Our thoughts on business, leadership, jobs, careers, workplace issues and life in New Zealand
When I graduated from Uni in the late 90’s, I can’t say that working in a contact centre was ever a job I considered (or even knew existed!). But nowadays with the numbers graduating and the New Zealand job market tightening, gaining any form of permanent employment in a large organisation is a positive step to starting a successful career.
The contact centre is a great entry point for grads with little work experience to learn a business from the ground up. They develop patience and empathy through working and dealing with people from all walks of life. As these new recruits gain skills, build networks and seek greater challenges, opportunities to move into marketing, IT, HR, management and other areas across the organisation become possible.
Speaking to our contact centre recruiters they agreed, commenting that clients (though currently only a small number) saw the contact centre as a training ground for new employees to learn the business for 6-12 months, before moving to other parts of the business. This satisfies both the companies’ need to recruit and retain top talent as well as the impatience of Gen Y grads who want to learn and move on to the next challenge.
A Christchurch based Client Services Manager said he believes diverse backgrounds are what make a great contact centre. His experience in recruiting grads was very positive though. They do need managing as there is a desire to know everything going on in the business, and are very keen to share their opinion even if they have minimal knowledge of the subject matter. In the end it’s about managing that Gen Y employee within a larger group of staff and harnessing those fresh ideas. He stated “the right people with the right attitudes” get opportunities when they arise. He pointed out two particular examples of grads that had been taken on at contact centre level in his organisation and are now in upper management roles.
On the flip side: the majority of contact centres with tight recruitment budgets seem adverse to hiring grads due to the perceived low return on investment that comes with churn. I think there has to be a flexible and holistic view held by the wider organisation that channelling this fresh talent, motivation and enthusiasm from the ground up can be used to positively influence the wider business.
In saying all of this, are contact centres a ‘sexy’ first job option for a grad? I hear a resounding ”no”! But the simple reality is that in this fragile, post-recession economy, every Tom, Dick and Harry has a degree. My education alone, no longer makes me the anomaly; now even the office junior has letters after their name. It’s a simple fact: Gen Ys need to earn their stripes too; your first job out of Uni should be like your apprenticeship.
So really what I’m trying to say is everyone needs to take responsibility…from recent grads, first time employees to employers. Grads need to on the whole, change their attitude, be more open and be prepared to start at entry level and prove themselves. The majority of employers need to do a better job of promoting their contact centres and be willing to harness fresh talent and ideas for the good of the whole organisation. Who knows this combined effort could be a match made in heaven!
Listen to what this award winning contact centre manager thinks: