Star Tribune’s 2020 Top Workplace in Minnesota

Star Tribune Names Award Staffing as a 2020 Top 150 Workplace in Minnesota

Bloomington, MN June 28th, 2020— For the 5th year in a row Award Staffing has been named one of the Top 150 Workplaces in Minnesota by the Star Tribune. A complete list of those selected is available at and will also be published in the Star Tribune Top Workplaces special section on Sunday, June 28.

Produced by the same team that compiles the 29-year-old Star Tribune 100 report of the best-performing public companies in Minnesota, Top Workplaces recognizes the most progressive companies in Minnesota based on employee opinions measuring engagement, organizational health and satisfaction. The analysis included responses from over 76,000 employees at Minnesota public, private and nonprofit organizations.

The rankings in the Star Tribune Top 150 Workplaces are based on survey information collected by Energage, an independent company specializing in employee engagement and retention.

Award Staffing was ranked 32 of 70  on the small company list.    

Star Tribune Publisher Michael J. Klingensmith said, “The companies in the Star Tribune Top 150 Workplaces deserve high praise for creating the very best work environments in the state of Minnesota. My congratulations to each of these exceptional companies.”

Why Award Staffing as a Top Workplace in Minnesota?

“Of all the national and local awards we receive, this one is the most important because the judges are our employees. We are honored to be included in the list of Top Workplaces.” – Tom Thissen, Owner, and CEO

We continue to hold firm to our signature approach to service – reinforce connections between the people and the places we serve. Our role is to fulfill gainful employment by serving both job seekers and businesses alike. These awards would not be possible without the efforts of our recruiters, our associates, our clients, and every candidate who has walked through our doors.

To qualify for the Star Tribune Top Workplaces, a company must have more than 50 employees in Minnesota. Over 3,000 companies were invited to participate. Rankings were composite scores calculated purely on the basis of employee responses.

Signs Your Hiring Process Isn’t Working for You

We don’t go into the hiring process expecting it to fail, but bad hires happen—and they can cost your organization a lot of time and money. If you’ve been struggling to attract the right kind of employee, it might not be their fault. It could be that your hiring process isn’t working for you. Luckily, it’s easy to evaluate your hiring practices and make any necessary adjustments.

Signs your hiring process needs help

  • • High turnover. Didn’t you just do this six months ago? If you’re dealing with a high turnover rate, that’s a clear sign that you’re not finding the right fit for your company and the specific position.
  • • Long hiring times. If your hiring process take months to complete, it’s not necessarily a sign that you have too many great candidates to choose from. Good hiring processes don’t need to be long in order to find quality candidates.
  • • Low or no ROI. Are you spending months looking for a good employee? When you spend a lot of time, money and effort finding the right fit but aren’t successful, that’s another indicator that your hiring process needs to be revisited.
  • • Deficient applicant pools. When interest in the position is lower than you were counting on, it’s a sign that either your job description is lackluster, the compensation isn’t a fit for the type of candidate you’re looking for or that you’re not reaching the type of people you’re hoping to hire.
  • • Frequent withdrawals. Maybe your job description is stellar and you have a lot of qualified candidates to choose from, but they’re frequently withdrawing their interest sometime between the interview and the offer. That’s a sign that your interview process is too onerous. If candidates decline once you’ve made the offer, consider whether it’s compensation, your team or something else that makes you less attractive.
  • • Negative performance reviews. Are you hiring qualified candidates only to find that your managers and supervisors are unhappy with the choices? That indicates there’s a disconnect between your understanding of what they need from an employee versus what they actually want.

How to adjust your hiring process

  • • Evaluate the skills needed for the job. Talk with your management staff to discuss the specific skills they think successful candidates need, and have them articulate why. Decide whether what you’re asking for is a “need” or a “nice to have.”
  • • Revisit your job posting and compensation. Are you offering competitive compensation? We all want a bargain, but you shouldn’t expect to receive the equivalent of quality champagne on a Diet Coke budget. You can also adjust your job posting by asking staff members to review and identify ways to make it more compelling.
  • • Standardize your evaluation. Finally, make a list of what you’re evaluating and how you’ll score candidates—this makes the whole process more objective, and helps you look past personality.

