A reach out last month from Samantha was a jolting reminder that I had not connected with her since the pandemic began. “Sam” was one of my first applicants when I became a staff recruiter at Abel Personnel. Residing in the same city and being in a similar demographic, I frequently run into Sam at business networking events or favorite dining establishments. This connection has grown as Sam is in touch with me when she needs career advice even though she’s very satisfied with her current employer.
The phone call started this way, “I think I’m flunking my emotional intelligence exam; what can I do to bring up my score?” Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage emotions effectively. In the past several years, hiring managers have more often asked me about a candidate’s “EQ” (emotional quotient) before agreeing to have me schedule an interview.
As I started extracting more information, the picture emerged: Sam’s talent for reading body language and picking up voice tone and nonverbal clues made her especially effective at her job. Those skills dissipated once most of her interactions were over the phone or on Zoom. At the same time, Sam was feeling more anxious about all the work and home issues emerging from the pandemic. She caught herself being a little too caustic in some of her interactions and shooting off some emails that she later regretted. Sam’s apologies afterward were met with understanding, but Sam was frustrated by her behavior. “This is not who I am,” she insisted.
I identified the following tactics that might increase her “score:”
- Be Face-to-Face: While most real-time connections need to be virtual, try to promote video conferencing. That includes insisting or cajoling those present to show their face.
- Check-In Intermittently: No longer able to walk around an office, causal encounters aren’t happening. A simple video call with those with whom you’d typically stop and chat is a good replacement.
- Unemotional Emails Only: The best employment of emotional intelligence relies on steady feedback between participants. Email does not offer that immediate feedback, so be careful not to include any emotion in these.
- Commute Replacement: While few miss the daily work commute, building in time before work and just after work for mental processing can increase emotional intelligence. This could be as simple as working out or going for a walk or reading a chapter of a novel.
- Support Group: Gather a diverse group of your friends and/or out-of-company colleagues to act as each other’s sounding boards as you hone the social skills required for virtual and hybrid working environments.
While some local businesses had record revenues in 2021, others had to shed staff owing to the drop in demand or patronage for goods or services. A client whose human resource manager, Kathy, contacted us just after the New Year reported that they were able to break even and retain most staff, in part due to a resurgent fourth quarter. With their expectation that demand would continue to grow in 2022, there were several positions they needed to fill to meet that demand.
The list of new openings varied from call center staff to system analysts to front-line supervisors. We first confirmed with Kathy that her company had been operating on a hybrid office system since the first days of the pandemic, with no immediate plans now to return everyone to the office full time. Although the IT Department had revised all systems to allow secure voice and data systems access for all from anywhere, there was no decision yet about maintaining the hybrid model once the pandemic would end.
We then reviewed the position requirements in detail. We sorted them by which had to be full-time at the office, which would be hybrid, and which would be all remote. Kathy indicated which jobs might offer the flexibility to be on-site or remote. For some positions that Kathy thought could be remote, we discussed whether it was realistic for someone new to that job type could learn and perform in the job position without nearby mentorship and supervision. We marked those positions as “in-office or remote DOE (depending on experience).”
Then came the hardest part: determining how effectively each applicant could likely work at a remote worksite (usually from home), apart from what worksite location the applicant preferred. Not everyone is cut out for working from home. We developed three lists of questions with Kathy, covering the applicants’ remote work experience, tech-savviness, and remote workspace conditions. To view these lists, click here.
One of our client companies recently approached Abel Personnel for input on the subject of Paid Time Off (PTO). This topic just came up at a senior staff meeting when the discussion turned to how to revise their benefits package to retain existing employees. While there was some skepticism that the company’s approach to vacation, sick and personal time would cause an employee to jump elsewhere, or to not choose to accept an offer to join this company, everyone recognized that being competitive and enlightened in the compensation, benefits and other human resource policies was the right way to do business. After acknowledging that many of our applicants did find a PTO package especially attractive, I then asked this client what type of PTO package was being considered. When my question was answered with a question about what types of packages were available, I realized I needed to further our conversation by starting with the basics.
First, I explained that PTO packages typically covered vacation, sick and personal time. For example, a starting employee may receive 2 weeks of vacation, 3 sick days, and 2 personal days, totaling 15 days. Some PTO packages would replace all those with a “PTO Days” pool, to be used in any way that the employee saw fit without oversight. Some advantages of this system are:
- Employees are not tempted to be untruthful about being sick when they need a day off for “mental health” or a personal need they’d prefer not to disclose to their employer.
- There are no awkward discussions as to whether a request for personal time meets the written company policy’s definition.
- Employees are given the agency to act as adults in determining how to meet the work-life balance. This flexibility can be especially appreciated now when school children can be sent home on short notice due to possible coronavirus exposure.
For more information about the advantages and disadvantages of PTO click here.
Judith has been an ally for over a decade, ever since I placed her at the company where she’s since risen to the position of human resources manager. She will contact my company when she has an opening to fill, but also to tap my mind on what she calls “the view from the other side.” Her questions will go beyond staffing issues, including what I’ve been seeing in the marketplace on benefits and personnel policies. A recent call from Judith concerned the latter.
“I’ve just had another out-of-the-blue resignation,” she reported. “She’s an engineering supervisor who’s been here over 7 years. Management has been on me to beef up employee retention efforts. With our government contracts, we are under a lot of pressure to show greater diversity, particularly in professional and management ranks.”
After sharing with Judith that I’ve heard an increasing number of similar reports lately, I informed her of the hard data: 1-in-4 women are now considering quitting their jobs to stay home; the quit rate for women is about 1% greater than for men.
“Why is this ‘Great Resignation’ happening more with women?” Judith wanted to know.
The surveys indicate the following:
- School Uncertainty: Occasional class quarantines due to COVID exposure or contraction by classmates result in a sudden switch to remote learning that requires adult presence and involvement.
