An Interactive Case Study
A change of pace for mid-summer. A case study for you to explore and comment on. Let me know if you like this sort of challenge.
Charlene faces a challenge. One month ago, she was hired to work with a hiring manager who had about 200 call center requisitions to fill in a 90-day window. The positions weren’t unusual and did not seem hard to fill. The recruiter prior to Charlene had hired a mix of fifty new college graduates, retirees, and experienced former call center employees. Yet turnover was increasing, especially with the new college grads. So Charlene had to not only hire the 200 new employees but also replace the ones who had left and try and understand why the college grads were unhappy..
At first blush, Charlene felt confident she could meet the challenge. After all, the skills she sought were basic, and prior experience was not a requirement. The company had an excellent training program that had won awards for its use of interactive e-learning. There were also an online set of documents and FAQs that augmented the training. Most new hires were up to speed within a week or two,
Charlene was tempted to recruit more college graduates because the company had a well-regarded career path that could provide them with other opportunities later. But she was concerned because of the high turnover from the previous hires. She decided to present only candidates with previous experience or retirees until she could better understand why the college grads had resigned.
But things were not going well. The hiring manager has only agreed to hire two of the twenty candidates she has presented and has complained that they are too old or not competent enough. Charlene feels the job descriptions are very poor and misleading. From her observations of the work required she feels that the candidates she has presented are perfectly able to do the work.
She feels the manager does not really understand what the call center people do or what skills they need.
However, her boss says, “Charlene spends too much time questioning the job requirements rather than just getting to work hiring people.” He goes on to say that as far as he knows, the hiring manager wants her to “ . . . find me young, smart people and I’ll train them what to do. I don’t need old people.” He is swamped and expects her, an experienced recruiter, to be capable of hiring these people without his help.
Even though many college hires have left after only a few months, he still prefers them over others. He questions her focus on retirees because he feels they do not have enough energy and work too slowly. He would prefer she hires younger people.
This company has over 1000 employees located in the United States, with sales of more than US$1 billion. The average age of employees is around 35, with only the CEO and a few other top managers over 40. The hiring manager is close to Charlene’s age- around 30. A few recruiters focus on different hiring needs, including IT, but they are too busy to offer much advice. The company has a good reputation for customer service and is very proud of its high service standards. Customers find that response times are reasonable and that their issues get resolved quickly. This is a big difference from where she had worked before. She feels she must understand the competencies needed and assess candidates against those competencies.
New employees face the daunting prospect of meeting the time and quality demands of the position. Even with the training they received, this is still challenging. Finding the right people is essential to keep turnover as low as possible.
This company has real-time performance feedback for call center reps, who are always aware of how well they are doing compared to other call centers. All the representatives get paid partially on how quickly and well they resolve customer issues. The few who have been at the company for more than a year are well paid and enjoy the fast-paced work. Many are older and seem to work well. Charlene wants to understand what their competencies are so she can look for others with similar skills.
The issue is how can Charlene satisfy her boss and hire high-quality people? How does she deal with the discrimination issues? Is her approach the best one? If you were Charlene, what would you do in this situation? How can Charlene succeed?
Please share your thoughts in the comments. Your ideas will help others facing similar situations.
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