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Category: Contingent Workforce Management

TechServe Alliance 2016 Annual Conference

TechServe’s 2016 Annual Conference was held last week in Amelia Island, Florida. For 15+ years, MAKE Corporation has attended this conference which focuses on the issues and trends driving the IT & engineering staffing and solutions industry.
Guest speakers, such as Professor and author Michael Roberto of Bryant University, discussed how to build consensus and align your team behind decisions. Alan Beaulieu, a leading economist with a record of 94.7% accuracy in economic forecasts, dove into what actions businesses should take in response to the economic landscape. Karen Wilson, President & CEO at MAKE Corporation, along with other business owners, discussed how to successfully leverage relationships in a VMS world.

The weekend ended with the TechServe Alliance Executive Women’s Luncheon. This year’s lunch was moderated by Leslie Vickrey, CEO, ClearEdge Marketing, where she interviewed Sue Thaden, President/CEO, CRi, and Karen Wilson, President/CEO at MAKE. The women discussed how they got started in staffing, what risks they took over the years and how they built confidence as a strong female leader in the industry.FullSizeRender

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VMS Professionals 11th Annual Educational Summit & Conference Recap

This past week on June 4th and 5th, the 11th annual conference offered a great opportunity to network with industry peers, hear the latest on legal trends, and gain insight on running a successful program. For those who were unable to attend, the full agenda from the conference is available here.

In addition to conversations around ACA and Total Talent Management, VMS Professionals and MAKE Corporation were proud to host guests from Special Olympics Illinois, President & CEO Dave Breen along with a Global Messenger, Kristin, and presented them with a $25,000 check to show our support. Thank you to Special Olympics for joining us!

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Regular monthly meetings in Chicago & Dallas will resume in September. Meeting details will be posted on www.vmsprofessionals.com as they are available.

Save the date: October 24th is the 2015 Special Olympics Inspire Greatness Gala at the Four Seasons Chicago, which will be chaired by MAKE President and CEO, Karen Wilson.

About VMS Professionals:

VMS Professionals is a national association comprised of end user companies networking to discuss best practices in the acquisition and management of contingent labor. Our Mission is to network and educate with the highest professional integrity for the purpose of growing VMS Best Practices and contributing to the industry as a whole. For more information, visit www.vmsprofessionals.com or contact kwilson@makecor.com.

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Understanding Generational Difference in OUR Workplace – A Follow Up

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Last month we examined some of the differences between generations and how they can affect your workplace. To follow up on that topic and offer some real-world insight, our CEO, Karen Wilson, asked me to talk to our team about what it’s like to work with co-workers spanning various generations.

Our sample of employees includes members of Generations X and Y, as well as a baby boomer. They include recruiters, managers and everyone in between. We wanted to offer a full perspective on what it’s like to work with different generations here at MAKE!

Here’s what we found:

  • Being tolerant of different behavior is a good idea, even if you don’t understand it. Multiple members of our team mentioned that they’ve observed or noticed behavior that didn’t necessarily make sense to them. This is a fairly common observation in multigenerational workplaces. But, more importantly – they realized that being tolerant of different behaviors is essential to a harmonious, productive workplace. As one MAKE team member put it, “Neither is better or worse. Just different!”
  • A strong company culture is essential. Several employees noted that a strong company culture allows them to work better with other employees, regardless of their generational differences. When your company culture supports a collaborative, friendly work environment, your employees are likely to get along – regardless of age differences. As our baby boomer noted, “I’m not sure what other advice to give, other than treat everyone with respect.” When your culture supports respect among peers, your team is much more likely to get along.
  • Employees across generations are eager to learn from one another. One of our Generation Y employees noted that some MAKE co-workers have a significant amount of industry experience – experience that can provide immeasurable benefit to someone just getting started. Understanding and appreciating that there is a great deal to be learned is an incredible benefit to professionals in any generation. Another member of our team observed the advanced computer skills of younger co-workers – which provide an opportunity to hone some of her own skills. As one MAKE team member put it, “I’ve learned to adapt and try new things. My way is not always the best way.”

