Functional Support and the Employer Value Proposition

Functional Support is how much and how well various departments assist a person execute their role and responsibilities.

Typical functions include Procurement, IT, HR, Finance and Legal. The names you use internally may differ, but these organizations support the activities of the research, manufacturing, sales, and customer service organizations.

How these organizations support people actually vary greatly from one organization to another.

This factor can be overlooked during the recruiting / retention processes. How a company supports it’s team members can be a great advantage over it’s competition.

Recruiters should be able to learn about the support that candidates are coming from to help compare or prepare, and then leverage.

HR managers should be able explain to employees the different dynamics, but especially understand how powerful that service is and how it enables people each day.

Candidates should be asking questions on how these areas support their role, and compare to previous environments where they have been successful – and ask themselves if they have the same, more, or leas resources in order to be productive.

Employees should fins out how these areas support them, and start using them to their fullest. If you see something missing, ask about it and see if it can be changed. If it is, you may find that the organization is more enabling than you thought….but if it doesn’t respond…

The roles that are defined by an organization are always connected with others. How they connect and enable each role can have a significant effect on a persons success.

Place this into your consideration as you hire, promote, evaluate, or search for a new job.

Functional Support is part of Work Experience, one of the four corners of the Employer Value Proposition.

Why Surfing and Talking at the same time on an iPhone will help you Retain More Employees

Yesterday I got a 12 page magazine from AT&T. I did not subscribe to it, and did not send for it. It came to my home mail box, and was addressed to me directly. On the cover, it said Special iPhone Edition, and in the lower left corner there was a very Cosmo-like caption stating “Great Match! 10 Reasons AT&T and your iPhone work best together”.

My first response – wow! haven’t gotten a retention package on anything in a while. Of course the word retention then stuck out and I started thinking about this blog post. Meanwhile, my colleague and FB friend Jeff Bloch threw up a status the other day that 26% of AT&T iPhone customers are switching to Verizon. I am pretty sure he didn’t make that up – if was a re-tweet of an article from some survey. Both the magazine and the tweet arrived within a few days of each other, not to mention the constant AT&T and Verizon commercials on the iPhone I am seeing on every channel – its like a US Presidential Election out there.

This is a great battle – the next Cola Wars – but it is actually a preview of what will happen if the job market’s flood gates every swing wide open and employees consider leaving or staying with their current employer.

We all knew that Verizon was eventually getting the iPhone. People on AT&T have dropped calls. Some hated it so much that cracked the code on their AT&T iPhones, and switched to Verizon or another carrier through hacking. Then the day came. The waters parted, and there was beady eyed glasses guy on an iPhone saying “can you hear me now” and he was on an iPhone? Prayers were answered, AT&T’s sweating had officially gone public, and people left the warm blanket of of the Stanly Tucci voice over for the windbreaker of the nerdy guy.

For the record, I am former Verizon person, who switched to AT&T for the iPhone, and I am sticking with AT&T, even though I drop calls in my own house on a regular basis. Why I am sticking is why employees will stay…

So if the waters part in employment, there will be a mass exodus of employees from current employers to new employers. All of a sudden employers will start being concerned about retention. Some have started already, but probably not as many as they should. In fact, they have been remiss in working on retention as they have assumed people can’t leave in the wake of the recession.

The fear is climbing – how are we going to hold our top talent? Do we need to make promises? Do we give them something else? I am hearing it more and more each week from our companies and in the wind from people who are restless in their job.

Employees are restless because they just ARE. There are lots of people who had planned on leaving their job, but all of a sudden could not, for whatever reason. A small percentage of those people have changed their mind, but wake up employers – they decided to leave a long time ago.

These are the AT&T customers who were waiting for Verizon. Its a sizable group. But they stayed with AT&T because they had no choice. As employees, they wanted two things – the money and the job satisfaction, but they needed the money. Now they will go and get the satisfaction now, because its available.

Then there are the employees who are staying with AT&T. There are likely two types:

1) DON’T FEEL LIKE MOVING – They don’t want to change because they think its a pain, or something will go wrong, or they don’t want to bother, etc. This is the majority of the crowd, and guess what – that is the majority of the people who will stay with a company. They have too much invested to not even bother. The brand (like AT&T) might be holding them, but I am sure that if the deal was sweet enough (from Verizon) they would jump. BTW the way, you have probably noticed that Verizon is not giving away the iPhone or having massive discounts. They are not cutting their own throat to get people to jump. That is because of the NEXT group.

2) I AM STAYING BECAUSE ITS BETTER – The magic group. The ones who want to stay because they know its actually better for them – really better. For AT&T customers, its probably because they can talk and surf at the same time. I am on my phone so much that I surf, text, Google, blog, Facebook, Twitter, and so on while on the phone. Maybe I am on a conference call and texting people at the same time. Its really convenient, and makes me productive.

Yes – I experience at least one dropped call a day, and at first I was ready to switch. Then I realized I can just call people back. People understand – they get it. Its actually a nice reinforcement. Whatever I was talking about was provocative enough that they were eager to have me call back. I am not leaving AT&T because I am actually at my most productive and effective with AT&T – and THAT is what we want for ANY top employee. That very realization.

You want employees who realize they want to stay because they know they are at their most productive and effective with your company.

So send your newsletters and emails. Make your websites. Have your conversations at your companies. Some people are going to leave. Oh – and CEO – don’t blame your HR people when they do – if employees bail its because of the reasons I mentioned earlier, not because your HR manager is weak.

