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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Happy Holidays from all of us at NextCrew

This past year has been marvelous and we couldn't have done it without all of you – supporters, clients and potential customers alike. During this holiday season we want to express our gratitude. 

I like to compare the holiday season with the way a child listens to a favorite story. The pleasure is in the familiar way the story begins, the anticipation of familiar turns it takes, the familiar moments of suspense, and the familiar climax and ending. – Fred Rogers

We hope that you and your family have a safe and wonderful holiday season and we look forward to a bright new year in 2014! 

Lion image by Christine Zenino via Flickr
Lights image by peddhapati via Flickr

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Stepping Up To the Challenge: The Tools to Succeed

Do you see it? Opportunities are everywhere. Sometimes we see them, sometimes we ignore them. Like the opportunity to work with a start-up or a new business, or to hire a star employee or to diversify your business, or to use new technology platform to explore additional revenue streams. 

In my experience working with small businesses most of the time I see these opportunities ignored because they requires harder work, more capital, and additional resources. Also, many small companies are concerned about the "what ifs" of the situation. I hear more business owners say, "What if it doesn’t work out," than "What is the worst that can happen?" 

The most successful companies are willing to take on the risks that are inherent with trying something new. If they experience failure, they ask themselves what happened and correct the situation before trying again. 

But they do try again. 

Keep in mind the saying "No guts, no glory." Think about what the "guts" really are.

If you have the right tools - the bones and the guts of your business – along with the right resources to expand your business and to take more risks, would you do it?
What if all it took to give you the confidence to expand your business was a system that could help you function more efficiently and effectively? When the risk is that minimal, it hardly feels like a risk at all.

What would make you feel comfortable enough to step up to the challenge and try something new with your business? Would you consider it if you had the right technology in place? Would you consider it if your staff could concentrate on making money for the business throughout the workday? Would you consider it if you had excellent support from a technology company who could work with you every step of the way? 

If you've been thinking about expanding your online staffing business and are looking for new solutions to manage your workforce, consider the NextCrew Workforce Management System. With NextCrew you can leverage current trend of online staffing to expand your business and streamline your processes. Contact us today! 

Image by epSos,de via Flickr.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Your Backup Plan: Be Prepared in Your Business for Disaster Recovery

If you watch American Football at all you would have seen a few instances this year of the need for a backup quarterback. Aaron Rogers, the star quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, was injured mid-season and until their third backup in as many weeks tied a game against the Vikings they didn't come close to looking like the same team without him. However, Matt Flynn finally stepped up and brought Green Bay back from several disappointing games to at least be competitive against the Minnesota team. 

A backup quarterback is an important component to a football team. While the hope is that the defenders can keep the quarterback safe on the field, their risk of injury is very high. The Packers have long relied on their superstar to keep the team winning but when he was injured against the Bears earlier in the season they had to quickly rethink their strategy. 

Their first back-up was injured and they had to call another player up from the practice squad to take the most important position in the game. Finally, after their longest losing streak since 2008 they re-signed Matt Flynn who was able keep the team afloat. While the team didn't win the game, they did tie in overtime and they will face the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day with Rogers' health still in question for that national spotlight game. 

Okay, we know you're not here to read about Football and I just spent three paragraphs talking about it at length. However, just like in football, uncertainty in business can become a major problem when something goes wrong and you don't have a backup plan. Football is a perfect metaphor for our business systems.  The technology is crucial but it isn't infallible and situations are bound to happen eventually that can take the system to its knees if you're not prepared. You need to know that your company, your team, and your service provider can handle these down times and keep them from affecting your business and customers. 

Many organizations refer to this as disaster recovery. Major corporations spend millions of dollars to analyze their product and have systems in place to prevent issues for their operations. Remember, a breakdown in your system will affect your clients and this is the pain you want to prevent. Solving a problem before it happens by having the right processes in place can be imperative. It is better a plan that you never have to use than to find yourself in a position that can grind your organization to a halt. 

Don't find your company without a star quarterback. Plan ahead with a backup system in place. 

Working with a software service provider who understands this critical issue is important. NextCrew offers high-availability cloud based online staffing platform. Let us worry about IT infrastructure and you take care of business. Contact us today!  

First photo credit: elviskennedy via photopin cc 
Second photo credit: Justin Marty via photopin cc

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thanks for Making Us Better: The Value of Customer Criticism

During our development process we talked with a lot of clients about what they needed for their workforce management system. Anyone who has worked in an industry that provides a client services knows that no two clients are alike. Throughout the process many clients made simple requests to make the system easier to use and others had more complicated demands. 

