12 Ways to Stretch Your Fuel Dollar

For many people, getting to work can be the most difficult thing to accomplish each day.  If you don’t have a car, or a consistent ride to work, it can be devastating to your ability to get ahead in life. If you do have your own car, the expense of payments, maintenance, and especially the cost of gas can stretch your already strained budget.

The price of fuel had been increasing before tragic world events and market shortages sent the prices skyrocketing in early March. Prices average about $4.24 per gallon for regular unleaded gas from its record high of $4.33 in early March, and it is still around 70% higher than it was a year ago. Oil is a global commodity, so its price can be affected by many factors including war, supply issues, natural disasters, etc. Experts predict that high gas prices could endure through Labor Day. 

If you find yourself taking fewer trips and worrying about where the gas needle is on the dashboard, take a look at these gas-saving tips we’ve put together to help you stretch your fuel budget each week.  (we won’t even suggest biking!)

1. Oil Change / Maintenance – A well-tuned and well-maintained engine will run more efficiently. This means that it will be able to put out the same power on less fuel. In addition to regular oil changes, keep your spark plugs clean and operating. Worn-out spark plugs can cost you as much as 2 mpg or up to 30% more fuel.

2. Sign Up For Rewards – Many gas station chains have been offering a few cents off per gallon when you sign up for their loyalty program. Even if it’s just a five cents per gallon discount, that can add up to about a couple of dollars discounted on each fillup and reach over a hundred dollars saved each year.

3. Tires – Tires with more air in them are generally more fuel-efficient. Even if your tires are only a little deflated, this can still make your vehicle’s fuel economy numbers drop significantly. When you’re filling your tires, it is better to put in as much air as is allowed by the manufacturer’s specifications and make sure all four tires are evenly inflated. 

4. Travel times – Driving in traffic is very bad for your vehicle’s fuel economy as the engine has to run down and rev up over and over again. This process uses up a lot of fuel. Adjust your travel times to engage in less traffic. Plan on combining trips for kid drop-offs, groceries, errands, and more. Even one less domestic trip per day really adds up. 

5. Drive slower – Driving five to ten miles below the speed limit (or at the speed limit if you have a lead foot) will make a huge impact on your fuel consumption. Use your cruise control to help keep your speed in check. AAA says that cars are their most fuel-efficient between 35-45 miles per hour. When you go over 50 mph, fuel economy is reduced due to aerodynamic drag. This is a hard one to manage, but can be the most beneficial. You’ll get used to it and a bonus is that traffic gets easier when you’re moving slower.

6. Eco-Mode – Does your car have this? Many later model vehicles have an Eco-Mode. These driving modes are designed specifically to increase fuel economy and decrease emissions by running the engine on slightly less fuel. You can save 10% on gas if you’re always driving in the Eco-Mode.

7. Use Gas Apps to find Cheapest Gas – Have you tried using an app like GasBuddy? There are many apps out there that can help you find the cheapest gas in your area. 

8. Rewards Credit Cards – If you have decent enough credit, you can apply for a great rewards-based credit card. Some cards have regular cashback (1 or 2%) on all purchases. Some cards, like this one, have 5% rebates on gas purchases. This could add up to hundreds of dollars saved each year.

9. Cash Instead of a Card – Conversely, many gas stations and merchants already figure the 1-2% credit card fee charged by credit card services into the price of a gallon of gas. Maybe you’ve noticed that there is a different price for paying cash than paying by card? If your filling station has this discount, you may be able to save up to fifteen cents a gallon. Let everyone else pay full price! 

10. Fill Up Early In The Week – According to GasBuddy, filling up on Monday mornings as opposed to Friday evenings could save you as much as $40 a year. While the national average price of gas peaks on Fridays, Saturday is the worst day to fill up in 16 states, while Sunday is the worst day in 12 states. Thursday is the worst day to fill up in Michigan and Indiana.

11. RideShare – You’re not the only one feeling the pinch of gas prices. Your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers are also feeling the pain. Ask around at work for anyone who may live near you, or go by where you live on their way to work. Offer to take turns driving to save gas money. Your coworker may be delighted to have you help ease the burden of higher gas prices. You might even make a new friend, but remember, driver gets to be the DJ. 

