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Provisional Blog

4 Interview Essentials for Employers

May 23rd, 2017

Whether you’ve been hiring for years, or are interviewing your first candidate, the secret to success in an interview is asking the right questions. Ask great ones and you can expect to get behind the candidate mask and find the information you need to make a smart hiring decision. To help you in the process, here are a few tips to keep in mind during the process:

Identify a framework.

What are you hoping to learn from the interview? What key areas are most important? How will you evaluate skills? What about personality and cultural fit? Once you know what you’re trying to get out of the interview, you can plan for the types of questions that you should be asking during it.

Develop a list of questions.

The final questions you do ask are up to you. But some key ones to consider include:

  • Tell me about yourself. This is a good ice breaker. It can also give you some insight into what’s important to the candidate by what they talk about first.
  • What accomplishment are you most proud of? This will demonstrate their proven track record, but also give you an indicator of whether or not the candidate is a collaborator, problem solver, and focused on high quality.
  • What interests you most about working for us? Asking this question helps you evaluate how much research the candidate has done. It also can serve as a warning sign if it becomes clear they know little or nothing about your company.

Set the tone.

Be engaged, positive and curious during the interview process. Don’t answer your phone or check your email while you’re talking to candidate. Your attitude toward them will set the tone for the entire hiring process. And if they have a good experience with you, they’ll be far more likely to open up.

Listen to the questions they ask.

Don’t focus entirely on your questions. Make sure you listen carefully to the questions they ask too. This is important because it a) demonstrates their preparedness (or lack of); b) gives you some insight into what’s important to them based on the types of questions they’re asking; and c) showcases their level of insight and knowledge about your company and the industry.

Don’t have the time or resources for hiring and interviewing?

Leave it to the experts at Provisional. As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we know where to look to source the best candidates for a wide variety of positions and fields. Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

Onboarding New Hires? Follow This Checklist

April 11th, 2017

How would you like to impress new employees and retain them longer? As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows you can when you onboard them properly. In fact, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, new employees who attended a well-structured onboarding orientation program were 69% more likely to remain at a company up to three years.

So what does a strong onboarding orientation program entail? Consider the following checklist:

  • Send out an email to your other employees before the new hire’s first day announcing they’re joining the company and their position. Encourage employees to welcome them in their first days and weeks on the job.
  • If your building has extensive security, make sure your new employee is able to gain access to park and enter the building.
  • Set up their desk before they arrive. That means making sure their computer is up and running and they have the right credentials to log into your system. It also means stocking their desk with some basic office supplies, as well as ensuring the phone is hooked up and working.
  • Don’t just wing it on a new hire’s first day. Have a schedule and a plan in place. While it can certainly be flexible if something comes up, it will give the day more structure and purpose. Make sure you include time for your new hire to fill out HR paperwork.
  • If needed, get business cards printed so they can be ready and waiting on your new employee’s first day.
  • Provide a tour of your building and also introduce your new hire around. Make sure they meet those they will be working directly with, as well as key players outside the department.
  • Schedule a welcome lunch with the department team so your new hire can get acquainted with new co-workers on a more personal basis.
  • Assign them with a buddy they can turn to for questions and advice during those early weeks on the job.
  • Spend some time with your new hire making sure they understand your expectations for the role and what success looks like in it.
  • Schedule new hire orientation and make sure your new employee gets a copy of the handbook. Also, review the company’s history and any important policies they need to be aware of.
  • Make sure to set up any training sessions if there is certain equipment or software programs your new hire needs to learn to use.
  • Check in on a regular basis to ensure your new team member is comfortable and understands what they’re doing. Encourage them to come to you with questions or concerns.

Sometimes a new hire doesn’t work out. But by taking the steps above, you can ensure your newest employee feels welcomed and engaged from the start – and is more likely to stay and make a positive contribution in the future.

Need more help recruiting and onboarding new employees?

