This year was challenging to say the least, so having the opportunity to talk with Jeff Wein, Owner of SITE Staffing, Inc was a great way to learn about his thought process on navigating this last year.
Leighann Lovely 0:08
Welcome to HRables: HR In Bite-Sized Pieces, presented by SITE Staffing. I’m your host, Leighann Lovely. And today, I will be talking to Jeff Wein, owner of SITE Staffing. I have to say that this is an honor and a fun opportunity to be able to interview your boss. This last year has proved to be for everyone really worldwide difficult and for many devastating. Jeff managed to keep all of his employees working and safe well as safe as anyone could be. So today I have the opportunity to talk to Jeff about what he went through as a business owner. And I’m sure it’s been a roller coaster of emotions. Site Temporaries was founded in 1996. Jeff started working with Site Temporaries in September of 1999 as the VP of Sales and in January of 2007, purchased the company and rebranded as SITE Staffing, Inc. They expanded to West Allis in 2013, and created the Professional Division in 2017. The company has transitioned the culture throughout the years and have many 10 year employees ranging from just 22 years to our management team averaging 14 years. SITE Staffing has been honored with many awards, including the prestigious Torch Award of Ethics by the Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin in 2019, and continues to hold an accredited A+ rating. So welcome, Jeff. I thank you for being here, and I thank you for allowing me to have this conversation with you.
Jeff Wein 1:48
Thanks, Leighann. Very happy to be here this morning.
Leighann Lovely 1:52
Well, why don’t we jump right in to having this conversation? Why don’t you tell me, you know, what went through your mind? Or what reaction did you have when the news first hit about COVID-19?
Jeff Wein 2:09
Way back last year, I think February, right, February 2020. And it was disbelief, suspicious. Wondering how this was going to affect people how is going to affect our business. We started to look at others’ reactions, other businesses. And you know if you remember at first it was like, Oh, what is this? Oh maybe it’s just something simple and small. And I do remember having a, we had a conference scheduled, it was a staffing conference actually down in Miami. Right in the beginning of March. And they, two/three weeks after this was announced, they decided they were going to cancel it. And this was a huge event happening down there with 1000s of people. And that’s what it kind of hit as well as like, Oh my God, this must be something bad. They’re canceling conferences, they’re canceling events. And that all started early March. So I had a plan anyways to be down on the other side of Florida for a little vacation. And so we ended up, since we had rooms and everything booked, we ended up going anyways. And so in the Florida area, the beginning of March, you really didn’t see much of a reaction, first off. So I don’t think people really started taking this seriously until maybe the end of March.
Leighann Lovely 3:33
Jeff Wein 3:33
But you know, we were looking at Okay, how’s it gonna affect our business? That’s my first thought. How is it gonna affect the people that work for us? How is it gonna affect the people that we help each day in finding positions? And what we were going to do to try to alleviate any concerns that people were going to have? So that’s the first thing that happened.
Leighann Lovely 3:54
Okay. All right. Makes sense. I mean, everybody was kind of holding their breath waiting for the next set of news release to come out.
Jeff Wein 4:05
A lot of uncertainty. Definitely.
Leighann Lovely 4:06
Yeah. So did you, you know, as we proceeded, you know, through some of the new, you know, things coming out and the news releasing the next steps, and you know, what was happening, did you ever start to believe or start to think that you may have to close your doors? You know, I mean, did you ever formulate that speech in your head about having that conversation with your employees of, Hey, we may not make it through this,
Jeff Wein 4:36
Heck no, never went through my head. I mean, what was going through my head was how we were going to stay open. What are the things that we can do to continue to operate? And the best, the best part for us is we were, we’re basically an essential business because of the customers that we supply and service. And so a number of our customers did have to shut down and close down, but we had a number that were lucky enough to help staff and support through this process, whether they were medical device manufacturers, all of the food plants, the beverage plants, anything else of our customers that were essential, since they were open, we were open. And so that was a, that was important for us, because we had our internal staff that we wanted to keep working, obviously, which we did, and we had our temporary staff that we wanted to keep working. And unfortunately, those companies that were not essential, they shut down, we didn’t have enough work for all of our employees. So we did have some layoffs so that we helped those employees by making weekly payments for a number of weeks. But it was more of a focus of, you know, we’re too strong of a company to shut her down, close the doors. And we didn’t want to obviously, and we had we had people help, we had people to employ, we had customers to help. So in that regard, we stayed open. And I think we did a good job creating a safe environment while we were open.
