Navigating the Employment Feeding-Frenzy

How To Survive and Thrive in a Competitive Employment Market

utah job huntWe all know the saying, “There are plenty of fish in the sea.” While that saying applies really well to someone who is seeking their soul-mate, unfortunately it doesn’t apply to businesses looking to find quality employees. For a majority of Utah employers, the struggle to find talent is more real than ever. The job market in Utah has been so extremely competitive these last couple of years, I’ve started referring to is as a Feeding Frenzy!

Employers are jumping at any chance to grab any available employee that enters the job market. (My perspectives below reflect that of the staffing agency market and those hundred or more employers we service who are primarily trying to fill entry-level positions.)

Good News for Employees; Ugly Reality for Employers

As you can see in the chart below, we are going on 8 years of a steady decline in our unemployment rate. Sure, low employment can be a good thing for our local economy and is a sign of employment and financial stability for most Utahans but for Utah employers, it's not necessarily a pretty sight. Fewer employees looking for work means the employment market is getting more and more competitive to attract what little talent is available.

seasonally adjusted unemployment rates

A Fishy Analogy

Employee = Bait: When an employee goes online to one of Utah’s many job boards and uploads their resume, it’s just like throwing a goldfish into a piranha-filled fish tank. The employer who acts quickest can usually grab the bait before anyone else. Although they may feel like they are a piece of bait with so many employers contacting them so quickly, the employee is in a unique position to be selective with who they will ultimately choose to interview with.

There is more than one kind of “bait” so here I’ll refer to them as “worms” and “bait fish.” Worms are the less appealing applicants without much experience or many skills. Bait fish have more experience and are more educated employees who are more appealing to higher-end employers.

Plenty of Fish in the Sea:

With so many employers in Utah all vying for the same small crop of available employees, we notice several factors that differentiate them:

Average Employers = Fish: These “fish employers” pay low wages, don’t have the most competitive benefits, aren’t well known for their culture or work environment. These employers are caught in the endless cycle of fighting for employees but end up getting the “worms” or even the scraps and leftovers from the employers listed below. This means they have to accept employees with poor work history who don’t have the ideal skillset for the job. The employees left behind have low engagement and commitment to their jobs. They jump from one employer to the next continually looking for a “better” job. News flash! It’s not the job that is causing turnover! It’s a combination of average employers who continually hire average employees.

find the best employeesGood Employers = A Marlin: A “marlin employer” has competitive wages, has a good reputation for how they treat their employees, have a culture their employees are proud to represent and they provide their employees with decent benefits. These employers are not part of the school of fish out for a feeding frenzy, they are selective and can pick and choose the best “bait fish” they want to bring onboard. You don’t have to be a BIG employer to have a BIG impact on the people you work with. Also, it doesn’t matter how big the pool of employees is, the “marlin employer” can be selective and has a better chance of catching the prize employee.

best place to workBest-In Class Employers = Shamu: These employers have such a good reputation that people everywhere watch in awe from the sidelines wondering how they are so successful. They do things for their employees that make other employers wonder, “How’d they do that?” or “Why didn’t we think of that?” Employees who have heard about their reputation apply directly with these employers and avoid the turbulent waters of the job-board-world caused by the average employers. These “Shamu employers” are practically fed the best “bait fish” on a silver platter by having a large resume reserve of employees who are all waiting eagerly to leave their average employer and join the winning team.

How Can Employers Survive and Thrive?

If you want to survive and even thrive in these feeding frenzy waters you can’t just be an average fish. Consider these few tips:

  • Evaluate your company culture to ensure current staff members are satisfied which will ensure your good reputation spreads.
  • Reconsider your advertising practices to ensure they are attracting talent. You don’t want to have to hunt for talent, you want talent coming to you. Be flashy.
  • Revamp your interviewing and on-boarding practices. You only get one chance to make a good first impression so your new-hire process should be fun and engaging.
  • You get what you pay for… Offering very competitive wages will ensure quality employees leave their current “average employers” and then stick with you for the long-term.
  • Help your employees grow. Develop them. Recognize them. Help them achieve their aspirations, even if that means they out-grow your organization. True success is found in helping others succeed.

If your organization is feeling like “a fish out of water” in this “feeding frenzy” employment market and would like help elevating your employment stature, give Your Employment Solutions a call. With over 20 years of experience, we’ve worked with hundreds of organizations, from the “Average Fish” to the “Shamu Employers” in this Utah market.