I think the best way to summarize our generational experience here at MAKE is with this quote from one of our employees:

“Learn from everyone. All generations have something to add. With experience comes wisdom and with youth comes innovation.”

Wise words from our team—and a special thanks to everyone who gave their insights for this blog!

Do you have any stories to share of multigenerational workplaces? Are there any challenges your team is finding? Feel free to share them in our comments section below!

Understanding Generational Differences in the Workplace

In today’s workplace there is more diversity than ever. According to Forbes, at least three generations can be found in most workplaces. And as millennials, baby boomers and everyone in between diverge to generate results for your business, understanding each generation, and its specific values and needs, will help your organization run more smoothly and achieve more. Depending on their generation, employees may learn, communicate or perform their duties best with differing levels of supervision. So, fostering happier employees—from any generation—will mean reduced turnover, improved productivity and more.

Generational Differences in the WorkplaceHere at MAKE Corporation, our consultants span a range of generations, skills and experience. Understanding the unique needs and differences among our consultants has helped give us a unique perspective. I’m happy to share some of my observations and tips for managing generations and understanding their differences.

  1. Avoid stereotypes and myths. Applying preconceived notions to any employee is a bad idea, but it can cripple you when managing multiple generations of employees. I95 Business offers some of the common myths that can pigeonhole employees across generations. Be aware of them…and then banish them! While there are often consistencies among generations, the real differences among generations tend to fall into work style, communication preferences, recognition and work/life balance. For example, baby boomers traditionally (of course every employee is unique) prefer telephone, face-to-face contact, emails and meetings. Generation Y largely prefers shorter communication—instant messaging, texting and email are preferred. When it comes to career stability, Generation X likes to focus on employability (acquiring new skills) over climbing the career ladder. And Generation Y has a high preference for engaging workplaces over ones with fancy meeting rooms or other traditional perks.
  2. Adaption and flexibility are “musts.” Whether it’s in your communication style or in how you motivate your employees, be flexible and adapt to the needs of your team. If you notice that one communication method resonates more with a specific generation than with others, consider developing multiple channels of communication to deliver the message effectively across your team. Pay attention to what works (and what doesn’t), then adapt yourself and your organization so that you can effectively reach and lead all generations in the future.
  3. Be proactive to avoid conflict. As the number of employees across three or four generations increases, the likelihood of a younger employee managing someone considerably older increases…and the potential for conflict can arise. As The Denver Post observed, younger bosses can sometimes inflict an authoritarian attitude when managing older employees, leading to resentment and decreased productivity. A similar situation can occur with older employees taking on a “parental” role with younger employees. The easiest way to prevent conflicts in these situations is to provide copious, in-depth training to all supervisors, including tips and tools for managing multiple generations. A full understanding of your workforce and its preferences at the executive level will prepare you to provide supervisors with the tools they need to effectively lead members of your team—whatever generation they happen to fall in.

These are just a few tips to help your organization adapt to multiple generations of workers, they will help you create a solid foundation for continued success in managing your team.

Is a Remote Workforce Right for Your Business? Part 2: MAKE’s Internal Case Study

In my blog last month, I talked about how remote workers can be more productive than their counterparts. While I think it’s helpful to look at the range of tools and benefits of having remote workers, I also thought it would be beneficial to report on a real-world remote worker’s experience, right here at MAKE!

Desk of a remote workerHere at MAKE we have several, successful remote employees, and Elizabeth (Liz) Hesse is the most recent addition to our remote workforce. As a customer service representative to our clients and consultants in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Liz is a vital part of our team. She is also located nearly 1,000 miles away from our offices in Oakbrook Terrace, IL. As a company, we were seeking a more regional footprint in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, but wanted someone who understood MAKE’s culture and values. That’s when I thought of Liz.

