Webinar presenter Halcyon Frank answered a number of your questions after her presentation, NG911: It’s More than Just Technology. Here are just a few of her responses.
Audience Question: What are you seeing across the US in terms of the most successful recruiting strategies? What are they and what’s working best at the agencies that you’ve seen that tend to be fully staffed?
Halcyon Frank: That is a great question, and I don’t know that I have a good solid answer. I know that people have definitely mentioned to me utilizing social media for recruitment versus maybe other ways that are kind of fading out, using job boards like Indeed where people are more likely to go look for a job. I think it has been something that people have talked about, and kind of getting creative. So, I don’t know exactly how well they’ve worked, necessarily. But I know people are doing essentially like dispatch open houses, either virtually or in person where they invite people to come in, see the center, which includes maybe some sit alongs so that way they can see firsthand what the job is like before they apply or after they apply to see if that’s something they do want to go forward with. So, doing kind of open house. The other thing that people have done is printing off a business card type card with the information for the agency and a contact person’s information. And then when they’re out in the world if somebody has a really good customer service, or they see somebody and maybe a store or a restaurant handle kind of a tense situation really well, giving them that card. Are you interested in maybe a career dispatch, or learning more about it, I’m kind of actively recruiting that way as well. Because they see those skills, they can then transfer to the Dispatch center.
Host: That is a great recommendation. I know one of our police chiefs who present with us fairly frequently, has said the exact same thing, that she carries a business card with her specifically for that reason. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a person at a restaurant or at Best Buy, If they’ve got the right attitude and right demeanor, she’s interested in talking to them further. So that’s a great recommendation, thank you.
Halcyon Frank: I’ve seen people on Facebook groups, they go, “I want to get into dispatch what’s, what kind of classes should I take?” And in my experience, my firm belief is customer service, because at the end of the day, so much of our job is talking to people, and that’s what customer service is as well. And so, too, again, kind of going with those cards. So, when you’re out and you see that good customer service, even though sometimes we don’t think of it as a dispatch function and maybe not under that title, knowing how to talk to people in tough situations is so much of our job.
Audience Question: What’s the typical retention rate for most 911 call centers across the US? So, when should an agency be concerned about its turnover rate? And I know those two might be kind of quasi-related, but I’m smashing them together just a little bit.
Halcyon Frank: So, I apologize, I should have looked at the actual figure beforehand. I know, again, last week, at the Standards Best Practice, I believe it’s usually between the 3 to 5-year mark that people are really seeing people leave. Especially, I think, more around that three, even, like a 2 to 3 that we’re seeing turnover and leaving for other roles. So, if there was a time, we don’t want to just assume, like, “Oh, you’re in the second year, we need to make sure we do everything to keep you.” But, at the same time, that would be, about when it seems a lot of people are looking to make their exit, that three-year mark.
Audience Question: What is the biggest misunderstanding or assumption 911 centers have about hiring in this environment to attract Gen Z to their centers?
Halcyon Frank: I think we often just fall into a general trap of making assumptions about generations period. And I know that there’s a lot of, and I don’t necessarily think that it’s a myth. There’s some truth to it that the younger generation doesn’t necessarily want to work as hard. They don’t want to do longer hours. But I would almost say that that’s kind of the biggest issue is that we make that assumption, or we believe a myth or an assumption, and that can prevent stuff, as well. Because I’ve also seen that that’s something that goes across generations. And so, I don’t know that there’s maybe one myth or assumption that I know I’ve heard of, but maybe that as a specific one, so much as we really want to make sure that we’re not buying into any of those just in general. Because it’s going to take changes and changing as the world turns and changes in order to get those people in the centers.
Host: And that while people are maybe part of a generational cohort, they are still individuals. That’s a really great point.
Audience Question: Which center was it that you referred to with the remote call takers in Virginia? I thought you said Alexandria, but was I right?
Halcyon Frank: Yes, Alexandria. And I can’t remember what their official name is, but Alexandria 911, their director over there is Renee Gordon. They are the ones that have been doing it for a couple of years now.
Audience Question: Are there agencies that track the impacts of remote work on their recruiting and retention efforts? Or do we know the percentage of agencies that have even continued their remote call-taking in this post-COVID era?
Halcyon Frank: Yeah. I think there are definitely probably are some centers that just did it during that COVID time. I don’t know if we have a good central location to go get that data of who’s all doing it. What does that look like for retention? I don’t know who is doing it. That’s kind of the one center that I’ve heard of, and I do know people there, so I talk to them about it. But I don’t think that it’s a large number, but also it probably, in my mind, is probably something that’s still fairly new, so I don’t know if it would give a good picture of retention. The other side of that too is most likely, those people call-taking from home are probably experienced, employees that can work independently. So, that also would play into it as far as we talk about flexibility, especially for people coming into the job. You know, people who’ve been around awhile, maybe we’re going to stay around, but that’s just a new option. So, I would also be very curious about what the data is. I just don’t know if we even have enough evidence at this point.
Audience Question: How do stay interviews differ from employee satisfaction surveys? Should we be doing interviews over surveys? Or do the two tactics work best together?
Halcyon Frank: I think you can use both. Depending on your center, people may not be willing to do a kind of interview or maybe not feel like they can be as honest. But I think also, as much as, that kind of shouldn’t make a difference in how we say things, words in a way, they do matter. So, I think when we talk about like employee satisfaction surveys, they can feel maybe a little bit dated or a little something that they go, “Okay, it’s time for a yearly employment satisfaction survey, we’re going to put it in.” Versus, when we are talking about like a stay interview, it helps communicate that it’s not necessarily how satisfied are you with the job. We want to know like, Why are you sticking around? Which could include their satisfaction. But just, Yeah, what keeps you in this job? But also, I think, one of the differences too, maybe. If I’m filling out an employee satisfaction survey, it’s got to be focused on, what’s my satisfaction like, in the job? Like, how do I feel about this role? How do I feel about the organization? That kind of thing, versus a stay interview, maybe the reason for staying has nothing to do with the job or only has to do with the job in the sense that they have really great health insurance. And they have an ill family member. That’s something necessarily a survey, a satisfaction survey is going to tell you. It may not ask a question that’s going to get to that answer.
Audience Question: When or how often should we be doing stay interviews?
Halcyon Frank: I probably would vary. It is kind of a newer thing, so I would definitely look to see if there is research about how often we definitely don’t want to like interview or survey people to death. Maybe there’s something that’s once a year. We’re just approaching people with, I don’t know, know any more than that. It probably isn’t going to tell you anything much different. If it’s something you’re doing frequently, I think it is important, like I mentioned, to not lump it in with, like a performance eval or a yearly review or anything like that. Definitely make sure it’s its own thing, no matter how often you’re doing it, but I think yearly can be helpful. Or maybe it’s somebody’s two-year mark, You decided to do it, I would definitely just go. It really is just a Google search. Look and see what others have found success doing. I haven’t seen anywhere that gives the, like recommendation of this is how often you should do it.
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