In-N-Out Burger Surprise – A Thanksgiving Story

In-N-Out_Burger_sml.jpg2013 Thanksgiving Day may be over, however at Applied Staffing Solutions we try to count our blessings every day of the year. Working with job seekers day in and day out, we see and hear the challenges of people from all walks of life trying to make ends meet. It would be very easy to focus on the negative and allow the stories to color our world bitter grey which would spill over onto our personalities.

This autumn it was business as usual when in walks – let’s call him Ed – who answered an ad for one of our open positions. Ed was having a tough time of it and badly wanted to work. The last thing he needed was “attitude.” Jaimie, our Director of First Impressions, made him feel welcome with her ever-present cheerful grin and willingness to answer questions about our paperwork. Joyce interviewed Ed and offered him immediate temporary employment while waiting for results on the background check that was required for the position he desired.  

From in the door to out the door Ed was so thankful for the staff’s kindness and effort to put him to work that he and his wife drove over to In-N-Out Burger and returned with lunch. Everyone was treated to burgers, fries and drinks. The gesture deeply touched the hearts (and bellies) of the staff.

Joyce summed it up for all of us when she said, “It really means a lot to all of us when we can help someone find employment. To see Ed so happy just makes me want to work even harder to put people to work. I never expected a candidate to buy us burgers, but it sure was nice and certainly made my day!” 

Written by Susan Fix, The Applied Companies Community Liaison Partner. Fix has worked 16 years in staffing services performing outside sales, recruiting, permanent and temporary placement coordination, career counseling, customer service and social media/business.

National Boss’s Day

Tuesday, October 16 is National Boss’s Day. According to most sources Patricia Bays Haroski registered National Boss Day in 1958 with the US Chamber of Commerce while working for her father at the State Farm Insurance Company in Deerfield, Illinois. Aware of the challenges he faced in directing the company and managing employees, she wanted to show respect for his leadership. Haroski’s desire resulted in a national observation on her father’s birthday and in recent years has become an international celebration.  

According to Hallmark Corporation’s website, “ U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics research indicates that about one in five full-time workers has some level of supervisory responsibility over other employees, and about 12 percent of all full-time workers are directly responsible for managing other employees. Workplace surveys confirm that one of the most important elements of job satisfaction is a positive relationship between a supervisor and employee.”

Want to be the boss receiving a Hallmark greeting card?  Try these five tips.

Listen Listen Listen

Just like a restaurant’s success can depend on location, a supervisor’s success can depend on how well you hear your staff. What is an employee searching for when they approach you with issues? Are they looking for answers or a sounding board? Do they need conflict resolution training or someone to step in and take charge of a situation? If an employee isn’t doing a good job, an effective boss will ask questions and discover if it is a matter of training, motivation or stress.  

Genuine Praise

The vast majority of employees want to know they are doing well. I actually had a boss say, “You’ve still got a job don’t you?” as a way to affirm my work and no, she didn’t get a card. A compliment doesn’t have to be lengthy or take a lot of time. When you really mean it, a simple “Brilliant” or Well done” can brighten an employee’s day. Know your employees well enough to avoid embarrassment when handing out commendations; some people like public attention, others don’t.

Know How to Motivate People

Good management is making people feel good about what they are doing. Great bosses take the time to learn what encourages staff, as individuals and as a team, and puts what they learn into practice. Recognize who likes new challenges and who feels penalized when given projects. Who likes the “Way to Go” and who shies away from verbal pats on the back.

Be Respectable

Staff doesn’t have to love the boss; however, they must have respect for him/her. Be honest, trustworthy and observe the rules just like everyone else. Follow through. Show employees you are a person of your word. Be aware that everyone is watching and looking for best practices, examples and models.

Consultations & Confrontations

Refuse to wait for the annual “performance evaluation” before addressing concerns. Do it now and give employees an opportunity to correct behavior(s). Perhaps the rest of the staff is expecting a problem to be dealt with and don’t want to view their boss as ineffective. Engage in ongoing conversations to keep a finger on the pulse of your department. A good boss will embrace even the unpleasant aspects of a job. Employees look up to managers who have no tolerance for abusive clients or hostile sales representatives. Protect staff from unwarranted negativity.

If you don’t think these tips will work, you can always leave a blank card at the front desk as a hint.

Written by Susan Fix, The Applied Companies Community Liaison Partner. Fix has worked 15 years in staffing services performing outside sales, recruiting, permanent and temporary placement coordination, career counseling, customer service and social media/business.

The Applied Companies 10th Anniversary Legacy

The locally owned and operated Applied Companies is celebrating its tenth year of business in northern Nevada on August 8, 2012. In honor of this milestone Judy Griggs, Applied Staffing Solutions Senior Staffing Partner and The Applied Companies’ first employee, volunteered to talk about her memories of ten years with the company.