The business’ perspective on remote workers

There were some very specific reasons why I knew Liz would be the perfect person for this new opportunity:

  • Understands our culture. Liz had been a valued member of the team in our headquarters for two years before I approached her about relocating to Dallas and working remotely. I knew Liz understood and valued MAKE’s approach because she lived it every day for two years, I was confident she could translate that experience to our clients and consultants in Dallas.
  • Values the contributions of her colleagues. Although working remotely can seem very solitary, Liz would be working hand-in-hand with other members of our team each day—just not face-to-face. It was important for Liz to understand the unique contributions of each member of our team, and also to understand how she could rely on them once she made her journey south.
  • Has the discipline to remain successful. I witnessed Liz’s success as a MAKE employee long before the decision to relocate. She managed her time well and accomplished the tasks that were on her plate. I was extremely confident that she had the discipline necessary to thrive in a remote environment.

The remote worker’s perspective

Understanding the decision from a business standpoint is important, but to take an honest look at our remote workforce situation, I reached out to Liz directly for some candid feedback on her transition to become a remote employee. Now that she’s in the second month of her remote transition, here are some of her early observations:

  • There are fewer distractions. No matter how efficient your business is run, an office environment is filled with distractions. Liz mentioned that she sometimes felt behind “all the time” (which surprised me, since her work had always been stellar!). Liz added that by working remotely, she can now more easily partition her time to get things done.
  • Sometimes misses the camaraderie of working in an office. Liz regularly chats with her MAKE coworkers on the phone and via emails, but sometimes misses the social aspect of working in an office (like going out to lunch or catching up around the coffee maker). However, she quickly realized that she could overcome this through regular lunches with consultants—also creating an opportunity to bring a critical part of our culture to our valued team members out in Dallas.
  • Likes how much the team communicates. I like that Liz brought this up, as it is my #1 tip to businesses that are considering adding a remote worker (or two…or more). Communicate, communicate, communicate. Liz mentioned how she appreciates being a part of our weekly Tuesday meetings. During these meetings, the entire MAKE office catches up on clients and other news. Liz doesn’t feel like she’s missing out, and we ensure that she, a valued member of our team, is up to date. We also share frequent emails throughout the day, and Liz sends an end-of-week report to her direct boss, along with regular phone calls to review and ensure there aren’t any problems or questions that need to be addressed.

I hope that this inside look from our perspective as the business, as well as Liz’s as the remote worker, helps you make the right decisions for your business and your workforce. Determine what is important to your organization before determining if and who would be a viable remote worker. Know the peaks and valleys remote workers can face, and make sure they have the support to overcome them.

Of course, every business and situation is unique—do you have a remote worker story of your own? I’d love to hear about what worked (and maybe what didn’t) for your company. Feel free to share them in the comments section below!

Is a Remote Workforce Right for Your Business? Part 1: Productivity

As the lines between the office and home continue to be blurred with the now common practice of BYOD (bring your own device) and other technological advancements, the instance of remote or mobile workers is increasing drastically, regardless of the size of the organization.Remote Workforce

To help you decide whether having a remote workforce is a good fit for your business, we’re taking a closer look at some of the benefits and challenges. This month, we’re focusing on workers’ productivity.

Are remote workers more productive?

Research shows that mobile workers, to put it simply, work more than their office-bound counterparts, but are they more productive? Well, let’s break it down, here are some of the benefits offered by having a mobile workforce:

