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How Contact Centers Can Manage a Trifecta of Labor Shortages, Remote Work and Heightened Customer Expectations

Contact centers, similar to most American industries, are contending with significant labor shortages, the reality that remote or hybrid work is here to stay, and ever-increasing customer expectations. With job postings reaching record levels this year, contact centers are dealing with even higher turnover rates than normal. And, while some contact centers have embraced hybrid and remote work, not all have, which is a problem given that one-third of workers would quit their jobs before giving up the benefits of remote work. Add to that a consumer environment in which 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience and one-third of customers would walk away from a brand they love after just one bad experience. 

For contact centers trying to walk the tightrope between managing high candidate and employee expectations and meeting rising customer expectations, consider these three tips: 

 

1) Labor shortages underpin the situation 

The current labor market gives candidates all the leverage. They no longer need to stay at a job long or jump through hoops to secure a position. Today’s market is also seeing an unusually high level of early stage attrition. If a candidate has a bad experience in the first few weeks — for example, if onboarding and training is disorganized or employees can’t quickly secure answers they need — they’ll leave knowing they can easily secure another placement. This means that if contact centers want to hire associates fast and retain them, they must be extremely competitive in terms of compensation and benefits, in addition to providing a world class candidate experience.

Contact centers can start by minimizing the amount of time between when a candidate expresses interest in a role and when they start a position. The longer an employer waits, the more likely the candidate will be to find another opportunity. Mobile-first AI and automation solutions, as well as chat and video, enhance traditional communication methods to ensure that candidates move quickly through the recruiting funnel. Once an offer is extended and accepted, a seamless onboarding and training process will increase retention rates. 

 

2) Remote work is table stakes

Remote work is no longer a “nice-to-have” in contact centers. If you don’t embrace remote work, you will cut off a large part of your interested and available talent pool, as many candidates will lose interest immediately if they are required to come into an office daily. On the bright side, this eliminates geographic boundaries and allows recruiters to cast a wider net when sourcing candidates. 

When it comes to recruiting and hiring, contact centers can optimize this new remote work reality by: 

  1. Setting realistic candidate expectations – For example, don’t set arbitrary internet and typing speeds. (Most of the time, candidates don’t need to type 80 words-per-minute.) And, do you expect them to drive two hours to complete a drug test? Keep in mind, the more hoops you ask them to jump through, the more likely candidates will be to opt out of the process.
  2. Polishing your company’s job reviews on Glassdoor and other sites – Companies are easily searchable online and most candidates will check these reviews before applying for a position. Make sure you address both positive and negative feedback, and frequently encourage employees to submit reviews.
  3. Organizing smaller training classes – Given that employees are remote and dealing with more tech issues than they might have in an office setting, you’ll want to provide them with more customized support. This can’t be done in huge training classes. 
  4. Intentionally setting up employee engagement opportunities – Find ways to replicate culture with remote workers. You can host virtual happy hours, celebrations, book clubs, costume parties, and so much more.
  5. Creating great job postings – It’s not sustainable to keep paying higher wages than those of the competition. You also must include clear differentiators related to your culture, company vision, and mission, as well as benefits if you want to stand out from the crowd of other employers.

 

3) Heightened customer expectations can be managed with savvy tech investments and communications

Customers — be they business, consumer, or employee — are expecting more across the board

When customers call into a contact center, they want their needs to be met efficiently yet also want empathetic contact center agents who handle interactions with a human touch. By investing in technology such as AI, contact centers can ease agents’ lives, and increase their productivity, by automating their more tedious and repetitive work. Automated chat and voice features, and in some cases virtual agents, can instantly process laborious data, solve simple problems, and offer high levels of customer service, leaving human employees to handle high-level and more interesting customer service issues. This gives customers the high-touch service they expect, while keeping contact center agents engaged and motivated at the same time.

Similarly, contact centers can take a candidate-centric approach to recruiting and hiring by leveraging AI, chat, phone, and email throughout the process, from assessing candidates to scheduling interviews to answering standard questions. This allows candidates to engage with recruiters however they prefer, and for recruiters to focus on building relationships with candidates instead of more onerous tasks. 

When it comes to employee engagement, some contact centers are conducting post-hire agent assessments to identify strengths and weaknesses and then match agents with clients. For example, someone might be good with roadside assistance, but not health claims and benefits. This further increases retention rates. 

