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Hiring this Summer? Where and how to find the best summer employees in Central and Southern PA

April 23rd, 2013

Ramping up for your summer season?

Before you start posting jobs and interviewing summer staff, make sure you have your bases covered.  Here are a few of Berks & Beyond’s best tips for recruiting, hiring and employing seasonal staff:

  • Look early.  You’ll likely be competing with a number of other businesses for the best summer talent, so get your recruiting efforts in gear now – before the competition snaps up choice employees.
  • Recruit in the right places.  Grass-roots efforts are often the most effective means for sourcing summer help.  Use job boards and social media to list your positions and generate referrals.
  • Check minimum wage laws.  Federal minimum wage rates are set by the Department of Labor.  Pennsylvania’s state rate is the same as the federal rate.  As of January 1, 2013, this rate is $7.25/hr.
  • Review your employee handbook.  Make sure you include policies and benefits for summer workers in your employee handbook.  Having written policy about pay and benefits will head-off potential problems.
  • Complete all new hire paperwork.  New hire paperwork is required for all employees, even seasonal and part-time workers.  Required paperwork includes a W-4 for federal income tax withholding and an I-9 (which was recently updated) or E-verify to check U.S. work eligibility.
  • Comply with child labor laws.  If you plan to hire workers under age 18, check to ensure you are complying with federal and PA state laws relating to hiring minors.  Often, hours and types of work are restricted for those under age 18.  In areas where federal and state laws differ, you must comply with the more restrictive provisions.
  • Be careful with interns.  Student interns can be an attractive option for completing extra work over the summer months, but they are not without their risks.
  • Treat summer help like other employees.  If your summer staff qualifies for benefits, you must treat them the same as other employees.
  • Work with a reputable Central and Southern PA staffing service.  Berks & Beyond provides flexible, on-demand access to the talented seasonal workers you need – without the risks, benefits expenses or time associated with recruiting and hiring on your own.  When your business heats up this summer, give Berks & Beyond a call!

Things to Do in Reading, PA: Beat the Winter Blues!

January 3rd, 2013

So, the halls have been “un-decked” and the mercury is rapidly dropping. But that doesn’t mean the fun is over – quite the opposite, in fact!  Now is the perfect time to make plans for beating the winter blues in Central and Southern Pennsylvania.

If you’re looking for a few ideas, here’s what’s going on in Berks County, PA:


Reading Royals take on the Elmira Jackals

Date:  Saturday, January 5, 2013

Time:  7:05 p.m.

Place:  Sovereign Center

Come out and cheer our Royals, including recently named All-Stars Philipp Grubauer and Denny Urban, as they clash with the Elmira Jackals.  Ticket prices range from $9 to $27 and are available at the Reading Royals website.


Disney on Ice Celebrates 100 Years of Disney Magic

Date:  Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Time:  7:00 p.m.

Place:  Sovereign Center

Join the celebration as 65 of Disney’s unforgettable characters come to life in Disney On Ice Celebrates 100 Years of Magic! You will be captivated by the one and only Mickey Mouse, the irresistible Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio and many Disney Princesses. Be thrilled by exciting moments from The Lion King; Mulan; and Disney-Pixars Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and Toy Story films; in a skating spectacular filled with magical Disney moments you will remember forever as Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic! Tickets range from $15 – $55; group discounts are available.


Hit the Slopes at Bear Creek Mountain Resort

Place:  101 Doe Mountain Lane, Macungie, PA

Bear Creek Mountain Resort & Conference Center is nestled on over 330 acres in scenic Berks County, Pennsylvania. The resort offers skiing, snowboarding and snowtubing winter activities and hiking, biking, fishing, boating, tennis and nearby golf during the spring through fall months. Guests can plan an event in the spacious banquet and meeting facilities with mountain views, dine at The Grille at Bear Creek or the Trail’s End Cafe, relax at The Spa at Bear Creek or vacation at our resort hotel, with indoor and outdoor pools and hot tubs.

Halloween Legends and Lore: Fun for Berks County Businesses and Job Seekers

October 30th, 2012

We’re proud to be a leading staffing service in central and southern Pennsylvania.

But we know that, from time-to-time, we all need to take a break from the “serious stuff” and have some fun.  So in the “spirit” of the Halloween season, here are some of the symbols, history and folklore surrounding this festive and freaky holiday.

