Research confirms what on-the-ground experience has probably told you already: it’s a tough market for recruitment right now.
One study of 20,000 global employers found that nearly 70% of companies were experiencing difficulties in hiring staff, a 15-year high.
There are a number of reasons for that, but the situation has undoubtedly been made worse by the pandemic, and the phenomenon known as the Great Resignation. The Great Resignation has seen employees resigning in droves, in search of less stressful or more fulfilling roles.
Contact centres have a staffing problem
If the staffing situation is challenging generally, you can bet your bottom dollar that it is in the contact centre world.
In fact, one study suggests that 40% of agents plan on leaving within the next 12 months. In the UK, the churn rate is above 20% in an average year, and 2022 is likely to be anything but average.
That’s a lot of seats to fill, and a limited pool of candidates from which to fill them. One recent study found that: “Entry level roles such as customer service agents and claims handlers are the most difficult roles to fill.”
Why is that? Partly, it’s because contact centre work is perceived as stressful and poorly supported. Partly, it’s because some contact centres seem to offer little in the way of career progression.
These negative views are certainly challenges for the industry, but they also offer the germ of a solution. Forward thinking contact centres can use this knowledge to recruit the good, committed staff they need.
Retention is recruitment
The first thing any contact centre should do is reduce its rate of churn. The fewer staff you lose, the fewer seats you have to fill. If you’re looking for advice, our five step guide to reducing contact centre churn is a good place to start.
Suffice to say that your retention strategy is part and parcel of your recruitment strategy. Your employees have a network of friends and relatives. They talk about their work experience to others. If that experience is positive, they’ll recommend you, creating a useful trickle of potential new recruits.
Over time, you’ll get a wider reputation as being a good place to work, which means good candidates will choose your contact centre over a competitor equivalent.
Optimise your recruitment process
But personal recommendations, useful though they are, probably won’t be enough to meet your recruitment needs on their own.
So your proactive recruitment efforts need to be at the top of their game. Katy Forsyth, Founder and Director of contact centre recruitment agency Red Recruitment, says the first priority is to make sure your recruitment ads stand out.
“Ensuring your adverts rank highly with search engines and job board algorithms is critical to their success,” Katy adds. “Around 67% of candidates report starting their job search in this way.”
And don’t be shy about the important details. You do have to talk about the money. Katy says that a vacancy with a fixed and realistic salary will receive 90% more applications than one with a salary that is hidden or negotiable.
Other things to mention include any stand-out perks or employee benefits. “Home working and flexible working top the chart for desirability with application rates up 7,043% on fixed location roles,” says Katy.
You should also maximise your use of social media. Ensure your feeds present your business as progressive, welcoming and socially aware. Many young candidates will check you out on social media before putting in an application.
You can find more practical advice on optimising your recruitment strategy in our Recruitment and Retention ebook.
Train your recruiters
After optimising your ads and social media, you should end up with a wider pool of candidates to interview. The next priority is to make sure the interview process works for both parties. You want to make sure the candidate is right for your role. You also need to convince the candidate that the role – and your company – is right for them.
How do you do it? First of all, assume that, even for an entry level position, the candidate is likely to have plenty of choice. That’s the reality of the current market.
Then, test out your recruitment process. Perhaps even mystery shop it. Ask your mystery candidate to answer a number of questions:
- Is the process straightforward and quick?
- Are the interviewers warm and welcoming?
- Did they sell the company and the role?
- Did you understand the role at the end of the process?
- Did you get all the information you need to make an informed decision: salary, benefits, expectations, career paths and so on?
At the end of the experiment, you should have a decent idea of what your recruitment process is like from a candidate’s point of view. You can add to the data by asking current staff what they made of it. When you have the information you need, refine the process. Train your recruiters to give the very best impression of your organisation and a candidate’s position in it. If the process is long winded, make it snappier.
Winning in a tough market
There’s no doubt that recruiting staff is tough at the moment, and it’s likely to stay that way for a while. But as we’ve seen, contact centres can do a lot to help themselves when it comes to filling vacancies. It may not be as big as it once was, but there is still a pool of candidates out there. A few simple steps can ensure those candidates choose your contact centre over that of a competitor.
For more in-depth information about recruitment and retention in your contact centre, download our ebook