From a corporate client perspective, communication is the name of the game. Frequently, corporate contact center clients don’t feel the direct pain of hiring agents because they don’t do it. So, they aren’t on the frontlines when it comes to what it takes to attract candidates, hire them, and keep them. By regularly communicating with their clients about the new reality of recruiting and hiring, contact centers can work with their clients to develop realistic expectations for candidates throughout the hiring process; remain competitive when it comes to compensation and benefits; and ensure onboarding and training is seamless.

 

Contact centers have nimbly adapted to so much change over the past few years, and will continue evolving with the market to remain competitive. Recruiting and hiring in today’s contact center must be framed around the fact that it is a candidate’s market. Contact centers that embrace this and move forward accordingly will have a better chance at staying ahead of the pack than others. And, those that view not only consumers and corporate clients, but also candidates and employees, as customers will thrive.

To learn more about how you can manage a trifecta of labor shortages, remote work, and heightened customer expectations, contact us.

Looking for more? Discover PSG’s contact center RPO solutions.

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Three Healthcare Staffing Trends to Watch

The pandemic swiftly ushered in a new era in the world of work. In healthcare, with lives at stake, staffing firms had to pivot quickly to manage wild swings in demand for workers as the pandemic surged and declined regionally throughout the country. Demand intensified for travel nursing and respiratory therapy and decreased for most locum specialties and physical therapy.

However, as the country opens up, non-COVID-related care is recovering. And, while travel nursing will remain in demand throughout 2021 as firms continue to hire for mass vaccination efforts, it likely will level out in coming months due to cost considerations. As demand becomes more predictable, hospitals will look to do more permanent hiring.

What will a “return to (new) normal” look like when it comes to healthcare staffing? As the pandemic loosens its grip, we have our eye on three key trends ushered in by the pandemic that are here to stay.

Healthcare staffing firms embrace technology and automation

Healthcare staffing quickly transformed over the past year as firms streamlined sourcing, recruiting and credentialing to ensure they could meet demand rapidly. Firms looked to technology and automation to solve problems and gain efficiencies. Here’s how:

Problem: Finding candidates.

Staffing firms struggled to find high-demand candidates such as travel nurses. Yet, many of those same firms had hundreds to thousands of passive candidates sitting in their databases who were not being engaged.

Solution: Automated database mining allows you to seamlessly mine for and engage existing leads through automated engagement.

By doing so, recruiters save time engaging leads and only need to screen candidates that are interested, build relationships with them and match them with meaningful assignments.

Problem: Losing candidates in the funnel.

With high demand, candidates were falling out of the funnel, if the credentialing process was too onerous or if they were presented competing opportunities that resulted in faster placement.

Solution: Pre-credentialing.

One way to do true rapid-response travel nursing – where nurses are placed in 24-48 hours – is to pre-credential them, or have their credentials nearly complete, with only the few state and facility-specific documents remaining to be quickly completed. This process is often handled by credentialing software combined with third-party partners whose offshore recruiters can manage the process in a way that is far more cost-effective, scalable, and efficient, freeing up onshore recruiters to focus on relationship development.

Problem: Retaining talent.

With certain healthcare positions in very high demand, healthcare staffing firms did all they could to make sure they could retain the talent they had.

Solution: Virtual wallets give travelers access to their credentials for future placements, even with competing staffing firms.

The wallet allows traveling nurses to leverage a one-stop-shop app with all credentialing, job search, interview scheduling and time card information. Staffing companies can market through that app for new jobs when the current position is coming to an end.

Virtual wallets provide candidates with easy and rapid access to the hospitals that need them most, making their lives easier in the process, and building loyalty with you.

As healthcare job growth outpaces the market, so does innovation in healthcare staffing

In the long-term, the U.S. Bureau of Labor & Statistics projects overall employment will grow 4% from 2019 to 2029, an annual growth rate of only 0.4%. Healthcare occupations are generally expected to outperform substantially. The two major categories for healthcare occupations, healthcare practitioners and healthcare support, are projected to grow 9% and 23%, respectively, over that time. Supporting that estimation, a recent McKinsey & Company report expects that by 2030, the greatest growth in U.S. labor demand will be among health aides, technicians, wellness occupations and health professionals.

To keep up with this growth, healthcare staffing firms will continue to adopt innovative strategies to ensure client, candidate and employee engagement stays strong. Among our clients, we’re seeing increased investments to build infrastructure, streamline automation, leverage offshore recruiters for labor-intensive processes, and address search to support this sustained growth.

In other words, savvy healthcare staffing firms are taking the lessons learned – and solutions implemented – over the past year and applying them systematically so they’ll be able to meet forecasted demand for years to come. And, they’re maintaining the culture of flexibility, nimbleness, and adaptability that was required of them throughout the pandemic to ensure they’re ready for whatever comes their way.

