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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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Become a Better Boss by Doing These Unique Things

11/25/16 9:15 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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Engaging in active listening? Check.

Following through on commitments? Check.

Leading by example? Check.

If you’re like most bosses, you’ve already mastered management fundamentals like these. But if you really want to grow as a leader in the year ahead, you need to set the bar just a bit higher.

Becoming a truly exceptional manager requires you to do things that most others don’t – unexpected behaviors that make a huge impact on motivation and performance. What are they? Below, Exact Staff shares a few unique habits that set great bosses head-and-shoulders above the rest:

Reframing

Problems, obstacles, challenges…whatever you call them, they can easily derail your company’s progress. A great boss knows how to bring a fresh perspective to issues, transforming problems into opportunities – and reshaping others’ mindsets and actions in the process.

Sharing Information

Exceptional managers are secure in their abilities and aren’t threatened by others’ expertise. As a result, they don’t hoard information; they share it freely! Sharing information allows great bosses to delegate effectively, empower team members and contribute to employees’ professional growth.

Respecting Others’ Time

Amazing bosses place as much value on subordinates’ time as they do on their own. They show up on time for meetings. They allot adequate time for employees to complete work. They get to the point quickly. In short, they engage in behaviors the make the most of everyone’s time – not just their own.

Persuading

“Command and control” management may produce short-term gains, but great managers have a knack for positively influencing others’ behavior with messages that motivate, reassure and (when necessary) redirect. Instead of merely wielding their authority to get the job done, they inspire action by communicating passionately and persuasively.

Making Failure Acceptable

Exceptional bosses create a “psychological safety zone” in which employees know they can try and fail – without being punished or fired. And when their employees do make mistakes, great managers use those missteps as opportunities to learn.

Showing Gratitude

In some managers’ minds, giving employees a paycheck is showing thanks enough for the work they do. Great managers, however, realize that staff members invest a huge part of themselves in their jobs – so they make a habit of thanking employees for their effort, perseverance and success.

Be a Better Boss in 2017

Exact Staff can rapidly deliver exceptional people to build your core team. Improve productivity. And seamlessly flex your workforce to match changing demands. Whether your needs are local, regional or national, our staffing and recruiting experts are ready to help you excel.

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

Want to Increase Engagement? Go with the Flow

10/7/16 9:30 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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Ever experienced focus so intense that you:

  • Accomplish an amazing amount of high-quality work in a short period?
  • Are impervious to distractions?
  • Feel virtually unstoppable?

Then you’ve been in a state of “flow.”

Flow is a state in which you feel and perform your best. And it’s more than just a catch-phrase; studies validate its benefits in the workplace:

  • McKinsey research cited in this Forbes.com post indicates that when employees are in a state of flow, they’re 5 times more productive than normal.
  • According to research cited in this Harvard Business Review post, flow has been tied to improved performance by increasing both concentration and motivation. And it’s no surprise. With an average of 87 interruptions in a typical work day, and an average of 23 minutes to get back on task, it’s a wonder any of us accomplish anything at all!

What impedes flow in the workplace?

Bureaucracy. Cumbersome, restrictive workplace policies and processes. Lack of direction and communication. Frequent, unnecessary interruptions. In other words, anything which prevents people from doing their best, most important and most impactful work.

And how can you improve flow to drive engagement?

Not all workplace interruptions are bad; policies, processes and hierarchy are not necessarily the enemy, either. By the same token, locking your employees in quiet rooms to work isn’t a panacea, either.