It is easy to stand firm and determine that your solution is only going to encompass certain needs. It is easy to say that certain functions are impossible. However, during the course of developing NextCrew's workforce management system we learned that sometimes the customer really is right and their criticism is what makes us strive to improve our product and services to meet even the most demanding customer's needs. 

Imagine how good your overall product would be if you spent enough time with your designs to make even your toughest clients pleased? If the most critical clients are happy then all of your clients would benefit from the extra work that you put into making sure the systems were the very best. 

We really appreciate the criticism that our clients provide for us to give us an opportunity to meet their needs and make our product better. 

To the perfectionist client who demanded we provide everything on their checklist; we are glad to have you in our corner. 

Using client criticism and requests for more functionality and better system features will make your business infinitely better. Here are five simple questions to ask your clients about your service and what you can do to make it better. 

  • Is our product meeting your needs?
  • What is the one thing causing you the most concern in your business? 
  • What do you envision could work to solve this problem using software or technology?
  • What can I improve to make this product even better for you?
  • How do you use this technology every day? 
It is important to thank the client for their criticism and understand that they don't mean it as an insult to your company. They simply have a technological need and feel that your product isn't solving it for them. Once you ask them these questions really listen to their answers. Commit to improve your service to meet their needs and, in turn, the needs of all of your clients.

During the development process for NextCrew, we were grateful for clients who demanded perfection. We feel that if we had been rigid about not changing system based on client request our product would not have the polished system that we are able to offer today.

photo credit: via photopin cc

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Is Starbucks Just Coffee? What kind of experience do you expect from your software provider ?

Creative Commons | Pauline Mak

What kind of service do you generally expect from your software provider? Most companies indicate that they want a product that functions out of the box and makes their jobs easier. What if you began to think about your software provider just like you would any other service? 

Take, for instance, Starbucks seasonal offerings. Pumpkin Spice Lattes have developed a strong following of very loyal customers. This three month only product offers users an experience that they can't get everywhere. Even with the sudden rise in Pumpkin Spice flavored products from a variety of food purveyors, Starbucks is still at the top of their game. The strategy is simple; provide an additional service that makes people happy. Starbucks isn’t just coffee it is an experience.
A software application is the perfect platform for customization that can enhance your product experience and works with your business operation. Your experience with this product doesn't just shape your business but it influences the user experience from your internal employees to your contingent workforce and clients. When strong customer service begins at the software implementation level, the ability to pass that down through your company is exponential. 

Creative Commons | 10ch
No software solution is one size fits all. It is important to work with a vendor who can understand your specific professional needs and help you customize a product that will enhance every aspect of your business. A software vendor who goes above and beyond after the contract is signed is exactly the kind of partner that your company needs. 

NextCrew specializes in workforce management systems that are customized to fit your needs. We are not simply a software vendor but a strategic partner who can work with you to make our product perfect for your business. We provide vendor support throughout the implementation and beyond working with you during the lifetime of our product and service. 

We believe that service makes the difference. We believe that offering you custom solutions and lifetime support is the right thing to do. This is the difference between a software solution and a strategic business partner. If you had to make the choice, wouldn't you select the company that offers you something beyond a product?  

We believe NextCrew offers our partners the best service and experience for their workforce management systems. Contact us today to learn more.

Monday, November 4, 2013

What is the Cloud and Why Should You Be in It?

The cloud has been one of the most talked about evolutions of technology within the last decade. But what exactly is it and why should you consider cloud services for your business? While many small business owners are concerned that the cloud is not as secure as other types of servers, that is simply not the case. The cloud works by storing all of your data and information away from your own computers and servers and allowing you to access them whenever you need them. 

There are several reasons for relocating your systems to the cloud. Here are a few more to consider. 