12. Turn off your AC / Lighten the Load – There are several ways to make driving easier on your engine. Turning off the air conditioning and rolling down the windows is an easy way to save on gas. If there’s any extra weight in your car (like sandbags from winter), take it out. Removing 200 pounds can add up to three more miles per gallon.

None of these on their own may have you seeing more green in your wallet. But using them together and consistently will reap benefits. Try incorporating one or two to start off, and add more gas-saving techniques as time goes on. This may seem like a pain at first, but it will become second nature after a little while. When you save gas, you save money and the planet, and you get to stick it to those greedy gas companies.

Is The Great Resignation Over?

Projections for the 2022 unemployment rate are holding steady and experts predict we will be back at pre-pandemic employment levels by midsummer. Better than expected job growth is showing signs the labor market is doing well so far in March. So we’re asking, is “The Great Resignation” over?

You’ve heard that phrase, “The Great Resignation” nonstop for the last year. Anthony Klotz, an organizational psychologist and professor at Texas A&M University, coined the phrase during an interview with Bloomberg last May to describe the wave of people quitting their jobs due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which led many to re-think where, how and why we work. The movement itself was a repudiation of the status quo.

Americans quit jobs at a record pace during the second half of 2021. About 23% of employees will seek new jobs in 2022, while 9% have already secured a new position, according to a December ResumeBuilder.com poll of 1,250 American workers. Market losses, supply chain issues, high fuel prices, inflation, heartbreaking world affairs, and yes, still Covid-19, mean business growth is stymied for a bit and hiring may slow down sooner than later.

Turnover may be slowing down due to another factor: you. Companies have answered the call to compete for workers by raising wages, improving benefits, and creating a better work culture. Anthony Klotz says this will keep employee turnover from being “completely rampant” in the months ahead.

This chart tells an easy story. Hiring was off the charts last spring, and in the months that followed, separations grew to an all-time high. But separations have leveled off, especially in correlation to hires, in consecutive months as we headed into 2022.

A survey by The Muse points to a statistic that a large majority of those who resigned, are regretting their decision. The survey asked about 2500 workers, who identify as Millenial or Gen-Z, and found that roughly seven in ten workers found their new roles were different from what they expected when they interviewed for their current position.

About one in five job seekers even admitted they would quit within a month if it’s not as expected, and 41% say they would give it between two and six months. Just under half of job seekers — 48% — would actually try to get their old job back, according to the data. Older generations might have stuck with a job a couple of years to avoid seeming unstable, but now 80% of Gen-Z said it’s acceptable to leave a new job before six months if it doesn’t live up to your expectations. The Muse CEO, Kathryn Minshew calls this quick turnaround in a job Shift-Shock.

The above chart breaks down quit rates by age.The gold and blue lines represent Gen-Z. Green is Millenial and Gen-X. The yellow line represents Baby-Boomers. Is it over? Was it hype? No and no. The worst may be behind us, but if 80% of Gen-Z say it’s ok to dump out of a job from the get-go, we might be seeing another surge of The Great Resignation later this year.

Now is the time to keep your employees energized and engaged in your operation. Minshew advises, “Companies need to be more upfront about the reality of their jobs because it could help retain workers who aren’t totally satisfied but could be over time. People are much more likely to accept the good and the bad and to show up as engaged and productive if they have entered the situation with their eyes wide open,” she said.

Some simple ways to keep your new employees engaged:

  • Social Functions
  • Stay Interviews
  • Work Perks
  • Flexibility over their own schedule
  • Improve any toxic-related areas of work culture
  • Evaluate managers who will be dealing with new employees directly

The Society of Human Resource Management suggests employees who experience shift shock are less likely to be engaged or to become high performers. So, ask new employees on a regular basis how they are doing in their new position. Ask, “What’s your favorite and least favorite thing about working here?” Let them be transparent and open. Ask them to keep a work diary if you feel it could give the hiring team some insight as to what the job is versus how it was described to the employee. 

As we return to a version of normal, try to have in-person interviews. It allows potential employees to walk into the building and see what they’re getting into so they get a feel of the energy and culture of your operation. Also, during interviews, don’t let your HR Managers talk only about the upsides of a job. The more transparent you are, the more new employees will be able to deal with adversity and have their expectations managed.

