USA 2010 Tour
Reflections of the USA Tour -
Employer branding in USA v Rest of World
I find around the world people are looking for similar propositions in their employment experience. Whilst there is some variance based on their stage in the employment lifecycle, people needs can be grouped into five key areas. Employees are seeking:
- Fair pay for fair work – there is an imbalance of this in developed v developing nations and my concern is that developed nations have built their business models reliant upon continued access to lower wages in developing nations. We are seeing wage increases in countries such as China and India which are forcing companies to re-think their labor allocations and practices or face increasing pressure on margins.
- Recognition for performance – relationships play a key role in how performance is rewarded – it’s not always a case based on merit! My concern is that workplaces around the world are becoming much more self-centered as a result and this will make it increasingly difficult for companies to build employee loyalty to drive employer brand equity,
- Personal development – employees want to leave in a better stage of personal and professional development than when they arrived,
- Respect - no matter the industry type or nature of work, employees want respect from managers and fellow workers, and
- Friendly working environment - for many people around the world they spend more time at work than with family and friends which they care most about! So if leaders can somehow create a working environment which contributes to an employee’s sense of belonging that is good for employers and good for society!
The key differences I find in the USA compared to other regions I travel around the world can be grouped into 3 key areas:
- Connectedness – Americans have been quick to embrace technology and trends such as social media to the point where I feel they have one of the most (if not the most!) collegiate workforces in the world, they are on 24/7! The challenge will be how to balance this speed with productivity and employee and customer engagement.
- Pace - the rate of innovation and change – I find American companies are very focused on innovation and growth to drive increasing shareholder returns, sometimes at the expense of their most valuable asset, their people! This is at odds with how value is created in companies today – it’s the intangibles such as brand, people, IP, etc which contribute most to company value and if companies can’t keep employees engaged, they’re at risk of having a workforce which is not fully optimised.
- Competitiveness – I find America is by far the most competitive country on the planet, it’s win at all costs. The U.S has a reputation outside its borders as being focused on hard, rational performance measures with less focus on intangibles such as people. My concern is this focus may continue to drive innovation where people are replaced by robots leading to a whole range of social and health issues.
I thoroughly enjoy my visits to America and connections with my American colleagues. Their approach to business is refreshing and they always seem to find a way to overcome adversity. American patriotism is a wonderful part of its character!
22 June 2010
- Another day at the USA office in the morning before the long trip back to Australia.
- I've bought two new books to read on the trip home: 'A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers' and 'Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion.'
- Sad to leave the USA, I've had an amazing week here, was great to meet up with many of the people I collaborate with in the virtual world during the year. No matter how many relationships I form in the virtual world, nothing comes close to the learnings and relationships I develop during face-face connections during my global tour.
21 June 2010
- Finally a great nights sleep and over the jetlag. Just in time for the 28 hr trip back to Australia tomorrow! grrrr
- Into the Greer offices today. Great office set up, the film studios are excellent and it's great to watch it at play whilst I'm writing from here today.
- We'e also launching the findings of the Employer Brand International 'Influencers of employment choice' global research study today so looking over final copy of the press release before we push out.
- Experiencing the best coffees I've had in USA from a great little cafe in Minneapolis, talk about 'great employer brands are everywhere', this staff at this cafe seem to know everyone's name, looks like a place where people call their second home, and the food is great too!
20 June 2011
- Spent most of the day travelling back to Minneapolis via two hour drive from the Hamptons to JFK airport and then 2 1/2 flight back to Minneapolis.
- Line-ups and service at Delta at JFK once again very average, once on board the staff were fantastic, really crazy, misaligned customer/employee proposition!
- Starting to consolidate throughts from this trip to write an article tomorrow on employer branding from a global perspective - what are the similarities what are the differences!
- I cooked once again!
19 June 2010
- We drove out to the Hamptons this morning, about a 2 hr drive out of New York.
- The place is to die for! We spent the afternoon on a boat cruising the beautiful waters around the area. The boat was like the Baywatch Patrol boat and I held on for dear life! Why do men like to see how fast there boats can go! The seas were choppy but it cut through the waves so easily.
