He’s already dropped 10 lbs. – and he only started dieting on January 1st!

You’re outwardly happy for them (of course). But on the inside? Frankly, you’re kind of irritated – how do they crush their New Year’s resolutions so easily?

Is there some secret to success they’re not sharing?

Heck – are they just better people than you?

Nope. In fact, of the approximately 40% of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions, a meager 8% actually achieve them. So if you struggle to follow through on the commitments you make each time the calendar flips, you’re in good company.

But if you’d rather be part of the 8%, keep reading. Below, we share a few practical tips to help you keep that healthy new habit you’re trying to instill in 2017:

Be Specific

Vague resolutions are impossibly difficult to achieve. If you commit to “being healthier” this year, how will you know in December if you’ve hit your goal? Get specific about exactly what you want to do. Quantify and/or qualify it, so you can measure your progress throughout the year.

Break that Big Resolution into Smaller Goals

Losing 50 lbs. seems like a daunting goal, but losing one pound per week sounds much less intimidating (it’s just 2.5 ounces per day!). Intermediary goals are easier to achieve and are cause for celebration throughout the year (which will motivate you to keep going as you hit each one).

Expect Setbacks

And readily forgive yourself. Straying from your goal doesn’t mean you have to abandon it completely. If you get off track, just tell yourself that tomorrow is a new day – and then get back to it.

Make it Public

Tell your friends, family and co-workers all about your healthy new habit and goals. Encouragement, positive peer pressure (and the risk of public shame) are powerful motivators.

Plan for Rough Patches

Travel, illness, company in town and hectic work schedules can impact your routine. If you want to keep your healthy habit on track, develop contingency plans for times when your schedule is disrupted.

For example, if your healthy new habit is to run 6 miles each week, create a backup plan for times that work, weather or illness wreaks havoc with your schedule. Shift your run by a day; walk if you’re recovering from a cold; find a treadmill if it’s snowing sideways. Be flexible. Get creative. Just don’t make excuses!

Resolved to create more free time for yourself in 2017?

Get help from Exact Staff. With a national presence and a full complement of staffing and placement solutions, we can free up more of your time by:

  • Providing temporary support to “offload” low-priority or repetitive tasks.

  • Assuming the time-consuming aspects of hiring including managing job postings, screening resumes and conducting initial interviews.

  • Taking a proactive approach to staffing and recruiting. The better you plan your needs, the more effectively we can help you meet them (saving you time and frustration!).

If you’re ready to learn more, give Exact Staff a call.

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3 Ways to Be a Leader People WANT to Follow

12/28/16 7:15 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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Does your team follow you because they want to – or because they have to?

It’s an important question. Leaders who truly inspire others in the workplace create a positive cycle of success and high performance in which people:

  • exert higher levels of discretionary effort;
  • feel empowered to do their jobs to the best of their abilities;
  • are invested in organizational outcomes;
  • remain loyal, even when times are tough.

But managers who lead using fear tactics, micromanagement or manipulation? Although they may “get the job done,” their organizations typically pay a high price in terms of turnover, productivity and engagement.

Here’s how to be a leader your team chooses to follow:

Give your team what they expect.

This Forbes article outlines seven things employees expect from their leadership. Here are the top four:

  • Specificity. Be direct and explain what you want in plain language.
  • Empowerment. Give employees the tools and freedom to make decisions and learn from failures.
  • Vulnerability. Don’t pretend you have all the answers; ask for help when and where you need it.
  • Honesty. Tell the whole truth – even when it’s tough. Rose-colored glasses undermine your ability to lead effectively. When things get difficult, be willing to look at cold, hard truths (about yourself, your team, your products/services and your competition). Only by acknowledging reality can you begin to change it for the better.

Improve your “executive presence.”

Being perceived as a leader – someone who has the ability to command a room and project gravitas – is essential to success in an executive role. Become a leader people truly want to follow by displaying confidence in these three components of “executive presence“:

  • Communication style. Speak with passion and energy, using decisive and clear language.
  • Nonverbal cues. Stand tall and make appropriate eye contact when addressing your team. If you’re sitting, place your elbows on the table and lean slightly forward when speaking.
  • Appearance. Although less important, employees and peers still expect executives to dress appropriately for the role. Unkempt attire or provocative clothing undercuts executive presence.

Take a page from LeBron’s book.

In “The Leadership Secrets of LeBron James,” we shared four essential components of LeBron James’ success (which you can incorporate into your own approach to leadership):

  • He acknowledges his failures.
  • He continually pushes himself to achieve higher levels of performance – even though he’s at the top of his sport.
  • He sets realistic expectations, although he always aims high.
  • He brings out the best in his teammates, much as a smart business leader adapts his management style to match each employee’s personality.

Need team players to help execute your vision?

Exact Staff is here for you. With offices nationwide, and a full complement of staffing and placement services, we can connect you with high performers to strengthen your core team. Improve performance. And execute your vision in 2017.

What can we do for you? Contact a staffing expert at your local Exact Staff office today.

Perform, Lead and Succeed: 10 Inspirational Quotes

12/21/16 3:06 PM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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Think inspirational quotes are corny? Cliché? A complete waste of time?

Maybe you just aren’t reading the right ones.

An insightful quote can motivate you to perform better, lead more effectively, or renew your enthusiasm for whatever it is you do. And regardless of industry, role or experience level, we all need occasional reminders to recalibrate our thinking and handle tough situations more effectively.

The following quotes have helped inspire us here at Exact Staff, and we hope they’ll do the same for you:

 

“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”

–John F. Kennedy

 

“If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.”
–Colin Powell

 

“Don’t mistake movement for achievement. It’s easy to get faked out by being busy. The question is: ‘Busy doing what?’”
–Jim Rohn, American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker

 

“What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.”
–Bob Dylan

 

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
–Tim Notke

 

“If you don’t stick to your values when they’re being tested, they’re not values; they’re hobbies.”
–Jon Stewart

 

“Thoughts lead on to purposes; purposes go forth in action; actions form habits; habits decide character; and character fixes our destiny.”
–Tryon Edwards, American theologian

 

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
–Confucius

 

“The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived.”
–Robert Jordan, author

 

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”
–Henry Ford

What quotes motivate or inspire you?

We’d love to know – please leave your comment below! And if you need supplement staff to support your busy team, Exact Staff is just a phone call away!