So where should you focus your efforts to enhance flow – and increase your team’s engagement? Here are a few practical tips:

  • Get your whole staff on board with the idea. Flow may be a new concept for many of your employees. Explain what it is, why you’re promoting it, and how they stand to benefit.
  • Establish clear goals for your organization that cascade down into projects and positions. Then, work with each employee to create actionable objectives to achieve their goals. When individuals know what to do, as well as how their work fits into your organization’s “big picture,” it gives their work more focus and meaning.
  • Embrace a “hacking” mindset. While not every initiative is suitable for this approach, look for opportunities where unconventional problem-solving methodologies could be applied. Create shorter, more tangible challenge-and-reward cycles for these projects to drive focus and teamwork.
  • Limit distractions. Create practical policies that encourage employees to intentionally minimize interruptions (email and phone calls are huge culprits). In this earlier post, we provide great tips for getting twice as much done in half the time.
  • Eliminate unnecessary meetings. Meetings can be a huge time-suck that disrupts all participants’ flow. But when meetings are essential, improve planning to increase efficiency. Distribute a clear agenda in advance with discussion items, required preparation, and a rough timeline, so that everyone gets the greatest return on their invested time.

Bottlenecks and open positions hindering your organization’s flow?

Exact Staff provides flexible access to the talented people you need. Whether you need to temporarily increase your capacity or grow your core team, our workforce experts are ready to meet your local or national staffing needs.

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Fresh Strategies for Creative Problem Solving

08/16/16 10:00 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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Dead ends. Blank pages. Mental blocks.

The struggle to solve problems is all too real. Sometimes, inspiration is in short supply. Other times, you may have plenty of great ideas – but no process for seeing them through.

What’s a savvy business professional to do?

Get creative!

Creative problem solving is much more than brainstorming; it’s a well-defined process for every step of problem-solving. And it’s incredibly important in business – helping you to overcome challenges, improve on existing ideas, and continually generate new ones.

Want to give it a try? Below, we describe two techniques you can experiment with to solve business problems:

Re-Describing

This Entrepreneur.com post describes a unique problem-solving strategy that works on a simple assumption: most of the time, you already know something that will help you solve your problem. The key is to find the right memory cue to retrieve the information you need.

To use the re-describing technique, try changing the way you describe your problem to yourself. The more unique ways you can find to frame your challenge, the more memories your brain will unlock – and the more likely you’ll be to develop a great solution. Ask these two questions to get the process started:

  • What kind of problem is this? Take off the mental blinders that limit creativity and memory, and try to think more abstractly.
  • Who else has faced this kind of problem? Find parallels to your own challenge, and then consider the ways others’ solutions could be applied to your problem.

The Inversion Technique

This approach to problem-solving is similar to reverse-engineering. It starts with imagining worst-case scenarios, and then using those scenarios as the basis for developing solutions.

To use the inversion technique, start with the absolute worst outcome you could imagine to your problem. Then, imagine everything that could possibly go wrong which would lead to that disaster scenario. By working backward from a worst-case scenario, you can reveal hidden problems, opportunities and potential solutions you might otherwise miss.

Improve Problem-Solving by Boosting Creativity

No matter which problem-solving approach you select, use these quick tips to amp-up your team’s creativity (and solve problems faster!):

  • Get everyone involved. More people can generate more ideas.
  • Make your work environment more interesting. Hang art. Play music. Expose employees to scents like lavender or peppermint (which are thought to increase brain power). Engaging their brains in novel ways will spur new emotions, abstract thinking and fresh ideas.
  • Play creativity games. With a simple Google search you can find several free resources for engaging your team’s creative faculties.

Have a Tough Problem to Solve?

Give the experts at Exact Staff a call. Our national staffing agency provides a full complement of staffing and placement services to help you get the most from your team and your career.

What to Do if a Conversation Turns Loud and Aggressive

04/15/16 10:00 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Uncategorized | Leave a Comment
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Is your workplace a hive of harmonious activity – or does it feel more like an episode of Hell’s Kitchen?

Whether they begin with policy disagreements, personality clashes or simple misunderstandings, workplace disagreements can quickly escalate into full-blown battles without proper management. And the results can be disastrous, including:

  • Lowered productivity and morale;

  • Employee turnover;

  • Even costly legal action which can sabotage profitability and your company’s reputation.

In all fairness, not every workplace conflict leads to such dire consequences. Often, squabbles and disagreements are short-lived, and a certain amount of conflict is healthy and normal.

