The Joys of Autumn

b-loehr-autumn-joyWinter boasts the sparkle of a snow-covered landscape and the excitement of Christmas.

The beauty of spring bursts in a rainbow of color as the plant world comes to life again.

Summer is replete with long, carefree, fun-in-the-sun days.

And then there’s fall. It’s true every season is special and unique, but a lot of people admit to being partial to fall.

The way the routine of daily life settles back down after the spontaneous days of summer is comforting. The bountiful harvest of late-season produce and the impressive variety of pumpkins and gourds. The crispness in the evening air. The gorgeous colors as the leaves trade their lush greenness for hues of red and yellow, orange and brown.

Let’s not forget football, roasting marshmallows around a campfire, hayrides, and sipping hot chocolate while watching the sunset.

There is an abundance of things to love about fall.

Around our place, we get into fall in a big way. From the fall scented candle that surrounds us with the aroma of autumn, to the bright splashes of orange that adorn the front landscaping—and the fireplace mantle and many other flat surfaces within our home—to the sampling of every pumpkin-flavored recipe we can dig up. Oh, and let’s not forget pumpkin-shaped finger Jell-O, pumpkin-shaped and decorated sugar cookies as well as every variety of candy corn we can scrounge up. Fall colored candies are a must too.

And so as not to miss a second of immersing ourselves in everything autumn, we honor this favorite season from mid-September through Thanksgiving.

One of the recipes we make no less than three times each fall is Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. This delectable dessert also works well in the form of cupcakes.

Pumpkin Sheet Cake  

Preheat oven to 350˚.

Combine and mix:

  • 1 c. vegetable oil
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin (not pie mix)
  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • ½ t. salt
  • 2 t. cinnamon
  • 1 c. nuts (optional)

Pour into greased jelly roll pan (15x10x1). Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool and frost.

Cream Cheese Frosting  

Blend well:

  • 1 – 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick of margarine, softened
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 lb. powdered sugar
  • ½ c. nuts, sprinkled on top (optional)

Spread frosting over the cooled cake (or cupcakes!). Cut into pieces and enjoy.

BLoehr Staffing As the seasons change, so does life. For employees, it might bring desires for new job opportunities. B Loehr has positions. For companies, it can impact your staffing needs. Our quick response system can effectively meet the variations in your workforce needs with qualified candidates from our large pool of employees. No matter where you stand,   Contact our team of specialists – we’ve been helping talent and companies connect more than 100 years.

 

Which Job Offer do I Accept?  

b-loehr-offerYour hard work has paid off. All that time spent researching and filing out applications and those nerve-wracking interviews have led to a job offer. Time to celebrate, right?

Not just yet. Now may be the toughest part of all. Deciding if the job is right for you. I mean, really right. After all, this isn’t a summer gig at the corner convenience store. This major life decision requires major consideration.

And then your phone rings, and now you have two offers.

“For the employer, it’s a commercial decision,” says Kim Seeling Smith, founder, and CEO of Ignite Global. “For you, it’s a life decision, so you have to put a lot of thought into taking the next opportunity.”

With the job market stronger across the board, it’s become a candidate’s marketplace, especially for those with sought-after skills. So, winding up with two appealing offers can happen easily.

The next step is to delve deep into the specifics of each offer. To get started, answer these basic questions:

  • What are the business hours and the schedule you’ll be expected to work?
  • Do you have a solid understanding of the day-to-day tasks?
  • What is the start date?
  • When does the company need your decision?

Next, move on to the benefits package. Here’s where a spreadsheet will come in handy. It’s difficult to compare two benefits packages without seeing them side by side as the individual benefits may vary widely.

  • Consider the out-of-pocket expense for health care by calculating premiums, deductibles, co-pays, prescription coverage, etc.
  • Are dental and vision coverage included? Again, get out the calculator.
  • Review the vacation/personal time/sick days’ policies.
  • What paid holidays are standard at this company?

Now for a moment, put all of this information aside and revisit your values, priorities, and career goals. How do each of these offers compliment these goals? How do each work against these goals? Which job is a better fit for where you want to be in two years? Five or ten years?