Do not show any resentment for paying higher salaries. Inflation is hard on everyone, and it may seem like you’re paying more for less than you used to get. Employees can see when an employer doesn’t think they’re earning their paycheck. If that happens, they’re likely out the door sooner than later. Give new employees time to acclimate and grow into their roles. 

The numbers show The Great Resignation was real and is winding down. Now is an opportunity to soften the landing for those who participated and prevent a second wave of shift-shock that could happen later in the year. 

Careers In Less Than A Year

If you’re looking for ways to expand your skill set and grow in your manufacturing career, many of WSI’s assignments offer opportunities for growth. From GED courses to career development courses, the more you invest in a company with your time, the more they invest in you.

If you’re looking for new opportunities, there are several jobs and trades you can learn in a very short amount of time. These skills don’t take thousands of dollars and years of study. Most can be accomplished within a year. 

HVAC Technician

Job: HVAC techs install, repair, and maintain heating and cooling units for commercial and home use.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the jobs in this sector will grow by 4% by 2029. In as little as six months, you can complete HVAC training and begin working in this industry. There’s a lot of great benefits to join.

Training: HVAC training is fast, normally taking between 6 months to 1 year to complete a certificate or diploma program. Associate degrees in HVAC technology take a little longer to earn but earning one may get you a higher paying entry level job. HVAC technicians get extensive in-job training, especially when they are at entry-level.

Annual Avg Salary: Ziprecruiter says the average annual pay for an Entry Level HVAC Technician Job in the US is $35,322 a year.

IT Cable Installer

Job: Network cabling specialists set up and repair low-voltage communication systems. They install and service the lines that support Internet, telephone, cable television, security systems, and satellite television services for a building.

Training: There’s a lot of specialized online courses to choose from. This is one of the fastest trades to train for. You can find network cabling programs that are only 24 weeks long.

Annual Avg Salary: Salary.com states that the average hourly wage for a Network Cable Installer in the United States is $27 as of February 25, 2022, but the salary range typically falls between $24 and $32.

Welding

Job:  With your certification or associates degree in welding, you will qualify for a wide variety of welding related jobs in manufacturing, automation, construction, inspection and maintenance industries. 

Training: Welding training ranges between 7 months and 2 years of hands-on instruction, depending on the program you choose. Usually there are no prerequisites and you’ll be in demand upon graduation. Grand Rapids Community College has a program that provides all the training and certifications you need to get started and at low cost. There are many more just like in this program in close proximity to most cities. 

Annual Avg Salary: According to Salary.com, the average Welder I salary in the United States is $42,996 as of February 25, 2022, but the range typically falls between $38,185 and $49,422. Salary ranges can vary widely depending on many important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, the number of years you have spent in your profession.

Forklift

Job: If you’re looking for a quick skill to add to give you more opportunities in manufacturing, getting your forklift certification is quick, cost effective, and will have you ready to move whatever needs to be moved on the floor in no time. 

Training: You can earn your forklift operator certification by taking an OSHA-approved course either in person or online. Many people choose to attend training in person through a vocational school or a local company. These low cost courses include classroom work, a written test and hands-on training and evaluation.

Annual Avg Salary: The average salary for a forklift operator is $16.31 per hour in Michigan and $5,250 overtime per year. That works out to about $40,000 a year.

Automotive Technology

Job: With an automotive technical certificate, students can prepare for employment as an automotive service technician in various settings such as automobile dealerships, independent service facilities, franchised repair facilities, and specialty shops. 

Training: Here’s a one-year program for example, offered by Southwestern Michigan College. 

You’ll train to be a certified, full-service mechanic with an automotive degree or certificate. 

Annual Avg Salary: Automotive dealerships usually have a very robust benefits package in addition to rising pay. The average annual hourly wage was $24 an hour for entry level technicians. And of course, you’ll be invested in constantly for updated training by your employer. 

CDL Truck Driver

Job: CDL truck drivers are the lifeblood of the economy. Companies are working with legislatures to ease the burden on truckers. Perhaps even paying them by the hour instead of the mile.

