Written by: Connie Huber PHR SHRM-CP
“Are You the Best Employee”?
We hear frequently about organizations being an Employer of Choice or winning accolades declaring them a Best Company. In fact, many companies put much time and energy into having an outstanding work environment and culture.
But are you an extraordinary employee? Do you have the qualities that set you apart from your fellow employees? What does your boss want from you to exceed the performance of average employees? INC magazine shares in its article “How to Be Extraordinary: 9 Qualities Only the Best Employees Possess” by Jeff Haden. After reading, challenge yourself in deciding if you truly are the best employee.
Denise is the founder and CEO of BestCompaniesAZ. The organization has been at the forefront of building sought-after employer brands and prestigious workplace awards programs since 2003. BestCompaniesAZ helps award-winning employers position themselves as great places to work. In addition, BestCompaniesAZ also supports employers in talent attraction and recruiting; and employee engagement. Best employers are represented by financial services, healthcare, technology and service/solutions industries. BestCompaniesAZ knows what it takes to win workplace awards. As a job seeker, BestCompaniesAZ is a valued resource in finding a winning position with a Best Company. Open positions are listed on the organization’s website along with event specifics to meet Arizona’s best employers and profiles of those companies.
Today’s presentation was comprised of 8 award winning companies. These companies offered us an inside look at what it takes to ‘get hired by the best.’
PANEL 1: CHANGING THE CULTURE OF CALL CENTERS
FACT….There are 400 call centers in Phoenix!
Charles Schwab, Shannon Grimes, Talent Acquisition Manager
USAA, Latasha Cousey, Director, Phoenix Operations
DISH, Elizabeth Reed, Work at Home Coach
Synchrony Financial, Ignacio Bejarano, AVP Operations Manager
QUESTION: Please give an overview of your company and what you like best about the culture.
• CHARLES SCHWAB, Shannon: “Schwab is a financial services firm. Employees come to work each day to reach Schwab’s goals. Employees feel empowered to make a difference. It is a special place to work.”
• USAA, Latasha: “USAA provides full financial services to military and military families. USAA is a member-based company. All employees believe in USAA’s mission and serving those in the military.”
• DISH, Elizabeth: “DISH offers TV and Internet services. The company has a work at home program. The workforce is a tight knit one. DISH offers lots of technologies to serve customers. Employees take pride in customer service interactions. DISH supports their employees by providing them with a variety of opportunities.”
• Synchrony Financial, Ignacio: “I began working at Synchrony in January 2011. The company has a heritage of 80 years. Synchrony provides promotional funding to its customers. Customers’ voices are valued by the organization. Synchrony is experiencing continued growth and adding sales and fraud divisions. I like the level of engagement and diversity programs.”
QUESTION: What advice would you give to prospective employees?
• Synchrony Financial, Ignacio: “Synchrony is a career center rather than a call center. There is networking taking place within the company. There are diversity networks available. Cross state networking meetings are established and an active part of the employee population.”
• USAA, Latasha: “I echo the networking going on within USAA. I got my job at USAA through a contact from a previous employer. Make sure your resume stands out from the competition.”
• Charles Schwab, Shannon: “Your resume is important in securing a job with Schwab. Also need to have self-awareness of your skills and experience. Take advantage of available self-assessments such as DISC and Myers Briggs. They are great resources. Need to be confident in yourself and interview. Practice your interview skills and how to apply your skills to the job you applied for.”
• USAA, Latasha: “No member experience can be greater than the employee experience at USAA. USAA has a unique and employee centric environment filled with numerous perks. There is an on site gym, childcare center, break rooms that are focused in having employees relax. Most employees do not want to leave the campus. USAA takes care of its employees. If you choose a healthy meal at the cafeteria you are given a discount for eating healthy food.”
• DISH, Elizabeth: “Employees are given a flexible work environment. I work at home like many others. DISH is maximizing its head count with limited space restrictions. Employees will do a split schedule; working 4 hours in the morning, taking a break to run errands or take care of personal needs and then work 4 hours at night. Work at home employees are paired with a coach with like skills. Those at home are made to feel a part of DISH and engaged in their roles.”
QUESTION: Did you have any assumptions about call centers that were shattered once you joined a call center organization?
• Charles Schwab, Shannon: “I had worked in call centers prior to joining Schwab. Those centers were metric driven. Schwab is not metric driven and emphasizes high level of customer service. I watched one employee at Schwab who worked with a client that had $30 in their account. The employee’s manager complemented the employee on a job well done. Schwab maintains a professional environment with employees calmly helping clients.”
• USAA, Latasha: “I assumed an opportunity at USAA had to be filled with someone with prior experience. This is not true. Opportunity presents itself to employees. Career progression is allowed to take place.”
