Forget all the talk of technologies to enhance the customer experience and measure customer success. None of that is going to work unless employees succeed in their jobs. The right employees.
Just like almost every part of society that's transitioning from the pre-web era to the digital, mobile society we're becoming, human resources (HR) managers are caught in the middle — a fact that became clear today at Achievers' Aspire conference in San Francisco, where speaker after speaker shared lessons learned along the digital highway.
"The rise of the web changed the way we find work," said Razor Suleman, who founded the employee engagement software vendor a dozen years ago. "Who goes to the newspaper to find work anymore?"
The Post-Monster Era
It's not just newspapers that are being ignored. Increasingly, sites like Monster are giving way to networks like Glassdoor, a darling of Gen Y job-hunters. Today, Achievers boasts a client retention rate of 98 percent, serving more than 200 customers in 110 countries.
"The way you treat your employees is the way they treat your customers," said Suleman. "If your recruiting experience is limited to your career page, you haven't even touched the tip of the iceberg."
Today, he said, only the jobless look for jobs on a company's website. Companies instead need to recruit the "passive candidates," who research potential employers on social sites like Glassdoor.
Suleman said recruiting the right employees -- as opposed to taking what comes -- makes all the difference. He introduced Ron Storm, the founder of the fast-growing counter-taxi service Lyft to build on the point.
Storm, whose company closed on $250 million of Round D funding just yesterday, said only 10 percent of those who apply to drive for Lyft are actually "hired." They are not employees, but 1099 contractors, he noted, yet they are to a soul committed to providing a superb customer experience. So sure is Lyft of the quality of the ride that the company allows customers to pay nothing for their trip if they're unhappy.
Up next came Robert Hohman, CEO of Glassdoor, who verbally elbowed the crowd of about 200 HR pros about the importance of mobile. About half his traffic now comes from mobile, but he guessed most of the audience members don't offer mobile-friendly career information.
Hohman also spoke to the importance of trust in the conversations that attract great workers. It used to be that we trusted CNN or The New York Times, but today people trust the people they know -- and even the anonymous people they don't know -- on social networks, he said. While Glassdoor currently relies primarily on anonymous posts, he said the company will soon push more into named posters.
Hohman allowed that it will take courage for senior executives to embrace unbridled employee chatter on social networks, but said it's critical to success. "The ability of us as employees to embrace this new technology is really going to test our metal," he said.
The Value of Values
LinkedIn, another social network for workers, has paved the way for much of what we see in HR technology today. But Mike Gamson, senior VP for Global Solutions there, stressed human values in his speech. He noted that LinkedIn conducted an employee survey in 2008 that "was horrible."
"It was literally in the nadir of that moment that we committed to being the best that we could be," he said. Gamson said that he now rates his employees more on the basis of how well they've embraced the company's values than on their actual performance. And he's a sales manager.