HRchat Podcast - Interviews with HR, Talent and Tech Experts

#319: Hiring Hourly Workers with Rich Crawford, TalentReef

July 27, 2021 The HR Gazette Season 1 Episode 319
HRchat Podcast - Interviews with HR, Talent and Tech Experts
#319: Hiring Hourly Workers with Rich Crawford, TalentReef
Show Notes Transcript

In this HRchat episode, we talk about how to make attracting and retaining hourly workers easier and more effective. Bill's guest this time is Rich Crawford, President and Chief Executive Officer at TalentReef, the cloud provider to recruit and retain the Service Industry’s Hourly workforce.

Rich holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Management degree from Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to joining TalentReef, he has excelled in executive leadership roles at market-leading companies. Most recently, Crawford was the CEO at SambaSafety where he led the SaaS company from a small regional driver risk solution provider to the leading national supplier of driver risk management solutions to enterprise customers as well as trucking, transportation, and middle-market companies.

Questions For Rich Include:  

  • Recruiting, hiring, and retaining hourly workers is very different from salaried employees. Can you paint a picture of why that's the case?
  • There's currently an hourly worker shortage. Can you share why you think that's happened and what businesses that employ hourly workers can do to increase applicant flow? 
  • There are some new recruiting and hiring obstacles as we come back from the pandemic – namely, applicant flow. What talent management tools or features can best help franchises struggling to boost applicant flow?
  • How to handle the oncoming tsunami of applicants as states start to drop unemployment benefits: Talk about just how big the surge of employees returning to the hourly pay workforce will be and what are the opportunities for hiring managers and HR. 
  • How does automated interview scheduling create a faster time-to-hire, and reduce no-shows?
  • When it comes to communications with candidates, why is two-way communication better than something like a bot that collects information and sends it to the hiring manager?


We do our best to ensure editorial objectivity. The views and ideas shared by our guests and sponsors are entirely independent of The HR Gazette, HRchat Podcast, and Iceni Media Inc.   

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the HR chat podcast, bringing the best of the HR and talent communities to you.

Speaker 2:

Welcome to another episode of the HR chat show. I am your host today, bill Banham and in this HR chat, we're going to talk about how to make attracting and retaining hourly workers easier and more effective. My guest this time is rich COVID president and CEO at talentReef the market leading cloud provider to recruit and retain the service industries. Hourly workforce rich holds a bachelor of science in industrial management from Georgia tech in Atlanta. Prior to joining talent reef , he has excelled in executive leadership roles at market leading companies. Most recently, rich was the CEO at Samba safety, where he led the SAS company from a small regional driver risk solution provider to the leading national supplier of driver risk management solutions to enterprise customers, as well as trucking transportation and middle market companies. Rich. It's my pleasure to welcome you to the HR chat show today.

Speaker 3:

Thanks for inviting me. So

Speaker 2:

It'd be on my wee introduction there. Rich, why don't you start by taking a minute or two and telling our listeners a bit about yourself?

Speaker 3:

Sure. Yeah. By rich Crawford, I'm the CEO of talent reef. I like to describe myself having been in the hardware side of the business and the first half of my career and switched over to the software. Certainly software is where things are happening today and have been for quite some time. You know, I think it was , uh , one of the major venture capitalists out of Silicon valley since software is going to eat everything. And that's certainly true. We can identify a problem. There's most likely a way that software can either solve the problem or help solve the problem . So , uh , I've been doing this for well over 20 years and glad to be a talent read for these last couple.

Speaker 2:

Let's start by talking a bit about recruiting, hiring and retaining hourly workers. That's a very different proposition perhaps to salaried employees. Can , can you start by painting a picture of why that's the case?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so, and we even differentiate that a little bit further, bill, we, we think about decentralized or location-based higher means. So think about restaurants. Think about grocery stores, thinking about convenience stores. You may have a corporation or a brand that either owns, or has a franchise or a franchise agreement with, you know , hundreds or even thousands of locations. But at the location level, they're all really pretty small businesses, right? Very small to small businesses. So it presents some unique challenges. How do I source and recruit and hire these people? I still have to follow your compliance. I've got to do all the right things, but these are managers who are running a store. Um, and, and, you know, in many cases doing a variety of different jobs and tasks, and yet they also have to recruit and hire these hourly employees. These hourly employees are sort of noted by , uh , the fact that there's probably a lot of them are part-time workers are not full-time jobs. Uh , they're , they're lower in terms of on the skill set . So, you know, we can take basic skills and hire these people in . There's also a very high turnover. These people are either in a transition in their life . It could be going to school, they could be, you know , doing other things. So you're going to have a , uh, nationally, a very high turnover. So you're going to have situation where you've got you. Don't non-professional people don't have resumes, don't have profiles, and yet, you know, you need to hire a bunch of people fast and therefore create some real challenges , uh, for both the brand and the location. So we step in and we try and understand that we try and solve those unique problems associated with that type of market.