Call the experts at Provisional. As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we use a consultative approach to provide customized recruiting and training solutions to our clients. Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

Do your Employees Need Training? Here’s How to Find Out

January 19th, 2016

It’s the start of a new year – and with it comes new strategies and goals for your company. But in order for your people to bring these plans to fruition, they may need some additional training and support. But as one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows that’s a tall order. So where do you begin? Below are some areas that are most often problem spots for employees, along with questions to ask to help you identify training needs and skill gaps:

Customer service: Has there been a recent increase in customer issues or complaints? Are there any patterns or trends that are emerging, like being customers being kept on hold for too long? How can you use training to overcome such issues and improve the customer service experience at your company?

Employee performance: Take a look at the performance of each department within your company. Is there a particular one that’s underperforming? Talk to the manager and try to get to the root of the problem. Is it due to understaffing, a lack of other resources, or unforeseen challenges? How can employee training help get that department back on track?

Company restructuring or changes: Has your company recently restructured, or undergone significant change? If it has, your employees may need some additional support in order to keep up. For instance, are there new technologies they need to know, products and services you’re offering, or issues that are coming down the pike? If so, then your team needs to be brought up to speed on them and properly trained to help them handle each one.

Growing pains: Has your company recently experienced a major growth spurt? Is your company having issues finding its footing in this “new normal”? Why is that? Could employee training help to better manage company growth and the issues that have come along with it? Also, are there gaps in skills due to your company’s recent growth? Can you shore up these gaps through employee training, or do you need to recruit and hire additional employees to solve the problem.

Knowledge transfer: Are there mission critical functions handled by one person in your company? If so, this could put your company at serious risk should that person leave. Going forward, think about how you can use mentoring and job shadowing, along with technology and documenting processes to protect your company.

Workplace injuries: Did your company experience any accidents in the workplace last year? What caused the situation and how can you avoid similar ones going forward? What part does employee training play in the process?

Do you need additional HR and staffing help for your company? Call the experts at Provisional. As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we use a consultative approach to provide customized staffing solutions to our clients. Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

Tips for Using Social Media to Recruit Great Candidates

December 15th, 2015

As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows in today’s day and age, social media is an important tool in shaping your employer brand. What messages are you sending to candidates? If you don’t know – or you’re unsure where to begin – here are a few tips to help you use the power of social media to recruit great candidates:

Discuss industry news.

As a company, you want to position yourself as an expert in the industry so you can attract the best talent. One way to do that is to regularly share industry news and then post your take and insights on it. Don’t simply post press releases; instead, discuss pertinent news and information and offer the company’s perspective and thoughts on it.

Offer how-to tips.

Don’t hoard information; share it instead. For instance, give candidates information on how to get hired at your company. Talk about what hiring managers look for in great candidates and the types of people you have working for the company. Not only will this information help candidates determine whether your company is a good fit for them, but it will also help you attract strong candidates.

Ask questions.

Don’t dominate the conversation on social media. Instead post questions and invite people to start a conversation. For example, ask candidates what the #1 detail is they’d like to know about working at your company. Once you’ve collected some questions, post a blog or put together a video featuring employees discussing that information.

Share job openings.

Your social media profile shouldn’t just be a list of job openings at your company. However, when you are looking to hire, it certainly should be promoted via social media. When you post an opening, be sure to go beyond the tasks and responsibilities and talk about why a candidate should want to work for your company.

Leverage your employees.

Your people can be your biggest brand advocated on social media. Invite them to author blog posts or post videos talking about what they like best about the company and what they’ve learned since joining the organization.

Tell stories.

People don’t want facts and stats. They want to hear stories. So if, for instance, your company is involved in the local community, share stories about the difference you’ve made. Post pictures and interesting information about the work you and your employees have done within the community.

The bottom line? The better job you do of creating a strong employer brand on social media, the stronger chance you have of attracting the best people. While it certainly takes an investment of time and effort, it’s well worth it in the long run.