• DISH, Elizabeth: “DISH does not have the stigma of a call center. A number of opportunities are available to employees. It feels like home at DISH. The environment is very friendly and offers a lot of support. Employees have the opportunity to move up in DISH”.
• Synchrony Financial, Ignacio: “The environment at Synchrony keeps me there. Opportunities are available for employees. There is one culture for employees. Career paths are offered along with tuition reimbursement.”
QUESTION: Do you have established career paths/how do employees move throughout the organization?
• Charles Schwab, Shannon: “Schwab has a little bit of both. A lot depends on the employee. An employee can transfer in and out of a department. Most of Schwab’s recruiters and trainers started in a call center. I am leaving my current position in talent acquisition and moving into a social media role. Employees need to make the right connections within the organization and consistently be an advocate for the self.”
• USAA, Latasha: “We are responsible for are own careers professionally and as an employee of USAA. Employees are given an opportunity to talk to senior management. If you do well in your role, new open opportunities will become available. Employees should not place themselves in a silo but be open to career progression and opportunity.”
• Synchrony Financial, Ignacio: “Synchrony has several different programs. Employees need to seek out mentors within the organization. Skill training and employee based training are available. Those individuals who want to move ahead need to carry themselves well. Everyday you are interviewing in Synchrony’s work environment.”
• DISH, Elizabeth: “DISH has very structured careers. Employees should demonstrate an eagerness to learn. It is to the employee’s benefit to be consistent and advance in the company. DISH dedicates time to those who want to stay in the same position or move ahead.”
AUDIENCE QUESTION: What does a typical day look like in a call center? Do employees spend 100 percent of their day on the phone?
• USAA, Latasha: “Employees spend a lot of time on the phone. Metrics are not used to evaluate performance. Employees get two 20-minute breaks and 35-minute lunch and have a structured schedule. There are times when time is permitted to work on projects and research client issues.”
• DISH, Elizabeth: “Employees are mostly on the phone so they can develop their skills.”
QUESTION: Tell us some of the hot jobs you have available.
• Charles Schwab, Shannon: “There is the need for Broker Training candidates. It is a great entry-level position. If the Broker performs well, he/she is usually moved into another role in 18 months. Other openings are for Participant Services and Client Services. ”
• USAA, Latasha: “USAA is seeking Customer Service Representatives. Candidates do not have to have served in the military. Training for the role consists of a 12-week training period. Other opportunities are available in claims and for Financial Advisors. Benefits start on the employee’s first day of employment. For further details see website.”
• DISH, Elizabeth: “Work at Home program is looking for employees and coaches. DISH is growing fast and has a high need for qualified candidates.”
• Synchrony Financial, Ignacio: “Every job at Synchrony is a great opportunity. Benefits begin on day 1 of employment. To see openings go to Synchrony’s website.”
PANEL 2: NEVER EXPECTED TO BE WHERE I AM TODAY
Freedom Financial Network, LLC, Linda Luman, Vice President, Human Resources
Arizona Federal Credit Union, Eric Givens, Sr. Director of Digital Banking
Vanguard, Tyler Craig, Manager Personal Advisor Services
Nextiva, Amanda Dziuk, Talent Brand Manager
QUESTION: Please give an overview of your company and what you like best about the culture.
• Freedom Financial Network, LLC, Linda: “Freedom helps clients eliminate debt through debt settlement and consolidation. The team is filled with empathy.”
• Arizona Federal Credit Union, Eric: “The organization was started in 1936. Arizona Credit Union is a financial services leader. Routine coaching sessions take place at the credit union. Members make their money about their dreams. It is a fun place to work.”
• Vanguard, Eric: “There are 17,000 employees at Vanguard and offices around the world. 3,000 employees are based in Phoenix. Numerous opportunities are available. Vanguard is a client owned company. Employees put the needs of the client first.”
• Nextiva, Amanda: “Nextiva was started in 2008. The employee population has grown from 250 to 400 employees. The company focuses in technology and is currently expanding its IT and financial services. It is one of the fastest growing companies in Phoenix.”
QUESTION: What are the skills you need to land a job with your company?
• Freedom Financial Network, LLC, Linda: “Freedom is growing and expanding; and has numerous opportunities. Potential employees need to be flexible, have a sense of caring, be empathetic and able to bring compassion to the table.”
• Vanguard, Eric: “Candidates need to be positive, have a high energy level, and effective in having a positive influence on the entire membership. Company maintains an open door policy. Upper management loves feedback.”
• Arizona Federal Credit Union, Tyler: “Desired candidates need to have a passionate desire to help people. There is not a defined skill set sought in securing the right candidates. Employees need to connect with people effectively. There should be a desire to learn and grow; and enjoy the learning process.”
• Nextiva, Amanda: “The company provides good service to one another and clients. Employees need to have passion, a desire to learn products, open to change and being nimble.”
QUESTION: How has continuing your education helped you in your current role?
