Protecting New Workers

Protecting worker safety should be a top priority, and if you’re an experienced manager or business owner, you understand how small investments in worker protection can pay off in big ways. Even something as simple as a handrail installation can let employees know that you care about their well- being, and can yield big increases in worker loyalty, commitment, productivity, and retention, not to mention countless savings on injury claims and expensive lawsuits.

But while you value the safety of your entire workforce, keep in mind that new recruits and inexperienced employees represent your most vulnerable population. These are the workers who are most prone to mistakes, misunderstandings, and avoidable mishaps. So these workers require closer managerial attention and stronger protections. Keep these tips in mind.

Supervision Matters

Even if your newer employees know exactly what they’re doing and they’ve performed a certain operation a thousand times during their careers, don’t let them work alone immediately after they’re hired. There may be dangerous aspects of the job that seasoned employees and managers take for granted, and your newer employees may not be prepared to handle these dangers without the presence of watchful eyes. Threats can include improper use of protective gear, neglecting standard cleaning and sanitization methods, and entering dangerous or injury-prone areas without recognizing threats (like overhead equipment, sudden temperature changes, or unexpected loud noises).

Use the Buddy System

Even if they don’t need direct training or managerial supervision, pair new employees with seasoned workers during every task they face throughout the day. Short-term partnerships can provide new employees with protection and mentoring, and current employees with opportunities to practice their leadership and training skills.

Don’t Just Hand Them a Manual

Of course new hires will require a printed (and online accessible) version of an employee handbook, a copy of all company policies that are relevant to their job description. This manual can and should include safety information that can protect new employees from dangerous equipment and workplace areas. But don’t assume that every piece of information in the handbook or manual will be read and memorized. Take responsibility for delivering this information in other formats, especially if it deals directly with issues related to safety. “Didn’t you read the manual?” isn’t a helpful question after a new employee has accidentally placed himself/herself or others in danger.

Make Use of All Teachable Moments

If a new employee makes a small mistake, don’t just forgive and ignore the error assuming that the employee meant well or didn’t know any better. The first few weeks on the job are critical in terms of early training and initiation, and now is the time to point out errors and correct them before they become dangerous habits.

For more on how to protect new workers (and protect others from their potential mistakes), reach out to the hiring, staffing and training experts at Lift Temp.

How to Dress for a Skilled Trade Interview

Here at Lift Temp, we often hear similar questions from job seekers and candidates for both professional and skilled trade positions. Candidates often turn to our experts for resume support, leads, and – of course – questions about the interview process. Here’s one we hear almost every day:

“I’ve been invited to interview for a skilled trade position (carpentry, metalwork, HVAC, auto repair, etc), and I have no idea what to wear. Should I dress formally? Or ready for work? A three-piece suit seems out of place, but it also feels wrong to wear jeans to a job interview. Help!”

Of course the answer will vary slightly according to the position level, industry, and workplace culture, but here are a few general rules that can keep skilled trade candidates on track.

Stay Tour Ready

Chances are, you won’t be asked to step onto the shop floor and perform dirty or potentially dangerous tasks as part of the interview process, so you don’t need to prepare for a day on the job. But there’s a strong chance you may be taken on a tour of the shop floor, garage, factory, or work area. Be prepared to shake hands with your future co-workers, meet your future manager, and walk through areas in which work-related activity may be taking place.

Neatness Above All

As you choose clothes that seem appropriate for a first impression and safe for a tour of the work area, reject all shirts, trousers, and shoes that are worn or stained. Your clothes should look neat enough to pass for brand new. If your very best attire (including shoes) just can’t make the cut, have it professionally cleaned.

Jeans, Skirt, or Dress Pants

Below the waist, wear neutral colors with modest coverage. No shorts, no skirts that rise above the knee, no sweats, and no distressed jeans. Neat, pressed khaki pants or slacks are a perfectly fine choice for both women and men.

Above the Belt

Above the waist, choose a blouse or pressed button-down shirt with long sleeves. Suit jackets and blazers are perfectly acceptable for the interview setting, but are by no means required. Ties are also perfectly acceptable, but you won’t hurt your chances if you leave the tie at home. Women can’t usually go wrong with cardigans or shrugs that feel professional, neat, and new.

