Do you belong to the 76 percent of hiring managers who report that attracting talent is their greatest challenge?

Thanks to low rates of unemployment and the evolution of the job market itself, we are living in a candidate-driven market. This basically means that, for the first time in a long time, candidates are allowed to be picky. They're allowed to decide what they want out of a job such as flexible work schedules.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it holds the potential for a more dedicated workforce. But it also means is that employers everywhere - including collection agencies - have been stepping up their game to increase retention rates.

Collection agencies are perhaps the most frustrated by the lack of top talent in their pool of candidates. Working as a debt collector requires a specific set of skills and not everyone can find success in the industry. As a result, agencies see a high turnover.

But we believe that there is a shift happening in the collections industry. Young candidates who are hungry for a challenge can find the environment they are seeking in a collection agency. All it takes is a little investment on behalf of the agency.

 

Recruiting in Collections, Part 1: How to Offer Flexible Work Schedules as a Collections Agency

We spoke to Kim Schultz, a recruiter in Buffalo, N.Y., about what it’s like to recruit in today’s labor market in industries across the board. As you might expect, there were underlying elements Kim observed that separated companies that could attract and retain talent from those that could not.

The first thing Kim suggested as a way to attract top talent is to offer and encourage workplace flexibility.

“Employers are starting to realize that people have lives,” she said. “We have families, friends, dogs. In addition, everyone has different times that they are most productive.”

You don’t have to take her word for it - An Ernst & Young global survey of 9,700 young workers found that workplace flexibility beat out just about all other job perks—including health insurance for some younger workers.

Kim recommends giving your employees the freedom to create the work hours optimal for their schedule. This is a way to attract talent that costs you nothing, and can be a huge selling point for a candidate who may be weighing their options.

You might be thinking - How can I offer flexible work schedules and still maintain productivity during my peak hours? You're not alone, but there is a strategy available to you that will keep your phones staffed and your employees happier.

So if you want to implement workplace flexibility as a recruiting tool and still maintain the amount of individuals you need on the phones, keep on reading.

We’ve created a schedule that collection agencies can use that will ensure they will have the staffing they need and still give employees complete autonomy.

Employees can fill out this schedule at least two weeks before so you're never scrambling to fill the seats. You can even create incentive around it - agents with the highest numbers get first pick of their flexible work schedules.

Here’s what it looks like:

Collection Agency Recruiting Flexible Work Schedule

 

And here’s how it works:

Turn one wall in the office into your calendar (yes, the entire wall.) Then, allow people with color coded sticky notes to claim their shift. In a call center environment, it can be hard to offer full workplace flexibility due to coverage. We recommend you conduct a poll. What are the 4 most common shifts people want?

Alternatively, you can base the shifts on what you need. You can still keep the most agents in the office during your peak hours. In our template, those hours are between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. in an office of 30 agents. The amount of staff and 8-hour shifts will, of course, vary from agency to agency.

Agents will select the shifts they desire two weeks in advance so you’re never worried about getting all the shifts filled.

 Collection Agency Recruiting Flexible Work Schedule 2

You can even incentivize your agents by offering first pick of shift to the highest performing agent(s). 

Your agents can see that interactive schedule at all times. You can utilize a dry erase board with color-coded markers if  you don’t want to use sticky notes.

In addition, we’ve also created a customizable administrative version you can use to keep track of the schedule, downloadable for free here. (Select File -> Make a Copy before you begin utilizing the calendar.)

 

Using this method of scheduling, you’ll give your agents a sense of autonomy, and keep your office staffed.

This is a simple and free way to offer flexible work schedules, a highly sought after benefit - without compromising your customer service.

Conclusion

Employee turnover costs US companies $160 billion a year. This not a small or concentrated problem - it is a crisis.

An investment of any amount into preventing turnover and increasing retention rates will provide an ROI. How valuable that ROI is, is up to you.