Still, it’s better to be prepared to effectively resolve arguments you find yourself in – instead of allowing your loud and aggressive conversation devolve into something more dangerous. Here are a few actions to help you halt, or even turn around, a serious argument at work:

Acknowledge Your Role

It takes two to fight; if you find yourself embroiled in something more than a heated professional discussion, stop in your tracks. Take a deep breath. And authentically take responsibility for your role in the conversation’s derailment. Even if you’re not the one who provoked the argument, be the bigger person and apologize for compromising your work values.

State Your Intentions

Make it clear that you don’t want to argue, but that you’d like to find a mutually beneficial solution – even if you don’t know what that is at the moment. Demonstrating a sincere desire to resolve the conflict will instantly relieve the tension in the air and shift momentum in the right direction.

Define Rules of Engagement for Moving Forward

Once you’ve both regained your composure, set ground rules for civil discussion (even if you continue to disagree):

  • Use “I” instead of “you” statements to keep the discussion from turning back into an argument Avoid pointing fingers or placing blame.

  • Focus on work behaviors; skip personal attacks.

  • Use a professional, calm tone when speaking. Yelling, sarcasm or even disrespectful body language (e.g., eye rolling, defensively crossing arms) should not be tolerated.

  • Take periodic time-outs, if needed, to stay calm and in control of your behavior.

Focus on Agreement

Naturally, people who argue fixate on what they disagree about. You can profoundly transform a negative conversation, however, simply by shifting the focus to areas of common ground. Take a moment to calmly and sincerely list your points of agreement. Then, use those as the foundation for resolving your differences. The road to resolution may still be bumpy, but civility and a sincere desire to work things out will keep you on track.

Need Level-Headed Team Players for Your Organization?

Contact your local Exact Staff office. As a national employment agency, we deliver hard-working, professional individuals who will mesh with your culture, focus on results, and work well with the other members on your team.

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Driving Team Productivity Starts with the Right Software

03/7/16 9:00 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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Do more. Do it faster. And accomplish it all with fewer resources.

Like it or not, this is the business credo of our post-recession economy. And the pressure is taking its toll. Everywhere you look, teams’ limits are being pushed – leading to burnout, turnover, critical mistakes and internal discord. Instead of functioning as high-performing units, strained teams are falling apart at the seams.

Around the world, software developers are taking note – and taking the productivity bull by the horns. In recent years, cloud-based apps and powerful project management software have been developed specifically to support your teams’ changing needs and super-charge their productivity.

Are you taking advantage of the right tools? Indiscriminate use of software applications won’t yield the productivity improvement you seek; in fact, it may have the opposite effect. Instead of coordinating efforts and maximizing team resources, the wrong software can increase communication channels and unnecessarily complicate tasks.

As a manager, it’s your responsibility to help your employees work smarter, not harder. The right software can smooth operations, facilitate teamwork and improve effectiveness. Here’s how to choose the best options for your business:

  • Understand your current needs. Study your environment and work processes, taking into account the hardware and software you already use. Make a list of the biggest challenges your teams currently face (e.g., process bottlenecks; work that’s still accomplished manually or on paper; business intelligence gaps; work coordination impediments; etc.), as well as the goals they need to meet, to determine where software could be of benefit.
  • Analyze your future needs. Beyond considering what your business needs now, you must also predict what it will require one to five years down the road. To choose the right software, you must factor in its ability to evolve with your teams’ changing needs.
  • Investigate your options. The range of choices available today is truly dizzying. Here are a few factors to consider when evaluating your software options:
    • SaaS solutions. Web-based software is popular among small businesses looking for greater efficiency and mobile access. How and where will people use the software?
    • Hosted, on-site enterprise solutions. These typically come with a higher price tag, but they offer greater security and customization. Consider where and how your data should be housed, as well as how much tailoring you will require for a platform to be effective.
    • Features. What basic and advanced features does your team need?
    • Compatibility. How well will the software integrate with your existing systems? Will it reduce or eliminate the need for other software and/or communication channels?
    • Cost. How much money do you have to spend? Would a higher initial investment yield greater long-term benefits?
  • Adequately evaluate a number of vendors. Due diligence ensures you will choose a partner who’s invested in your success and has the resources to deliver on its promises.

