Engaging at Work

On a scale of one to five, how engaged are you in your job?

If that number’s less than you’d like, you’re not alone. In 2015, only 32 percent of U.S. workers felt engaged in their current job.

The reasons for a waning enthusiasm can stem from a host of factors, but the bottom line is, a lack of engagement doesn’t have to be permanent.

“Individuals who are engaged in their job have more fun, they feel more connected to their place of employment, they’re more likely to have good social relationships, and it contributes to their all-around wellbeing,” explains Lisa Sansom, a positive interventionist who helps bring out the best in organizations and their people.

Examine your level of engagement and consider which of these steps will help put that spring back in your work-a-day world.

  1. Get to Know Your Co-workers

A top reason employees love their job? Forty percent claim on-the-job friendships are a key factor in job enjoyment. Bonding with co-workers makes for a better working environment. And everyone knows that effective teamwork does wonders for productivity. So, put some effort into making your fellow employees more than acquaintances.

  1. Make Contributions

If you sit back and observe the daily happenings without being an active participant, no wonder your level of engagement is heading south. Taking an active part in brainstorming, presenting ideas, sharing insights, and simply getting involved in what’s transpiring is one of the best ways to boost your level of engagement.

A ho-hum attitude is in large part a conscious decision. Sure, you get your work done, but when you choose not to get into the mix, you’re in essence choosing to stay disengaged. At the very least, hop aboard the excitement of your co-workers.

  1. Branch out and learn something new

 

Is the company preparing to launch new software? Is the IT department installing new equipment? How about the memo asking for volunteers to scout out the competition?

The ho-hums tend to settle in deeper the longer a person’s been with the same company so look for opportunities to branch into new territory. Anything that challenges your brain and your creativity will get the engagement juices flowing again. Learning new things can bolster your enthusiasm and even boost energy levels.

  1. Set aside time for introspection

Spending some time looking back can help you chart a course for what’s ahead. Review why you wanted this job in the first place. What were your goals? Have you accomplished them? How have you grown and developed while there?

If the goals have been met, great, set some new ones. If not, what steps can you put in place to move toward completion? Maybe you’ve accomplished more than you realized and that discovery will fuel a new enthusiasm. Introspection can confirm a new set of goals, reaffirm your reason for remaining at the company and make clear the direction to head in the future.

A concerted effort to engage on the job can make you feel more inspired and confident, paving the way for a more enthusiastic and empowered work experience.

At B. Loehr Staffing we are all about engaged employees who find purpose in and derive enjoyment from their employment opportunities. Our team of staffing specialists can assess your skill set and direct you toward a position that meets your career goals. Contact us today.

 

5 Tips for Achieving Employee Engagement

b-loehr-engagementEngagement on the job is huge. Companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202 percent.

Furthermore,  Gallup research found well-established connections between employee engagement and these nine key performance metrics:

  • Customer ratings
  • Profitability
  • Productivity
  • Turnover (for both high- and low-turnover organizations)
  • Safety incidents
  • Shrinkage (theft)
  • Absenteeism
  • Patient safety incidences
  • Quality (defects)

And get this. Engagement has a greater impact on an employee’s well-being than even vacation time or flexible hours.

What can you do to keep the flames of engagement burning? Frankly, there’s quite a lot management can do to encourage an atmosphere of engagement across the entire company.

  1. Be a person of integrity yourself

Saying one thing and doing the opposite is the perfect tactic for shutting down engagement. If the boss/manager/owner doesn’t care, “why should I care” will quickly become the unspoken company mantra.

Be fair and honest. Refrain from making snap judgments or decisions. Respect your employees. Be quick to take responsibility for errors or mistakes, offering a sincere apology and an effective resolution.

  1. Empower your employees

Ensure each employee has what he/she needs to be a success on the job. It’s tempting to assume all the ducks are in a row—training, equipment, procedural know-how, basic and detailed instructions, a clear understanding of the job responsibilities as well as a grasp of the chain of command—for each person to thrive. But despite the best efforts, slip-ups happen. A step or two gets bypassed and the new guy is left without the needed resources to excel.  Early, frequent check-ins can catch the blunders and fill in the gaps.