Growth requires a shift from end-to-end to functional alignment

In smaller staffing companies, recruiters manage the recruitment process end-to-end, from sourcing and recruiting to credentialing and submitting. The problem is that this process will not result in sustained growth. If growth is the goal, staffing firms must move to a model with separate teams for each function. Smaller staffing companies that aim to grow are leveraging this time as an opportunity to build a foundation based on functional alignment versus that end-to-end process.

Recruitment marketing plays a leading role

According to a recent healthcare recruiting trends survey from Jobvite, an overwhelming majority (88%) of healthcare recruiters believe recruitment marketing to be essential in an increasingly digital world. Additionally, healthcare recruiters have precise goals for increasing the diversity of their talent, specifically for race, gender, veterans and sexual identity.

With candidate experience and engagement more crucial than ever, organizations must become experts at how to differentiate their companies and job opportunities, creatively calling out specifics about placements that make them special and unique. If not, they will get lost in the noise. Proper programmatic recruitment marketing casts the widest net for job postings and advertising to attract talent. It optimizes spend by finding the right volume of candidates needed to fill the role but helps stop overspend on more candidates than you need. Doing this broadly for all roles in an organization has a considerable impact.

Lack of speed kills. If you take too long, top talent is gone. Marketing and branding should reflect a sense of urgency and importance related to the candidate experience. Recruitment marketing can ensure you attract the right candidates as efficiently as possible.

For more information about all you need to know about optimizing healthcare staffing in our new world of work, please reach out to us.

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Contact Center Recruiting in the New World of Work

The pandemic rapidly ushered in an era of work-from-home (WFH) and, in so doing, changed the way the world will work well beyond the COVID era. While vaccines bring the promise of a return to the office, employees in many industries want to continue working from home, at least some of the time. And, contrary to the fears of some organizations, WFH will actually lift productivity in the U.S. economy by 5%.

Given the early results from this unplanned global experiment, workforce experts predict a new model of work for many industries. Some will embrace a hybrid model – in which employees primarily work remotely but come into the office to collaborate on projects or meet with clients. Others will make remote work permanent. In the contact center, for example, the remote work model has taken hold and is likely here to stay. Why? Many of our clients are seeing that they can secure higher quality talent at the speed of business when they aren’t tethered to a specific recruiting radius and can offer more flexible working situations to their employees. This flexibility fosters a more engaged workforce that will deliver a better customer experience.

From a recruiting standpoint, the quick move to WFH meant introducing new candidate assessments around home technology and computer literacy capabilities; changing screening processes; and rethinking recruitment processes with candidates not as constrained by geographic locations. Contact centers that embraced digitization and automation of recruiting processes were able to pivot quickly and thrived during this time. Those that continue to come out ahead, whether they leverage an exclusively remote or a hybrid model, will do so by optimizing two key areas: recruitment marketing and digitized recruiting and hiring. 

Recruitment marketing to fill the funnel

Recruitment marketing is rapidly becoming a cornerstone of contact center recruiting programs. Why? Transactional recruiting isn’t enough in today’s digital world. Candidates research employers online the same way they might research restaurants, hotels and products. What they learn about an organization online directly influences their decision to apply for and accept a job.

Contact centers can leverage strategic recruitment marketing strategies to attract, engage, recruit and retain talent. Done right, recruitment marketing creates a sustained increase in the number of qualified applicants in the funnel.

Specialists such as PSG help their clients stay abreast of the rapidly evolving recruitment marketing landscape. From adopting the latest programmatic technologies to A/B testing different job postings, companies will need to figure out what works best for them, depending on the specific role, location and point in time.

Recruiting and hiring the remote workforce

AI, chat, phone and email can be leveraged throughout the recruiting and hiring process, from assessing candidates to scheduling interviews to answering standard questions. AI-enabled bots can automatically create search strings to parse resumes off job boards, engage candidates electronically, and convert them into applicants. Once they’ve applied, email and chat are key interaction mechanisms to manage the candidate experience. All communications channels should be interchangeable so candidates can switch channels without disrupting their experience. In designing a digitized flow, recruiters should ensure as much of the process as possible is accessible via mobile device regardless of whether a browser, email or chat are being used.