  • Flexibility to work when most productive. Being a morning person or a night owl can affect not only an employee’s spare time, but dramatically impact their work time. Mobile workers with the flexibility to work when they want can be more productive, simply because they can choose what hours to work. Understanding their own tendencies and preferences means that mobile workers can be considerably more productive at times that work best for their preferences and schedules.
  • Shorter commutes mean more time working. It’s a simple reality, but one that is striking. For many employees, the morning and evening commutes can add an hour, two, or more to their workday. Mobile workers can start the day immediately, and often do so—resulting in more productivity, which benefits your business.
  • Less time wasted. A trip to the break room for coffee or the water cooler for some water can seem innocent enough, but both often result in friendly conversations and greetings with a range of coworkers. And guess what—that time adds up, fast. When workplace distractions like gabby coworkers and a long trek to the break room are removed, you end up with more focused workers. Similarly, how many meetings trail off into unproductive topics and run way over the time allotted while accomplishing less? Meetings held using Skype, AIM or even just over the phone are far less likely to stray off course, and are in general, more productive. Yes, home offices can provide their own set of distractions (laundry, unloading dishwasher, etc.); however, when your organization is flexible and offers mobile work opportunities to employees in the right positions and circumstances, you are often able to minimize or eradicate some of these work-from-home challenges.

In my opinion, the benefits outweigh the challenges; however, there are some common challenges that may creep up with remote work situations. Here are a couple:

  • Lack of personal interaction. For some, the lack of one-on-one face time can strain or otherwise negatively impact relationships. Simple things like asking co-workers how their weekend was or talking about last night’s game can cause a lack of camaraderie within a team. Using some great, often times free tools can help allay that fear (as we’ll dig into below).
  • Insufficient project updates. When a worker is not a few cubicles down, it may be harder to get needed project updates or questions answered. Having weekly calls to touch base, frequent emails, instant message or video chat updates will help your team communicate openly to ensure everyone knows the status of projects.

Productivity tips for remote workers

Of course productivity will change greatly depending on the individual. But now any mobile worker can maximize their productivity with the help of a range of apps and services designed to help the remote workplace run more smoothly. Additionally, there is an array of tools you and your remote workforce can use to stay connected, including:

  • Skype. Now commonly used by many, Skype is a free download for PCs and Macs, plus Android, Windows and iOS devices. It will instantly connect you to your employees for free. Share screens, see each others’ faces with video calls, or simply chat via text—you can do it all with Skype.
  • Dropbox or Google Drive. Share documents and files with your team safely and easily with tools like Dropbox or Google Drive. Give access to multiple users and define separate permissions for individuals or groups. These tools give you the ultimate flexibility and security you need when it comes to document and file sharing.
  • iMessage/AIM. Many tasks don’t need a phone call or an in-person talk. Sometimes you simply need a quick answer to a question, or you’d like to just share a link or file quickly. Popular messaging tools like iMessage (on Mac OSX Mountain Lion and iOS devices) or AIM (available for Windows, Macs and smartphone devices) give you the flexibility to quickly text chat with a coworker.

The best part about these tools? They are all free (at least in their basic settings—more storage or robust services can be purchased).

Clearly, each organization and employee has their unique strengths, weaknesses and situations, but offering some of your workforce remote options, may be the right choice for your organization to gain productivity.

Is your business using remote workers? What have been your organization’s benefits or challenges? Have you seen an increase in productivity from your remote workforce? Feel free to share your story in the comments box below!

And check back soon for part 2 of our blog series on the remote workforce, we’ll talk about additional benefits of having remote workers, such as being able to hire the best staff no matter where they live and money saving benefits for your team. Plus, we’ll take a look at a real-world remote worker case study—with MAKE’s own Elizabeth Hesse!

A State of the Industry: VMS Professionals Conference Recap

When we launched our blog last month, I shared with you some details from the upcoming VMS Professionals conference. Held on Thursday, May 31 and Friday, June 1, the 8th annual conference offered a great opportunity to meet with industry leaders, learn about the issues and challenges facing our businesses and talk about news and trends that affect us all. Workforce

A full agenda from the conference is available here, but for those who could not attend, I wanted to share some of my key takeaways from this year’s event:

