The Pending CA Workers’ Comp Reform That Will Affect Every Company—Yes, even yours!

Every employer knows that workers’ comp can be a significant strain on the bottom line for companies with industrial type jobs.  But, did you know that every company in California is potentially affected by the legislation pending right now?  That’s right!  Workers’ comp is an issue for every employer and can significantly impact the bottom line, even for companies whose employees work in office settings.  In recent years, according to the California Workers’ Compensation Institute, the costs associated with claims have risen significantly, with some costs nearly 150% higher than they were just a few years earlier.  And more change is coming.

California needs workers’ comp reform, and the proposed changes in the form of SB863 passed both houses of the legislature easily at the end of the session in August. The wide-ranging changes for treating and compensating injured or ill workers received sweeping bipartisan support in the State Assembly (66-4) and in the Senate (34-4).  It now awaits the signature of Governor Brown, who has already said the bill has his support.

Both those in favor and the opposition have compelling arguments for and against SB863.

Supporters point out SB863 would:

  • Workers advocates are opposed to the changes because they feel SB863 would:Increase permanent disability benefits by $740 million, an average hike of about 30 percent.
  • Create a $120 million program for workers injured severely enough that they cannot go back to a job at their previous wage level.
  • Pay for the increased benefits by reducing medical costs and administrative procedures.
  • Benefit California businesses by easing a potential 18 percent increase in their workers’ compensation insurance costs.
  • Reduce the number of lawsuits filed over treatment and compensation.

Workers advocates are opposed to the changes because they feel SB863 would:

  • Lose their right to a face to face medical exam as part of an appeal of treatment denials.
  • Take away judges’ ability to hear treatment denial appeals, except under the most extreme circumstances.
  • Make it harder for workers with severe earnings losses to recoup fair awards because it eliminates the concept of “diminished future earning capacity” from the Labor Code.
  • Increase costs by adding a large Independent Medical Review system on top of the current system.

Most agree that SB899 of the Schwarzenegger-era is in desperate need of reform, but some question whether SB863 is really able to effect changes that will benefit both California businesses as well as those in need of workers’ compensation the most.

Helpmates has long been recognized nationally as an industry leader in risk management.  While workers’ comp is complex and expensive, partnering with a company like Helpmates with professional risk management expertise can greatly enhance a successful risk management and workers’ comp strategy.  Contact us today for more tips on minimizing risk and maximizing employment success! 

Socialize Your Way to Your Next Job

Tapping into your social network is a key component to streamlining your job search.  But in today’s technological environment, we are all conditioned to think that means a virtual social network, as we utilize LinkedIn, Facebook, and others daily sites to stay connected with people who may lead us to new job opportunities.  The younger you are, the more likely you are to be completely at ease relating to the world virtually.  But what you may be giving up, by so heavily relying on this mode of interface is significant.

The art of social conversation is just that – an art – and maybe a dying one at that.  Young professionals are particularly likely to be more comfortable typing and texting than actually speaking in person.  Strong verbal communication skills are highly sought after in today’s competitive job market and will immediately set you apart from the pack.  One of the best things you can do to get your next job is to practice this craft of interacting in person.

There are a number of professional events that lend themselves to naturally growing personal interaction skills in a fun and social way.  Many local professional groups organize gatherings at local restaurants. Find out where local professionals are gathering to discuss your field of interest. Once you find where professionals are gathering, attend an event and start up a conversation with the organizer.  The organizer of the event is probably the easiest person with whom to start a conversation and will likely introduce you to others.  Even if you feel awkward about talking to a total stranger, know that you have already taken the first and most important step to improving your chances of getting that next job!

While meeting new people…

  • Don’t be shy. Introduce yourself to others at the gathering. Give them a brief summary of your professional goals, if appropriate, and engage them in conversation. Make sure to ask questions so that you are able to find common ground to discuss.
  • Follow up.  Once you have met someone interesting who may lead you to some future contacts or opportunities, drop them a quick email or give them a call to say how much you enjoyed meeting them.  Keep the doors of communication open.
  • Keep the conversation lively.  Don’t make it all about you or your job search.  It is better to speak about yourself less and ask questions about the person you are talking with more.  That makes you a more interesting person and more memorable, too.
  • Avoid gossip.  It causes people to question your trustworthiness. The person you are talking with thinks, “If you are talking about someone else’s private business, chances are you will talk about my personal business too.”
  • Don’t push your agenda.  This takes the social part out of it, and just makes your conversation a sales pitch, which makes you an unappealing conversationalist.

Of course, professional networking events are not the only place to hone your social, conversation, and self-presentation skills.  You can get involved in your community in ways such as civic organizations, local sports clubs, alumni clubs, or special interest groups.  You’ll automatically have things in common because you are from the same area, may go to the same church or restaurants, may have kids in the same schools, etc.  Also, have some conversation starters in your repertoire that will lead to more questions and facilitate conversation flow.

With practice, you will get better at the art of conversation and really be able to represent yourself effectively and comfortably to people you meet.  Not only will your network grow, but you will gain confidence in the process, which will be reflected in your next job interview.

The best way to get in the door to a highly coveted job remains knowing someone on the inside.  Helpmates is proud to connect our specialists with some of the hottest jobs in Southern California.  Contact us today for the introductions that might lead to your next career move!

Overqualified or Ideal? Hiring from a complicated candidate pool

With unemployment figures still hovering around 10% in Southern California, the landscape of job applicants is not what it once was. For every job opening you post now, not only do you get an overwhelming number of  applicants, you’re likely to get applicants who would have in the past been considered overqualified for the job.

