Written by The Business Journal Staff
Cathy Frost, President
BennettFrost Personnel Services
What we do
Since 1992, BennettFrost has provided human resources with a human touch. We partner to make staffing easier by matching the right person to the right role through rigorous screening and exceptional customer service. This minimizes employee turnover and limits hiring risks for employers.
Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from San Jose State University
Married to Tim Vaux, an agricultural consultant, and between us, we have five grown children and six grandchildren.
Tell us a little about the history of your firm, Cathy.
We started our firm in 1992 as a temporary staffing agency and then in 1998, in response to the growing needs of our clients, we expanded into executive recruiting and became a full-service agency. We value our partnerships with our employees and clients, we stay very involved in the community and we pride ourselves on treating each candidate as though a guest in our home.
How is your firm faring post-economic downturn, Cathy?
We are continuing to do well because we’re not your standard staffing service. Both our internal staff and our clients have been with us for an average of 15+ years. Over that time, we’ve gotten to really know our clients; when they are in pain, we hurt too. During an upturn, clients generally need to add staff support to meet the growing needs of their business, but they also want to be mindful they can support the new staffing levels financially long-term, so they turn to us to hire temporary staff to fill the immediate need. We help them meet their needs and alleviate their financial concerns.
What are the benefits of using a staffing agency, Cathy?
There are many benefits to both employees and employers. For employees, we give them the opportunity to make sure the work environment is a match for their skill set and a good culture fit for them to grow. Additionally, temporary work is an excellent way to add skills to the resume and to experience a variety of work styles and environments.
For employers, we give them an opportunity to see if the employee enhances their team and has the skills required to advance the work to the next level. This approach also gives the employer more time to assess if the additional staff is financially sustainable long-term. Employers also don’t assume unemployment or worker’s comp liability during this time period. Plus, the screening process these days can be very lengthy and our efforts save the employer countless hours of sorting through applications, reference checks, interviews, etc. because employees come to them pre-screened, skill-tested, and thoroughly vetted and ready to go.
What are some of the noteworthy trends you are seeing from clients, Cathy?
Employees and employers alike have become more optimistic about job growth and opportunities. With that optimism, there has been a disturbing trend to seek out only the most skilled and trained employees instead of continuing to invest in growth or employee on-the-job training. While there’s a large workforce out there, the most skilled and trained workers are a small percentage of that. Because of our long-term relationships, we are able to help employers broaden their parameters and be more creative about who they look at.
What are some of the important human resources issues employers should be aware of today, Cathy?
Effective January 1, 2015 providing employee sick leave is mandatory, and more documentation is needed to meet the requirements of the law. Additionally, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which impacts many employers, has increased costs and record keeping responsibilities.
Leave laws continue to get more complex and difficult to manage. Employers are being challenged by more class suits that are creating nightmares in the workplace.
The pressure to increase the minimum wage is also growing stronger. It’s not here yet, but it may become inevitable. Our responsibility is to help employers prepare for such things via education and frank conversation.
What was the best advice you ever received?
I had the benefit of an incredible mentor when I first started in the staffing business. Her name was Patience Talcott. Patience taught me to take the time to really get to know a person’s story and learn what their challenges might be to be able to help them find the right employment opportunity. “Look past the obvious,” she said. I love what we do and I am continually thrilled when the “match” works!
What was your very first job and what did you learn from it, Cathy?
I was 13 years old and graded plums in a packing house in Selma. I learned that if you master a job and work hard, you’ll move up and earn more money. In a short time, I moved to packing fruit on the belt, where I was paid by the box, and was able to increase my income. It was so powerful to learn that I could have the ability to control the quality and quantity of work I provided, but also increase my earning potential.
What do you like to do in your spare time, Cathy?
I enjoy friends and family time, gardening, and reading. Currently I am training for a half marathon so that is taking up my time and lots of my energy!