The thing about exodus, is that its catchy. You don’t see too many lemmings stay back after the jump…

So you have to prepare to hold onto the people who use the iPhone and like to surf at the same time (keep that visual in your head). BTW – this is the market share that Verizon (your competitors) are REALLY going after and going trying to steal. he are the most effective and productive people you have. Its the few percentage points of the team, but it makes all the difference in profitability.

Protect your “iPhone talking surfers” from the exodus. Find out who they are. Get HR and managers to engage with people and find out why they are with the company. How does your company enable them – really and truly. For top talent, CEOs and heads of businesses can do this themselves. Make the time and have talks with those who are marked for promotion or have intellectual knowledge that you know you need. Get out of the office talk to the great team players. Find out if and why they are talking and surfing at the same time.

Realize that the “surfing” at your company is a unique combination of things for each employee, and likely has differences for each person – but make sure they are surfing and talking at the same time. Once they recognize that the surfing is really not available elsewhere…you will keep them on your network.

Appropriate Complexity and the EVP

Transparency in a job – its duties, responsibilities, and its interactions with others is becoming more important than ever. Jobs are on the rise, contingent labor is up, and small businesses are slowly starting to expand. All in all, people are starting to ask certain questions about each job, and employees are asking themselves if they should stay.

As companies build and maintain an employer value proposition, an overlooked area that we advise them on is COMPLEXITY. Not the complexity regarding their EVP philosophy, but the complexity of a role, and how it is part of a candidate’s consideration, or how employee’s view their job.

The complexity of a role changes from business to business, meaning the actual role of a marketing analyst at Pepsi could be more complex than say at Coca Cola. Sometimes roles increase and decrease in complexity during a short period of time, especially as businesses role out initiatives, merge with other companies, install technologies and so on. The trick is figure out what type of complex environment does the employee (or candidate) have successful experience in, and do they want to have the same, more, or less complexity in their next role.

Some jobs are straightforward – notice I did not say simple. But the procedures and processes are defined, the goals are defined, etc. That particular level of complexity may not be appropriate for a candidate. They may want something more sophisticated. Conversely, they may have other parts of their life that are already complex (or have become complex) and then actually want to reduce complexity. You know, we work about a third of the week, so sometimes enough is enough.

You know when a person says “I’m not happy” or “I need something else” and then a manager says – “what are you, crazy?” or says “they don’t get it, this is a great job” – PAUSE. Ask yourself if the complexity of the role has been changing. Could be the complexity of the candidate’s / employee’s life, but look at the job. Maybe its changed more than you know, and you have to get through the job psychology with the person.

When recruiting or retaining, find out what level of complexity candidates and employees are looking for. The question is hard to ask directly, so try and piece it together. You can use complexity as a closing technique or a retention technique, and a powerful tool in your EVP.

Complexity is part of the Development, one of the four corners of the employer value proposition. Personal Match, Financial, and Work Experience are the other three corners, and across all four, there are dozens of elements that make up a strong EVP.

Mentorship – No…its not important to have it…

Okay – that was a sarcastic remark. Of course its important – but that importance varies person to person, and as you design a role for people in your organization, design the sell of a position to an employee, or think about what you are going to talk to your boss about come review time – MENTORING should be a consideration you are making.

As an HR / talent exec it starts with your employee value proposition, and how important mentoring is to your culture. Do you have a program? Is it formal? do YOU have a mentor? Does the employee take responsibility? Is it frowned upon? Who are the examples of two people with strong mentoring relationships? If you can’t answer some of all of these questions, realize that there are candidates where mentoring is important when considering your job, and there may be top performers who are frustrated with their current job because of the lack of mentoring.

Employees – speak up. Find out if there is a program (if you want a mentor) Are you involved? Do you know any of your peers who talk about their mentors?

Recruiters – find out how important this is to the candidate. A strong mentoring program may actually get you through a tough negotiation for the right candidate, while it may mean ZERO to another. But find out. During recruiting, ask them about what empowers them daily and what resources they use for advice and counsel. If they have a mentor that is an employee at the current job, they may actually lose the ability to talk with that person – especially if the work is highly confidential or competitive. This can make your opportunity not as attractive.

Mentoring is part of the Development category of the employee value proposition. There are Four Corners to every employee value proposition, and a balance across the four is desired to make a strong match from employee to employer. The Four Corners are Development, Work Experience, Personal Match, and Financial.

Location, Location, Location

This idea may never go away. Where the work is always a consideration for people when a new job is in question. That goes for people outside the organization as much as inside the organization.

As you build the employer value proposition, realize that location and it’s sale changes for every candidate, and actually changes for each employee as time goes by. It’s easy to forget that new roads, restaurants, services, and transit are always changing, not to mention the lives of the people you are considering for the job.

Start with the location of the work and the building itself. What are the advantages of the facility? Is is green? Do you have neighbors? Is it stand alone? Does it have free parking? Transit access? Many of these may or may not be important to each particular candidate.

Then move to the services around it. What’s it like to be around the facility? Close to shopping, food, services?

Now think about the candidate and how they get there. Closer? Easier? Shorter? More traffic? Closer transit stop? More frequent transit?

Now realize that what you are considering now will change for employees and candidates as time goes by. A planned construction project along a commuting route can derail someone coming to you OR be a way to close them. Weather can be a serious factor, especially if you are good at knowing what your candidate has experienced previously.

Last thing…know where your candidate or employee lives. The actual address. The conveniences, services, and location of their home may be an indicator of how your location may or may not be an advantage. It your location is the opposite way of the school they drop the kids at each morning, it’s a consideration THEY are making that you may not realize.

Location is part of the Personal Match category of the employee value proposition. There are Four Corners to every employee value proposition, and a balance across the four is desired to make a strong match from employee to employer. The Four Corners are Development, Work Experience, Personal Match, and Financial.