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The Great Employee Exodus: Optimising the workforce in an era of hyper worker mobility

Martin Taylor, Deputy CEO at Content Guru
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Employers are bracing themselves for a significant surge in the number of workers seeking new jobs. Indications are that a mass employee exodus is underway as workers rethink their post lockdown futures and make decisions about what they want to do and their priorities when it comes to choosing who to work for.

Many economists are calling this shift the ‘Great Resignation’ as research data from around the globe reveals how people are leaving the workforce or switching jobs in droves. Indeed, a recent survey by Microsoft of more than 30,000 workers found that over 40% were considering quitting or changing professions within the next 12 months. Meanwhile a study released late last year by Aviva reveals how 53% of UK workers had plans to make changes to their careers in the next year as a direct result of the pandemic.

Heralded as a major wakeup call for employers everywhere, these figures will be disconcerting for any organisation that needs to counter the potential loss of talent that is looming on the horizon. However, for businesses operating in sectors where high employee turnover is the norm at the best of times – like contact centres – this hypermobile workforce trend represents a serious and existential threat.

Responding to employee expectations: what workforce engagement really looks like

One thing is for sure. Studies show how that the recent lockdown experience has left many people pondering about how well they felt supported when undertaking their roles. That includes evaluating if companies were willing to listen and act when it came to addressing employee concerns or tackling the things that got in the way of them being productive.

Little wonder then that employee engagement is becoming a key focus for business leaders who are working through their lockdown legacy checklist to ensure that frontline workers are able to recalibrate their work-life balance, acquire new skills and take advantage of a truly supportive work environment.

Top of the list is finding ways to offer greater workplace flexibility in terms of permanent work-from-home options and an end to rigid 9-to-5 work schedules, while ensuring that employees are appropriately trained, supported, monitored, motivated and organised no matter what their model of working looks like.

Similarly, workforce optimisation technologies are rapidly moving up the leadership agenda as organisations look to empower their people and more effectively schedule work for staff based on their skills, preferences and expectations.

The contact centre industry has a long history of utilising workforce optimisation technologies such as performance monitoring, contact recording and customer relationship management platforms to improve agent effectiveness and outcomes. Now contact centres are leading the way in evolving their traditional command and control strategies and leveraging workforce optimisation tech to support new workplace realities.

Elevating the employer brand for new workforce priorities

Many contact centre organisations have led the way when it comes to embracing the benefits that flexible working can bring. From hybrid to fully remote models, they’re creating teams that can work from any location, across time zones and in multiple territories. While many of their people have welcomed a return to the physical office environment, others have experienced a permanent shift in preferences and are opting for partial or full remote location together with flexible scheduling.

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To support this workplace shift, contact centres have implemented integrated knowledge management and support tools that help their workers meet the needs of customers, regardless of where they undertake their work. 

Being able to access real-time contextual information and customer histories, allied to technologies that assist them with complex and challenging interactions, ensures that service agents aren’t hindered or left high and dry when working remotely from colleagues or managers. It also ensures they can continue to meet and exceed service delivery standards and that their performance is monitored and recognised. In other words, out of sight isn’t out of mind.

In addition, contact centres are deploying optimisation systems that ensure their experienced people with strong skill sets aren’t confronted on a daily basis by repetitive tasks that over time can become highly demotivating. By utilising AI-powered chatbots to handle their most common or simple enquiries, they’re able to release their highly trained call centre personnel to deal with more rewarding and challenging tasks.

With mental health and burnout now a top workforce consideration for employers, giving employees the tools they need to manage their jobs and enriching the work that they do by utilising automation to handle high volume monotonous tasks ensures that people get to focus on truly meaningful and engaging work.

Reconfiguring work for the long term

The way contact centres are using optimisation technologies to enable a new workplace culture should serve as a beacon for organisations in other sectors that want to embrace the best of both worlds – office and remote. 

However, people working remotely will need to have confidence in the processes that assign tasks to them and that the tasks served up by the technology will be relevant to their job description, skillset and personal development aspirations.

As companies prepare to reconfigure the workplace to encompass long term changes to the way people are allowed, or asked, to work, workforce optimisation will need to go beyond simply replicating office processes for home workers. But armed with the right technologies, processes and mindset, organisations will be able to enable a more flexible, engaged and future-fit workforce and truly differentiate themselves as an employer of choice when competing to recruit and retain workers.

Martin Taylor, Deputy CEO at Content Guru

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