Workforce Problems: Are You Addressing the Symptoms or the Cause?

Friday, Jul. 19th 2013

Guest Blog: Terry Stockham, Human Capital Advisor at OnForce

The Director of Sales at an FMCG organization contacts the company’s HR manager and requests sales training for his staff. Recent high turnover in the sales team has depleted the experienced staff and left him with the majority of the sales members with less than 3 months on the job. He also instructs the marketing team to create a new ad campaign to bolster slumping sales (sales have been declining over the past six months).

Three months later, the sales staff is fully trained and the new ad campaign is running, but sales are still declining. In addition, costs to conduct the sales training and support marketing efforts amounted to $3.5 million. To address this issue, the Director of Sales decides to talk with the company president and they decide to bring in a consultant.

Very quickly, the consultant discovers the real problem is in the production of the company’s products. The production process has not changed in over 20 years. High demand had taken its toll on the employees, processes, and equipment in the production department. The quantity and quality of the product line were the real cause of slumping sales! The production workforce was completely disengaged; they just didn’t care anymore. They had brought the problems forward to management many times, but their complaints were ignored. They were just told to work harder and faster.

It may seem strange that management did not recognize or address the production problems, but it is a true story! They treated the symptoms of the problem and ignored the true cause of the problem.

What can you do to avoid making the same mistake when addressing business problems? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Don’t react – respond. Do not panic and impulsively react to a symptom. Take the time needed to investigate the entire issue before taking action. Symptoms are very obvious and easy to see but causes are usually not as easy to identify.
  2. Talk to ALL the people involved in the situation. Create a team comprised of a cross-section of the organization to ensure that you capture all of the critical information and perspectives needed to identify the true cause of the problem. This team approach will be important when developing the solution.
  3. Gather data. Make sure that you have all of the data necessary to complete the investigation of the problem. Most serious business problems don’t happen overnight. You need “data history” to identify when, where, how, and why.
  4. Test the problem/solution. Make sure you have the true cause-and-effect identified before implementing a solution across the organization. Test it on a small scale before rolling it out. If you’re “fixing” the wrong cause, you may make things worse.

Bottom line: Do it right the first time or you will be doing it again and again and again…

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Are Your Employees Disengaged?

Friday, Jul. 12th 2013

Guest blog by Terry Stockham, Human Capital Advisor at OnForce

Are your employees productive, content, and motivated? How can you tell? Typically, employee engagement can be measured with surveys, assessment tests, and by simply observing your employees as they work. Do you see strong contributors, poor performers, or a bit of both? If you’re a manager and see less than par players on your team, beware, they are sabotaging your success and your bottom line. All it takes is just one vocal, influential, and disengaged employee to spread his/her discontent to other team members for your group’s productivity to plummet.

According to recent research (the Gallup 2013 State of the American Workplace report and the AON Hewitt Global Engagement Survey), the current global employee engagement level is at 60%, an increase from 58% in 2012. This level of engagement equates to $550 billion a year in lost productivity within American companies. Yet these same companies spend billions of dollars a year in an effort to improve employee engagement and performance, only to get very little improvement in either!

To further illustrate the negative impact that employee disengagement can have on productivity and the bottom line let’s take, for example, a service employee who completes warranty work for a large technology company. This employee’s weekly salary is $1,000 (based on a 40 hour work week, $25/hour) and receives health benefits, insurance, training, etc., all totaling $1,400 ($1,000 + $400) paid by the company.

During the 40-hour work week, the service employee performs approximately 10 hours of non-service work such as traveling to customer sites, completing paperwork, waiting between job assignments, attending meetings, taking training classes, and so forth. This means that the company is paying for 40 hours but actually getting only 30 hours of service performance, translating to about $750 ($1,000 – $250) of “lost” productivity time. But, wait, there’s more.

If we take the 30 hours of actual service work performed and factor in the global engagement level cited at the beginning of this blog, we get only 18 hours ($450) of targeted service performance (i.e., 30 hours x 60%, or $750 – $300 = $450). If we look at the bigger picture, the company is paying $1,400 for $450 of performance! This is equal to $49,500 of lost productivity per year for this employee alone. If this company has 25 service employees, it amounts to $1,235,000 in overpayment for performance!