  1. The cloud is more cost effective. Unlike traditional in-house servers, the cloud doesn’t require the initial set up of computer hardware in your office. Cloud computing is not cheap but the cost of establishing your virtual system can be much less than if you need to make an investment in storage and server devices capable of running your workforce management tools.
  2. The cloud is easy to update and stay current. Because of the remote nature of cloud computing, it is very easy for your tech support to upgrade with the latest technology without your business experiencing any downtime. Since the information is stored off site an update is usually one simply click away. 
  3. The cloud won't grind your business to a halt if there is a problem. The Cloud is not centralized which means if one server goes down, your system runs on the rest of the available servers. This virtually eliminates any issues with technology hiccups. A hardware failure in the Cloud doesn’t mean your business stops running.
  4. The cloud provides opportunities to customize your system. With a cloud based workforce management tool such as NextCrew, you have the ability to customize your system to better represent your company and for your specific business needs. The virtual technology and our white label branding allow us to work with you to create a seamless system for your clients and crew.
By using a cloud based system for your company you are able to keep the costs down, stay current with technology, avoid tech outages.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Creating a Strategy for Your Workforce Management System

The benefits of new technology for managing a contingent workforce can be exponential. These systems can provide a more streamlined way to conduct daily business and free employees' time up for handling other important tasks. They can save companies thousands of dollars, or more, after their implementation. However, the technology isn't a magic bullet in and of itself. Like any system, a workforce management solution is only as good as the information entered. When establishing a workforce management system in your business it is important to create a strategy to make the transition as smooth as possible. 

Think about it this way. If you want to lose weight you might consider buying a treadmill. Simply owning the treadmill doesn't mean that you'll lose any weight. You need to make a plan to run or walk on the treadmill every day and include a healthy meal plan in your weight loss strategy. The key factor here is to develop a strategy to use your tool or technology to get the best results. 

Here are a few key points for creating a plan to implement your new workforce management system. 

Before you decide on the right workforce management system for your company you need to have a clear understanding of what you want to see improve in your business. This is your vision. Talk with your service provider to determine what things are most important to you and they should be able to customize the system to provide you the results for which you are most interested. Without a clear vision of the results you expect, the new technology will not satisfy your goals. 

Beyond your vision, it is also important to understand the best way to roll out this new technology in your business. You can work with your provider and your management team to determine the best implementation of the system. You want to know how it will integrate with your current technology, the best ways to train your employees to use it, and the best way to demonstrate the benefits to your clients and contingent workforce. This will be different for every company depending on the needs and vision. One of the best strategies for new technology implementation is to designate one project leader who is passionate about the change. The leader should also possess strong organizational skills to assist with the process.

New Technology
Businesses who adopt new technologies early on can become trailblazers in the market place. Often users will want to treat the new technology just like they did the old one but it is important to understand the difference. A smart phone is not the same as a landline phone and using it for only the function of making and receiving phone calls can limit the user experience. When you realize your cell phone can also help you manage your calendar and keep up with emails it opens a new world of possibilities. The same is true for any new office technology.

The last question that a new system should answer for you is "how can this technology help me improve my business?" Your workforce management system should provide your company with the right innovation to move your organization to the next level. When developing your strategy, it is important to understand exactly how your new system will improve your business. 

There have been companies who have implemented new systems, like our workforce management solution, who became frustrated with the product. They felt that the system should simply begin working as soon as everything was installed. Unfortunately, no technology can provide that level of service without the customer understanding the uses and benefits of the new system. To get the most out of a workforce management system there needs to be a strategy in place.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Can White Label Workforce Management Be the Solution for You?

The term "white label" refers to a product or service that is manufactured by one company and sold by another. Take, for instance, generic grocery store brands. When you go to a supermarket you will find the store brand items. Generally these are produced by the same companies who make the name brand products but they are rebranded for the store to sell. 

The technology sector took ownership of the White Label concept and many companies offer the ability to brand their services for their individual clients. 

The most obvious benefit of using a white label service, such as NextCrew, is the ability to customize the interface so the site appears to be branded for the company managing the service. There are a number of additional benefits to this type of product solution. 

1. Look and Feel. The number one reason to work with a company providing white labeled services is to match the new product to your existing website and marketing brand. Your end users, the clients and employees, will see the logo and colors they are expect when working with your company.This will create a consistent experience for anyone visiting your website.

2. Cost. The product has already been developed so the cost to your company is merely the purchase price of the service. There may be ways to customize the interface further and you can partner with the company providing the service to adapt it for your needs. This is significantly less expensive than hiring a development team and working on the same solution in house. 

3. Availability. The white label company has already completed the research and tested the implementation of their product. Using an existing service means shorter ramp up and launch times than building one from scratch. The partnering company can help you with the transition and training. They can even connect you with other companies already using their service. 

