ASA Central Network

  • 1.  SOS - Temp Mental Health

    Posted 03-30-2021 16:14
    Hi all! 
    We have a bit of a problem-child job that we have been staffing. We have been recruiting fast-typing, data processors, preferably from high-volume contact-center environment. The pay is pretty competitive for most Admin/Clerical in our area. These employees process applications for those who have applied for housing assistance. It is a truly valuable service - aiding thousands of applicants in Ohio, saving individuals and families from eviction. 

    Since starting in November 2020 (as the housing crisis has increased) the workload has really grown - the daily job duties have become intense, with backlogged applications piling up, causing it to be a high-stress, high-demand work environment.

    This has caused exhausting attrition level for our small office working overtime to backfill , keeping the managers pulling away from their own workload duties in order to train new hires... adding to the workload pile. And the vicious cycle continues...

    Additionally, our employees are emotionally spent. With most of us coming through the social trauma of 2020 - (we may not have lost our homes, but NONE of us are untouched by the pandemic and its effects!) - it is difficult to find candidates with the emotional wherewithal to withstand the mental and emotional fatigue that this position has now become.   

    Originally the pay was quite competitive for an average Administrative role. However, as the position becomes more demanding, it is clear that it is no longer sufficient to draw the candidates needed with both strong data-processing skills, typing 40WPM+ and a strong level of emotional resiliency. I am deeply invested in the success of this client and also my recruits - I try to support them in any & every way that allows them to be successful. 

    Does anyone have ideas and insights as to how we can best attract candidates who will be successful in this role?
    And also - any ideas on how to best support our employees' mental and emotional stamina and encourage employee retention for this exceptionally valuable project? 

    Please advise.

    Maureen Groezinger
    A Plus Staffing Solutions LLC
    Columbus OH
    (614) 328-9994
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  • 2.  RE: SOS - Temp Mental Health

    Posted 03-31-2021 08:49
    Edited by Jay Mattern 03-31-2021 08:50
    Maureen - This certainly is a difficult challenge. I think some of your options depend on how strong the relationship is that you have with your client. In addition, your options will be somewhat limited depending on whether you are the exclusive provider or if you are one of many competitors providing staffing support.

    It seems to me that this problem needs to be solved from the "inside," that is, from the client side. Again, assuming you have a strong relationship with this client and also assuming they are equally aware of and concerned about this issue, it might make sense to place someone from A Plus onsite at the client location (I would ask the client to pay all - or at least some - of the cost of this person). It will require someone with great interpersonal and managerial skills, but this allows you to manage your workforce directly. Just by having someone engaged with your assigned employees face-to-face can go a long way in dealing with the demands of the job and the client. It will also allow you to have additional options for recruiting, since you can use the client's facility to enhance those efforts. I also think it will reduce the pressure on your internal staff.

    Finally, it sounds like you know that a pay/bill increase is necessary. If you can't negotiate a permanent increase, then I would suggest you get agreement for a "temporary" increase in the form of a bonus -  so the role pays, let's say, $15/hour, and you add an interim 90-day bonus (or whatever makes sense) for an additional $2.50/hour. You can then establish a review date in the future to sit down with the client, review the numbers, and decide whether to extend the temporary increase, make it permanent, or eliminate it.

    I would love to hear how you end up addressing this issue. Best of luck to you. Remember, this too shall pass.

    Jay Mattern
    TerraFirma Marketing
    South Bend IN
    (574) 213-3855

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  • 3.  RE: SOS - Temp Mental Health

    Posted 04-01-2021 10:58
    Hi Maureen

    Jay has some wonderful comments about this issue.  I too am very empathetic about your challenges. Here are a few other issues you may wish to consider as you search for solutions.

    1.  You may expect more work comp claims from the employees regarding carpal tunnel syndrome. An avg CPT ranges from 30-70K.   

    2. You may wish to think about the "opportunity costs" of having one client "suck" so much of your resources away from your other business/clients.  Regardless if you can get a bill rate increase, it sounds like your other clients may be underserved as a result of this client. 
    3. Morale-  Your staff may be feeling like you are placing the concerns of a client above their emotional health. This can of course result in an increase in turnover of staff and higher future training costs.

    These are just a few issues that come to mind given my 31 years in the staffing and work comp experience.

    Glad to chat further if you wish to reach out.

    Stay safe and good luck


    David Schek
    Staffing Comp Solutions
    American Staffing Association Member
    ASA  Central 2019/2020 Most Valuable Contributor
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    America's Leading Staffing Workers  Compensation Broker With 50 Years Experience. 

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  • 4.  RE: SOS - Temp Mental Health

    Posted 03-31-2021 09:04
    Hi there and good morning!

    Thank you from the depths of all that is benevolent in humanity; your awareness that the emotional resiliency needs have increased in this particular role demonstrates a heartening level of care from you and your team.

    To give you a brief background on my response, I spend a lot of time understanding organizational psychology and the effect of the work environment on the general population.

    To attract to the role: be honest in your job descriptions and interviews. That's really it. You have already acknowledged its a bit more trying than a typical clerical position and the compensation will reflect that.

    The support those in the position, and many others.. well I can only recommend what has worked so well for me historically and what has quite a bit of supporting evidence, mentorship!

    This peer-reviewed study (doesn't have a pay wall) explains how our understanding of emotional resiliency differs with the individual, and that you can tailor your interview and onboarding to peek a little deeper into that candidate's true response to work stress.

    Emotional Resilience in the Helping Professions and how it can be Enhanced

    Personally, I studied under Dr. Laura Lunsford and she reinforced the incredible value of having a mentorship relationship in professional environments. Just off the cuff, some benefits of assigning a mentor to a placement in a high stress position include having that social support system to rely on emotionally when you are feeling overwhelmed, there is also bidirectional learning and emotional intelligence improvement that comes naturally to both parties, improved confidence in handling difficult situations, etc. 

    Here is another reference in case you like to read as much as I do. The SAGE Handbook of Mentoring

    I hope that this is a helpful response in one way or another. You're appreciated and best of luck out there!

    RiAnn Bradshaw
    Director of Marketing
    BlueSky Medical Staffing Software
    (615) 349-1985

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  • 5.  RE: SOS - Temp Mental Health

    Posted 03-31-2021 09:40

    Hi Maureen,
    I agree with RiAnn.  Presenting realistic job expectations to candidates will help very much with this position.
    Backing up a little bit though... you have to then know what is realistic for this position.  The stack of applications that this person is entering is never going to go away or get smaller.  Therefore, you have to know what a realistic number is for average production to complete in a hour.  What is a good number...what is an outstanding number of applications to complete in a hour?  Once you know this (presumably from the client or existing staff), then you could set realistic expectations.  Again, that backlog of applications is never going away, because they keep just keep coming. If you give your employee a number of applications to complete in a hour/day, then they know if they are doing a good job (which equals less stress).  Then, if you want to take it one step further, you could do some type of bonus program, whether it's individual or team based.  If the employees complete more than average, they achieve the bonus. The bonus doesn't have to be money, it could be something else.  But, it could be money.  Talk to your client; it's a team effort to help the employees and the client, right?!

    Jennifer Erb
    Managing Director - HR Services
    Tallann Resources LLC
    Columbus OH
    (614) 372-5888

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