• Arizona Federal Credit Union, Eric: “A lot depends on the position. It is not a requirement to have a secondary degree. One advantage to a college degree is you learn to think and talk differently. The person is more important than a degree. Need to have high energy.”
• Freedom Financial Network, LLC, Linda: “Freedom is not focused on degrees. Employees have an opportunity to learn. “
• Nextiva, Amanda: “Nextiva has an apprenticeship program. Candidates need to have an interest in technology. Software experience is desirable. A lot depends on attitude. Employees are given time to improve.”
• Vanguard, Tyler: “Vanguard hires bachelor degrees. There are opportunities to obtain the required licenses. Employees can participate in tuition reimbursement.”
QUESTION: What is the best way to get started within your company?
• Freedom Financial Network, LLC, Linda: “Interested candidates should review their network to find employees at Freedom. LinkedIn is a great resource to find contacts. Networking and referrals are great resources.”
• Vanguard, Tyler: “Referrals are a great source in finding candidates. Interested candidates should review their connections to find a possible referrals.”
QUESTION: What do you tell others looking for a career about your job/career path?
• Nextiva, Amanda: “There is the opportunity for growth and transition. Nextiva’s President was the company’s first receptionist. Employees can grow with the company. Open internal positions are posted internally.”
• Arizona Federal Credit Union, Eric: “I was a communications major in college. I started in loan sales. College helped me with critical thinking. Next position was as a Repossession Specialist and then Call Center Lead. Now oversee nerd stuff and play with different gadgets. I come from a risk management background to current role.”
• Freedom Financial Services, LLC, Linda: “I started in a call center. While going to college, I was asked to hire people. Always had opportunities in areas that were unexpected. I have a passion for people. If you are given a lead, be sure to follow up.”
• Vanguard, Eric: “I started 11 years ago in a contact center. Was out of college 5 year before going to work at Vanguard. Current role allows exposure to all areas.”
• Nextiva, Amanda: “Depends on what you want to do. Start a conversation and connect with a recruiter.”
AUDIENCE QUESTION: What are the positives in working in a call center?
• Freedom Financial Network, LLC, Linda: “Employees work a flexible schedule. Number of different types of communication used at Freedom such as texting and email group.”
• Arizona Federal Credit Union, Eric: “Employees are not attached to remain in one place. They have the opportunity to move around. Different tech groups visit locations. Environment is welcoming.”
• Vanguard, Eric: “ There is a high level of professionalism and autonomy. Employees are not solving easy problems. Simple call center jobs are not available. Roles are problem solving ones.”
QUESTION: Tell us of some of the hot jobs you have available.
• Freedom Financial Network, LLC, Linda: “Some of the current opportunities include Negotiators, Sales and IT. There is a career progression at Freedom.”
• Arizona Federal Credit Union, Eric: “There are entry level opening in branches and call center.”
• Vanguard, Tyler: “There are a number of open positions including roles at the Contact Center, 401K participants and Financial Advisors.”
• Nextiva, Amanda: “Hot jobs include Product Managers, Network Engineers and Web Designers.
ADDITIONAL AWARD WINNING COMPANIES
Revana has 75 plus openings they need to fill before May 30, 2016
Progrexion is looking to add 100-150 employees before the end of the year. Training is all about the person.
GoDaddy is growing very quickly. The culture is one of a kind. There are 5,000 employees at the Tempe facility and approximately 3,000 at the Phoenix flagship location.
Hyatt Regency Phoenix
The Hyatt is a great place to work. Many employees are long tenure ones at 25 and 40 years of service. The General Manager has been at the Hyatt for 36 years.
New Horizons of Phoenix
Zack Hiscock, Vice President of Training
New Horizons has provided world-class training for over 30 years and over 30 million students. New Horizons recognizes that there are several learning styles and offers traditional, instructor led classroom training; online LIVE learning and online anytime learning. Learning tools are varied to meet the needs of students including hands-on labs, reference materials, practice exams, learning guides, coursework and exam preparation.
The Phoenix location is a new state-of-the-art training facility. Information Technology programs, Office Management and/or Healthcare Records Management programs, and Project/Production Management programs represent education offerings. Some of the items included in tuition are books & supplies, labs, on-going career services and 6-month re-sit option. New Horizons does provide Job Placement Assistance. The school offers top IT Certifications approved by the GI Bill. Additional funding sources are available up to $4K through the WIOA Program. New Horizons has free classes in Microsoft Office, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint.
Visit New Horizons today!
Jessica Pierce, Executive Director, Career Connectors, closed the meeting by thanking North Phoenix Baptist Church and the volunteers. The next Career Connectors meeting will be in Scottsdale on Thursday, May 12, 2016 and features Kirk Wilkinson as speaker for the topic “The Optimist’s Advantage”. For additional information on this event and future events, please visit our event schedule.