The past two decades have shown time and again that traditional incentive programs are not working. It is time to look at innovative and flexible labor models (e.g., flex-staffing or an on demand workforce) that offer workers autonomy, while driving positive business results for you and your company. Which jobs within your organization would benefit most from these new labor models? Given the cost implications of traditional labor models, can you afford the status quo?

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Necessary Protections to Prevent Business Risk

Monday, Jul. 1st 2013

OnForce was an early, and at times controversial, adopter of comprehensive risk mitigation and insurance coverage for our customers. We were the first variable labor platform to offer General Liability, Workers’ Compensation and Errors and Omissions insurance coverage for every service event. We knew that insulating our customers from these real-world risks was a very important part of helping them to take advantage of our workforce solutions.

So why be a pioneer? We had two key reasons. First, OnForce is a true solutions provider that offers a comprehensive suite of services, including protections that allow our customers to focus on their core businesses, while we provide peace of mind. Second, our Fortune 100 enterprise accounts demand comprehensive protection against business risks. Based on this, OnForce believes that providing insurance solutions that meet this standard for ALL of our customers – both SMB and enterprise accounts – makes sense.  Our goal is to remove the burden from you, our valued customer, and place it on us. From investigation to resolution, OnForce handles the insurance claims and protects you from losses related to property damage or personal injury. This enables us to provide superior solutions with protection against risk for you and all of our customers.

Now we see other platforms attempting to imitate our solution offerings and protections. While we’re not surprised to see them come around to the idea, we encourage companies in the market for variable labor to dig into the details and read the fine print. We don’t just offer access to technicians who carry their own insurance – we insure every work event on our platform. Unless your provider is offering General Liability, Workers’ Compensation and Errors and Omissions insurance for all of the work that you do with them, then you are at risk. After all, we all know that accidents do happen. Can you afford to be exposed?

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Freelancing Is Alive and Well

Thursday, Jun. 27th 2013

Almost every day I see news articles that highlight the growing trend for freelancers and, in turn, the thriving independent workforce. For example, this latest article from Parade.com – 4 Reasons Why Freelancing is the New Career – offers very compelling reasons why freelancing works and is likely here to stay. With advantages such as having the flexibility to work locally or globally, being your own boss and determining your work schedule, there’s a lot to like!

Demographic data today shows that there are almost 17 million independent workers in the U.S. and that this is expected to grow to 50% of the American workforce by 2020. At OnForce, we clearly see this trend continuing within the IT sector. Our business forecasts continue to show growth opportunities demonstrating that freelancing is working and thriving in the IT space through the OnForce platform.

Whether you are a company looking into the benefits of leveraging independent workers or a seasoned veteran in the world of managing variable labor, there’s no question that the individual economy has arrived. Are you taking advantage of it?

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Posted by Bill | in Information Technology, International, Marketplace Trends | Comments Off

Who Would You Trust As Your Business Partner – an Innovator or an Imitator?

Tuesday, Jun. 25th 2013

Peter Cannone, CEO, OnForce

Recently, I’ve been seeing announcements from alternative labor platforms who are only now offering insurance programs to their community of independent contractors – with the promise that such coverage will offer freelancers the ability to capture the most lucrative work contracts. These platforms have discovered what OnForce has known for years – enterprise customers only want to work with a trusted workforce solutions provider that offers industry standard insurance coverage. These customers want assurance that they are protected.

This is why several years ago OnForce created its unique General Contractor Model. This model, among other key advantages, ensures that every service event completed through our platform is backed by comprehensive insurance coverage; protecting the customer, the independent contractor and OnForce. Bottom line: OnForce was not only the first workforce solution provider to offer this innovation, but also is the only source today that gives you end-to-end coverage with every service event!

Don’t Be Deceived. Alternative platforms have been telling you that they, too, carry insurance so why are they now announcing a newly available option for independent contractors within their networks to get coverage through an independent insurance broker? That’s right, I said option – not every independent contractor on these alternative platforms carry insurance. Are you prepared to take the financial risks associated with that exposure?

How do we know our General Contractor Model works? Our growing roster of Fortune 100 companies tells us that we’re doing something right. Today, we see alternative platforms trying to imitate our solution offerings but can only scratch the surface in comparison to the value and level of protection that we provide with every service event.

So, who would you trust as your business partner? An innovator and market leader like OnForce that delivers proven and protected workforce offerings, or alternative solutions that are poor imitators that put you and your business at unnecessary risk?

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