4. Updates. As the builder of the solution, your white label technology partner is consistently improving their product and service. As new features are added they will be integrated with your existing system as part of their regular updates.  As a company, you benefit from the technical expertise of your partnering service. 

There are some limitations to white label technology as well. For example, it is important to research and fully understand the product before making a purchasing decision so you know if it fits with your long term vision. It is also important to make sure that the partnering company offers the support that you need for the product. If there are problems with the system you have to be able to rely on their developers and customer service to help you solve them. 

Are you looking for a white label solution to your workforce management needs? NextCrew can work with you and your company to customize our platform to meet your requirements. Contact us today!  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The 100 Most Influential People in the Staffing Industry

Just one year ago I couldn't imagine where I would be today. I am humbled and honored that I have been been selected as one of Staffing Industry's top 100 influential people for 2013.

My background is in IT and the corporate world. I spent several years helping companies streamline their processes and become more efficient through the use of innovative technologies. That kind of service has always been a driving force behind my career.

The last decade alone has seen many changes in the way we conduct our daily business. Everything from shopping, to travel, to how we watch television has been enhanced by technological advances. However, the staffing industry model of hiring and placing contingent workers on assignment remained unchanged.
I saw the increase in online applications for freelance workers such as oDesk and eLance. While these are great ways to connect independent contractors to potential customers they are limited to that professional sphere. What if similar methods could be used to improve the quality of work for organizations that handle contingent staffing like temporary employment agencies, event staffing, security companies, and healthcare staff providers?

I had an idea to make this happen but like many entrepreneurs I had moments of doubt. What if I left my corporate job and failed? I realized that I couldn't wait for the opportunity to arise, I needed to take it. Three simple rules helped me get started.

 I took a chance and launched NextCrew. Little did I know at the time what was in store. 

NextCrew, an innovative technology supplier that provides a cloud-based software platform which allows brick-and-mortar staffing firms to introduce and grow “next-gen” online staffing processes and revenue streams. NextCrew integrates with existing ATSs, websites, etc. and enables efficient, fast online staffing processes many clients are now demanding. Nice thing about platform is that, it easily integrates with existing system such as ATS and Payroll systems. This allows, organizations can start maximizing their revenue without making drastic changes to their existing workflow.

NextCrew is not backed by venture capital or angel investors. Getting our concept on the market has not been easy. I have been extremely proud of our accomplishments and I would like to take some time to thank those who helped make it happen.

We are a true LinkedIn success story. When I started I didn't have a single contact in the staffing industry. I didn't have a marketing budget and I wasn't sure how to get the word out to my target industries. However, as part of my professional life I was already connected to the largest online network: LinkedIn.

The light bulb went off and I realized that I already had the right tools at my fingertips. LinkedIn has been a great asset to me and NextCrew. I was able to market the concept, publish blog posts, join groups, and get connected. Shortly after beginning my LinkedIn campaign we were contacted by two staffing services interested in learning more about NextCrew. LinkedIn gave me the confidence to continue marketing my idea and allowed me to grow the business to where it is today. There have been a lot of great individuals who have helped me with their advice and their connections. Never underestimate the need for mentors no matter where you are in your career.

I was also able to put together a great team to bring NextCrew to life. Without my technology team or my marketing team I would have never been able to make this happen.

Currently we have clients in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada. They span several industries but have two things in common; they all employ contingent staff and they were looking for a more efficient way to manage their processes. The sky is the limit moving forward and I am excited for each and every step along the way.

Getting listed as a top 100 most influential company means a lot to me personally and to the success of NextCrew. It is a great mental boost. I know that my efforts are appreciated and that my product can help hundreds if not thousands of companies do the very best work possible.

If you have ever thought about stepping out on your own and pursuing an idea as an entrepreneur I am here to tell you it is not only possible but it may be vital. If you feel restless in a corporate environment it is most likely because you are meant to do something more. It is critical to the business community because we need more great ideas to continue innovation. My advice to you is:

1        Don't be afraid to refocus. Your original idea might not be perfect but with some creative thinking you can take it to the next level.
     Failure is not an option. That is not to say you won't experience failure along the way, but don't look at it as the end of the journey. Learn from your mistakes and keep going.
3       You can't do it alone. Connect with great people. These individuals, organizations, and companies will become your first cheerleaders, your first customers, and your best asset.

Thank you for supporting NextCrew. I look forward to the future of our company. 

