· Features

Why recruitment and retention must go hand in hand

Being a great place to work and investing in employees feed back into reducing recruitment needs

Churn is an unfortunate reality in all contact centres. What that means is that all contact centres, whether in-house or outsourced, are constantly in the recruitment business.

Your operation can have the best technology, processes, and managers in place, but without quality agents and team leaders it will fall flat.

Challenges of recruiting contact centre employees

Most contact centres draw the majority of their agents and supervisors from their local catchment area. The challenge is to maintain the quality of new hires when recruiting from a necessarily limited pool of people, all of whom will be courted by other local firms. There are also usually seasonal peaks that need to be managed, which compound the challenges.

Standing out from the crowd

Focusing on and promoting what your company stands for, what its unique selling point is, and why people should want to work, stay and progress with you is key. Employment surveys suggest that candidates are attracted to an employer's reputation, and want to stay with employers they respect, that invest in them, and empower them to succeed and progress.

Encourage your current employees to do some of the heavy lifting by promoting you to their friends, family, and on social media. In our case around 20% of new employees are referred by existing ones.

Give an accurate picture

A major cause of employee dissatisfaction and churn is disappointment that the role the new hire was promised turned out to be completely different to expectations.

So be clear exactly what you are offering. What kind of interactions will your new hires be handling? What is the culture like? What support is provided? What are the development and progression opportunities like? What is the remuneration? Is the role full-time, part-time or casual?

Use of social media channels to reach out to candidates allows you to go beyond written job descriptions and use video job descriptions, video testimonials from current employees, and even live streams from the office or company events. Offline, if you are a major employer locally then open days and other events in partnership with local councils, job centres, schools and universities also give future candidates a good taste of what you are about.

Onboarding for success

Performance levels, motivational levels, desire to progress, and many other factors that affect employee churn are often set in the first few weeks. While it is in any new employee’s interests to impress their employer, it also works the other way. Your company can inspire greater levels of performance by showing that it is a great place to work.

It’s not just about a job

Flexibility and diversity of work are things that most people respond to. Our secondment programme has shown remarkable results by giving employees a taste of other areas of the business and the chance to learn new skills. About 70% of Sitel’s team managers came up internally this way.

The benefits of being a great place to work and investing in employees ultimately all feed back into reducing recruitment needs – because churn is lower – and making the recruitment you do need to do easier – because you have become an employer of choice for your local talent pool.

Empowering agents

There's a fundamental link between employee engagement and empowerment. Many employees need to know how success is defined. An engaged employee is much more likely to be empowered for success.

Responding to customer requests takes expertise and the ability to adapt to a constantly changing information environment. The challenge for the employer is to make work more interesting and challenging. This can easily be done through staff motivation techniques designed to give agents more responsibility. Agents need to have good, systematic training that teaches them to use their knowledge efficiently and take the most appropriate decision to solve problems.

Leadership is not about wielding authority; it is about empowering people.

Joanne Regan-Iles is director of human resources, EMEA at Sitel