Tuesday, October 18, 2016

How to Resolve Conflict in the Workplace

Conflict in the workplace is unavoidable, and trying to ignore it is a mistake you don’t want to make. In an office setting, you’re working with people from various backgrounds and differing opinions at every level. It’s only a matter of time and circumstance until conflict arises.

“While conflict is a normal part of any social and organizational setting, the challenge of conflict lies in how one chooses to deal with it.”

How do you handle workplace conflict? The key is to proactively look for it before it occurs. This will help you either prevent or lessen the impact it has. Whether you’re the CEO, manager, or newest employee, you have a responsibility to always be aware of potential conflict.

This guide brings you through conflict resolution in the workplace for individual involvement and 3rd-party mediation. It provides the strategies you should keep in mind when working with others, even in a remote environment.


First-person workplace conflict involvement

When you’re one of the people directly involved in the workplace conflict, that means you have a part in the blame. The first actions to take when conflict arises are:
  • Calm down.
  • Introspect on your involvement:
    • How were you involved?
    • What could you have done better?
    • What can you do to resolve this conflict?
    • What can you learn from this experience?
  • Think about the other party involved in a productive manner:
    • What did they want?
    • What are their needs you can address?
    • How can you use empathy to resolve the other party’s frustrations?
By focusing on helping the other party involved, whether it be a single person or a group, you show you have no interest in causing conflict but rather want to support them. This will help them lower their guard and be more open to discussion, which will make conflict resolution much easier.

Always stay positive every step of the way. Pushing yourself to maintain a positive outlook, no matter how frustrated you can be, will greatly affect your potential for resolving conflict. You can remain positive by repeating it to yourself, or you can try:
  • Remember the good qualities in the other party involved.
  • Pay attention to future potential, not past mistakes.
  • Remember your own positive qualities.

When addressing the other party, it helps to keep in mind:
  • Use active listening to better understand what they are saying before getting your voice heard.
  • Focus on the solution before the problem, and the problem instead of the person.
  • Offer two possible solutions in your answers to show you have no interest in conflict but rather want to help.
  • Have confidence, but leave your ego at the door.
  • Show you care about the other party’s concerns by offering solutions that help them reach their objectives.

Alternatively, there are things you can do to make conflict less severe from the start. When you proactively intervene in potential cases of conflict, you can either avoid it from happening entirely or lessen the impact the conflict ultimately has. You can also avoid some conflicts completely when you consciously pick your battles. Some conflict simply doesn’t need to happen, and you’ll be able to avoid it when you restrain yourself from time to time.

3rd-party mediation

Set a meeting between the differing parties with a mediator. The mediator could be yourself or a human resources person.

Have ground rules prepared for participants:
  • Be respectful.
  • Listen to each other.
  • Try to understand their point of view.

Have participants use “I” statements when describing the conflict, and have them include their ideas for desired changes. Then, ask the mediator to summarize the points from both sides.

Next, brainstorm solutions as a group. Rule out any biased or unrealistic solutions. Again ask the mediator to summarize the items discussed. Deliberate on which solution would work best for everyone involved, and conclude with an agreed upon plan for next steps.

Before parting ways, have both parties apologize and thank each other for the resolution.

Worst case scenario

When should human resources get involved?
  • When the conflict has compelled an employee to want to quit their job.
  • The conflict has reached to the point of personal attacks.
  • The employees involved are spreading hostilities to other coworkers, affecting company morale.


While workplace conflict is bound to happen from time to time, it can be lessened or quickly resolved if you remember these tips. For conflict resolution in the workplace to happen, you need to be aware of both your contributions and the other party’s needs. Only after you step back and think objectively will you see the best results.

As an employer, you don’t want to see unnecessary conflict occur between your staff. Not all conflict should happen, so it’s important to have the right staff employed who will have the self-control to avoid it.

A great way to prevent unnecessary conflict is to find the right people that fit with your company culture. It shouldn’t be hard to have an office staffed with people who will work together and get things done, and we can help you achieve that. Contact us today to learn more about how we can get the right staff for your business.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, October 6, 2016

5 Workplace Health Tips You Need to Boost Productivity

Do you want the ideal job? Well, you need to look for more than just salary, work/life balance, and culture. Working for the ideal company also means selecting a place where you can stay healthy both in mind and body. These workplace health tips will guide you towards a more positive experience wherever you land.