"Success is a Journey not a Destination"
- Heraclitus

The Anatomy of Online Staffing Business

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Create Your Virtual Offices - Nationwide

There was a time when staffing businesses needed brick and buildings stores throughout the country, and even the world, in order to provide the proper level of service to customers in each area. With technology booming and global business evolving this is no longer the case. Many businesses, including those which utilize contingent employees, can run all of their operations out of one location. This reduces the overhead costs and streamlines the systems.

Years ago, candidates used to walk-in to and office and fill-out their employment application, And now those searches have shifted online. Regardless, how many physical locations you might have nationwide, you have to be searchable by search engines. It also applies to your potential clients. They are also searching for staffing companies or talents online regardless you have physical location in their area or not.

Depending upon capabilities of a workforce management system, you are able to create virtual locations which your clients and employees can access through the web. As your clients submit jobs directly through the system a list of matching candidates is generated based on the location where talent is required. 

As the administrator of the contingent workforce it is also easy to generate reports based on the location of each client or candidate to determine where to focus the efforts of your recruiting staff or plan for other business needs. Candidates are also able to access their own portal and specific their location and search for jobs in their area. 

  A workforce management solution offered by NextCrew, is applicable to any industry which uses contingent staff. Using built-in GEO based integration you are able to track candidate and client information to make the best match based on the virtual branches or locations. As an example, a locum tenens medical staffing provider needs to ensure that their candidates are licensed in the state of the open position. With a NextCrew each medical professional can keep their profile up to date with their current certifications and education. A locum tenens administrator can easily check if the right licenses are in place for the doctor to accept the specific project. Once the match is made, the system tracks all of the important information including hours worked and client notifications. The administrator never needs the desk and doesn't need to be located in the same state as the locum doctor. 

Your business doesn't need to be chained to a brick and mortar store front to be successful. NextCrew provides cloud based solution for staffing companies so that, they can easily grow nationwide or international without creating brick-and-mortal offices. NextCrew reduces the overall cost of operations and open your services up to new potential clients and candidates. Contact NextCrew to see how our products can help your business grow nationwide without spending lot of money to establish physical offices at multiple locations.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Make Employee Recognition Easier in Your Staffing Office

If you work in temporary staffing then you are probably aware that September 16th through 22nd was National Staffing Employee Week. This week long event is a chance to celebrate your contingent workforce and thank them for all their hard work throughout the year.

There are some interesting statistics surrounding temporary staffing and you can see them here at this infographic put together by blogger Kelly Mitchell using information from the National Staffing Association. 

For example, did you know that 11.5 million temporary workers are currently employed by US staffing companies? Nearly 3 million contract employees work for staffing services every business day. 79% of these employees work full time. It is important that we provide recognition for the contingent workforce to keep the system running smoothly. 

The American Staffing Association, the leading organization for Staffing Services here in the United States, suggests four primary benefits for temporary employees: flexibility, bridge, choice, and training. Each of these offers workers the opportunity to work on their own schedule, work between full time opportunities, choose the right companies and assignments, and allow them to gain additional experience. 

64% of temporary employees enjoy working with staffing services because it provides them with a flexible schedule that improves their overall work/life balance. 80% of companies like working with staffing services to provide candidates who eventually become full time employees. Temporary staffing is an excellent way to evaluate the working relationship with an employee before making the permanent hiring decision. 

However, 23% of temporary employees have no interest in being hired and will work short term assignments to maintaining their ability to be flexible. 

Temporary employment is also a solution to fill the so-called “Skills Gap” currently occurring in the US. While employers say they are having trouble finding candidates who match their specific requirements, the staffing industry is able to place qualified temporary individuals on these assignments to allow the company to continue working effectively. Many times these temporary employees prove themselves to be an asset. 

There are many opportunities for companies to recognize their permanent workforce, but National Staffing Employee Week gives us a chance to honor the employees who work short term or long term assignments for our industry. 

As recruiters and administrators, this type of program can easily be pushed to the side in favor of revenue generating work for the business. Filling orders, communicating with employees and clients, and processing payroll are considered infinitely more important than employee relations. But what if this didn’t have to be the case? 

Workforce Management Systems can streamline your processes and allow staff more time to concentrate on employee recognition and retention programs. Contact us today to see how NextCrew can help you!  

photo credit: Alex E. Proimos via photopin cc

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Contingent Workforce Trends of 2013

It is always important to keep up with the latest trends and technology in your industry. Here are some important things to know about various aspects of contingent staffing from 2013. 

