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Friday
Nov212014

The Results Are In: Companies’ Biggest Roadblocks to Finishing Strong in 2014

In October, we asked what you anticipated to be your company’s biggest roadblocks to finishing strong in 2014. According to the results, with 19% of the votes, “outside influences (i.e. regulations, competition, economy, etc.)” is weighing heaviest on the minds of business leaders as we head into the end of the year. In second place, 16% of respondents said “lack of skilled workers” would be their biggest roadblock, followed by “insufficient staff” at 14%.

The rest of the results are as follows:

  • Poor leadership (13%)
  • Turnover and retention issues (11%)
  • Disengaged workforce (11%)
  • Unclear goals (8%)

Another 8% of respondents chose the “other” option and submitted their own roadblocks that they anticipate being an issue for their companies, including:

  • Weather/cold and snow conditions
  • Soft sales numbers
  • Cash flow shortages
  • Endemic favoritism
  • Supplier quality issues

The Skills Gap is Taking a Toll
Of the top three responses to the poll, two are directly related to the growing skills gap—lack of skilled workers and insufficient staff. In fact, according to a recent CareerBuilder study on the skills gap:

  • 81% of employers say it’s at least somewhat difficult to fill job vacancies
  • Some of the top causes cited as contributing to the skills gap include:
    • Education gaps in particular areas (55%)
    • Gaps in on-the-job training (53%)
    • New/shifting technologies (48%)
    • Outsourcing of job to other countries (48%)
    • Gaps in expectations about wages (47%)
    • Lack of knowledge about potential career opportunities
  • 61% of employers have hired a person who does not meet the requirements of the job

You can download the full CareerBuilder report here.

So, What Do We Do?
While it’s a question with many different answers, one that most business leaders can agree on is there needs to be a greater emphasis on education and training programs that better prepare people for the kind of jobs that are available.

According to the CareerBuilder study:

“Academia must also aid in the effort to close the skills gap. Academics need to create pathways of communication with employers who are likely to hire their graduates. These relationships can be valuable sources of information concerning specific skills employers need, and academics can use this information to integrate changes to their program requirements with the intention of graduating truly marketable candidates.”

More detailed insight into the benefits – and increasing need – of education programs to address the skills gap, are highlighted in the Express Employment Professionals white paper, “Caution: College May Not Be for Everyone,” which explores the effects of the skills gap and the promise of Career Technical Education programs.

Have you experienced a skills gap in your workforce? What are some ways you’ve addressed your need for skilled workers? What trends do you see for the future if something isn’t done to close the skills gap soon? Let us know in the comments section below.

Thursday
Nov132014

Peak Performer’s Life: Master Your Day

This week on Peak Performer’s Life, Walter Bond reveals three simple things you can start doing today to help you get on your way to becoming  a peak performer. Simply put, before you can be an effective leader, you must first be able to “govern yourself.”

According to Walter:
“Be disciplined with your mind and what you think, because if you’re not thinking the right things, you’re not going to say the right things … you aren’t going to do the right things.”

How do you take your thoughts captive? What do you do to ensure you are first managing yourself before you lead others? Let us know in the comments section below.

New messages each week!
Walter Bond and Peak Performer’s Life is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals. Don’t forget to check back each Wednesday for a new message from Walter Bond! If you missed an episode of Peak Performer’s Life, visit the archive to catch up.

About Walter Bond
A former American professional basketball player, Walter Bond’s NBA career included 153 games with the Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz, and Detroit Pistons. Now, Walter takes what he learned from his life on the court and translates it into motivational and educational messages for thriving businesses and careers. For more information, visit WalterBond.com.

Monday
Nov102014

Peak Performer’s Life: 3 Things That Will Change Your Life

This week on Peak Performer’s Life, Walter Bond reveals three simple things you can start doing today to help you get on your way to becoming  a peak performer. Simply put, before you can be an effective leader, you must first be able to “govern yourself.”

According to Walter:
“Be disciplined with your mind and what you think, because if you’re not thinking the right things, you’re not going to say the right things … you aren’t going to do the right things.”

New messages each week!
Walter Bond and Peak Performer’s Life is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals. Don’t forget to check back each Wednesday for a new message from Walter Bond! If you missed an episode of Peak Performer’s Life, visit the archive to catch up.

About Walter Bond
A former American professional basketball player, Walter Bond’s NBA career included 153 games with the Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz, and Detroit Pistons. Now, Walter takes what he learned from his life on the court and translates it into motivational and educational messages for thriving businesses and careers. For more information, visit WalterBond.com.

Monday
Nov032014

5 Things to Do This Month: November 2014

The iconic fall symbols are coming out of the woodwork, while people across North America begin to decorate their homes and offices with cornucopias, harvest moons, and warm colors. But to truly get in the autumn mood, try these five things to do this month!

