Above and beyond – our employee of the year

As staffing professionals, it’s easy to get frustrated at the people who let us down. After all, from that first point of contact to the day they start their first work assignment, we have a lot of time, and sometimes emotion, invested in them. And when they finally set foot on our client’s property, it’s our reputation that’s on the line, our judgment that’s questioned if it all goes wrong.

We place several people somewhere almost every day; often, especially during our busy times, dozens every week. We can’t possibly expect them all to work out, and invariably many don’t. When they walk off the job, quit with no notice for a seemingly ridiculous reason (why didn’t you TELL me your hamster’s feeding schedule precluded you from working second shift!?), work unsafely, have attendance issues, or cause some kind of disturbance at work, it’s hard not to take it personally. After all, several placements like that in a row can get US in hot water with not only our clients, but our employers as well.

So, being human, it’s easy to let the bad experiences overshadow the good ones. We complain about the guy who calls in late for the umpteenth time because he has to take his great aunt to the doctor, but we forget about the folks who come into our office, shake our hands, go through the process, and work, diligently at their job assignment, every day, until our clients like them so much they can’t resist hiring them full-time.

We forget about them because the very fact that they are doing what they are supposed to be doing makes them, in a word, forgettable. It’s sad, but true. They aren’t out there causing trouble, so we don’t remember their names when we see them in a place like Walmart

…except when one of them does something especially remarkable, something that differentiates them from the rest.

Such was the case with Matthew Zollinger, an associate at our Johnson City, Tennessee branch. Matthew works for us preparing food for the elderly and disabled through the Meals on Wheels program. He reports to work every day at 5AM. It’s hard work, to be sure, starting at the break of dawn. It doesn’t pay much, just a slice over minimum wage.

But lots of jobs are hard and don’t pay much. To this point, there isn’t much there to differentiate Matthew from the other folks who go to work every day and keep their noses clean, who we greatly appreciate, to be sure, but who, being the fallible humans we are, we would otherwise forget about.

Until Thursday, September 12, 2013, when Matthew’s car broke down on the way to work. You see, most employees would have called off on a day like that, at least for the first half, especially when it’s 4 something AM and your car is broken down on the side of the road. And we would have certainly understood!

Not Matthew, not this day.

You see, Matthew Zollinger walked over 10 miles… not back home, not even to an auto shop, but to work! Yeah, I know our grandparents walked 5 miles to school, in the snow, uphill both ways, but let’s face it, in this day and age Matthew’s 10 mile trek to work is quite an impressive feat.

Needless to say, we wanted to do something special for Matthew, so we brought him into the office and gave him a gift card and the title of ‘Employee of the Year.’

We wanted to know what motivates him to get up and go to work each day. His response: “What would I be doing if I didn’t work? Sure, everybody needs a paycheck, but time is meaningless without work.”


It’s great to know there are still people out there who will not only do what is expected, but will go the extra mile, or ten! Thank you for reminding us of this, Matthew. We won’t forget you!

Matthew Zollinger
Our Staffer, Heather Hopson, rewards Matthew Zollinger for a job well done