Speaker 2:

There's currently an hourly worker shortage going on. Of course, I mean, there's a , there's a shortage for all types of talent right now, which is exciting for some people and terrifying for others, but in terms of hourly workers. Okay. Can you, can you share why you think that the shortage has happened and what businesses that employ hourly workers can do to increase their applicant flow?

Speaker 3:

Well, you know, I think that's a pretty loaded and a complicated question. I think there's a lot of factors. Certainly, you know, if we look at pre pandemic and into the pandemic and now post pandemic, we have seen some , uh , structural changes and not just whether companies were open or close and they were hiring people or not. But I, I think, you know, other changes related to , uh, certainly unemployment benefits that , um, the federal, federal government and state governments have provided these workers, but also think you've had a shift where these workers , um, either don't feel safe being in contact with the public , um, maybe the, the, the quality of the work was not bad . Good. And I would agree that in many cases, working in some of these industries is a challenge. It's tough. And so therefore I think you've got this other , uh , kind of factor that's that's , uh , crept in , which is the, the rate of pay to attract , uh , workers like this, you know, off of the bends and to , to get into the game of working. So, so I think we've got a number of different factors. I think prior to the pandemic , uh, it was status quo. You know, people went about their business. They, they , uh, if they needed some money, they would , uh, join the labor force and work for whatever period of time they wanted to and jump out when they didn't. And now you've got , um , from, for a variety of, you've got more and more of these typical , uh , workers who are on the sidelines. They're not joining the workforce. We do think that things are changing as some of the stimulus winds down and ends. There's going to be more pressure on these , uh , people who want to work and need to work to get back into the labor market. But I do think some things have changed pretty significantly. And I think there's, you know , like so many things post pandemic, the new normal, and I think one of them is a pay rate, which, you know , has been a big driver to try and get people off of the sidelines. In the most recent months.

Speaker 2:

I want to keep talking to you about applicant flow for a little while, rich in terms of new recruiting and hiring obstacles. As we, as we come out to the pandemic as subsidies as furloughs do, and what talent management tools or features can best help franchises struggling to boost their applicant

Speaker 3:

Flow. You know, number one, bill, we, we know that because the location manager is , is so busy, so challenged right now. It's sort of interesting. It's, it's , uh , it's sort of a perfect storm of pent-up demand on the consumer side. They want to get out, they want to go eat, they want to go shop, they want to go buy . And so they're going to all these locations that, that normally would have a robust staff of hourly workers they're understaffed. So puts a pressure on location manager and assistant managers. I read a recent article that , um, uh, you've got these at the managerial side of the locations they're working, you know, upwards of 12 hours a day, five or six days a week. And they're , there's almost a , uh , you know, potential burnout situation there. So, so you've got this, you know, pent-up of demand. You've got , um, the, the location managers already working, you know , extended hours. And so how am I also going to recruit, how do I select people? I guess the real, you know , short answer is it's gotta be automated, which is what all of our, excuse me, all of our customers have understood for quite some time, you know? And , and, and let's go back to the fundamentals of , of these types of businesses. These are labor driven businesses that require labor to generate revenue. And almost by definition, they tend to be lower margin businesses. So it's not like, you know, any of these businesses, either at the brand level, the corporate level or the location level can throw a bunch of money at trying to solve this particular problem. So, you know, they're in a conundrum, but the short answer again is automation. We've got to be able to build automation, streamline the process. We've got an automatically, you know, find where the applicants are. You'll go to job boards, build career sites, you know, try and recruit locally at the location, you'll get employee referrals, but all of us got to get stitched together into a solution that flows as data flows, these potential applicants. And then, you know , we engage them. We , we tell them about the job. We entice them with, you know, a location close to them, a job they're interested in a brand. They like , by the way , uh, you know, it's , it's sort of well known that , uh, consumers like certain brands and therefore, if they want to work or need to work, they may want to work for a brand that really likes . So we want to take advantage of all these, you know , buying signals, if you will , uh, these applicants signals, but then once we get them into a , an applicant flow, we , we very quickly have to engage them very quickly, have to get them to a manager to make a hiring or not hungry decision, because you know, the , these applicants are very fickle these days, right? There's so many choices. If you think about it, it's a buyers market for applicants. I can choose company a, B or C and very quickly move from one to the other. If I don't like something, I don't get a response that applicant's going to move on. So we have to think about automation. Uh , we have to think about, you know, streamlining the entire process and something that a talent reef has done is really focused on speed. We have speeded up the entire end-to-end process, such that, you know, we're not letting these applicants drop off because there is some delay in the process. So, so, you know , kind of a long winded answer about, you know, how do we try and think about this problem? You know, automation speed taking the complexity away from both the brand and the location and making the software do that work for them, but then surfacing Joe , the right candidate the right time, so that managers can make an immediate decision. And basically it's a one-click hire. And then on the backend , again, we automate that entire onboarding process. So we make it very simple, very easy, very automated , uh, to allow that location, to try and do the best it can in , in very challenging times to , to recruit and to get people hired, to get them accepted and get them onboard and get them to work as fast as possible.

