What is The Worst Way To Celebrate Your Employees?

drone workers stand in a line in an employee breakroom. a dystopian look at the office pizza party

As Employee Appreciation Day on March 1st draws near, it’s a golden opportunity for businesses to pause and reflect on the immense value and contributions of their teams. At WSI, we recognize the critical role employees play in the success of any organization. Therefore, we’re committed to guiding businesses through meaningful ways to show their teams the appreciation they richly deserve. However, it’s equally important to address what not to do when it comes to expressing gratitude. Let’s explore the right—and wrong—ways to celebrate your employees, ensuring your gestures of appreciation are both meaningful and impactful.

The Misstep of Pizza Parties

One common yet misguided attempt at showing employee appreciation is the notorious “pizza party.” While the intention behind offering free pizza as a token of gratitude may initially seem benign, this approach has increasingly come under fire. Criticisms stem from the perception that pizza parties are a superficial and inadequate way to express genuine appreciation or compensation, especially when employees face issues such as overwork, low wages, and stressful work environments.

The backlash against pizza parties is not about the food itself—pizza is universally beloved—but rather what these parties represent: a token gesture that fails to address or acknowledge the deeper needs and contributions of employees. Particularly among young people and online communities, there’s a growing sentiment that such efforts, especially when they involve limiting employees to a single slice or excluding non-management staff, can feel patronizing and dismissive.

Furthermore, while small gestures of appreciation can be meaningful when they genuinely reflect a manager’s limited capacity to enact broader changes, they should not replace substantial forms of recognition such as salary increases, bonuses, or improvements in working conditions. Thus, businesses should strive for more substantive ways of recognizing and rewarding their employees’ hard work and dedication.


Building a Culture of Genuine Appreciation

With the pitfalls of pizza parties in mind, let’s pivot towards more effective and heartfelt strategies to show your team they’re valued—not just on Employee Appreciation Day but year-round.

10. Personalized Thank You Notes
A handwritten note acknowledging specific contributions can make employees feel seen and valued.

9. Public Acknowledgment
Recognizing employees’ hard work in front of their peers boosts morale and fosters a sense of community.

8. Professional Development
Offering opportunities for growth shows investment in your team’s future and career progression.

7. Flexible Working Arrangements
Adapting work schedules to fit employees’ lives demonstrates respect for their work-life balance.

6. Engaging Team Building
Choose activities that genuinely bring your team together, fostering stronger connections.

boss in a suit in a factory shakes hands with a young man while his team watches

5. Thoughtful Surprises
Small, unexpected gifts or treats can brighten your team’s day and show your appreciation in a tangible way.

4. Extra Time Off
Time is a precious commodity. Offering additional time off acknowledges your team’s need for rest and rejuvenation.

3. Enhanced Work Environment
Improving the physical workspace or providing better tools shows a commitment to your employees’ comfort and productivity.

2. Recognition Programs
Regularly celebrating achievements through awards or bonuses motivates and honors exceptional work.

1. Open, Genuine Communication
Above all, fostering an environment where feedback is welcomed and valued demonstrates a deep respect for your employees’ voices and contributions.

As we approach Employee Appreciation Day, it’s crucial to remember that the best way to honor your employees is through actions that reflect a sincere appreciation for their hard work and dedication. Avoiding superficial gestures like pizza parties and focusing instead on meaningful recognition strategies can significantly impact your team’s morale, satisfaction, and overall performance. By implementing these practices, you’ll not only make Employee Appreciation Day special but also cultivate a culture of continuous appreciation and respect within your business. Let’s use this occasion as a stepping stone towards building stronger, more motivated teams ready to achieve greatness together.



Skills Over Degrees: How Michigan is Shaping the Future Workforce

In Michigan, 54% of jobs demand specialized training or certifications. This Career & Technical Education Month, let’s explore the rich opportunities that lie beyond the traditional four-year degree.

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WSI Shines Bright with 10-Year Diamond Award for Service Excellence

In an industry where service excellence is paramount, WSI, a leading staffing and recruiting agency, has emerged as a shining example of dedication and commitment to clients. The recent announcement of their win of the Best of Staffing Client 10 Year Diamond Award is not just a milestone; it’s a testament to their unwavering pursuit of excellence. Winners who earned the 10-year Diamond Award distinction have won the Best of Staffing Award for at least 10 years in a row, consistently earning industry-leading satisfaction scores from their clients. Fewer than two percent of all staffing agencies in the U.S. and Canada earn the Best of Staffing designation.


