4 Ways to Solve the Labor Crisis

10.29.21 01:51 PM

So, what is at the heart of the labor crisis? How can Contact Centers, as well as other businesses, find and keep good employees in this new gig economy?

This is a topic that is widely discussed in Contact Center circles and at many of the networking and industry events that I attend these days. It's not a "one size fits all" discussion with simple answers. The reason is that every business is different with it's own set of challenges related to their industry. However, I believe there are some practical things we can do to reduce attrition and attract the best talent in today's economy.

1. Stop focusing on money

I know some people might be offended by this, but as they say in church "if you're not being offended, than the pastor ain't preaching." I see this all the time where management decides to offer a "Floor" base salary that may be way more than they're paying today. I guess some people think it's their "social responsibility" to help people get ahead these days. The major problem with this  type of thinking is that it drives the wrong behavior. Think of it terms of rounding grades in a high school classroom. Eventually, the hardest working kids in the classroom are going to get tired of carrying the rest of the class that have no interest in studying or working hard. Parlay this into a business and eventually the overall work ethic of your team will continue to decrease to a point of complete failure. Nobody who works hard wants to carry those that have no interest in working hard. Businesses need to incentivize their employees to want to achieve more, not give an unearned handout. Don't believe me. Try it and then get back to me on your results.

2. Offer Flexibility

So, what's more important than money? Well, when polled on the most important company perks that employees look for today, the number one answer in any poll is "Flexibility". People want to work when they want and where they want without being weighed down by the overwhelming minutia of corporate initiatives that have nothing to do with their everyday role in the company. This, of course, means that today people, more than anything, want to work from home as well as during the times that they're available. But, perhaps that simply doesn't work for your business or the industry you're in. Again, it's not a one size fits all. However, I believe that all businesses should consider various ways that flexibility can be offered for their employees. That may mean adopting a fractional workforce culture or allowing certain individuals to work from home. If fractional or flexible working is something that you're considering as a perk for your employees, there are many other things that need to be considered concerning IT security, compliance, and accountability. We'll cover those things in a follow up post in the near future.

3. Give employees a purpose.

What's the "why" in your company? Do your employees understand your mission statement? Do they come to work everyday understanding what their purpose is? There's a reason why Chick-Fil-A is so successful. Their training obviously teaches caring, empathy, and a willingness to serve. Chick-Fil-A employees are obviously taught to effectuate your day and to inject joy into your day. How do I know this? I'm an observant customer. 

If you give employees a real purpose, they get caught up in the pursuit of that purpose, so much that they forget about many of the other things that drive negative thinking. That's why I think every business should support a charity or partner with an NPO to engage their employees to serve their community. Purpose is not only engaging for everyone, it also instills a sense of pride in what your employees are doing each day.

4. Provide the right technology tools 

You can never underestimate the impact that technology can have on employee moral. The right technology tools can make a sales consultant in a call center feel more like a shareholder rather than a used car salesman pushing a product that they don't believe in (not that there's anything wrong with being a used car salesperson). In fact, technology like AI and Machine Learning is becoming much more prevalent in contact centers to the point of developing the front end of engagements that many agents are presented with a warm lead rather than a completely cold lead by the time the call reaches them. Not only that, but the ability to meet the customer where they want to communicate and on their terms (i.e. Omnichannel Communications) is one of the things that is separating companies that deliver great customer service versus companies that deliver mediocre customer service. Customers want choices. Return my call without losing my place in the queue, allow me to initiate a webchat, send me a text, set up payment or customer service options via SMS, etc. Choices will empower your customers and make the contact center agents life so much easier. Your agent will have a sense of empowerment.

Also, don't forget the fact that the right technology can provide the tools for flexibility enabling your support staff or contact center agents to take calls or answer chat sessions anywhere, even while riding the train or walking down the street. Technology is a game changer for businesses if implemented correctly.

The four largest items on every businesses balance sheet are Labor, Overhead, Compute, and Telecom. Solving the labor crisis will require that businesses review all four areas. But, with a sober mind and the right counsel our employees will feel a sense of worth, purpose, and empowerment while we work to provide stellar customer service in this new gig economy. Businesses will certainly need to change in order to meet the demands of the labor market. If implemented correctly, I believe that these tools can set businesses up for exponential growth and success. If your company is struggling in these areas, ask yourself these two questions. 1. How do I implement these tools without having a negative impact on my business? 2. Do I have the right team in place to effectively weigh my options and implement these tools? If you're struggling with how to answer these questions, reach out to us. At VocalPoint we like to say that "We Put Service Back in "as a Service". You don't need to go it alone. We're here to help.  

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