Training: If you’re willing to take a full-time training course that runs 5 days a week, you can obtain your license and be ready for a trucking job in as few as 3-6 weeks. The duration of your CDL program is not measured in days, but rather by hours of training. So the pace may differ depending on class schedules, and your own. You can get an CDL at age 18, but companies won’t hire you until you’re 21 and able to cross state lines and carry all types of cargo. Here’s a list of steps to take to obtain your professional CDL license. 

Annual Average Salary: The average hourly wage for a Truck Driver – Heavy in the United States is $22 according to salary.com, but the range typically falls between $20 and $26.

If you’re on assignment with us, our first suggestion if you’re simply looking to add more money to your check is to ask your supervisor what skills would be needed to advance your career, and does the company offer that opportunity? We love to watch our clients grow with dedicated associates that are a great fit. We also love to see our associates grow and find the careers and opportunities that help them thrive and that they are passionate about. Remember, you’re a year or less away from a whole new trade and a bigger paycheck. In this hot job market, it’s your skills and dependability that set you apart. Good luck!

Why You Should Make Every Day Employee Appreciation Day

Employee Appreciation Day was the brainchild of Bob Nelson, one of Recognition Professionals International’s founding board members. Nelson collaborated with his publishing company, Workman Publishing, to make the holiday appear prominently on workplace calendars starting in 1995. This occasion gives employers and HR Managers a great opportunity to salute and recognize valuable contributions to the team.

Whenever the conversation comes up about Employee Appreciation Day, which is the first Friday of March, someone always says, “Everyday should be Employee Appreciation Day!” It’s a great sentiment, but that’s not an appreciation day, that’s a culture change in your workplace.

With the need to attract and retain talent to meet growing demand, a personal attachment to your employees is critical to culture change. If you’re planning to create a special moment for your employees this year, take this time to condition yourself and your business that you don’t need just one day to do it. Appreciating your employees every day year round is the first step to creating a workplace culture that people want to be a part of.

Some simple ideas that can go along way:

Saying Thank You

The first step in moving beyond just one appreciation day for your staff includes the need to embed recognition into your company culture. Adding recognition for your employee efforts takes the least amount of effort and goes a very long way. Tell someone different everyday how you appreciate their efforts for the company. Not everyone likes to be appreciated the same way. Be sure to ask the person how they like to be recognized. If you want to reward your employees with something other than recognition, we had some non monetary ideas last year during the holidays that employees love.

Make Fridays Special

Friday. It’s the best day of the workweek. Tap into the energy and positivity of your workforce by enhancing their already well-earned mood.

  • Giving employees a few extra minutes of a break.
  • Having donuts or other food catered for a shift once a quarter.
  • Staff Football Pick Em Contests (seasonal)
  • Other special employee perks (but not Hawaiian Shirt Day)

Video Message

Take a few minutes a week to record a video from leadership. These messages are universally well-received and have high engagement rates. It is also a useful communication tool with a personal touch.

Educate Them

A 2021 study conducted by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute (MI) predicts that 2.1 million manufacturing positions will go unfulfilled by 2030. These empty positions could cost the U.S. a loss of about $1 trillion in GDP.

Source: LinkedIn Learning

Millennials will make up three-quarters of the workforce by 2025. Fifty-six percent of managers say they would take a career enhancement course if it were recommended by their employer. The problem is time. Employees want to learn, they just don’t have the time. The good news is over 90% of companies offer online learning. Millennials look at a job as an opportunity to grown and learn. Take hold of that passion and use it to fill the oncoming skills gap headed to manufacturing. Educate them on the job.

Inclusivity

Employees bring their best each day when they can be their authentic selves while on the job. This means creating a culture of acceptance among your employees, and giving special attention to employees who step up to support efforts to include everyone. Eliminate harassment and bullying if it exists in your workplace. Inclusivity and diversity are among the most sought after qualities in a position amongst millennials and Gen-Z.

If this is the first time you’re hearing of Employee Appreciation Day, now is a good time to learn about how you can celebrate your employees and their contributions to your operation. If your culture needs improvement, take this special day to start a new habit of recognizing great work and celebrating those who give so much to your operation. Then, keep the effort going year round. And next year, the first Friday of March won’t take you by surprise.