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Reflections on 2012 and Thoughts for 2013

by: Joan K. Paxton, President & CEO, TriStarr Staffing

What is December good for but a time of reflection and then planning?  As I look down the pipeline for the next 15 months, these are some of the major things that are on my list:

The Affordable Care Act:  The American Staffing Association, the staffing industry professional association to which TriStarr belongs, has spent literally years on lobbying, studying, and informing us about the impact that this new program will have on the staffing industry.  But, even though we think we are special, there are other industries that are also going to feel a whopping impact on January 1, 2014, when the policies are implemented.  If you haven’t already invested considerable time with your insurance brokers, attorneys, HR professionals, and accountants, you are going to have to start now and work really hard to make sure that you are in compliance.

The media has done a very good job of reporting the negative aspects of the law.  Papa John’s pizza will cost $25 a pie?  Full time employees being reduced to less than 30 hours per week?  This makes for scary headlines, but the reality of the impact on all employers is not yet understood by most of us, and we are still looking for the most affordable options to offer an affordable plan to those employees who earned it – and deserve it!

If you have employees who have a variable hour schedule, there are special provisions within the regulations.  But don’t be misled to think that if you have less than 50 fulltime employees, you are home free.  The regulations have a provision for full time equivalents.  If you don’t know if this affects you, call us or some other trusted advisor.

The “Skills Gap”:  it’s real, and it’s only going to get worse until we get really serious about matching our education and training to the skill sets that will be required to be successful in the 21st century.  We need drastic, long-term changes.  But what can we do to address it now?  We have some ideas, but you need to be really open-minded to the solutions.

Technology:  I think part of it may be my age, but it is stunningly difficult to keep up with the newest technologies, and how to use them, or not, in keeping your company competitive.  Do you go out and buy an iPad for everybody?  But no, now we have smaller and faster tablets.  And what version of the iPhone is on the market now?  (I still have an iPhone 3, I must be a dinosaur!) Our existing software is over 10 years old, so I know I have to update it, but the change will be difficult and disruptive.  And I have to do it at the same time that our business is growing, and we have run so lean for so long that capacity is being squeezed.

Only three things on my “worry list”?   In 2013 I may just see the “Perfect Storm” of opportunity knocking on the door, just as I have to move the door, and find the skilled carpenters to do the job right.  I really can’t think of anything that could be more fun – seriously.  I think I am living the Chinese proverb: May you live in interesting times. 

I would be very interested in hearing about the challenges you are facing in the upcoming months.  Call me and we’ll have lunch.

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