- Virus Exposure: Returning to the workplace adds family exposure risk from those who remain unvaccinated and break-through contractions by those vaccinated.
- Advancement Opportunities: A woman might fear that her opportunity to advance her position will be affected by her ongoing lack of impromptu face-to-face access to senior management.
- Workplace Microaggressions: The recent advent of the Me Too and Black Lives Matter movements have resulted in greater consciousness about subtle sexual and racial prejudices that women, particularly women of color, regularly face.
- Diminished Financial Pressure: Both men and women have benefitted from the pandemic-related government’s subsidies, stock market value increases, and reduced opportunities to spend money (particularly on vacations) that have provided a financial cushion to afford to take some time off between jobs.
“That’s maybe what’s going on with my recent resignation,” Judith replied. I then suggested some strategies that might further differentiate Judith’s company and retain employees, particularly women employees, at this strange convergence of a pandemic and a hot labor market.
Marianne appeared visibly unsure of herself at the start of our Zoom call. A mutual friend had connected us, as so often happens in my long time in the staffing business. Marianne desperately needed career advice now that her firm was asking her to return to their office, hence our phone call. After the typical pleasantries, I asked Marianne how the COVID pandemic experience was progressing for her.
“It’s making me rethink everything!” she quickly responded. Marianne related her family’s experience: Her company had sent her to work from home in March 2020, just about the time the schools switched to online learning. Since then, her company had been great in supporting her and giving her the flexibility she needed. When the vaccine first became available, there was finally talk of everyone going back to work and school. Still, once her vice president asked her whether she was prepared to come back to the office, Marianne realized she wasn’t at all ready for the following reasons:
- School Uncertainty: Occasional class quarantines and the possibility of remote learning.
- Virus Exposure: Family exposure risk from those who remain unvaccinated and break-through contractions by those vaccinated.
- Advancement Opportunities: Marianne fears that her opportunities to advance her position will be affected by her ongoing lack of impromptu face-to-face access to senior management.
Marianne reflected that if she can’t “have it all,” she would choose her family over her career. Many of the women in her network had been sharing similar thoughts. I informed her that 1-in-4 women are now considering quitting their jobs to stay home, and the quit rate for women is about 1% greater than for men. After first suggesting she raise these concerns with her employer to determine if her needs could be accommodated without curtailing her advancement, I next developed a list with Marianne of requirements she would seek from an “ideal employer” relative to the flexibility and opportunities she sought.
Both Abel Personnel’s clients and applicants confide to us that the job interview can be one of the most stressful parts of the job placement process. Hiring supervisors need to quickly confirm facts, gain an overall impression, give an even better impression, and try not to run afoul of any discrimination laws. The applicants want to make an equally great impression, sound thoughtful in answering whatever questions are tossed at them, and not make any mistake that dooms their candidacy. All this in as little as thirty minutes!
We believe that interviews can be highly productive, maybe even fun, with proper preparation, like any other endeavor. Aside from the hiring supervisor carefully reading the resume and checking online resources, and the applicant fully parsing the company’s website, the focus is on the questions and answers that each of them will share. Doing the homework will minimize any surprises for either participant.
First, what not to ask:
- Any information already on the resume or the website, although drilling down on any items to find out “why” should be done, if only to acknowledge that you’ve done that homework.
- Salary and company benefits; will be addressed in follow-up contacts if both parties want to pursue the opportunity further.
- Anything that might pop up on a background check; follow-up items, sometimes better covered with the hiring supervisor by the Abel Personnel recruiter.
- Hiring and job search schedules are typically follow-up questions, best handled by the recruiter, although in some cases can be used in the interview to indicate a sense of urgency by either party.
Read about the top five interview questions here.
Working from home during the pandemic, or being unemployed at home, offers individuals more time to reflect on their life during moments of less activity during the day and evenings. According to a recent article by McKinsey & Company, seventy percent of employees said that their sense of purpose is defined by their work, and over sixty percent indicated that they wanted to get more purpose from their work. Digging deeper into the data, those who are finding no connection or not enough connection between their work and their purpose in life are 50% of the staff and frontline supervisors.
The implications of the “purpose in life” gap – whether no connection or just some connection – can be seen in the wave of resignations now occurring among those frontline staff and supervisors. Given time to reflect, they realize that what they are doing for a job is not having the positive impact on the world as they had once envisioned, why they pursued this career in the first place.
The good news is that most successful firms have identified a means to make that positive impact.
This is exemplified by their middle and upper management’s beliefs and their ability to alter their company’s direction to make sure the work aligns with their purpose in life. These companies do not lack a compelling purpose to make the world a better place, they are poorly communicating that purpose.
To support your retention of employees in these times by supporting their need for sense of purpose, McKinsey’s experience suggests the following tactics:
- Clearly communicate a compelling mission and vision.
- Link individual jobs to accomplishing the mission.
- Provide occasional assignments that directly connect to purpose.
- Seek to link the individual’s purpose with the company’s purpose.
For recommendations on how to implement each of these actions, click here.
A recent survey indicated that 48% of American workers said that the pandemic has made them rethink the type of job and career they want in the future, and 53% of American workers said they would retrain for a career in a different field or industry if they had the opportunity.
When asked to list the top issues that led them to re-evaluate their career path, their response was:
- Compensation (50%)
- Work/life balance (38%)
- Limited growth opportunities (34%)
- Being tired of working on the same projects (24%)
- Not feeling challenged professionally (23%).
The survey found that nearly 1 in 4 workers (24%) reported that they are planning to look for a new job once the pandemic is over.
You may have similar aspirations to shift your career direction. Waiting until the pandemic is over might not be the best strategy, given ongoing uncertainties. How to go from the job/industry you’re in now to the one you want? You need to apply a systematic approach:
Deborah Robinson (left) and Joyce Simms (right) of Abel Personnel
Deborah Robinson submitted an application with Abel Personnel in the summer of 2011. She had recently relocated to the Harrisburg area after holding key positions at Indiana University and at the New York City Health Department, which included Interim Director of Recruitment and Staffing, and Human Resources Special Assistant to the Assistant Commissioner.