We’ve seen first-hand what works and know well what doesn’t.

Jarum Stone
COO
Your Employment Solutions

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Structure: The Key to Business Growth

How a Little Structure Helped our Small Business BOOM!

Owning a small business is sometimes described as ‘The American Dream.’ But what people often times overlook is that along with the dream comes a fair share of nightmares!

The Beginning – Chaos

multitask in businessIn the beginning stages of our business, like any startup, we lacked structure but were fortunate to have owners possessing key traits like: passion, energy and a very strong drive to succeed. Each owner wore multiple hats, interchangeably. One moment you’re trying to land your first client and the next you’re changing light bulbs while the other owner is going from designing a new logo to figuring out how to satisfy the needs of your first client. Owners had to juggle everything, all day, every day and often times all night.

The Employees ≠ Less Chaos

Once we finally brought in some business, the ‘quick fix’ to the chaos was believed to be simple: hire employees! This proved to be easier said than done… Taking your hard-earned money, that cost you blood, sweat, tears and sleepless nights to generate, then hesitantly give a portion of it to someone else in hopes they can ease your burden.

What is sometimes overlooked is; people bring a whole new set of baggage to your party! Yes, it’s nice to have someone help you with the phone calls, the e-mails, the customer service, the sales, etc., but they also come with the challenges of; wages, taxes, benefits, different work ethic, different personalities, etc. So, hiring new employees did allow us to shift some responsibility but in the same breath added more, different, responsibilities to our plate.

Mini-Me's = More Chaos

staffing minionWhen you run a business for several years and you experience the pains of a start-up, then the growing pains of becoming a legitimate business, you finally realize: we’ve created mini-me's who, like the owners in the beginning, wear multiple hats and interchange them throughout the day.

The new employees were trained to do nearly everything the owners were doing (because that’s the way the owners did it and that’s how they wanted it to be done). New employees we taught a piece of marketing, were encouraged to help sell, were taught customer service and expected to satisfy all the client’s needs, while also helping in some of the HR and finance roles, because again, that was once the owners job which was partially passed down to the new employees.

The Consultants = Structure

Finally, after experiencing so many growing pains, a lightbulb went on when we were introduced to the concept of business consultants. We began meeting and interviewing expert consultants from different firms looking for The One who would help us find a better structure in order for us to establish a foundation for future growth. Growth had come over the years but it came with many growing pains. We believed our new strategy for a better business structure would be the key to quicker, more substantial, growth.

And, as it turns out, we were right!

Structure = Greater Success

staffing structureIn 2012, nearly 17 years since our business began, we partnered with the consulting firm, Petrous Leadership. The result, in a nut-shell: we doubled in size! Through many months of coaching, brainstorming, consulting and white-boarding, we found a structure that was custom-designed for our unique business.

With solid structure finally in our company tree came structure within each of our processes. We designed custom processes to streamline job duties, improved processes and operations, built new interview and screening techniques, all of which helped us find, hire, train and retain top talent who all fit into their structured roles within our newly structured organization.

Having the ‘right people’ in the ‘right roles’ is what it finally took for YES to experience growth on a greater scale, even after many years of business behind us.

perfect staffing processEnd Result = Staffing Perfected

Staffing Perfected is our goal, it’s also our end-result when our structure fires on all cylinders and our team is ‘on fire.’ We’ve reached the goal of becoming more structured and having a clear plan in place for all our staff members and a road map for future growth. What the future hold is still yet to be seen, but come what may, we are ready and structured for success.

Jarum Stone
Operations & Safety Manager
Your Employment Solutions
yes safety

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Holiday Focus Factor

holiday-work-tipsStaying Focused at Work Amidst the Chaos of the Holidays

As the seasons change here in Utah, the anticipation for the holiday season makes itself very prominent all around us. As we walk into stores we see the displays changing to Thanksgiving and Christmas sometimes BEFORE Halloween has even arrived. As we walk the streets we see city workers hanging lights and garland. Ready or not, the holidays are upon us! For many of us, these are welcomed sights reminding us of many traditions past and family gatherings where memories will soon be made. For others, it can be the start of an anxiety attack that makes it hard for them to get out of bed every day and get to work.

Whether you’re eager to welcome the holiday season with open arms or considering moving to a deserted island until the holidays are over, here are a few helpful tips to help you stay focused while at work.

