I’m community director for some of the largest trade publications and conferences for the talent profession. I speak daily with HR and recruiting professionals who face the same challenges many of you do. Before that, I spent seven years the HR and recruiting person for numerous organizations, mostly in the customer service, retail and call center areas. There are significant challenges here that need to be addressed.
If you’re one of these Twitter folks, use the hashtag SCRMEVENT and if you like, you can attribute things I say to my twitter handle AT THE LANCE
Let the record show that I am a millennial (or Gen Y’er). Yep, I’m under 30. [Story about boomers talking about what Gen Y’ers really want] [Story about Gen Y’ers totally confirming those stereotypes] What really matters is that no two Gen Y’ers are the same and marketing to a specific age group is, well, a bit tricky.
Like many people early in their career, it is easy to get cynical about work. You’re stuck in entry level jobs moving up. You’ve been sold a sweet marketing gig that was simply a clever disguised for door to door sales (with apologies to the Cutco folks, thanks for those nice knives)
When reality hits, it is less than ideal. You’re not only bitter about being in a crummy job, you’re unhappy that you thought it would be much better. And that latter one is the real doozy. That’s where trust first fails. And it is not easy to pick it up. So what’s the solution for this?
It’s sounds simple but selling reality is nothing to scoff at. If you’re the happy engaged employee I imagine you to be (attending a webinar about Social CRM, I sure hope so), then you no doubt dig the things you do at work. Taking a step back is hard. But you’ve got to do it. [Tell story about overselling employees and getting push back from departing employees at QS]
The real question isn’t about generations at all, it is about selling an ideal reality that should already be there. Challenging work, decent workplace policies, good bosses and realizing that making your workplace attractive to all sorts of people is how you overcome the gap. And if you don’t have those things in place, then you don’t sell them coming in.
Whether you’re a boomer or a Gen Z’er, there are some very common things that always get into the top five of working in a place. And while their order may not be the same, their relative level of importance is strikingly similar. The relationship with management, salary and benefits, the type of work, the reputation of the company and the policies that allow or restrict employee activity are all top of mind. And with that in mind, every talent professional should be looking at being attractive for whatever Generation walks through the door.
Of course, sometimes reality is different than the here and now. And honestly, that can’t change until you do something about it. So let’s run through how you can be bridge that gap when you’re recruiting for talent.
Sometimes reality bites. But what won’t get you anywhere is being a poser. Selling what you have today, what your future employee will be stepping into is more important than getting the short term hire. The desire to fill seats with pulsers and mouth breathers may be strong but it’s not going to win you promotions are rewards down the road.
Telling the truth is much easier than telling a lie. [Story about selling working hours at Walgreens]. Ultimately, being real is being honest about what you need and what the employee needs. When we talk about alignment in the workplace, we so often forget this step.
Of course, some people think that being real is also being “cool.” Like, not holding people accountable for their jobs or abandoning a profit motive. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being able to be honest with employees means you get to let them know where they stand and where the company stands. It increases accountability. Working in sales organizations, you know that emphasizing that point of accountability is incredibly important. Nothing could be more real.
Being real is about respect for employees. You’ve hired them to do a job. Now let them do it. And if they aren’t getting it done, then you either fix the issue or you fire them. That sounds harsh. It is. Reality can sometimes bite.
The fact of the matter is, you’ve come to a social CRM event. It would be inappropriate of me to not mention the fact that you can learn quite a bit about candidate sourcing and reaching out via social from social marketers. If you look at some of the great examples of customer interaction you’ve seen presented during these sessions, you can apply the same principle to candidate interactions.
You’ll have to forgive my marketing 101ness because my training is pretty strictly talent acquisition and HR but these four basic principles can all be applied to both candidates and customers. Go where they are, listen to them, reach out with solutions and follow up/track results. If we started looking to candidates as customers, the way we figure out the best ways to engage them would shift dramatically. The key here is to be available on any platform where customers and candidates can communicate with you. Whether it is your traditional phone, e-mail or online chat interaction or if it is happening out on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, MySpace, whatever… you should have someone there to respond back about a job or about a resume they sent in.
If you are a marketer sitting in on this, go grab your recruiting lead and figure out what you’re doing in social. If you’re a recruiting lead sitting in on this, talk to the person who runs your social CRM program. If you don’t have anything yet, there are many great resources for starting a social recruiting initiative both on IQPC and ERE.