National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month
Alzheimer’s is a debilitating disease that many of us have been affected by through friends or family. In fact, more than 5 million Americans and approximately 500,000 Canadians are living with the disease. One way you and your team can make a difference is by honoring one of the millions of caregivers who have devoted time and energy to help those afflicted by the disease by having your team send a personal tribute to someone you know or through this site.

A Stache for a Cause
During the month of November, men across North America grow mustaches to help raise awareness and funds for men’s health issues, including prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health problems. Referred to as Movember, it’s a fun and visual way to get your co-workers in your office involved in the fight for a cure. Get your department involved by raising money for a charity of your choice. Not only will you be helping a great cause, but you’ll also build camaraderie with your team!

Be Thankful
While Canadians celebrated a day of thanks in October, millions of Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday, Nov. 27. And though this national holiday is synonymous with family gatherings, rich-food feasts, and football, Thanksgiving is a great reminder for management to show appreciation and recognition for all the hard work their team puts in day in, day out. According to Gallup, only 45% of men and 50% of women are satisfied with the recognition they receive at work for their accomplishments. Change the tide this November, and show your team just how thankful you are for them!

Support Your Troops
Every year, we celebrate the dedication and sacrifice millions have given for the cause of freedom. This Veteran’s Day, Tuesday, Nov. 11, take some time to thank the veterans in your workplace. Without their sacrifice, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the freedoms we have today. If there is a veteran’s hospital in your community, consider taking your team to serve or simply visit during an afternoon this month.

Prepare for Performance Reviews
Performance reviews are a chance for you to sit with your team on a one-on-one basis to determine what was done right, what was done wrong, and what can be changed moving forward. Many businesses use these reviews to determine salary and job description adjustments, so be sure you give your employees plenty of time to prepare for their reviews. And with the holidays around the corner, it’s imperative to get a jump on scheduling these.

What are you doing this month? Is there something we missed on this list? Let us know in the comments section below!

Monday
Nov032014

5 Tips for Discovering Your Company’s Next Big Innovative Idea

If you’re not constantly innovating and staying on the cutting edge of your industry, the competition will very quickly pass you by. In today’s highly competitive business environment, staying ahead of consumers’ changing tastes is the key to building and maintaining a successful company. But, what happens when you hit a roadblock and the new ideas seem to stop coming? It may be time to change the way you’re seeking out that next big innovation.

Flip the Flops
In 1968, a 3M Company scientist had been working on developing a super-strong adhesive, but due to miscalculations along the way, he inadvertently created a reusable, pressure sensitive adhesive. The new “low-tack” adhesive formula really didn’t have much value until 1974 when another 3M colleague had the idea to use it to anchor a bookmark in his choir hymnal, and at that moment the idea for Post-It Notes was born.

  • The Lesson: When one project falls flat, don’t immediately write it off as a flop and move on to the next thing. Take a closer look from a different angle. You may find an even bigger idea waiting to be discovered.

Think About What’s Missing
Friends since childhood, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield decided to open an ice cream shop together in a renovated gas station in Burlington, VT, for two main reasons: it was a fun college town and, more importantly, it didn’t already have an ice cream shop. Their venture was a resounding success, which led to more locations, more flavors, and eventually the Ben & Jerry’s brand we all know and love today.

  • The Lesson: Instead of thinking about what you have, focus on what’s missing. Sometimes big ideas are hiding in the voids. Who knows if Ben and Jerry would have been as successful had they started in a saturated ice cream market?

Embrace the Absurd
When looking for your “game changer,” don’t be afraid to embrace the absurd, because you never know what may strike a chord with your audience. Think about all the products that have been hocked on late-night infomercials throughout the years – the SnuggieDogglesBig Mouth Billy Bass, the Pocket Fisherman. They were all seemingly ridiculous ideas that ended up making millions. In fact, the Snuggie has brought in more than $500 million in sales since its debut.

  • The Lesson: Don’t dismiss a silly idea simply because it sounds too weird to work. That may very well end up being exactly why it works.

Make It Easier
More than 50 years ago, a Minnesota turkey farmer visited his local welding and repair shop looking for a faster, easier way to clean out his pole barns. The resulting machine became the predecessor to the modern Bobcat skid-steer loader. Today, Bobcat Company is the leader in the compact equipment industry and a mainstay of construction sites around the world.

  • The Lesson: Even if it’s not broken, you can still try to fix it. Think about the things you already do every day, and ask yourself if there’s a better way.

Don’t Throw Out the Trash
Today, we know Mattel as one the biggest toymakers in the world, responsible for iconic brands like Barbie and Hot Wheels, but did you know they got their start making picture frames in 1945? It wasn’t until one of the founders started making dollhouse furniture with the leftover frame scraps that their focus shifted to toys.

  • The Lesson: We’ve all heard the old idiom “waste not, want not.” Even if you already have a successful product or service, there may be a big idea you’ve overlooked among the scraps.

How do you generate big ideas for your company? What are some ways you inspire your employees to think outside the box? Let us know in the comments section below.

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