Speaker 2:

A lot of the conversations I've had recently with, with other leaders , uh , has been around something that you just mentioned there , rich, which is a affinity with, with an employer brand. And most of those conversations have been in the context of attracting or retaining employees , salaried employees, as opposed to hourly workers. But that really interests me what you just mentioned there. So I'm just going to tease a little bit more out of you. How important do you think it is that hourly workers have have some degree of affinity with the brand that they're going to be working with as well? Does it, does it matter so much? If so, I mean, by the way, I , I worked in bars and whatnot during university, I've been an hourly worker and some of the places I worked at , I , I just really respected the manager. I loved the brand and yeah, I probably worked a little bit harder because of that. And that was my personal experience, but what , what are you guys seeing?

Speaker 3:

W we do think it's important. We think that , um, branding is a very important part of sourcing and recruiting, right? So let's say, you know, I've got, you know, an unknown entity, you know, and it's the same job. I'm a cashier at sort of the unknown or a cashier at a, you know , one of our large brands, you know, call it taco bell or burger king or something like that. And if that person has got a, a positive affinity for that brand, I think there's much more likely that they're going to read the job description. They're going to, they're going to be interested in that particular job and then potentially follow through with that. So now, yeah , I would say bill USB reel , if the , uh, if the, you know , name brand is paying $2 an hour, less than the unknown brand, guess what's going to happen, right. I think money is going to drive that applicant, but assuming all things else being equal, I believe that brand , uh , emphasis is going to help attract and, and did that applicant to come all the way through the process and , and potentially become hired . So , uh , we brand everything. We brand career site, we brands off descriptions , we even brand inside of the application flow so that we're constantly showing and emphasizing the brand. So that applicant, this is part of the engagement, you know, it's, it's one thing to say, Hey, I've got a job. It's a , that's another thing too , you know , digitally, you know , engage that applicant and continue to emphasize, you know, the job, the location, the benefits, the , the support they're going to get the working environment. So this branding concept , uh , we think is very, very important now. And by the way, forever, I mean, we think this is just something that, you know, always has to occur. Uh, talent reef has always been a leader in doing that. And we'll continue to emphasize that a lot of

Speaker 2:

People right now rich are kind of scratching their heads because they know something big is about to happen. But I don't know if everybody really understands how big the , the tsunami of applicants is going to be as , as states start to drop unemployment benefits to it. Talk to me a bit about just how big the surge of employees returning to the hourly pay workforce will be, and what are some of the opportunities for hiring managers and indeed the HR,

Speaker 3:

