Five Tips to Develop a Strong Work Ethic

November 28th, 2016


After updating your resume, drafting a great cover letter and performing some mock interviews, what else can you do to prepare yourself for the job interview? The single thing you can do is to brush up on your soft skills, especially the skill of having a solid work ethic.

Why Is a Strong Work Ethic So Important?

A work ethic is a set of moral principals an employee uses in his job. A hiring manager really cannot detect someone’s work ethic from a resume or even a well-crafted cover letter. Ideally, human resources professionals and hiring managers can pick up on someone’s work ethic during the job interview.

For example, when you interview with ABR, these are the work ethic characteristics we — and our clients — are looking for in the people we hire. We call them our Expectations of Excellence:

  • Trustworthy – you are honest, dependable, obey rules and company policies
  • Respectful – you show consideration for others; treat co-workers, supervisors and ABR staff with respect
  • Responsible – you demonstrate self-control, are accountable for their actions, and respond to disagreements and criticism calmly
  • Reliable  – you have a good work history and attendance record, are on-time for work and are hard working
  • Professional – you follow supervisor instructions; refrain from using inappropriate language and dress appropriately

The Components of a Strong Work Ethic and Some Tips to Help You Develop One

In addition to our Expectations of Excellence, here are examples of other strong work ethic traits employers desire in their employees:

  • Commitment
  • Determination
  • Accountability
  • Humility
  • Problem-Solving
  • Organization
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Time Management

You can develop each of these attributes with understanding, practice and commitment to adopting them permanently to succeed in your next job and throughout your career. Try to work in a few—or all—of the following five tips to improve your work ethic before your next job interview:

  1. Arrive Early to Practice Being On Time. To account for unpredictable elements, such as a late bus or a traffic jam, plan to leave home early. It is better to have some time to kill before work starts than to need to apologize for leaving your desk unattended at your scheduled arrival time.
  2. Work on Self-Discipline. Strong self-discipline can help you improve your work ethic on several fronts, including refraining from using your cell phone during work hours, showing up on time, staying for the duration of your shift each day, and completing deadlines on time and without procrastination.
  3. Cultivate a Positive Attitude. An upbeat and positive approach to work spirals out and affects everyone around you, generating a pleasant work atmosphere. Once you practice maintaining a positive attitude, you will find that it makes the workplace warm and welcoming.
  4. Maintain Humility and a Good Sense of Humor About Yourself. Even when receiving praise for a job well done, stay humble and gracious. Your employer, co-workers and customers will appreciate your continuing positive work ethic without a hint of inflated ego.
  5. Respect Others and Yourself. No matter how charged the environment, how angry a customer, or how monumentally poorly someone else does their job that might affect yours, maintain a strong sense of respect. Practice diplomacy under duress, as well as under regular circumstances, and everyone around you will take note and appreciate it.

Reach Out for Professional Advice

You do not have to figure it all out on your own. You can develop and sharpen your work ethic with some help and feedback to ensure you are on the right path to developing a lifelong soft skill any employer will consider a treasure. Contact any ABR office and we’ll connect you with tools to help you polish your work ethic.

5 Tips to Create a Professional LinkedIn Profile for Job Seekers

November 21st, 2016

linkedinGet the Most Out of Your LinkedIn Profile by Ensuring It Hits Important Points

A well-crafted LinkedIn profile serves as a dynamic and functional tool for professionals who are seeking a new job or looking to advance within their field. A 2013 Business Insider article pointed out a recent survey stating that a full 94 percent of staffing professionals in today’s market use social media in their recruiting efforts.

LinkedIn is not just another social media platform that can easily turn into a distraction for some job seekers. With the right set up, and by hitting all the important points, your LinkedIn profile perpetually works in several ways to enhance your professional goals, including:

  • Helping hiring managers, headhunters and other employment professionals find you.
  • Creating a positive first impression among your connections and people who view your profile by regularly updating your profile to reflect new training, skills, positions and achievements.
  • Reaching a potential massive and broad audience since LinkedIn has more than 300 million users.

