Why Are Companies Still Operating A ‘Home Phone Line’ Culture?

I recently got an email from my internet provider about an exciting new offer they had for me. For just $10 more a month, I could upgrade my subscription to add a home phone line. What a deal. How could I possibly pass that up….is what they are hoping I would think. Instead, my thought was ‘they’re still trying to sell home phone lines? Why would I ever want a home phone? I have a cell phone in my pocket.’

I can’t imagine I am in the minority on this here. In fact, I’d venture to say that 95% of people under 35 don’t have a home phone line. I personally don’t know one of my peers who has one. It’s a product that simply isn’t needed, wanted, or relevant for my life. If this was 20 years ago, the answer would probably be different.

But in the world we live in today, a home phone line seems about as useful to me as a Blockbuster Video membership.

It doesn’t mean that phone lines are a bad product, or don’t work. It’s just not something I want or need, and no amount of commercials, offers, or conversations are going to change that. Instead, as a company, they need to understand what my interests and needs are and continually develop a product that delivers to those.

Any smart company knows it must develop a product that its customers want, and keep developing as demands change. What companies often forget is that they also offer a product to their employees that must evolve and develop. I don’t think companies think of their employees as customers often enough, or even at all, but that is exactly what they are. The ‘product’ that the company offers its employees is the summation of the experience: salary and benefits, the people, the culture, and the environment. When employees like the product the company provides, you see engaged, motivated, productive employees. When they don’t, you see disengagement and high turnover.

Remember: employees choose to work for a company. They are not forced to be there. So if they don’t like what the company has to offer, they will leave and find another place. They may not leave immediately, it may take months or years, but you will know because the employee mentally checks out.

So herein lies a question that every company needs to ask itself today: am I offering a product to my employees that they actually want?

For too many companies, the answer is no. They may think they do, but they don’t. They have a ‘home phone’ product: something that was probably really appealing years ago, but no longer desirable in today’s world, especially with those under 35 years old.

It’s the great shift that is happening in our world: how we work and how we want to work is changing, and what is expected from a company has changed. Too many companies have a culture and environment that hasn’t been assessed or upgraded in 10, 15, or 20 years. That’s because it worked 10, 15, or 20 years ago, so why change? They haven’t adjusted to what the new demands and desires of the modern workforce are. In short, they are still trying to sell a ‘home phones’ culture and environment to their employees who live in a cell phone world.

So you want to attract top talent employees moving forward? You want to keep them around longer than 18 months? Start by figuring out what that ideal employee is looking for in a work environment and culture, and create it. Redefine the product you offer. Become cutting edge on culture.

It’s understanding that people today place more emphasis on purpose-driven work than salary. That personal and professional development, and the ability to think creatively keeps people from jumping ship from boredom. It’s knowing that there is no price tag you can put on giving an employee flexibility in their schedule and ownership of their time.

It’s time to treat your internal product with just as much importance as your external product. If you sell a product that no one wants, you don’t point the finger at the customer and say ‘you don’t know what you’re talking about, this is a great product’ and continue to try and sell it. You’d listen to feedback adjust, and find a product that people want to buy. It’s time to take that same approach with your employees. Take some time to ask honest questions about what they like and don’t like, and adjust accordingly.

Make your company a place that people desire to be a part of. Don’t get sucked in to the nostalgia trap of ‘our people really loved the environment and culture here 25 years ago, so it must be still good enough today’, because it’s not. Don’t be too proud to see that things are changing, or think that these changes won’t affect your ability to hire great people and succeed as a company.

Don’t agree with me? Let’s chat about it. I’ll call you on your home phone line.

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