Addressing business process outsourcing workforce challenges

Solving 3 Workforce Challenges Facing BPO Companies

When a business wants to increase productivity, scale operations, or manage budgets more efficiently, they often turn to business process outsourcing (BPO). But what happens when BPO companies have their own operational challenges?

As much as BPO (also known as outsourcing or offshoring) organizations focus on delivering services quickly, flexibly, and with high quality, they too can face workforce issues such as productivity lags, employee turnover, and high training costs. Even if an outsourcing company can overcome these challenges to still deliver reliable service to customers, it won’t be as profitable as it could be.

Fortunately, by recognizing workforce challenges and addressing them through new technology and processes, BPO companies can more easily enjoy success. Here are three challenges to keep in mind:

Challenge 1: Repetitive tasks limit employees’ output

Doing the same exact tasks day-in and day-out isn’t necessarily the most efficient way to operate. In many cases, repetitive tasks can be automated, which can both increase productivity and allow employees to focus on other value-added actions like customer service.

For example, if employees handling sales inquiries need to send the same or similar initial outreach email to every prospect, manually typing each email can be tough. Not only is it slow, but if employees get bored they may start to make mistakes.

To help solve this issue, offshoring companies can turn to technology like text expansion.  Text expansion tools like TextExpander empower people to easily insert frequently-used content wherever they type to eliminate manual repetition.

BPO companies can create shared libraries of frequently used text so that employees can easily drop them into whatever they’re working on. This can help increase accuracy while increasing employees’ output. From there, they can have more time to dedicate to more complex issues that require their full attention.

Challenge 2: Employee turnover drags on productivity

Far too many companies deal with frequent employee turnover, which hampers productivity. This can be especially challenging for outsourcing companies, who often manage large teams of varying skill levels.

In the US, Gallup conservatively estimates that replacing an employee costs between one-half to two times their annual salary. And in addition to the cost of finding and training new employees, turnover can also cause a number of knock-on issues within your workforce and beyond, especially when you lose your top talent.

“Internally, it breaks down team morale. Externally, it can mean lost customer relationships,” notes Gallup.

Limiting turnover requires a number of changes, starting with simply making sure employees feel stimulated at work. Two out of five US employees would quit their jobs due to boredom, according to an OfficeTeam survey.

2 of 5 employees would quit their jobs due to boredom

Reducing boredom clearly pays off, but it’s not an easy task for BPO providers. As we discussed in the last section, BPO work often involves repetitive tasks that adhere to a strict process.

The key is making this work take less time and effort to help employees feel like they’re doing less busywork. By using text expansion tools like TextExpander to eliminate repetitive typing, people can focus on more stimulating, rewarding tasks.

Challenge 3: Quickly hiring or reallocating staff causes training challenges

Admittedly, there’s nothing that can eliminate turnover altogether. Turnover does happen, and it can lead to “longer/more frequent training times, interrupted schedules, additional overtime,” and several other consequences, notes Work Institute. Even more frustrating, over one-third of workers who leave their employers do so within a year; among this group, two-thirds leave in just the first six months.

BPO employees who turn over are most likely to do it in their first year

That can make training costs even tougher to swallow. If it takes several months to get employees up to speed, they could be gone before they’ve had a chance to provide much, if any, value to an organization.

Even when turnover isn’t an issue, offshoring companies often need to hire or reallocate staff quickly as they add new clients or scale up for existing ones.

That’s why it’s so important to tackle the twin problems of both turnover and training time. The quicker BPO companies can get employees the training they need, and the longer they can keep employees, the better off they’ll generally be.

Text expansion tools can be an effective solution for this challenge too. Tools like TextExpander give employees easy access to a wealth of information in the TextExpander snippet library that’s been saved for specific clients or projects. With the common language for a variety of situations stored and ready to use, employees don’t have to memorize responses and can begin offering value quickly. For example, an employee providing outsourced customer support can use TextExpander to quickly pull up answers to common questions, thereby enabling them to make a quick impact.

Solving these workforce challenges won’t happen overnight, but finding ways to reduce repetition and speed up training can be strong steps in the right direction. Over time, wins in these areas can lead to future successes, such as more engaged employees making it easier to recruit additional staff as word spreads about the positive environment you’ve built. And with a stronger workforce, you can more consistently deliver the services that keep customers coming back — all while maintaining strong profit margins.