NorthBridge Blog

Pat DuganBack in November, it came to light that OSHA had “been aggressively investigating” some temporary staffing agencies, suspicious they hadn’t been complying with governments guidelines set forth in the Temporary Worker Initiative (TWI) of 2013.

TWI was intended to help prevent work-related injuries and illnesses among temps, affording them the same protections as other employees, and obligating agencies and employers to give them the same safety training as full-timers.

NoOSHAThe nut of that statement?  That staffing agencies and employers share the responsibility for keeping temporary workers safe on the job.  Employers can’t assume they’re somehow shielded from liability just because they’ve hired temps, or brought them on through a staffing agency.

In 2014, OSHA conducted 283 worksite inspections involving temps, which may seem slight, but it’s a 322% increase over 2013, when only 67 inspections happened, and only 29 in 2012.  So the current administration is apparently committed to enforcing the TWI’s provisions – with teeth!

So the federal authorities are obviously taking a heightened interest in temporary employees and temp agencies.  What’s it mean to HR and staffing officers inside companies that rely on temps, or are considering hiring temps?

Read the rest of the entry »

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pat_smallSome of them are basic etiquette.  Some of them are plain common sense.  They’re also just good advice we give some candidates about how to be poised, productive and impressive to the employer when they’re on a temporary or contract job.  Which means they’re good advice for anyone in the workplace!

DON’T avoid asking questions.
Afraid of looking dumb?  If you don’t ask the questions that help you do your job properly, you’ll come off as even dumber – or, just as bad, you’ll appear indifferent or cocky.  We value curiosity among others about what we do, because it shows interest and investment.  Be the person who isn’t afraid to ask questions, to demonstrate your involvement and willingness to learn and, potentially, take the conversation in interesting – and productive – new directions!

NOT to DoDON’T waste your time on the job.
It’s not your time – it’s the company’s time.  They’re paying you for it.  That Facebook post will wait until you’re on your own hours.  If you’ve finished a project, go find another one, or ask someone if they need help.   Or use the time to get better at your own job somehow – plenty of firms can fill up downtime with training, especially virtual training, that’ll help you ratchet up your skillset.

DON’T stay in your cubicle.
“Cubicle” is metaphoric – whether you’ve in a cube, a corner office or on the road, you need to interact with others and become part of the culture of an organization.  That engenders a positive reputation, which engenders opportunity.  Not to mention the fact it’s simply healthy to have relationships in any place where you’re putting in a good share of your waking life.

DON’T multitask in meetings.
You’re making a presentation or trying to make a point…and Joe from Operations over there is hammering away on his Blackberry.  How’s that make you feel?  Like you’re getting your point across?  What if it’s about an item that’s relevant to him?  His loss.

So imagine yourself in his seat at the table.  When you stay focused on what’s happening in that meeting or conference, you not only pick up on the information being dealt with, you’re observing body language, understanding team dynamics, and being viewed as a participant who’s engaged and on top of their game.  Guess what?  It makes co-workers a lot more likely to come to your meetings – and give them the attention you think they deserve.

DON’T check your phone while talking to someone.
“I gotta take this.”  “Let me reply to this text.”  Or maybe you haven’t even said that much – you’ve just turned your attention to your phone, mid-conversation.  Would you do it to your boss?  Guess what – if you make a point of focusing on the person at hand, they’ll appreciate it.  It’s just common courtesy…and there’s a reason we observe those courtesies: they make a workplace easier and more beneficial for everyone.

DON’T talk behind others’ backs.
If it’s not your place to talk to a person, it’s not your place to talk about them.  It’s idle gossip – and in some organizations, it’s part of a culture of “triangulation” where criticism is never direct.  That’s toxic, both to you as a participant and to the organization.  If you can’t say something directly to somebody, then it’s probably something that doesn’t deserve to be said, frankly.   Keep conversations direct and productive, and you’ll be doing more good for yourself than you’ll ever gain through gossip.

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pat_smallWe’ve all come across potential candidates who are crestfallen about doing temp or contingent work, usually because it comes after years of having been full-timers.  We admit it’s a tough crossover for some, but there are good reasons to feel upbeat about the challenges and opportunities temporary work offers.