According to the Society for Human Resources Management, more than 80% of businesses polled expected their hiring in 2013 to meet or exceed that of 2012. Only 45% suggested that current political climate would slow their rate of hiring. Many hiring managers reported some difficulty finding qualified individuals for their open positions and nearly three quarters of the companies said they would use contingent staff to fill gaps in their workforce. 

In late 2012, staffing giant Yoh suggested that White Label recruiting would be a bit part of the contingent workforce trend in 2013.

“On face value, white label recruiting in not necessarily anything new. For years, organizations have insisted that their managed staffing programs work to represent the employment brand of the company in positive light.  What is new, however, is that the structure of these programs are moving far beyond traditional ‘on premise’ managed staffing programs and more closely reflecting the embedded approach found more frequently in recruitment process outsourcing engagements.”’s monthly report showed some interesting advertising trends in August of 2013. Hospitality job postings rose 34% over the same time last year. However, healthcare was down 17%. Several industries remained virtually the same including some core business processes such as accounting, financial services and banking, and construction. It is also interesting to note that job postings for information technology were 10% lower than 2012. 

Recent college graduates are facing what economists call “Mal-employment.” 36% of graduates in 2013 have accepted jobs that don’t require a college degree.

“The official unemployment rate for grads under age 25 was 7% in May, but that doesn't reflect all those who are under-utilized in one way or another. Nearly 8% of grads are working part-time, but would like full-time positions. These workers aren't counted in the mal-employment rate.”

Due to the increase of companies using contingent employees for their projects, experts suggest that implementing a tool to manage the process is becoming more imperative. While contingent workers require different management than permanent employees, most companies aren’t making use of tools available on today’s market. 

“However, many companies still take a piecemeal approach to managing contingent labor. GeoDigital International Inc., a mapping and visual infrared inspection company in Hamilton, Ontario, uses five different tools to track and manage its 320 employees, which includes roughly 50 contingent workers.”

Workforce Management Systems can offer improved processes making the contingent worker management more efficient and streamlined. 

If you would like to know more about current employment trends and how a workforce management system can work for you, contact NextCrew. We can work with you to provide a white labeled contingent workforce management system that can be customized for your business needs. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

9 Things You Might be Doing Inefficiently While Managing Your Temporary Workers.

You know that feeling when you discover a short cut on your way home from work that cuts a good 10 minute off your commute? Human beings have a lifelong capacity to learn and frequently when the light bulb goes on it is after years of performing the same task in what turns out to be a less efficient way. After 15 years of recruiting for temporary staff I picked up a few habits and learned a few things that made my job easier. However, no is immune to learning new methods. Here are 9 things I wish I could have done better. 

Information management. Our application process was manual. Our candidates would fill out paperwork and it would be my job to enter the data, which sometimes got quite backed up on my desk. Any time a temporary employee needed to change their address or phone number they would need to contact me and I would make the changes. There were many times when people never update their information and would be surprised when they’d finally call and learn that I was unable to reach them for open jobs. If employees had access to their own information they could update anything as necessary and avoid missed opportunities because of bad data.
Time consuming phone calls. Each time a new position became available it was my job to call as many candidates as it took to fill the position. Several times a week these jobs would be what we called “ASAP” jobs which were immediate needs by the client due to some emergency. It took considerable time to make phone calls and while sometimes we were lucky that the first person took the job more often than not we were smiling and dialing all morning long. Frequently people wouldn’t say no until after I spent several minutes explaining the project. A workforce management system can automatically source available candidates and send a text or email with all the details. The employee can accept the job right away. 

Bad directions and lost employees. When we would assign candidates to the job we needed to provide the address and directions to the job site. We preferred to email them the information but sometimes we would share them verbally. Whether it was due to poor descriptions on my part or poor listening skills on theirs, employees often had trouble finding the location. With a workforce management system an automatic reminder can be sent to each employee the day before the job to remind them the hours and provide a web generated map which could hopefully mitigate the problem. 

Processing time cards. Before I left, my company still used manual time cards. The candidates filled them out each week, get them signed by their supervisor, and turned them in to us. At that point we needed to recalculate the hours to make sure they were correct and enter them into our payroll system. We always needed to contact a number of employees to track down missing time cards. With an automated system each employee would be responsible for entering their own hours.