  1. Build on employees’ strengths

Rather than focus on improving an area of weakness, emphasizing strong points is a natural boost to job engagement. And people who actively use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged on the job.

  1. Utilize incentives

Some folks simply like a challenge while others just need the push an incentive provides. Either way, incentives are an effective way to boost not only engagement but productivity and teamwork as well.

Targets, in general, encourage hard work. And when met goals are recognized and rewarded, it demonstrates an appreciation from the top for a job well done.

  1. Communicate, communicate, communicate

Consistent communication is key to maintaining a high level of engagement. Regular department meetings are one way to keep everyone on the same page. But one-on-one connections between employee and manager/supervisor, whether they occur in person, over the phone, or electronically, lead to higher levels of engagement. In fact, a combination of means seems to be the most effective.

Communication is, of course, a two-way street. An employee must be able to reach a manager and feel confident his/her calls will be returned promptly.

Make every effort to achieve a high level of engagement amongst your employees and then reap the benefits of a more productive, happier workforce.

When you contract with B. Loehr Staffing to meet your fluctuating staffing needs, your energies can then be focused on maintaining an engaged, effective workforce. Let us do the “legwork” involved in keeping your company optimally staffed so you can focus on operating the business. 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.

 

Positive Reinforcement Part 2: Is Your Strategy Working?

b loehr - positiveDo you want highly engaged employees who help drive the company’s profitability? Of course, you do! A company’s greatest asset is its workforce. And one of the best ways to build a phenomenal team and motivate them to assist you in striving for success is to reward and acknowledge their individual and team accomplishments.

It’s a safe bet that you have high expectations of your employees. You want, need and expect them to do their best, to be at the top of their game. Your acknowledgment of their past, present and future successes is crucial to creating the employer/employee bonds that will drive the business forward and propel the entire team toward future success.

Failure to acknowledge, reward and celebrate individual and team accomplishments will not get you where you want to go. Not even close.

Bill Sims Jr., president of the Bill Sims Co., a leadership consulting firm, cautions against “Leave Alone/Zap” management. “Simply put, it means that we leave employees alone and say nothing when they do something right, but we are quick to ‘zap’ or to punish them when they make a mistake.”

Gauge your prowess at doling out positive reinforcement with these tips:
1. Sincerity must set the stage. Show appreciation for achievements with genuine actions. Don’t forget the importance of tone of voice, word choice, body language.
2. Be specific. While a generic “Great job!” is better than nothing, go a step further and give the employee concrete, specific information about what he/she did right.
3. Be realistic. Absolute perfection is a tall order that will discourage some workers from even trying. Make expectations clear and reasonable.
4. Acknowledge both effort and improvement. Not all “best efforts” result in stunning results, but consistent, top-notch effort will pay off in the long run.
5. Don’t wait for monumental achievements before recognition is made. Celebrate the small as well as the large victories.
6. Immediate reinforcement is much more effective than the vague, “Hey, that thing you did last month? Yeah, it was good.” Instead, try “Hey, Bob, Great job on the presentation yesterday. You certainly started our project on the right foot. I appreciate the difference you are making in this company.” It will make a significant and lasting impact.

When the situation warrants an actual award, do some behind-the-scenes work to come up with truly motivating rewards. A gas card for the best sales record will do little for the guy who takes the train to work. A family membership to the zoo or the Y won’t be much of a motivator to the singles in the office. Gift cards for the steak house downtown will be shrugged off by the vegans in marketing. You get the picture. Think outside the box to come up with rewards that will truly incentivize.

Boost your employees’ self-confidence with positive reinforcement and watch their eagerness to learn new techniques, take additional training, and accept more responsibility soar.

B. Loehr Staffing’s employees are the highest caliber workers to be found anywhere. Our pool of excellent candidates can quickly meet all of your temporary long and short-term, temp-to-hire, and direct hire needs. Contact our Staffing Specialists today and you’ll find it easy to engage in positive reinforcement because your workers will be the best.

