The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) is led by a Board of Directors with expertise that represents a broad cross-section of the regional economy. LVEDC Director and Allied Personnel Services Vice President Susan Larkin, who has more than two decades of experience in the staffing industry, recently shared her insights about the employment challenges businesses face during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Q: Please tell us about Allied Personnel Services and your role there.
A: Since 1984 Allied has been providing staffing and employment solutions to Lehigh Valley employers. We develop long-term partnerships with our clients, and many of the area’s most successful companies have been clients for 30+ years. A key to Allied’s success is our ability to deliver ti
mely and effective talent solutions that are flexible to quickly adjust to changing market conditions.
My role as Vice President is to oversee operations and to consult with our clients, developing strategic staffing programs and sharing critical labor market information based on the diverse insight and experience I’ve gained over my 25 years as an executive in the staffing industry.
Q: Before the pandemic, when unemployment was at record low levels, attracting and retaining talent was the biggest issue facing employers. How has the pandemic changed employer perspectives on the importance of talent supply?
A: The pandemic has elevated employers’ awareness of how fragile the talent supply is and how a high rate of unemployment doesn’t always equate to a robust talent supply. Because of the strong distribution and biotech sectors in our area, layoffs in those areas were not as significant. Add to that the challenges families face finding child care, the fears surrounding a return to work in the face of COVID, and the financial incentives offered through FCCRA [Families First Coronavirus Response Act] and unemployment, and the supply of available talent hasn’t significantly increased. Retaining talent has really become an even bigger focus. Keeping the hardworking, reliable, skilled employees on staff is critical to success when industries see a return to prior levels of workload.
Q: What types of jobs do employers need to fill during the quarantine economy and how do you expect that to change as restrictions are eased?
A: There continues to be a demand for skilled manufacturing roles, logistics staff, and scientific roles like quality control and lab work. As restrictions ease, we expect to see the offices and smaller businesses rebound with a corresponding increase in demand across all skill levels.
Q: What role did school closures and the availability of child care play on employment during the pandemic and how will that affect the local economy as the economy opens back up?
A: It is an extremely difficult hurdle for families. Some people were forced to leave the workforce completely to stay home with small children. Others that had the luxury of moving to a work from home arrangement were forced to figure out how to both educate their own children and keep up with their own work. If daycares and schools do not reopen in the fall, this will have a long-term negative impact on the talent supply and productivity of at home workers. Workers will require increased flexibility for child and family care and employers should be prepared to adapt to accommodate these new employee needs.
Q: Explain why enhanced employment benefits may be a challenge for some employers to find workers?
A: Enhanced employment benefits were intended to provide workers affected by the pandemic with immediate, significant financial assistance to allow them to remain home during the stay-at-home order. Unfortunately for essential businesses that have continued to operate, these enhanced benefits have had the unintended consequence of incentivizing people not to work. Many are able to make significantly more money each week with unemployment than they could earn with the jobs available to them. This has made recruiting for all types and levels of employees a challenge.
Q: How does social distancing and more rigorous disinfecting impact the number of workers an employer can hire even if there is demand for the product or service?
A: Complying with the ever-evolving CDC and OSHA guidelines has forced companies to rapidly adjust their operations. Hiring, training, scheduling and workflows have all been adapted, and in some cases the number of workers able to work in certain areas has been reduced in order to comply with social distancing guidelines. There have been some opportunities created with increased needs for sanitation and medical screening workers. We’ve seen our clients reacting well to these new challenges, and certainly those who are able to pivot to a new normal quickly will see a quicker recovery.
Q: How does the Lehigh Valley talent supply initiative position the region coming out of the COVID-19?
A: The LVEDC Talent Supply Initiative recognized the need to prioritize building a strong workforce before COVID-19, and the work around developing and retaining talent will easily be able to be applied to the post-COVID labor market. Areas such as career pathways, internships, and apprenticeships will all be vital in reshaping the workforce as we move forward, and the work that has been done in these areas already has prepared the Lehigh Valley to respond to the new challenges that employers will face.
Summer is right around the corner! Your busy season may be coming, vacations may be looming, and interns may be knocking on your door. This year think about how Allied can help you make summer hiring a breeze.
Allied has a network of new and returning college students that can help you:
- Meet peak production times by supplementing your staff
- Ensure shipping deadlines are met by covering staff vacations
- Complete projects you’ve saved for later
- Cover your front desk during vacations
Do you already supplement your staff with the use of interns? Check out these guidelines for unpaid interns and make sure that you follow the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Consider offering your interns a modest hourly rate and payroll them through Allied. We can:
- Screen, on-board, and pay the interns you’ve recruited
- Handle employee paperwork and payroll processing
- Ensure compliance with all applicable employment laws
For more information or suggestions on how you would benefit most fully from our summer offerings, contact us. We can help you get the most out of your summer help.