Deborah was seeking part-time employment and thought she would enjoy holding a variety of short-term positions. Noting Deborah’s excellent background, including senior human resources roles, Abel Personnel never really gave her the opportunity to experience multiple roles with different firms. We decided the Deborah was a keeper. Since that time, Deborah has held many different roles with Abel Personnel, in a way offering her the variety of situations she originally sought. As anticipated, she excels at whatever she does. Deborah’s hard work, good judgement and excellent counsel have proven our good judgment in 2011!
Joyce Simms celebrated her 10th anniversary with Abel Personnel this month as an administrator focusing on HR matters. However, Joyce’s connection with Abel started about 43 years ago. Joyce was a promising new applicant at Abel Personnel in 1978. She was referred to and hired by our client, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA).
Joyce advanced her career in the PHEAA organization, retiring 25 years later in 2003 as Human Resources Director. Both Frank Abel and Debby Abel, the immediate past and current presidents of Abel Personnel, attended her retirement party! Six months after retirement Joyce was ready to come back to work, but now on a part-time basis. Just after she notified us of her availability, we had an opportunity for a part-time HR person with Associated Cardiology where Joyce first worked as a temp and then became permanent. In 2011, the practice needed Joyce to work full-time, but she preferred part-time employment. Joyce returned to Abel Personnel seeking a new placement, and this time Joyce was hired to work internally at Abel Personnel. Ten years later, we continue to appreciate her contribution to the success of our agency, and our strong connection with Joyce Simms which began so many years ago.
In September, Abel Personnel commented on the scope as well as the opportunities of the Great Resignation, the unprecedented drop in the US workforce from April to August 2021. Updated numbers for the phenomenon indicate:
- 20 million U.S. workers left their jobs between April and August this year, according to the latest federal BLS data. That’s 60% higher than resignations during the same period last year, and the highest rate of resignations since 2000.
- Both July and August 2021 set records for the number of workers who quit.
- Nearly 7 percent of employees in the “accommodations and food services” sector left their job in August.
A second wave of resignations is now upon us. Those still most likely to quit in the next several months:
- Experienced Mid-Career Employees:
ncluded here are those with 5-15 years’ experience in the company, the ones most expected to have a long career with the company. The rate of resignation was about 55% higher than in 2020 for the same period. Relative to age, those between 30 and 50 years old have resigned at least 38% more than the number last year. These are not job-hopping twenty-somethings, early career builders looking for quick raises and promotions, or those seeking early retirement. These are the cadre that holds significant corporate knowledge and expertise, the team leaders and mentors, who were going to be the next generation of senior leadership in your company. They are leaving due to burn-out, increased compensation and better work-life balance, including remote work opportunities. Costs to replace such employees can be up to twice their annual salary, plus the time to replace and the effect on morale.
The growth in the resignation rate for women (55.4%) was significantly higher than men (47.2%). Research from
McKinsey found that one in four women considered downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce entirely. This is further dampening efforts to increase corporate diversity and the documented benefits that companies with more women, especially more women in leadership,perform better.
- High Talent:
The pandemic has resulted in a growth of entrepreneurship and business formation after many decades of steady decline in numbers. As many workers were taking time during shutdowns to decide whether to change employment, take a break or permanently leave the workforce, others were able finally to give consideration to starting the enterprise they had been daydreaming about.
- Low Wages:
Wages for low-income workers are rising at their fastest rate since the Great Recession. The hiring battle for lower skill positions has now overcome the fights to raise the minimum wage to a living wage. The last two years have lowered concerns about the social safety net, allowing employees who are living hand-to-mouth to move to a better situation as long as labor demand is so high.
Since Pennsylvania’s legalization in 2016, over 633,000 patients and caregivers have signed up for purchase of medical marijuana through a doctor’s prescription. Some significant percentage of those patients are part of the active workforce right now. There may be some program participants at your workplace or among the applicants for open positions. How you maneuver in this new world is complicated in part upon a tug of war between the laws of the state and the laws of the federal government, which does not recognize legal use of medicinal marijuana.
Legal analysts suggest the key factors for your dealing with medical marijuana in the workplace are disclosure and impairment:
Disclosure: While employees and applicants are under no obligation to volunteer their prescribed medications, as an employer you have a legal right to ask if they are using prescribed medical marijuana. However, Pennsylvania law says that employers can’t “discharge, threaten, refuse to hire, or otherwise discriminate or retaliate against” patients’ “compensation, terms, conditions, location or privileges” solely based on their status as registered medical marijuana users. Without knowing their medical marijuana status, should an employee or perspective hire be subjected to a drug test, random or scheduled, the initial finding of THC in a person’s system could generate an awkward situation, even if it cannot result in firing or refusal to hire. It may also increase the possibility the confidential medical condition is exposed beyond these with a need-to-know. If an employee or applicant volunteers or discloses use of prescribed medical marijuana to you when asked, it is sometimes advised to first focus on the disability (e.g., cancer, epilepsy) and then how the use of medical marijuana is needed to manage the condition during the work day.
- Chemicals requiring a permit issued by the state or federal government.
- High-voltage electricity.
- Any other public utility.
- Work performed “at heights or in confined spaces” (such as mining).
- Tasks that the employer deems “life-threatening,” to a worker personally or to any other employees.
- Duties that could “result in a public health or safety risk.”
In an early September article, Abel Personnel asked Will Job Seekers Return in Droves Soon? This question was of course referring to the federal payments of an additional $300/week of unemployment compensation that were set to expire the week of September 6. Many pundits had posited that these federal subsidies had the effect of making it more financially prudent not to work. The combination of state and federal unemployment benefits plus the cost savings from forgoing commuting, lunches, business attire and, of course, daycare, created a powerful incentive to not work.