Do you need help recruiting great candidates for your company? Call Provisional. As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we know where to look to source the best candidates for a wide variety of positions and fields. Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

Communicating With Employees: When Email Isn’t Ok

September 16th, 2014

As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows that for most managers, it’s easier to fire off a quick email to an employee rather than picking up the phone or scheduling some face-to-face time. Typically, that’s fine. But there are some situations when email simply isn’t ok. You need to talk with your team member in person or over the phone. Here’s a look at a few of those scenarios:

• Avoid email when you need an instant response. For all you know, your employee could be away from their desk, or up against a tight deadline. Even if you assigned your email as “urgent,” there could be a perfectly reasonable explanation why they didn’t see it until hours later. If you need a quick answer, pick up the phone.
Avoid email when you need to confront an employee. Nobody likes to talk about sensitive issues or topics where an employee may have an emotional reaction (think turning them down for a raise or promotion, or talking about performance issues). However, you’ll be far better off doing so in person or on the phone. Email lacks both nuance and tone, which can cause tension to further escalate.
Avoid email when you need to discuss a complex project or a task where decisions need to be hashed out. Not only can details get lost in translation, but it’s much more efficient to have a discussion over the phone or in person than via email.
Avoid email when you need to communicate something confidential. Email is the least confidential method of communication. Just ask executives from Enron and Goldman Sachs. All of your past conversations and comments can be easily recalled by a novice IT person, even if you hit the “delete” button. So before you compose an email, consider whether you’d be ok with someone else who’s not the intended audience reading it.
Avoid email when you need to give constructive feedback. It’s one thing when you send an employee a quick “great job on ABC project!” email. But the reverse doesn’t hold true. When you need to offer negative feedback, you should do so in person, or at the very least, over the phone.

There’s no doubt email is a fast and easy way to communicate. However, it’s not always an appropriate method. Follow the tips above to avoid using email when it will undermine your message or cause conflict.

If you need help hiring effective communicators for your team, call Provisional. As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we use a consultative approach to provide customized staffing solutions to our clients.

Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

6 Ideas for Budget Friendly Employee Benefits

December 17th, 2013

As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows that these days, offering employee benefits certainly isn’t cheap. However, in order to attract and retain top talent, it’s also a must.

But did you know there are certain benefits that can help strengthen your retention efforts, without costing your company a lot. For instance, consider these ideas:

1. Offer voluntary insurance.

Offering access to voluntary insurance (like life insurance or disability insurance) is a win-win for employers. Not only does it allow you to provide a more robust and attractive benefit package, but you simply administer these insurance plans. Your employees actually pay for them at a discounted group rate.

2. Offer pre-paid professional services.

Similar to supplemental insurance, you can offer your employees access to pre-paid legal and financial planning services so they can get help handling matters like creating a will, planning for retirement, and more. With these types of services, employers typically deduct the monthly service fee from the paychecks of those employees who wish to participate.

3. Offer free lunch-and-learns.

You can offer your employees access to free lunch-and-learns with attorneys, health care professionals, financial planners, bankers and other professional experts at no charge. They can discuss issues ranging from how the new health care reform law will impact individuals and families to what to do if you are ever audited by the IRS.

4. Offer discounts at local merchants.

Negotiate with merchants in your area to get discounts for your employees. For instance, if you employ enough people, some auto dealers will offer your employees a discount for purchasing or leasing a car through them. A bank or credit union may be able to offer a program for your employees that provides special loan deals. Likewise, restaurants, gyms, hotels and other types of retailers typically offer corporate customer programs you can take advantage of. It costs you only the time and effort it takes to seek out and create these partnerships.

5. Offer little perks.

For instance, partner with a local garage to offer free transportation for employees who need to get their car serviced. Or you can ask a local dry cleaner to offer free pick up and delivery services to your employees. Many businesses are open to creating these kinds of relationships because they garner so many new customers through them.

6. Offer a weekly breakfast or lunch.

Once a week, provide a free breakfast or lunch for your employees. It can be as simple as bagels and fruit, or sandwiches. Eating together helps teams become more cohesive and can also inject some fun into the daily grind.

If you need more help with your employee retention efforts, call Provisional. As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we use a consultative approach to provide customized staffing and retention solutions to our clients.

Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

Are These Candidate Red Flags or False Alarms?

November 12th, 2013

You know when you’re interviewing candidates that there are certain bad traits, behaviors and weaknesses you should be on the lookout for. These are typically deemed “red flags.”