Before we begin, it’s important to measure the level of stress you’re under right now. When you understand this level, you’ll better appreciate the contents of this article. Use this infographic from Pound Place to better gauge your stress level, and then we’ll begin.

1) Standing vs. sitting

Standing vs sitting: the benefits of a standing deskYou’ve probably heard about the standing desk trend where people elevate their desk and work while standing. There are many benefits to standing at work, and it’s for good reason that this trend is on the rise in the workplace. There are studies out there that emphasize the need to stand up often. The focus is that excessive sitting can have physiological consequences.

If you’re not able to invest in a standing desk or commit to frequent, 20-minute breaks, you have options. Sometimes, all it takes is a stretch or two. Take advantage of this handy infographic that shows you various stretches you can do while at your desk. Give them a try at every chance you get to help prevent damage to your body from sitting in the same position for too long.

The more you get up and / or stretch, the less stress you put on your body. The less physical stress, the less mental strain from discomfort. A backache can be distracting, and a chronic injury can make work even harder to do.

After getting settled in your new job and demonstrating your skill and commitment, ask your manager about purchasing or building a standing desk for your space. Depending on the environment in which you work, find the right time to bring this up with your manager. Until then, remember to do your stretches.

2) Socialization

The benefits of social communicationsBeyond your physical health, you should also be concerned about your mental health. Negative emotions work against you and your productivity, so it’s essential you focus on enhancing the positive. One way to do this is to communicate (or socialize) with your coworkers on a daily basis.

At times when others are on a break, such as lunchtime, you have an opportunity to talk with them on a personal level. Don’t talk about work or even anything negative. It’s important you take this time as an opportunity to boost your mood, not bring it down.

Whether you’re an extrovert or not, you can still make small talk with your coworkers. These are just a few ideas to help get you talking:
  • Ask open-ended questions (and listen to their answers)
  • Talk about current events (but steer clear of anything potentially controversial)
  • Express your passion for something (and ask them for theirs)

It may seem too simple, but initiating or participating in small talk with your coworkers can improve your workplace health and wellness considerably.

3) Breaks outside

The benefits and advantages of taking breaks outside
What is considered a break? It’s not enough to just take “breaks” as we’ve typically known them. You shouldn’t just play with your phone at your desk or walk around the office. Weather permitting, you should also take at least one break outside every workday.

When you take a break outside, you’re going beyond stretching your legs. You’re also:
  • Getting fresh air
  • Refreshing your mind
  • Getting away from the stress of the office

Fresh air rejuvenates your mind. Making the effort to walk out the door gives your body time to stretch, which is especially important if you’ve been sitting at your desk for a long time.

4) Pomodoro Technique

Use the Pomodoro Technique when working to ensure you're taking breaks when you're supposed to.When you’re at your desk working, you need to know when you’ve been working for a while and when it’s time to take a break. The Pomodoro Technique is an effective way to keep track of your timing.

Although paid options offer more features, you don’t have to invest money in order to use this technique. There’s one website you can use while working that will notify you every 25 minutes that it’s time to get up. It’s called Tomato Timer.

You can also find various apps and browser extensions that use this technique, but the point is that you should reserve time for power working and time for breaks. During the 25 minutes of working, focus solely on the task at hand. Don’t allow any distractions. When time is up, take a timed break before returning to that task. In Pomodoro, breaks can either be short (5 minutes) or long (10 minutes).

The Pomodoro Technique has been widely used because it focuses on keeping you healthy both in mind and body. When used correctly, it can help you feel better about your work, especially when you feel more accomplished. Give this technique a try to see if it helps you.

5) Desk environment

Your desk environment should be a priority for you as you try to be healthier in the workplace.You’re dedicating at least 8 hours a day at your desk every weekday. It’s the one place at work that you likely spend the most time, so it needs to be a constructive, inspiring, and ergonomic space. Without these things, you’re potentially setting yourself up for delays.

The ideal desk environment is one of the most important workplace health tips out there, but it’s often the most neglected. When you’re at your desk, you need to be able to focus on your work and not get overly stressed. You’re supposed to feel good physically and mentally, and the best way to create this healthy environment is to organize your desk space well.

