October 17, 2023 workforce podcast show notes
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Our #1 Asset: People
Jason begins this discussion with the simple reminder, it’s about our people. Sometimes we forget that it’s called Human Resources for a reason. Molley comments that without the people, there would be no product or service to offer. In fact, this aspect of recruiting has changed drastically and rapidly.
As the Boomers are leaving the workforce, the new environment is quite different. For some companies this will present opportunities. However, for others it will present challenges.
The pandemic convinced many Boomers to evaluate their personal finances and quite a few decided they were in a position to simply retire. Molley uses the example of her father who joined Phillip Morris at the age of 18 and retired from the same company after 30 years. He then decided to pursue other areas of interest he’d wanted to do during his entire career, namely driving a dump truck and digging holes. He didn’t pursue them earlier because, as a boomer, his mentality was focused on the traditional career path. In his words, “It’s just what you did.”
Jamie’s father had a similar experience. He retired from the utility company and then took a role as a substitute, school janitor. The opportunity allowed him to choose his work schedule and to get out of the house.
Jason gives a shout out to his dad, who’s starting his 50th year at John Deere.
The point of this is that Boomers and Gen Z are very different in how they approach work and career aspirations (or should we say expectations).
Meet Gen Z
This workforce segment want to work on their terms. This may include taking on a non-traditional opportunity that suddenly appears, with the expectation of returning to their “real gig” afterwards. This generation is not as dedicated to the company-loyalty mentality, as many of the Boomers were.
Jason mentions how Gen Z wants to challenge the traditional understanding of work. Jamie agrees and notes that when they are engaged, they’ll work really hard. However, for them that’s not the end goal. Molley describes a few Gen Zs she knows who enjoy working just long enough to earn what the need to cover the bills, and then they go explore/experience other opportunities, unrelated to work.
Jason notes how the time in which the Gen Z segment has grown up has radically impacted how they view life. “Life is Short” is their common mentality. They don’t necessarily want to spend all of it working as a cog in someone else’s wheel.
Steering the Cruise Ship
The challenge for companies and organizations is that while the workforce is changing, adapting to those changes (and related challenges) takes time. It’s hard to turn a cruise ship. It doesn’t happen on a dime.
Jamie offers in interesting observation. Most of us now, have cell phones or computers enabling us to simplify purchasing. Consider how easy it is to push a button and buy an item on Amazon, or an entire shopping cart of groceries from your local grocery store (and have it delivered to your doorstep). The general expectation of how things are supposed to work has changed.
Jamie relates the above reality to how it affected a client’s hiring process. The company had an online application, but didn’t fully understand the large number of applicants using a cell phone to complete the application. The result was a significant rate of abandonment before the application was completed.
The group discusses how a company or organization should spend time re-evaluating the information they actually need to capture and how they identify applicants vs. candidates.
Jason comments on the importance of having a mobile-friendly application. In digital marketing, this is referred to as an aspect of responsive-design.
Leads vs. Applications
While a standard application process is often required for compliance issues (i.e. keeping the legal department happy), it may be more important to engage a prospective new-hire from a simple lead. Consider ways to get the conversation started via text, emails and a phone conversation. Screening by using a brief series of qualifiers, before transitioning them an application may yield a better result.
Molley juxtaposes society’s focus on speed and “now” vs. a typical company’s antiquated application process. Companies and organizations should look for ways to innovate and adapt their hiring process to better align with the mindset of the current workforce. That is, if you want a shot at the best candidates for your open positions.
Are Old Paradigms Hindering Your Success?
Jamie relates a story of how a past client had identified a terrific candidate, but decided not to pursue him/her, because they didn’t submit a cover letter. It’s interesting how self-imposed filters, which may or may not have anything to do with whether the candidate could perform and excel in the role, often results in a company missing out on the chance to hire an individual. Our old paradigms may not be as valid as they used to be.
Jason brings up the point that how a Boomer would have entered a job interview in the late 60s is completely different from how a Gen Z-er would today. The candidate feels comfortable asking about how well the job will fit their life-style and interests. The workforce is evolving and so is the power-dynamic.
For a business needing to hire in today’s environment, it’s no longer a matter of if you’re going to have to change, but rather what is going to have to change. Those sacrosanct views of what’s important are being torn down, out of necessity.
Molley views this as the most difficult challenge in recruiting. It can begin with the candidate’s name. Typos can often be a disqualifying factor, but for the role, how critical will proper spelling actually be? Did the candidate craft the résumé to the job, or was it generically submitted? A point we discussed in File 1 is how it’s not uncommon for a candidate to submit applications for multiple jobs all at the same time.
Jamie advises that companies need to make concessions and place the value of experience over a properly drafted cover letter and résumé. Focus on the role, not the artificial assumptions that have crept into the hiring process over time. Ask yourself, “What really matters and what doesn’t?”
Molley explains how we understand a Boomer will approach and perform differently in a job interview than a Gen Z candidate. The life-experiences are simply different. Both candidates will bring different perspectives to the role or functions. Having good mix can be to your advantage. Again, you’ll need to begin asking, “What really matters?”
Jason points out that many of the product and services you’re offering are going to be targeted to the Gen Z segment of society. Who knows them better than another Gen Z? Understanding what’s valuable to them, how they communicate and how they work may be best understood by someone who grew up with similar life experiences.
What Is Your Company’s Culture?
This is an important consideration for today’s job candidate. Does your company’s culture align with their core values and expectations? If not, how does a company begin to adapt its internal culture?
Interestingly, Jamie points out the recruiters and HR managers can wade into problems when they begin to evaluate a candidate based on “culture fit” during the interview. She points out that when this screen is imposed, it’s actually exploiting your own biases. Instead, Jamie recommends considering the culture you want to have and the values you find important. Then, try to determine how individuals best contribute to that culture, not whether or not they fit.
That’s where we’ll leave the conversation for today. Before we close the file, we invite you to reach out to us with questions, suggestions or other comments. We’d love to hear from you.
Need Help Supporting Your Company’s Recruiting and Staffing Goals?
We’re here to help. You can contact us via our individual websites, depending on your specific needs or questions:
- Jamie Swaim, SPHR – ParcelKnows.com
- Molley Ricketts – IncipioWorks.com
- Jason Heflin – CrowdSouth.com
We hope you found this file insightful and helpful. Thank you for listening!
By Jason Heflin
Jason Heflin is one of CrowdSouth’s owning Partners and brings years of marketing experience from his past lives as a corporate marketing manager, writer, and freelancer. He also plays the ukulele for fun, which is cool.