The Best of Staffing Client 10 Year Diamond Award is no ordinary accolade. It signifies a decade-long commitment to superior service—a commitment that few agencies can boast. Presented by ClearlyRated in partnership with Gold sponsor ClearEdge Marketing, this award is a recognition based entirely on ratings provided by clients. WSI’s consistent dedication to client satisfaction has elevated them to the upper echelons of the industry.

With satisfaction scores soaring at 89.1% and a remarkable Net Promoter® Score of 87.5%, WSI has set a new standard for excellence, beating the industry average of 36%. These scores not only reflect the quality of service provided but also the trust and confidence clients have in WSI’s ability to deliver results.

Jeff O’Brien, President of WSI, expressed profound gratitude for this achievement, stating, “We are immensely honored and humbled to receive the ClearlyRated 2024 Best of Staffing Client 10-Year Diamond Award. This recognition is a reflection of our team’s relentless dedication to our clients’ success and our unwavering commitment to service excellence.”

WSI’s success is not just about numbers; it’s about the enduring partnerships they have built over the years. By prioritizing client satisfaction and tailoring workforce solutions to meet unique needs, WSI has become more than just a staffing agency; they are trusted advisors and partners in success.


Jeff O'Brien | WSI President

As O’Brien aptly puts it, “We extend our heartfelt appreciation to our clients for their continued trust and support over the past decade. At WSI, we remain committed to exceeding expectations, driving innovation, and delivering value that propels our clients’ businesses forward.”

WSI’s win of the Best of Staffing Client 10 Year Diamond Award is a testament to their unwavering dedication to service excellence and their commitment to exceeding client expectations. With this milestone, WSI continues to set the standard for excellence in the staffing industry, paving the way for more successful partnerships and achievements in the years to come.

About WSI
WSI is a leading provider of workforce solutions, dedicated to connecting top talent with exceptional opportunities across various industries. With a commitment to client satisfaction and service excellence, WSI delivers customized workforce solutions that drive success for businesses and individuals alike. For more information, visit www.wsitalent.com.

About ClearlyRated
Rooted in satisfaction research for professional service firms, ClearlyRated utilizes a Net Promoter® Score survey program to help professional service firms measure their service experience, build online reputation, and differentiate on service quality. Learn more at https://www.clearlyrated.com/solutions/.

About Best of Staffing®
ClearlyRated’s Best of Staffing® Award is the only award in the U.S. and Canada that recognizes staffing agencies that have proven superior service quality based entirely on ratings provided by their clients, placed talent, and internal employees. Award winners are showcased by city and area of expertise on ClearlyRated.com—an online business directory that helps buyers of professional services find service leaders and vet prospective firms with the help of validated client ratings and testimonials.

Bill Fahl, Marketing Manager
p. (269) 488-5100

Unlocking Team Unity: How Super Bowl Season Transforms Workplace Dynamics

Discover how the Super Bowl transcends sports, fostering unity and teamwork in the workplace. Dive into its impact on workplace dynamics, and please read in your best Jim Nantz voice.

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Right To Work Falls In Michigan: The First Domino?

The repeal of Michigan’s “right-to-work” law this month marks a significant shift in the state’s labor landscape, representing a major victory for organized labor in a state historically known as a bastion of union activity. This move comes after Democrats regained control of the state government, enabling them to pursue a range of legislative priorities that had been obstructed by the previous Republican majority. The “right-to-work” law, enacted in 2012, allowed workers in unionized workplaces to opt out of paying union dues, a provision criticized by unions for creating “free riders” who benefited from union representation without contributing financially. Its repeal is expected to strengthen unions by requiring all workers in unionized settings to pay dues, thereby enhancing unions’ bargaining power and financial resources.

Right-to-work” laws are state statutes that prohibit agreements between labor unions and employers that make membership or payment of union dues or fees a condition of employment, either before or after hiring. Essentially, these laws allow individuals to work in unionized workplaces without being required to join the union or pay union dues. Proponents of “right-to-work” laws argue that they protect workers’ freedom of association and provide them with a choice about whether to support a union financially. However, critics contend that these laws weaken unions by allowing some employees to benefit from union negotiations and protections without contributing to the costs of union representation, creating a “free-rider” problem. This can lead to reduced funding and bargaining power for unions, potentially impacting their ability to negotiate better wages, benefits, and working conditions for their members. The debate over “right-to-work” laws is deeply intertwined with broader discussions about the role of unions in the workforce, workers’ rights, and the economic impacts of union membership on wages and job growth.