  1. Management of contingent labor is more important than ever. Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) recently reported that more than $1.8 trillion is spent globally on contingent labor. That number has seen tremendous increase in recent years, and the trend is expected to continue in the upcoming years. This growth demonstrates a profound expansion in complexities of global, multi-disciplined labor categories—and it means that managers of contingent labor are more critical to their organizations than ever.
  2. Legislative trends are making a big impact. In our most recent blog post, I talked about the TechServe lobby day and issues facing our industry. We were very pleased to have George Reardon, Special Counsel at Littler speak to attendees about penalties and impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) healthcare reform law on contingent workforce. He shared important data that explained how the reform specifically impacts contingent labor and the companies that use it. Mark Roberts, CEO of TechServe Alliance also presented on legislative activities and the importance of maintaining workforce flexibility and access to talent. It is important for us all to remain knowledgeable and get involved and it is great to have associations like TechServe Alliance working on our behalf!
  3. The role of contractors in your organization is evolving. Rebecca Pratt Bromet, Partner at Seyfarth Shaw Attorneys spoke to attendees about employment law concerns for employers using contingent labor. Partnering with knowledgeable contingent labor suppliers to ensure access to talent plus compliance with the law is critical. But also, as contingent labor becomes a stronger driving force within organizations (as noted in SIA’s $1.8 trillion spending), contractors are being viewed as much more than temporary labor. They are increasingly seen and valued as meaningful contributors to permanent teams, and an important part of businesses across the globe.

Let me extend my warm thanks to our presenters, exhibitors and attendees at this year’s conference. The conversations provided excellent insights and tools to help our businesses more effectively manage contingent labor.

MAKE-ing a Difference – TechServe Lobby Day 2012

Recently, I had the unique pleasure of attending my 8th TechServe Alliance Lobby Day. Held May 16 through 18 in Washington, D.C., the legislative conference offered a unique opportunity to meet one-on-one with Senate and House representatives to talk about the issues and challenges facing the IT and staffing industries.

As CEO of MAKE, I take great pride in representing our organization and our industry, discussing matters of importance and becoming involved in driving legislation. As a citizen of the United States and a business owner, I couldn’t help but draw the following benefits from the conference:

  • The opportunity to educate. Lobbying offers a unique opportunity—the opportunity to educate representatives about the challenges and issues facing our industry. With the barrage of issues and information thrown at our nation’s leaders, Lobby Day presents the chance to truly educate these representatives not only on the “what,” but the “why,” “how” and “who.”
  • The opportunity to make a real impact. Interacting with our representatives and learning about the inner workings of our government was incredibly enlightening and empowering to me as both a business owner and a citizen of the United States. Actually being on Capitol Hill and discussing issues that affect both me and my business is incredibly profound, and makes me extremely proud to be an American.
  • The opportunity to build real relationships. As I mentioned previously, this was my 8th TechServe Alliance Lobby Day. Over the years, I’ve met with many representatives to discuss issues of importance, and I am proud to say that I have been recognized as a returning representative for our industry. The ability to build rapport and long-term relationships with our elected officials is an amazing opportunity, thanks to the TechServe Alliance.

I’d like to give a special thanks to some of the representatives who gave me an extended opportunity to meet and talk with them about pressing issues for the staffing and IT industries. In particular, Senator Chuck Grassley (IA), Representative Joe Walsh (IL) and Representative Peter Roskam (IL). During the conference, I met with each of these elected officials to discuss multiple laws and initiatives, including:

  • Clarification of the Computer Professional Exemption. While our nation’s government works swiftly to change law to accommodate advancements, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has not kept pace with changes in the IT industry. Antiquated language written before the advent of the Internet is affecting the rights of many IT professionals. It simply has not kept pace with the constantly changing needs of this industry. Other industry representatives and I fully discussed the necessity for change in this critical area.
  • Increased Educational and Training Opportunities in IT for U.S. Workers. Nationally, we are facing a shortage of highly skilled IT professionals. TechServe Alliance supports public policy initiatives that seek to increase the availability and attractiveness of education and training for U.S. professionals in high-tech fields. In particular, the STEM Coalition (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education Coalition) has been striving to increase high-level tech training and opportunities in our nation.

What are the issues at the top of your list? We’d love to hear your opinions or input on challenges facing IT professionals today. Let us know in our comments section!