Managing the talent lifecycle in a high attrition environment

By Joel Stransky, director and co-founder of Pivotal Talent, a global leader in Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions for talent management.

Technology-mediated disruption in the workplace has a powerful impact on both businesses and their employees. While this trend provides numerous opportunities for growth, it also poses challenges.

The insurance sector is one of many industries grappling with the challenges posed, while also leveraging the opportunities that technology presents.

Of major concern is the high attrition rate within the call centre environment, which is increasingly being staffed by members from the Generation Y cohort, also known as Millennials, with digital natives from Generation Z looming on the horizon.

A major contributor to the high attrition rate is technology innovation, which regularly introduces new skills and competencies that staff are required to learn, while also creating some degree of uncertainty with regard to what the future holds in terms of job security. In addition, the call centre is often considered a stepping stone to other career paths, and is seldom viewed as a long-term job prospect. This perceived lack of career opportunities, coupled with other challenges such as low levels of stimulation; a tough sales-based environment, and hierarchical management structures1, all make the call centre a unique and complex environment where call centre staff have a short lifespan.

There are, however, three key areas where technology, specifically Artificial Intelligence (AI), can support a stronger call centre business model and better manage a talent lifecycle characterised by high attrition rates.
Of primary importance in this regard is talent acquisition. The ability to anticipate and proactively address talent is a key imperative for HR leaders. As the Deloitte 2017 HR Global Trends report states: “Talent acquisition is now the third-most-important challenge companies face.”

In the context of the insurance call centre environment, by leveraging innovative AI talent management solutions that help to better predict performance alongside traditional methods of assessing candidates, the insurers could ensure a potential employee is an accurate fit for the business, both in terms of their skill set and in terms of the corporate culture, before making the hire. While traditional assessments such as psychometric testing can deliver insights about potential employees, the reality is that these tests only accurately measure between 16 to 20% of key performance predictors.

In addition, the skills required in a modern multi-channel call centre are varied as staff need to engage via various mediums such as social media and email, not just over the phone. Companies therefore need the ability to match core competencies with the job role, while also ascertaining both written and verbal skill sets. As such, it has become increasingly complex to assess which candidates will be a good fit for the call centre environment when relying on traditional assessments alone.

Once hired, the ability to understand the employee and track their talent lifecycle using AI technology can help to identify early warning signs of discontent and consideration of leaving, which is highly beneficial to the business. With this capability, the company can intervene to hopefully address the employee’s concerns and secure their continued service, or plan for the attrition to ensure a smoother transition by finding a replacement before they leave. This limits the financial impact that empty seats in a call centre can have on the bottom line as it limits the risk of sales targets not being met, and helps ensure that customer engagement and satisfaction goals are not compromised.

Thirdly, by better understanding call centre employees, managers will develop more robust strategies to boost both workforce performance and job satisfaction, which is of particular importance to Millennials. Career planning and progression can also become more focused by aligning skills or helping to identify weak areas that require improvement. This personal development will also help employees feel like they are growing and advancing.

Faced with the facts – namely a 35% average attrition rate in call centre staff – insurance companies need to introduce more innovative ways to manage the talent lifecycle as it materially impacts their bottom line. The result of making a bad hire is an expensive exercise which can cost the business up to 50% of an individual’s yearly salary as well as compromise the ability to deliver sales and service.

It’s also expensive to re-employ as the business incurs recruitment fees, training, and the cost of time in a dead seat while employees go through the initial learning curve.

Therefore, the ability to mitigate attrition levels by the smallest percentage will have a huge financial impact on the business, and we now have the technology at our disposal to make that happen. Using next generation technology like Pivotal Talent to predict performance, potential and talent retention will ensure that the business challenges currently in the insurance call centre environment can be effectively addressed.

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