Leighann Lovely 6:06
Excellent. What are some of the steps that you took in order to, to kind of create that safe environment?
Jeff Wein 6:11
Oh, man, we put together a COVID Task Force, which was the best Task Force ever. Our HR director Barb was the best. She went out shopping. And we got the plexiglass, we got the hand sanitizers, we got the masks. And it was a struggle to find all of those.
Leighann Lovely 6:12
Jeff Wein 6:39
As you remember, the grocery stores were open, but empty. Toilet paper, for some reason was weird to find. But I was able to I had a friend of mine who had a distribution business who had some of these supplies also so, but we were making call after call to gather the information, gather the supplies, so we could stay open. We needed, we have vans, so we needed plastic covers for the seats, we were disinfecting every day. Barb built these plexiglass dividers between every single cubicle and so that everybody who was coming to work for us could feel safe in the work environment. The mask mandates, obviously, and so many other things that we’re doing to just try to create that, that safe environment. We bought a bunch of laptops, we created the ability for everybody in our company, basically, to work from home and be productive from home, and we gave that choice. So we spent a lot of time and effort again to try to create that safe work environment for everybody.
Leighann Lovely 7:49
Yeah, Yes, you did. I was one of the people who worked from home for quite a while and definitely had that feeling of being safe and sort of coming…
Jeff Wein 7:58
Yeah I didn’t ever see you at all this. I mean, this is the first time I’ve seen you in like six months. So it’s nice that you’re back to work.
Leighann Lovely 8:04
Yes, yes, an extended vacation while working. So coming out the other side of this, you know, and again, we’re not truly out, you know, fully out the other side. But, you know, as we’re starting to see things open up and you know, starting to have that sense, might be a false sense of security at this point still, we’re now getting there. But, you know, hindsight 2020, is there anything that you know, you would have done differently? You know?
Jeff Wein 8:39
I think we I think we handled it pretty well, considering what was going on in the middle of a pandemic. We created, again, that safe work environment, that was our biggest focus. And I really, truly felt that people coming to work would be in a safer environment than people working from home, or doing things outside of their home. And that’s what we, that’s what we preach. That was our focus. We had one of our offices, we kind of set aside as kind of the COVID office, if you will, and if somebody was concerned, they could work at that office and separate themselves from the other offices that we had. And weird when we first started talking about it, but actually it was was successful because again, if somebody was not feeling well, and they couldn’t get tested right away, if you remember that, you were waiting in lines, and you couldn’t get your results. But they could come to work if they wanted to in a safe work environment in the COVID office, if you will, it was set aside for that situation. But we did, I think, a pretty good job. And I would think that if we had a survey today of everybody that worked internal, I think they would all agree with that. As for our temporary staff, and how we managed that, I think we did a good job there. Anybody who had symptoms, we pulled out of the work environment. We followed up day by day for those employees that had to get tested. We didn’t return them to the job site, obviously. We had contact with our customer, day by day, on what was happening with each of those. So I’m pretty proud of the job that our company did.
Leighann Lovely 10:25
Yes. And you, you know, like I’d mentioned in, you know, introducing you, you managed to keep all of your internal staff, you know, employed and working. And so, you know, going forward into the future, do you think this is going to set up new practices going forward on how you handle, you know, I guess, just general practices on how you run your business?
Jeff Wein 10:51
Sure, we had this meeting just a few days ago, because it came out about the masked mandate being softened, and so we are going to leave our plexiglass dividers up. We have those in our lobbies. We have those in each of the desks. And give people choices at what they would like to do, you know. Because right now, we’re kind of from a vaccination standpoint, we’re not forcing vaccinations, however, many have got them from our internal staff, many of our temporary staff have got them. There’s still some gray area about how you track this, and can you track this, but I believe we’re going to, we’re going to leave these up for now. If people want to wear a mask in our offices, they can certainly wear a mask in our offices. We still have the sanitizer out. So, yes, it’s going to change, you know how, I think how everybody does business. It’s not going to go away, like tomorrow. And it’s going to be months, and maybe years before everybody kind of gets back to, or even does go back to the way business was running prior to.
