April 05, 2024

Call Center Talent Strategies: Avoiding the Call Center Temp to Perm Pitfall

For 20 years, our leadership has partnered with call centers and sales teams of different sizes and shapes. 

Typically, within these call centers, whether it is for help desk, insurance member services, healthcare collections, or sales, we see that many of our call center partners will deploy a temp to perm hiring strategy, versus hiring directly for their open start classes. 

For our trusted and long-term relationships, we have worked with nearly all of them to map their hiring strategies from temp to perm (where Clients bring on temporaries to evaluate the potential candidate fit and so long as their performance, attitude, and attendance meet business standards, the intent is to convert them to a full-time internal hire) to a direct hire strategy (where employees start on the client payroll day 1). 

While we see isolated temp to perm as a crucial strategy for isolated clerical and administrative roles, we typically urge our Clients to move their hiring road ramps to a direct hire approach. We value temp to perm as a model to consider in isolated cases, but we see a significant boost in talent attraction, employee retention, and overall cost savings compared to having a clear direct hire roadmap. We have seen our Clients realize a 35% retention boost simply by switching their hiring process from temp to perm to direct hire. 

As the premier conduit to the top local talent, Emerge has several key strategies that empower a success direct hire approach, as opposed to temp to perm. 

Talent Attraction: Why Top Candidates Avoid Temp-to-Perm

First, our deep experience has proven that top talent wants to be hired directly. Therefore, you are lopping off the top bracket of the market simply by proposing the role starts on a contract, temp to perm basis. As a Recruiter, we advise Candidates against taking that kind of leap—instead, focusing more on a direct path—so would advise Clients against considering this as a strategy, as well. Of course, there are rare occasions when great talent prefers contract or even starting temporarily, but deploying a temp to perm basis means you lose out on the ever-elusive passive candidate and can largely only consider those candidates active in their job search for one reason or another. 

Whereas with direct hire, we open ourselves to both active and passive candidates.

Talent Retention: How Direct Hire Improves Stability

Second, when Candidates get onboarded through a temporary firm, their access to benefits is very limited compared to those most typically associated with coming on board directly. In the temporary period, folks are typically paying premiums with little to no contributions, missing hours equates to missing pay, and between costs and missed pay, people start to fade out of the position and begin to look for more stability. Even if a contractor is to survive the temporary period, there is typically another effective date, where these employees have to wait for coverage to take effect since their first months on site were under the temporary staffing firm. With costs ever increasing in healthcare, gas and rent, it is in all parties’ best interest that employees gain full employment as soon as possible.

Fixed Fee: See How Direct Hire Can Save You Money

One of the objections to hiring through a direct hire recruiter is the fee associated with the placement. While a direct hire fee does apply, we work with our Clients on our fees to mirror the delta of what would be paid and billed over the temporary period and apply that as our direct hire fee. 

Equally, we guarantee the placement for the typical temporary to placement period (typically 120 days). When approached as a fixed fee, there is no cost difference between the two strategies, but our Clients are guaranteed that placements make it those 120 days or we find a suitable replacement at no additional cost. 

Measured Standards: Set Your Hires Up for Success

One of the pitfalls we hear in moving to a direct hire strategy is the challenge of off-boarding employees who do not make the grade. To those challenges, we have worked with our Clients to deploy very comprehensive standards in training, initial, and longer range on-the-job performance standards. This makes the hire very clear on expectations and also allows managers to have accessible performance measurement conversations without confusion. 

We work with our Clients to measure the performance of the employee against these standards throughout the guarantee period so the company can find a suitable replacement without incurring an additional fee.

What about my seasonal needs?

Of course, we will encourage our Clients to account for seasonal ramps in their annual hiring. Many of our Clients will look at a given project or peak season simply as the need to put more people in seats. Still, if we ramp slowly across the year, we note that there is a much lower attrition and importantly, much better outcomes, which can be skewed by onboarding and quickly training a seasonal workforce. 

We encourage our Clients to hire for this peak in anticipation of the need, train for it, and build skills, and more often than not, the seasonal need is not nearly as significant. 

If you would like to know more about our proven call center recruiting strategies , including help desk, insurance member services, healthcare collections, or sales, schedule a meeting with one of our seasoned experts from Emerge, and let’s rethink your hiring strategies for longer-term success and efficiency. 

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