Supervisor Approval. A time card bottleneck often occurred at the approval level. Before a time sheet could be turned into to us they needed to be signed by the manager. Supervisors are busy and don’t mean to skip over small tasks such as time cards for temporary employees. A workforce management system can send each manager an automated email to remind them to approve the hours which they can do with one click. 

Streamline Payroll Process. In this payroll system, each recruiter was required to process payroll once a week which kept them from performing other duties during this time. It is important to be cautious and careful when calculating hours to avoid mistakes that can impact someone’s pay. An automated system can submit the completed hours directly to the integrated payroll software the process would only take a fraction of the time.  

Tracking attendance. When you only receive time cards once a week it is difficult to track patterns or implement corrective action when managers fail to alert you to a problem. Since temporary employees work off site and don’t report directly to you it is important that you know they are arriving on time every day. A system with built in GPS can let you know precisely where and when the employee logs into the system upon their arrival.  

Documenting job performance. It is not uncommon for a staffing service to only have contact with a small percentage of their database. There are many reasons a candidate can be considered unemployable which may less than desirable behaviors on past temporary assignments. However, if this information is not documented another staffing administrator may place them on an assignment only to have an equally negative experience. A system that allows you to review and rate employees’ performance will place this information at your fingertips while reaching out to candidates for new assignments. 

Better client communications. Some staffing companies have recruiters on call after business hours to accommodate the needs of clients. If you don’t and they learn of a situation that requires immediate attention your service may miss out on the opportunity. Your clients may not have an opportunity to discuss the need with you directly. With Workforce management they can submit a job request directly through the system which can immediately push it to qualified candidates. You may be able to fill all your requirements without picking up the phone.  

Sunday, August 25, 2013

From Applicant Tracking Systems to Payroll: Filling in the Missing Pieces

Everyone knows that to be successful in the contingent employee market you need two things: an applicant tracking system to maintain a database of employees and clients and a payroll system to ensure everyone is paid and billed. Have you ever noticed that there is a large gap between the two systems that goes largely untapped? You may not have thought about it much but what if we told you there was an easy way to connect your front office system to your back office system to make things such as communication and database management easier? 

Enter Workforce Management Systems.

photo credit: <a href="">{Guerrilla Futures | Jason Tester}</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>
A workforce management system can streamline many of the processes that administrators of contingent staff work with daily. It allows individual employees to update their contact information, resume, and skills as they change eliminating missed opportunities. It provides a way for clients to automatically submit job requests that are broadcast out to qualified candidates based on the assignment requirements. It offers an elegant solution to the submission of employee time cards to supervisors for approval. Once hours are approved information can be integrated with client billing system as well as payroll system eliminating any duplicate data entry tasks or re-typing errors. It can also replace physical time clocks. Your staff can check-in their time using GPS integrated smart-phone app so you know exact location at the time of check-in and information is available to access from anywhere on a real-time basis.

Staff administrators and recruiters in many industries, from catering to hospitality and security to temporary staffing, can use workforce management systems to better organize their time allowing them the freedom to accomplish more within their work day. 

For example, since contingent staff does not work under the direct management of the staffing administrator it is imperative to have access to the employee and supervisor throughout the duration of the assignment. Simple processes within the workforce management system can ensure that both parties can keep you updated on the status of the assignment. At the close of the project you can request feedback to understand how the project was handled and determine the best new assignment opportunities and candidate profiles for each of them in the future.

If you’re looking for a way to make your contingent staffing more efficient don’t stop with an applicant tracking system and a payroll system. Fill the spaces between with a workforce management system that can streamline your process. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Can Workforce Management Systems Help Close the Skills Gap between American Workers and Companies?

One of the biggest challenges facing hiring managers today is the growing skills gap of American workers. In spite of an economy where many professionals have found themselves without employment it seems that many of the skills in demand by companies are not currently possessed by these individuals on the job market. 
photo credit: <a href="">x-ray delta one</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

However, the problem may not lie with a lack of skills in the marketplace but rather the way we source candidates for upcoming jobs. 

There was a time prior to the recession when managers would seek out individuals with aptitude rather than an exact laundry list of experience. The right attitude and the ability to learn were more important than knowing exactly how to format pivot tables or work in Great Plains. After the recession hit, starting with the sub-prime mortgage meltdown in 2007, employers changed course and began looking for individuals with an exact match to specific skills desired.  Many companies expected that with so many people out of work they should be able to find a surplus of individuals with specific experience. 