With a big grin on her face Judy recalls her interview with Jim Annis at the Patriot building, “It was July 2002. I stepped out of the heat and into a small office where, as my eyes adjusted from the glare of the sun, I saw Jim sitting behind a cardboard box with a laptop placed on it. There was a single chair for me and no other furniture. The office appeared empty; however Jim’s energy filled the room. His goal ‘to be the best at serving our community with employment opportunities’ spoke to my aspirations. I believed in his dream, was excited and knew I wanted to be a part of his vision. I trusted his leadership so much that I left a secure position making more money and have never looked back.”

With an “insider view” here are four recommendations this decade-long employee offers to start-up or well-established companies:

Live by Your Motto and Make it a Good One

The Applied Companies motto is “What’s the Right Thing to Do?” These are not empty words – every staff person from the top down tries to incorporate doing the right thing into their daily work. “When we treat each other with respect, as well as clients and friends, we build a solid reputation in the community as a company and as individuals.”

Walk the Talk

Every company needs an innovative and visionary leader like Jim. They also need a leader they can trust to lead by example – every time. The “do as I say, not as I do” approach never works and never builds loyalty. “One thing that’s never changed about this company is how we envision people being treated when they walk through the door and that started at the top. We want our atmosphere to feel safe and welcoming. We want everyone treated with respect and dignity. We ask our staff to make an effort to walk the talk, not just our leadership.”

Positivity in Times of Crisis

Judy saw the pause in the company’s steady growth when the economic crisis had nearly every business in Nevada in survival mode. “Jim’s positive outlook, that we would survive and come out stronger, kept me and the staff’s hopes up. There was no question that we have a valuable service and a solid foundation – we tightened our belt and continued to move forward.”


“Leadership here really listens to employees and lets them be part of the growth and success. They are aware the front-line workers know what’s happening on a day-to-day basis. Treat your employees like your most valuable asset and they will reward you with loyalty and production. I plan on this being my last place of work – I can’t imagine being any place else.”

It’s not a fancy building and plush furniture that makes a company’s legacy – it’s the heart.

Written by Susan Fix, The Applied Companies Community Liaison Partner. Fix has worked 15 years in staffing services performing outside sales, recruiting, permanent and temporary placement coordination, career counseling, customer service and social media/business.

Uncomfortable Conversations

It is always fun to tell employees how wonderful they are and it is not fun when you have to share that they are not performing at the required levels. Both messages carry enormous value and must be conveyed.

How many times have employees fallen short of goals, dressed inappropriately, or frequently call in late with truly believable excuses? Do you let the issues eat at you until a bigger problem comes along that diverts your attention? When the employee’s issue(s) resurfaces you get mad and your first impulse or wish is to terminate the person. But wait, you have nothing documented. The employee may be completely unaware of the problem and could very likely sue you. So the cycle repeats. 

To sit across the desk from someone and tell them, to their face, that they are not executing your standards is not pleasant and can be painful. It is an uncomfortable conversation and that is why it is hard. The key to success with employees is your ability to have these uncomfortable conversations and have them in a timely manner. 

Communicating with your employees is essential.  Here are some ideas on how to relieve some of the pain:

  • Have the conversation following the action (even if it is small) as soon as reasonably possible.  Timeliness is the key.
  • Keep the conversation simple, on point and brief. There is no need to repeat the problem over and over. Believe me, the employee heard you the first time and repeating the issue just becomes demeaning.
  • Remember, this is not your problem. Most likely the employee is not purposefully seeking out a way to make your life miserable (however, this does happen too). By removing your personal feelings on the issue you can address it more squarely without feeling like you have been hurt or attacked. Attack the problem, not the person.
  • Listen to your employee’s perspective – to a point.  Just like there is no need to repeat the issue, you also don’t have to listen to your employee repeat their excuses. Once they state their side of the story you can stop the dialogue. If they continue, simply say “I did hear your comments and I have noted them. There is no need to repeat them.  Thank you.” 
  • If the situation is sensitive have a neutral third party in the room. Document the conversation.
  • There are three parts that make up all of us:  a parent, an adult, and a child. The goal in these meetings is to remain in the “adult”. It is easy to turn into the “parent” and give demands while using such phrases as “have to” and “supposed to” (imagine the parent wagging their finger at a child). Employees will often go to their “child” during meetings – cross their arms, pout and resort to silence. By remaining in your “adult”, regardless of employee reaction, the meeting will go more smoothly. “Adult” phrases to keep in mind are “mediator” and “reasoned statements.” Maintain attentive, non-threatening expressions. 
  • Avoid asking employees how they feel about the situation.  Stay on point and leave emotions out. Focus on the facts. 
  • If you are completely unsure of how to handle a situation get some advice. If you don’t have a Human Resource Department or PEO representing you, utilize various resources in town like independent human resource consultants or information via the web, like the Society for Human Resource Management.
  • Once the meeting is over, let it go! But make sure it is documented. See our blog from June 12, 2012 for tips on documentation.

