The past year has been challenging for the economy and for business overall. Despite the downturn, some companies have managed to maintain a positive work environment with innovative programs that boost employee morale.
Professional Staffing Group is one of these companies.
Aaron Green, President of Professional Staffing Group (PSG), one of the largest employment agencies serving Massachusetts, says that his company is weathering the storm by targeting spending.
Monster: Amidst this year's economic challenges, how has your company managed to maintain employee performance and satisfaction?
Aaron Green: PSG has chosen not to initiate any layoffs or headcount reductions even in the face of shrinking revenue. We have continued our investment in the training and development of staff. Every PSG employee receives weekly classroom training throughout the year, 50 weeks a year. In addition, new employees receive 60 hours of classroom training and participants in PSG's Fast Track Promotion plan receive formal mentoring and leadership development.
Monster: Have employee recognition programs played a role?
Green: A major problem for a lot of organizations right now is that incentive plans that we put in places in a different economic environment are broken. Incentive plans are meant to reward and motivate. These plans can have a negative effect on morale and retention if talented employees have no chance at earning incentive dollars because of marketplace changes. To some extent we had this problem at PSG, so we made two changes. We actually increased the base pay of our sales force and we enhanced our incentive plans to make it easier to earn more money.
Obviously it cost us money to "fix" compensation plans, and what we did was the exact opposite of the actions taken by many companies where pay was cut. The money spent is viewed as an investment which will ultimately pay dividends in employee retention and positive morale.
Monster: Do you have any recommendations on how to initiate employee satisfaction and recognition programs on a limited budget?
Green: The key to employee satisfaction is to cultivate a workplace that engages people, respects them and rewards them for their work. And what I hear over and over is that employees -- whether they are new to a company or experienced veterans -- all want to be challenged by their work.
We feel strongly about promoting from within the organization and our managers are continually seeking ways to challenge and develop employees. Lack of company revenue growth brought on by the recession can potentially hinder promotion opportunities if you don 't manage it properly. Look for creative ways to challenge and develop employees.
Perhaps they can cross train and learn new skills, or maybe they can be mentored and prepared for a promotion that will come once revenue grows. Challenges keep the job interesting and result in new skills or training that can open up new doors in a career as well as other rewards. The point is to continue to focus on employee development as it will yield dividends in the form of employee retention.
Monster: What other efforts have helped your company maintain a positive workplace environment?
Green: The things that make a company a great place to work during good times are the same things that will keep employees positive during tough times. This year, we paid close attention to reinforcing the culture that has made us successful in the past. PSG 's workplace environment is fast-paced and energetic and we thrive when working as a team.
To keep this focus, we communicate constantly; for instance, we hold numerous, brief staff meetings throughout the day and use highly visible mechanisms to progress toward goals and recognize employee successes. We empower our employees by giving them new roles and responsibilities so that they learn new skills and earn credit for their accomplishments.
Monster: Are there ways to build camaraderie when times get tough?
Green: Team building is especially important in tough times. As discussed in our answers to the previous questions, we have focused on communication, training, and staff development. It is also crucial to recognize successes, when times are tough and successes are harder to come by then celebrate smaller accomplishments.
Monster: Do you have any other recommendations for maintaining a great work environment in a downturn?
Green: The current recession is bringing out the best and worst behaviors from managers. Decisions related to hiring, training, staff development and everyday workplace management are being made against an ever-changing landscape. The recession presents a brief window of opportunity during which an employer's efforts to maintain high standards of management practice will yield a more loyal workforce in the long term. How you treat your current staff right now will be remembered for years to come. It's a challenge, yes, but also a wonderful management opportunity.
About the Company
Professional Staffing Group (PSG) is one of the largest employment agencies serving Massachusetts. Named the "Best Place to Work" by the Boston Business Journal, PSG fills creative, office support, technical and financial positions for its clients. PSG also provides diversity consulting services for businesses interested in effective diversity recruitment and retention programs. Staffing Industry Review honored PSG with their Gold Award for having the best customer retention program in the industry.
About the Author
Aaron Green is the founder and president of Professional Staffing Group (PSG.) He is also the founder of PSG Global Solutions, which utilizes a cost-effective offshore (Philippines-based) staff to provide recruiting solutions to staffing companies and corporate HR departments. In addition, Green serves as Treasurer for the American Staffing Association, the national non-profit trade organization serving the staffing industry.