Companies Want to See “Talent in Action”

Small business border“You know what bosses like even more than employees who get their work done? Employees who don’t even have to be told what to do, because they’ll create value on their own accord,” says Eric Talbot, Strategic Account Manager at National Business Capital & Services in Bohemia.  That was his advice to young people – particularly Millennials and Generation Zs – who are a growing part of today’s emerging workforce.

“Customer service is not a department – it’s an attitude,” added Gregg Pajak, President and Founder of the WizdomOne Group in Islandia.  “Service is about making things easier and saving people time and money. Experience is about making things memorable and engaging and creating a desire to linger.

“The best experiences,” Pajak adds, “are those you wish would last forever.”

These were just two pieces of sage advice that was part of an HIA-LI Small Business Task Force Open Forum titled, “Is There a Difference Between the Generations?” held on November 7 at Simplay in Hauppauge.  Moderated by Rev. Joseph Garofalo, Outreach Pastor at Island Christian Church, the panel included five distinguished business leaders: Gary Barello, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development at Biodex Medical Systems, Inc. in Shirley; Scott Maskin, CEO and Co-Founder at SuNation Solar Systems, Inc. in Ronkonkoma; Teresa Ferraro, President of East/West Industries Inc. in Ronkonkoma; along with Talbot and Pajak.

Panelists were asked to provide their thoughts on a range of topics including meeting deadlines, employee initiative, work-life balance, and performance reviews.

According to Gary Barello, while there are differences in the way generations view the workplace, “employers have to be careful not to generalize.  We have to avoid stereotyping by closing our eyes when a new person joins our team and say, ‘what does this person have to offer?’”

Barello added, “Just like ethnicity and gender, business leaders like us need to avoid labeling – we need to give each person the opportunity to show who they are.”

“Each scenario is case by case,” added Talbot.  “You never know what someone has going on right outside the office.”  However, if someone was consistently submitting projects and reports exactly at deadline with no time to spare, it would “raise some red flags” and question whether the employee could “handle the responsibility of bigger projects with tighter deadlines.”

Pajak added that younger employees need to take initiative and show management how they can build teamwork and impact the bottom line.  “Companies don’t want sculptures of talent,” he said. “They want to see the talent in action.”

These Open Forums are a direct result of feedback from our membership, 80 percent of which are small businesses, a figure which mirrors the overall Long Island business community.  We understand that small businesses have their own set of unique challenges, and discussions over the years centered on how our organization could provide better guidance and support for these companies.  One result was the institution of these Small Business Task Force Open Forums, now in its third year.

A special thanks, as always, to Rita DiStefano, Chair of the Small Business Task Force and Director of HR Consulting at Portnoy, Messinger, Pearl and Associates, Inc. in Jericho and her task force members who work tirelessly to bring progressive, relevant programming to our membership.

Finally, stay tuned for future Small Business Task Force Open Forums, complimentary to HIA-LI members.

DELIVERING A GOOD MEAL — AND DELIVERING SOLAR POWER

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Paule Pachter, CEO of Long Island Cares, on the roof of their facility in the Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge. (Photo courtesy of The Times of Smithtown.)

Business organizations like HIA-LI largely focus on competitiveness, and promoting the growth of member firms.

That’s why it’s good to remind ourselves how much energy we also devote to community-minded goals and causes.

One example is our relationship with Long Island Cares and its Harry Chapin Regional Food Bank. Since 1980, this organization — situated in the Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge (LI-IPH) — has been assembling resources to benefit our area’s hungry by providing emergency food, outreach support, and programs promoting self-sufficiency.

Here are two ways HIA-LI joins forces with Long Island Cares:

First, every summer for the past several years, HIA-LI and Long Island Cares have united to conduct the largest small business food drive on Long Island. The organization  has sensitized us to the fact that — amazingly — some 89,000 local children face food insecurity on a daily or weekly basis.

In addition to bringing food to drop-off sites, HIA-LI members can also buy food online for direct delivery to the food bank warehouse.

Second, guided by the HIA-LI Solar Task Force, solar panels are now being installed on the 35,000 square-foot roof of Long Island Cares’ headquarters.

Moreover, all of the renewable energy that roof generates will be sent offsite to provide electricity to approximately 50 households experiencing hardship and food insecurity.

“By taking the entire energy output of this installation and sending it offsite to provide discounted power to homes occupied by our lower-income neighbors,” Paule Pachter, CEO of Long Island Cares, tells us, “these households will have new-found income to address some of their immediate needs.”

The HIA-LI Solar Task Force deserves our thanks for initiating all this. Led by co-chairs Scott Maskin, CEO of SUNation Solar Systems, and Jack Kulka, President of Kulka, LLC, they’re aiming to help LI-IPH achieve 100-percent-reliance on renewable energy by 2040.

Task force participants also include Edgewise Energy, Entersolar, Harvest Power, Empower Solar, Top Cat Consulting, H2M Engineering, and Greenstreet Power Partners.

Congratulations to everyone involved in this visionary project!