Very few unemployed suddenly sought or took positions once the subsidy ended. In its October 23 analysis, the Associated Press uncovered the following data:
- Overall, there has been no significant influx of job seekers.
- There was no difference in the total workforce (those who have a job plus those who are seeking a job) between those states that cut the subsidy and those that did not. America’s overall workforce actually shrank in September.
- Higher proportion of women are leaving the workplace.
- Record number of people are leaving for new jobs, many spurred by the prospect of higher pay elsewhere.
So why did unemployed not return to the workforce?
AP found a variety of reasons:
- Job seekers did not have the skills that local employers required.
- Positions were unavailable that required the skills and experience those applicants had. Laid off factory workers could not easily transition to another job category.
- Fear of exposure to COVID-19.
- No childcare available.
- The three stimulus checks plus the overall decrease in discretionary consumer spending created enough financial cushion to continue staying home for now.
- Families decided that they could “get by” during this pandemic on one salary, and the loss of living standard was more than offset by the satisfaction of being home to care for family.
Through our Abel Personnel blogs, we’ve recommended how to construct your resume and explained how your resume leads to your interview; however, it’s the interview that results in the job offer.
We also provided some initial insights on how to prepare for the interview. Digging deeper, let’s address behavioral interview questions and how you can build a tool box that will illustrate your soft skills in the best light.
Okay, so what are soft skills?
Your resume best captures your hard skills. Hard skills can be taught and are technical skills. They relate to job experience and expertise, degrees and certifications. Soft skills, however, are learned through life experiences or ingrained in your nature. Employers seek to identify your soft skills through behavioral interview questions, to better understand who you are as an employee.
Why are soft skills important?
According to Oxbridge Academy, soft skills are more important than ever for five key reasons:
- Hard skills are useless without soft skills to back up their task-related knowledge.
- Soft skills are more difficult to learn and therefore more valuable.
- Today’s workplaces are collaborative, relying heavily on soft skills to get things done.
- Soft skills such as empathy and a sense of humor improve the customer experience.
- The future of work lies in soft skills; these human characteristics can’t be replicated or replaced by automation or artificial intelligence (AI).
Perhaps you’ve had this experience: you had an interview, you felt it went great, and then you were completely mystified when you weren’t selected for the position. What you might have missed is an understanding of what hiring managers are looking for in the selection process. There are several steps involved in the preparation process, and addressing each step is critical to assure you truly will have a great interview and a stronger likelihood of being selected for your next career move.
Reading through a job posting, you think “I can do this job, just give me a chance.” Yet, your application and resume submission only generate a “thank you for applying” email response. Hiring managers are looking for ability and suitability. Nearly every Abel Recruiter can recall a candidate who had a strong desire and motivation for a position but didn’t illustrate the skills and qualifications in their previous work history or training.(for more on resumes that lead to interviews, click here).
Step One: Orientation Research
You know you have the skills to do the job based on the posting (I recommend that you keep the job post handy to refer to as you prepare for the interview.) Beyond your ability, suitability means that you have an understanding of the industry, the terminology, how to do business, and why things need to be done the way they’re done. If this would be a new industry for you, do your research. Go on LinkedIn and look up people who currently hold the role, read through their profile and posts. Another good online resource is the Occupational Outlook Handbook to obtain detailed information about the role and the industry. These are just two resources. You’ll find so much by exploring YouTube and following industry influencers.
Two important foundational thoughts to keep in mind as you prepare yourself for interviews:
- Every role exists to solve a problem.
- Every company wants to make money.
For recommendations on how to implement each of these actions, click here.
ALWAYS REMEMBER: The primary purpose of a successful resume is to win an interview.
Melissa Davis is the Information Technology Recruiter at Abel Personnel, as well as a successful Certified Professional Resume Writer. From her experience, it is important that you know exactly what a company is looking for. Put yourself in the employers’ shoes and ask, “Who would make the perfect candidate?” Once you can answer that as best as possible, determine what it is about your background and who you are that makes you best suited for the job. Crafting an effective resume means convincing your potential employer that you are “just what the doctor ordered.” This is the first C of the 5 C’s of Resume Writing.
Prepare a convincing and clean resume that will put you in the best light possible. Be clear about the direction you wish to take and back up your statements with concise, clear, consistent facts about yourself.
The 5 C’s of Resume Writing
You areconsidering applying for a job through one of the online job sites, and realize the posting is from Abel Personnel, a staffing firm. You hesitate, unsure of how Abel Personnel (and other staffing firms) can support your job search, and perhaps whether to consider a temp job. Below are the answers to many of the questions we regularly receive.
Q. What is the purpose of Abel Personnel?
A. Simply put:
- You, a job seeker, are looking for work.
- An employer, Abel’s client, is looking for workers.
- Abel Personnel is the link between both parties.
Q. What does Abel Personnel do for job seekers?
A. Abel does everything possible to match you, the job seeker, to the right job and get you started with the employer. We guide you through the application process (phone screening, interview with a recruiter, identify your employment goals and strengths, assessments, etc.) and if all goes well, you, the job seeker becomes an active Abel Personnel candidate, ready to be considered for any of the many positions Abel has open to fill.
What else does Abel Personnel do for their job seekers?
- Provides guidance related to their career goals and ambitions (including transitioning to new career paths).
- Offers resume assistance.
- Suggests interview tips.
- Places your resume in the hands of HR or the hiring manager, so no more wondering if your resume has been seen.
- Acts as your advocate AND we have relationships with these employers. We help to explain your work history, employment goals or career ambitions, what makes you a strong fit, and any circumstances typically not addressed on a resume.
- Advises those looking to transition into clerical/administrative roles from other industries/positions in their work history.