In the days of in-person interviews and assessments, a candidate could complete a large set of tasks, including drug tests, operations assessments, I-9 paperwork and typing speed tests, while they were at the contact center facility. Now, they must complete each of these activities at home in addition to ensuring that their workstation and internet can support the role’s requirements. In other words, there are more steps than before and they all must be completed before the candidate can start. Candidates can leverage digital tools at home to measure everything from typing and skills to internet and hardware speed. Recruiters should ask candidates about the location of their workstation and noise levels to ensure a good customer experience.

Integrating automated reminders with phone calls, when necessary, can help shorten time-to-hire and increase the throughput of the recruiting funnel. And, video interviews are important for face-to-face activities such as operations assessments. Finally, by integrating all of these steps into an automated workflow, contact center recruiters can ensure that candidates move quickly and efficiently through the recruiting funnel.

The new world of work is here. Thankfully, contact center recruiters can leverage tech, automation and outsourced recruiting expertise to make sure they’re ready to harness all of the opportunity that comes with it.

To learn more about how you can optimize remote recruiting and hiring in your contact center, reach out to us here.

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PSG Global Services and Covid Clinic Partner to Staff 22 Sites Across North America

The Brief

Covid Clinic is a non-profit that was formed in response to the global pandemic by a group of healthcare professionals. Their mission is to provide rapid COVID-19 testing for all. The Covid Clinic team includes experienced nurses and medical professionals who serve the community. 

Initially, Covid Clinic relied on its internal talent acquisition team and traditional staffing firms to staff its expanding network of testing facilities. Unfortunately, the staffing companies were missing hiring targets, and the non-profit didn’t want to add recruiters to its internal talent acquisition team when demand was so unpredictable. They needed a partner who could keep up with its fast-growing network of almost 70 testing sites in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.

Speed and flexibility required

Covid Clinic needed a partner who could consistently deliver. To run each site, many of which are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, they needed to hire clinical and non-clinical roles, including:

  • Clinical: Medical Assistant, LVN, Phlebotomist, LPN, EMT, and RNs 
  • Non-clinical: Clerical Assistant, Traffic Control, and Security

Referred to PSG Global Solutions by another client, Covid Clinic reached out and decided PSG was the right fit based on our flexibility, speed and collaboration. Once they decided to move forward, we were able to launch with Covid Clinic in just five days. 

Tech + recruitment marketing = high quality talent at the speed of business

We started by leveraging specific analytic tools such as Indeed to determine the cost-per-click that would drive enough applicant volume to meet Covid Clinic’s hiring needs. Using the analytics in combination with a solid understanding of Covid Clinic’s talent funnel performance – including clicks-to-applies and applies-to-hires – PSG was able to determine the appropriate recruitment marketing budget required for each new location launch.  

Once the recruitment marketing investment was made, applicants began to funnel into the applicant tracking system (ATS), and PSG’s team of recruiters quickly engaged candidates to conduct a screen. Leveraging our Automated Candidate Engagement (ACE) technology platform, PSG automatically engaged applicants via text and email to confirm they were still interested in the opportunity. If so, ACE automatically scheduled interviews with our recruiters, who then used a client-provided script to screen applicants and make sure they had a clear understanding of the role. If the fit was right, PSG extended offers on the calls and then explained the onboarding process. Then, PSG leveraged ACE funnel management technology to send the offer letter for signature, provide links to onboarding documents and remind employees to show up for their first day of training/work. As part of this process, ACE sent reminders when candidates got stuck in a particular stage of the funnel based on triggers built into the system.

Callout: Solution Spotlight

PSG’s Automated Candidate Engagement (ACE) platform automates communications and identifies qualified and interested candidates. Each candidate contacted through email or text message is scored based on their overall interest in the position, qualifications, and a wealth of other data points. Candidates with the highest score are moved to the top of a dynamic calling queue – enabling the recruiter to engage qualified and interested candidates quickly. 

Flexing for the future

Over the course of two months, PSG helped Covid Clinic staff 22 sites in multiple states along the West Coast and in Texas, extending a total of 692 offers to candidates. Now, as the country shifts toward vaccinations, Covid Clinic operates through leaner mobile testing facilities and is working exclusively with PSG. We’re excited to see how Covid Clinic evolves and grows, and look forward to working side by side with them as they do so.

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Rapidly Deploying Healthcare Staff When Time is of the Essence

Originally posted by Recruiting Daily

Healthcare staffing organizations have been on overdrive to meet the spike in demand for clinicians due to COVID-19 surges across the country. When pandemic cases increase, the laborious process of onboarding clinicians, which includes reference checks, employment verification and licensure verification, intensifies.

rapidly deploying pharmacy workersThis credentialing process takes weeks to complete. Now, more than ever, healthcare staffing organizations must streamline the administrative process without compromising compliance.

