It started simply enough. Every year, Discover Staffing participates in the American Staffing Association’s Employee of the Year competition. National Staffing week in September is a time to honor temporary employees for all of their hard work. In 2010, we evaluated our current employees and chose Michael Timms as our employee of the year. Our submission was as follows.
The term “flexible” doesn’t even begin to describe Michael. He came into our office near the end of 2009 looking for temporary work to stay busy. As a formal wear consultant, the winter season is slow with few weddings and several months until proms began. He said he was willing to do anything and so we put this to the test. We had a client who wanted to experiment with telemarketing after hours. Since we primarily staff for office support, most of our employees were not available after 6pm. But Michael was ready and willing. We received excellent feedback on his assignment. When that was completed we assigned him to a 1 week job stuffing envelopes for not very much money. After that job, he did a couple of filing projects. Always representing the very definition of flexible, Michael was available for several projects over the winter holiday working for a home builder who uses our services to staff their model homes. During the holiday season several agents were on vacation and Michael happily covered these properties for us working three days before Christmas, including Christmas Eve, and 4 days during the week before New Year’s Day. He continued to work on and off at the home builder through April. At the end of April, we received a position for an administrative assistant to a senior buyer. We were presented it as a 30 to 90 day assignment while they worked on hiring a permanent employee on their own. Michael’s experience as an assistant buyer in the formal wear industry made him an excellent candidate but selfishly we didn’t want to lose him for the hard to fill jobs that he always took. In the end, sense prevailed and we submitted him to the job which he started near the beginning of May. 4 months later, he is still there. In June, Michael received a raise along with the following feedback, “We appreciate Michael’s consistent work ethic and ability to blend with the team.” And more recently, we were told, “Michael continues to do very well, handling all that we ask and then some. [We] have included Michael in on our interview process for the permanent position while also reviewing other outside candidates. We have not made any decisions and I do my best to keep Michael informed on our progress and focused on matters at hand. He has remained very positive and interested in the permanent position.” Michael’s flexibility with both long and short term assignments has made him the perfect nominee for GSA’s Employee of the Year. We are proud to have him represent Discover Staffing.
His supervisor at Exide Technologies, in Alpharetta Georgia, was so impressed with our recognition of Michael that he asked if he could reward Michael’s hard work himself. We were pleased and encouraged that our client was so enthusiastic that we encouraged him to do anything he wanted. We also made tentative plans to get together with Michael and Todd, his supervisor, for lunch to celebrate his nomination. Shortly after that, the Georgia Staffing Association gathered all the local entrants to the competition and voted one of them the GSA Employee of the year. Michael was selected and we were very proud. Everything seemed just perfect. Michael, who was always cheerful and ready with a friendly laugh, was over the moon with the recognition that he was getting for a job well done.
Then, the unthinkable happened. At the end of September, barely a week after he had been named the GSA Employee of the Year, Michael called us with some bad news. At that time all we knew was that he was having some heath challenges and that he was “preparing for the worse.” As the details unfolded, we learned that Michael had been diagnosed with cancer and was dealing with the battery of tests to determine the treatment and prognosis. He took some time off from work for tests and appointments but was finally told that he would need 4 to 6 weeks of chemotherapy followed by surgery. We were forced to end his assignment at Exide with the expectation that once he was well he could go back, possibly as a permanent employee. The joyful Michael we knew and loved seemed gone. It was hard to hear the sadness in his voice.
October passed without a word. We followed up with Michael and with Todd. November came and went with still no word from Michael. The team at Exide sent him a care package and we mailed him the gift card awarded by the GSA hoping to lift his spirits. No word from him at all. Truthfully, we were imagining the worst and scared to find out what was going on. By December, we were beyond concerned but had no more resources to reach out to. Would Michael ever be back? Did something else happen?
Then, with all the miraculous timing of the winter holidays, we got a phone call on December 20th. Michael was alive, recovering from surgery to remove the tumors, and expecting one more round of chemo. After that, he said, he was ready to get back to living life. It was good to hear him laughing again. He was expecting to be able to go back to Exide by the end of January. The folks at Exide were extremely gracious and grateful to hear from him. They wanted to make sure he took the proper time to fully recover before he came back. And after all of this drama, Michael returned to work as a full time, permanent Exide Technologies employee on February 7, 2011.
Finally, in March, we were able to take Michael and Todd out for that terribly overdue congratulatory lunch. It was wonderful to talk with Michael, hear him laugh and see how Todd interacted with him like a caring father. We talked with Michael about his health. He has a few follow up visits remaining but the doctors believe he is out of the woods. We also talked about his work with us. We thanked him for his flexibility and found humor in the fact that he went from procurement in the formal wear industry to the battery recycling industry. He said that he got his formal wear job through a staffing company as well and he really believes in what we do as a service. He never went to any job, even the lowest paying, most boring one, thinking of it as only a “temp job”. He treated everything like an opportunity. Because of that attitude he was named our Employee of the year. Michael’s story didn’t end after the award. And we are so grateful for the ultimate results.