Mother’s Day Blog

Many of us were fortunate enough to not only have mothers who helped to make us strong, but aunts as well. My father’s sister, Juliet or JuJu, was the perfect aunt throughout my first 40 years. First of all, we shared the same first name though my parents modified “Juliet” to “Julia”.

When I was a junior in high school, I was dating a soldier from the local military base. I overheard a conversation between my mother and JuJu in which my mother expressed great concern that I would get married instead of going to college. I recall overhearing my aunt telling my mother, “Let me take care of it.” The following week, my aunt invited me to tour three colleges that she thought I might like to attend. We toured the colleges and drove throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia for a week. I decided on the trip that I thought Radford College would be a good choice.

Shortly after our college tour, I learned that my boyfriend was to be discharged and would return to Vermont in a few weeks. Taking no chances, JuJu invited me to join her and her children on a three-week trip to California knowing that “Bob” would be gone when we returned. We enjoyed a wonderful trip on which JuJu made sure we used a Duncan Hines Book of Recommendations to determine where we ate and AAA and Best Western Books to determine where we stayed. We toured many historic and fascinating sites and enjoyed glorious evenings of swimming and talking.

As a country girl from Virginia, it is fair to say that the two trips were life-changing for me. I did attend Radford College and was even a bit familiar with California when many years later, my husband was transferred to San Diego.

Happy Mother’s Day to the aunts, mothers and grandmothers who made us strong women!

Julia S. Aguilar


Increasing Pay Rates for Both New Hires and Current Employees

With the unemployment rate being extremely low, employers are finding that they must often increase the starting pay rate for new hires in order to attract individuals with the skills and experience needed for many mid-level positions. Of course, starting wages have also increased for entry level positions as the minimum hourly wage has increased and the unemployment rate has remained low.
The increased pay for new hires is certainly helpful to many. However, employers must also be cautious of the impact higher starting pay for new hires has on current employees. Current employees who are doing a satisfactory or better job should not make less than a new hire with less experience except in extenuating circumstances, i.e. specific skills and extended education.

Employees often know what co-workers make. If newer employees are making more for the same job than longer term employees, morale and performance issues are likely to develop and turnover is likely to increase.

Wages will likely continue to increase for both entry level and mid-level positions. Employers need to make certain that as pay rates increase for new hires, equity and fairness is made a part of their overall compensation plans for both new hires and current employees.

Julia Aguilar


2017 EEOC Discrimination Statistics

Statistics for 2017 workplace discrimination claims were recently released by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  Retaliation claims were again at the top of the list with nearly 50 percent of 2017 claims being filed for retaliation.

  • A total of 84,524 claims were filed in 2017 with 41,097 (48.8 percent) being for retaliation.
  • Race discrimination claims accounted for 28,528 (33.9 percent).
  • Disability claims accounted for 26,838 (31.9 percent).
  • Sex discrimination claims accounted for 25,605 (30.4 percent).
  • Age discrimination claims accounted for 18,375 (21.8 percent).
  • National Origin discrimination claims accounted for 8,299 (9.8 percent).
  • Religion discrimination claims accounted for 3,346 (4.1 percent).
  • Color discrimination claims accounted for 3,240 (3.8 percent).
  • Equal Pay Act claims totaled 996 (1.2 percent).
  • Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) accounted for 206 (.2 percent).

 *The above numbers exceed 100 percent because multiple categories are sometimes charged.

Of the charges filed at the federal level through the EEOC; 5,423 (6.4 percent) were from California.  In California, employees have the option of filing either through the EEOC or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing or both.  Retaliation accounted for 50.7 percent of the state charges and Disability was second with 35.3 percent.

California law emphasizes the employer’s duty to prevent harassment, discrimination and retaliation in the workplace.  Best practices include training for supervisors on definitions of retaliation and company policy as well as a senior management review of discipline and termination decisions before taking action on any employee who has expressed or filed a claim of discrimination.

Call or email San Luis Personnel Services if you are interested in learning more or in scheduling a class.

Julia S. Aguilar


AB 5 is Gone for Now!

Many businesses, including staffing agencies such as San Luis Personnel Services, were greatly relieved to receive the news today that California AB 5 is “dead for now”. The California legislature considered the bill in 2017 and continued it to 2018 with a hearing scheduled for January 18th in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. The Chairperson of the Assembly Appropriations Committee declined to take the bill up for a vote in the committee which effectively killed the bill for 2018. Unfortunately, the matter could come again in a different or a new bill later in 2018.

AB 5 was definitely a “Job-Killer” bill and one of the most ill-conceived bills that I have read in many years. AB 5 required employers with 10 or more employees to offer additional hours of work to existing part-time, nonexempt employees before hiring or using additional employees or subcontractors, including temporary workers.

Requiring businesses and hiring authorities to first offer jobs to any part-time, qualified employees and to justify why a “new” employee is being hired creates laborious and unnecessary work for Human Resources and other hiring authorities to evaluate every part-time employee’s skills for any job opening. Equally important, it would frequently prevent businesses from hiring the applicant who is the most qualified for the position. Instead, businesses would have to increase the hours for less qualified employees resulting in lower productivity. It is my opinion that some companies would decide to just not hire additional employees due to the added workload, the loss of flexibility in hiring, the removal of choice to hire the best candidate and the fear of litigation.

