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A Fresh Idea for Staffing Your Hard-to-Fill Skilled Trade Jobs

June 25, 2019

The job market is tight and you have several unfilled openings for hard-to-find candidates, causing your company to lose production unless you pay overtime to your current staff. You’re not alone. According to a Boston Consulting Group report, by 2020 there will be a shortage of 875,000 machinists, welders, maintenance technicians and industrial engineers. The steady growth in Northeast Ohio manufacturing, just as many skilled laborers are reaching retirement age, is leaving employers scrambling to find the right candidates from an ever-shrinking pool of applicants. Often, positions remain open for months while HR personnel search for the “perfect” person who can perform 100% of the job duties upon hire. A better solution may be employing individuals with school training who are motivated to work in their chosen fields. Let’s explore why.


Reason #1 – Flexibility


A candidate who is looking for on-the-job experience after completing a training program will be more flexible about work responsibilities than someone with years of experience. They won’t shy away from other duties during down times, such as assisting in the warehouse or cleaning work areas. In most cases, they are satisfied as long as they perform their primary job, such as machining or welding, most of the time. In contrast, many skilled candidates feel that doing work outside their field is beneath them. Recently, we interviewed a highly-skilled welder who refused to do anything except welding, even though other job requirements, such as sweeping his work area, were minimal. Needless to say, our client selected a different candidate with less experience but a more flexible mindset. In industry today, having a flexible workforce is a key component to a company’s success.


Reason #2 – Less Turnover


Some skilled applicants are available in this highly-competitive market because they are simply not interested in committing to any company long-term. They may spend one or two years with an organization before seeking greener pastures and moving on to a competitor who is offering more money or better benefits. Even though these individuals require minimal training and are productive while you have them, they won’t hang around for long, and you may be in a bigger staffing bind once they leave than you were before you employed them. On the other hand, trainees tend to be appreciative and loyal to the companies that took a chance and hired them. There is a higher likelihood that they will stay with you if you treat them well and give them opportunities for advancement.


Reason #3 – Economical


To land a highly-skilled applicant, you must be prepared to offer an extremely competitive salary and benefits package. And, if you want to keep them, you will need to give healthy raises, which may become a strain on your budget. In contrast, a candidate with school-only training is typically willing to work for a reasonable entry level salary, to increase their hands-on knowledge in the field. But be careful of underpaying these individuals once they become proficient in their jobs. You should always keep tabs on the going rate for their experience level and pay them appropriately, so you don’t lose them to your competitors. Keep in mind that other forms of compensation work well too, such as generous vacation plans, profit sharing or production bonuses.



Reason #4 – Faster Hire


Since there are more trainees available than experienced applicants, you will be able to fill your openings more quickly. Many times, a trainee can be hired within a few days, versus the weeks or even months needed to hire a skilled individual. Leaving a position open for an extended period of time will result in higher overtime costs to offset lost production. In most cases, a trainee will become proficient in less time than it would take for you to fill the job with your ideal candidate.



Reason #5 – More Trainable


Have you ever hired a candidate who, on their first day, said, “That’s not how we did it at XYZ Company”? If so, you know how frustrating it is when a seasoned person comes into your organization and is reluctant to conform to your procedures, because they feel they know better. Granted, some of the ideas they bring to the table might be good ones, but if they haven’t learned why you handle tasks a certain way, how do they know their methods are better? Trainees come into your company with a clean slate. They are eager to be taught your processes, to prove that they have what it takes to succeed within your organization. Even though they need more initial training than a skilled candidate, they make up for their lack of experience with a willingness to learn.



Reducing the Risk of Hiring an Entry-Level Candidate


Are you still unsure about hiring candidates with limited on-the-job experience? If so, you can mitigate your risk through Area Professionals’ temp-to-hire program, which gives employers the opportunity to work with applicants during a probationary period, prior to making a long-term commitment. A trainee’s ability to learn the job, their attitude, their reliability and other important factors will all become evident during this timeframe. Candidates who develop into assets to your organization can be rewarded with permanent employment, at no additional cost to you. Please contact us if you would like more details about available applicants or our temp-to-hire program.

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5 Types of Toxic Employees and How to Deal with Them

October 13, 2015

Toxic employees can destroy employee morale and chase good employees out of your company. In a 2015 study conducted by Cornerstone onDemand, a leader in cloud-based applications for talent management, good employees quit at a 54% higher rate when they work with toxic employees. Furthermore, the cost of onboarding a toxic employee ($12,800) is three times the cost of a non-toxic employee ($4,000).  But, there is hope. Let’s look at five types of toxic employees and the way to deal with each of them.