At Abel Personnel, we’re accustomed to the unhappy tales of valued employees suddenly submitting a letter of resignation without any prior indication of dissatisfaction or interest in moving on. Replacing such employees can be an arduous, time consuming and costly task, beyond the process of posting the job, receiving resumes, arranging interviews, checking references and negotiating an offer. Even with Abel Personnel assigned the burden of most of those tasks, there is your time investment to address the morale dip when the news is shared, temporarily assigning job duties to others until a replacement is on board, notifying clients and vendors of the new temporary contact, training the replacement, and introducing the replacement to staff, clients and vendors. Your time spent in the transition might be better invested beforehand in actions that might mitigate the reasons for a departure.
In our experience, there are six actions that can reduce the risk of unexpected staff departures:
- Provide an Amazing Onboarding Experience.
- Reinforce a Culture of Caring
- Recognize Achievements
- Be Transparent
- Be Approachable
- Acknowledge the Reality of Job Changes
For recommendations on how to implement each of these actions, click here.
Employees will continue to change jobs despite their company’s best efforts a staff retention: families relocate, opportunities for advancement await openings to occur, a different work experience is sought. The key is to retain those employees who really want to stay by addressing misunderstandings and unintended consequences that unexpectedly prompts them to consider leaving. And if they do leave, be sure they have a great offboarding experience, too. Don’t burn any bridges: they may be interested in returning someday and may also be sending their colleagues your way based on how well they were treated.
Your applicant (of course placed through Abel Personnel) has accepted your offer. You are both pleased and relieved. Your applicant hopefully is as ecstatic as those football players when their names are announced at the NFL Draft on TV. After all that effort, you want to make sure that your new hire first shows up on the start date, has a smooth acclimation to your company and stays ecstatic, at least until the inevitable first time an expectation of your newest employee is not met (perhaps signaling the end of the honeymoon period).
We recommend three sets of actions that can render dividends beyond the first weeks of the employment period:
Secure the Deal
In hot labor markets, there is sometimes as little as a 50% probability that a person who accepts the job appears on the scheduled start date. Remember, this person may have posted resumes and had job interviews with numerous potential employers, some of whom may finally present an offer after yours was accepted. Your new employee already gave notice at their current firm, so switching new employers might seem a no-risk financial plus. How to counter this? Start with integrating the new hire into your culture within 48 hours of acceptance:
- A personal note from their immediate supervisor, and perhaps their new team, welcoming the new hire on board, stating how much they are looking forward to the new hire’s contribution and possibly identifying specific tasks that are awaiting the new hire’s involvement.
- Send a gift card for a celebratory dinner. A small price to “seal the deal.”
- Provide the new hire with a list of available office supplies, field supplies (if appropriate) and software, all of which will be at the new hire’s workstation on the first day.
- Ask the new hire’s shirt and hat size so there will also be company swag waiting at the workstation.
- Provide a robust onboarding time schedule a few days in advance of the start date.
In 2019, Texas A&M’s Anthony Klotz foresaw a “Great Resignation,” a significant number of US workers voluntarily quitting their jobs. A recent article in Inc. Magazine by Phillip Kane asserts that this prediction has come to pass in 2021, by presenting the following statistics:
- In May, June and July of 2021, 11.5 million US workers quit their jobs.
- One survey of over 30,000 workers found that 41 percent are considering quitting (54 percent for of Gen-Z).
- A Gallop poll found that 48 percent are now actively searching for a new opportunity.
- A third survey counted 38 percent are planning to change positions in the next 6 months.
We saw these numbers before, some as high as 70% employed-and-wanting-to-jump, during the Great Recession of 2008-10, but at that time there was pent-up desire to move to advance careers but waiting to leap until the risk of being last-in-first-out dissipated. The reasons for this turnover are different now. While the thought of 38%-48% of your workforce actively looking to leave is a scary proposition for any business or institution, there are opportunities here to make changes that will both retain existing valued staff and attract talented workers as they exit your competitors’ shops.
Many of Abel Personnel’s clients are expressing considerable confusion and frustration over what they can ask job candidates (as well as their employees) about their COVID-19 vaccination status. Those who are questioned (whether “pro-” and “anti-vax”) may respond, “you can’t ask that because of HIPAA,” or “I can’t disclose that because of HIPAA.”
HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is a federal privacy law originally enacted in 1996. With its since added Privacy Rule, HIPAA only applies to the transmission of patient information by specific health-related entities, such as insurance providers, health-care clearinghouses, health-care providers and their business associates. For all other types of businesses and institutions, HIPAA does not apply. There are other state and federal confidentiality laws that may require employers and schools to protect privacy. There are also state laws in effect, being considered or under court review that might limit inquiries of vaccination status; consult legal counsel for current status in your area. Also, HIPPA is a about sharing PHI, not about having PHI.
Generally, it is OK to ask about vaccination status. It can affect the health and wellbeing of your company’s employees.
Also note that, according to Allen Smith, JD, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has clarified that asking employees whether they have received the COVID-19 vaccine is not a disability-related inquiry under the ADA.
If it’s okay to ask about vaccination status, should you? Relative to inquiring this of job applicants, we recommend the following:
- Determine your company’s policies on requiring vaccinations as well as options for those who won’t or can’t (for religious or medical reasons) be vaccinated, or won’t disclose their vaccination status (treat them as unvaccinated). These policies must be consistent with business necessity, such as the health and safety of the workforce. These requirements may be position-specific, workstation-specific and/or jobsite specific, and should be incorporated in affected job descriptions. Many companies are requiring vaccinations (with exemptions for religious and medical reasons) and requiring the unvaccinated to present regular negative test results.
- If a vaccination is required, identify how soon it must be received and how soon after the first (or second) shot the employee can start the vaccinated protocol (e.g., not requiring to be masked ) if you have different procedures for vaccinated employees. Usually, 2 weeks to have the first shot is ample notification and 2 weeks after the first shot to be considered “vaccinated.” New hires may be told they cannot report to work until they meet the vaccination requirements. Identify the repercussions for “not getting around to” receiving the second shot.