Not attracting the right candidates for your open positions? Contact Award Staffing for help finding and hiring the right candidates for your company.

Temporary Employees and Paid Sick Leave

Sick leave for all employees, including temporary ones, has been a hot topic for decades. Today, with the coronavirus pandemic, the topic is more important than ever. For employees, paid sick leave can make the difference between paying bills and watching expenses rack up, while many employers are concerned about keeping their businesses afloat. Temporary employees are in an even more vulnerable position, due to the transitory nature of their jobs, many of which do not offer benefits such as sick leave. State, federal and local laws vary, so it’s important to know what your sick leave obligations to your employees might be.

Minnesota sick leave laws

Minnesota doesn’t require employers to provide any kind of sick leave, but they may be required to provide unpaid leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, and Minnesota’s Parental Leave Act. If an employer does choose to provide leave, they are required to perform to the terms in the employment contract, and allow employees to use that leave while caring for themselves, a sick or injured child, spouse, sibling, parents or parents-in-law, stepparent, grandchild or grandparent.

In fact, if an employer provides sick leave to employees, they are also required to allow that employee to take the leave while recovering from or caring for a person who has experienced domestic abuse, stalking or sexual assault.

Any employee who has worked at the company for a year or more, those who worked at least half-time in the last year, or any employer who has more than 21 employees at a job site and/or those who offer personal sick leave to employees are required to comply with the law.

Finally, if the employee has accrued more than 160 hours of paid sick leave, the employer can limit them using their hours to care for a family member—other than a minor child—to 160 hours.

Minneapolis sick leave policy

If your business is located within Minneapolis proper, you are subject to the Minneapolis Safe and Sick Time policy. This policy requires employers with 6 or more employees to provide paid sick leave to their workers and not prevent them from using it. Employees accrue one hour of sick time per 30 hours worked.

Employers also have the option to cap those sick leave hours to 48 hours total per year, and at 80 hours in their “bank.” Employers can increase those numbers, but never decrease them below the minimum standard. This goes into effect after the employee has worked 90 days at the company.

Temporary employees and sick leave

How does all of this work for temporary employees and the employers who use their services? According to the Safe and Sick Time policy, both the staffing agency and the employer are considered “employers” for the purpose of the law, and either or both must provide the required sick leave. However, they are not required to duplicate the benefits. If you’re located outside of Minneapolis, be sure to check local laws to see if there’s something similar in effect.

Award Staffing is here to help you navigate the challenges of staffing. Reach out to us to find temporary employees to staff your business.

When a Hiring Freeze May Not Be the Right Solution

Hiring freezes can stop a company from spending money on finding and hiring new candidates, but they might be doing your business more harm than good. As a hiring manager or owner, it’s important to consider why you want to implement a hiring freeze, and whether another solution could accomplish the desired—or better—results.

What is a hiring freeze, and why do companies use them?

Hiring freezes are often a reactionary response to financial downturns. Many businesses see their employees as costs or accounting expenses. In turn, they decide not to hire new employees—even if desperately needed—to cut down on their spending. Sometimes management uses this time to decide whether certain positions are necessary, or to restructure that portion of the business to increase overall profitability.

While profit and loss are valid concerns, hiring freezes may not accomplish the goals you hoped. Instead of thinking of employees as costs, think of them as revenue generators: you need them to make money, and if you don’t have enough people to generate income for the business, you won’t be doing your accounts any favors.

Why hiring freezes might not work for you

If you’re considering a hiring freeze, consider these points. Is there another way to accomplish your objectives?