Type #1 – The Hot Mess


Do you have an employee who has attendance problems, who makes sloppy mistakes and whose work performance is erratic at best? If so, you have a hot mess.  When you have someone on your team who seems like she is in way over her head, it affects the productivity of your entire group and causes widespread frustration. Grant it, if it is a new employee who is trying hard and is still learning the job, it is understandable. But, when you have a seasoned employee making the same mistakes repeatedly and who has become completely unreliable, something needs to be done.  


Typically, hot mess employees ask for help more often than they should, are disorganized, are passive about completing their work, and are resistant to change.  To deal with this type of employee, offer extra training, introduce an improvement timeline, frequently check-in with the individual to make her more accountable, and provide support, such as a mentor.  If implementing this action plan doesn’t improve the quality and quantity of work produced, then it may be time to cut your ties with this person. 


Type #2 – The Slacker


Like the hot mess, the slacker is a drain on your team’s time, energy and enthusiasm for a project. The biggest sign that an employee is a slacker is his willingness to let others pick up the slack, even when doing so proves to be a strain on his manager and co-workers. Some other signs your employee is a slacker include low motivation, frequently missing deadlines, wasting time online or with personal matters, attendance issues, and taking long breaks.


Many times, a lack of motivation and slacking off in the workplace is caused by hidden resentment towards the company or boredom with his job. To improve the productivity of a slacker, try to uncover the reason behind the lack of enthusiasm for his position. Also, it is important to provide clear expectations, to demand accountability, and to check-in frequently to verify he is on track. Finally, be sure to recognize and reward his accomplishments. Employees are much more motivated when they feel like they are valued and that their contributions matter to the organization.


Type #3 – The Martyr


Even though having a team member who is highly-motivated and is willing to take on a herculean workload seems ideal, if she doesn’t recognize her limits and is always reminding you of her sacrifices, it may be counterproductive to your company.  Martyrs have a mindset that no one can perform the task as well as them, so they complete the work themselves. If taking on too much responsibility results in working long hours, burnout ensues, and with burnout comes more mistakes, missed deadlines, and a negative attitude.


Typically, a martyr doesn’t know her limits, complains often, undermines the confidence of coworkers, and comes to work when sick, letting everyone know of her sacrifice. To best deal with this type of employee, it is important that you focus on delegation and team work. Equitably reassign parts of her workload to other team members, and incentivize teamwork over individual efforts. Also, foster a collaborative rather than competitive workplace by promoting peer-to-peer conversations and team building activities. Finally, to prevent burnout, introduce stress management measures and encourage your employees to stay home when ill by offering paid sick days.


Type #4 – The Socialite


For the socialite, whether around the watercooler or on the phone, gossip and chat are a top priority.  While there is a place in the workplace for fun and fellowship, the socialite tends to take it too far, causing a decrease in productivity and in cohesiveness of your entire team.  Some common traits of the socialite include being loud and distracting, having an inability to focus, displaying an immature approach to work, and encouraging office drama.


With the right guidance, you may be able to turn the socialite into a productive worker. Initially, it is important to define social times and activities for the staff, making sure you are clear about appropriate behavior. To curtail excessive gossiping, you and the rest of your staff should set the right example. For instance, when the chatting is out of hand, you can respond, “Sounds interesting, but I’m pretty bogged down with work; let’s catch up when we have a break.” Also, to improve focus, provide deadlines for projects and make sure the deadlines are met regularly. If the workload is heavy enough, there will be less time for social behavior.



Type #5 – The Roadblock


Unfortunately, we have all worked with a roadblock at some point in our careers. This individual is quick to criticize other employees’ ideas, but rarely offers any input of his own. He complains often, usually about minor issues, and he expects you to fix these problems with a wave of your magic wand. Furthermore, he is disruptive in meetings, typically needing clarification of ideas, and his first response more times than not is, “That won’t work.” If you let them, roadblocks will sap the energy, motivation and productivity from your team.


Handling a roadblock is difficult, but it can be done.  Encourage this individual to provide solutions instead of complaints about problems. For example, if he comes to you to vent, a good response is, “What do you think we can do to fix this issue?” Whether or not you incorporate his suggestion doesn’t matter; you are making him think. If in a meeting, he doesn’t like an idea, ask him how he would approach the situation. He won’t be so quick to criticize if you regularly put him on the spot. Finally, encourage a culture of positive support and collaboration with your team. Roadblocks like to get other people to join their negative world. If no one is willing to do so, he will have less of an impact on your other employees.


In conclusion, uncovering and coping with any type of toxic employee is crucial to providing a positive environment for your staff. The best way to protect your company is by having clear policies in place regarding workplace performance and attitude. When problems arise, following the outlined steps in your policy will aid you in weeding out these toxic individuals.


Are there any other types of toxic employees? If so, how would you deal with them?

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