Pew Research Center defines millennials as anyone born between the years 1981 and 1996 (ages 22 to 37 in 2018). Today more than one in three members of the American workforce are millennials, making them the largest generation in the U.S. workforce and the prime pool for current and prospective contact center agents.
Because of today’s healthy economy, millennial job-seekers can be selective. They will seek out organizations that best meet their vision as ideal employers. If they are happy with their employer, they will spread the word through their social networks and assign positive ratings to employee review sites such as Glassdoor. If things don’t work out, the word may travel even faster. Over half say that they will leave an employer that no longer meets their expectations.
Four of the most important requirements millennials seek from an employer are:
- Work-life balance
- Opportunity to learn new skills
- Access to state-of-the-art technology
- Frequent performance feedback
Work-life Balance Is Priority One
Over 90% of millennials prioritize work-life balance, and that makes job flexibility an essential factor when choosing to join or leave an employer. As Chris Lilley, Chief Human Resource Officer at electronics retailer Crutchfield Corporation, pointed out, “This generation really values their separation of work and home. They value work-life balance. They’re also perfectly happy to work from home. They value their time at home and their social life.”
When it comes to balancing work against pressing personal demands, the latter will often outweigh the former. Millennials are not careerists. They want to work with a company that shares their commitment to work-life balance. According to an online survey conducted by Monster.com, 37% of employers report that work-life balance and flexibility are the most important motivating factors for the millennial generation. Telecommuting and flextime aren’t seen as privileges, but rather requirements.
Opportunities to Learn New Skills
Millennials are realistic. They understand that the term “secure employment” is an oxymoron. Their survival plan is to accumulate multiple skill sets so they can transition smoothly should the need arise. Since they are quick learners and need to be always doing something, training periods need to be brief and made more hands-on. Employers seeking to attract the best of the millennial workforce will have a robust training and development program. They are used to learning from YouTube videos and want the flexibility to hone new skills on their own schedules. When asked what they’re looking for in a new job, 80% cite the opportunity to learn new skills as a top factor.
Frequent and Fair Evaluations
Just as they want to know their specific duties, they also want to know how they are performing. An advantage of contact center work is frequent quality monitoring evaluations. However, the traditional pattern of conducting a handful of evaluations per month, then following up with coaching days or even weeks later after the coachable event will not work with this group. The feedback needs to occur coincident with the coachable event so that millennial workers can make the course correction now rather than later.
Access to State-of-the-art Technology
Millennials love technology. Ninety percent of them sleep with their smartphones. They expect workplace user interfaces to be as well organized and intuitive as those they use on their smartphones. They expect to have access to high-speed internet on the job and remotely if they are working from home. They know when systems are well-integrated and when they’re not. Mobility is very important. They are comfortable communicating in multiple modes. Unlike older generations, they see advanced technology more as an opportunity than a threat.
Leading WFO Vendors Respond
Millennials crave frequent performance feedback (preferably positive). They want to know how they stack up against their peers and how they can improve. Traditional quality management is labor-intensive and inflexible. Quality specialists are often unavailable during the off-hours millennials are working. Verint AQM (for Automated Quality Management) automates the entire contact center quality process, from scoring evaluations to assigning coaching. Automated quality scores enable feedback that is accurate, timely, objective and based on the agent’s performance across all calls—not just a handful. Verint’s user-friendly agent portals alert employees to their current and future schedules, performance scorecards and schedule adherence while providing access to assigned e-learning courses and coaching materials.
Millennials are attracted to contact center work because of the promise of flexibility. Millennials often have more than one job or are university students working part-time. Their availability is subject to frequent change. Aspect’s recent enhancements to its workforce management software can send text alerts to individuals who are qualified and have expressed interest in picking up shifts on short notice. All communications are via smartphones. (No self-respecting millennial is ever more than three feet from their smartphone.)
Aspect shared the following case study of how this works: Asurion is a global provider of insurance services. The company has 17,000 employees and 280 million consumers. The company found that the traditional methods of communicating with agents were consuming too much time and caused agent satisfaction to decline. Agents were missing opportunities for voluntary time off and overtime. Asurion deployed the Aspect Workforce Management solution augmented by Aspect Inform, which enables mobile communications to agents. By going mobile, Asurion was able to send proactive notifications to immediately inform agents of time-off and overtime opportunities. Agents receive the messages over their smartphones and can reply immediately through their devices. Now agents don’t have to miss important opportunities. The solution averages 35,000 notifications per week resulting in higher levels of agent engagement, higher morale and lower turnover.
Stockholm-based Teleopti has long been out front on work-life balance. Their latest innovation is a chatbot called “Grant.” Teleopti describes Grant as an organization’s own WFM concierge, handling all processes related to schedule requests. Grant is always available, and “he” analyzes current staffing alongside employees’ unique skills and schedules to provide notifications when voluntary time off is available. If additional support is needed, Grant will soon be able to provide notifications when overtime hours are on offer. Infused with natural language processing, staff can chat with Grant and let him know if they wish to accept the schedule options. Grant then automatically manages the schedule request for them through a friendly real-time conversation. Millennials are the most technically savvy generation ever. They are very familiar with chatbots and will perceive employers that have committed to AI-infused automation as organizations they want to be associated with.
NICE is strongly committed to predictive analytics and artificial intelligence. NICE has added a new capacity planning solution, called NICE Enhanced Strategic Planner (ESP), which leverages the artificial intelligence from the core workforce management to offer powerful modeling tools that can calculate optimal schedules while considering the dozens, if not hundreds, of variables that can affect schedules. NICE has incorporated over 40 algorithms in its scheduling and forecasting engine. Enhanced Strategic Planner can easily handle the added complexity of millennial scheduling preferences.
Millennials Are the Workforce of Today and Tomorrow
Boosted by immigration, the population of millennials expected to reach 76.2 million in 2036, surpassing baby boomers as the largest living adult population. Global outsourcing organization TELUS International reports that 80% of their agents are in the millennial age group.
Millennials are important generation for contact centers because they comprise both today’s agent labor pool as well as the future. This underlines the importance of understanding what values they can bring to the table and what actions and technology are needed to capitalize on their unique skill sets.