A new decade is upon us, and the disruption in the workforce is here. No longer are Baby Boomers dominating the workforce. Millennials make up the majority of the working population, retirees are coming back for a second wind and Gen Z is making their mark. The evolution of the workforce is driven by the changing needs, desires, and demographics of the workers who comprise it.
Look for these top themes in the workforce this year.
The future of the workforce is flexibility
The mindset of the workforce has shifted as people desire more flexibility in their workplace to maintain a better work-life balance. The traditional 9-5 workday is becoming a thing of the past and erratic work hours are the new normal. According to the Harvard Business Review, 96% of workers seek flexible schedules and locations in their jobs, though only 47% have it. This is why many people are turning toward the alternative workforce, or gig economy. The alternative workforce has been growing over the last few years and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. In 2018, 36% of the workforce engaged in remote jobs, compared to just 15.8% in 2015. At this rate, it’s estimated that more than half of the workforce will be working flexible jobs in the next seven years.
This creates opportunities for companies to make innovative decisions about how they cultivate talent, especially in a traditional workplace. With unemployment rates low in a competitive job market (November 2019 saw a half-century low of 3.5%), businesses struggle to find workers who meet their needs. It seems that there are more jobs than candidates, and job-seekers are being picky. Tapping into the alternative workforce can fill positions with unique talent and experience.
Many enterprises are seeing the benefits of integrating an alternative workforce into their business plans. According to the 2019 Deloitte Human Capital Trends Survey (PDF), 72% of organizations that outsource saw a positive impact on their business. Not only do they have access to a premium talent pool, they notice more efficiency and improved customer satisfaction scores. Companies that leverage a virtual workforce with Liveops see a 15-33% increase in guest satisfaction.
Don’t lose sight of the human element
Innovative technology isn’t a new theme in the workplace, but integrating automation into daily operations may be. The CCW 2019 Market Study (PDF) says 95% of organizations expect automation to become a large part of business operations over the next five years. However, this doesn’t mean jobs will be replaced by machines, rather the opposite is true.
Automation programs are a complement to the existing workforce, helping agents become more efficient. While intelligent software can handle simple requests, agents spend more time engaging with customers and handling complex issues. Human agents provide malleability and empathy that automation just can’t fulfill.
Another facet of automation is considering omnichannel capabilities. The CCW Report says 84% of businesses believe chat and messaging bots will become more important within the next five years. This makes sense, as the customer becomes more tech-savvy and their expectations are constantly changing. Finding the balance between automation and compassionate agents is key for a successful customer journey.
Learning and development are essential
To keep up with the changes within the workforce, workers will need to upskill and grow in their professions. Thousands of new jobs are being created every month, many with added complexities to align with technology innovations. To remain competitive in the market, workers need to stay on the cutting edge of learning. Most workers have the skills for the position they are hired for but aren’t given opportunities to grow as the needs of their positions evolve.
Lack of development opportunities is a common cause of burnout and attrition. We’ve seen the studies that show retention is much more cost-effective than constantly recruiting, so nurturing growth is important. In a recent Gallup survey analyzing the quality of the current job market, 75% of middle-income workers said career advancement opportunities are important to them. Further, many business leaders believe access to learning and development opportunities will be more motivating to workers than salaries.
The alternative workforce takes control of their professional growth and focuses on jobs that are more fulfilling to them. However, companies that employ remote or gig workers often struggle to give them adequate training; only 52% of companies effectively onboard their gig workers. Companies that give contextual onboarding quickly build brand affinity with their contractors, which relays to a better customer experience.
Virtual call centers such as Liveops provide award-winning blended learning and development opportunities for contractors to complete at their own pace, from anywhere in the country. They are required to complete certification before working on a program and are welcome to continue their learning with Skill Builder classes at their leisure.
Improve workforce experience to improve customer experience
Members of your workforce are ambassadors – they’re the bridge between your business goals and your end-customer. More often than not, they’re committed and passionate about their place of work, and their positivity shines through to the customer. However, most of us have had that experience with a customer service agent where we murmured after the call, “this person must hate their job.” Don’t let your team members get to that point.
The current workforce is fueled by more than just a paycheck – they are looking for meaning and purpose in their job. In ServiceNow’s Survey of 2,000 workers, 45% said meaningful work would improve their efficiency. Workers want to believe that they are adding value to their company while aligning with their personal and professional ideals. Creating the connection between what workers are doing and why they do it can have a huge impact. The 2019 Deloitte Human Capital Report shared a study that showed customer service members increased productivity by 171% when they were given visibility to the impact they made on the end-customer.
Workers also want their workplace to be involved in the community and take a stand on popular topics. A leading trend among millennials is sustainability in the workplace. However, if companies are not whole-hearted about the cause, it can have a negative effect. Find the balance between what your company can commit to, and what your workers find impactful.
Don’t get left in the dust by holding on to workforce trends of the past. The workforce is rapidly changing, and the way companies are doing business is evolving at a rapid pace.
Interested in learning how integrating a virtual workforce into your business can uplevel your performance? Visit liveops.com for more information.