Throughout each business cycle, attracting and retaining the right talent should be baked into your organization’s long-term strategy and high on the agenda. But when certain skill sets are in short supply, it can be tempting to cut corners to fill positions to react to market forces.
According to global recruitment firm Robert Half, in 2017, it took on average five weeks for a U.S. organization to fill a staff-level position and seven-and-a-half weeks for a management role.
However, that was before the economy changed up yet another gear. Unemployment is at historically low levels, even with an influx of new college graduates entering the labor force for the first time, demand for those with specific skill sets is greater than current supply levels. As a result, the time taken to recruit can be stretched out further at a time when being able to flex and respond quickly is crucial.
Or, worse still, organizations are tempted to hurry the process and potentially hire someone who isn’t the right fit.
“In industries such as business process outsourcing (BPO) where there is a constant recruitment cycle, it’s impossible to overstate the need for ultimate agility,” begins Philippe Riveron, Sitel Group’s Chief Ventures Officer and CEO of Learning Tribes, the group’s dedicated training, development and ed-tech company. “If an organization can’t ramp up contact center associate numbers in line with a client’s demands or to capitalize on new growth markets – no matter where in the world – while simultaneously guaranteeing the quality of service, that company shouldn’t be working in the industry.”
Ensuring consistency of quality and performance is not simply a challenge facing the BPO industry. Any organization that races to fill a position is potentially racing into trouble. The Center for American Progress estimates the average financial cost of refilling a position because of a poor hiring decision is equal to 20 percent of the role’s annual salary.
“The financial cost is easy to measure and easy to see,” Riveron stresses. “But the biggest impact to a company that makes a recruitment mistake is performance. If a new recruit doesn’t have the skills or mindset needed, the rest of his or her team will have to do more work as a result. Morale will be negatively impacted and it’s impossible in our industry to deliver great CX without first having the right employees, with the right skills, right engagement and right motivation in place.”
All of which is why Learning Tribes developed a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that cuts the recruitment process down from weeks to hours, ensuring a steady flow of applicants who have demonstrated they have what it takes to fulfill and be successful in a customer care role.
“With recruitment, one of the biggest challenges in our industry is reaching people,” Riveron points out. “There is a lot of confusion around what a contact center is and what work happens there. Some people have a negative perception of contact centers and if they don’t have the right information in front of them, in a language and a medium they understand, how can we expect them to consider customer care as a potential career direction?”
But in addition to the insight needed to help pique potential applicants’ appetite, the MOOC is also a form of prequalification.
“It lets people see if they have the soft skills needed to join Sitel Group,” Riveron explains. “Users can test themselves and demonstrate their digital communication capabilities, collaborative skills and their curiosity and in doing so earn a VIP pass that catapults them to the head of the line for the next open position – if they successfully complete four training modules.”
These modules are mixed media, using graphics and video and leveraging gamification to make them “sticky,” or rather engaging and interesting enough to keep going.
“Just as with the next generation of customers, we have to reach the next generation of employees where they are, through the channels they prefer and we have to communicate with them in the ways they feel are most natural,” says Riveron. “Hence the MOOC is accessible on social media platforms, alongside content generated by our existing teams about what our individual sites are like and the work involved. Not only does it complement existing channels for recruitment, it provides an authenticity of message – though we encourage our associates to share their Sitel experience, it is up to them what they say and how they say it.”
This focus on trust, authenticity, accessibility and simplicity – the MOOC eradicates the need for a traditional résumé and cover letter – is why it is already helping to recruit the next generation of Sitel Group contact center professionals across Europe and Africa and is poised for launch in the U.S. Over the past 12 months, it has scooped a host of awards for innovation in learning and for breaking the traditional recruitment loop. The most recent awards were three Brandon Hall Excellency awards – one Gold and two Silver – at the end of August.
“It’s a world first — Sitel Group is the first organization within the BPO landscape to do this and we’re understandably proud of the impact it’s already having,” says Riveron. “The awards support our feeling but more importantly, they enable us to be even more flexible and consistent in serving our clients’ needs while retaining a harmonious working environment for our existing teams. That’s the real reward, and it’s why we’re getting ready to roll the MOOC out across more territories around the globe.”