- You may want to list vaccination requirements as a condition of employment in job postings, and accommodations considered for those who cannot be vaccinated for medical or religious reasons. Note that you should not have different vaccination requirements for new hires than for current employees. This could lead to questions of job hiring discrimination.
- If you have a multiple interview process, you may want to postpone the question until a second interview. Otherwise, this can be covered later along with background and reference checking if there is mutual interest in pursuing an employment discussion.
- Do not ask if an applicant has ever contracted COVID-19; that may be an ADA violation (long COVID). You can ask them if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, employing the same daily screening protocol used with current employees.
- When you do ask about the vaccination status of a potential hire (and of current employees), you should have company-approved answers to the following questions: Why do you need to know? Will it affect my being hired (or raises and promotions) if I decline to answer? What will happen if I refuse to be vaccinated? How do vaccination (and related) requirements pertain to the job?
- Do not probe why a person has NOT been vaccinated during the hiring process. Such questions may violate ADA or lead to claims of discrimination in hiring unrelated to vaccination status. If the reason for not being vaccinated needs to be known, this can be asked after the person is hired.
- For claims of vaccination, ask for either proof of vaccination or written certification by the potential hire (or employee) that they are vaccinated that includes their understanding that if they are being untruthful, they are subject to disciplinary action including employment termination.
- Records of vaccination status should be treated as confidential medical information
These recommendations are based on our review of expert guidelines, best practices and experience. Of course, these approaches are subject to change as our understanding increases of COVID-19 and its variants. The referenced legal ramifications also suggest ongoing involvement of legal counsel.
Federal Unemployment payments of an additional $300/week of unemployment compensation are set to expire the week of September 6. Currently there is no expectation that this federally-funded benefit will be extended. There is speculation that this benefit resulted in a significant number of potential job applicants choosing to stay on unemployment as a more financially advantageous choice. While the additional $300/week may be enough to make unemployment payments competitive with a paycheck, saving the cost of commuting, lunches, business attire and, of course, daycare, the argument may have merit.
With the benefit set to expire, will that be enough to “force” those collecting enhanced unemployment insurance back to work? One way to answer that question is to examine the data of the two dozen states that elected to end this benefit prior to September 6, some as early June 12. The results are surprising.
As reported by CNBC on July 22, “Census Bureau data suggests recipients didn’t rush to find jobs in the weeks following the first batch of state withdrawals, according to Arindrajit Dube, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.” For the states that cut benefits in June, benefits fell by 2.2% translating to a 60% reduction in unemployment rolls. However, the report continues in noting that for those states “the share of adults with a job fell by 1.4 percentage points over the same period, according to Dube. (Employment rose by 0.2 percentage points in states that didn’t end the pandemic benefits.)”
The conclusion is that, so far, there does not appear to be a correlation in increase in job seekers with loss of this benefit. There may be other factors that slowed an uptick in applicants, fear of COVID-19 and perhaps an effect from wanting to stay on vacation (or even on staycation), without benefits, through the end of the summer. A few more months of data will provide better insight on the labor force impact of lost unemployment benefits.
Therefore, to what can we attribute the coexistence of a large number of job openings and large labor pool seeking jobs? Juliana Kaplan writing for “Insider” cites a study released by Morgan Stanley in early August, identifying three factors:
School closures are probably playing a role: Referencing a Federal Reserve analysis, Morgan Stanley’s economists “found that more people did not participate in the labor force because of caregiving responsibilities during the pandemic.” Childcare was specifically identified. There may also be some uncertainty among unemployed parents of school-age children about whether schools will be re-opening in person or virtually, with or without mandatory masking, and how each of those conditions might change, that may be impacting a segment of the workforce from committing yet to return to fulltime employment.
- A mismatch between the industries hiring and the workers seeking jobs: The article focuses on “the uneven recovery among different industries, with job openings in some industries outpacing the number of workers who were initially laid off. That’s true of manufacturing and professional services.” This mismatch of needed and available skills and qualifications extends to a mismatch of opportunities and expectations. Expectations range from hourly wages (too low to garner interest by those who meet the qualifications) to job flexibility (hours and ability to work remote).
- People moved during the pandemic — but many jobs didn’t: The “substantial population outflows” from urban areas left jobs unfilled in those cities, but not finding comparable jobs in the rural and fringe urban areas to which many moved. This imbalance will continue until the job opportunities move out of the cities, or there is a full return to the city jobs either as resumption of residence or acceptance of a (once presumed safe again) longer public transit commute. Morgan Stanley noted that a similar dislocation occurred after the 2008 financial crisis.
If waiting out the federal unemployment benefit expiration will not be the cure-all for the labor shortage, the Morgen Stanley analysis offers clues on how to proactively attract applicants to suddenly hard-to-fill positions:
- Support efforts to increase available childcare. This may range from offering subsidized places at local childcare facilities for company employees, to taking an active roll in assuring the schools meet or exceed safely recommendations amid the pandemic uncertainty.
- Add flexibility to job conditions, including hours and worksites.
- Review local wage conditions to assure compensation offered conforms to the market.
- Consider relocating jobs to where the skills are (and less costly office space rentals), or adapt conditions to allow more positions to be remote.
Your Abel Personnel recruiter can assist you with many of these adaptations to the labor market.
Recently private and public employers announced they are requiring that all onsite employees be vaccinated. Well-known companies such as Disney, Walmart, Google, Facebook and Tyson Foods have mandated that all or some of their employees adhere to this requirement (the largest exceptions being retail locations or conditions of union agreements). In the public sphere, certain federal agencies are issuing vaccination requirements. A recent US Supreme Court pronouncement upheld the right of the University of Indiana to insist that all students, faculty and staff on campus be vaccinated. Most of these requirements do have religious and medical exceptions.