Above all, create an impression that suggests cleanliness, order, good repair, and attention to detail. Take the same pride in your appearance that you intend to take in your work. Before you step out the door, take a final look at yourself in a full-length mirror and make sure you’ve taken care of every loose thread, tiny stain, and missing button. Contact the experts at Lift Temp for additional help and job search tips.

The Impact of Turnover on Manufacturing Costs

Are your turnover rates affecting your bottom line more than you realize? Before you dismiss turnover as a standard cost of business or a natural and unavoidable aspect of the manufacturing industry, think twice. A few small changes to your workplace or your management style can keep employees on the team for longer tenures, and turning short term relationships into long-term partnerships can dramatically cut costs and bolster your stability. Here’s how.

Longer Tenures Mean Higher Levels of Institutional Knowledge

If you look around your manufacturing workplace and see mostly new faces, you probably see enthusiasm, high energy levels, a general sense of ambition, and an eagerness to please and impress managers and supervisors. But here’s what you don’t see: ingrained positive habits, an in-depth understanding of company goals, respect for the status quo, lower error rates, and a willingness to teach and lead as well as learn and follow. To move from the first to the second, you’ll need to raise the average tenure on your shop floor.

Longer Tenures Boost Your Reputation

If your employees enjoy working here and are happy to stay, this positivity will have a ripple effect that extends beyond the walls of the company. Your brand and your reputation will extend to friends, family, and wide social and professional networks. As a result, you’ll hear from more and better applicants when you post an open position.

Short Tenures Mean High Risk and Training Investments

If an employee comes on board and stays for less than one calendar year, you may see this as a benefit – especially if the employee seems mistake-prone or has a minor attitude problem. But look closer. If the hiring cost for the position approaches or exceeds the employee’s annual salary, this practice isn’t sustainable. Consider coaching and working with an imperfect employee instead of letting them walk out the door … taking your training investment with them.

Minor Changes Improve Employee Satisfaction

A few small changes that make your workplace feel safer, cleaner, more respectful, or more positive can encourage burned-out or ambitious employees to stay, instead of seeking work elsewhere. When you compare the cost of these improvements with the cost of hiring and staffing during the same year, the difference may surprise you. Even if these improvements include regular salary increases or expanded benefits, the numbers are likely to work in your favor.

For more information on how to improve your workplace, boost your reputation, improve your management style and reduce your overall turnover, contact the expert staffing pros at Lift Temp.

Fired from a Manufacturing Job? How to Explain it in an Interview

You’re looking for a position in manufacturing, and you have almost everything it takes to land the jobs that fall within your sights: you have the right set of skills and all the experience, ambition, and determination you need to get where you’re headed. You only have one problem: you were fired from your last manufacturing position, and you’re afraid this incident may haunt you. How can you address this minor blight on your record if you’re asked about it during your interview? Here are a few simple moves that can help.

If you were laid off, don’t worry.

Losing a job through no fault of your own is simply a rite of passage in our modern working world. There’s nothing about a layoff that needs to be spun, reframed, or hidden from potential employers. If your interviewer believes that a company restructuring or plant shut-down somehow reflects poorly on your personal record, the problem lies with that person, not with you.

Know why your employer may be concerned.

On the other hand, if you were fired due to a behavior or discipline problem or a performance issue, that’s another story. In this case, your employer has a right to be concerned about a possible repeat of the incident, and it’s in your best interests to allay these concerns. If you’re asked about the reason for your dismissal, keep your answer short, clear, and positive. Simply tell your side of the story and then stop talking.

Don’t bring up the subject unless you’re asked.

If you aren’t asked to provide the reason why you left your last job, by all means, don’t volunteer this information. You have no legal or ethical obligation to do so, and jumping in front of this potential problem can cause more harm than good. No matter you how long your employer chooses to dwell on the issue, always be ready to redirect the conversation away from this subject and back toward all the reasons why you’re right for this job. Focus on your skills and talents, not on a single damaging incident from your past.

If you’re asked, explain what you learned from the experience.

How did this incident help you grow as a potential employee and as a person? What did you learn about your abilities and your limits? What did you learn about the kinds of conditions under which you do and don’t excel? Are there any mistakes you made that you’ve learned to avoid from now on? If your interviewer decides to press the point, be ready to discuss what you gained from the moment and how it helped you reach a better place.

For more on how to stay in control of your application and interview process, reach out to the job search team at Lift Temp.