Contact centres are embracing employee engagement in order to survive the post-pandemic workforce hypermobility. To succeed, contact centres will need to offer employees more than just free Diet Coke and crisps
The UK’s workforce is edging shiftily towards the exit. A recent survey from Microsoft of more than 30,000 global workers showed that no fewer than 41 per cent were considering quitting or changing professions this year, with another study of workers in the UK and Ireland showing 38 per cent were planning to quit in the next six months to a year.
With numbers on the move so high, many workers must be exchanging jobs with one another, and thus setting themselves up for further disappointment down the line. Nevertheless, signs of Britain’s coming stampede towards greener grass represent a troubling development for employers across all industries.
The rumbling in the herd sounds a special alarm for organisations in sectors with high employee turnover rates. For this select group, any statistics projecting an average increase in worker mobility are a colossal problem. In usual times the UK annual average for staff turnover is 10 to 15 per cent. In the contact centre industry, that rate stands at a shocking 26 per cent annually – in normal times. A predicted three- or four-fold increase from the average could see whole workforces disappear.
Contact centres have focused heavily on workforce optimisation for some years: performance management, quality monitoring, call recording and customer relationship management have long been used to improve efficiency and compliance. For workers in such a tightly controlled environment, though, these optimisation initiatives have often felt like a one-way street.
But all that is changing. Contact centres are embracing employee engagement as the key metric on which to focus, in order to survive the post-pandemic workforce hypermobility. To succeed, contact centres will need to offer employees more than just free Diet Coke and crisps. On offer will be total flexibility, of location as well as hours – all while ensuring staff are trained, supported, monitored, motivated and organised. To achieve this, an effective workforce optimisation strategy is essential.
Opinions are divided on the WFH revolution: some people welcome a return to the office environment, but the taste of freedom has led many others to experience a permanent shift in outlook. At the very least, the option of partial or full remote working has become a “must have”. In an increasingly competitive jobs market, offering remote working widens the talent pool, bringing contact centre jobs within reach of people who aren’t looking for office-based roles, including previously less enfranchised demographics such as single parents.
Motivation, management and support
The pandemic has been a catalyst for the digital transformation of traditional work practices, and this has changed the way contact centres view workforce optimisation. Contact centre leaders recognise that providing remote employees with integrated knowledge management tools is essential if they are to meet the needs of customers, whether working from home or the office. Real-time relevant information and access to customer interaction histories ensure that a “work from whenever” model doesn’t have a negative effect on service delivery.
However, for a workforce optimisation strategy to succeed, employee motivation is equally as important. Employees are more productive when the processes that assign tasks to them take into account their skillset and development goals. Without this, tasks can seem challenging and stressful, factors exacerbated by working away from the office without an experienced supervisor. Workforce optimisation solutions offer intelligent scheduling, enabling workers to communicate with each other through multiple channels, and allowing managers to offer over-the-shoulder support.
Likewise, optimisation systems must recognise that experienced people with strong skillsets work better when allocated more complex tasks. In the customer service context, organisations are increasingly turning to AI-powered chatbots to handle repetitive enquiries.
For organisations where remote working has been a way of life since that start of the pandemic, there is no going back to the Before Covid (BC) way of working. To make this last for the long term, business leaders should take inspiration from the workforce optimisation tools used by contact centres.
With the right technology, mindset and workforce optimisation strategy, any organisation can navigate the new employee landscape simply by enhancing their ability to efficiently manage all types of workers more flexibly and efficiently – and head off the stampede.
by Martin Taylor, the deputy CEO at Content Guru