A newer attraction point for employees is employers being transparent about the work they are doing. This goes back to being real a bit though it has more to do with letting some light shine in on employees. What is scary about transparency is what that light will see and what others will think. But employees want to be more active socially and don’t want to hide behind weak blog disclaimers and pseudonyms to interact online. They’d rather do it in the open and get a little guidance from you about what you expect.
Here’s the problem: people will screw up. It’s a brand liability. And I don’t need to read another post about the worst twitter brand disasters to figure that out. [Chrysler, Detroit brouhaha, guy who Tweeted about how crappy the Memphis was and his client saw it]
But there is a real opportunity cost to not being there, both for you and the employee. That’s why it is so important that you sit down with your employees and be real about your expectations. While certainly outright bans are difficult to swallow, even more restrictive policies can be embraced because there is clarity there and because expectations are set. Employees can bring you a host of benefits like bringing their social influence to the table or spreading good word of mouth. And all that can come back in the form of good customers and good employees.
There are some great examples of some unique cultures being built but if you try to build an imposter culture, you’re screwed. And while there may be some lessons that you can learn from all of these companies, the biggest lesson is to learn about yourself, what makes your company unique and why people like you.
[Story about uncle who “loves” rap music or hard rock] It is one thing to undergo the cultural change to become a different company but that isn’t necessary (in fact, it is ridiculously painful if you do it unnecessarily). It’s another thing to sell hip when you’re still stodgy. Of course, here’s the little secret about Millennials: we work at all kinds of firms, stodgy or not. And I know it isn’t scientific but most of my friends work for the least hip companies on the planet. Banks, financial firms, law offices, PR firms, the government and schools. These aren’t sexy jobs but they are good jobs and their employers didn’t try to sell them on something that wasn’t there. They weren’t hip and that’s okay. But they had all of those universal things that people of all generations are looking for.
And it is important to know that you don’t have to change your company to attract Millennials. But what if you do what to go the extra mile? What if you’re finding that your current situation just isn’t working out?
If you have high turnover, terrible retention and are struggling to recruit or meet numbers, maybe it is time to take a second look. And if your primary function is customer service, one of the things you can do to make your jobs more attractive is to evolve them beyond the call center.
The question we all ask is if the call center worker of yesterday is a sustainable part of tomorrow. The answer for me was no. We had to make our employees more valuable and we had to make our customers feel like they could reach us in whatever way they wanted. So what did we do? We trained them how to respond using multiple mediums, how processes work in each of those areas and then made sure that all of our reps could interact with a customer no matter what. Even if they wanted to send us US Mail, we could do it that way. The result was great: we increased the number of contacts each employee made throughout the day but if you asked them, they felt like it decreased. And the customers they dealt with were happier because they could get service no matter how they contacted us.
It’s no coincidence that this had more of an impact on the attractiveness of the job than any of the pay changes, schedule adjustments, wacky benefits or anything else we tried to do. Making the job better fixed a lot of problems we figured to be unfixable.
When customers treat your employees well, your employees will treat the next customer well. When employees treat your customers well, that employee can impact the next interaction that the customer has. When you as management try to improve both the way you treat employees and the tools you give them and they try to improve the way they interact with customers and make them happier, that can be a win, win, win.
And that’s really the bottom line. There is a relationship between your customers and front line employees that is inseparable. Making one better is bound to improve the other and improving both can lead to incredible results.
Leaving today, here are the four things I’d like you to do
Social CRM+ RecruitingHiring Success Lance Haun Community director and writer ERE Media
Who am I?(The Non-Existentialistic version) Currently: Community Director for ERE Media and Writer for TLNT Formerly: In your shoes, staffing call centers and retail and wondering how sustainable it could be for people my age and beyond.
Tweet?Twitter?TwiTTerer? Use the hashtag#scrmevent (My twitter handle is @thelance)
Annoying Millennials(YOU and US) Focusing on differences and stereotypes Too cool for school attitude What matters? Still Too Cool
Happy, attractive people work here! We’ve been sold this before
Cubes. Lots and lots of cubes. This is what we get, usually
We must sell reality No more Selling up of Job advertisements No more dumb benefits, wacky stunts No more silly games to get people