  • • They’re a way to avoid conflict. Generally, people don’t like conflict, and confronting poor performers is uncomfortable for everyone involved. Hiding behind hiring freezes is the equivalent of throwing your hands up in the air and asking, “What can you do? We can’t hire anyone new.”
  • • They make it harder on your employees. If someone quits or is fired during a hiring freeze, their workload doesn’t disappear along with them—your remaining employees will have to take on more in order to keep business at the same level. This breeds frustration and resentment and could lead to additional staff loss.
  • • Freezes send the message that the company is failing. Employees want job security, and many take pride in a company that does well, in part, as a result of their efforts. Hiring freezes give the impression that the company is struggling, with no room for growth, which may cause your top performers to start looking elsewhere.
  • • They lead to rash decisions when they’re over. If your staff has been struggling during a hiring freeze, the stress and frustration could lead them to making rash hiring decisions as soon as it’s over, rather than taking their time to find a truly good fit for the position. They might also need to hire several employees, reducing their ability to focus on individual positions.
  • • You’ll miss out on great talent. If you’re in a hiring freeze, the best talent in your industry won’t bother trying to find out if you might make an exception—they’ll be knocking on your competitor’s door, which puts you and your team at a disadvantage.

If you’re looking for quality talent to support your business, Award Staffing can help you find the right candidates. Reach out to us today to get started.

Maintaining Communication With Candidates In A Crisis

Communicating with your candidates is always important, but maintaining strong communication with them during a crisis can set you apart from your competitors. Thanks to COVID-19, our economy came to a grinding halt in March, and businesses are facing unique challenges. On one hand, millions of businesses were deemed “non-essential” and were forced to close their doors, putting them in danger of shutting down permanently. On the other hand, some employers in industries deemed essential are having problems attracting candidates amid the crisis.

Whatever your struggles are now, there are real benefits that come with staying in touch with candidates throughout this crisis.

Your Company Will Stand Out

Many companies aren’t thinking about their candidates right now, which is completely understandable. But when they come out the other side of this crisis and the economy begins ascending again, companies that need talent will struggle to find it if they went completely dark during the crisis.

So, even if you aren’t hiring, send out updates, advice and other communications to candidates throughout this crisis. This shows that you are still open for business and that you are planning on ramping up hiring again in the future, even if you can’t today.

If you are in need of people and can’t seem to find them, regular communication  – especially communication focused on how you are keeping employees safe – can help you show candidates that your company is on solid ground, that you value your workforce, and that you are ready to hire people who need great jobs.

Candidates Have Real Questions

One of the themes of the world we are maneuvering through is that uncertainty rules the day.  People have a lot of big questions about the long-term impact of COVID-19, but they also have very specific questions like, “Is ABC Company still open,” “Is ABC Company doing remote interviews or will I be expected to come into the office,” “What precautions is ABC Company taking to protect employees?”

Questions like these are common, and they deserve answers. By addressing those questions and keeping in touch even if you aren’t hiring right now, you show your human side at a time when things seem very cold to many workers.

If you are hiring, answering these questions can help ease fears at a time when many people are choosing between trying to get back to work and potentially exposing themselves or staying home and collecting unemployment. Regular communication can help ease fears and encourage people to choose the workforce.

You Will Still Need to Hire People

COVID-19 has us all focused on government-forced job losses, but every company will have to deal with people who resign, employees who must take a leave of absence to isolate, recover or care for a sick family member, or you may still have to fire people throughout this crisis. By keeping in touch with candidates, you can much more quickly fill roles as they come open to maintain peak productivity.

How Can You Stay In Touch With Candidates

There are lots of ways to keep in touch with candidates throughout this crisis. Find the channels that work best for both you and your candidates. They might include:

  • • Company blog posts
  • • Email newsletter
  • • Social media posts
  • • Live broadcasts on social media that include Q&A at the end
  • • Text messaging

Remember, right now, people need connections and information and crave any sense of normalcy they can find. You might not have a lot of open jobs – or any – right now, but by keeping in touch with candidates you stand out as a leader in your community, a business that genuinely cares about people, and you will be poised to hire up quickly and efficiently when the time comes.

In these uncertain times, Award Staffing is here for you. We can help you keep in touch with top candidates, fill job openings quickly, and help you develop a plan to come out of this crisis ready to seize the day. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you navigate these challenging times.