Positive Reinforcement – Part 1: Why It Matters

Along the lines of the adage that suggests “you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar,” positive reinforcement tends to get better results than negative feedback or punishment. “Reinforcing” positive behavior by offering a verbal or material token encourages that behavior to continue.

Behavioral scientists define positive reinforcement (PR+) as “any consequence that causes a behavior to repeat or increase in frequency.” It’s a reward for a job well done; one that motivates the doer to put in the effort to achieve the same results the next time.

A perfect example is the pride and joy a gold-starred paper brings to a first grader who put effort into writing out the alphabet. An adult world illustration is the feel-good vibes a person gets when sticking to a diet/workout plan that results in a lower number on the scale. In both cases, the positive reinforcement encourages continued effort.

While positive reinforcement is touted in the realms of parenting and education, we sometimes forget that adults also respond well to positive reinforcement. People never outgrow the need for affirmative feedback.

In the workplace, positive reinforcement can motivate a team or an individual to greater productivity, creativity, even a more pleasant disposition. Even though this is common knowledge, too often those in leadership positions find it easier to bring up what their employees are doing wrong rather than to make mention of their accomplishments and improvements. In fact, studies show that over 70 percent of employees never hear their boss say “thank you.”

When the focus is less on what people are doing wrong and more on what they’re doing right, being and doing their best becomes a habit. Consistent praise and incentivizing will shift your team into a constant mode of top performance.

Positive reinforcement does not mean ignoring situations that must be addressed. At times, correcting or admonishing, in order to seek a solution, has to happen. But the sting can be lessened when the correction is wrapped around some positive reinforcement. Hmm, sounds like the Mary Poppins inspired suggestion, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down…”

“We appreciate how well you connect with our customers, but we need to talk about the monthly reports that are a week overdue.”

“Your willingness to fill in those extra shifts has been such a help to the company. Now let’s discuss what steps will help you keep the department functioning more smoothly.”

Every scenario will be unique and different. The key is finding specific “sugar” that relates personally to each individual.

Great leaders understand the role positive reinforcement plays in spurring employees to function at their best. And these leaders make sure their management team incorporates routine feedback of a positive nature. Just as muscles need to be worked out on a regular basis to remain strong, positive reinforcement will net the best results when it happens as an organic characteristic of the company’s structure.

In Part 2, we’ll explore the best strategies for utilizing positive reinforcements.

  1. Loehr Staffing’s team-based client support system is designed to find the best solutions to your company’s toughest staffing challenges. Our special processes enable us to respond quickly and efficiently to meet your unique needs. Contact our staffing specialists today.

 

 

 

Cap off Summer Fun Without Breaking the Bank

b loehr -summer funWith hot summer temperatures in St. Louis expected to last well into September, there’s plenty of time to squeeze in a lot more “fun in the sun” before the books are closed on the summer of 2016.

St. Louis boasts a multitude of family-friendly attractions, many of which won’t cost you a dime. Others offer great adventure at little cost. Grab a calendar and make plans to spend time with family and friends enjoying the great outdoors.

Water fun to beat the summer heat

  • The fountain and wading pool at Tower Grove Park provide a cool reprieve from the summer heat. Dozens of pop-jets and a large water bowl in the center of the fountain offer lots of opportunities for children to beat the heat. During the summer, the fountain and jets are on every day while the wading pool is open Tuesday through Sunday. No admission charge.
  • One of the city’s newer downtown attractions is Citygarden. The park is filled with fountains, wading pools, sculpture and more offering kids a great place to enjoy a hot summer day. Located along Market Street between 8th and 10th Streets, the park is open daily from sunrise to 10 p.m. No admission charge.

Who doesn’t love animals?

  • The 281-acre wildlife preserve and family attraction, Grant’s Farm, is located just south of St. Louis, on what was once the property of President Ulysses S. Grant. The farm showcases more than 900 animals from six continents. People of all ages will love the animal shows and petting The farm is open annually from mid-April through October. While general admission is always free, there is a charge for parking and some attractions.
  • The World-Class St. Louis Zoo is home to more than 5000 animals. Located at One Government Drive in Forest Park, this zoo is considered one of the top in the country. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with extended summer hours; the Zoo offers free admission although some attractions require a small fee.