While these ideas should help to ease some of the discomfort caused by uncomfortable conversations, there is no perfect way to move forward other than to make sure you try and keep the communication open. 

Written by Celeste Peterson, PHR, The Applied Companies Director of Operations. Peterson has been in the PEO industry for over 7 years and in the human resources field for over 15 years. She has a BA from UNR, earned her PHR (professional in human resources) designation in 2004, has been involved in numerous non-profit organizations and held multiple board positions in Nevada.

Good Documentation is for Everyone

Have you heard the old adages “if it isn’t written down, it doesn’t exist” and “out of sight, out of mind?”  There is a reason why they repeatedly crop up; they are painfully valid. Lack of documentation makes it difficult to avoid liability. Written records are valuable if legal issues arise from OSHA and other investigations, claims of unfair treatment, and claims from workers compensation, unemployment compensation, harassment, and discrimination.

Documentation is not reserved for human resource personnel and managers, everyone can benefit from keeping records. Workplace accidents, vehicular accidents, criminal offenses, or neighborhood drama are cases where you may have to “document an incident you observed.” Here are some workplace tips for proper documentation that are effective off-site too:


Date of incident and date of documentation

Employee’s name, job title, department

Summary of events, violations or infractions – be specific

Statement of policy or procedure the violation involved

Description of any disciplinary action taken

Statement of corrective action plan

Establishment of follow-up meeting to review employee’s progress

Statement that failure to comply with the corrective action plan will result in further disciplinary action

Statement that “Elements” have been discussed (and are accurate) with the employee/involved parties

Signature of employee/involved parties that he/she has received the document.

Do’s & Don’ts

Do focus on the job duties, job description and performance appraisal categories

Don’t stray away from the facts – be accurate and concise

Don’t add emotions and opinions

Do include copies of key documents such as time cards, work orders, invoices

Don’t delay – record documentation promptly

Documentation should always occur during performance evaluations, incident reports, written warnings and notes of meetings with employees about performance issues.  Ask Human Resources if you have any questions or doubts.

Before a documentation situation arises, know the basic legal requirements concerning the employer/employee relationship and know the personnel policies and rules of the company. Tell employees what the rules are and what is expected of them. Don’t assume they’ve read the company handbook just because they signed the form. Give employees regular feedback on their performance and listen to their concerns.

Written by Susan Fix, The Applied Companies Community Liaison Partner. Fix has worked 15 years in staffing services performing outside sales, recruiting, permanent and temporary placement coordination, career counseling, customer service and social media/business.

Hot Button Topic: Wage and Hour

Click here to view our HR professionals’ article

Innovation Requires Planning for the Possible and the Unthinkable

Click here to view Jim Annis’ PEO Insider article

Silence is Golden

How many meetings have you already attended in the first quarter of this New Year? Did you leave feeling they were fast and productive? Or were the meetings filled with sidebars, sounding off, and cell phone interruptions? Gulp . . . I’m guilty on all counts.

Perhaps this is a good time to refresh ourselves on effective meeting etiquette. I remember the days when all meetings were run under strict parliamentary procedures guided by Robert’s Rules of Order. Knowledge of the rules was once held in such high esteem people put it on their resume as a skill.

Now in our fast-paced, high tech society we see articles like the one in The Wall Street Journal describing “stand-up meetings” and people holding ten pound medicine balls to eliminate wasted time, long-winded discussions and folks playing games or texting on their cell phones.

Whatever type of meeting you attend, here are a few rules of courtesy that will help us spend our time wisely.

Be On Time

Arrive at least five minutes early. Late arrivals cause distractions and delay the agenda. Respect everyone’s treasured timeframes, including your own. When we arrive early, the meeting can start on time and possibly end early – yay! Party bonus!

End Conversations Before Start Time

Appreciate the challenge of a moderator getting a meeting started and ended on time. Be in your seat and discontinue discussions before the call to order. Loud on-going conversations delay attempts to get the group on task.

Put Away the Cell Phone

If you must carry your cell phone into a meeting, please put it on vibrate. Keep it in your pocket or purse or place it on a notepad. The sound of it vibrating against a hard surface is as diverting as the sound of it ringing. Are you really giving your full attention to the meeting’s purpose and putting on your “thinking cap” when you’re texting or playing games?