Some of them are no brainers – when a candidate shows up late to an interview without a good excuse, when they bash a former boss or colleague, or when they answer their phone in the middle of your discussion. Clearly, these behaviors should land them in the “don’t hire” pile.

However, as one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows there are also other behaviors that are typically deemed red flags, but may actually be false alarms. What’s worse is that they might actually lead you to filter out good candidates who could do a great job in the position.

To help you, here are a few red flags that might not be:

They don’t have long-term career goals.

When you ask the “where do you see yourself in five years?” question and they don’t have an answer, it’s a sign they’re unmotivated and directionless, right? Wrong.

It could simply mean that they’re open to new opportunities and will make the decision about whether to pursue them or not when the time comes. Often, candidates will answer this question with a canned answer that doesn’t really reflect their true self or desires. So if a candidate isn’t sure where they see themselves, don’t use it as a black mark against them.

They can’t articulate a weakness.

Many hiring managers ask the dreaded “what’s your biggest weakness?” question. But again, if a candidate can’t answer it, don’t write them off.

First, no answer may be better than an artificial one – like “I’m a perfectionist.” It can indicate a candidate doesn’t want to be dishonest about their answer and really can’t think of one. And who do you really want to hire? The candidate who “says” they are a perfectionist, which you know probably isn’t the case, or the one that can’t come up with an answer?

It’s a tough spot to be in, but one you can avoid altogether if you ask a different question that better elicits the information you’re looking for. For instance, “if I called your last boss right now, what would they say about you?” Or “what kind of feedback did you get in your last position – both positive and constructive?”

They don’t have enough experience.

You may be interviewing a candidate who only has a few years of experience under their belt, or is making a career switch. Whatever the case, don’t dismiss them if they have three years of experience and you’re looking for someone with five.

In fact, for someone who’s taking a step up, the position you’re offering may be exciting and challenging, whereas for someone making a lateral move, it’s simply more of the same. Just because a candidate doesn’t fit perfectly with your experience requirement doesn’t mean they won’t add value to your company.

And if you walk away from an interview uncertain about a candidate, then do some follow up work. Schedule another interview or phone call to get your questions answered and to ensure you’re hiring the right person for the position.

If you need more help hiring terrific candidates, give Provisional a call. As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we use a consultative approach to provide customized staffing solutions to our clients.

Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

Getting Lazy Employees Back on Track

October 8th, 2013

As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows most companies have at least one of them. That employee who comes into the office 15 minutes late each day. Takes an extra 10 minutes on lunch break. And always seems the last to get the work done, if they get it done on time at all.

If this sounds familiar, then you’ve got a lazy employee on your hands. And the trouble with lazy employees is that a) their behavior can influence the professionalism of the rest of your staff (they’ll start thinking, “hey, if he comes in late everyday, why can’t I?”) or b) their behavior can reduce morale because their co-workers are always picking up the slack for them.

Either way, not good scenarios. So short of flat out firing a lazy employee, is there anything you can do to get them back on track at your company? To help you, here are a few tips to consider:

Set clear goals.

Many times, not having clear goals or expectations can a cause an employee to become disengaged, which can lead to laziness. So make sure all your employees are clear about the expectations and goals you have for them. Meet with them on a regular basis to get a progress report and ensure they’re working towards achieving these goals.

Check in randomly.

Your lazy employee may need an extra boost of motivation in the form of random check ins. So stop by their office unexpectedly to see how things are going. You don’t need to be standing over their shoulder constantly, but you do need to send the message that the employee is on your radar.

Get to know them.

If you don’t know your employee that well, then you’re not going to know what motivates them. So get to know them on a more personal basis to learn about their desires and goals. When you do, you’ll have a better understanding of what makes them tick and how to keep them motivated.

Reward them.

Clearly, if an employee is being lazy, you don’t want to recognize them with a reward. However, if they are working towards improving and making great strides, then some kind of reward is certainly appropriate. As you set new goals with your employee, you can also offer additional incentives for meeting them.

