As life returns to normal, now is the perfect opportunity for employers to re-think their workforce strategy. Ed Creasey at Calabrio explores demographic trends and how the next generation of employees will thrive in contact centres provided they are given the correct technology to create the right environment.
Every generation brings to the workplace a set of characteristics that are shaped by the events and cultural norms of the day. Take Generation Z, Gen Z or Zoomers as they are fondly called. Born between 1997 and 2015, this generation accounts for nearly 25% of today’s workforce. While it shares the advantages of being the first generation of mobile natives, Generation Z faces other challenges such as growing up in a recession and being thrust into a world of work turned upside down by a pandemic and widespread social unrest.
In recent times, ‘be kind’ has become a mantra on how to live life in a troubled and uncertain age. The same mantra could equally be applied to how different generations treat each other and how employers can learn from the mistakes of the past. Think about how Millennials were treated. Who can forget that iconic front cover of TIME Magazine in May 2013 that screamed ‘Me, me, me generation – lazy, entitled narcissists?’ It was a perception that pervaded the media at the time and caused unnecessary trauma to Millennials everywhere. Fast forward to Generation Z and nothing has really changed. Almost 4 in 10 Zoomers describe themselves as ‘hard working’ (38%), whereas a quarter of previous generations ie Y, X and Baby Boomers describe them as ‘lazy’ (22%, 29% and 23% respectively). Is it a case of history repeating itself?
Listen and learn
It’s time for organisations to tune into the culture of Generation Z and not assume the worst as they did with Millennials. In fact, Zoomers are an optimistic group, with 25% saying they expect to have a better life than their predecessors. They also believe that having a job they love is the most important thing. It is time to cultivate this positive Gen Z spirit. After the challenges of recent times the world needs to tap into the fresh ideas, energy and natural enthusiasm of youth. The same could be said of contact centres.
How to adapt to Generation Z in four easy steps
The latest Workforce Engagement Management (WEM) solutions help to create a positive contact centre environment in which Generation Z will thrive. Aim for:
1. Flexibility – when Calabrio surveyed more than 250 contact centre professionals recently, after higher pay (55%) the thing agents wanted most was flexibility (34%). Generation Z values flexibility and the new world of remote and hybrid work is ideal for them. Modern self-scheduling solutions provide autonomy to facilitate this flexibility. For example, the latest AI-driven Chatbots take shift preferences from agents and update their schedules automatically. They approve requests for leave and overtime in seconds giving agents the breathing space and extra income they want, while contact centres get the cover they need.
2. Personalisation – jobs may no longer be for life but Generation Z staff still desire a meaningful career – our report showed 34% of surveyed agents wanted the sense of a career path. Having grown up in the “App Era” they also expect to see everything on their phones. Achieve both by allowing your newest recruits to visualise their performance and self-assess. Whether it’s average adherence, handle time or work time scores against goals – if all of this is on one screen, they can understand what’s important to the contact centre. Which means agents can see where they need to improve and how they can take control of their own performance.
3. Simplification – Generation Z is not used to multiple applications in different places so keep processes and systems simple for maximum impact. From the moment they are recruited, support young staff with technology that blends mobile and desktop applications with CRM and critical business systems. This will provide a single pane of glass where complete customer journeys are reflected, from the channels customers use, to previous purchases and past conversations. Whatever their age, customer service advisors want to please customers and giving them the right technology will make the process easier and more satisfying for everyone concerned.
4. Diversification – some of the most notable issues that Generation Z lists as more important to them, compared to other generations, are gender equality (13% Generation Z vs 1% Baby Boomers) and racial equality (20% Generation Z vs 6% Baby Boomers).[iii] Generation Z consumers want brands that are as diverse as they are. Similarly, Generation Z employees want to acquire many different types of skills that are often hindered by a traditional ‘cookie-cutter’ employee experience. The modern contact centre, driven by quality management, multichannel analytics and process excellence, offers everything Generation Z needs to satisfy their individuality, quench their thirst for knowledge and actively manage their careers.
Follow this simple checklist to attract and develop the best Generation Z talent. For more ideas, watch Calabrio’s webinar or download the Health of the Contact Centre 2021: Agent Wellbeing and the “Great Resignation” report or simply visit www.calabrio.com.
About the Author
Ed Creasey is Director of Pre-Sales International at Calabrio
Calabrio is the customer experience intelligence company that empowers organisations to enrich human interactions. The scalability of our cloud platform allows for quick deployment of remote work models—and it gives our customers precise control over both operating costs and customer satisfaction levels. Our AI-driven analytics tools make it easy for contact centres to uncover customer sentiment and share compelling insights with other parts of the organisation. Customers choose Calabrio because we understand their needs and provide a best-in-class experience, from implementation to ongoing support. Find more at calabrio.com and follow @Calabrio on Twitter.