5 Easy Tips to Create Your LinkedIn Profile 

Once you commit to completing and consistently tending to your LinkedIn profile, you will quickly, if not instantly, begin to reap the rewards. You will most likely begin to receive requests for connections, as well as invitations to join communities where you can bounce ideas, gain invaluable professional insights and even get inside tips for top jobs.

First, you need to get serious about setting up your profile so it can do the lion’s share of work for you, whether you are at your computer or not.

Once you’ve created an account with LinkedIn, you will want to navigate to your profile page and begin to customize it.  Use these five easy tips to set up your LinkedIn profile for quick and positive visibility among fellow professionals, hiring experts and employers in your industry:

  1. Put Your Professional Face Forward. An upbeat and professional looking image of you on your LinkedIn home page profile serves as an instant logo. A nice image helps make you memorable and easily recognizable. Use or take a headshot that features a bright and friendly smile since people remember faces better than names.
  2. Share Key Information About Yourself in Your Summary. The more details you share about yourself, the more connections you are likely to make. Fellow industry professionals and employers will find you through a series of relevant keywords, so consider elements such as nicknames and other name variations, educational institution names, past jobs and job titles, current employment and duties, volunteer experience, hobbies, and any other details to help set you apart. This information helps prospective and other important connections find you easily.
  3. Get Creative with Your Headline. LinkedIn uses your current job title and company as the default in your headline, but you can break the mold  In ten carefully crafted keywords, list your specialty or goals, or stand out from the competition and talk about your interests.
  4. Evaluate Your Skills and Include All of Them. Your skills list is a snapshot of your abilities, as well as another keyword source that helps connections reach out to you. Also, once you build your skills list, fellow professionals can endorse your skills and write recommendations on your behalf, serving as instant references.
  5. Join New Groups and Associations. Gain exposure on LinkedIn faster by joining one of the 1.3 million groups and associations where you will find members with similar skills, work experience, education, and other interests. For each new connection, you may find yourself just a step or two closer to your dream job.

By starting with these easy steps to set up your LinkedIn profile, you will start to receive requests for connections, but remember to regularly tend to your account. Add new skills, achievements, headshots, and other new details right away.

At ABR Employment Services, we understand and rely on high-quality LinkedIn profiles to help job seekers garner relevant professional connections. Contact us to learn more about the value of your profile and how we can help you add even more value to your presence on LinkedIn.

Free Rent and a job! Sweepstakes Winner Bethannie Barajas

November 16th, 2016

Bethannie is the October, 2016 winner of $ABR’s $1,000 Free Rent and a job! employee appreciation sweepstakes. She is working at Mathews Archery Inc. in the Strings Department through ABR Employment Services Sparta office since September. Congratulations Bethannie!

Jon Wise, Staffing Specialist in Sparta said, ” Bethannie is a very upbeat employee who does well at her job! She was almost brought to tears when Jim (ABR CEO Jim McNett) gave her the $1,000 check. She thought she was coming in for a focus group but was surrounded by about 20 people instead in Mathew’s showroom. She looked almost terrified as she walked in and everyone was quiet and looking at her. She didn’t know what to think! She appeared to be very grateful and ecstatic when she got the check.”

Watch Video Footage of the Free Rent and a job Sweepstakes Check Presentation

Work for ABR and you could win next! We’re now hiring for many great employers in Wisconsin and the Winona, MN area. Check out our open opportunities or refer a friend for work.

Foot Protection: These Boots Were Made For More Than Walkin’

November 14th, 2016


Foot Protection

Do you wear safety shoes for foot protection on the job?  If you think you don’t need them, consider that about one in five work-related accidents involves the foot and leg.  Falling objects cause most of these, but compression, punctures, burns and slipping on wet surfaces are also common.  All these accidents are easily prevented by wearing the proper safety shoes.

