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Get Over It Already

Posted on in Retention Strategy

I have a lot of unconventional ideas around how we all could be more effective at recruiting and retaining talent.  Several months ago, I shared an idea about disrupting the way we deliver employer benefits packages in this post.  I was hoping for some pushback from my tribe and others so we could start a conversation.  While that didn’t happen as I had hoped (womp, womp), it won’t stop me from thinking differently about the current state and exploring fresh thinking with you.

To that end, retention is a key topic that receives a lot of airtime, but it often ends there.  There are plenty of resources out there that provide old, stale ideas, but if they worked, we wouldn’t still be having this conversation.  So instead of preaching the same old, same old, let’s look at retention from a completely different perspective.

It starts with surrendering and accepting that the workforce, based on individual wants, needs, and desires is redefining the word employment.  Being transient to obtain what someone deems essential in building their careers is no longer taboo which leaves us with a workforce that is participating in one giant rotational program.  If you can’t beat them, join them.

Don’t get me wrong.  I still believe we should look for ways to create great cultures where people have access to interesting and meaningful work.  And I know when you put forth an incredible amount of resources into attracting, recruiting, and developing people you want them to stay.  But there are certain positions where this might be unrealistic.  Embracing the turnover could create an opportunity for both the employer and employee.

Let me give you an example.  Customer service is notorious for having significant turnover. In a time when customer experience is a differentiator for all brands, this is an area of a business you can’t afford to ignore. The root causes of customer service turnover are common, including selecting the wrong candidate, a lack of training, and no career growth.

There are plenty of ways you can improve your hiring decisions (check out this blog post on how to use simulations for example), but I’d like to offer a new way of looking at the challenge of a lack of training and career growth.

I want you to imagine…..WHAT IF.

What if 3 local businesses came together and pooled their financial resources to build a best in class, highly selective and competitive customer service rotational program.  The training program would cover the fundamentals of exceptional customer service in any industry and also create specific learning tracks to address the unique needs of each company.  It would be built in such a way that if customer service was your passion, you would do anything to get into this program.

Let’s say we would accept a class of 24 people into the program each quarter.  This “class” would be part of an intensive training program that would include classroom-based, online and peer coaching that would set them up for success in any of the company environments and they would be expected to rotate through each company every 9-12 months. There would be different levels of certifications and appropriate incentives along the way.  When they reached the end of the 3-year commitment, there would be additional employment options at the companies or within the program.

This could be a win for both the company and individual.  Specifically:

  1. By pooling financial resources, the companies can build a more robust training program than they can on their own.
  2. The nature of hiring “classes” of people on quarterly basis means there is a consistent flow of hiring and training to meet the needs of their businesses thereby reducing the time and expense with hiring on their own.
  3. There is consistent access to a qualified talent pool in the program that would allow for the sharing of resources during peak seasons, leaves of absences or other situations.
  4. The program would be so desirable and selective that it would attract those whose true passion is to be of service in this type of role.
  5. Individuals in the program would receive significant training and development, therefore, keeping them engaged.
  6. The nature of a rotational program creates enough change which would reduce burnout among the customer service teams.
  7. There is a commitment between employer and employee by engaging this type of program that may create long-term

I know this is a huge undertaking and there are a lot of specifics that would need to be worked out for this to be successful.  But I’m convinced that this model (or a variation of it) would not only reduce the overall turnover in the customer service industry but lead to an increase in customer satisfaction and loyalty as we’d gain a higher caliber of talent in these critical roles.

Don’t have customer service in your organization?  I could see this model working in almost any type of role…think about how it might help you have access to highly skilled developers, nurses, or even recruiters just to name a few.

If you’ve gotten to the end of the post and are thinking “why” would we do this?  I’d like you to say, “why not?”


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