The Real Brelsford Personnel Difference

The Real Brelsford Personnel Difference

Sherry has spent her entire working career in insurance and she’s very, very good at her job. However, last year she realized she wasn’t happy at her current place of employment, and decided to see what else was available.

She saw a Brelsford Personnel job posting through Indeed, but she hesitated. Eventually she sent in her resume but she wished she hadn’t waited, because by the time the Brelsfords received it, they had filled the position.

Brelsford Personnel’s Application Process

Sherry describes the Brelsford Personnel application process as very detailed. First, she had a phone interview with Driedra Brelsford, who she said immediately put her at ease.

“She’s so funny and personable. I’m a licensed agent and I knew what direction I wanted to go in, but I needed a little assistance, and she provided a lot of assistance.”

When the opening she originally wanted became available again, Sherry got her chance. Brelsford Personnel already had her information on file, and she says Driedra helped her get the job. “She thought I would be a really good fit for the office. She knew the company owner personally, and I feel like it helped. Plus she had my resume and had already done all the background work.”

After that, things moved quickly. “I had an interview with the office manager at my new job within a pretty short time,” Sherry said. “Within a little over a week they let me know I was hired.”

She says Driedra helped her through the waiting process between interview and job offer. “Mrs. Brelsford kept me updated. She checked in with them when we hadn’t heard within a week. She contacted the office manager and found out someone was on vacation. She made that process easy too, that way I didn’t have to feel awkward.”

Brelsford Personnel vs. Other Staffing Agencies

Several years ago Sherry says she tried to work with a different local staffing agency, but they didn’t provide the same level of service, and she had to take time off work to meet their requirements.

“They were not helpful. You had to go in and do a typing test, then interview with the staffing agency person. It’s difficult when you’re working to make an appointment and do something that takes that much time. Brelsford Personnel did it all on my lunch hour. We had a phone interview, then after hours I filled out the application and all of my background information and emailed that in.”

Instant Connections

Sherry felt Brelsford Personnel’s community connections made all the difference in her job search. “My personal opinion is that Mrs. Brelsford is very well connected and very active in the community. She knows a lot of people. Because she’s well connected, if you establish a relationship with her it’s very positive and you’ll get to see the results.

“And I loved talking with her on the phone. We talked about the serious stuff and just in general. I honestly don’t think I would have gotten that position if it hadn’t been for her. She made it really easy. It was very seamless. She kept me updated, and she’s just a great person. If I were ever going to look again, and I don’t plan on it, I would call her.”

What She Thinks of Her New Job

Sherry doesn’t see herself changing jobs again, ever. Of her new position she says, “I love it. I love the people that I work with. They’re an old establishment and they’ve been here for a long time. I thought it might be kind of stuffy, and I was prepared for that, but it’s not. Everybody is very laid back. It’s just a great atmosphere.”

If you’re looking for a new career opportunity, our services don’t cost job seekers a thing. We look forward to hearing from you when you apply to one of our online job postings.

I Wanted a Career Change – Here’s How Brelsford Personnel Helped

I Wanted a Career Change – Here’s How Brelsford Personnel Helped

Working With Brelsford Personnel

After more than a decade of management in her industry, East Texas resident, Lauren Alexander felt it was time for a career change. While researching her options, she contacted Brelsford Personnel. She recently shared the process that led to her successful placement in a new field in a position she is excited about and believes is for the long term.

Lauren was open to possibilities, and she wanted to transition to a position that was a good fit. “I knew I had a professional skillset. Yet I knew it wasn’t going to be easy changing industries and it wasn’t going to be a quick change.

The team at Brelsford Personnel took time to get to know me. I learned about them and we worked from there.”

Lauren appreciated that she wasn’t constantly flooded with area job openings that weren’t right for her, like she had heard peers say happened with some other staffing agencies.

“The Brelsfords were so professional, but had a personal touch. They want their clients to receive the best employees through their agency, but they’re truly not going to send you to or discuss an opportunity with you that is not a good fit for you.”

“They respect your time and that you’re putting your energy out there trying to find something, and they work hand in hand with you. They are so friendly, so easy to work with and very efficient in communicating, whether by text or email or phone call.”