There is no doubt that AB 5 would have destroyed many jobs –harming temporary and contract workers, unemployed candidates seeking employment, staffing firms, businesses and the California economy.

Congratulations and thank you to the California Chamber of Commerce, the American Staffing Association, the California Staffing Association and all others who worked to be sure that legislators understood the damage that could be done to employers and prospective employees by AB 5.

Julia S. Aguilar
Principal, CSP


More Jobs than Workers

The greatest challenge facing many businesses in 2018 will be the shortage of applicants seeking jobs. “Now Hiring” signs are posted in windows, “Now Hiring” banners hang from the fronts of stores, recruitment ads appear on company websites, recruiting websites, job boards and in various media.

The share of Americans either employed or actively looking for work has shrunk to 62.7% from 66% in 2007, the beginning of the 2008-09 economic downturn. The reason for the decrease is still up for debate. While reasons are unclear, the trend is definitely a troubling one. There was a 20% decrease in men’s workforce participation and a 25% decrease in women’s workforce participation between 1999 and 2015.

There is no doubt that the unemployment rate is low in many places and the unemployment rate for us in San Luis Obispo is extremely low at 3.7% (9/17). Five % unemployment is sometimes referred to as full employment so 3.7% makes quite a statement!

Wages have remained stagnant despite unemployment reaching new lows. Minimum wage increases in California will likely result in higher wages for low to mid-level positions. This may entice some to reenter the workforce.

The “skills gap” is likely to be a continuing problem. Finding highly trained workers to fill specialized positions is particularly difficult. Manufacturing companies have found this particularly an issue as more manufacturing jobs require intermediate computer training.

Companies will need to take a serious look at wages for 2018 and beyond. Wages may need to increase in order to hire and retain the skilled workers needed to grow businesses. Companies will also need to consider hiring workers who do not have all of the desired skills, but have some skills and good potential.

This bodes well for the temporary staffing industry. The “try the employees out before making a long-term hiring decision” may be the key to hiring the employees you need in 2018!

Julie Aguilar


Thanksgiving – Time to Give Thanks to Our Mentors

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to reach back and thank some of those who helped you throughout your career by serving as mentors.  A mentor may be a friend, a family member, a supervisor, a company executive or a co-worker.

One of my most memorable mentors was Elvira Booker, my supervisor when I was an Eligibility Supervisor in Social Services in Richmond, Virginia.  She was smart, tough, fair and by the book.  After I had been in the position for a couple of years, she told me that it was time for me to go to graduate school.  She assured me that I would likely receive a scholarship from the State, which I did.  Two years later when I received my Master’s Degree, she hired me as a Trainer for Eligibility Workers.  That’s quite important because being a trainer has been my “fallback position” throughout my career.   I have called to thank her a few times through the years and in one call, she said, “I always felt that we had a special connection.”  So did I!

A co-worker said that he is most thankful for the sayings shared by his manager when he worked in the retail industry.  He has repeated the sayings in his own business many times through the years.

Saying: “Every one of our employees is somebody’s daughter.”
Message: Treat every one of our employees with respect. Make sure you are comfortable with what she will tell her parents about work at the dinner table.

Saying: “Thanks for telling me. No surprises!”
Message: Always keep me informed.

Saying: “Don’t be afraid of sleeping on it.”
Message: Don’t always make decisions in haste.

Thanks to all of the wonderful mentors who have helped us through the years!

Julia Aguilar

 

 


Skills Gap

A recent survey from the American Staffing Association Workforce Monitor, conducted online by Harris Poll, indicated that fifty percent of Americans have not heard of the “skills gap”.  However, once the term was defined, twenty-eight percent of the respondents stated they knew someone who had been affected by the skills gap.  Fourteen percent said they had personally been affected.

The ASA president stated that “The gap between workers’ skills and those needed by employers is a key reason millions of individuals are unemployed despite millions of open jobs.”

Three out of four Americans surveyed stated that technology outpacing workers’ knowledge is a factor at least moderately responsible for causing the skills gap.

The workplace environment has changed rapidly and survey participants stated:

  • Few job openings exist for the skills they possess (44%)
  • They don’t have the right skills for a desired job (34%)
  • They had to get additional training to keep or get a job (25%)

What can employers do?

  • Provide training and tutoring opportunities to improve or learn needed skills for both current employees and new hires.
  • Examine job descriptions to see if all skill requirements are truly required…or would some just be a nice added skill. Adjust requirements accordingly.
  • Hire candidates with potential even if experience and skills are lacking. Provide opportunities for employees to learn new skills, new trades or new technologies.

What can prospective and/or current employees do?

  • Embrace opportunities to grow new skills, to improve current skills and to stay current with new technologies.
  • Emphasize during job interviews or performance reviews your interests and potential to learn the needed skills. Sometimes, hobbies and general interest have provided you with a basis from which to grow into a new profession!
  • Remember that soft skills are important; emphasize your soft skills and how they have prepared you for a new career or new skill opportunity.