New Year’s resolutions are usually based on forming new habits or changing current habits. This means changing human behavior and that is, by far, one of the hardest things to accomplish. Why? There are many reasons, but here we will focus on two; negative motivation and enduring the entire process of change.
Negative Motivation – Many people’s motivation comes from negative thinking such as fear or guilt. You have much better odds of long-lasting success when the motive is positive. For example, your motivation to start exercising comes from a feeling of guilt or fear that not exercising will negatively affect your health and could develop into disease. This thinking may get you started, but the motivation for long-lasting success isn’t there because there’s nothing to feel excited about, especially when the actual effort of coming up with an exercise plan day in and day out starts to wear on you.
It is much more likely that you will form lasting change if you attach your negative thinking to positive thinking and a positive goal. For example, “I know I need to exercise so that I don’t become unhealthy, but I also feel great physically and mentally and rid myself from stress when I exercise. Plus I really want to look more like I did 5 years ago.” This positive thinking gives you something to look forward to rather than only something to avoid.
The Process of Change – Most of the time, in order to change behavior, you have to undergo a process and there are several stages, each which take time, but are necessary. According to an article by Harvard Health Publications entitled “Why behavior change is hard- and why you should keep trying” these are the following stages…
Precontemplation. This is the stage where you have no conscious intention of making a change. People in this stage tend to avoid discussing and thinking about the unhealthy behavior or may be unaware of how unhealthy the behavior is. BUT, your interest could be sparked by outside influences, such as a public health campaign or a concern from a doctor, friend, or family member. You can’t move past precontemplation, until you feel that the unhealthy behavior is hindering your life.
Contemplation. At this stage, you’re aware that the behavior is a problem, but you’re still not quite ready to commit to action. You are probably fluctuating, weighing and re-weighing the pros and cons. You may be considering how you could overcome some of the obstacles.
Preparation. At this stage, you know you must change, believe you can, and are making plans to do so and soon. You’ve taken some preliminary steps — joined a gym or fitness class and bought a new pair of sneakers. At this point, it’s important to anticipate obstacles and create a real action plan with realistic goals. What obstacles may arise? You have no time? You’re too tired? What are the solutions to these obstacles? If you’ve been sedentary a long time a realistic goal may be to start with 15 minutes of walking a day and you can move up from there.
Action. At this stage, you’ve made a change (Yay!) You’ve started exercising and you’ve begun to face and overcome the challenges that come with trying to plan exercise regularly. You’ll need to practice the solutions you identified during the preparation stage.
Maintenance. Once you’ve practiced the new behavior for six months, you’re in the maintenance stage. Now your focus shifts to integrating the change into your life and preventing relapse into your old ways. This may require other changes, especially avoiding situations or triggers associated with the old habit.
One frustrating thing is that the track between stages is rarely straightforward. A lot of people relapse at some point in the process and end up in a previous stage all over again. Sometimes when people are in the maintenance stage they will find themselves back at the contemplation stage. This is common and each time it happens you will need to reevaluate your strategy and tweak it to work better moving forward.
Source: Occupational Athletics, Inc. OAI
Do your New Year’s resolutions include a career change? Apply with us today for a positive start to your 2019!
Did you know that today marks the birthday of Bugs Bunny? There’s a lot to learn from this rabbit…
1) Be curious. His “What’s Up Doc” catchphrase teaches us to be inquisitive of others.
2) Be fearless. Bugs was brave, he was never shy, and he was quick to match wits with anyone giving him a hard time.
3) Be a creative problem solver. There was never a pickle Bugs couldn’t find his way out of.
4) Be prepared. Bugs always knew what his pursuer (usually Elmer) was plotting and planned and prepared to remain two steps ahead of him.
Feeling nostalgic for Bugs and his buddies (Elmer, Sylvester, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Daffy…)? There is no better rabbit hole on YouTube to fall into than Bugs’.
Allied is hiring for Nestle! Come see us on-site at 555 Nestle Way in Breinigsville this Tuesday, June 19th, from 4pm until 7pm to apply for forklift positions. These are long-term opportunities with great potential for hire. If you are unable to attend the job fair, you can apply online, or stop by our office at 752 Union Blvd. in Allentown Monday–Friday between 8am and 5pm.
Allied has the best jobs in the Lehigh Valley!
Join Allied for a job fair conveniently scheduled from 4pm-7pm on Thursday 5/10 at B Braun, 901 Marcon Blvd. in Allentown. We are looking for people with previous experience in a production environment for 2nd and 3rd shift manufacturing positions.
B. Braun Medical Inc. leads in thoughtful solutions that address real issues in patient care and clinician safety. Awarded a 2016 Top Workplaces honor by The Morning Call newspaper, their ethical and purposeful work culture welcomes innovation and rewards progress.