Looking to improve the effectiveness of your work teams?

Exact Staff is here to support you. Providing a full complement of staffing and placement services, we can help your teams accomplish more:

  • Offload low-priority and administrative activities to free up more time for key priorities.
  • Supplement your core teams with temporary and contract staff, flexing your workforce to respond to changing demands.
  • Prevent burnout and overwork, both of which can undermine team productivity.

The Leadership Secrets of LeBron James

02/23/16 8:30 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers, News | Leave a Comment
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He’s a four-time NBA MVP. Two-time NBA championship winner. 12-time NBA All-Star. And now that he’s returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers, his team is leading the Eastern Conference and poised for yet another championship run this year.

Whether you love him or hate him, there’s no denying that LeBron James is an amazing athlete – and an exceptional leader.

What are the keys to his success?

Though it may seem a bit surprising, many of the same attributes that have served LeBron well in the sports arena are equally important to business success. So today, Exact Staff shares the leadership secrets of LeBron James, in the hopes that one will inspire you to become an even better leader yourself.

He Acknowledges His Failures

LeBron left Cleveland to play for the highly anticipated “Dream Team.” But when Miami fell short that first year, LeBron took the heat – acknowledging that he had not performed up to his normal standards and resolving to improve.

He Pushes

Just 30 years old, James has already logged more minutes in his career than Larry Bird or Magic Johnson. But it’s not enough. Instead of “pacing himself” or limiting minutes to save his joints, he’s always pushing. Playing every game. Skipping 4th quarter respites. Completing grueling workouts to rebound from injury and improve his conditioning. He does all this to accomplish what he considers the most important thing in his life: winning a championship in Cleveland.

He’s Honest About Expectations

In LeBron’s famous “Essay” for Sports Illustrated, he wrote: “I’m not promising a championship…I want to win next year, but I’m realistic. It will be a long process, much longer than it was in 2010.” James wasn’t shying away from his ultimate goal, however; he was merely setting realistic expectations for his team and his fans. Since publishing the essay, James led the Cavs to the 2015 finals – and has them set on the same course this year.

He Brings Out the Best in His Teammates

Much as a smart business leader adapts his management style to match each employee’s personality, LeBron adjusts his approach to building spirit and performance. In a recent interview, Kevin Love said of James, “Some guys you have to get on, and some guys you have to put your arm around and slap on the a–. You have to understand people and how to deal with them. LeBron is incredibly smart. He knows how to get the best out of us.”

Ready to Build a Team You Can Lead to Greatness?

Exact Staff is here for you. With offices nationwide and a full complement of staffing and placement services, we can rapidly deliver exceptional people to build your core team. Improve performance. And accomplish great things in 2016.

What Can We Do For You?

Contact a staffing expert at your local Exact Staff office today.

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The Best Questions to Ask When You’re Frustrated with Performance

02/17/16 1:14 PM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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He’s probably lazy.

He doesn’t care about his job.

He’s just not cut out to work for this company.

When an employee isn’t living up to your expectations, it’s human nature to make assumptions like these. But assumptions can be wrong – leading to, well, rather unpleasant consequences.

So if you find yourself frustrated with an individual’s performance, resist the urge to jump to conclusions. Take a deep breath, take a step back, and ask yourself the following questions before approaching your employee:

Questions for You

Have you provided everything your employee needs to succeed?

For any individual to meet your expectations, he needs a thorough job description. Clear goals. Adequate training. The right tools and resources to do his job. And access to support when he has questions or issues.

Give some thought as to whether one or more of these factors may be contributing to your employee’s performance issues.

Have you explained the “why”?

