Over 200 senior delegates and a number of global BPO analyst firms including A.T. Kearney, Frost & Sullivan, IDC, London School of Economics, NelsonHall and Ovum recently gathered together for South Africa’s Outsourcing & Offshoring summit 2015, which provided a platform for local and international companies to share success stories while also addressing key industry challenges such as skills development.

Industry analysts and leaders commented that South Africa’s thriving BPO industry should now capitalise on adding to the high end value chain, especially the financial services, health and legal sectors.

The international BPO sector in South Africa has shown significant growth over the last few years, expanding from approximately 10,000 in 2010 to over 25,000 in 2015.

International companies currently using South Africa to service their international clientele include Amazon, American Airlines, Asda, British Gas, BP, Engen, iiNet, EE, 02, Qantas, Lufthansa, Lebara Mobile, Shell, Shop Direct, State Street, TalkTalk and Vodafone.

Certainly what is very evident is that companies are moving core functions offshore not only to save costs, but to find new and interesting ways to completely change their organisation’s business model through BPO. South Africa is an obvious outsourcing choice for its value proposition based on factors such as lower cost than in the UK, a similar time zone to the UK, good infrastructure, good quality of management and a good track record in the BPO industry.

BPO plays a huge role in South Africa’s economy and the BPO industry stimulates levels of employment specifically in the youth sector, namely Millennialsor Generation Y as they are also known. These are people born roughly between 1977 and 2000 and now make up nearly half the workforce and will be 75% of it by 2025.

The Deloitte 2015 Millennials survey reveals some fascinating insight. The study based on the views of more than 7,800 Millennials representing 29 countries (including South Africa and the UK) around the globe. All participants were born after 1982, have obtained a college or university degree, are employed fulltime, and predominantly work in large (100+ employees), private-sector organisations.

“The message is clear: when looking at their career goals, today’s Millennials are just as

interested in how a business develops its people and its contribution to society as they are in its products and profits,” said Barry Salzberg, CEO of Deloitte Global. “These findings should be viewed as a valuable alarm to the business community, particularly in developed markets, that they need to change the way they engage Millennial talent or risk being left behind”.

The survey found for 6 in 10 Millennials a “sense of purpose” is part of the reason they chose to work for their current employers. Among Millennials who are relatively high users of social networking tools (the “super-connected Millennials”), there appears to be even greater focus on business purpose; 77 percent of this group report that their company’s purpose was part of the reason they chose to work there, compared to just 46 percent of those who are the “least connected.”

A strong sense of purpose is also closely linked to positive organisational performance, as demonstrated in Deloitte’s “Core beliefs and culture survey” and echoed in this current study. Among businesses where Millennials say there is a strong sense of purpose, there is significantly higher reporting of financial success, employee satisfaction, and recruitment. Via this research, Millennials are suggesting they want more from business than might have been the case 50, 20, or even 10 years ago.

According to another recent survey; Cosmopolitan South Africa, South African millennials are digitally savvy and loyal to brands that share their values and evolve to meet the demands of their lifestyle. What sets this generation apart from their predecessors is the relationship with technology and globalisation. Whereas many workers in past periods viewed technology change and globalisation as forces that might take away their jobs, millennials tend to heartily support these dynamic forces.

The survey offers some interesting insights into the minds of South Africa’s young skilled workers. They are pragmatic, and believe that their companies should be making money, but they worry about the challenges posed by high unemployment. They value innovation and see their employers as innovative, yet they do not personally feel supported in their efforts to generate new ideas. For managers, this insight may help them unlock the potential of their young employees.

Millennials are set to change business and how we engage with them and the development we offer will be critical to our company culture and business success.

What we know for certain, is that technology is the major differentiator between the generations. As our workforce expands, the comfort level disparity with computers, mobile devices, tablets, gaming, and social media does too. The Millennials will not just expect, but require that their work environment be as digital and interactive as possible. On the other side, the Traditionalists and Boomers will need more training and time to adjust as we incorporate concepts and tools that they did not grow up with.

By 2025 the majority of your employees, as well as your management team, will probably be Millennials. It is likely – because that is what they continually tell us – that a flexible approach to managing your people and structuring your organisation will get the best out of them.

The International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) urges contact centres to look at their recruiting, hiring and retention plans for not just the Millennials, but for all generations. Here are their 5 essential strategies for managing today’s contact centre workforce;

1.Create training programs that appeal to all learning styles. This will need to include in?classroom training and online or virtual sessions. Gamification techniques will be more effective for the younger generations in training and performance management.
2.Ensure career paths are available for everyone. In many cases, this may mean coaching and mentoring opportunities that allow each generation to share their strengths and experiences with others.
3. Be prepared to teach the practicality of social media and emerging technologies. It is important to not just teach the basics, but also the purpose.
4. Introduce flexibility in technology and workplace conditions. Offering innovative workspaces, choices in technology, and flexible hours will attract a varied and robust workforce.
5.Review HR policies and consider making them more adaptable to the generations. Customised benefits that take into consideration the differing priorities of the workforce can be a great retention program. Offer financial planning and life skills, as well as different medial options.

We are implementing similar strategies for creating a more positive, people-focused work environment. We have already seen that by focusing on employee fulfilment and wellbeing we are seeing increased product innovation and higher employee performance and retention.

Our commitment to skills development across our employees continues to grow with 2 new programmes introduced.

The Be Better and Sapphire Club programmes have been created to and measured against the improvement of first line manager skill set; a known failure point for the industry. They have been designed by individuals with indepth knowledge of contact centres, best in class leadership and how to practically apply learning to immediately and positively impact the operation.

The investment in these programmesdemonstrates our commitment to enhancing the skills of individuals within these roles for the benefit of the individual, team and business.

Be Better Team Leader Development Programme

We recognised that the skill gap in the Team Leader population directly impacted the performance within the contact centre, the level of employee engagement and the ability to achieve our strategic goals. The role of a Team Leader is pivotal for operational success.

From undertaking a full training needs analysis, 12 programmes were identified that would deliver the agreed objectives. The programme has been designed to be instantly applicable and impactful. Each module has been designed to be delivered through interactive facilitation and participation. The courses offer practical skills in leadership, removal of inhibitors to learning and ability to share best practice.

The training is backed up with content on the intranet and shared drive which includes video’s, quotes and anchors back to the classroom session.

The Be Better programme is a pass or fail. With Team Leaders being observed to ensure that the skills and behaviours are being applied consistently across the floor. The observation is undertaken by line managers and members of the senior team.

On completion of the programme each Team Leader who has successfully completed the course will be invited to a graduation. This is to recognise their achievement, reward them with a financial acknowledgement and celebrate their success in completing the programme.

Sapphire Club 2IC Programme

To support the strategic growth plans of the business we have made an investment to develop our next generation of Team Leaders from within. This allows us to support the growth of our business in line with the strategic plan through the development of a pool of recruitment ready Team Leaders and be seen as an employer of choice through our strategy of growing from within.

A brand has been created to help identify individuals who are taking part in the programme.

Our process for the programme is as follows:-