Four Ideas to Help Retool Your WFM Planning for the Coming Storms
I was struck by a report that tornadoes were spawned from Hurricane Harvey in Texas. As if a hurricane is not already too much! The idea that a concentrated danger can be found within a broader danger is sobering.
So too are the trends we see in turnover in the contact center sector. The long-term trends in turnover, due to an improving economy and tightening labor market are items we discuss in our eBook on this topic. The concentrated danger that is posed - - the “tornado within the hurricane” - - involves the impacts on operations that happen when some of your valued people up and leave.
Many managers do not plan adequately for these circumstances. They wait until things happen, and then express disappointment over the people who have left. This is an understandable human response. It is not an adequate managerial response.
I am here to tell you that, if you are like most managers, you will be experiencing more turnover pressure going forward than you have experienced in the last decade. What should you do? Here are some ideas I hope will help.
Try to Keep the Workforce You Have
While you should expect higher turnover, that does not excuse you from planning and executing strategies to keep the people you have. We have helped clients probe their workforce for the levers that produce satisfaction, and the approaches that will make losses less likely. We can’t discuss all of them here, but gamification, special events, mentorship programs, flexible scheduling, results-based compensation etc. can all engage and retain attention and loyalty
Medium- and Long-term Workforce Management Planning
Long-term WFM is totally tied up with the budget planning process, to make sure you have the money you need. Medium-term WFM pulls in the hiring and training process, to make sure you have the people you need ready to go. Many managers today are forgetting a key rule of WFM – the past is not always prologue. Show your managers the statistics on turnover trends over the last several years, and graph your own turnover trends.
If you are among the lucky ones, you won’t have a problem. But most of you need to figure in a higher turnover rate for next year than you did for this year. Don’t just cross you fingers and hope for smooth sailing. Prepare for both the hurricane and the tornados.
Keep the Entry Process Selective
When bodies are needed, managers tend to bring down standards in order to fill seats, which encourages a dismal spiral of more agent churn. Keep you standards high and do a study to determine which agent characteristics point toward a) success in your center and b) longevity. Focus on these and be creative in your recruitment.
Consider Major New WFM Strategies.
If you don’t have enough good candidates coming out of your selection process, then consider alternatives that may be new to you, but have become affirmed best practices for others. For example:
- Increased use of part timers. Once center found that it reduced costs and increased attendance and loyalty by making 4 hour blocks available to part timers, some of whom work 5 days a week and others who work only two days a week (during the company’s peak periods on Monday and Tuesday afternoons). This can be a win-win approach which is not considered as often as it should be.
- Use of remote agents. Many managers are reluctant to try this solution for control and “culture” purposes. However, those who have approached it properly, implemented it carefully, and monitored it appropriately - - are usually extremely happy with the results.
Tot of these solutions can be formidable anti-turnover strategies, which I encourage you to explore.
As indicated above, ignoring the agent turnover trends, or relying on the past turnover numbers, is not a responsible management approach. Be proactive in your WFM budgeting and hiring. What may have seemed like overstaffing will feel like brilliant foresight when those additional people tell you they are leaving.
Believe me: the hurricanes and tornadoes are coming. Be prepared.
To discuss “A-to-Z” ways to reduce turnover and prepare for the coming turnover tornadoes, please contact us!