NorthBridge Blog

Pat DuganA recent Crain’s survey informed us that among over 650-plus Chicago-area men and women surveyed in January, 62% —nearly 2 out of 3—said changing companies was necessary for advancement in the local job market.

We know this isn’t a Chicago issue per sé but we do know that certain industries offer fewer opportunities for growth and increased income than others. Frequently large CPG firms, common in this area, take the brunt of not allowing the growth or compensation opportunities needed to make a long stay worthwhile. Rather than waiting for promotions, people are leaving.

Foster GrowthWhile many suggest the Millennial generation, followed by their predecessor Gen Xers, tend to move with the highest frequency, we’ve got a few suggestions on how better to manage churn.  In fact, there are even strong arguments that encourage moves that support both employer and employee.
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Pat DuganNo matter the burdens we’re facing of a divided government or a deeply affected constituency with its own divides, the light is always there —if we care to see it.

The future is bright, and getting brighter according to observations made about a new generation whose pragmatism, entrepreneurial curiosity and realism are being tapped into as the next best thing.

Generation Z is available for hire.

Generation ZFollowing the Millennial generation is a group making up approximately 25% of the population; all-in-all, bigger than the Baby Boomers or the Millennials. According to Hal Brotheim, author of Introducing Generation Z, they’ll be better future employees.


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Well, it appears the Chicago Hawks won’t be left behind. If things continue as they are today, like the Cubbies, the Hawks will be extending their icy-hot brand of winning, and bringing more hardware back to Chicago’s municipal trophy case.
Today, they hold the number one position within the Central Western conference. Num-Ber-One, a place they haven’t held since the 2012-2013 season.
We can’t help but appreciate the interplay and growth that can happen between exceptional players and terrific leadership when we think about Joel Quenneville; the second most winning-est coach in history.  What’s the secret sauce behind those that track record? Cultivation and tenure? Fire  and philosophy? Lady luck?
Sports leaders and their teams show us variables that sometimes don’t allow us to be certain of whether it’s team cultivation or an elusive chemistry that brings it all together. But it seems that managers and coaches who succeed have a lot of the same characteristics.
One thing they seem to share is an awareness of what’s going on outside the clubhouse. While some companies we watch on a daily basis show us lengthy tenures by colorful CEOs – Reed Hastings Netflix 19 years, Jeff Bezos, Amazon,  21 years, Dan Amos, AFLAC, 27 years, Rupert Murdoch, News Corp., 38 years, Roger Penske, Penske Corp., 48 years – according to a recent Temple University study on CEO tenures, the optimal length of stay for a CEO is just 4.8 years. The reason being that, “…after about five years, chief executives will rely more on their internal network rather than information that comes from outside markets. This tendency to focus inward causes them to become less attuned to market conditions and customers, which ultimately hurts the company.”
Of course they’re different scenarios: corporate America versus professional sports.  Differences in commercial season lengths/sports seasons lengths, extremely different compensation granted for a wing or goalie versus a marketing manager. And, of course, very different market  and category factors.
Interestingly, in Q3 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average wage/salaried employee lasts just 4.7 years, The median number of years that wage and salary workers had been with their current employer was 4.2 years in January 2016, down from 4.6 years in January 2014. Some might argue that approximately 4.7 years of collaborative business leadership and management efforts aren’t nearly enough to shift the needle, elevate a brand or expand without hiccups.
Mindsets that include solid standards and clearly-defined expectations seem to trump all, though. Of the aforementioned CEOs with decades of vested time, all demand consistent performances from their teams. Their personal expectations run wildly high. and have a contagious effect on their company cultures that stands the test of time. It‘s all about consistency.
We find those characteristics in the Hawks’ Coach Q and the Cubs’ Joe Maddon. In the case of Maddon, a lifetime’s worth of gumption and managerial agility found its perfect application.
Quenneville, recognized as a player’s coach, is noted for his strong compassion for his players. In nine years, his tactics reveal a slow burn approach to managing people, with a deep hunger for the game. When interviewed, he cites a favorite part of coaching as being cultivating players. Compare that with Joe Maddon, who’s also expert at handling young players and veterans alike.
One similarity between the two? They each brought home the ultimate prize at the end of their second season at the helm of their respective teams.
There aren’t many finite assumptions about generating greatness, but we can touch on winning factors found on the field or office. Here are a few that a Joel Quenneville and the Blackhawks organization exemplify, and they’re factors that any company should emulate in creating equal ideal alignment between job candidate and organization:
1) Understand the nuances of leadership, and bring the right candidates to complimentary leaders so there’s a good stylistic fit.
2) Encourage candidates —whether managers, subordinates or administrative workers – to develop a sensitivity for peers and the greater goals of an organization.
3) Coaching people – whether hockey players or our own candidates at North Bridge – to expect to deliver success wherever they go. When we do that, we’ve found that that success always followsWell, it appears the Chicago Hawks won’t be left behind. If things continue as they are today, like the Cubbies, the Hawks will be extending their icy-hot brand of winning, and bringing more hardware back to Chicago’s municipal trophy case.

Pat DuganWell, it looks like our Chicago Blackhawks won’t be left behind. If things continue as they are today, like the Cubbies, the Hawks will be extending their icy-hot brand of winning, and bringing more hardware back to Chicago’s municipal trophy case.

Today, as the Cup playoffs loom, they hold the number one slot in the Central Western conference. Num-Ber-One, a spot they haven’t held since the 2012-2013 season.