- Found a great place for lunch with a stunning view. Staff were some of the most friendliest I'm come across in the USA. Once again an endorsement of the high levels of customer service here in the hospitality and retail sector, with one exception, the hospitality/retail stores at the airports, seems like alot of disengaged staff are at the airports!
- When we made it back to our mooring we realised our boat to take us to shore was already at the shore! And the tide was in so we were a fair way out from shore.
- So in we all go, with out phones, wallets, camera, flip flops, etc in our hands above our heads and start sidestroking 100m to shore. Remember the part above about the choppy waters!
- I nearly drowned and Ryan lost his sunglasses and 1 flip flop. Luckily we found him a size 5 on the shore as the shore is very rocky with lots of shells!
18 June 2010
- I’m writing from the plane and it’s just started to jump around like a tyre in the ocean. There was a tornado around Minneapolis area yesterday and I am hoping we have just hit that! I hate small planes!!!
- Plan of attack was to get an early night last night as we had 7am flight today to New York which meant a 5am wake up. Well I suppose 12am was early for this trip! I then woke up on the hour for the next 4 hours and at 4.30am said, that’s it! I’m up!
- Easy check-in this time, we went 'Up in the Air George Clooney style – no baggage to check in! We also went thru the first class line so was happy about that.
- But then we got Delta-ised again. The luggage bins were tiny, no idea why they allow carry luggage of certain size but then don’t have the space to fit it. So I am frozen here with bag between my legs, the tightest leg room every experienced! But must say nice again happy staff. I’m thinking of they actually had a re-think about some of their systems and processes it wouldn’t be too hard to improve the customer experience, the staff are super friendly but the most of the customer touchpoints subtract from the value the staff contribute to the experience.
- Ryan then suggested breakfast and I thought sure, we order a hot breakfast and we had 40 minutes before takeoff. He said we have heaps of time! Breakfast came out 20 minutes later and I started to panic, Ryan said, “relax the gate is close.” OK!!! We discovered the gate was about 1mile away so we ended up getting a lift in n one of those airport buggies. Ryan did promise we would do New York in style.
- Forever grateful and impressed for the terrific customer service levels you get in America, I love this about the American culture.
- I’m quite excited to be arriving in New York. Everyone I know who’s been there raves about it and a friend said earlier this week, ‘New York is the centre of the universe!’ so it will be exciting to finally arrive there and connect in. I have no doubt it will give me a great perspective which you can’t get without actually being there!
- Met up with Bruce Dorskind and we had a good discussion about emoloyer branding in America and market trends and impact on the industry in the U.S.
17 June 2010
- Ryan and I had a film studio session at Greer Communications, very sharp agency based in Minneapolis. It was interview style and it’s going to be cut for some of our events in the second half of the year. It was alot of fun and Ryan pushed me to the edge a few times. We had a few laughs during the session as well so will be good to see how the cut comes out.
- Went shopping again which was tough in 30C heat but alot of the buildings in Minneapolis are connected with closed walkways so if you know where you are going you can stay in aircon comfort. Problem is I didn’t know where I was going!
- Ryan said he would change my life in Minneapolis and he did. It’s called Bikram yoga and if you have done if before you will know what I mean! I’m hooked. I did go a little easy as I knew I had a long weekend coming up. Ryan went full on and I thought I was going to have to revive him.
- We went via the supermarket and debating about whether to cook in or go out for dinner. Ryan gave in and I cooked an Aussie style barby!
- We’re back in the studio next Monday for more filming, this time conversational style.
- Watched the final game in the NBA basketball championships. Huge game very close, in the end the Lakers took it out. Another ring for the Lakers!
16 June 2010
- Ryan Estis picked me up at the airport with his customary truck driver horn pull!
- Great to see Ryan again, I stayed with him last year and I was lucky to be allowed to again! We’ve had many Skype’s over the past few years; I really enjoy his perspective on life, a little odd but interesting!! He writes a great blog and appears more connected than Obama; he has introduced me to some great people over the year.
- We got lost on the way to Heather Polivka’s house (for a barby!) which was about 15 minutes from Ryan’s place but took us an hour (Ryan I’ve seen that gas station at least 5 times now!!) He said the GPS was telling him to go the wrong way! I asked him if he had a street directory and he said, “what’s that!” I said ‘it’s like the yellow pages; it’s what everyone used as a phone book before technology!