Moreover, resources are needed for vaccine delivery, testing, and contact tracing, further straining not only clinical roles but also non-clinical roles such as pharmacy technicians, traffic controllers, security, greeters, contact center agents, schedulers, and environmental services personnel.

Healthcare staffing firms can implement several key best practices including pre-credentialing travel nurses that are needed at a moment’s notice.

And, they can leverage technology to automate sourcing and screening of talent, thus speeding up the recruiting process and deploying workers as quickly as possible where they are needed most.

Pre-Credentialing for Rapid Response Clinicians

When a crush of COVID-19 patients strained the U.S. healthcare system in late 2020 and early 2021, hospitals struggled to meet the needs of the most serious cases, with some counties coming precariously close to exceeding ICU capacity.

Healthcare systems needed more clinicians to do the specialized work of managing COVID-19 patients. And, while frontline healthcare workers increasingly became vaccinated, healthcare systems still found themselves short-staffed as they dealt with fallout from those who were exposed to the virus and forced into quarantine.

In that environment, the demand for travel nurses rose steadily.

This scenario is an extreme example of the sometimes high-stakes world of rapid-response nursing, in which lives are at stake and a cumbersome credentialing process is not an option. Moreover, combined with a lengthy application process to become a new traveler for a staffing organization, many travel nurses limit how many organizations they apply to because it takes so long for them to become active at a new staffing firm.

The only way to do true rapid response travel nursing – where nurses are sourced, recruited, and placed in 24-48 hours – is to have their credentials nearly complete, with only the few state and facility-specific documents remaining to be quickly completed.

This process of pre-credentialing is often handled by third-party partners that can cost-effectively handle surges in demand by cutting down the one to two-week credentialing process by up 30% or more.

Given the competition to add new travelers to their roster, staffing organizations are finding ways to make life easier for their travel nurses. One example is the use of credentialing software that allows firms to conduct almost all credentialing in advance, making it easy for travel nurses to upload their documents.

Many staffing organizations have set up the software via a virtual wallet that gives travelers access to their credentials for future placements – even with competing staffing firms. Such solutions give travel nurses easy and rapid access to the hospitals that need them most.

Streamlining Recruitment of Clinicians and Non-Clinicians for Testing, Vaccinations and Contact Tracing

Clinicians working in ICUs, ERs, and other parts of the hospital form a crucial part of the front line in battling the pandemic. So, too, do the clinicians and non-clinical staff who are needed to support testing, contact tracing, and vaccine delivery.

All three of these areas are critical in fighting COVID-19.

For example, mass vaccination locations in convention centers and other large facilities are being set up rapidly around the country. They can require several hundred hires, including:

  • staff to guide traffic
  • security guards, observers
  • contact center staff
  • clinical staff
  • nurses
  • nurse practitioners
  • EMTs
  • phlebotomists
  • MDs and more.
  • And, now that pharmacies such as Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, and more will be involved in vaccine delivery, many states are enabling pharmacy technicians to conduct immunizations with pharmacist supervision.

    This means there will likely be a shortage of pharmacy technicians in certain markets, especially densely populated areas that could see a sharp increase in vaccine demand as more doses become available.

    rapidly deploying healthcare staffHow can healthcare staffing organizations fill this wide variety of roles in such a short period of time? Given the high volumes required, traditional passive recruiting tactics like job boards just won’t be sufficient.

    Instead, organizations should actively market to drive inbound applicant flow. By aggressively leveraging recruiting marketing, they can turn up hiring quickly, and turn it down once they’ve met demand.

    Healthcare staffing firms should consider recruitment marketing partners who leverage programmatic marketing, which uses technology to cost-effectively target candidates based on their browsing habits.

    Technology platforms can automatically engage candidates via text and email, gauge their interest in the role, and schedule time for interviews. Then, recruiters can interview the applicant and go so far as to extend an offer on the call and start the onboarding process.

    Automated candidate engagement solutions send offer letters, provide links to onboarding materials and remind employees about time and location of their first day of work.

    Conclusion

    When it comes to beating the global pandemic, healthcare staffing firms have to be armed and ready for surges in demand – whether they come in the form of clinicians or non-clinicians or hospitals, vaccine delivery sites, contact tracing, or testing facilities.

    Now, more than ever, the right people at the right time will be key to saving lives and putting an end to this pandemic.

    And, after it is over, those same firms will be prepared for increases in demand for maintenance healthcare that many have put off for over a year.