Accept the fact that it may be time for an industry or career change.  Prepare through appropriate training, schooling or internships.  Be willing to accept a lower starting point in order to learn a new industry or a new job!

Julie Aguilar


Fragrance Free Workplace

Many workplaces, including ours, have Fragrance Free policies. The primary reason for fragrance-free policies is to prevent discomfort or other reactions to employees who may be sensitive to strong odors, whether the odors are pleasant or unpleasant. Perfumes and shaving lotions bring on sneezes and headaches to those who are sensitive. Body odor is offensive to everyone!

When going on job interviews, it is a best practice for both men and women to refrain from wearing perfumes, colognes, lotions and other fragrances. You likely would not be aware of a company’s policy on fragrances in the workplace or whether or not the people who interview you are sensitive to fragrances. No one will be offended by you not wearing a fragrance; some won’t like it if you do and others may actually get sick from the smell. A recent article in “The Good Life” provided explanations on the physical impact of smells. A strong floral scent on an elevator or in an office can bring on a pounding headache for those who are sensitive to odors. This is brought on when the trigeminal nerve, which is responsible for bringing sensations from the nose to the brain, is sensitive to a certain odor. It will actually constrict blood vessels in the brain bringing on that dreaded pounding headache.

Bad smells, including body odors brought on by not bathing or not wearing deodorant can make people cranky, stressed or depressed. This is particularly true in small quarters such as a bus, an elevator or an office. The article said this is like any other “annoying sensory stimulus” such as loud noises or extra bright lights as you have no control over the odor.

We recommend Fragrance-Free Policies for all workplaces. We definitely recommend not wearing fragrance when going on job interviews. Both fall under the “Better safe than sorry” category!

Julia Aguilar


More Employees Considering Changing Jobs

Our current almost full-employment job market is bringing on an additional challenge for employers. A recent survey from Robert Half, a global staffing firm, indicated that four in ten workers stated they were likely to look for a new job within the next year. For those in the survey aged eighteen to thirty-four, the number who stated they were likely to seek new employment in the next twelve months was sixty-eight percent.

An increase in turnover is to be expected in today’s employment climate of numerous available employment opportunities at all levels. However, high turnover, can certainly be a challenge for companies of any size.

Employees choose to seek a new position for various reasons. The survey found that workers give inadequate salary and benefits as the top reason to quit. Other reasons included: limited opportunities for career growth or advancement, unhappiness with management, boredom with the job, overworked and lack of recognition.

To increase retention, employers may want to consider:

  • Take time to know your employees. Talk to your staff about their jobs and their career goals. Talk to employees about longer term opportunities within your company and within your industry.
  • Increase compensation. Review your compensation structure to make sure it meets current market ranges. Wages have increased significantly within the past two or three years and, if possible, compensation plans need to be adjusted to the current market levels.
  • Performance bonuses are a viable, less risky way to increase compensation opportunities. Bonuses may be used for special projects, annual performance or any extraordinary success.
  • Freedom to make decisions, to work remotely at times, to work a flexible schedule, to increase time off whether by additional PTO (Paid Time Off), additional paid holidays or shorter work days are all possibilities sought by employees.
  • Be sure your employees know they are valued by celebrating successes, birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.
  • Implement ideas for change suggested by your employees. Consider a bonus payment for ideas that save the company money or meet other company goals.

Solutions will differ by companies. If implemented, the above suggestions may pay dividends for employees and employers by reducing turnover and the high cost of replacing good employees.

Julia Aguilar


Employees’ Market

San Luis Obispo’s unemployment rate of 3.3% for April 2017 was the lowest since May 2001.  This rate makes SLO very close to full employment.  In our staffing business, we have observed a significant shortage of qualified job seekers for more than a year.  Job boards that brought in multiple candidates in the past now attract only a trickle.  In past years, June brought a major increase in applicants as Cal Poly graduates chose to remain in San Luis Obispo.  Fewer college grads now remain in our area as higher paying positions with greater career opportunities are offered in the Bay Area, Southern California and the Central Valley.

What are the answers?  There is no “one size fits all”.  However, there are some steps to consider:

  1. Hire those who are “under qualified” and/or “lacking job experience”.  Invest in training to improve or teach required skills, accept that more time than in the past may be needed to train some new employees; make sure those providing the training are aware and accepting of that fact.
  2. Be patient with those recruiting for you – whether in-house employees or a staffing company. It is a very difficult time to recruit qualified applicants in this job market.  Reduce expectations for seeing a high number of qualified candidates, particularly for entry level jobs.
  3. Make decisions quickly. With so many job openings and so few viable candidates, companies who make quick decisions, including on-the-spot offers, are the ones most likely to quickly fill their open jobs.

In an earlier blog, I shared the story of two under qualified employees who have both now been with their same employer for more than 20 years.   It is definitely a time to consider “taking a chance” on someone who may not be the ideal candidate.  You may also find that “under qualified” 20 year employee!

Julia Aguilar