These are just a small handful of ways you can make your desk a sanctuary for workplace health and wellness:
  • Real plants for an extra supply of oxygen
  • Desk positioned near a window (when possible) for natural sunlight and fresh air
  • Ergonomic supplies, including your chair, mouse pad, and keyboard
  • A standing desk for when you’ve been sitting for too long (great for your physical health)

So, what are you going to do first? The most important step that job seekers can take is to hold onto this information until you reach your next placement.

How do you find the workplace that’s right for you? How do you find one that’ll allow you to apply these 5 workplace health tips?

Contact us today and we’ll take care of you by taking the stress of the job search off your shoulders. Submit your resume today.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Things Not to Do When Interviewing for a Job

Job interviews are a daunting process. You’re putting yourself in an unfamiliar situation, meeting new people, and knowing you are being evaluated based on a conversation of an hour or less. Still, an interview is often the only way you’ll be offered a job, so it’s to your benefit to practice, prepare, and know the dos and don’ts of interviewing. If you can avoid these 5 interview pitfalls, your talent, personality, and experience will better shine through, hopefully landing you an offer.
  1. Don’t be late

Time management is a basic skill of any job. An employer wants to know you can reliably be on time to work. Being late for a job interview doesn’t just signify that you might be late to work occasionally - it also shows that you’re not willing to make an effort to be on time when things are important. What if you have a big client meeting, an important conference call, or project with a tight deadline? Being late is an easy way for prospective employers to gauge your reliability - or lack of it.

To make sure you’re on time, take a “dry run” of the route to the interview. Do this practice run at the same time of day you will need to commute to the interview. For example, if your interview is at 9 AM, you will likely have to deal with some rush hour traffic, so a practice run at 3 PM on a Sunday afternoon might not give you a clear picture of how much time you’ll need.

Once you have established how long it will take you to get to your interview, give yourself plenty of extra time. Build in at least half of the time it takes to get there. If you can easily get from your front door to the interview location without rushing in 30 minutes, give yourself at least 45. In the worst case scenario, you may want to sit in your car for an extra 10 minutes, and walk in 5 minutes before your interview. You’ll be glad you built the extra time in, though, if you encounter an accident, have a wardrobe malfunction, or forget where to park.

If, despite your best efforts, you know you will be late, call as soon as possible to let your interviewer know. Don’t be surprised if they cancel the interview or move it to another time or day. Calling, however, is better than letting people wonder where you are, and letting them assume you think it’s acceptable to be late for the interview.

  1. Don’t ignore the dress code

With many companies embracing a business casual, or even a regular casual, dress code these days, it can be confusing to know how to dress for an interview. While there can be a few exceptions to this rule, the best idea is to always dress up. Being overdressed for an interview is better than being underdressed. Most interviewers will also appreciate that you know what  proper interview  attire is, and it will make a good impression, even if you are more dressed up than anyone else in the office.

So what is the best solution to being dressed for an interview? Typically, a business suit is the go-to
solution. For men, this involves dress pants with a matching jacket, button-down shirt, and coordinating tie. Be sure not to get too fun or funky with your tie. Hopefully, you’ll be able to let your personality shine through later on, but keep your shirt and tie to neutrals, solid colors, or simple and traditional stripes or dots. For women, a pant suit or skirt suit with conservative blouse or button-down shirt is appropriate. For business casual or casual office environments, men can wear dark dress pants paired with a sports coat, while women can wear a sheath dress or pencil skirt along with a coordinating blazer.

If an office insists that they are a casual environment, you should still dress up slightly. Dress pants with a button-down shirt, a skirt with a blouse, or a conservative dress would be appropriate options. At some places, like Silicon Valley technology companies, a suit may be seen as too old-fashioned, and dress pants and a button-down are the normal interview attire, but this is very rare. If you’re in an industry with this standard, you will likely already know the expected dress.

You should also make sure you look neat and tidy - not just that your clothes are the appropriate type. Iron your clothes the night before your interview if needed. Make sure your hair, face, and nails are clean and well-manicured. For women who choose to wear makeup, ensure it is subdued. You don’t want people paying more attention to your eyeshadow than what you are saying! Perfume or cologne should be minimal if worn, but it’s best to leave it off entirely.