Holiday Work Tip #1: Time Management

With all the cooking, shopping, cleaning to prepare for guests, commuting to and from work and dealing with added traffic from travelers, driveways and walks to shovel and parties to attend, it’s important to plan accordingly. Don’t wait to do all your Thanksgiving grocery shopping until the day before! Don’t wait until the weekend before Christmas to go check off all the gifts on your list. Doing so will add stress to your life and life-stress spills into work and causes additional anxiety. Also, try taking a day or two off a couple weeks before the holiday to beat the rush in the stores and enjoy some time off before the hordes of people hit the streets and stores.

holiday focus work tipsHoliday Work Tip #2: Take a Lesson From The Scrooge

We’ve all seen or heard the story of Ebenezer Scrooge from Dicken's A Christmas Carol. If Scrooge can ultimately find happiness during the holidays, why can’t we? It just takes a little reflection and maybe even a little spin-selling to turn those negative thoughts into positive ones.

  • I, for one, do not like the snow during the holidays BUT my kids LOVE it and I enjoy watching them play in the snow. Therefore, taking them sledding brings happiness to my kids’ lives which in turn makes me happy. When I’m happy in my personal life it spills over into my work life. See how that works?
  • I’m not a huge fan of traffic and long lines at the stores BUT I do enjoy shopping online for cyber-deals and taking advantage of many retailers offering free shipping during the holidays which saves me from waiting in lines. Finding deals and saving on shipping takes away some of the financial stress during the holidays which doesn’t make me feel like I need to work extra hours to earn extra cash. Can I call this a win-win? Close enough.
  • Like most people, I’m always trying to watch my weight but the influx of food and treats around the holidays make it tough to stay in shape and not indulge in all our foodie desires BUT during the holidays there are plenty of football games on TV. (I know what you’re thinking, how is TV gonna help us watch our weight?) Well, I struggle staying entertained at the gym but you throw on some great football games and I could ride a bike for hours in front of that TV! As a bonus, hitting the gym increases my energy which helps me focus at work. Sneaky, right?!

To sum it up, it’s up to us to take control of our stress levels. Let’s work on our time management, be prepared, take a lesson from Scrooge and find ways to just sit back and enjoy the moment in hopes we don’t get overwhelmed and cause our work to suffer. Cheer up and make the most of the holidays!

Jarum Stone
Operations & Safety Manager
Your Employment Solutions
yes safety

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Safety Bloopers

Humorous (and Ineffective) Approaches to Safety

Safety can be a very serious topic but as with all things serious, you have to learn to have a sense of humor to maintain your sanity. The comedic pictures that follow are not to undermine the serious respect I take towards safety, rather shed some light on comical scenarios we all might sometimes find around us.

‘Jimmy-Rigging' an Air Bag

workplace safetyWhoever thought this “Air Bag” was a good idea must have failed miserably in their Physics 101 class! However, if it’s filled with a dozen PB&J’s, there might be sufficient cushion to save you from a 10 MPH collision. Not to mention, save you from starvation if you crash off the side of the road!

With so many advances in safety, don’t try to make your own “short-cut” safety rigs. You may think it’ll save you time and effort from doing it the right way or save you from having to make another trip to the tool crib to get the right tools for the job, but if you stop to consider the consequences of making a mistake without proper safety protocol, you’ll realize it’s worth the extra time to track down the right tools!

A couple extra minutes out of your day is absolutely worth saving yourself from a life-altering injury. Have you ever smashed or cut a finger to the point that it takes a few days to heal? Remember how even basic daily tasks caused pain in that finger and how you may have even required assistance from others to complete minor tasks? Like buttoning your shirt with stitches in your thumb? Or opening a jar of peanut butter with a black & blue thumb from being hit with a hammer? Painful, right? Well, just imagine trying to do those tasks without a finger or thumb…

safety workWhile the air-bag above was an obvious joke and not a real attempt to keep the driver safe, the following picture appears to be an all-too-real attempt to provide some safety to the swimmer pictured…

How many of you would trust your life to a string wrapped around a few bottles of soda?! Lets hope not. Give the guy bonus points for ingenuity but talk about a lapse in judgement!

Pay Attention to Signs!

Yes, our world has been inundated with signs grabbing for our attention: Buy Here, Turn Here, Stop, & Go. While many signs we see out on the road are trying to sell us something, most signs we find at work are trying to save us from something: Caution, Warning, & so on. The signs have been designed to remind us of dangers that surround us at work but in true comedic fashion there are also signs that, well, speak for themselves…

caution

The small print on this sign says “Also, the bridge is out ahead.” Ha!

in case of fire

Or how about this sign reminding people that Social Media can wait when danger is eminent!

please be safe

Sometimes we need to be reminded of the consequences of our own actions. The sign below reminds us that keeping ourselves safe also keeps the animals from having a stomach ache! Makes sense, right?