The broader implications of this legislative change extend beyond the immediate financial boost to unions. By restoring the prevailing wage law alongside the “right-to-work” repeal, Michigan signals a commitment to elevating labor standards and ensuring that workers on state projects receive union-level compensation. This aligns with the Democratic leadership’s goals of protecting workers, fostering a strong middle class, and making Michigan an attractive destination for labor.

However, the repeal has sparked concerns among opponents, who argue that it could deter businesses from investing in Michigan, fearing that the state’s labor market may become less competitive due to the perceived increase in labor costs and the potential for forced union membership. This perspective reflects a broader debate over the impact of “right-to-work” laws on economic growth and job creation, with critics pointing to the potential for such policies to contribute to lower wages and weaker labor rights.

The historical context is crucial for understanding the significance of this move. Michigan becomes the first state in nearly six decades to repeal a “right-to-work” law, reversing a trend that saw such laws proliferate across the United States, particularly in the Midwest. The state’s action could inspire similar efforts in other states where Democrats gain legislative control, signaling a potential shift in the national conversation around labor rights and union power.

The controversy surrounding the “right-to-work” law and its repeal underscores the deeply polarized nature of American politics, especially on issues related to labor and economic policy. The inclusion of appropriations in the legislation, effectively making it referendum-proof, highlights the strategic maneuvers both parties employ to advance their agendas and secure legislative achievements against future political reversals.

Looking ahead, the repeal’s long-term effects on Michigan’s economy, labor market, and political landscape remain to be seen. While it undoubtedly strengthens organized labor and aligns with the Democratic Party’s pro-worker stance, the broader economic implications and the response from the business community will play a critical role in shaping Michigan’s future. As other states observe Michigan’s experience, the debate over “right-to-work” laws and their impact on workers, unions, and economies will likely continue to evolve, reflecting the ongoing struggle to balance economic competitiveness with labor rights and protections.

Even The Biggest Jobs Should Be Filled Quickly

Discover how Alabama’s swift replacement of Coach Nick Saban exemplifies the importance of preparedness in business. Learn key strategies for effective talent acquisition and management.

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Housing Crisis: Where Are Your Employees Going to Live?

animated picture of a man and woman in the forest in teh snow living in a tent. they are wearing carhart jackets and in the background is afactory. blue and black tones dipict a cold life for the couple

Generation Z is already giving up on the American Dream, which is increasingly becoming out of reach. How can employers help them?

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The U.S. Economy: Is There ANY Bad News?

As we welcome 2024, the landscape of economic forecasts has been in a constant state of flux, especially throughout the holiday season. As we step into the new year, one can’t help but wonder about the prospects of the 2024 US economy. Amidst a stream of headlines, many of which lean towards the positive, we find ourselves sifting through the information – eager to uncover the encouraging trends while also remaining vigilant for any potential challenges that may lie ahead.

Inflation is Under Control

One of the most remarkable aspects of the current economic situation is the successful containment of inflation. For years, concerns about rising prices have dominated discussions, but now we find ourselves in a scenario where inflation is finally under control. In 2023, the annual inflation rate saw a significant decline, falling from its peak of 7.5% earlier in the year to a more manageable 2.6% by November. This marked decrease reflects the effectiveness of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy and its commitment to price stability.

The core inflation rate, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, also exhibited a noteworthy deceleration. In the same period, core inflation dropped from 5.2% to 3.2%. This demonstrates that the pricing pressures affecting essential goods and services are diminishing, providing relief to American households.

Policymakers at the Federal Reserve have been resolute in their efforts to keep price pressures in check, ensuring that Americans can maintain their purchasing power. Their commitment to a long-term inflation target of 2% has played a pivotal role in fostering stability and predictability in our daily lives. As we look ahead to 2024, the outlook for inflation remains positive, with a well-managed and controlled inflationary environment contributing to the overall strength of the US economy.