During a season of intense life change, Lauren took comfort in having Brelsford Personnel on her team. “No matter whether it was Mr. Brelsford, Mrs. Brelsford or Regina, they were so relatable. I never felt that I was overlooked or slighted on time or anything like that. It truly was a professional but relational experience. They know their clients, what they need, and get to know their job seekers. They’re looking for that perfect fit. I’m thankful I found them and things worked out like they did.”

And here at our staffing agency, we’re intensely thankful for the chance to work with candidates like Lauren and humbled by her kind words. People like her are why we love what we do.

If you’re looking for work, we’re here to help. Get started the same way Lauren did, by applying for one of our posted positions.

Tyler College Grad Finds Work Through Brelsford Personnel

Tyler College Grad Finds Work Through Brelsford Personnel

When Amanda completed a degree in Business Management, she was ready to enter the workforce, but her job search took longer than expected. She spent a significant amount of time combing through job postings, sending resumes and filling out applications, but started to become discouraged by the lack of response.

She always intended to pursue a Master’s degree, and she started to think she should give up on her job search and return to being a full-time student. “I was on the verge of going back if I didn’t get a call,” she remembers.

How She Found Brelsford Personnel

Amanda saw a job posting on LinkedIn she thought might fit her skills and interests, so she put in an application. She said within a week she got a call from Regina, Brelsford Personnel’s Staffing Assistant. Regina conducted a brief three or four question interview and Amanda let her know she was interested in any openings for which she was qualified.

“I didn’t even realize they were a staffing agency.” Amanda remembers telling her parents about the call, and they were concerned about how they had heard some personnel firms operate. “Some of them are going to have you pay,” she said they told her.

Within a week, Regina called back to set up an in-person interview with Driedra Brelsford. At her interview, Amanda asked if she would be charged for their services.

“Ms. Driedra told me, ‘We don’t take payments from you. We get paid through the company you get hired by.’”

After Her First Interview

Driedra had a possible job opening in mind for Amanda. She asked her to take a skills test, but life got busy and Amanda didn’t get to it right away.

“Regina called to check up on me,” she said. Brelsford Personnel was actively seeking a position for her, and they were eager to verify her skills so they could move things along. Three or four weeks after she applied, she received a job offer for a front desk position at a Tyler area employer.

Reflecting on Her Experience

“It’s just truly been a blessing them coming into my life,” Amanda says. “I just say that Brelsford is really God sent. I really recommend for anyone to go through their staffing agency.”

She’s also thrilled with her new position. “I enjoy going to my job every day! I love a little bit of everything; building relationships with my co-workers, meeting new people and the learning and challenges that come on a day-to-day basis.”

At Brelsford Personnel, we love connecting recent college graduates with area employers. Search our current job openings to see if one might be right for you.

Soft Skills Series – Nurturing Confidence

Soft Skills Series – Nurturing Confidence

Confidence is being assured of one’s judgement and abilities. It’s critical to decision making and problem solving. People with the soft skill of confidence have an accurate view of what they can do. They aren’t held back by fear of failure, because they understand that making mistakes can be part of a process that leads to ultimate success. Because they believe in themselves, they’re empowered to accomplish much of what they set out to do. Sometimes capable employees struggle with confidence, but their insecurity doesn’t have to handicap them permanently.

Reasons Confidence is In Short Supply

There are a number of reasons employees struggle with developing the soft skill of confidence. Those who have trouble trusting their own judgment do so for reasons like these:

  • They don’t have the skills necessary for the task or decision
  • They’re trying to be someone they’re not
  • Past experiences made them question their abilities
  • They have a naturally reserved, cautious temperament
  • Their thinking has been influenced by uncooperative or critical colleagues

When employees lack confidence, they balk at making decisions because they fear the wrong choice will lead to failure. Worry over what might happen wears away at them. Their presentations or sales calls fall flat because their audience picks up on their own self-doubt. They might try to avoid tasks that involve problem solving and force other staff members to take up the slack.