Use additional columns on the spreadsheet or a good ol’ pros vs. cons list to note the answers to these important questions. By now, one offer probably is shining a little brighter – may even be a clear leader. Or it could be a dead heat. Before you disqualify or accept either offer, there are two more ways you can gather valuable intel.

  1. Ask to meet the team
  2. Ask for a copy of the employee handbook

Such a request shows genuine interest on your part and should be met with a willingness to make it happen . . . unless the employer has something to hide. Both will net vast amounts of information to assist your decision.

Did you notice salary isn’t getting a mention until the end? Money is by far not the only thing to consider when choosing between two job offers.

Whether you are looking for short term, long term, temp-to-hire, part-time or a full-time position, B. Loehr Staffing is your connection to offers. Since 1898, we have been matching companies and candidates. We are your opportunity. Contact our team today and discover best-fit positions for personal and professional growth.

Planning for Retirement – Part II

With the average American spending roughly 20 years in retirement, creating adequate retirement income is a challenge some folks begin to plan for as early as their 20’s. While that’s the ideal scenario, too often retirement planning gets pushed aside by seemingly more pressing matters, like keeping the kids fed and in respectably clean clothes. Not to mention the mortgage, soaring utility bills, and that four-wheeled money pit in the drive.

If retirement is coming sooner rather than later, and you’re regretting not focusing more attention on the financial aspect of how you’ll spend those golden years, don’t panic. There’s still time to put some plans into place with these practical how-to’s:

  1. Become a pro on the ins-and-outs of Social Security

While you may begin receiving payments as early as 62, in many cases it’s wise to delay benefits until you reach full retirement age at 66 or 67. Postponing benefits until age 70 will yield a bigger monthly payout. A Social Security calculator can assist you in determining the most advantageous time for you and your spouse to begin receiving benefits.

While you’re storing away Social Security knowledge, don’t forget to get acquainted with the sign-up process and determine the timeline for receiving that first check. 

  1. Contemplate health insurance options

It’s likely your decisions were few when covered under the company’s group policy, but once you enter retirement, healthcare coverage becomes a much more complicated matter.

 

Should you be fortunate enough to retire before age 65, when Medicare takes effect, plan to seek the assistance of those well-versed in the complexities of private health insurance.  Allow yourself plenty of time to sift through the many plans and options before choosing the coverage that will best meet your needs. And remember that once you qualify for Medicare, it won’t pick up all of your medical expenses so plan to choose supplemental coverage to fill in the gaps.

 

  1. Build up a rainy day/emergency fund

 

It’s wise to have a minimum of three months’ worth of living expenses tucked away for the unexpected. Like the red tape that may delay your pension checks. Or any other emergency that could take a chunk out of the amount you’ve planned for routine monthly expenses. You’ll rest easier, knowing this little nest egg is there.

 

  1. Consider the cost of retirement pursuits

The big bills are most likely paid off because that’s how you planned it. Now it’s time to have fun – buy a boat, trek across the country, or turn the spare room into an art studio. However you plan to spend this much-anticipated downtime, don’t underestimate the cost of these relaxing pursuits.

 

Financial planners often advise you’ll spend less money in retirement than you did while working as you won’t be commuting to work or have other work related expenses. However, golden-years adventures can put a sizable dent in your monthly budget. Before splurging on new experiences, gather cost estimates and make wise decisions.

 

If you hopped on the planning-for-retirement circuit rather late in the game, don’t fret. Your best strategy now is to gather all the info you can get your hands on so you can make the most informed decisions.

 

At B. Loehr Staffing, the satisfaction of our clients and candidates is our number one priority. We work hard to make your working years fulfilling – a best-fit position that ends in a well-planned retirement. Take advantage of our more than one hundred years of experience in bringing employment and staffing solutions to the greater St. Louis area. Contact our team of specialists today.

 

 

 

Keys to the Perfect Mix of Friendly and Professional

A continuing challenge for today’s employees is the effort to strike a balance between professionalism and warmth/friendliness at the workplace.