Does your employee understand why his job matters? How his work, directly and indirectly, affects co-workers, his department, your organization and beyond?

When an individual knows the “why’s” of his position and your company as a whole, he’ll take a more vested interest in performing well. So connect the dots for him. Make sure he clearly understands your organization’s mission, as well as the impact his daily activities have on achieving it.

Questions for Your Employee

Once you consider these questions, ask your employee questions that will get to the root of performance issues – without making him unnecessarily defensive. Below are a few you can customize for your needs:

  • Do you feel adequately prepared and equipped to do your job? Why or why not?
  • Are you experiencing any frustrations in your position? (Probe to clarify and determine root cause.)
  • How would you rate your recent performance? Why do you say that?
  • What more, if anything, could we do to make you more successful?
  • Do you feel valued here? Why or why not?

Determining the answers to these questions will help you understand the root cause of performance issues. You may find that your initial reaction was right and that the individual either is lazy or doesn’t really have what it takes to succeed in the position.

On the other hand, you may also uncover issues with training, work processes or management which, if resolved, will greatly improve the employee’s (and potentially other employees’) ability to achieve. Either way, asking the right questions will help minimize frustrations and set the stage for positive change that drives performance.

Looking for high performing employees?

Make Exact Staff your staffing partner. With a national presence, our Family of Companies is led by industry experts who understand the intricacies of your industry – and can rapidly deliver the exceptional talent you need.

Ready to learn more?

Contact a staffing expert at your local Exact Staff office today.

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What’s Coming Next for Your Business…And How to Prepare for It

02/11/16 9:15 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers, News | Leave a Comment
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What’s true of all successful organizations?

They think about, talk about and plan for the future.

No matter what industry you’re in, change is a constant. So if you’re spending too much time looking in the “rearview mirror” – and not enough on the road ahead – your products, services or processes will rapidly become outdated (even obsolete).

“Forward thinking” is a principle many organizations employ to look toward the future. Identify opportunities. And stay relevant. Used properly, forward thinking allows you determine what’s coming next for your business – and how to prepare for it. These tips from Exact Staff can help you foster a culture that encourages and formalizes forward thinking:

Employ Agile Methodologies

Adopt a new model of thinking about workflow and projects, taking a page from software developers. Instead of spending countless hours guessing how (and how long it will take) to accomplish a complex project, consider using a Scrum approach. This framework for managing processes relies on self-organizing, cross-functional teams that decide in real-time how to solve problems more efficiently and accelerate projects.

Capitalize on Micro-Trends

Today’s customers have more choices and information available to them than ever before. As a result, trends shift more quickly and incrementally. Stay on top of them by reading, attending industry conferences and paying attention to the research and data that matters to your industry. Integrate the information you learn into your short- and long-term business planning activities.

Use Scenario Planning

What if regulations became more stringent within your industry? What if the economy took another nose dive? Considering “what if?” scenarios is a highly effective way to imagine the plausible futures for your organization and industry. Map the trends and driving forces that could impact your business, including economic, legal, societal and industry-specific factors. Give special consideration to big “unknowns.” Then, define several scenarios that could play out for your company within a specified time frame. Assess the scenarios to determine your greatest opportunities, biggest threats and the best ways to prepare for the future.

Know when to say “No”

Steve Jobs once said, “Innovation is not about saying ‘yes’ to everything. It’s about saying ‘no’ to all but the most crucial features.” The lesson here? To stay future-focused, you have to be willing to say “no” more than “yes.” Make sure your company isn’t wasting time or effort on activities that won’t move you closer to your goals.

Thinking ahead about your staffing and recruiting strategies?

You should be. Proactively planning your human capital needs provides the greatest opportunities for cost-effectiveness, business flexibility and exceptional hiring.

Exact Staff is here to help. To design the best solution for your organization’s future, we invite you to schedule a free workforce consultation with us. Together we can assess your needs, brainstorm options and design creative strategies to help you prepare for what’s next.

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