Managing Gen Y in the Contact Center
 Greg Van Zandt, Senior Consultant, BenchmarkPortal

Gen Y, which represents 58% of the contact center work force, has different work/life expectations and interests than previous generations.  On average, by the time a Gen Y has reached the age of 26, they will have had 6 to 7 jobs.  In today’s economy, 53% of people between the ages of 16 to 24 are unemployed, the highest level since 1948.  Additionally, 77% believe they will make a job change within 2 years.

All of these factors contribute to agent churn, and as a result, management disappointment in the contact center. The question is: How do Contact Center Managers reduce turnover and keep these bright and technology-savvy resources motivated and productive?

Understanding Gen Y’s interests and what motivates them can help supervisors manage this group in a manner that benefits everyone.

Understanding these needs will help Contact Center Managers and Supervisors effectively communicate and work with their Gen Y resources:

Four significant “life needs” that are associated with Gen Y have been identified.

  1. Communication (Transition from Managing resources to Mentoring)
    • Gen Y resources like to understand the details – they like to understand the “why” behind requests.
    • They like to frequently update their managers on how and what they are doing as well as learn how to work more efficiently and effectively.
  2. Feedback and Coaching (Gen Y appreciates frequent feedback and coaching.)
    • Frequent “One Minute Manager” communications are appreciated – resources appreciate managers who frequently appraise their work.
    • Leverage technology for Gen Y to obtain constructive feedback – they want to be more productive and efficient and they like to use automated channels to both receive direction and express their feedback.
  3. Work/Life. Balance (Gen Y desires a schedule with frequent breaks.)
    • Develop multiple part-time schedules throughout the work day – this allows resources to have diversity in their day versus a 8-to-5 type of schedule.
    • Once trained and skilled, Gen Y resources are great candidates for remote agent work that has multiple part-time schedules through the day.
  4. Development & Growth (Gen Y wants to reinvent themselves.)
    • Leverage Gen Y for out-of-the-box problem solving, especially when problem involves technology. Get them involved with projects.
    • They appreciate being able to access real-time data so that they can monitor their own performance, identify areas for improvement, and be recognized for their achievements.

In conclusion, while Gen Y can represent a challenge to Contact Center Managers, by understanding their life needs, by utilizing flexible scheduling, by adding detail to communications and by providing frequent performance feedback, you may find that these resources may become among your most productive team members.

Note: This information was featured in a recent episode of CallTalk (October 17, 2012).  Kevin Childs was interviewed by host Bruce Belfiore.

BenchmarkPortal can help evaluate inbound customer service, inbound sales, outbound sales, collections, email, chat and social media operations.  For more information about BenchmarkPortal, visit

Topics: Management, Contact Center Articles, Gen Y