The goal? Be friendly enough to be an approachable, desired member of the team and yet professional enough to be an effective, respected part of the team.

Who will notice if you fail to arrive at the middle ground between professionalism and friendliness? Umm, everyone. Folks on both sides of the equation, meaning boss and co-workers as well as customers and industry peers.

Let’s take a peek at each of these tenets individually beginning with “friendly”.

Nothing exudes friendliness better than a warm smile and a pleasant disposition. Even better? A smile that “reaches the eyes”. Working relationships get a natural boost when all involved possess a positive attitude and a cheerful demeanor. People whose personality bends toward the other side of the spectrum simply have to put more effort into being pleasant.

Genuinely friendly people are easy to detect. They are interested in others, rather than consume with power and status. It’s almost as if he/she wore a name tag proclaiming in bold, black Sharpie letters, “Friendly, Approachable, Interested. How can I help you?”

When it comes to professionalism, some think of wardrobe selection and an extensive, industry-related vocabulary. While those tenets are components of professionalism, there’s much more to it.  Professionalism is born from a mixture of discretion, credibility, tact, and polish with a liberal dose of common sense thrown in for good measure. It encompasses how a person conducts himself/herself as well as a how he/she deals with others.

Knowing how to respond to a multiple array of situations is a mark of professionalism. If this is a weak area for you, tap into available resources for growth and remember, concentrated effort can certainly bring about improvement. Mentoring and accountability by a colleague or peer can be especially helpful.

Here are few do’s and don’ts to get you started.

DO foster relationships

“It’s much easier to work with folks if you get along,” says Lisa O’Neill, a public relations account executive at Trinity Communications in Boston. Make an effort to find common ground and put aside personal differences for the sake of the working relationship.

A get-the-job-done attitude may earn you the coveted “professional” label. But if you ignore everyone in the office, forego lunch and break time socializing, and then head out at the end of the day without a word to your co-workers, “friendly” will not be a descriptor attached to your name.

DO engage yourself in the job

Get with the program. Bring your A game. Jump in with both feet. Whatever phrase gets you motivated, use it. If you appear disinterested in the position, less than excited to be there or worse yet, a slacker, you won’t be perceived as either professional or friendly.

Get and keep up to speed with the department happenings and the overall business. Not only will this awareness assist you in the area of job performance, but you will also be recognized as a resource and gain the respect of your colleagues.

DO dress appropriately

Most jobs come with at least a basic dress code while others have very specific wardrobe requirements. Pushing the envelope to see what you can get away with simply because you dislike the established parameters creates awkwardness amongst colleagues. On your own time away from the workplace, the choices are yours. When you’re on the clock or at a company function, show professionalism by adhering to the dress code.

Grooming habits count too. If it looks like you slept in it, choose something else. While the stubble-faced look may be “in”, company leadership may frown on this trend. But shower-fresh, with clean hair and nails, never goes out of style.

DON’T get caught up in office politics or gossip

It’s unfortunate but almost every workplace has its share of drama and/or politicking. Turn a deaf ear to gossip and refuse to be part of it – neither spreading it nor basing decisions on anything less than documented information.

Want to climb the corporate ladder? Focus on giving 110% to the job and don’t worry about the other guy edging you out. If you strive to be professional and incorporate steps 1, 2, and 3, you’ll get noticed for the right reasons.

DON’T be needy or clingy or foster relationships that are

“But I want everyone to like me best.” If this is your mantra, it will be quite an extraordinary battle to maintain professionalism. This isn’t the playground. You and each of your co-workers are here to do a job. There’s nothing wrong with, nor is it uncommon, for people who work together to become friends. But during work hours, the friendship has to take a backseat to the work relationship and the job.

BLoehr Staffing wants to be your career partner. Whatever your professional goals, B. Loehr can offer you a career that fits your unique situation, enhancing your ability to be professional and friendly, with the freedom and flexibility your lifestyle demands. Contact our team of employment specialists today.