A Harvard Business Review article points out, “insecure people are so concerned with how they look and how they are perceived that they either fail to solicit critical feedback or completely ignore it when it’s given. And this robs them of the opportunity to improve.” Their lack of confidence is bad for business, but the good news is, confidence is a soft skill that can be improved.

Give Timid Employees a Boost

So many managers say the same thing – they see their staff member’s potential and wish they could help that person get past their fears and doubts so they can be more productive and self-assured. Here are techniques leaders can use to nurture confidence one employee at a time.

Connect New Tasks to Existing Skills

Note your staff member’s skills and how those abilities have served them well in the past. Help them draw on the memories of previous successes to give them confidence when approaching new, similar tasks.

For example, if Gina’s research and suggestions were what made your last product launch a success, and you hope she’ll tackle the next project with less hand-holding, help her see what you see. You might say something like, “Gina, you did such a great job with ABC project, both with how you used focus groups and customer surveys and how you accurately summarized your findings. I’d like to use you in the same role again. Go ahead and use the same thorough exploration and groundwork, this time you choose the tools and approach.”

Explicitly Communicate Expectations

Sometimes insecurity happens because employees aren’t sure what you want, so they don’t know if they can deliver. Give them a clear picture of the end result you’re looking for, and tell them if there are tools or methods you expect them to use to get there. Start small, with well-defined tasks or projects and encourage more autonomy and independent decision making over time.

Help Them Reframe Mistakes

If they struggle with confidence, slip ups hit them hard, but time spent beating themselves up isn’t productive. Encourage them to see mistakes as opportunities instead of failures and recognize innovation almost always requires trial and error. When a mistake happens model how to own it, fix it and learn from it.

Give Clear Feedback

Don’t assume employees know how good they are. Help them see the same strengths you see. Instead of just saying, “Nice job,” detail what the staff member did right, and do it as soon as you notice. Spend as much time (or more) on tasks at which they’re gifted at as you do on what they still have to work toward.

Assign a Mentor

Pair employees who lack confidence or need to hone their skills with employees who exhibit the desired traits. A mentor can be extremely effective at sharing career experience and modeling decision-making because they’ve been there. Once they’ve had time to shadow or work with your more accomplished employee, encourage them to make the knowledge and skills they’ve gleaned their own.

Brelsford Personnel is a full service employment agency with the ability to serve you in fulfilling your professional, administrative and temporary staffing needs. When you need new hires with specific skills, we provide qualified, pre-screened candidates. Send us a message if you’d like to know more.

Related articles:

Why Problem-Solving is a Must-Have Soft Skill

Teaching Soft Skills to New Hires

Active Listening – What is it and Do You Have It?

4 Signs Micromanaging is Damaging Your Team

4 Signs Micromanaging is Damaging Your Team

Maybe you’re the perfectionist in charge and you overheard employees describe you as too nitpicky. Or maybe you’re concerned one of your administrators could be creating problems. Micromanaging means trying to control every little detail all the time, and it has a negative impact on morale. The Journal of Experimental Psychology reports when employees feel they’re being micromanaged, they perform at a much lower level.

But how do you differentiate between strong leadership and being too controlling? Employers search far and wide for people who take responsibility and initiative, who go above and beyond, who are extremely detail oriented. How do you know the difference between someone who shows hands-on leadership and a problematic micromanager? Look for these four signs.

These Behaviors Are the Norm

Micromanagers want complete control over everyone on their team and every aspect of the projects with which they’re involved. They do things like the following:

  • Check frequently on what staff members are doing, not always to be supportive, but to make sure employees are on task and doing things the way the manager wants them done. A micromanager might repeatedly stop by offices or cubicles or hyper vigilantly monitor active time within online work environments.
  • Require frequent changes to little details that don’t really have an impact on the outcome.
  • Take over tasks or projects because they feel like they can do it better or faster, and it would take too much time and effort to explain what they want to the staff member originally assigned the task.
  • Demand progress updates and documentation much more frequently than necessary.
  • Almost always express dissatisfaction with or want changes to deliverables.
  • Want all decisions run by them before anything is finalized.
  • Stay stressed and overworked because they have trouble delegating.