Looking neat and presentable in appearance isn’t enough. You also need to mind your presentation. Don’t slouch, fidget, or put your feet up. You ironed that shirt after all: you don’t want to wrinkle it by the way you are sitting. Try to be mindful of your posture and movements.

  1. Don’t forget to prepare

In the age of Google, there’s no excuse for not knowing basic information about the company. Most companies you will interview with at least have their own website, often with an about page that will outline their services, if not their entire history.

If a company doesn’t have a website or the website doesn’t clarify anything for you, customer reviews on Google or Yelp may yield results. Check review sites like Indeed and Glassdoor to see what employees and other interviewees have experienced with the company. LinkedIn can be a great resource since you will usually be able to find at least the executives or people on the management team and get a feel for their current role and past experience. Try to find the person you will be interviewing with to see how long they have been in their position and where they came from. Do they have an educational or professional connection to you? That’s something you can play up in the interview. Have they been promoted within the company, perhaps from the job you are now interviewing for? Asking about the company’s retention and internal promotion strategy may be informative.

When you do your research beforehand, you will look well-prepared and make a great impression on your interviewer. You will also be able to ask intelligent, well-thought-out questions about the company and the role. Perhaps most importantly, you can determine if the company is actually the right fit for you!

  1. Don’t get too personal

It’s a difficult balance, trying to make yourself memorable in an interview while maintaining a professional demeanor. Ideally, your experience, education, and talent will stand out and be what makes the interviewee remember you, not inappropriate personal details! The interview should concentrate on what you can bring to the role. You may be going through a difficult time at work or home, but the interviewee doesn’t need to know this. Again, if you are bringing personal issues into the interview, there’s an assumption you may cross boundaries once you are working there, as well, both with your colleagues and with customers, if applicable to your role. An interviewer wants to see the right level of professionalism.

Of course, don’t be so accommodating that an interviewee doesn’t think you have any principles or
opinions of your own. Difficult or controversial topics should be avoided if at all possible, such as political affiliation. Many people also choose not to discuss any kind of classification that could open them or the company up to questions of discrimination, such as religion, sexual orientation, or family status. While these things can’t be used as a basis for hiring or not hiring people, it can be difficult to prove discrimination in this instance, so they are topics that are best avoided in the interview process.

You should also avoid speaking negatively about your current position or previous jobs. You may be leaving a bad boss or toxic department, but the interviewer will question whether you will trash talk them or the company at a later date if they offer you this job. Consider the benefits you want to gain by taking on a new role rather than the downsides you want to leave behind.

Otherwise, an interviewer does want to get to know you to determine if you will be a good fit for the team. There is something to be said for having the right mix of personalities and hiring people who will like each other and work well together. You may want to practice a few anecdotes that highlight your personality and thought process, while also relating to the type of work you hope to do and what you think you can achieve in the position.

  1. Don’t talk about money or benefits

Whether or not you love what you do, your main reason for doing it is undoubtedly the fact that you get paid for it. Employers, however, want to know that you are enthusiastic about the position and what you can bring to it. Your priority should be on demonstrating your fit with the company and your ability to do quality work. Once you are offered the job, a salary offer will accompany it. Many companies also include a salary range in the job description. If you are new to the industry, you can do outside research to see what kind of range to expect.

Some companies attract candidates by touting their amazing benefits. Google comes to mind as an example of a company that disrupted the traditional benefit structure by offering employees free cafeteria meals, snack stations, on-site dry cleaning, and more. Of course, most companies aren’t Google, with the size, budget, and competitive atmosphere needed to provide those things, but benefits like catered lunches, on-site gyms, and flexible schedules aren’t uncommon ways to make sure a company is attracted lots of desirable candidates.

It may not be as fun to discuss the “adult” benefits like health insurance or 401k matches, but many job seekers are interested in those options as well. In fact, those types of financial benefits can add an additional 30% value to a salary offer.

Just like salary, though, benefit specifics are not something that should be discussed in the initial interview phase. Most companies will send you an official offer letter outlining your salary offer as well as benefits such as medical, dental, and vision insurance, retirement benefits, and any additional optional benefits.

Need interview help? Contact us.

If you follow this list of what not to do, what you do in an interview should help you perform well! If your interview skills are rusty, though, contact us. We’ll have you talk to our top recruiters and pair you with a job that fits your skills. Just fill out this form and your nearest office will contact you.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Job Quality vs. Job Compensation: What’s the Deciding Factor?