Be Safe Out There!

While some of these images are exaggerations of safety violations and some are serious attempts at safety, hopefully they make you think before going to work each day to make sure you DON’T take a short-cut towards safety! Your family, your friends and YOUR FUTURE SELF will thank you!

Jarum Stone
Training & Safety Manager
Your Employment Solutions
yes safety

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Founded in Utah during 1995, Your Employment Solutions (YES) had a vision to re-create the traditional staffing and employment methods.
North Salt Lake City, UT

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Stick-to-itiveness Pays Dividends

One Cannot Underestimate the Long-Term Power of “Stick-to-itiveness”

stick-to-itivenessYes, stick-to-itiveness is a real word and to save you time from looking it up I’ll quote Dictionary.com:

Stick-to-itiveness. noun. dogged perseverance; resolute tenacity

I’m writing a blog on this topic, not because it’s the New Year and I’m trying to keep you all motivated to stick with your resolutions, rather as I realize I’m approaching 16 years with Your Employment Solutions (YES) I’m reflecting on what it took for me to reach this rare milestone.

I found some very interesting charts and graphs from the Bureau of Labor Statistics regarding longevity on the job.

sticktoitiveness

The above chart show less than 1.4% of the U.S. workforce who started a new job between the ages of 18-24 held their job longer then 15 years. And additionally, based upon the chart, the Average-Joe my age would typically be in about his TENTH job by now! How do you measure-up with the trend?

Some professionals believe that job-hopping is a great way to become well rounded and gain new skills and experiences. Some go as far to say that keeping the same job for long periods of time is a bad thing and according to this blog “…after a while, your learning curve plateaus, your personal growth sputters, and then your passion dissipates.”

My experience with YES contradicts that statement. People really need to consider what their personal definition of “personal growth” and success is. For me, success is remaining gainfully employed, having financial stability (I’ve not missed a week of pay in 16 years!), supporting my family, gaining new skills and experiences, avoiding life’s “ruts” and enjoying my journey through life. Having worked in the same company for 16 years does not mean I’ve had the same “job” and have had no “personal growth” for 16 years. I’m proud to say I’ve experienced a wonderful life and career full of learning new things, experiencing new things and developing new passions.

Here’s my stick-to-itiveness story in a nutshell:

I started working as a temporary employee of YES and demonstrated enough work ethic that they offered me an opportunity to become a recruiter in-house as one of the then three-man operation. I then became a lead by default when we hired a fourth employee. I was trained to be a salesman in order to help the fledgling company grow. I was entrusted to manage one of the businesses largest expenses (Workers Compensation) and, in addition to other duties, became a safety manager. I have assisted in the opening and management of three branches. I have participated in the hiring and new-hire training of nearly all our staff members.

amigos of hondurasI had the opportunity to buy-out one of the business owners and become a partner in the business. I’ve even traveled to Honduras on two humanitarian trips with Amigos of Honduras which is a foundation started by one of our business owners. What more could I ask for after having dedicated 16 years to one company?

As for the next 16 years, there’s no telling what new skill or experiences I’ll have but one thing’s for sure, it’s up to me to ensure my passion and continued personal growth doesn’t dissipate.

Who would have thought that a 21-year-old kid, starting as an $8/hr temporary employee would someday become one of the owners of the business who collects dividends from the profit of the business he’s help to grow over those 16 years. Had I followed the Average-Joe’s career path of hopping jobs every couple years there’s no telling where I’d be or what my level of success would have been, but what I do know is that my stick-to-itiveness has paid dividends and I couldn’t be happier with my life.

My experience at YES may not lead to the same success and happiness for anyone working 16 years for one company, but it certainly is a beaming example of what’s possible. My advice for people entering the job market is: be reliable; work hard; don’t be afraid to try new things; continue your education; show dedication to employers who return the favor; be honest; don’t wait for your employer to pay you what you think your worth but work so hard that they will realize they can’t afford to lose you.

Hard Work EdisonWhile “job-hopping” may indeed be your pathway to success, one cannot underestimate the power of “stick-to-itiveness.”

Good luck!

Jarum Stone
Training & Safety Manager
Your Employment Solutions
yes safety

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