Micromanagers have a hard time trusting staff to do their job and do it well. Their actions signal they think for something to be done right, they have to be directly involved with every detail.

Employee Motivation Plummets

Because they’re so controlling, micromanagers squash creativity and diminish engagement. Staff starts to think, “She’s just going to find fault with my work anyway, so why should I do my best,” or “Why should I even bring up that idea when he’s just going to insist we do it his way.”

Employees feel like they can’t do anything right, and that their hard work doesn’t matter. Over time that can start to erode their desire to meet deadlines or to go above and beyond. They start second-guessing their abilities. They may be hesitant to take risks or think outside the box. They don’t feel valued, there’s no room for growth, and every day there’s the potential for more criticism.

Turnover and Sick Days Increase

There’s a growing body of evidence that indicates work-related stress has a huge impact on mental and physical health. It can lead to high blood pressure, anxiety disorders, decreased immune response, gastrointestinal disorders and a range of other problems. Plus, some people overeat, smoke or turn to substance abuse to cope. Unhealthy behaviors make them feel even worse, and make it more likely they’ll get sick.

One by one, employees may wake up, realize they don’t want to do it anymore, and decide to take their skills somewhere else. Then their knowledge and abilities become available to your competition and the cycle starts over with your new hires.

If you have a manager who exhibits the behaviors listed above, and you’re seeing an increase in sick days and resignations, that’s a sign micromanaging is becoming a problem.

Teams Fail to Meet Deadlines

Micromanagers cause bottlenecks because they can’t do the work of an entire team. If work can’t proceed until they’ve signed off on every decision, processes bog down. When managers take on tasks they should delegate, everything takes longer. And, the fact that they sweat the small stuff way too much can get in the way of working efficiently.

Sometimes micromanagers aren’t conscious of what they’re doing and how it’s impacting their team. Communication and leadership training can make a huge difference. Other times it stems from compulsive behavioral issues or deep confidence deficits, issues that require more comprehensive interventions.

Good managers communicate clear expectations, then empower employees to do their best work and reach organizational goals. They offer feedback and support while showing trust in employees’ abilities to deliver. They encourage creativity and innovation and foster trust and loyalty within their organization.

When East Texas employers need to hire strong leaders, they call Brelsford Personnel. You can learn more about what we offer on our Employers Page.

Do These 5 Things to Minimize Worker Anxiety

person indoors sitting at computer

Employees feel stressed when bosses ask them to do things outside their knowledge and they don’t feel like resources and support exists to help them succeed. They’re anxious when they don’t feel like they can cope, and that failure is going to hurt.

Anxious employees are less effective. They’re more likely to make mistakes. They have reduced energy for creative thinking. Over time they may come resentful or develop long-term mental health problems.

Top Causes of Anxiety

SHRM cites a study finding 80 percent of American workers are stressed out by at least one thing at work. Top stressors include:

  • Low salaries
  • Few opportunities for professional growth or advancement
  • Too many responsibilities
  • Extremely long hours
  • Unrealistic expectations from management

The shift toward remote work has exacerbated anxiety issues. Schedules became flexible, and lines blurred between work time and personal time. Some employees had a harder time taking a mental break from work and put pressure on themselves to be always available and endlessly productive. Here’s how employers can help.

#1 – Teach Workers to Recognize Anxiety Early

Stress creeps in quietly, settling in like a shadow that eventually becomes a monster. People cope better when they notice anxiety early and refocus their thoughts in a positive direction. Have a frank conversation about how to recognize the symptoms of anxiety, relax in the moment and replace negative self-talk.

First, employees can self-check for physical symptoms. For some, anxiety feels like butterflies in the stomach or jittery hands and feet. Others feel tension in the neck and shoulders, headaches, an elevated pulse or shortness of breath. Sometimes it’s enough to listen to your body, take a few deep breaths and let go of things outside your control.

Next, identify the thoughts lurking in your subconscious that are causing anxiety. You may be telling yourself messages like these:

  • If I don’t get this right, I’ll never have a chance at a promotion.
  • I’m totally out of my depth here, I’m going to fail.
  • I just sounded like a total idiot.
  • I’ll never get everything done.
  • They must think I’m _ (taking too long, not working hard enough, unqualified etc.)
  • My boss will be furious if I let him/her down.