 

The Foundations of an Ethical Workplace

An internet search about “ethics in the workplace” will uncover a lot of discussions, most of which centers around practices of the unethical kind. Names such as Enron, WorldCom, and Lehman Brothers are still circulating years after their scandals made the headlines.

To note that poor ethical practices are unhealthy for the bottom line is like saying winter is cold in Minnesota. More than half of the ten largest corporate bankruptcies since 1980 resulted from unethical business practices.

Each year, almost half of U.S. employees report witnessing unethical or illegal conduct in their workplaces. Many of these incidents are not reported and therefore remain unaddressed. A fact that should concern each and every one of us.

What does it mean to have an ethical workplace? What does such a place look or feel like?

Perhaps the best way to discover the answers to these questions is to point out traits that are not part of an ethical workplace.

  • A place where misconduct is tolerated.
  • Where different standards apply to particular departments or individuals.
  • Where “cutting corners” is encouraged.
  • An atmosphere that pushes profits above everything else.
  • Where leadership is not held accountable and/or not expected to set an example.
  • Where no system of “checks and balances” exists.

Michael C. Hyter, senior partner, leadership and talent consulting, at Korn Ferry in Washington, D.C. sums up his idea of an ethical workplace quite nicely,

“What it means to me is an environment that makes it easy to do the right thing and makes it difficult to do the wrong thing.”  

It usually starts with minor stuff. A “white lie” here, a misrepresentation there. A growing “sweep it under the carpet” attitude that becomes toxic. The thing about ethical missteps is they tend to snowball. One misstep become two missteps – then three . . . leading to a “break” that doesn’t stop before becoming a full hiatus from doing the right thing.

Establishing an ethical workplace culture will not happen without solid, ethically grounded leadership leading the charge. Employees will naturally take their cues from management. An attitude of utmost commitment to a high standard must start at the top if it’s to reach the bottom rung.

So, what are the hallmarks of an ethical workplace?

  • Respect is a priority

Between co-workers, amongst management, between management and staff. Across the board, mutual respect is given and expected.

The same parameters are extended to vendors, peers, customers, the UPS man, the city workers who plow the streets – everyone. Anyone who comes in contact with the company is treated with respect and is expected to behave in the same manner.

  •  Integrity is required

Consistent demonstrations of this character quality are mandatory. Being a man or woman of your word is evidenced in every department, across all phases of the business, to the point of being woven into the very tapestry of the company. Senior leadership not only models the highest degree of integrity but makes no apologies for demanding the same from everyone in the company.

  •  Reporting procedures are in place

Every employee knows, from day one, what to do and to whom to report should he/she witness unethical or illegal conduct. Fears of retaliation are dispelled because the company culture is such that 1. Retaliation is not tolerated. 2. Reporting is expected. 3. Management is consistently watchful toward such behavior.

While it’s okay to hope the company never has to use such procedures, savvy businesses know they cannot afford to ignore the potential for unethical conduct occurring.

  • Swift, consistent consequences apply across the board

Nothing is hushed, poo-pooed, ignored or in any other way disregarded when it comes to addressing and resolving issues of an ethical nature. Whether it be the CEO or a janitorial team member, consequences will be administered in a timely fashion for all infractions. Investigations into the wrong-doing do not cease until all involved parties are uncovered. In other words, “who you are” has no bearing on the degree of ethical behavior expected from any individual.

A company culture that upholds and expects a high level of ethical standards will have happier, more productive employees, less employee turnover and will benefit from a positive reputation among consumers.

B Loehr Staffing holds all of our employees to the highest level of ethical standards. Their outstanding performance has helped to build our reputation as a premier provider of quality staffing.Through our distinctive Team Based Client Support System, we can respond quickly to assist with all of your staffing needs, supplying your business with ethical workers. Contact our staffing specialists today.

 

 

Preparing for Retirement – Part 1: Life Changes  

b-loehr-retirementMost people spend their lives building a financial plan in order to have the dream of a fulfilling retirement. But too often preparation stops there. As their working days dwindle, the biggest concerns looming over the hearts and minds of many soon-to-be retirees has nothing to do with money.