Abel Personnel is pleased to announce the expansion of our recruiting services with the addition of Melissa Davis, an experienced IT Recruiter. Melissa has over 20 years of experience, including 15 years in management and 5 years in placement in the IT field. This background benefits our clients in two ways:
First, you will be assured of an immediate understanding of your specified IT staffing requirements, whether direct hire or contract. Melissa is expert at sourcing and evaluating IT candidates, maintaining relationships with talent and vetting the right people for your positions. She is motived to quickly source and present the right people for you.
Second, Melissa’s tenure in management grounds her in the roles of hiring supervisor, personnel engagement and employee retention. She has been where many of our clients are today, tasked with bringing on board talent and expertise in a tight labor market. Melissa is able to look beyond the skills and experience you seek, to assess how a candidate can contribute to your team.
Most importantly, Melissa brings a level of passion and professionalism to her position at Abel Personnel, as your trusted partner in sourcing, retention and building a staffing relationship.
It’s hard to believe it is August, and schools will be opening in a matter of weeks (if not days). With children returning to classrooms, the COVID virus and its Delta variant have new opportunities to spread. Each of us can help slow the spread of COVID and the hospitalizations and deaths it brings.
If finally obtaining the vaccine was not on your summer to-do list, I urge you to do so now for the sake of those schoolchildren. We are about to thrust a generation into closed rooms, with or without masks, greatly increasing the possibility that they will come in contact and become sick from COVID-19.
Sad Weeks At Abel Personnel
“The past weeks have been difficult ones for Abel Personnel. We have experienced two significant losses. On December 28, my father and our company founder, Franklin Abel passed away and only two weeks later on January 14, Cynthia Stoltzfus, Executive Recruiter, passed away.”
My father, Frank Abel, started our company in 1969. He and my mother set the standards for our company – the sense of fairness, the sense of treating all the way we would want to be treated, and setting the business ethics and values.
I learned much about the business from him, and he learned about technology from me. My father pushed me out of my comfort zone in marketing, but mostly he taught me how to treat employees, how to make sure the smallest suppliers get paid the fastest, how small things can make an enormous difference in the lives of others, and how to be forthright in business relationships, and do what is best for all parties in the long run.
My father had a true interest and concern for people. Whether they were employees where he delivered paychecks or a person sitting next to him in a waiting area, he would start a conversation with a complete stranger. He asked questions about their lives and they immediately sensed his genuine interest and warmth. Many days in the office, I would marvel at seeing my dad, and thinking how fortunate it was, that I could work with him every day.
He had retired, but continued to serve on our Board of Directors. He always provided sage advice, and was a warm, caring presence for staff when he visited the office. We had been planning a celebration of our 50th anniversary and are deeply saddened that he will not be there to join us. My dad and our family were very lucky in the quality of his life for 92 years.
Cynthia Stoltzfus, started as my friend. I met her many years ago when she was in the banking industry, and always thought she would be excellent in our business. Eventually, she was offered an opportunity with a Lancaster based Recruiting firm, and found she was a natural recruiter. She had a talent for it, and loved the work. It was an expression of her personality to help companies and people find each other. She returned to banking for a bit, and then our company had the opportunity to have her on our team.
She was very talented and capable as an Executive Recruiter. She enjoyed her work and cared deeply about her candidates and clients. She was a born recruiter and knew how to search and identify highly capable candidates, how to prepare them for presentations and interviews. With her business clients, she was thorough, responsive and caring. Cynthia displayed her high level of dedication and integrity in all her work. We had hoped Cynthia could recover and return from her leave. Shock and heartbreak are the words which describe the impact of her passing on our team.
These losses cut deeply, but the depth of our sadness is a measure of the richness of the relationship with those we have lost. We are truly grateful for the presence in our lives.
Thousands more joined the work force in April, says state
Written by Ben Allen, WITF General Assignment Reporter | Jun 8, 2015 3:50 AM
(Harrisburg) — In all but one area of the midstate, more people either started working or looking for work in April, according to the latest state estimates. But the trend for the unemployment rate across the region was not as consistent.
From the Harrisburg – Carlisle area to the small labor market of Juniata to the micropolitan area of Selinsgrove and areas in-between, the state estimates more people joined the labor force in April.
The highest growth came in the largest areas – 2,700 in Harrisburg – Carlisle, and 3,100 in Lancaster.
Abel Personnel to Offer Employee Health Insurance Plans starting in 2015!
Starting at the beginning of 2015, Abel Personnel will offer insurance plans to temporary employees. We hope this will prove helpful to you as our employee. We REQUIRE every employee to complete the enrollment forms whether you choose to accept or decline the plans. See deadlines and our first dates for informational meetings below,
MEC Plan- Minimum Essential Coverage Plan:
- Prevention and wellness services.
- Meets your requirement under the ACA- Affordable Care Act (avoids tax penalty).
- Coverage includes: immunizations, flu shots, HPV shots, well visits, mammograms, contraception, and more.
Fixed Indemnity/Limited Medical:
- Covers medical care for illness: inpatient, outpatient, prescription.
- Does not help you comply with the ACA (does not avoid tax penalty).
- It is not comprehensive coverage.
- You may terminate this plan at any time.
- You can get coverage from the Federal Health Exchange while on this plan.
Abel will also be offering dental and vision coverage plan options.
December 5th, 2014 for MEC January 1st coverage.
December 31st, 2014 for MEC February 1st coverage.
**Deductions will be made in the month prior to the start of MEC services.
IMPORTANT- If you already have health coverage and are not interested in signing up, you will still need to complete a form stating that you are declining coverage.
If you have any questions, please call 717.561.2222 or email email@example.com.
Abel Personnel sponsors William Close & The Earth Harp Collective concert!