Guidance to Keep Your Workers Safe from Coronavirus

By now, you’re probably familiar with coronavirus, the global pandemic that’s causing towns, counties, states and even entire countries to issue “shelter in place” orders to prevent the spread of the disease. Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a highly contagious virus that produces flu-like symptoms and can be deadly to the elderly or immunocompromised.

As business leaders, this requires reevaluating and restructuring everyday operations to keep employees safe.

How coronavirus spreads

Coronavirus is transmitted through the air, usually on droplets from coughing or sneezing. This illness is characterized by an upper respiratory infection, which can be deadly if you’re over age 65 or have underlying health issues. The most common symptoms include fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, a dry cough, and shortness of breath.

Symptoms may not appear until 2-14 days after contact, and it can be spread even if you don’t get sick. That’s why so many states are limiting contact between people and “social distancing” has become the nation’s new buzz phrase.

Health and safety guidelines to stop the spread of illness

If your business requires employees to be on-site to perform their job duties, it’s imperative that you take measures to ensure each person’s health and safety. Experts have offered the following tips:

  • • Promote good hygiene. Let your employees know that handwashing or sanitizing is a must, and provide sufficient breaks and facilities to keep up.
  • • Require sick employees to stay home. Since the virus spreads so easily, sick employees must stay home to avoid infecting other people—even if they don’t think they have coronavirus. They should not return to work until they’re fully recovered.
  • • Require traveling employees to stay home. Anyone who has traveled recently, whether for work or pleasure, is at increased risk of carrying the virus. It’s important that those employees stay home for two weeks in order to ensure they are not contagious.
  • • Promote social distancing. If you’re still working on-site, do your best to keep employees six feet or more from each other and customers whenever possible.

Other considerations

As the pandemic continues, savvy management will start making plans now to mitigate the financial burden on the business. Many companies, once resistant to allowing employees to work from home, are finding it’s the best way to keep their business alive. With today’s technology, it’s easier than ever to stay connected to your workforce, even if you can’t come face to face.

If you’re looking for great remote employees to get your business through the coronavirus pandemic, Award Staffing can connect you with candidates who have the skills to succeed. Reach out to us today to find out how we can help.

Days When Your Employee are Most Likely to Quit

We spend a lot of time talking to job seekers who aren’t happy with their current work. We hear a number of factors that can cause employees to look elsewhere. They might be unhappy with their compensation package; they might believe they are deserving of a different role; or, they might be looking to relocate to another city.

Most employers are aware of these reasons but may not realize that there are actually certain dates that can prompt an employee, even a seemingly happy one, to start looking elsewhere. These dates can vary in significance, but all serve the same purpose: they can cause employees to rethink their futures.

Know these days

Essentially, there are three major days that hiring managers should be on the lookout for if they are monitoring internal happiness:

  • • Class reunions
  • • Significant birthdays (such as turning 40 or 50)
  • • Work anniversaries

These dates all prompt measurable spikes in job hunting activity. The dates make sense when you think about it. Class reunions can prompt competition and networking with old peers. Significant birthdays encourage reconsidering life paths. Work anniversaries can indicate the easily missed passage of time.

It should come as no surprise that employees re-evaluate their status at these times and start considering their options. They may begin actively searching for a new opportunity. Fortunately, there are some easy and simple steps diligent hiring managers can take to ensure that they are keeping their talented workers with their own organization for the foreseeable future.

Pay attention to your teams

First, make sure that your HR team has dates like birthdays and work anniversaries on their radar. They have easy access to this information so it should be at the tops of their minds throughout the year. Creating a shareable online calendar specific to employee birthdays and anniversaries could be a good way to get everyone on the same page.

Additionally, your HR team should have an internal recruiter on staff, or have internal recruiting be one of the responsibilities of one of your team members. Companies that employ internal recruiters who inform existing employees of new opportunities within the organization report less turnover and significant savings, thanks to fewer searches that consume time and money at rapid rates. It is always far more efficient to keep existing employees on staff rather than seek new ones.

