Money buys happiness
For many years, consultants, especially those in the reward profession, have contended that there is more to attracting and retaining talent, than money. While that assertion may be valid for those occupying the seven figure levels of the organisation or those paid to do nothing, the masses would disagree. Money is the deal breaker in their lives.
A recent Gallup World Poll provided wholesome nuggets in this regard. According to the poll, we are a happy lot or to be precise, South Africa is the 73rd happiest country. The poll measured two types of well being of the participants – (1) overall satisfaction with their life and (2) how they had felt the previous day. The researchers found that the top countries in the poll (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden & Netherlands), had high gross domestic products and had higher number of participants ‘thriving” rather than “struggling”. Money contributed to the participant’s overall satisfaction with their life and the “price” of happiness. When it came to day to day happiness, the participants focused on whether their psychological and social needs were met.
I was chatting with a friend about her workplace experiences and then it happened. She was about to share some confidential stuff….’hello, are you still there?” Silence
The call was dropped. I quickly called back, but she had taken another call in the interim. Maybe I will share the confidential stuff in a future column, but that dropped call started something. For a long time, South Africans have hung up on cellular companies ever getting it right: mind bending packages, appalling store service, exorbitant hidden costs, SMS scams, erratic data speeds, and sneaky fine print. (In that context, I should be grateful that my worst experience was a dropped call.)
So when a famous comedian loaded a video clip on You Tube, blasting the cellular companies, it got attention. And when the comedian targeted Cell C, as the worst of the lot, it got their attention too. Not a typical call from customer service or a notice from the legal team. Within days, Cell C responded with a full page apology in Sunday newspapers, minus the corporate spin. Cell C acknowledged the shortcomings and committed to turning things around. In a country, where we expect companies to deny everything, with a straight face, it was unbelievable. But Cell C went further. They appointed the comedian as the CEO (Customer Experience Officer), launched a new logo and online customer complaints service.
If this was the future of airtime, I was ready to sign up. The ideas came thick and fast. I was going to showcase the frustrations of talent, outside and inside Cell C. I was going to assist those talented individuals that tried to hop from other cellular companies to Cell C, only find their “call” to the interview was permanently blocked. Maybe I could collect comments from disillusioned Cell C employees for a 60 minute, tell-it-all video. Backed up by a Facebook fan page and Twitter stream, I was onto a winner. If my plan came to fruition and Cell C responded in a similar manner, I would be joining the CEO as the TEO (Talent Experience Officer).
Wishful thinking! The plan was killed in its folder on the (C:) drive. I subsequently learnt that the celebrity, the video clip, the newspaper advert and the rest of this experience was not the real deal. Rather it is part of the R 150 million reboot, an elaborate PR exercise to woo customers in a saturated market.
Will it work? Are customers going to switch cell phone providers? Will talent flock to Cell C? It is too early to call home on this campaign. But, I’m already disappointed with the experience – tricked into believing that a cellular company was prepared to acknowledge their short comings and sincerely wanted to fix it. To top it up, I’ve heard that Cell C has been restructuring and outsourcing some functions. That could be just a cost cutting drive or a bold attempt to transform the workforce. After infrastructure issues, many cellular gripes are directly related to dim, disengaged or dishonest staff. Or devious staff that created the mind bending packages and sneaky fine print. Getting talent on board, whether it is engaging current staff or those in the outsourced operations, will determine Cell C’s success in the months ahead.
I’m out of my free minutes for this month. Maybe you can call back…
I’d love to hear your comments about money, happiness and talent in your organisation.
(HR Future, October 2010)