The Fed Looks to Hold Longer Than Expected

The Federal Reserve’s decision to maintain higher interest rates for an extended period might initially appear to be a cautious move. Still, it’s important to recognize the wisdom behind it. Since peaking in 2022, the Fed’s favored inflation gauge has fallen sharply, reaching an annual rate of 2.6 percent in November. This marked decrease in the inflation rate is a testament to the central bank’s commitment to its mandate of ensuring price stability.

By resisting immediate rate cuts, the Federal Reserve demonstrates its confidence in the effectiveness of its policies. Rather than reacting hastily to short-term fluctuations, the Fed is taking a deliberate approach to safeguard the economic gains achieved in recent years. This measured stance is essential for maintaining the long-term health and resilience of the US economy, and it provides businesses and consumers with a sense of stability and confidence as we navigate the economic landscape of 2024.

The Job Market Remains Strong

One of the most encouraging aspects of the current economic scenario is the solid job gains. In December, employers added a robust 216,000 jobs, exceeding expectations. Notably, the unemployment rate held steady at a low 3.7%, showcasing a year-over-year improvement compared to the previous year’s 3.5% rate.

Furthermore, manufacturing jobs, a critical component of the U.S. economy, have continued to play a pivotal role. While the overall job market is thriving, manufacturing employment has shown resilience, with the average workweek remaining largely unchanged at 39.8 hours in December. Overtime in manufacturing also remained consistent at 2.9 hours. Although manufacturing employment experienced some fluctuations in 2023, it remained a crucial contributor to the nation’s workforce, supporting the broader economic growth story.

As we embark on a new year, it’s clear that the United States is in an enviable economic position. Inflation is under control, the stock market is factoring in measured rate cuts, and job gains remain solid while unemployment stays low. When we ask, “What’s the Bad News?” it’s challenging to find significant negative aspects in our current economic landscape. This positivity is a testament to the resilience, adaptability, and strength of the US economy. As we move forward, we can appreciate the strides we’ve made and face any potential challenges with confidence and determination.

So What’s the Bad News?

Even though the traditional measurements for economic health remain relatively strong, there are underlying issues that linger beneath the economic shine:

The US debt pile surpassed $33 trillion in 2023, up more than $3 trillion during the year and $10 trillion since 2019, the last calendar year before the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, the latest Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections point to a budget deficit that will be above 5% of gross domestic product (GDP) for the next ten years. 

At this rate, the amount of US government debt could surpass $50 trillion by 2033. This, at a time of higher interest rates (at least for now), could mean that, by 2031, the country spends more on interest payments than it does on non-defense discretionary expenditures (such as funding for transport, education, health, international affairs, natural resources and the environment, and science and technology). This is unsustainable.

Manufacturing also seems to be struggling to grow in these uncertain times, but remains resilient.  There is also a gap in perception between the reduction of inflation and what people are actually feeling at the cash register. 

Even though the numbers are trending in the right direction and gas (at this moment) is under $3 per gallon, there is a discrepancy between the actual economic conditions and public perception, particularly regarding inflation. Many Americans feel that the economy and inflation are worse than they actually are.

And finally, The US economy’s projected performance in 2024 suggests modest growth, with an expected real GDP increase of only 1.0%, a deceleration from the 2.4% growth anticipated in 2023. This forecast, as reported by Barclays Investment Bank and Barclays Private Bank in November 2023, indicates a slowing economy compared to previous years. In 2022, the GDP growth was 1.9%, with consumer price index (CPI) inflation at 8.0%, and the unemployment rate at 3.6%. Looking ahead to 2024, the CPI inflation is forecasted to ease to 2.6%, while the unemployment rate is expected to slightly increase to 4.2%. The gross public debt is projected to rise to 126.2% of GDP, up from 122.0% in 2022 and 123.2% in 2023. Private consumption, which was at 2.5% in 2022, is anticipated to further slow down to 1.1% in 2024. Despite these modest figures, the US economy’s performance still compares favorably with many European nations.

As we approach the new year, there is a blend of encouraging news and the usual uncertainties. Let’s maintain a steady course, fostering a spirit of optimism and hope, as we continue to propel forward on this journey.