Fun Facts About Halloween

  • The holiday is old – really old.  In fact, some say that the roots of our modern holiday can be traced back to the Middle Ages or earlier!
  • Halloween is based on the ancient holiday “All Hallows Eve.”  It was the one day of the year when dead spirits were supposedly allowed to walk the earth.
  • During the Medieval period, people would mark the holiday by lighting bonfires, to symbolize the plight of souls lost in purgatory; “souling,” or going door-to-door offering prayers for the dead in exchange for “soul cakes” and other treats; and “guising,” or parading in costume while chanting rhymes and play-acting.

Halloween Phobias

  • Phasmophobia – a fear of ghosts
  • Wiccaphobia – a fear of witches and witchcraft
  • Samhainophobia – a fear of Halloween

The Jack-O-Lantern

The name “jack o-lantern” is British and dates back to the 17th century, when it literally meant “man with a lantern,” or night watchman.  It was also the nickname for the natural phenomenon known as ignis fatuus, or “fool’s fire,” the mysterious, flickering lights sometimes seen at night over wetlands and associated in folklore with playful fairies and ghosts.

Over time, “jack-o-lantern” became a popular term for a lantern made by scooping out the inside of a turnip, carving the shell into a crude representation of the human face, and placing a lighted candle inside it.  Children carried turnip lanterns while begging for soul cakes on All Saints Day, to represent the souls of the dead.

Pumpkin Carving Tips

Follow this link to an earlier post with a video on pumpkin carving tips and links to carving stencils.

From all of us at Berks & Beyond, have a fun and safe Halloween!

Improving Staffing Results in Central PA: Tips for working better with contract employees

October 16th, 2012

Outsourcing discrete projects or functions can provide a host of benefits for your central or southern Pennsylvania business.  Using contract or freelance employees can help you:

  • increase process efficiency;
  • reduce labor costs;
  • start new projects quickly; and
  • focus on your core business.

But while using contract employees is clearly a smart business strategy, the ways you work with them can be an equally important consideration.  If you’re hiring freelancers, or using contract employees provided by a staffing service, you need to do everything possible to ensure their success.  Here are a few best practices to help you get great results:

Do your homework.  Before outsourcing any project, think through its scope.  Identify the skills and resources you need, as well as the results you want to achieve.  For bigger projects, you should prepare a formal statement of work to be subcontracted; for smaller tasks, a clear outline of contractor expectations should suffice.

Consider timetables.  If you’re not sure how long the project should take to complete, ask trusted colleagues in your industry to help you estimate.  Then, set a realistic, mutually agreed-upon timetable for achieving those results.

Set clear performance expectations.  For each contractor you work with, outline the tasks to be performed, required skills and expected standards of performance.  Once those standards are set, do not tolerate poor performance.  If any contract employees fail to meet your standards, ask your staffing service to replace them.

Onboard your contract employees.  Have freelancers complete online forms before their projects start.  Provide them with clear and detailed job descriptions, as well as performance expectations.  If contract employees will be working on site, provide them with a facilities and resources tour.  Most of all, give your freelance and contract workers the support they need.  Make sure they know to whom they report and who can answer their questions.

Be open to suggestions.  Freelance and contract professionals may have performed similar work for other companies.  Drawing on those experiences, they may identify potential pitfalls or time savers that could make your project even more successful.  So keep an open mind if they suggest better ways to get work done.

Achieve More with Berks & Beyond

As a leading provider of staffing and recruiting services in central and southern Pennsylvania, Berks & Beyond wants you to achieve even better results with staffing.  As you begin workforce planning for 2013, we invite you to contact us with your staffing questions and concerns.  We’ll listen, and we’ll give you sound staffing advice for building a more successful business.

Comeback Kids: Temporary Workers Make a Huge Comeback

October 9th, 2012

How is our nation doing since the Great Recession?

According to a recent story, just under half of the 8.8 million U.S. jobs lost during the recession have been recovered during the last three years.  Pennsylvania falls in the middle of the pack, having regained 57 percent of the jobs our state lost.

The recession impacted our industries unevenly.  Construction and manufacturing were devastated, while healthcare and education were relatively unaffected.  Government employment continues to decline, while retail is on an upswing.

One of the biggest comebacks?  Temporary staffing.  After hitting a peak of nearly 2.7 million workers in 2006, the temporary help industry lost more than a third of its employees during the Great Recession.  Since then, our industry has regained nearly 87 percent of its workers.

While companies continue to struggle to hire the way they did pre-recession, the staffing industry has almost completely regained its workers – and continues to add them steadily.  Though the thought of temporary job growth may sound depressing (What good is a comeback that’s only going to last a few months?) on the surface, a boost in temporary help can actually be a good thing.

As I’ve said before, temporary employment is a coincident employment indicator as our country emerges from a recession.  Stated simply, a sustained upswing in temporary staffing is a promising sign for our economy.  Why?  Many companies use temporary staffing as a means to quickly adjust their operations to meet fluctuating demands for their products and services.  This often presages an uptick in direct hiring.

