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Industry Research : HireIQ: Agent Work-at-Home Trend Continues to Accelerate
HireIQ Solutions, Inc., the company that improves the hiring and recruiting process for customer-facing organizations, said today that innovations in business processes and technology are fueling the rapid expansion of the work-at-home agent market – a trend it expects will continue unabated for the next several years. Companies that actively promote home-based customer care employee programs can realize myriad benefits including increased customer and employee satisfaction, reduced attrition and reduced operational costs. Work-at-home programs can also help promote a company’s green agenda.
In its 2012 U.S. Contact Center Decision Makers Guide, analyst firm Contact Babel reported that the number of contact center organizations that use home agents has increased from 22 percent in 2007 to 42 percent in 2011. Furthermore, home agent industry expert Michele Rowan says that the number of home agents is increasing at a rate of over 30 percent per year and, for the first time, the growth in home agents has exceeded that of offshore agents used by United States-based companies.
The growth of home agents can be traced, in part, to the adoption of business processes and technologies that help make the management of these employees as effective as if they were located in the brick-and-mortar contact center. Virtualization and the proliferation of broadband technology means that home agents have access to all the same resources as their center-based peers. Also, offering a home agent program can enable an organization to reach potential employees that might otherwise be unavailable to them.
Home working arrangements provide some unique challenges, as well. Home agents are generally responsible for the procurement and upkeep of their technology, so they must be more resourceful and technology-adept than those agents who have an army of information technology support personnel at their fingertips. These employees must also demonstrate that they are motivated to stay on-task and remain focused, despite a lack of direct social interaction that center-based agents enjoy.
Organizations supporting home agent programs face special challenges in recruiting and hiring. Hiring managers not only have to determine a candidate’s basic customer interaction skills, but also must dig deeply into a candidate’s technical aptitude, motivation and ability to work well in the absence of direct supervision. Many home-based agents never personally meet their line management so their ability to effectively receive – and give – constructive feedback remotely is of paramount importance.
"The home agent model yields many benefits for the employee and employer alike," said Kevin Hegebarth, vice president of Marketing and Product Management at HireIQ. "The effectiveness of any organization’s support of home agents is dependent not only on the business processes and technologies it has put in place, but also on the amount of trust between the organization and the worker. The growth in home agents is unlikely to slow anytime soon and companies that put in place progressive business processes are those that will see the most benefit from it."
HireIQ’s virtual interviewing solution, InterviewIQ, can effectively manage recruiting and hiring of home-based agents. As an "always on, always available" SaaS offering, InterviewIQ enables companies that use home agents to screen them anytime, anywhere for the customer interaction, technical aptitude and motivational skills necessary to be successful. Candidates can also complete their interview at a time of their choosing, including at times when the company’s recruiting staff is unavailable, thereby expanding the pool of prospective candidates to increase the overall quality of hire.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Thursday, May 31, 2012