A big component of any job is the salary or wage. After all, most people work in order to earn money for the things they need and want in life - though enjoying your job is certainly a bonus! When evaluating a job offer, what you will be paid is most likely your key consideration, but it shouldn’t be the only deciding factor.

Possible drawbacks of higher pay

You may think there are no downsides to finding a higher paying job. Everyone likes more money! Before saying “yes,” though, you should consider if there are reasons they are offering a higher wage. Job quality versus compensation is a big factor in employee job satisfaction and overall quality of life. Make sure to investigate if a higher hourly wage is making up for the following downsides.

  1. Mandatory extended hours


Some companies, especially those who go through periods where their work surges, such as a busy holiday time or seasonally-dependent work, build forced extended work clauses into their employment contracts. This means you may be mandated to work extra shifts with little to no notice if work levels require it, and refusal can lead to termination.

Imagine coming in for your 4 hour shift only to be told you need to stay an additional four hours. If your shift was from 8 am to noon, it might not be so bad. Now imagine you have to pick your daughter up from daycare at 1 PM and take her to a piano lesson at 2 PM. Or this is a second job you work from 6 PM to 10 PM, and now you’re being forced to work overnight, even though you need to go to your office job the next day. You may even need to stay more than eight hours - 12 hours or longer isn’t uncommon in a busy season.

Sure, you’ll earn more money by working additional shifts, and perhaps even “time and a half” pay (1.5 times your hourly rate) for overtime, but is your time worth it?

  1. Additional manual labor

In exchange for a higher pay rate, a company might also have very high expectations - some they may be criticized for if they seem impossible to meet. Highly paid, hourly shift work is often in manufacturing or a warehouse-like environment. Unlike other jobs where you could be on your feet a lot like retail or food service, warehouse workers may routinely walk up to 12 miles each shift, and sometimes they can be penalized for not maintaining a certain speed when it comes to stocking or retrieving items.

Performance metrics can be hard to achieve and maintain. Not only can it be difficult to get up to speed when you are hired, but being with the job for years doesn’t guarantee your performance metrics get easier or that you won’t be penalized for not making them. Plus, this kind of performance metric doesn’t depend on your attitude, sales skills, or customer service, but simply repetitive manual labor.

  1. Lack of creature comforts


Office environments are nearly always divorced from the outside weather. Inside solid structures with central heat and air conditioning, you can almost forget what month it is while you’re sitting at a desk. Not so with some jobs!

Shift work, seasonal employment, and other jobs often take place in warehouses or temporary facilities that don’t provide basic accommodations like climate control. In the Mid-atlantic, this can mean freezing temperatures for several months in the winter, with humidity and temperatures in the 90s throughout much of the summer. Again, you will be expected to meet your performance metrics while possibly battling the elements, especially if your job is outdoors or involves moving between buildings.

For jobs like warehouse work, there are also very few breaks for you to sit, eat, or drink. Security measures may mean you spend part of your 30 minute lunch break in line, waiting to pass through metal detectors or security scanners - and that’s after you cross a giant warehouse to get to the exit!

  1. High demand means high turnover

Despite the downsides already discussed, the high pay means these jobs are in demand. This can create a disincentive to actually take the job, though! Rather than cultivating new hires and promoting quality employees, a system of high demand means employers can fire an employee for any reason, knowing they can easily hire a replacement. Employers like to say that higher wages mean they can have their pick of quality candidates, but many jobs they are filling are unskilled. shutterstock_216580801.jpg

With high employee turnover, it can be difficult to cultivate relationships with coworkers. Often, the social environment of an office is an incentive to work there, with many companies working to develop their workplace culture and use it to attract new talent. Not being able to eat lunch or talk with coworkers you consider to be friends can lead to a lot of disatisfaction with a job on the whole.

The alternative to difficult part time work

If you or a friend are looking for a part-time, seasonal employment, or even a full time job at this point in the year, look to J & J Staffing. We specialize in placing employees with successful local companies. Even better, these companies are looking for workers who are individuals. Do you have what it takes to succeed in a position and achieve a promotion? J & J Staffing Resources is probably for you! Contact us today to be put in contact with one of our eight local offices.

Labels: , , , , , , ,