- Everything in Ryan’s place is remote control, I got a headache trying to turn on the TV which the amount of options on the remote control!
- Up early again 5am urrrrrrgh! For a 8am flight to Minneapolis. I left to get to the airport early and lucky I did!! I was about to get Delta-ised! Arrived at the airport for check-in and found a 100m+ line (and it was for check baggage!)
- Checking in baggage like most airlines costs extra! On Delta it was USD$25 which is nearly triple that in Australia! Another customer touchpoint destroyed!
- After lining up for 45 mins still 60+ people in front of me! A nice chap from Delta took all the people on my flight through a separate line, dropped off bag and the roller wasn’t moving. Look like it was a tough morning for Delta!
- Getting through security was like getting undressed for a shower, everything off! Well not everything! I find the USA security by far the strictest in the world and slowest as well so I’m sure improvements to the security screening process will improve the customer experience.
- Next touchpoint was a disaster as well! Alot of people who had carry-on baggage couldn’t put their luggage in the overhead bins as they were full!
- So from airport arrival to take off, I can see why the fun out of flying has eroded for many here! I must congratulate the Delta staff as like the United cabin crew on the way over, they were fantastic and kept a smile on their face given what they have to work with from a systems and process point of view.
15 June 2010
- David Kippen Owner of Evviva Brands met me at my hotel and took me for a walking tour around SF, a great way to see the city.
- I kid you not I’m sure David was a SF tour guide in his previous life, the guy’s knowledge about the place is amazing.
- We jumped in a cab after I complained about the hillyness! The cab took us down to the famous wharf area including Pier 39. WOW what a fantastic experience. The wharf has one of the most electric vibes of any city I have been to.
- We checked out a bakery called Boudin where the staff there are like Rockstars! Really interesting bread too!
- We jumped back in a cab and ended up at a beautiful seafood restaurant. Like said David really knows all the best spots. We had a good chat about where employer branding is at in the USA and globally.
- After numerous skype’s over the past year it was terrific to finally meet him in person.
- Another beautiful day in SF, a gorgeous sunny blue sky day, really brings the place to life.
- Went out for a walk around the hotel and a bout of shopping.
- As they say everything is big in the US!! I went into a chemist and I kid you not there were about 55 varieties of head ache tablets. I think I chose the right ones but haven’t been able to sleep much ever since!!!
14 June 2010
- Mark Hornung picked me up at my hotel and took me to my first major league baseball game, the SF Giants vs. Baltimore Orioles, huge!
- I had a fantastic time and Mark is an amazing guy. The SF Giants won the game quite easily so we were happy about that!
- By the end of the game, Mark was right to suggest to rug up, it was bloody freezing by game’s end- summer in SF is like winter in Adelaide!!
- I thought Aussies loved their sport, the Americans are sports mad!
- Checked into hotel, the view is amazing! Thought I might try and catch some ZZZZZZ’s. I think I managed an hour or so and thought I was back in Adelaide when I woke up! Jetlag does crazy things!
- Went straight from airport to meeting with Melissa, Employer Brand Manager at Intuit. Real lovely lady and understands what employer branding is all about. Like most EB managers influencing executives and line managers on the value of employer branding is always a challenge, but at Intuit, Melissa and the team is getting some great results. Melissa also features in an Intuit case study in my new book, Employer Brand Leadership-A Global Perspective. It was great to meet her in person.
- Flew United Airlines and landed in San Francisco around 11am. An enjoyable flight with great cabin crew but they don’t really have much to work with to enhance the customer experience. Like most US airlines I’ve flown everything is rationalised to the point of breakpoint which I believe it will make it difficult for them to compete globally against the Middle Eastern and Asian airlines as they expand their global reach.
- Realised last night I didn’t have a connecting flight to Sydney where I am flying out to San Francisco today. Andrea went to book a flight and at 11pm on a Sunday night that was not easy to find a flight! Virgin Blue’s online booking system was also down but luckily managed to get a flight on Jetstar this morning. However this meant a 4hr stopover in Sydney which wasn’t all that bad, always enjoy the extra time to think when I travel. I do most of my business planning either in the air or in airports.