Style and Comfort

When you get ready to choose a pair of safety shoes, you are going to be surprised at the options available to you.  Today’s safety shoes come in a wide variety of types, styles, materials, and weights.  Many safety shoes look just like street shoes, they don’t cost much more, and can provide just as much comfort.  The average safety shoe weighs only 1 ½ ounces more than street shoes.  Let’s look at some of the kinds of workplace hazards that you may encounter and the types of shoes designed for them.

Mechanical Hazards

Falling objects, compression from rolling objects, and punctures are easily the top three sources of foot injury, and the ones the standard safety shoe protects against.  Typically, your safety shoe will have steel-toe caps to guard against injuries from falling objects and compression, and instep protection of aluminum, steel, fiber or plastic to protect the top of the foot.  Steel insoles or reinforced metal soles protect from puncture.  To protect against slipping on wet or oily surfaces, use wooden soles or cleated, non-slip rubber or neoprene soles.  Icy surfaces may require strap-on cleats.

Electrical Hazards

The buildup of static electricity on your body can be dangerous when you are working near explosive or highly flammable substances.  Workers in such environments wear safety shoes with leather, cork, or other conductive soles and no exposed metal, which could cause sparking.  For protection from live electrical current, shoes including metal parts must be thoroughly insulated with rubber soles.  For high-voltage hazards, use conductive shoes insulated with a connector from calf to heel to pass electricity to the floor or ground.  Electrical hazard shoes must be kept dry.

Extreme Heat or Cold

In extreme cold, wear shoes with moisture-proof insulation and insulated socks.  Wooden-sole shoes or slip-on sandals protect against heat; surfaces too hot for wood soles require aluminized heat-protective shoes or boots.  When working around molten metal and sparks, use foundry boots with elastic gores for quick removal in case hot metal or sparks get inside.

Chemical Hazards

Many chemicals and solvents can burn or eat away ordinary shoe materials.  For protection from these hazards wear rubber, neoprene, or plastic footwear depending on the type of chemical you are exposed to and your company’s policy.

Other Protection

Your job may require additional protection, such as metatarsal guards which cover the top of the shoe for greater protection from falling objects, puncture-proof inserts, shin guards, or metal foot guards which strap over the shoe.  Disposable plastic overshoes protect against infection and contamination from sanitation hazards.

Your Shoes

Be sure your safety shoes are approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) – the rating should be stamped inside your shoe.  For best protection, keep your shoes clean and dry, and inspect them regularly for cuts, cracks and embedded metal.  Replace them when they get worn.  If you follow company rules for safety and protective equipment, stay on the lookout for hazardous conditions and equipment, and wear protective footwear appropriate for your job, you can be sure that you are doing everything.   

This blog about foot protection was written by Safety Management Services Company. It is being shared with permission. 

ABR HR Insights Magazine – Nov/Dec Issue

November 7th, 2016


In a perfect world, managers and employees have frictionless relationships with each other, colleagues always get along well, and every hire a company makes turns out to be a smashing success for everyone involved. We don’t live in a perfect world, however, and organizations often find themselves searching for ways to avoid new staffing problems—and struggling to resolve the ones they have. Fortunately, ABR Employment Services HR Insights is here with plenty of insight on these topics.

In this edition’s feature article, “Do Generational Differences Matter?” (page 4) David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom address one potentially thorny issue in today’s workplace: age. They offer an analysis of differences among workers from different age groups as well as suggestions for bridging divides that could lead to conflict, optimistically pointing out that “the truth is that many important similarities hold true in the workplace in spite of any generational differences.”

Zoe Meinecke and Sharlyn Lauby write about two other problems that often plague companies. In “Stop Ignoring Your New Employees,” (page 14) Meinecke describes how the lack of company-provided training can leave some new hires feeling unwelcome. And in “4 Ways Technology Can Minimize Employee Burnout,” (page 10) Lauby writes, “The key to limiting the contagious nature of burnout is to give employees control over their work and to implement programs that focus on allowing employees to work when they want to work” and presents several specific suggestions for keeping employees engaged and productive.

