The surge of remote work in 2020 has transformed the Nearshore labor market, so much so that talent acquisition professionals need a drastically different approach to evaluating the suitability of potential candidates.
Before this year, demographics such as age, education, and bilingual ability were the primary qualifiers or disqualifiers for who BPOs hired. On top of that, those demographics were contained within a pre-defined radius surrounding the BPO facility, so only those who could make the daily commute were eligible to join the company. On a meta-demographic level, BPOs also had to consider direct competitors for talent in the local business climate, their impact on compensation expectations, and the likelihood of high attrition among new hires due to better offers across the street.
Pre-Covid, these were all measurable factors that helped BPOs reliably predict their capability to meet staffing demands, but the rapid move to work-at-home caused the demographic hiring radius to all but disappear. This leaves Nearshore providers with an opportunity to focus on less quantitative traits: psychographics.
Psychographics focus on an individual’s preferences and aspirations, rather than their location, age or experience. Now that Nearshore BPOs can recruit, hire and train thousands of agents free from geographical constraints, this human approach to recruitment could be the transformation they need to thrive in a remote environment.
Here at Everise, we’ve pinpointed four key psychographic considerations to target when hiring remote workers.
1 – Aspirations Towards a Major Lifestyle Change
Remote work is here to stay, so more and more people are gravitating towards new careers and job opportunities that are only possible on a virtual basis.
“Over 50% of the 4,500 work-from-home CX agents we’ve hired in the last six months have never been in a call center environment before,” says Dave Palmer, president at Everise. “Many of the people we are hiring are overqualified for the role but are looking for a major lifestyle change in light of the pandemic.”
This reality is no different in Latin America, where people are trading the high-stress urban and corporate environments for their rural homes, driven by a desire to spend more time with their families. For Nearshore providers who previously targeted “career climbers”, this situation means they must pivot their messaging to appeal to workers who seek the opposite: relief from office politics and maneuvering.
Simultaneously, AI and automation are increasing the need for a more educated, experienced, technology-literate workforce. A report by HFS predicts the creation of over 1.7 million medium and high-skilled jobs compared to the loss of 2.85 million low-skilled jobs between 2016-2022, so attracting overqualified remote workers is essential for Nearshore BPOs to fill those gaps quickly.
2 – Desire for Flexible Hours
There is a major segment of the workforce that values flexibility, typically those who care for a family member or prefer variable shift schedules. Retail was an attractive sector for these workers, but with its recent collapse and the boom of eCommerce, many of these people are now searching for work-at-home roles with similar flexibility—but it’s up to the BPOs to offer it.
BPOs are unique among businesses in that the entirety of their work product is digitally deliverable information. There are no storefronts, no physical production, no warehouses nor shipping requirements, which means their ability to function is limited only by access to the internet. By scaling their workforce through remote employment, BPOs have the opportunity to offer life-changing levels of flexibility to their agents and, in turn, attract those who seek it.
Technologies like 5G and Wi-Fi 6 will further fuel the ability for people to work remotely, securely, and sustainably, regardless of the population of their household. According to the Ericsson Mobility Report, June 2020, 5G will represent 13% of the mobile connection base in Latin America by 2025, meaning that hundreds of thousands of Nearshore individuals will have the capability to work flexible hours in work-at-home roles.
3 – Need for Secondary Income
Remote work is highly attractive to those who seek a second income. People in this segment are typically over 50 or collecting a pension, but greatly appreciate the safety net of an additional salary and basic benefits.
Nearshore BPOs need to remember that these people are looking for official employment, rather than external contracting work. In many cases, they may have had bad experiences in a contract environment, where the training is more self-instructed and benefits are non-existent.
While it may seem like a small segment to attract, the proliferation of flexible technology infrastructure is enabling the CX industry to hire “second-incomers” at scale. Furthermore, the adoption of collaboration software, like MS Teams and Adobe Connect, has made it easier to connect and train in a remote setting, ensuring that this segment is well-supported.
4 – Working with Disabilities
According to the World Bank, over 15% of the world’s population has some form of disability, with many lacking the mobility to take long commutes to large facilities with unsuitable accessibility infrastructure.
Remote work has created a massive opportunity for people with disabilities, removing the challenges of an ill-equipped facility and allowing them to perform their duties from home. Not only has this given disabled people a new lease on life, but it’s also opened up a huge talent pool to the BPO industry.
Going forward, people in this segment will be in high demand by many companies that shift to virtual models, so Nearshore CX providers must be able to differentiate themselves as employers that offer great flexibility, great benefits and attractive incomes, or risk losing out on a valuable source of talent that aspires to work from home.
Demographics will always have a place in the recruitment process for as long as physical contact centers exist, but with remote work now essential for BPOs to thrive, companies should start assessing psychographics as more reliable indicators of potential candidates.