Even once the economy gathers more momentum, the staffing industry should continue to remain robust.  Temporary workers are now a permanent part of the workforce and will continue to be an important cost-controlling component in strategic workforce management.

For more information on how temporary workers are impacting the recovery, read the full U.S. News article.  And if, like many others in central PA, your company is beginning to grow once again, Berks & Beyond is ready to help.  With staffing offices in Reading, Allentown, York, Pottstown, Carlisle and Harrisburg, we have the reach, network and resources to quickly deliver the talented workers your business needs.

Implicit Bias – Are Your Interviewers Guilty of this Mistake?

April 24th, 2012

What do doctors, hiring managers and referees have in common?

They’re all guilty of implicit bias.

Implicit bias is a form of prejudice that occurs when someone consciously rejects stereotypes and discrimination, but also holds unconscious negative associations in his mind.  Implicit bias does not mean that an individual is hiding his racial prejudices – he literally does not know that he has them.

While the measuring of unconscious biases might seem inconsequential on the surface, it takes on new meaning when we see bias’ impact in the real world.  Studies show that doctors are more likely to prescribe life-saving care to whites, that managers are more likely to hire and promote members of their own in-group and that referees in basketball might be more likely to subtly favor players with whom they share a racial identity.

These biases are incredibly difficult to control, because they form so early in life.  Social scientists believe children begin to acquire prejudices and stereotypes as toddlers.  Children as young as age three learn terms of racial prejudice without really understanding their significance.  They form attachments to their own groups and develop negative attitudes about other racial or ethnic groups.  Over time, most children acquire a full set of biases that become the foundation of stereotypes, prejudice and, ultimately, discrimination.

Also known as hidden or unconscious bias, implicit bias has become a hot topic of study for psychologists at Harvard, the University of Virginia and the University of Washington.  Researchers at these institutions have created Implicit Association Tests, or IATs, to measure the prevalence and degree of unconscious bias.

IAT research is relevant for HR and other hiring managers, because of its application to the hiring process.  While interviewers may believe that they’re impartial, unconscious biases may affect their attitudes toward candidates of other races – and ultimately their hiring decisions.

How do you manage these potential hiring biases if you’re not sure they even exist?  Knowledge is power.  Take the Implicit Association Test,  part of the Project Implicit Harvard research study.  Scores are not a definitive assessment of your implicit thoughts or feelings, but should provide opportunities for self-reflection.

Ensure great Hires with Berks & Beyond

Direct placement services like Berks & Beyond have the resources and expertise to quickly and cost-effectively deliver candidates with skills, experience and behavioral traits to succeed in your organization.  We use professionally trained interviewers, skills-specific testing, thorough background checks and satisfaction guarantees to ensure the success of your next hire.

The Proof is in the Pudding: Recent Client Testimonials

June 13th, 2011

At Berks & Beyond, we prefer not to boast about ourselves – we like our clients to do it for us!

We were recently named to Inavero’s 2011 Best of Staffing™ Client List for the second straight year, due in large part to the positive ratings our valued clients gave us.  Today, I’d like to share a few of their comments:

“Berks and Beyond has always provided top notch personnel to help me when I needed them.  They follow-up on their people to be sure that I am satisfied with their performance.  In short, they care!”

–Janet Weiss, Barta

“Your organization provided Boscov’s with exceptional service.  Most importantly, your company and anyone we had contact with provided above average communication, outstanding service and exceptional follow through on any questions or concerns we may have had.  The caliber of individuals provided was better than previous years and as already stated, customer service was what I would consider well above the industry norm.”

–Bob Goonan, Corporate Director of Logistics, Boscov’s Department Store, LLC

“Experience with Berks & Beyond Onsite Coordinator Penny has been very positive.  Recruitment of Quality Employees as well as execution of training contribute to lower than typical turnover (even during low unemployment times).”

–Noel Haeckler, Godiva Chocolatier Inc.

“All the employees that I have used from Berks have been great.  They are knowledgeable, prescreened, and ready to work.  Thank you.  I will continue to use them on a daily basis!  From a cost perspective, I don’t have to worry about budgeting for insurance or work comp issues.  Berks takes care of it all.”

“B & B has consistently provided us with the type of employee that we are looking for.  They are able to fill our orders promptly and with good quality people.  They are always willing to go the extra mile.”

It’s true.  The Best Employers in Berks County (and beyond) Use Berks & Beyond!

Please contact us with your upcoming staffing needs and put us to the test.

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