Here are a few important points to consider as you evaluate candidates with extensive professional experience:

  • You could be getting a built-in trainer and mentor.  With their enhanced skill set and experience level, this person could be more than what you are looking for.  He will likely welcome the opportunity to share his
    knowledge with your team, because it keeps him relevant and engaged, even though he is “underemployed” in this current position.
  • You will get higher-level work with a lower level of supervision.  This individual is accustomed to doing much more with much less guidance.  So, your company will reap the benefits of higher output volume and
  •  quality.  And because he requires less time from management to keep him on track, this type of employee provides greater value at less cost to the organization.
  • Make sure he knows the parameters.  It is very important that you are honest from the start with him regarding the scope of his responsibilities, his rate of pay, and the opportunities for growth.  If he seems hesitant about any of these limits, be cautious about your decision to hire him.  Ill-matched expectations and/or settling for something less than what a person is really willing to accept are early indicators of trouble and will almost always lead to a negative situation for both the employer and the employee.  If, on the other hand, he is enthusiastic about the opportunity as presented, and willing to take on a new role in this hiring climate, you could be set up for a successful working relationship.
  • Discuss his desire to stay long term.  Again, an honest discussion can save you both time and frustration.  If he really sees himself staying only until he finds a better situation, it may not be worth the costs associated with bringing him on.  If you sense that he could be a valuable addition to your organization but that he might not be in it for the long haul, consider having an open discussion about a relationship with him as a temporary contractor. In many cases, agreeing to a contract position can prove mutually beneficial, serving both your organization’s needs for high quality, affordable expertise, and the employee’s needs for the flexibility of a shorter commitment as the job market evolves.

Remember too, as with any employee, that it will be important to recognize this person for the contributions made to your organization.  If you find that an employee is providing more value than you expected or than was called for in the job description, give recognition to that individual and thank him for what he brings to the table.  Appreciation goes a long way in employee satisfaction.

Some up-front research is all it will take for you to assess whether hiring a particular “overqualified” candidate will be a great value and opportunity for you, or if the risks outweigh the benefits. With consistent success for more than 40 years, Helpmates has maintained long term partnerships with some of the most respected companies in Southern California and beyond, supporting their success in a multitude of employment climates.  Helpmates’ team of Certified Staffing ProfessionalsTM is ready to help you create a staffing strategy that works for you.  Contact us today to get started.

9/11 A Day of Remembrance

“Time is passing.  Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th.  We will remember every rescuer who died in honor.  We will remember every family that lives in grief.”  –George W. Bush

“Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honor those we lost, a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11.” –Pres. Barack Obama

Questions To Ask Before You Accept the Job Offer

The entire hiring process is question-driven.  The employer asks himself exactly who he is looking for, what roles this person needs to fill, what the compensation should be and what the ultimate goals are for the position.  Then, of course, there are all of the interview questions the employer will have for you.  You will undoubtedly have many questions for the prospective employer, too.  Some questions you will ask to show forethought and interest during the interview process, and some will be to gain valuable knowledge so you can make sound, informed decisions about whether this is the job for you.  Here are some great questions for you to ask throughout the hiring process, especially before making any decisions to accept that job offer.

Before the Interview Before you even come in for the interview, ask with whom you will be interviewing.  This will let you know with whom you will be interacting so you can prepare accordingly.  Ask what in particular about your skill set and/or experience fits well with the job requirements.  This will tell you two things specifically.  First, if there is a vague answer, you know they are just looking for a warm body, so you may not be too interested in this position after all.  Second, if you do get a specific answer, you’ll already know some of what the company finds valuable and you can build on that more in the interview.

During the Interview

Once you are in your interview, ask questions like these:

  • What are the short term and long term goals for this position and how will my performance be measured?  Their answer tells you whether they consider this a long term position, and how you will be evaluated.  You will be better able to assess an offer if you understand the scope of the position.
  • Why is this position currently open?  If the previous person got promoted, that’s good news for you; this position is a stepping stone on the path to advancement.    This question can also unveil changes to organizational structure or changes in operational strategy.
  • With whom will I be working on a daily basis, and to whom will I directly report?  You need to understand where you will fit in to the overall mix and reporting structure.
  • What are some of the biggest challenges the person in this position will face?  An honest person will lay some difficulties out for you, because every position has them.  Take the challenges described and offer, if appropriate, some response as to how you can and will handle each.  If the interviewer does not offer any challenges, be cautious.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Do you have any doubts about my ability to perform well in this position?  If they have some concerns, this is a great way to uncover them, and address them.  It’s better to have the opportunity to explain further why you are a great fit for this job than to leave any doubts with the interviewer.
  • When do you anticipate making a hiring decision?  How would you like me to follow up with you?  This lets you know precisely what your next steps should be and when you should make them.

After the Interview

If you do not get the offer you were hoping for, a good question for after the interview is, “What tips do you have to improve my interviewing skills?”  Thank him for his guidance, time, and generosity.

Well thought out questions lead to active dialogue during interviews, allowing you to be as informed as possible about all the position entails and what will be expected of you.  This way, you can make an informed decision regarding if the job offer is aligned to your needs and career goals.

Looking to take the next step in your career?  Count on Helpmates to help you open that next door!  Helpmates was recently honored with the prestigious Best In Staffing Talent Award, meaning job seekers who work with Helpmates are among the most satisfied in the country!  Call us today and see what the buzz is about!

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