Replace those with statements that are truthful, supportive and kind.

#2 – Review Expectations

This past year, job responsibilities may have shifted so that employees are doing very different tasks from those for which they were hired. Employees might have said yes to new responsibilities, then found they didn’t have the time or the resources to keep up.

If things have changed, clarify how. Document which responsibilities they’ve taken on and ones for which they’re no longer responsible. Define expectations for work hours and communication outside of those times.

Employers and human resource professionals might analyze what changes have taken place to see if the expectations are still reasonable and if pay is fair for the skills and effort required. Adjusting responsibilities or providing a raise could turn stressed out workers into ones who are grateful and engaged.

Adjusting responsibilities or providing a raise could turn stressed out workers into ones who are grateful and engaged.

#3 – Express Appreciation

Send an email or stop staff members in the hall to thank them for their hard work. When projects pile up and you know teams are putting in extra hours to deliver, express recognition and gratitude. Offer an afternoon off or flexible scheduling to say thank you as they reach milestones.

#4 – Request Feedback

Encourage employees to speak up if there’s something they need. It might be training, software, office equipment, or clear pathways for growth. If it isn’t feasible have those conversations one on one, use a survey, email or comment box.

#5 – Hire More Staff

Many hands really do make light work. If there aren’t enough hours in the day to get the job done, and the workload is too heavy for existing staff, the best choice might be hiring additional employees. Tell us what your organization needs and we’ll be glad to help.

Customer Service Skills – Definition and Examples

Customer Service Skills – Definition and Examples

Is customer service a job or a skill? Sometimes job seekers see an open position with a title like “customer service representative.” Other times, they might look at other types of positions where the job description requires they have ‘customer service skills.’ Sometimes providing support is the position. Other times it’s a soft skill candidates need to demonstrate on a regular basis.

For example, at grocery and department stores there’s typically a counter marked “customer service” staffed by people who handle returns and complaints. Employees’ main role is to effectively solve problems and keep customers satisfied.

Other jobs might have a different primary function, but still require customer service skills. A restaurant manager, receptionist or sales rep aren’t hired primarily to deal with grumbles and requests, but if they don’t have the soft skills associated with customer service, they won’t be successful in their role.

Skills Plural

Customer Service involves a set of skills and the ability to choose the right ones depending on the situation, much like a craftsman choosing different tools depending on the job.

Strong Communication

Most people have had the frustrating experience of trying to explain to a customer service rep what they need and just not getting through. One or both sides lack the communication skills needed to deliver a clear message and work through problems to a resolution.

People who are good at customer service have the ability to understand what the consumer or team member is saying, converse in easy to understand terms and rephrase or paraphrase where there’s confusion.

Attentive Listening

People with solid customer service skills give the speaker their full attention and focus all their senses on what he or she is trying to communicate. They’re engaged, non-defensive and non-judgmental.

They make eye contact, repeat back statements to clarify, ask open-ended questions and allow the speaker plenty of time to articulate their concerns. Active listening goes a long way toward diffusing potential conflict because the consumer or team member feels “heard.”

Problem Solving

Problem solvers pinpoint the problem, brainstorm solutions, evaluate options, implement the plan and evaluate results. If their first try isn’t successful, they start over. They’re quick thinkers, and they’re not intimidated when they face an unexpected challenge.


Most people try to solve problems themselves before they reach out for help. Once they exhaust DIY options and contact support, they’re already frustrated. They might be angry because things aren’t working right or embarrassed to admit they don’t have the knowledge needed to find their own solution. Frustrated individuals aren’t always friendly.

Good customer service representatives and people with the soft skills of customer service listen and react with patience. They don’t take bluster personally. They’re also not in a hurry to just make the individual go away. Their main goal in that moment becomes finding lasting resolution. Sometimes that means teaching the customer or staff member what they need to know to avoid that type of frustration next time.

People with good customer service skills might need to help a certain number of people in a day, but they never seem to be watching the clock. Every interaction is personalized and focused on the individual they’re currently helping.