Who says learning can’t be fun?

  • The Camp River Dubois Lewis & Clark Illinois State Historic Site, just up the Mississippi from St. Louis in Hartford, Illinois, marks Lewis and Clark’s exact point of departure for their famed expedition. Admission is free to everything on the property, including the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, a replica of the 1804 winter encampment, and special reenactment events.
  •  A visit to the World Bird Sanctuary provides an opportunity for an up-close look at bald eagles, owls, falcons, vultures and more. A variety of seasonal shows offer educational programs on the world’s threatened bird species. Admission and parking are free at the 125 Bald Eagle Ridge Road facility in Valley Park. The sanctuary is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (except for Thanksgiving and Christmas).
  •  The Delmar Loop Planet Walk offers a unique, scale model of the solar system. It turns the 6100 to 6600 blocks of Delmar Boulevard into a free, three-billion-mile walk from the Sun to Neptune where kids (and mom and dad) can learn about celestial bodies.

St. Louis—it’s a great place to enjoy summer!

B. Loehr Staffing  has proudly served the Greater St. Louis area as a trusted staffing resource since 1898. “We’re not the best because we’re the oldest, we’re the oldest  because we’re the best.” When you’re finished with your days of fun in the sun, Contact us to see how our staffing specialists can provide for all of your employment needs.

 

The Secret to Enjoying Life

b loehr - enjoyIf the title enticed you because you expected a quick solution to magically make your life enjoyable, well . . . Sorry folks. We hate to burst your bubble, but there is no one secret to enjoying life. There’s no magic pill or formula or even supplement that will trigger an enjoyable life. It just doesn’t work that way.

But before you slink away in despair, consider this. What if the secret to enjoying life is realizing you can’t pin life happiness on any one thing? Or person or circumstance or event. Rather, it seems there’s a number of factors – many within your control – that contribute to an enjoyable life. Of course, some things in life simply are what they are, and there’s not a thing you can do to change them. But it’s also true that a lot of the other stuff that makes up the fabric of our daily lives is most definitely within our power to modify or improve upon.

Consider how working in the following areas could make your life more enjoyable.

  1. Take a chill pill

Not every obstacle has to be a mountain. Not everything is worth fighting over. I used to bristle when folks quipped, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” It seemed, to them, everything I sweat over was small. They didn’t understand my life, my circumstances. My issues were outside of their realm of comprehension. But after I smoothed down my ruffled feathers, I had to admit there were small things that I did sweat. Stuff I could have let go and should have let go.

  1. Make relaxation a priority

Our culture celebrates being busy, living nonstop lives, always trying to fit in one more thing – all to the detriment of both our health and happiness. We feel guilty at the thought of taking a break and ignore the mounting stress our go-go-go lifestyle produces. Taking time to relax, recharge and reconnect with ourselves and our family should not be considered a luxury but rather a necessity. Believe the truth that R & R will leave you better equipped to handle the challenges of your hectic life. If you have to schedule times to recharge, then do it. But no “penciling-in” allowed. Use ink.

  1. Set goals

 Could be you gave up on New Year’s resolutions years ago – so has more than half of the adult population. But why not jot down a couple of things you’d like to accomplish. Something simple like organizing the garage or a more challenging feat such as paying off a debt. Because even the smallest goals, when met, come with a sense of accomplishment that can boost your morale. Go ahead and pat yourself on the back and celebrate. Then set another goal or two.

  1. Adopt an attitude of gratitude

Ever notice how it takes zero thought to come up with something to gripe about but it can take real effort to think of something for which you’re thankful? Another casualty of busy, stressed-out lives.

If you’re serious about upping the enjoyment factor in your life, commit to writing down three things that you are grateful for each day. Such purposeful effort is guaranteed to make you happier because it will shift your focus toward gratitude.

At B. Loehr Staffing, we understand people. And it’s that understanding that has earned our reputation as a premier provider of staffing solutions in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Contact us today to learn more.