Leighann Lovely 11:58
So if somebody were to come to you and say, Hey, Jeff, you’ve run a successful business for years, what advice do you have? I’m looking to open up my own business. What advice would you give to somebody who’s new to the world of business ownership, entrepreneurship?
Jeff Wein 12:15
So given, I think you’re asking in terms of pandemic times here? And what’s going on, or what’s what we just got through?
Leighann Lovely 12:22
Yeah, pandemic times, or just, you know how to prepare for, I mean you just went through a historical time period, something that, you know, when nobody could possibly have ever predicted and you came out…
Jeff Wein 12:38
Hey, we’re almost out, almost out the other side, trying to recover obviously. A shell of what we were prior to the pandemic, but we’re on the right path. And one of the key things that we focused on also, besides the task force, was people’s feelings and perceptions of what was going on, and trying to manage all of them. So you had, I’m sure you would agree, we had people, I’m talking about our internal staff now, we had people that were, really, I would say, on a scale of zero to 10, they were 10s, they were in 10 mode, in a freakout mode of what was going on with the pandemic. Couldn’t do enough. And we had people that were at zeros, they really like didn’t care that much about what was going on. And so having those two together, was a complete challenge, because they really couldn’t coexist. So we were constantly trying to get the zeros up. Maybe get them to twos, threes, fours, and trying to bring the 10s down, get them a nine, eight, seven, so it was more manageable. Because again, you’re working with a number of different people, number of different perceptions, number of different life challenges, medical challenges, fears, and trying to please everybody, even though you can’t, but you can certainly try hard to do that. And so that they can still continue to work together. So those that wanted to come to the office, could work together. Those that wanted to stay home, obviously could be productive. But that would be I guess my, at least from a pandemic standpoint, try to create that environment that’s safe, try to create the environment where people can work together, they want to come to work and perform. And that would be my advice, I guess.
Leighann Lovely 12:41
Yeah. And that’s great advice. I mean, understanding and bringing the workforce together to all understand each other to you know, coexist and try to not offend and not, you know, yeah, great advice. I’ll stop there.
Jeff Wein 14:53
Well, we had our task force. So we had Barb, we had Brenna, and we had Diana and myself. And again, those were our focuses each day. And we didn’t always make the right decisions. But boy, if it wasn’t the right decision, we were on it the next day, the day after, after we kind of managed it, and changing because we’ve never gone through anything like this either. But getting together and getting through this with a management team, a COVID team, and then having everybody else on board, trying to work their way through the darkness to get through to the other side. That’s, that’s what helped us survive.
Leighann Lovely 15:31
Excellent. Well, from my point of view, you and the company and the task force have done an amazing job. I’ve always felt comfortable. I’ve always, you know, as obviously an employee of this company, you know, well, I can’t say that I always felt comfortable. I was probably on the the nines, you know, on that range that you were giving, but…
Jeff Wein 15:51
Because you’ve been home for nine months. Haha.
Leighann Lovely 15:53
Haha yes. I’m finally comfortable back in the office.
Jeff Wein 15:59
Good, good to see you back.
Leighann Lovely 16:00
Yes. On that note, thank you so much for allowing me to have this interview today. It’s been a great conversation. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me.
Jeff Wein 16:00
Thanks for the invite. Appreciate it.
Leighann Lovely 16:03
Thank you for tuning in. If you have a comment or you’d like to just join the conversation, please reach out to us on LinkedIn. If you are a company and you would like assistance with your open positions. I’d love to hear from you. Or if you are looking for a new position, you can apply on our website at www.SITEStaffingInc.com. And finally, if you enjoyed our podcast today, share us, like us, or leave a comment. Please tune in next time. I’m Leighann Lovely with SITE Staffing, and this is HRables: HR In Bite-Sized Pieces. We are now available on Apple podcast, Google podcast, iHeartRadio, Player FM, or wherever you get your podcasts.