Bad language: phrases to avoid using with your staffing firm’s clients

shutterstock_talkingtoclientThey are simple phrases, ones you may not think twice about using. But the words you use with your clients play a big part in how your staffing firm and its employees are perceived in the marketplace.

 

Most businesses take steps to ensure their employees are communicating with clients in a timely and professional manner. But that doesn’t mean your employees aren’t unintentionally using words and phrases that can create the perception that your firm is unprofessional, inexperienced or insincere.

 

Here are everyday phrases that could be undermining your credibility and should be avoided in client communications.

 

The noncommittal: I’ll try / I think / Hopefully

 

You don’t want to make false promises to your clients. But using weak, noncommittal phrases such as “I’ll try” and “I think” is not the answer. The phrases are full of uncertainty, evoking the opposite of confidence from your clients. Your clients don’t want to hear that you “think” you can provide a solution or that someone is “trying” to work through their concerns. Instead, simply tell the client or prospect what you will do to meet their needs and how you plan to address issues if they do arise.

 

The subtly negative: No problem / That’s OK

 

Your clients aren’t an inconvenience. Yet seemingly innocent phrases such as “no problem” can have the unintentional effect of making people feel like one.

If a client calls with a last-minute staffing request or has a question about an invoice, for example, you might respond with “no problem” to indicate that you are happy to help. But using the word “problem” suggests that the person’s request might have been an annoyance. Answering with “my pleasure,” and even thanking clients for their business after resolving an issue, will help people remember interactions with your firm in a more positive light.

 

The know-it-all: You should / You need to / Like I said

 

Nobody likes a know-it-all. Sure, you want companies to partner with your staffing firm because they respect your expertise and the recommendations you can provide. Yet being the expert can easily become condescending when you tell the client, “You should organize your contract staffing budget this way,” or “You need to hire our firm to work on your resource planning.” This language could also offend clients or prospects by implying they haven’t considered some solutions or suggestions before, when there may have been other challenges in play. As an alternative, phrase your recommendations with if-then statements: If you do X … then you can improve Y. Another option is to say, “We recommend doing X, Y and/or Z in order to achieve your desired outcome.”

 

Every time your employees send an email, make a client phone call or meet with a client or prospects, they are communicating on behalf of your firm. Encouraging employees to be more conscious of the language they use can go a long way in building your agency’s reputation for professionalism.

OSHA Cites Staffing Firm For Violations

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Exel Inc. for nine — including six willful — workplace safety and health violations at the Eastern Distribution Center III, a facility in Palmyra owned by the Hershey Co. and operated by Exel. Proposed penalties total $283,000. OSHA also has cited the SHS Group LP, doing business as SHS Staffing Solutions, for one violation with a proposed penalty of $5,000.

The agency’s inspection was conducted in response to a complaint filed by the National Guestworker Alliance on behalf of a group of foreign students who were performing summer jobs at the Palmyra facility under the U.S. Department of State’s J-1 visa program. The complaint alleges a number of abuses of the visa program, which is designed to promote cultural exchange, as well as exploitative and unsafe conditions in the workplace.

Under a contract with Exel, SHS Staffing Solutions hired the students to work at the Palmyra site repackaging Hershey candies for promotional displays. Exel is a contract logistics provider headquartered in Ohio.

For more information on the violations, read a press release by clicking here.

Staffing Firm, Client Cited For Violations

The California Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Occupational Safety and Health has issued $256,445 in citations to two companies for violations discovered during warehouse inspections that found unsafe working conditions.

Cal/OSHA issued citations to warehouse owner National Distribution Centers and its temporary staffing contractor, Tri State Staffing, for more than 60 violations at four warehouses in San Bernardino County. The violations include lack of fall protection for high-rise pickers, unstable storage stacking and unguarded machinery.

“California law requires all employers to identify and mitigate safety risks in the workplace,” said DIR Director Christine Baker. “In the warehouse industry, low-wage workers are particularly vulnerable to unsafe working conditions where work is often hidden from public view. Hazards include moving vehicles, precariously stacked goods and unguarded equipment.”

Cal/OSHA found a dual-employer relationship—where one employer hires workers and provides them to another employer—at three of the four warehouses inspected. In this situation, both employers are potentially liable for violations of safety and health regulations that are meant to prevent workers’ injuries or illnesses.

For more information on the citations, read a press release by clicking here.

Hotel Workers Sue Staffing Firm For Potential Violations

Hotel workers in Indianapolis have sued staffing firm Hospitality Staffing Solutions and 10 hotels in Indianapolis for wage and hour violations.

If the lawsuit is certified as a collective action, the group could be entitled to as much as $10 million, according to Unite Here, a union representing the workers.

The workers allege the staffing firm and hotels failed to regularly pay them for hours worked and forced them to work off the clock and without breaks, according to the union. They also allege current contracts between hotels and HSS create an unfair monopoly over hotel labor.

“Every day I was told by my Hyatt manager to come in to work early and work before clocking in, and forced to work through my breaks without being paid,” Martha Gonzalez, a plaintiff in the lawsuit who used to work as a housekeeper at a Hyatt hotel through the HSS agency, said in a union press release. “I am supporting my three children and often there was not enough money in my paycheck to pay for food.”

For more information, read the press release by clicking here.

California Cites Staffing Firm For Violations

California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su issued additional citations totaling over $600,000 to Premier Warehousing Ventures, LLC for violations discovered during an Oct. 12, 2011 inspection of Schneider Logistics.

The citation was issued for Premier Warehousing’s failure to provide employees proper wage statements. California Labor Code 226 requires that employers furnish an accurate itemized statement with employees’ paychecks that includes detail on the total hours worked, hourly pay, piece rates if piece rate pay is utilized, deductions and other wage information.

The Labor Commissioner also cited Premier Warehousing for failure to keep payroll records in California, a requirement under state law.

“We hope this citation sends a message to all employers in California that when the failure to keep and provide records as required by law is part of a concerted effort to deny workers their hard-earned wages, we will not tolerate it,” Su said.

For more information on the violation, read a press release by clicking here.