You know, it's , it's interesting. Uh , I don't, I think that's an unknown, right? I , I read a lot about, and what economics , uh , the economist say about , uh, how much the unemployment benefits of the stimulus is, you know , either keeping people off, you know, or keep, sorry, keeping people on the sidelines away from the workforce versus your OEM saying they go back into the workforce. But, you know, we're seeing the trend, the states that stopped the additional , uh, federal unemployment benefits. You're seeing an uptick in people coming back into the labor market. So we just have to assume that that's going to be true, you know , across the rest of the states, you know, as this, a federal benefit goes away or gets them in. And so, but what's interesting for, you know , our customer base and, you know, again, we've got, you know , restaurants, quick serve restaurants, fast, casual that grocery store, convenience store entertainment, you know, movie theaters are just kind of coming back up and coming online. Um, your meat, packing plants, all these businesses traditionally have a very high turnover anyway . So there's always a high demand for employees. It doesn't matter if you know, the , the market is low bust . Like it is today with 10 up consumer demand, or it's more normalized where we just have a steady, ongoing demand, but the , the requirement for applicants and the requirement for new employees is constant. And bill, I think the way that we think about it and the way that our software works is it's a very subtle pivot from quantity. So today we're in full quantity. If you imagine a , you know, a dial and you could turn your doll all the way to the lock to quantity, that's where most of our customers are, are kind of gearing or, or, you know, customizing the software. You know, it's almost like, you know , you can fog a mirror. In other words , give me a phone number, or give me a name and the phone number. I want to talk to you, right. As we see more and more applicants come in. And so we call that top of the funnel of we're sourcing applicants for a job, let's say a cashier at, at a taco bell. Um, you know , if I've got this plenty of applicants coming in, now, it can become a little bit more selective. So imagine that dial, I start to turn that knob a little bit to the right, and we're starting to ask some questions. So first thing we do is ask knockout questions, like know , are you 18? Can you lift 50 pounds? Uh , you know, certain questions that if the answer is no, it's like, Hey, at least for this particular job, you know, it's not a good fit. And then as we get to, you know , more and more quality of candidate, we're looking for now, we can start to ask, we call them positive questions. We want to fit the person to the job, make sure that we do have the right characteristics, the right communication skill set , you know, the right, your personality profile for the job. And so now, you know, we can ask these questions and finally, we can actually go to a full assessment. We've got an embedded video assessment tool that , uh , visual assessment tool that allows a candidate very quickly to say, pick one or two, they get images. You know, one might be a cat. One might be a dog. I mean, you're by themselves. You don't mean anything, but there's science behind it. That also helps. Although case and manager understand what's the best fit for this particular applicant. So as you can imagine, right now, we're full hard, left quantity, quantity. I just want anybody that might be interested , uh , because I, you know, I got to have as many advanced as possible to try and fire the people I need as this applicant flow comes back up. As we start to source more applicants. Now we start to slowly move that dial to the right where we're going to qualify, you know , more and more, we're going to try and get the better fit between person and job. And then our location managers. Again, this is all you'll kind of done automatically though , case managers are going to be served up, not only a person, but information on that person beforehand, they get the interview automatically scheduled with information to say, this person looks to be a great fit for that job you want. So now the manager can ask a few qualifying questions, make a decision very quickly and move that person to onboarding. So there will be a subtle shift that occurs as more and more of these applicants come into the market, looking for jobs, and all of our customers can start to tune a little bit toward better fit, as opposed to, I just need anybody to come in and help me.

Speaker 2:

I wonder what the right answer is, dog or cat. I'd probably go dog , but I have no idea if that's, if that's the better answer to give . Okay. So you actually just spoke a bit there about , uh , quantity and you spoke about , uh , quality checks there, but I'd like to tease a bit more out of you in terms of the automation and how that , uh , speeds up the time to hire. Can, can you maybe share how does automated interview scheduling create a faster time to hire and reduce no-shows ?

Speaker 3:

Well, yeah, again, thinking about this applicant engagement, and I even think, you know, when there's , uh , a number of applicants , you know, additional applicants coming onto the market speed is still a requirement. We've got to get that applicant while they're interested through the process very, very quickly. So to do that, you know, we're going to ask for certain information , uh, you know, hopefully as little as possible, depending on our, our , uh , customer , um, we've got a very short form that we can collect enough information to , to start to understand who that applicant is. And then if we add a couple of these knockout questions, make sure they're qualified, they can lift, you know, a certain amount of weight . They're 18 years old. Maybe they have a driver's license, whatever the requirements may be. We can do, you know , some kind of a fit assessment. And then, you know, with that, we automatically score that. We say, well, this is this, a very good, very qualified candidate, you know, and we immediately then go back and say, you know , would you like to come in and meet the manager? Yes. You know, what day is good for you? Let's say Tuesday, two o'clock of the managers already preset their time on a calendar I'm available. Uh, we schedule that right then and there. And then that, that interview is scheduled for that next step, which basically is the hiring stuff. So if you think about it in just a few minutes, you can go from not knowing this applicant understanding and nothing about the applicant , um , making sure that there's a fit to the job and then getting that interview scheduled. So all of that happens in a matter of minutes. And then, you know, obviously then the, Madison's got the ability to , uh, to ask some other qualifying questions, make sure there's good personality that you know, between the manager and the applicant in that location, and then make that hiring decision. So it doesn't matter, you know, today or things, you know , uh, slowed down a bit in terms of , uh, the hiring process , uh ,