Staving off burnout isn’t the only way to reduce employee turnover. Jonathan Farrington, in “Managers, Help Your Employees Learn,” (page 7) explains how to create professional development plans that keep employees happy (and therefore not walking out the door) and also yield great long-term benefits for organizations.

Whether your organization is currently dealing with some staffing challenges or is proactively looking for ways to prevent them, rest assured that ABR Employment Services has the expertise needed to evaluate and resolve both ongoing and potential problems. We understand employees and we understand how companies work—and we know how to help your organization. The perfect time to start exploring your options is now, so contact us today!


Fair Labor Standards Act: A Guide to Stay Compliant with New Rules

November 7th, 2016


What is the Fair Labor Standards Act?

Every HR team works according to the Fair Labor Standards Act each day. “The FLSA establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments,” according to the United States Department of Labor (DOL).

Additionally, the FLSA helps guide your efforts in ensuring fair pay for exempt and nonexempt employees and rules regarding overtime pay. Exempt employees must be paid a salary rather than an hourly wage for a position. Exempt employees are excluded from minimum wage, overtime regulations, and other rights and protections. Non-exempt employees, however, are entitled to overtime pay. Most employees covered by the FLSA are nonexempt (some are not).

The Fair Labor Standards Act Changes with the Needs of the Ever-Changing Workforce 

Like the modern workforce itself, the Fair Labor Standards Act is a dynamic set of rules and regulations. Your understanding and compliance is essential in maintaining proper compliance to protect your workers and your company.

Proper Categorization of Employees Essential 

It is not only important to properly categorize employees, according to FLSA’s rules and regulations, for the sake of fairness to your organization’s employees, but you also face significant penalties and fees when errors or oversights occur.

Leading up to December 1, 2016, when the new federal overtime rule goes into effect, you and your HR team will need to stay vigilant in learning and adhering to new reporting and payment rules.

An estimated 4.2 million white-collar workers will become eligible for overtime pay, which is a massive change for many organizations. Your organization will be among the 7.4 million establishments that need to get up to speed quickly and completely to ensure full compliance to satisfy your responsibilities and avoid penalties.

A Fair Labor Standards Act Guide to Determine if People Are Categorized Appropriately 

The new overtime rule adds dynamic new duties for your dedicated HR team, so it is important that you work to find ways to help make the learning and transition phase as easy as possible, for everyone’s sake.

Once you have explored all the components of the new rule, work on creating a Fair Labor Standards Act guide that helps properly categorize employees so you don’t miss anything. To do that, take these three ‘tests’ into consideration (as outlined by Greenberg Traurig LLP)

Salary Test

The DOL more than doubled the “salary test” and “salary basis test” for a worker to be exempt from overtime under the FLSA. The “salary test” will increase from $23,660 annually to $47,476 annually effective December 1, 2016.

Salary Basis Test

The “salary basis test” will rise from $455 per week to $913 per week effective December. 1, 2016.

The Society of Human Resource Management offers this FLSA White Collar Exemptions Flowchart to serve as a basic outline of an employer’s initial analysis of positions being considered for exemption under the FLSA.

Duties Test

While the “duties test” remains the same under the new rule, employers should not assume that they satisfy that test. The “duties test” is always the most difficult with which to comply. The new rule will likely result in an increase in FLSA suits when it goes into effect on Dec. 1, 2016. As a consequence of any suits, increased scrutiny may be applied to employees’ job descriptions and assignments.

Salary Options to Deal with New Rule

Employers may (i) increase the workers’ salaries so that they satisfy the increased “salary test” and “salary basis test;” (ii) keep the workers’ salaries the same and pay them any earned overtime; or (iii) monitor the workers’ hours so that they are not working any overtime, among other options.

December 1, 2016 is right around the corner, but with strong preparation and commitment to staying compliant, your HR team should be in great shape to finish out the year on a high note and without too much overtime of their own.