Leveraging the crisis to upgrade your employment brand: get your frontline foot soldiers to win the war for your franchise.

Author:Chester, Eric

The good news in a bad economy is that the balance of power has once again shifted to favor employers. To the average kid in America, that job at the drive-through paying minimum wage is no longer beneath them. Small businesses are suddenly flooded with applications and staff turnover is on the decline as young employees are beginning to realize, for the first time in their lives, that jobs don't grow on trees.

Quantity does not equal.

However, this doesn't mean that your labor woes are a thing of the past. Far from it. To ride out this current financial crisis and emerge with your business intact on the other side, you've got to maximize the R.O.I. out of each and every employee on your payroll while you exceed the expectations of every customer you engage. And when you look across the front lines of your business, the employees you are counting on so heavily to produce more, perform better, and provide the level of service that is so fundamental to your survival are those talented, weird-looking, entitlement-minded, praise-starved Millennial--Nexter--Gen Y--Whatchamacallems.

Whatever term you use, the reality is that you can't hire around today's under 25-year-olds. They have become the largest segment of our work force, and they're not going anywhere. While you can--and should--look to beef-up your hourly staff with formerly-retired baby boomers who are looking to rebound from having their 401(k)s cut into shreds, that's a short-term employment strategy fraught with a completely different set of challenges.

Here are some things you should be doing now to upgrade the productivity, performance and service of your young employees:

(1.) Ramp up your recruiting game:

You're probably thinking, "What? I've already got a huge stack of applications on my desk!" Sure you do. But quantity does not equal quality, and while you feel confident knowing that you can easily get a warm body to join your ranks, you're not looking to hire your competitor's rejects or drifters who are simply wearing your nametag and collecting a paycheck until something else comes along.

Recruit like never before. Use on-premise signage, online applications, third-party job sites, job fairs, employee referral programs, and by all means, harness the incredible power of social networks like Facebook, YouTube and MySpace. If you're not sure how to effectively use these tools, make it your goal to learn them now. There are plenty of free, online tutorials that can walk you...

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