Friendly and Empathetic

Good customer service representatives and people who demonstrate this soft skill communicate with warmth and empathy. They are able to identify with customers who are in a hurry, frazzled, irritated or confused. They make an emotional connection when they speak with kindness and sympathy, then they use positive language as they work toward a solution.


There’s no replacement for knowledge when it comes to customer service. You can be super nice and eager to help, but if you don’t know how, the problem will continue to exist. Customer service involves knowing what your company offers and, when it breaks, how to fix it.

Having extensive knowledge also creates confidence. Consumers or staff immediately sense you aren’t going to be thrown off by their request. You’ve seen it all before and you know how to solve their problem, so their frustration will be over soon.

Acting Abilities

Sometimes even if you fix the problem, replace the product, refund the money, offer freebies and do everything else at your disposal, the person you’re dealing with still isn’t happy. When they keep expressing their dissatisfaction, when they’re rude and combative, people with customer service skills are able to be diplomatic, even when they don’t feel that way inside.

Hiring Customer Service Unicorns

If you own a business or are in charge of hiring, you already know how hard it can be to find employees with customer service skills. Brelsford Personnel has an extensive database of pre-screened candidates. We can connect you with new hires who create a positive view of your business at every interaction. Tell us what you need when you get in touch.

Coach vs. Mentor – What’s the Difference?

Coach vs. Mentor – What’s the Difference?

Coaches and mentors both exist to help an individual develop their potential. They come alongside and offer support from a position of greater knowledge and experience. In both professional and personal development, having a coach or mentor is a good thing.

However, if you can only have one, which should you choose? Let’s look at the differences between coaches and mentors in the context of professional development.

What is a Mentor?

A mentor is someone with career experience who is willing to take a person under their wing and share what they know. Mentor and mentee form a relationship that is often mutually beneficial.

Over time, the mentee gathers knowledge and input from someone who has been where they are now. He or she might receive decision-making advice instead of having to rely on trial and error. They might make fewer mistakes and find a more efficient path to achievement.

Mentors get something out of it too. In their role of trusted advisor, they receive respect. They develop their own leadership skills. Communicating their views and thought processes often crystalizes that knowledge. They often report feeling personal satisfaction from knowing they’ve helped someone. They feel pride in the growth they nurtured.

What do Mentors Do?

A mentor might take on the following roles:

  • Teacher – He or she might pass on practical knowledge regarding skills helpful at their company or in their industry.
  • Advisor – A good mentor is a sounding board. He or she doesn’t tell the mentee what to do, but instead helps them refine ideas, explore solutions and become self-reliant. Mentors serve as a trustworthy confidante.
  • Role model – Good mentors show as much as they tell. They embody core organizational values. They walk the talk, are there when it counts, honor their commitments and persevere through challenges.

Mentoring tends to be more long-term and holistic than career coaching. The mentor and mentee might meet on a schedule, but they could also interact on an informal, as-needed basis. Growth happens because of repeated interactions over time.

What is a Career Coach?

Coaching is typically more targeted and structured than mentoring. While a mentor might help with overall professional development, coaches often take a systematic approach to focus on one skill or goal at a time.

Mentors might not have any formal training in mentorship, and they don’t always specialize in what the mentee most needs to learn. Coaches often have training in the areas of desired growth. They can train or up-skill, and they may offer a way to measure results.

Usually the coach is in charge of development. The trainee can have input, but they’re not responsible for driving sessions. Where a mentor might share personal experience to advise on next steps, coaches focus more on reaching the next goal or level than sharing their own background. Career coaches are more likely to charge for their services.

Coach Responsibilities

In the workplace, businesses basically use coaches to help individuals and teams fill in gaps. Coaching develops the skills workers need to solve problems, form and reach long-term goals or develop missing soft skills. A coach might

  • Use survey data to measure current employee behaviors, link them to business outcomes, then recommend appropriate training.
  • Conduct personality and behavior assessments to help decision makers better understand current culture.
  • Help individuals or teams set goals, develop action plans and overcome challenges.
  • Work with executives to improve leadership skills or plan for succession.
  • Help supervisors and managers develop lacking people skills.
  • Assist older and younger workers in eliminating stereotypes.
  • Develop programs that encourage employees to make better health decisions.