Questions swirl through their minds. What will life be like after retirement? What will I do every day? What if I’m bored or get depressed? What if I hate retirement?

George Kinder  who has been espousing and refining life-planning programs with clients for several decades, suggests that those considering retirement should ask themselves:

“Who do I want to be? What have I missed? Who did I not get to be?”

He then encourages them to enter their “golden years” with the realization that this time is “an incredible opportunity to have all of these things in front of you.”

These strategies will help you get the “living” side of retirement in order.

  •  Consider what you enjoyed most about working

Maybe it was the people or the gratification of completing a project. Could be you thrived on the structure of a detailed schedule. Many people derive satisfaction from meeting the needs of their clientele.

Once you’ve pinpointed this aspect, consider other places or opportunities where this component could be fulfilled. Many non-profit organizations could benefit from marketing, writing, organizational and a plethora of other skills perfected over the lifetime of a career. If you miss helping others or simply miss being around people, the residents of a local nursing home would certainly be happy for some conversation and attention.

  •  Ease into retirement.

Take small steps to prepare yourself by “practicing” ahead of time. If you plan to move, visit the new location as often as possible. Check out leisure, entertainment and art opportunities as well as associations or interests that you’re involved in currently.

Many folks plan to travel after retirement, maybe because working leaves little time to do it now. So, then take a couple of longs weekends to get a feel for how you and your spouse will do on extended trips.

If you plan to get more involved in a hobby, take purposeful steps in that direction before you close the door on your working days.

  • Be realistic.

If you’ve worked 50-60 hours a week for 30-40 years, full retirement may be too great of a shock to your system! Consider becoming a “lite” version of yourself for, say, six months or so. Maybe remain on as a consultant or a resource person for the next project or two.  Spend some time mentoring your replacement or another employee in the department. Anything even somewhat career-focused can help to bridge the gap.

Next week we’ll tackle the financial preparations needed to enjoy your “dream” retirement.

If you’re considering a seasonal, temp, or part-time position as a way to ease into retirement, B. Loehr Staffing has many such opportunities. Contact one of our staffing specialists to see how your lifetime of skills can translate into a transition opportunity.

The Significance of Labor Day

b loehr - labor dayIt’s more than a Monday PTO from work that makes for a nice long weekend at the end of summer. While Labor Day, the first Monday of September, is commonly celebrated with picnics, water sports, good times at the lake cottage, and family reunions, the official holiday is designated to commemorate the American worker and his/her achievements.

In September 1882, the unions of New York City decided to have a parade to celebrate their members being in unions, and to show support for all unions. At least 20,000 people attended the parade although workers had to give up a day’s pay to attend.

The idea caught on, and other regions began having parades. By 1887, Oregon, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Colorado declared Labor Day a state holiday. In 1894, Congress passed an act designating the first Monday in September as Labor Day, an annual legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories, officially commemorating the prominent role of the labor movement in American society.

Of course, what better way to celebrate the American workforce than to enjoy those picnics, water sports, and good times. And if you’re one of those families who will fire up the grill this Labor Day weekend, give this tasty recipe adapted from the Allrecipes.com entrée a try.

“Rosemary Ranch Chicken Kabobs”

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing
  • 3 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T. minced fresh rosemary (approx. 3 fresh sprigs) OR 1 t. dried rosemary
  • 2 salt
  • 1 lemon juice
  • 1 white vinegar
  • 1/4 t. ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 T. white sugar, or to taste (optional)
  • 5 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into 1-inch cubes

Directions

  1. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 30 minutes.
  2. Combine olive oil, ranch dressing, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, salt, lemon juice, white vinegar, pepper, and sugar in a medium bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add chicken and stir to coat with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. If you tend to prefer a stronger marinade flavor, reserve several tablespoons of marinade for use while grilling.
  3. Preheat the grill for medium-high heat. Thread chicken onto skewers and discard marinade.
  4. Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill skewers for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, and the juices run clear. Drizzle with reserved marinade while grilling, if desired.
  5. Loehr Staffing wishes the entire American labor force and their families a relaxing and safe Labor Day weekend.