HR Pros: Do You REALLY Know Who Your Customers Are?

Oct 13, 2021

Not Demographics...Psychographics

A Disney Classic Should Guide Your HR Process

The Disney Company has been a part of my life since I was a kid. I saw the movies, the tv shows and visited Walt Disney World while I was still in Holy Trinity School in Central Falls, RI.

Later, Walt Disney World would become my 1st employer when I graduated from Johnson & Wales University. I remember attending the Disney World Orientation officially called Traditions. Traditions focused heavily on what is arguably the most iconic Disney tune of all time: Be Our Guest.

This guided everything related to my role with Disney. Welcome. Open Palms. Thank You. Many of the concepts we do in our daily life but seem to stop once you walk in the door at work.

As my career progressed and I moved into other jobs and eventually into Human Resources, I carried all the lessons I learned at Disney. Most importantly, employees/team members/associates are my customer. So are external applicants.

Don't Be Like Certain Unnamed Cable Companies And Their Notoriously BAD Customer Service...

It's so easy to forget we in Human Resources are also in Customer Service. Our customers doesn't pay in cash, check, or credit card but rather in time, effort and output.

I remember the stories in years past of the absolutely horrible customer service from a major cable company plastered across the news on a near daily basis.

I believe it got so bad they ultimately changed their name to disassociate themselves from that horrible public relations nightmare.

They, like many in Human Resources, made a critical error:

They didn't understand their customer, or worse, didn't care.

Their customer wanted someone to listen to their issues, take ownership, and solve it. Pretty simple stuff when it comes right down to it.

I see this more and more with a number of my colleagues and ill-informed companies on a near daily basis.

The world is often under different pressures and businesses are finding that true as of late when it comes to filling open positions. More openings than candidates is the norm these days.

There are any number of possible explanations for this and everyone has an opinion on it, so do I.

I've spoken and written before about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. As a recap, here is the hierarchy:

  1. Physiological needs 
  2. Safety needs
  3. Love and belongingness needs
  4. Esteem needs
  5. Self-actualization needs

The way this hierarchy works is you have to achieve the bottom step 1st before you move up to the next step in the pyramid. So Physiological has to be achieved before Safety can be addressed. and you cannot achieve Love and belonging unless both Physiological and Safety have been achieved and so forth.

It is my contention many companies are struggling because of the Physiological and Safety levels.

Let's look at Physiological and the shelter component specifically. So many parents are dealing with schooling and in a lot cases, the inability to have their children attend in-person school. This means a parent has the child participating in remote learning and in a vast majority of cases, this is being done at home.

What is a parent supposed to do if they cannot work remotely?

This EXACT situation is keeping many parents out of the workforce.

Now let's look at the Love and belonging level. Friendship and connection are 2 pieces of that puzzle but remember, Physiological and Safety have to be achieved 1st.

So if the Physiological needs are met and there is an issue on the Safety level, it doesn't matter if we make a new employee feel like a member of the family or make real connections with them.

Look, at the time of this publication, COVID-19 is still a major concern for every human being on Earth. Here in the States, the concerns run on a spectrum from mask or no mask to vaccination mandate or no vaccination mandate and a host of others.

These speak directly to the Safety level whether personal safety or health or another. Have this category in question and chances are good you'll struggle hiring or at a minimum keeping people with you.

Knowing Your Customer Is A Must

With my brief contention above, I say Human Resources Professionals do not know their customers well enough.

  • What is it our team wants?
  • What is it our team needs?
  • What matters to our team?

Ask your team and you may be surprised at some of the answers.

Typically work with an entry level skill population where pay and compensation are important? You may hear daily pay would make them happier and stick around longer or be a tool for attracting new candidates.

Working parents? You may find a childcare benefit or alternative schooling option may be just the ticket. I have explored this option and found I can negotiate lower costs to the employee and not have to be funded at all by the company.

High School or recent College graduates? Tuition reimbursement, scholarships or discounted tuition may be options. Here again, I have investigated these options and there are many where the company does not have to pay and a better rate for the employee can be negotiated.

Yes, you may have to fund a tuition reimbursement or scholarship program but when you look at your advertising and hiring spend including labor etc, it may be more viable to invest in these programs and generate some good will and positive relations with the community than to invest in massive amounts of turnover. Let the ROI guide you.

Be Our Guest...

We come back to the famous Disney catch-phrase, Be Our Guest.

How do you treat a friend or family member who enters your home?

  • Do you offer them a drink?
  • Do you know what their favorite drink is?
  • Do you make sure they are comfortable?

It's not different when it comes to being in Human Resources. Knowing a little about them and providing opportunities for their success are not complicated, but they do require you to put some effort into it.

So I challenge you to challenge yourself and ask, "How can I determine what my team/candidates need"?

And then I challenge you further to actually do something about it.

Now, nothing IS something, but you ARE better than that, right?