Harnessing a flexible workforce in the contact centre industry

Harnessing a flexible workforce in the contact centre industry
24% of the UK population has worked in a temporary role at some point in their working life, according to research from the REC. It’s a great way for individuals to learn new skills, build up their experience, get a foot in the door of a certain company, or ‘test drive’ a potential career path.

Non-traditional ways of working seem to be growing in popularity amongst workers. In fact, when we recently interviewed 19,000 millennials to get their perspective on the future world of work, 75% said they’re currently working in a full-time, permanent role – but, 50% of those surveyed would be open to non-traditional forms of employment in the future, including contracting, freelancing, and gig working.

Consumer buying habits are changing

In the contact centre industry specifically, it can be very beneficial for employers to embed new ways of working into their talent strategy. Changing consumer buying habits mean contact centres are under pressure to deliver in new ways – and effectively harnessing a temporary workforce can allow them to better meet these demands.

In times gone by, if a customer had an issue with one of their service providers – like their energy supplier or telecommunications provider – they would be expected to call them up during standard working hours to get this resolved. If they worked full-time in a 9-5 job, this would be very inconvenient, but there were few other options.

Not anymore. These days, customers are demanding that services are delivered in a way that better fits their lifestyle. They want 24/7 support from their service providers, so they get any issues resolved at a time that’s convenient for them. They want to communicate with service providers in new ways – through email, social media, live chats and online forums, not just over the phone. And they don’t want to be kept on hold for hours on end, listening to a repetitious ‘your call is important to us’ message.

Candidates are in the driving seat

Contact centres are under pressure to deliver a quicker, more user-friendly experience than ever before. Hiring temporary workers can help with this – making organisations more agile and better able to respond to changing customer needs. It means they can quickly ramp up their workforce numbers ahead of high-demand periods – such new product launches, large-scale advertising campaigns, or new projects. And, importantly, during the quieter months the workforce can be reduced to ensure maximum cost efficiency.

However, despite there being an appetite for non-traditional forms of employment amongst both contact centres and workers alike, attracting individuals to work in this way can still be a challenge.

Why is this? In short: fewer people are looking for work. In the labour market five years ago, there were nearly six unemployed individuals for every job vacancy. Now, there are just two. At the same time, employment has risen significantly; unemployment has fallen to a near-record low; and margins are being squeezed, in the face of the economic uncertainty that has come with Brexit.

As a result, contact centres have to compete for in-demand talent. It’s a candidate-led market, where talented individuals often have multiple job offers to choose from. Employers need to think carefully and strategically about how they ensure their temporary job opportunity is attractive to potential candidates.

Attract – and then retain

Fail to align your job advertising with the preferences of the candidates you wish to attract, and it’s almost certain that they will look elsewhere. As a result, it’s important to promote elements of your employer brand that may be particularly appealing for temporary workers. Pay, facilities, contract length, future opportunities, and the chance to innovate are all factors which may encourage an individual to choose your organisation’s contract over another. To attract the best talent to work for your organisation temporarily, these types of messages need to be prominent elements of your contact centre’s attraction strategy.

After you’ve attracted great candidates to work at your contact centre, your next challenge is to retain them for the duration of your contract. Contact centres often turn to temporary workers during their most critical times of delivery. So high absence rates can have a significant impact on an organisation’s overall productivity and their ability to deliver the experience expected by customers. Candidate retention in the contact centre industry is often a struggle, though – particularly when one in three candidates across the globe are always looking for their next job opportunity.

Increasingly, candidates are opting to change jobs in favour of roles that give them the opportunity to grow and develop their skills and experiences. So, to retain great quality candidates, you need to be clear on the ways your role can add value to their future career. You may not be in a position to offer them a permanent contract or the chance to climb the corporate ladder. But you can offer them exposure to projects and campaigns that will build their skills and abilities – making them a more attractive proposition for other employers when your contract ends.

Building a talent community is also key. Once your workers’ temporary contract has come to an end, stay in touch with them – you never know when you may need their skills and experiences in the future. Whether it’s on social media, your career site, or company website – give opportunities for candidates to join your database and receive regular communications about potential opportunities.

How Manpower can help

From targeted email campaigns to paid search; and from geo-targeted advertising to managing your employee value proposition – we have all the tools you need to attract and retain contact centre talent in the digital age.

With a network of offices across the UK, 3,500 locations in over 80 countries and territories, and a suite of technology solutions at our finger tips – we combine an unparalleled global reach with on-the-ground knowledge of local jobs markets. This means we’re equipped to deliver the results you need – fast.

To find out more about our expertise in contact centre recruitment and workforce planning, visit manpower.co.uk/contact-centres or email us at [email protected]