Hopefully, the above tips will help you deal with an employee who is less-than-ambitious. However, if they don’t, then it may be time to replace that person with someone more motivated. And if you need help finding terrific candidates, give Provisional a call.

As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we use a consultative approach to provide customized staffing solutions to our clients. Just give us a call today to find out more about how we can help you.

Dealing With the Dreaded Counteroffer

June 11th, 2013

As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows first-hand that there are many challenging parts to the hiring process. But one that proves to be most trying is when your top pick candidate pulls out of the running to accept a counteroffer from their employer. And considering that the war for the best talent is fierce – even in this economy – more and more employers are adopting a strategy of making counteroffers to key people.

So when this happens to you, what should you do?

Just like in other aspects of the hiring process, it’s important to be pro-active, rather than reactive. Here are some tips to help you:

Educate Candidates About the Potential for a Counteroffer.

Most candidates won’t see a counteroffer coming; but, as a hiring manager, you should – and you should educate candidates to expect them when they resign. Not only does this ensure the candidate is prepared to handle a counteroffer, but talking about it will also give you a feeling as to whether they might be open to accepting one.

Stay Connected During the Transition Period.

Once you’ve made an offer to a candidate and they give notice at their current employer, start treating them like an employee. You can do this by:

• Giving them your direct number and having them call you right after they resign to get support.

• Staying in contact on a regular basis during the transition time.

• Adding them to the employee email database so they start receiving emails about company activities and information.

• Inviting them to company events.

• Asking HR to contact them and start the payroll and onboarding process.

When you take steps to make a new hire feel at home, it will ease the transition and confirm their decision to leave their current employer.

Let a Candidate Go.

If a candidate gets a counteroffer and is seriously considering it, let him or her go. You don’t want to get in a bidding war with their current employer. Also, if they are willing to rethink the possibility of staying put, then they’re probably just in it for the money. If that’s the case, then they’ll likely jump ship from your company the second a more lucrative offer comes along.

While dealing with a counteroffer can be frustrating, by taking the steps above, you can hopefully help avoid them altogether in the future.

And if you need more help with the recruiting process, let Provisional know. As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we use a consultative approach to provide customized staffing solutions to our clients. Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

Think You Don’t Need an Employee Handbook? Think Again.

January 17th, 2012

Did you know that federal law requires that companies with 15 or more employees have an employee handbook? What’s more is that failure to comply with this law can be expensive, especially in today’s litigious society.

The good news is that, as one of the top staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we know that creating an employee handbook isn’t rocket science. There are a few steps you can take to streamline the process, while also ensuring your employees have access to the information they need.

Here’s a look:

Step #1: Use clear language.

Some employers have a tendency to write out their employee manuals as complex legal documents, only decipherable by highly trained attorneys. The problem with this is that the handbook is for your employees – and unless your company is a law firm, this approach won’t get you anywhere. So be succinct and use everyday language.

Step #2: Include policy information first.

Most questions from employees typically revolve around policy issues – like health care benefits, holidays the office is closed, vacation and bereavement time, sick leave, and payroll procedures. So put that information first so it’s easy to access.

Step #3: Communicate your expectations.

Use your handbook to outline important work rules, such as rules of conduct, dress code, terms of probation or termination, and policies relating to electronic communications and confidential information. Although most employees don’t like to read about causes for termination, it’s much worse for you if you don’t inform them of your expectations, before an issue arises. In addition, employees come from a variety of work environments and it’s important to define your standards to ensure consistency in your particular work environment.

Step #4: Don’t forget the legal stuff.

Use your employee handbook as the place to put important legal information, such as how to file a complaint and the company’s policies on sexual harassment, discrimination, and workplace violence. You may want to work with your attorney or an HR expert in order to iron out the details.

Step #5: Don’t let fear of forgetting a detail stop you.

Keep in mind that your handbook is a work in progress; it will go through many changes in the future, but you have to start somewhere to get anywhere.

And if you need help creating your employee handbook, give us a call. As one of the top staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we can take some of the hassle out of your staffing and HR duties, so you can focus on running your company.

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