We can’t help but appreciate the interplay and growth that can happen between exceptional players and terrific leadership when we think about Joel Quenneville; the second most winning-est coach in history.  What’s the secret sauce behind those that track record? Cultivation and tenure? Fire  and philosophy? Lady luck?
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Pat DuganWe’re not telling anybody anything newsworthy when we mention President Donald Trump’s stated objections to illegal immigrants taking jobs on this side of the border.

Whether or not they’re actually stealing those jobs from native Americans—many of whom haven’t shown an interest in being migrant produce pickers or low-wage janitors and maintenance workers—is a question for somebody else to answer.

TrumpBut Trump’s election has definitely resonated with many foreign temp workers who are here legally, working on H-1B visas.


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Pat DuganAs we roll into the New Year, there always new trends to keep an eye on as the job market evolves. There will be some new “best practices” for the jobseeker and the human resources professional alike, and job sectors will open up – while others will narrow. Here are just a few of the 5 Trends 2017trends that’ll affect business staffing.

1. Growing transparency in the hiring process

Today’s best candidates aren’t like yesterday’s jobseekers. They expect more transparency and responsiveness from the entire process, just as they expect it from marketers or commerce providers that are part of their digital world. If you’re not upfront about matters like compensation, benefits, company culture and other factors, a lot of the new generation of job seekers simply won’t be interested.


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Pat DuganSome of us here at North Bridge are South Siders at heart, so it pains us to acknowledge competence anywhere around the intersection of Clark and Addison. If you’re not from Chicago, find a Chicagoan and ask them what that means. If you’re from around here, there’s no explanation necessary.

But as staffing and recruiting professionals, we always have to admire when an organization gets it right. Hiring Theo Epstein to be the man in charge of the Chicago Cubs turned out to be exactly the perfect move for that franchise.

Source: Wikipedia.org


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Pat DuganThere are changes on the way in the workplace, and they’ll impact all of us — from candidates to hiring managers alike, in a wide range of segments. And, as you might expect, a lot of those jobs are being driven by technology.

So what are some of the changes we’re going to see over the next few years?

1. The rise of customer service & sales automation: It’s estimated by the technology analysts at the Gartner Group that by 2020, 85% of a customer’s interactions with a company will be automated, as artificial intelligence platforms take over sales and customer service functions presently being handled by us messy, inefficient and expensive human beings.

What’s that mean for us today? If you’re interested in a career in these areas, you’d better do your research to make sure there’ll still be the opportunities you seek in those segments.

6 Ways Tomorrow's JobsNot every company is going to automate immediately, of course. But as the Cloud-based platforms that provide marketing and customer service automation become more prevalent — and universally affordable — they’ll be adopted by more and more companies.


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Pat DuganAt North Bridge, we’ve learned a few things by trial and error over the years about why good candidates apply to a job posting — and why they don’t.

And as the dynamics of recruiting change, thanks to social media and word-of-mouth, it’s important to stay alert and aware of candidate behaviors and mindsets. Because there’s no worse feeling for a recruiter than to post a job…and then get very few applications. Sometimes? None at all.

What’s up with that?

A new survey by LinkedIn probed the reasons why candidates don’t apply for a job, asking 20,000 people (including 7,000 recent job-switchers) why they don’t apply to listed jobs. The results bear out something we’ve observed ourselves — that in an age where more and more information is available about companies, work cultures and jobs, the employers who don’t serve up enough information are the ones who don’t get applications.
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Pat DuganAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Illinois had 5,176,800 private-sector jobs in January 2000.

Also according to the Bureau, Illinois had 5,175,900 private-sector jobs in March 2016.

Jobs TableIt doesn’t take a statistician to read those numbers, and realize the shape of Illinois job growth over the past 16 years: on a net basis, it’s been practically non-existent.

So some policy groups and political pundits make a great stir about the need to slash regulation, taxes on business, and otherwise make Illinois a much more friendly location for businesses. Our present governor is certainly in favor of that, and the constant deadlock in Springfield is one result of the unwillingness to compromise on both sides.


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pat_smallThe trend toward having more workers spend more time working offsite is growing, according to a recent Gallup study of telecommuting.

Whether they’re full-time or temporary/contract employees, more and more of the workforce is embracing the flexibility that technology allows.

“Technology has made telecommuting easier for workers, and most companies seem willing to let workers do their work remotely, at least on an occasional basis if the position allows for it.” – Gallup

What’s this mean for recruitment professionals and company managers? What are some solid best practices you can use when it comes to managing and motivating full-time telecommuters?


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pat_smallCalifornia recently passed one of the most stringent equal pay laws in the country, enforcing gender pay equity with a very rigorous standard. California already has tough rules in place since 2014 regarding temporary and subcontracted employees, too.

Neither of these may seem relevant if you’re a small to medium-sized business located somewhere outside of the Golden State, but what is crucial for any employer is that they have a firm understanding of the wage and benefit laws in their own state.

Those rules are always evolving, at the municipal, state and national level, as seen in the Obama Administration’s proposed changes to overtime rules.
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pat_small5 HIDDEN BENEIFITSWe’ve mentioned the many benefits of hiring temporary staffers and independent contractors in the past, and most hiring managers are probably aware of the main advantages, like flexibility, seasonality and cost savings.

There are other benefits, however that aren’t exactly “hidden” but may not spring right to mind when considering hiring temporaries:

  1. Leveraging specialized skill sets: To reach your organization’s goals, there may be a need for ultra-specialized proficiencies that might not need to be permanently engaged, or for worked with particular accreditations or licenses. Temp hiring can be a perfect route to adding these talents to your company for as long as you need them.
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