Allow Speakers to Finish Their Thoughts

Interrupting the person who has the floor (their turn to speak) stops the train of thought and valuable insight might be left unsaid. Write your questions or concepts on a notepad. Ask for clarification or state your opinion when it’s your turn to have the floor. Refrain from “sounding off” because you have strong feelings about a subject – make your point quickly and efficiently.


Although it has a different dictionary definition, sidebars has become a term used to describe two or more people carrying on a separate conversation during a meeting. The chatting may be relevant to the topic; however it interrupts the flow of the meeting and diverts attention away from the person who has the floor. This is a case where silence really is golden.  

Written by Susan Fix, The Applied Companies Community Liaison Partner. Fix has worked 15 years in staffing services performing outside sales, recruiting, permanent and temporary placement coordination, career counseling, customer service and social media/business.

Vital Tips for Employee Recognition

The Applied Companies was invited to write an article in 2011 for a Northern Nevada Business Weekly marketing publication. NNBW graciously allowed us to reprint the article on our blog.

The month of March is designated Employee Spirit Month with the first Friday selected for National Employee Appreciation Day. Start planning now for March 2, 2012 to celebrate a company’s most vital asset. Better yet, develop a reward and recognition system for use throughout the year.   

Productivity, engagement, and retention result when employees receive constructive and meaningful appreciation. How can you be effective with limited resources? Here are some tips from our human resource professionals:

            Do set a standard and example from the top to create a company culture that reflects encouragement, courtesy, and gratitude. Get involved in recognition programs and festivities.

            Don’t expect employee morale to improve when owners, managers, and supervisors elect not to participate. Leaders must show support to the team. The company can take a break. It isn’t stopping production; it’s increasing productivity.

            Do establish criteria for recognition based on company goals. All employees must be eligible. Provide details on what behavior or actions are rewarded.

            Don’t ignore an employee’s desire to feel like a part of the company. Awareness of expectations combined with belief and acceptance of the values and goals of an organization is a powerful motivator. 

            Do set up a company gift box or treasure chest. Fill it with wrapped $5 gift cards. Food, gasoline, dollar stores and Walmart/Target cards are popular choices.

            Don’t assume you know the staff. Ask what motivates them – what makes them proud. Take time to listen for their likes. Create a simple poll where they can describe how they would like to be recognized.

            Do offer sincere, honest praise. Describe why the employee is receiving recognition. A verbal “well done” concerning a specific task, project, or customer service is great. A handwritten note or thank you card is better. Let them draw from the gift box. Copy the thank you and put it in a drawing for more substantial rewards during Appreciation Day 2012.

            Don’t flatter. It’s insincere and shallow. Dale Carnegie likens flattery to counterfeit money – it will eventually get you into trouble if you pass it on.

            Do set budget and time commitments. Clear boundaries avoid the frustration of wasted time and hard work or false promises and grand ideas that never come to fruition.

            Don’t go it alone. Create a “Happy Company” team to help generate ideas, schedule activities and purchase supplies.

            Do present ribbons, certificates, balloons, plants and small toys. A daisy always puts a smile on someone’s face. Put together a “Treat Cart” that rolls out to employees. Let them pick from a variety of fun items – cupcakes, bagels, vegetables/dips, toys, books and DVD’s.

            Don’t underestimate the power of the potluck. Appreciation Day can be as simple as the company purchasing sandwich makings with a sign-up sheet for employees to bring salads, chips and desserts. Top management can briefly thank everyone; present awards, then introduce a game(s). For instance, post a list of employees’ names and baby pictures (brought in earlier) – guess the correct match.

            Do offer events at random times during the year. Combine monthly birthday/anniversary celebrations with each employee receiving their own card signed by management and co-workers. Casual Day, Brunch Day (bagels/orange juice), 15 minute stress busting massages during work hours, trivia games and contests like “Pumpkin Decorating” break up routines.

            Don’t hold dancing, Karaoke, or arm-wrestling type contests that could put employees in embarrassing or inappropriate situations.

Strategize, embrace the uncomplicated and generate surprises. Employees will appreciate your efforts and so will you!

Written by Susan Fix, The Applied Companies Community Liaison Partner with input from the 2011 Applied Business Solutions Human Resource Team. Fix has worked 15 years in staffing services performing outside sales, recruiting, permanent and temporary placement coordination, career counseling, customer service and social media/business.

Happy 2012!

Kietzke_Staff_12-2-11_Websize.jpgThe Applied Companies wishes you and yours a very Happy New Year! Plans are in the works for an exciting 2012. We are looking forward to partnering with our friends, family and clients to make this a time of growth, joy and triumph. 

Patriot_Staff_12-1-11.jpgBe on the watch for fun events you can participate in throughout the year, as Applied Staffing Solutions celebrates its Tenth Anniversary!