Mentoring and coaching both have the goal of helping workers reach their potential. Organizations don’t have to choose one over the other, both will create a ripple effect of learning, support and ongoing development that will make your company stronger and better over time.

Tomorrow’s Workforce – What They’re Saying Today

Tomorrow’s Workforce – What They’re Saying Today

Lately if you’ve watched anything filmed in 2019 or earlier that showed a busy workplace, you might have felt caught in a time warp. “That was pre-pandemic,” you may have told yourself. “It doesn’t look like that anymore.” You may have also wondered a little nostalgically if it will ever look that way again.

It doesn’t take a crystal ball to predict the workforce of tomorrow will function, think and produce in ways that are much different from the traditional model. What will the changes be? The answer to that question depends both on what’s happening with the current workforce and what high school and college aged individuals are experiencing today.

Change, Accelerated

Even if the first COVID-19 infection never happened, the way people work was already changing. Artificial intelligence was already replacing grocery store checkers, assembly-line workers, proofreaders and market research analysts. Technology also made it easier to outsource tasks to contractors, hire people who lived in another country and work outside the office.

The powerful forces of globalization and artificial intelligence were already reshaping work. Children who started middle school five years ago had already begun experiencing the world through virtual reality, personalized intelligent tutoring and machine-assisted collaboration. Brands looked to technology to assist in their struggle against employee disengagement and to unpack the growing mountains of available data.

Pandemic-induced disruptions accelerated the change that was already happening. As we struggled to understand the long-term repercussions, organizations like the World Economic Forum, Harvard Business School and Deloitte created reports analyzing the current situation and predicting how it would affect tomorrow’s workforce. Here we summarize some of their key findings.

Expect Continued Acceleration

Vaccine development isn’t the only thing traveling at warp speed. Technology adoption is expected to snowball. Businesses that a few years ago were content with the way things always were are now researching cloud computing, e-commerce, data encryption and artificial intelligence.

Lockdowns and economic concerns drove companies to rely more heavily on machines. Artificial intelligence doesn’t get sick, spread germs or need time off to help with online learning. It never shows up to a virtual meeting in sweatpants and doesn’t ask for ergonomic equipment for the home office.

Where before technology adoption and task automation seemed intimidating and expensive, it became a necessity. Now a larger percentage of the work done by humans is accomplished by machines.

Tomorrow’s Workforce is Rethinking Options

If you talk to high school and college age groups, you’ll find they’re looking for opportunity, but not always along traditional pathways. Around half of surveyed Gen Z members (those born between 1997 and 2012) say they’re interested in something other than a four-year degree. They’re worried a college degree might bury them under a mountain of debt, that they might not be able to find a good job even with a degree and that they might not have the skills they need even if they do find work in their desired field.

Gen Z is the most populous generation since the Baby Boomers. Older members currently make up 24 percent of the global workforce.

Training, Reskilling and Upskilling Will be Key

What is tomorrow’s workforce saying today?

  • 29 percent say they are less likely to attend a four-year university because of the pandemic
  • Almost a fourth of them say they don’t intend to continue their formal education after high school
  • 38 percent say they feel companies should pay for some form of continuing education
  • 61 percent say obtaining skills-based education might be a better way to achieve the success they desire

Gen Z and Millennials have thinking and working patterns in common. They want to make a meaningful contribution, to have flexibility in their schedule and to receive recognition for their efforts. Gen Z members are digital natives, and pre-pandemic were predicted to be the most educated generation. They’re more comfortable with technology than older generations will ever be.

They’re interested in learning skills that will help them get ahead, and they’ll be attracted to companies that can help them achieve those goals. Because the economic landscape will continue to shift, holding a four-year degree in one subject might not be as important as the ability to develop proficiency at tasks as they appear.

Takeaways for Employers

One of the best ways to future-proof your workforce is to think now in terms of reskilling and upskilling. Start doing so now to keep existing employees engaged, attract the right kind of talent and prepare for periods of rapid change.