Experts still disagree about what the skills gap actuallyis. Is it a lack of education or is it a recruiting issue? Some employment specialists even suggest that a raise in salaries for skilled individuals would help to close the skills gap. This discrepancy between available professionals and technical skills could have been caused the tightening of corporate belts during the same recession that lead to high unemployment. As cost of living continues to rise in the United States wages have been steadily falling since 2000, long before the recession began. 

Perhaps the solution is to reconsider the way we are recruiting and retaining qualified employees. An online workforce management system can help connect employees to open positions with little effort and higher success rates. It can help bridge the gap between skilled workers and the employers seeking their talents. Here are just three ways a workforce management system can work for you.

1. Employee Updated Skills. Many professionals are augmenting their skills with continued education to increase their experience with new in-demand technologies. On an online system they can easily add the information to their profile making it easier to source when a need for their skills becomes available.
2. Increased communications between employees and clients. A workforce management system allows for your clients to post job requests that can be immediately viewable by candidates looking for work. This can shorten the recruiting time for certain critical positions.
3. Reports on salary information. Sometimes the answer lies in educating your clients on the cost of employment. It is difficult to hire a skilled professional for a project if the wage offered is below a minimum salary requirement. Easily sharing reports on successful hires and wage research through the workforce management system can help explain the disparity to clients. 

NextCrew, Workforce Management for the New World, can help you enhance your temporary and contingent staff process. Contact us today to learn more.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

How a Workforce Management System can Save You Time

For 15 years I was a recruiter in the temporary staffing industry. I worked for a small boutique staffing company that focused on local staffing for administrative and general labor positions. While my company used a database system to organize our employee and client information as well as to create job posts and run payroll there were still processes that needed to be completed by individuals within our office, whether by us as recruiters or by the sales team or administrators. 

I believe the next level for any company that utilizes a contingent workforce would be a management system that can automate the process and save time. 

When I first began working as a writer for the NextCrew site I already recognized the benefits a system like this would have had for me as a recruiter. I understand both sides of the process and I believe that workforce management can help 

I thought I might take a quick look at some of the bottlenecks in the staffing process and demonstrate how workforce management tools can help. 

1.      Resume and Skills Updates. When I was working in temporary staffing I frequently needed to update employee information within the system. Our candidates would send us updated resumes which we would upload an often reformat. New skills slipped through the cracks as we rarely went back and updated the original information. This could mean that some candidates were not contacted about jobs for which they would have been qualified. With a workforce management system an employee could log in and update their own resume and skill set allowing the administrators access to the best information.
2.      Update Contact Information. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I tried to reach out to a potential candidate only to find that their phone number or email address was no longer in service. Occasionally the candidate would call months later wondering why they had not heard from me and seemed surprised when I quoted back an old phone number. If we cannot reach our candidates we cannot employ them so to allow each person an opportunity to update their contact information in the system would have given more qualified candidates the chance to go to work.
3.      Payroll and Timesheet Processing. Another nightmare in my experience was payroll. Our employees were each responsible for turning in their physical timesheet signed by their supervisor. We would then re-add, code, and enter the information into our payroll software. This process would take two full workdays each week at which time we were also still responsible for recruiting and job placements. Often we would spend so much time tracking down missing time cards that we were unable to handle everything that needed to be completed. Some employees went unpaid as a result. An automated system where each employee could enter their time and generate an approval request from the supervisor would have greatly reduced the headache.
4.      Staff Communications. Many years ago I worked for a larger staffing company that required a quota of phone calls for each assignment. I always thought this was absurd. What if I filled the position with the first person I contacted? You never know how long it will take to find the right candidate for a job. Sometimes you can contact one person, sometimes you can contact 100 or more. An automated system which alerted candidates to new opportunities could have eliminated some of the unnecessary phone calls or emails. 
5.      Assignment Snafus. Before GPS, giving directions meant providing an address and turn by turn directions which we would hope they would write down. After GPS, we still found that employees relied on technology a little too much often getting lost when it was clear that the directions were leading them to the wrong place. I’ve had employees tell me it was too hard to find a company so they gave up and went home. An automated workforce management system could provide turn by turn directions and maps to help the employee find their way to the client site.

My personal experience was as a recruiter in the temporary staffing industry but I believe that workforce management systems can help anyone who uses contingent staffing such as catering, security, hospitality, or healthcare employee providers.

To learn more about systems that can help in the placement process go to NextCrew: Workforce Management Software for the New World.