Speaker 4:

Engaging, attracting, and engaging that applicant quickly is going to be paramount. Uh, you know, for any of these job types , uh , going forward,

Speaker 2:

Listeners of my show will know that I believe that we live in the future heck where we're six years past , back to the future to now, you know, so we are really, really living in the future. And , uh , as , as, as, as a member of the future, someone living in the future, I see bots around me all the time. I see AI around me all the time. I say machine learning around me all the time, but it doesn't mean that you should take the people out of the processes entirely. And when it comes to communications with candidates for it , why is, what if you, if you agree, what , what , why , why would you say that two way communication is better than something like a bot that collects information and sends it to the hiring manager?

Speaker 3:

You know , bill is sort of interesting. We , we think that there's a place for both , uh, you know, two way person to person communication, as well as certain bots. Right? If you think about what a bot does, it tries to automate a very low value function, right? If, if I have a question, a 2:00 AM and I say, Hey, what are the store hours? Well, we're open from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM, wherever that might be right? You don't necessarily need to engage a person for certain things like that. If someone's on a career site, you know, let's say they're on taco bell corporate, and they have general questions about yo benefits of general questions about , um, you know, certain aspects of working for that brand. Uh, a bot can certainly fill in and do that. But I think, you know , what we're trying to emphasize is we can engage with that applicants in the way, number one, the applicant wants to be engaged. So for example, on the apply side, if an applicant wants to apply, they could choose between a form, you know, a very quick efficient form. You can get through that in a minute or two, or they could go through a bot process, right? The bot process could be, tell me your name. My name is rich Crawford. Okay, great. Thanks rich . Now give me your email address that process while good and intuitive and easy can actually take a lot longer. So it depends on that particular applicant. Do they want to engage that way? Do I engaged to a form either way? You're also going to want that hiring manager to , to create some engagement with the or recruiter, by the way, you could have either national, regional recruiters helping the location manager so that, that, you know, call it regional recruiter may say, Hey, bill, I saw you applied. We're really excited to have you apply to our business. Uh, we'd like to, you know, can't wait to see you next week, whatever the case may be. Do you have any questions? So, you know, what we're trying to do bill is we're trying to say, how is the, how does the applicant want to engage with the business? And therefore, will the business be able to offer the right tools and the right capabilities to match what the applicant wants to do? This is clearly a buyer's market again, right? This has been an applicant driven market. Um, I don't like something I see, or if it takes too long or if it's too cumbersome or something breaks I'm outta here, right. I just went to some other place to go look for a job. So we actually think that two-way communications. We think bots, we think all the technology, you know, that we can deploy is, is the right way to do it. Now, you know, the big, the big , uh, challenge I think is making sure we deploy technology the right way. We don't want to take out the , the interpersonal communication. We want to make sure that where we need it, we can surface it. The technology makes it very fast, very easy, and allows both the applicant manager to communicate the way they want to, and , and to encourage that applicant to come forward toward that interview and toward that , uh , that hiring decision.

Speaker 2:

Rich , I'm sad to say we already coming towards the end of this interview before we do wrap things up, though. How can, how can our listeners connect with you personally? So maybe that's a email, maybe that's LinkedIn, maybe your super calling on Tik TOK. Maybe you've got your own chat bot that manages all your family , or how can they also learn more about talent reef ?

Speaker 3:

Well, the first, first and foremost is talent reef.com . We've got , uh, certainly I've infer information about the company. We've got blog posts. We've got a lot of information about the challenges that, you know, if you're in a , a location-based hourly market , uh, we've got a lot of, a lot of information about that. And then we have contact pages. So you can contact , uh, our sales team. You know , for me, my email is our Crawford at talent we've dot com. So probably the best way to send something directly to me, but , um, we've got a number of ways to connect bill and we love to, you know , talk to anyone who is challenged by some of the things that we've talked about this morning and , uh, would love to tell them more

Speaker 2:

Wonderful. Well, that just leads me to say for today. Rich, thank you so much for joining me on this episode of the HR check show.

Speaker 4:

Thanks bill. Enjoyed it

Speaker 2:

And listen to this as always until next time. Happy working.

Speaker 1:

Thank you for listening to the HR chat brought to you by the HR design .