A generation or two ago, it was not unusual for workers to spend their entire careers at just two or three employers. Not anymore. “Secure employment” has become an oxymoron. Economists are now talking about the “Gig Economy” where workers become Independent contractors that sell their skills on an opportunistic basis. Harvard’s Lawrence Katz and Princeton’s Alan Krueger reported that those engaged in contract work now constitute about 16% of the American labor force, up from 10% a decade earlier and 9% twenty years ago. Remarkably, they discovered that all the net employment growth in the United States between 2005 and 2015 could be attributed to alternative forms of employment.
Three key factors driving this trend are:
- Healthy economy which makes it easier for specialists to find suitable “gigs”
- Growing quest for “work-life balance”
- Emergence of web-based services such as freelancer.com and sologig.com that make it fast and easy for contractors to find clients with a supply of unperformed work
For contact centers, this is good news, since it broadens the pool of potential agents during a time of growing labor shortages. Contact center work is highly desirable for qualified people that are predisposed to favor contract relationships. The challenge is… how do you effectively manage a disparate labor force of pop-up agents?
With over 30 years of experience serving the world’s largest outsourcers, most of which rely on part-time agents to accommodate fluctuating requirements, Aspect Software is developing Workforce Optimization tools that help accommodate the contingent workforce. Their WFO software is easy to learn and use, which is important when there is little time for training. The Aspect WFM self-service web user interface empowers agent scheduling flexibility for home-based or remote agents, while ensuring that businesses achieve target service levels. Aspect has developed completely new scheduling algorithms to address the unconventional and unpredictable schedules of Gig Economy workers. Aspect Workforce Management is also mobile friendly, so potential freelancers can be reached anywhere, anytime. Management can adapt to changing staffing requirements in real-time by sending alerts to contractor smart phones and accepting applicants that meet requirements.
The advent of the Gig economy is not just a passing phase. Experts are projecting that the Gig Economy will comprise over 40% of the workforce by the year 2020. For contact centers, there are significant implications as to how agents will be recruited, trained, compensated, and managed. Management must also take a fresh look at their criteria for investing in workforce planning technology. Aspect, with its long history of supporting contingent workforces and industry-acclaimed user interfaces, is well positioned to support the workforce of today and tomorrow.
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