When you need the right person with the right skills now and you don’t have time to send someone through an extended learning program, call Brelsford Personnel. We match East Texas companies with workers who already have the skills needed to get the job done. Contact us online today.

How to Encourage Different Opinions Without Hiring a Bouncer

How to Encourage Different Opinions Without Hiring a Bouncer

People want to feel like their opinions are valued. They also want to work somewhere they feel psychologically safe. However, in our polarized society differing viewpoints can turn to arguments fast. Some managers feel like they’d be safer walking through a field of land mines than encouraging team members to share their opinions.

Successful leaders know how to create an inclusive work environment so people feel like they can share without getting attacked. They understand how to allow, sometimes even encourage healthy disagreements because they can lead to outside-the-box thinking.

Re-Frame Thinking on Differences

When someone disagrees with us, feeling threatened is a common response. We may have to give up an opinion or ideal we believe is “right.” The other person seems to think they know better than we do and it’s hard not to take that personally. We might be about to experience open hostility. It’s unpredictable and uncomfortable.

That tension and defensiveness cause us to shut down. We’re no longer listening to others; instead we’re preparing our stand or looking for a graceful retreat.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. In the workplace among professionals, it shouldn’t be. When individuals feel safe, creative tension can lead to learning and innovation.

The first step is becoming aware of our emotional reaction to differences of opinion. If we start to feel tension when we realize someone has a different viewpoint, that tension can act as a trigger to become defensive or it can trigger introspection.

Encourage team members to recognize that tension over differing viewpoints signals opportunity. It means other perspectives or ideas are present. Workers have a chance to add to their knowledge and experience. It’s possible to share opposing views without determining that one person is right or wrong, good or bad, the winner or loser.

Conflict Isn’t Always Bad

Most of us have been in a situation where the majority wanted to move one direction and we weren’t so sure that was best, but we didn’t speak up. Conforming feels like forcing yourself into a mold you were never meant to fit, but sometimes the pressure to do so is intense.

Scaffold the development of better people skills so workers feel encouraged to express their opinions and understand disagreement is okay. Encourage individuals to learn to temporarily suspend the need to be right and instead look for common purposes.

As a team or organization, brainstorm ways to communicate respectfully even when individuals feel that tension. Allow workers to create behavioral guidelines for communicating differences of opinion. Document those guidelines, agree together to follow them, and keep them handy to reference as needed.

Then, start to invite discussions, healthy debates and exchanges. Try not to jump in at the first sign of tension. A competitive environment can be a good thing, and teams that have experienced conflict and worked through it develop a deeper respect for each other’s strengths.

Have Private Conversations

Sometimes you know individuals are too far apart on an issue, all sides have innovative ideas, and there isn’t time to come to a meeting of the minds. In that situation, don’t hold an open discussion.

Instead, have one-on-one conversations or ask for written input from individual contributors. It’s also a good idea to have a formal process for employees to privately submit opinions and suggestions even when you’re not asking for them.

Manage Strong Personalities as Needed

It can seem like the people most in need of sensitivity training are the least interested in reining in their abrasive behaviors. Others might describe them as brilliant but toxic, an antisocial genius, someone who does good work but engages in inappropriate or destructive behavior.

Sometimes leaders have to be the bouncer. That doesn’t mean you have to threaten to send that employee home for the day every time they get cantankerous, but you will have to find ways to keep their negativity from destroying the innovative, inclusive culture you’re trying to create.

Meet with that person or group privately to see if there are personal issues or misconceptions causing them to be unnecessarily combative. Give them prompt, critical feedback and work with them to identify specific behaviors that make open sharing impossible. Review the guidelines your group agreed on. Prompt them to make apologies if they crossed lines and coach them on how they can handle conversations in a more positive manner next time.

Hire the Right Employees

Sometimes certain individuals just aren’t a good fit, and that makes things difficult for everyone. Brelsford Personnel works with East Texas businesses to find employees that are a good match for their existing culture and who have the communication and people skills necessary to be successful in their role. If you would like to know more about working with us, send us a message online.