12 High Paying Jobs for 2024 – No Degree Required!

The labor market in 2024 is set to see a significant demand for skilled trade jobs, a vital sector in the US economy. These jobs offer lucrative pay, engaging work environments, and are essential in various industries. Here’s a list of 12 high-demand, high-paying trade jobs:

1. Ultrasonographer ($131,161/year): With a 10% job growth rate, they perform diagnostic medical imaging.

2. Respiratory Therapist ($104,437/year): Essential in healthcare with a 13% growth rate, they assist patients with breathing issues.

3.  Dental Hygienist ($99,013/year): A 7% growth rate job focusing on oral health.

4.  Construction Manager ($88,319/year): With a 5% growth rate, they oversee construction projects.

5.  Aircraft Mechanic ($82,476/year): Ensuring aircraft safety, with a 4% job growth.

6.  Cable Technician ($70,714/year): A 6% growth rate in this tech-based role.

7.  Industrial Mechanic ($69,637/year): They maintain and repair industrial machinery, with a 13% growth rate.

8.  Solar Installer ($69,422/year): A rapidly growing field at 22%, focusing on renewable energy.

9.  Real Estate Appraiser ($64,075/year): Valuing properties with a 5% growth rate.

10. Electrician ($62,739/year): Essential for electrical systems with a 6% growth rate.

11.  Licensed Practical Nurse ($59,125/year): A vital healthcare role, growing at 5%.

12.  Wind Turbine Technician ($58,005/year): A booming field with a 45% growth rate, focusing on sustainable energy.

a male hand holds a pipe wrench up into the sky

These trades, requiring varying levels of vocational training or specialized schooling, are not just financially rewarding but are crucial for the economy’s health. Their roles are more than just jobs; they’re careers that shape the very infrastructure and well-being of society. As technology and industries evolve, these trades are at the forefront, ensuring efficiency, safety, and innovation. Emphasizing these trades’ importance and encouraging more people to enter these fields is essential to bridge the impending trade gap in the US labor force.

The evolving job market is increasingly valuing trades and associate degrees, marking a shift in what constitutes the ‘smart kids’ club. A 2023 survey by Intelligent.com reveals that nearly half of US companies plan to eliminate bachelor’s degree requirements in 2024, a trend that started in 2023. This change is driven by a desire to create more diverse workforces and the recognition that experience often outweighs formal education. Employers are now focusing on practical skills, with 80% prioritizing experience over education. Additionally, alternative educational paths like certificate programs and apprenticeships are gaining value, reflecting a broader understanding of skill acquisition beyond traditional four-year degrees. This trend underscores the growing importance of practical, hands-on skills in the modern labor market.

The Michigan Apprenticeship Program is a dynamic pathway combining practical working experience with learning, beneficial for both employers and apprentices. It’s a no-cost service provided by the State of Michigan, designed to simplify the process of registered apprenticeship. The program aims to build a skilled workforce by connecting Michigan employers with job seekers, offering crucial support and resources to both parties.

Registered Apprenticeship in Michigan, supported by the Department of Labor/Office of Apprenticeship, allows employers to create customized skilled trades training programs. This is particularly important in industries experiencing a significant gap between job openings and skilled workers. The program is recognized as a valuable training model by the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. It involves on-the-job training and classroom instruction under the supervision of experienced industry professionals, serving as mentors. This approach not only benefits workers by providing job-related, classroom-based learning with paid on-the-job training in high-skill, high-wage, in-demand industry occupations, but it also helps employers by creating a pipeline of professional workers through work-based learning.

The program includes seven core components: Industry Led, Paid Job, Structured On-the-Job Learning/Mentorship, Supplemental Education, Diversity, Quality & Safety, and Credential. Each Registered Apprenticeship program is customized to meet specific employer needs, and upon completion, participants receive a nationally-recognized industry credential.

This approach is proving to be an effective strategy for recruiting, training, and retaining employees, perfect for filling the talent pipeline with highly skilled, diverse, and productive workers. It demonstrates the state’s commitment to developing a skilled workforce that meets the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s industries.

Meet Four Battle Creek Employers Who Are Training Tomorrow’s Workforce

apprentice learnings from teacher wearing yellow vest

Four Battle Creek employers were celebrated for pioneering in Registered Apprenticeship Programs. Recognized at Kellogg Community College, these firms exemplify effective workforce training, aligning with Michigan’s strategy to bolster the local talent pipeline and support skilled labor development. This initiative is part of a broader effort to upskill Michigan’s workforce.

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