Written by Ben Allen, WITF General Assignment Reporter | Jun 8, 2015 3:50 AM
Please join us for in March for this amazing concert.
Sunday March 15, 2015 * The Forum Auditorium * 3:15 pm
Tickets available www.earthharpharrisburg.com. Enter promo code Abel for a $5 discount.
Abel Personnel celebrates 45 years!
A message from Debby Abel.
Mother and daughter – 1st and 2nd generation of Abel Personnel at our 45 year celebration.
In 1990, I joined the firm and it was certainly a time of growth and change for Abel Personnel. We brought computers, applicant tracking, and business software to the firm. Along with email and cell phones.
Our firm has changed over time, but the core values established in the firm by my parents still guide us today. Establish strong working relationships with clients and candidates, listen and really hear what they are looking for, look for untapped potential in candidates who have a strong work ethic, be honest and realistic.
All our staff, past and present, are highly professional, dedicated staff who apply solid judgment as they work each day. They are committed to finding solid employees who will succeed long term for our clients. We have never considered filling a round hole with a square peg. We kiss a lot of frogs so that our customers don’t have to meet them. The work is interesting, fun, and challenging and sometimes frustrating.
Our team is committed to personal service, and I’m so proud of their good efforts. I’ve been very fortunate to work with an exceptionally talented group of professionals.
We have partners who we value; our attorneys, accountants, payroll/IT services, and unemployment consultants. Many of these relationships go back to 1979 – ADP and 1982 – Heiss Gibbons, and Len and Charles Berman who supplied our initial office furniture including a desk with a five year lifespan that we still have today.
We also have been fortunate to work with very special people at top employers in Central PA. We have many loyal customers who work with us year after year, and we are so grateful to work with each of you.
We feel good about sending employees to your workplace, where they are well treated. Thank you for continued support. We hope our relationships continue for many years to come.
Finally, I am grateful for my family. I couldn’t do what I have done without my wonderful husband Josh. Josh is a strong support and an excellent advisor. Our children and grandson are a great source of joy and pride. Finally, I am so grateful to my parents who had the foresight to start this business 45 years ago. They created a wonderful company based upon solid values, a place where employees could feel good about working and a place that served candidates and customers with solid judgment, personal service, with respect and consideration.
Debby and husband Josh at the 45th anniversary celebration.
WBE National Certification
WBENC’s national standard of certification implemented by the Women’s Business Enterprise Council of PA-DE-NJ is a meticulous process, including an in-depth review of the business and site inspection. The certification process is designed to confirm the business is at least 51% owned, operated, and controlled by a woman or women.
By including women-owned businesses among their vendors, corporations and government agencies demonstrate their commitment to fostering diversity and the continued development of their supplier/vendor diversity programs.
About WBENC The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council is the nations’ largest third party certifier of businesses owned and operated by women in the United States. WBENC is a resource for the more than 700 U.S. companies and government agencies that rely on WBENC’s certification as an integral part of their supplier diversity programs.
Governor Ed Rendell Recognizes Abel Personnel for Hiring Achievements
HERSHEY, Pa., May 20, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Nine employers and training providers received the Governor’s Achievement Award for outstanding hiring and workforce development success. Rendell administration officials and representatives of state workforce development agencies personally recognized them for their accomplishments.
The awards were presented today at the 26th annual Pennsylvania Partners Employment, Training & Education Conference, held at the Hershey Lodge & Convention Center. The awards are jointly sponsored by state workforce development agencies – the departments of Labor & Industry, Aging, Education and Public Welfare – and Pennsylvania Partners to recognize exceptional employers and training providers who promote outstanding hiring practices and workforce development practices.
“Nearly seven out of 10 workers age 45 to 74 say they plan to work in some capacity in retirement,” said Secretary of Aging John Michael Hall. “Many like their work and enjoy being productive and useful. It may be a stereotype – but I believe it’s true – that many older workers bring discipline and a sense of pride that is key to success on the job.”
The awards also salute individuals and former cash assistance recipients for overcoming personal barriers to achieve professional success.
“Employers need a workforce with the skill and training necessary to excel in the knowledge-based workplace,” said Department of Labor & Industry acting Deputy Secretary for Workforce Development Robert Garraty. “The employers we honor today exemplify the kind of outstanding partnership that’s possible among businesses, the PA CareerLink® network and the states local workforce investment boards.”
“Employers are coming to understand the enormous contribution individuals with disabilities can make in the workplace,” said Department of Labor & Industry Office of Vocational Rehabilitation Director William Gannon. “By working closely with employers, tailoring assistive technologies to meet individuals’ and employers’ needs, we’re able to help everyone involved be more productive, successful and independent.”
“Pennsylvania Career and Technical Centers provide real life training that helps students obtain satisfying job placement after high school,” acting Education Secretary Thomas E. Gluck said. “The working relationship between Career and Technical Centers and the surrounding communities ensures that the training meets the workforce demands of the region – this type of partnership should be applauded.”
“The employers we are honoring today have shown a commitment to helping Pennsylvanians achieve jobs skills and the self-sufficiency that those skills foster,” said Department of Public Welfare Secretary Harriet Dichter. “Through their efforts, they are helping us build Pennsylvania’s businesses, communities and families.”
Pennsylvania Partners, an association of workforce development professionals in each of the commonwealth’s 22 workforce investment areas, sponsors this annual event that attracts more than 1,200 private and public job-training experts from across Pennsylvania.
For more information about individual winners, visit www.paworkforce.state.pa.us.
We are very proud of our company president, Deborah Abel, who was chosen as one of Pennsylvania’s Best 50 Women in Business for 2009. The award is a program of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and honors women who share a commitment to business growth, professional excellence, and to their community.
Debby joined the family business in 1990 as the Marketing Manager. Within ten years she became President of the agency. Her goals as the company leader are to maintain high quality standards of excellence and integrity.