Two Ideas to Improve Contact Center Recruiting –

Success story after success story have supported the use of pre-employment assessments to improve the quality of hire for contact centers. However, using pre employment assessment tools is just part of the overall recruiting process. The reality of high volume agent selection systems is that the use of valid assessment tools is only part of an effective recruiting process.  


What can be done to improve the frontline agent recruiting process? 


In this article, we will highlight two strategies that effective contact center hiring programs are using. In our experience working with leading contact centers, successful staffing programs have the right ratio of recruiters to hiring volume and focus on sourcing candidates with more effective, lower cost strategies.


Strategy 1: Matching the size of the recruiting team to hiring volume and performance goals


Many contact center organizations have been reducing headcount, including human resources and recruiting teams. In doing so, the remaining contact center human resource employees are asked to do more. This often leads to less focus on recruiting and more focus on administrative tasks. Unfortunately, our experience, based on working with some leading contact center recruiting teams, suggests that maintaining a dedicated recruiting team per site actually enables the team to meet fill rates while improving quality of hire. And, the financial benefit of keeping the recruiting team right-sized actually creates a more significant financial payback than the cost reduction in headcount.


Data from one organization is depicted in the chart below. The chart illustrates the following between 2005 and 2008 for a multi-site contact center organization hiring thousands of employees each year:

·         A ratio of 164 hires per recruiter in 2005 compared to a ratio of 140 hires per recruiter in 2008.

·         Hiring volume more than doubled in 2008 compared to 2005, using 100% as a baseline for hiring volume.

·         Early stage attrition was reduced from 42% in 2005 to 23% in 2008 – a 45% reduction.

FurstPerson Hires to Recruiters Ratio Graph

This hiring organization was able to increase the dedicated recruiting team to keep pace with the increase in hiring volume. In fact, the recruiting team actually grew slightly during this time as evidenced by the drop in hires to recruiter ratio between 2005 and 2008. Because the recruiting staff was dedicated and staffed correctly, it was able to focus on attrition reduction efforts, including the use of pre-employment assessment tools. The attrition reduction alone saved this organization over $12 million in turnover related costs which created a payback of over seven times the incremental staff investment.


Strategy 2: Using internet sourcing and referral programs to drive recruiting costs down


The organization referenced above will help us highlight the second strategy – the effective use of recruiting sources to reduce overall recruiting costs.


At FurstPerson, we often classify recruitment marketing into “Tiers” as follows:

Tier 1 – traditional recruiting sources like newspaper and radio ads

Tier 2 – internet based recruiting ranging from job boards to resume bank searching

Tier 3 – direct person to person sourcing like employee referral programs


The chart below shows that in 2009 the recruiting cost per hire decreased to 40% of the recruiting cost in 2007. This cost reduction was accomplished by shifting recruitment marketing away from expensive Tier 1 sources to lower cost and more effective Tier 2 and Tier 3 sources. In 2009, for example, Tier 2 sources increased to over 40% of overall candidate volume while Tier 1 sources dropped to about 13% of overall candidate volume. In particular, this organization made effective use of its corporate career webpage which became the second largest internet source replacing Craigslist. This became a low cost, effective source of candidates.

FurstPerson Recruiting Cost Graph


Combining these two strategies highlights strategies and tactics that contact centers struggling with frontline agent recruiting may want to consider:


·         When it comes to frontline agent hiring, having the right sized recruiting team enables effective use of recruiting tactics. For example, over 40% of candidates come from Tier 3 sources which include employee referral programs. Having the right number of recruiters per site enables this team to effectively run the employee referral programs to create significant candidate volume.

·         Improving quality and driving down costs can take time. In this example, the organization worked over a four year period to reduce attrition and shift costs from high cost recruiting sources to lower cost sources. This only worked because a data-driven approach to the recruiting process linking quality of hire (measured by assessment scores and performance data) to recruiting sources helped the recruiting teams target which sources to eliminate and which to emphasize.

·         Workforce planning is critical to maintaining the right ratio of recruiters to hires. This recruiting organization was able to work with call center workforce planning to forecast increased hiring volume which enabled it to grow the internal recruiting team to effectively maintain its key strategies and tactics.

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