So if you know somebody who may need some inspiration or motivation about taking on temp work, pass along these eight sensible reasons for appreciating being a temporary staffer:

  1. 8 MotivationsIt keeps you moving and engaged in work and career.  That’s important for the soul, not just the wallet.
  2. It gets you through the door, and may set you up for a permanent opportunity.  Remember: they’re often assessing temporaries as potential long-term hires.
  3. If you’ve got the chops, you’ll get the bucks: especially for specialty roles that require certain skills, you’ll make very competitive compensation.
  4. Builds your reference sheet with up-to-date testimonials.
  5. Gives you grist for your resume, so there are no dead spaces in your work history.
  6. Helps you build your professional network among the new people you meet on each assignment.
  7. Sharpens or even expands your skills, as some employers will provide training to contingent and temp staffers.
  8. Provides a level of variety and fresh challenges you often don’t see in a regular full-time job.

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Pat DuganThe jobs market has improved, but it’s still no walk in the park for college graduates.   One survey found that slightly over 24% of grads had a job waiting for them – up from 19% the year before.

Much of that hiring is apparently not permanent, as firms are still treading carefully: temporary and contract hires make up a fair share of the new jobs grads are finding.

As one graduate put it, “The tendency that I’ve seen among my friends is for someone to get a job, but it’s a yearlong contract for a project.  Then they expect to lay off the people they hired for the project, so within the year they’re going to be looking again for another job.”

These grads may be in the vanguard of a new model for the job market, where “permalancing” and conditional employment is more the norm, rather than the exception.  The jobs market of tomorrow may demand more and more flexibility of this kind from employers and employees alike, which will make the expertise of recruiters and staffing professionals more crucial than ever, linking the best prospects, companies, screening processes and connective technologies together like never before.

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Pat DuganIf you’re an employer – or a staffing consultant – who’s considering placing a temp or contingent employee of any kind, there are a few simple “to-dos” that will make the experience run more smoothly – and rewardingly – for employer and employee alike!

Tip #1: Ask the existing team. They’ll have the best possible information on where and how temporary workers should fit in, and for how long.  And by doing this, you lead into the next tip…

Tip #2: Keep up a dialogue with existing workers about temp hires; employers need to make sure they know who’s being brought on, why, for how long, etc.  Even a secure staffer can be intimidated by the presence of a temp.

Tip #4: Lay it out clearly. Make sure the temp plainly knows what the job is, what the firm’s policies and rules are, and what you expect of them from the get-go.

Tip #4: Who’s in charge here? Be absolutely clear about who they’re reporting to, where their job occurs in a department or company’s org scheme, who they should ask for help or guidance, and so on.  Have their supervisor meet them and help walk them through their job from the minute they arrive at your door!

Tip #5: Ready, set, work! Don’t get caught unprepared on day one of a temp hire’s tenure – have their space, phone, computer, office supplies and everything they need to do their job ready and waiting for them, so they can hit the ground running – and you can get your money’s worth out of them ASAP.

Tip #6: Feedback matters, both to the temp and to the firm you may have used in acquiring that employee.  Look in on the temp regularly, talk about their performance, give them input.  And make sure the staffing company that brought him or her to you is apprised of how they’re doing, too.  If they’re competent and reputable, they want every ounce of feedback they can get from their clients!

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Daniel Indiviglio at The Atlantic has been a proponent for some time of the idea that temp hiring is a good indicator for growth in the general economy, and now has a chart he’s discovered that helps prove his point. His capsule summary of what it shows (and very plainly, too — make sure you hit the link!) is, “as this chart demonstrates, temp jobs lead permanent job growth. It’s rare to see such a clear correlation between two variables.”


This is a graphical demonstration of the plain and simple predence and logic we see every day from our clients: in periods like this, qualified temps or temp-to-hire staffers are the safest bet, until any improvement really takes hold in time. Then those temporary positions turn into permanent hires.


The real concern comes in making sure the people you bring in, especially on a temp or transitional basis, have the skills and focus that let them jump right in, and seamlessly serve the client’s business. That’s obviously a sober and serious responsibility for staffing firms like North Bridge.

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