Show your appreciation

You want to make sure that you are expressing appreciation for employee contributions on a regular basis, not just in the face of notable anniversaries. Making this more consistent will make employees feel more comprehensively valued, as will emphasizing their progress in their roles over their time spent in them. Highlighting their skills and achievements rather than how many times the calendar has turned over will make them consider their own growth rather than just “time served” at a job.

Significant milestones in a person’s life can cause introspection, and your employees are no different. However, you can make sure that they spend this time appreciating their own achievements by emphasizing their progress and paying close attention to their needs and goals.

Are you looking to find the best talent for your company? Contact Award Staffing today to learn how we can help you reach your staffing goals.

5 Ways to Meet Your Employees’ Needs

While we help companies to meet their staffing needs, we also hear a lot from companies about how they want to retain the great employees we help them find. Retention can sometimes be trickier than recruitment. Ultimately, retention is about meeting employees’ needs. The better you can meet an employee’s needs, the more likely you are to retain that employee.

Here are the most important needs you need to meet for your employees, ranked from most necessary to most fulfilling.

Basic needs

The purpose of employment is receiving money. People like to talk about all the other rewards they gain from their careers (more on that below), but at the end of the day everyone wants a paycheck. They rely on that paycheck for shelter, food, clothing and other necessities.

How can you better meet your employees’ basic needs? Reevaluate the pay scale. Consider whether what you’re paying could reasonably support an individual – or even better, a family – living in your area. Regularly examine your benefits package and who receives it to see if you can better support their health care. Healthy, well-fed employees with secure housing will perform much better for your business and your community.

Safety needs

While many jobs pay more for riskier jobs, employees work better when they can trust that their employer’s top priority is worker safety. There are many federal, state and local conditions that employers must obey, but workplaces should create a culture that puts safety ahead of profit.

Safety can also be psychological. Employees should feel safe to voice their feedback and needs without repercussions. No employee should not feel that they are at risk of harassment because of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, disability status or any other reason.

Social needs

When you ask your employees what their favorite part of working for your company is, what’s the answer? Hopefully, they say that they love their coworkers. Social networks are hugely important in improving job satisfaction. A positive work environment creates a feeling of belonging and trust that goes beyond helping employees do their daily work; it creates a positive feeling about their employer.

Employers should encourage employees to form positive relationships not just with each other, but also with clients, vendors, and management. Team building activities help employees blow off steam and bond with each other in different ways. Any negative interactions should be handled swiftly and directly to show employees that you encourage a positive culture.

Recognition needs

Recognizing employees for their hard work is a strong motivator. People like knowing that their hard work is noticed and appreciated. A regular award or campaign to highlight your best workers shows everyone that you value employee contributions. Titles, status, and raises are an even better way to show employees that you are invested in keeping their talent at your company.

Development needs

Employees who value professional development are the best kind to have at your company. These people will grow into your middle and upper management. It’s more cost-effective to train your employees from the ground-up rather than outside hiring. It can be challenging to meet this need if you aren’t well-suited for growth, but if you can you’ll be pleased with the results.

Curious about more ways you can recruit and retain the best talent? Talk to Award Staffing. We’re here to help you with all of your staffing needs.

Human Resources vs. Recruiting: What’s the Difference?

Unless you’ve spent time working in either field, it can be hard to realize the differences between human resources and recruiting. Whenever you started or left a new job, you’ve likely worked with an HR representative. Many people assume that because HR personnel are handling these tasks, they’re also equipped to find new employees – right?

Not so fast. Human resources and recruiting are two separate jobs that require separate skillsets. At Award Staffing, we’re a company of recruiters – and we love it! We also have our own HR staff to support our team. A business looking to grow needs both to succeed.

Whether you’re planning to add more employees to your business, or you’ve had your HR person pulling double duty, it’s important to understand the differences between both roles. Doing so allows you to allocate the appropriate resources into both tasks to meet your staffing goals.

Recruiters find new employees

Recruiters work like marketers for your company, except that they’re marketing to job seekers. Their job is to tell job seekers what an awesome place your company is and why they want to work there. They will write persuasive job descriptions and create materials that attract the best talent.

Recruiters work either directly for a company or on behalf of a client who has outsourced the recruiter’s services. Recruiters do the footwork sorting through applications, contacting candidates and conducting initial interviews. This saves companies a lot of time that would have been wasted on candidates who were clearly not right for the job. Instead, only the best candidates are forwarded to the company.

A term you might hear interchangeably with recruiting is ‘staffing.’ They are similar jobs, but staffing tends to involve meeting a company’s short-term or job-based needs.

HR manages existing staff

HR handles compliance with employment law, payment and benefits, employee development, organizational design and more. HR managers are heavily involved in an employee’s experience starting at and leaving a company, and perhaps more throughout their career depending on the culture.

HR managers are not just focused on managing employment-related tasks but are also focused on improving the existing workplace culture. Many companies are looking to convey this shift in thinking by giving their HR staff titles like “Chief People Officer.”

Why you need both

Many companies, including large ones, assume that one person or one team can do both tasks, but they are distinct workflows. Once a recruiter has found a candidate and that candidate is hired, a handoff takes place from recruiter to HR.

Putting both roles on one person could hurt your company. If an HR manager is busy tracking down applicants, they have less time to focus on existing employees. If a recruiter is trying to handle employee performance reviews, they cannot focus on finding the right candidates for open positions. Companies need both roles to succeed.

If you’re worried about hiring an in-house recruiter to help with your staffing needs, the good news is that you can outsource this task. Award Staffing is here to help. Contact us to learn more about how we can support your staffing needs in the Twin Cities.

How to Appeal to Women for Skilled Trade Jobs

We hear from our clients all the time that skilled laborers are in high demand. Companies in Minnesota and beyond have had difficulty finding enough skilled laborers to fill their positions, positions that will be in high demand for at least the next decade.

While companies are struggling to staff for skilled laborers, a powerful statistic may reveal part of the reason why. While 51 percent of the population is women, only 3 percent of people working in the skilled trades are women. We see this first-hand in the applications we receive and the staffing we do for our industrial clients.

Encouraging more women to enter the skilled trades is a win-win for employers and job seekers. Encouraging more people, in general, to learn a trade boosts the available talent pool. Hiring more women and increasing workforce diversity helps bring a variety of different strengths and viewpoints to the company. Working in skilled trades offers women a steady career with strong wages and development opportunities.

Here are three steps we’ve seen Twin Cities businesses take to encourage more women to join their workforce.

Design a pre-apprenticeship program

A major reason why women aren’t taking skilled labor positions is because they aren’t being trained to do so. Many women simply aren’t introduced to careers in electrical, welding, HVAC and construction. A pre-apprenticeship can help to make that introduction.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a pre-apprenticeship is a program or set of services designed to prepare individuals to enter and succeed in a Registered Apprenticeship program. These are designed to be starting points for underrepresented workers to help prepare them for a successful career. It can help you to identify candidates for the apprenticeship program, and eventually a full-time job.

Promote job security

It takes commitment to learn a trade. Let women know that their training will be worthwhile by promoting the job security in skilled trades. The high demand for skilled workers means that knowledgeable employees will be in-demand for years to come.

Many trade jobs are union jobs, which offers additional workplace protections. Union workers are less likely to experience the pay gaps they might in other industries. Some skilled trades boast equal pay. Even in those that don’t, women still earn a whopping 91 to 96 cents for every dollar that their male counterparts earn on other trades, compared to the average 81 cents per dollar. It’s important to strive for parity, and skilled trades are leading the way.

Partner with an organization

There are plenty of other organizations who share your interest in encouraging more women to enter skilled trades. Labor unions, federal/local/state government and nonprofit organizations are all eager to diversify the workforce. Find out if there are local organizations you can partner with on marketing efforts. For example, the Minneapolis/St. Paul chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction has excellent resources and events.

Hiring more women in skilled trades is good for the economy and good for your business. To learn more about how you can find the best-skilled trade employees for your Minnesota business, contact Award Staffing today.