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Contact centres: how to recruit and retain high performing agents

Five steps to help contact centres to identify, select and retain talented agents are available in a new insight guide from cut-e.

Called ‘Recruiting special agents’, the guide provides best practice advice to help contact centre recruiters to hire the right people, differentiate their employer brand, engage candidates and improve the efficiency of their selection process.

“Many people who apply for agent positions in contact centres are unsuited to the job,” said Andreas Lohff of cut-e. “This guide explains how to attract, recruit and retain ‘right fit’ agents and how you can save time and resources in recruitment.”

The guide outlines how technology can optimise the selection process and cut the time-to-hire. “Integrating systems such as your Applicant Tracking System and HR Information System can create efficiencies,” said Andreas Lohff. “It also enables you to mine and utilise employee data in ways that weren’t possible before. This opens the door to a wealth of new talent analytics that can further improve your recruitment, increase sales and help you to avoid the disruption of hiring the wrong people.”

cut-e in the media

Be aware of "black box" problems when using AI for recruiting

The Student Employer - 31st October 2018,

Using artificial Intelligence (AI) for recruiting can enhance your candidate selection process, but beware of ‘black box’ algorithms that can lead to recruitment decisions that you can’t defend. Richard Justenhoven explains the two types of AI system and how it can be used effectively in assessment.

A Guide to AI

Global Recruiter - 22nd October 2018,

Richard Justenhoven gives four key guidelines to using AI in recruitment.

The goal of any recruitment process is to identify the right person for the job. The closer you match the individual to the requirements of the role, the more effective that person will be. You don’t need Artificial Intelligence to achieve this. But AI will help you do it quicker and more efficiently.

Recruiting safe commercial drivers

HRHQ - 22nd October 2018, Ireland

Commercial drivers - whether they drive a train, lorry, bus, ferry, delivery van or a forklift - are responsible for the safety of their passengers or cargo, and their vehicles. If you recruit drivers, you’ll undoubtedly check whether job candidates have the necessary driving skills and the required licences or certificates. You may even conduct medical and eyesight checks. But, can you be confident those individuals will drive safely?

Suzanne Courtney: How to attract and select great graduates

HR review - 5th October 2018, UK

In the face of fierce competition to find the right talent, today’s graduate recruiters are striving to make their assessment and selection processes shorter, more focused and more engaging. Here are five essential tips to help you to stand out from the crowd:

The essential competencies for digital transformation

HRHQ - 10th September 2018, Ireland

To survive in the digital future, organisations need a fluid structure, an agile culture and employees who are ‘digitally-ready’ to cope with rapidly changing circumstances. Digital readiness is not about being proficient with technology - it’s not about whether you can use Excel or mobile devices - and it is not related to age. Every employee now needs the ability to perform tasks, manage information, share knowledge and work with others in a digital context.

cut-e scienceBlog

Grit, determination and diligence

Grit, determination and diligence in assessment

Is having Grit different to being Conscientious?

Grit. Perseverance. Determination. Call it what you will, we tend to think of these characteristics as essential foundation for success. Indeed, some say that a high rating on 'grit' is what marks out high achievers from the rest.

But is grit a personality trait in its own right?  If so, do we need to measure separately?

The two constructs of ‘grit’ and ‘conscientiousness’ are, without doubt closely connected – and in fact research has shown this to be the case (Credé, Tynan, & Harms, 2016). But in their meta-analysis, Credé et al also showed that the two facets of grit – perseverance and consistency – differ in their usefulness for predicting achievement outcomes. They found that perseverance is more predictive of achievement. It seems that the grit-conscientiousness relationship needs further research to understand it better and a recent study by Schmidt, Nagy, Fleckenstein, Möller and Retelsdorf focused on this.

The research

Schmidt and his team of researchers worked with two samples (school pupils and adults) and asked them to complete an assessment of Grit – the Grit scale - and the Conscientiousness items of the Big Five personality assessment NEO-PIR. The Grit scale includes two facets; one of Perseverance of Effort the other of Consistency of Effort. The Conscientious trait of the NEO PI-R includes sub-traits or facets of Competence, Order, Dutifulness, Achievement Striving, Self-discipline and Deliberation.

After the participants had completed all the items, the team analysed the variance in answers on one of the scales overlapped with the variance in their answers on the other. In doing so, they wanted to find out whether or not the two scales were essentially measuring the same constructs.

Their findings suggest that:

  • The Perseverance scale of grit shared 95 per cent of its variance with the trait of Conscientiousness and with its more ‘pro-active’ sub-traits relating to being industrious and driven.
  • The global, general trait of grit trait shared a large amount of variance with Conscientiousness and with the same sub-traits as above.
  • The Consistency facet of grit (which is concerned with focus) shared only 69 per cent of its variance with Conscientiousness - which means it was also measuring something else – but was correlated with the Self-discipline facet.  

What does this mean in practice?

It seems that when we talk of grit, we use it synonymously with, and as an alternative, to the ‘driven’ aspects of the trait of conscientiousness. The researchers make the point that, because of this, grit is not a separate trait.

But what of the element of focus and consistency that form part of grit? It seems that this is not part of Conscientiousness but whether this is something different requires further research.


Credé, M., Tynan, M. C., & Harms, P. D. (2016). Much ado about grit: A meta‐analytic synthesis of the grit literature. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Advance online publication.

Schmidt, F. T.C., Nagy, G., Fleckenstein, J., Möller, J. and Retelsdorf, J. (2018). European Journal of  Personality, Same Same, but Different? Relations Between Facets of Conscientiousness and Grit

How Can We Work With Robots? Developing Digital Competencies

digital competencies

The Digitalization Of Jobs

‘Automation will replace millions of jobs’. This is the type of headline we have got used to in recent months. But, it was interesting to read a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) suggesting that we have far less to fear from robots in the workplace than some may think. But it may mean that, as humans, we need to develop more digital competencies.

The WEF predicts not just the displacement by robots of around 75 million jobs across the world by 2022, but the creation of 133 million new jobs. This gives a net positive of 58 million jobs. Of course, some disagree with the figures and argue that there can be no guarantee that lost jobs will be replaced. Nonetheless, the use of automation will free up workers and offer opportunity for learning new tasks. This shift is being talked about as the fourth industrial revolution.

The WEF comment that robots and algorithms will “vastly improve” the productivity of existing jobs and lead to many new ones in the coming years. It suggests that there could be a growth in the numbers of data analysts, software developers and social media specialists. It also suggests a growth of jobs with what it refers to as “distinctively human traits” (e.g. customer service workers and teachers).

The shift in jobs and roles will cause “significant disruption” with some roles becoming “increasingly redundant”. The WEF report comments that robots could quickly replace positions in accounting firms, factories and office based roles such as secretarial posts. In July 2018, PwC predicted Artificial Intelligence would create as many jobs in the UK as it would displace over the next 20 years.

But working in such a digital environment will need a change in behaviour, ways of working and skill by employees.

We will need to embrace – and make use of – the technology around us. This is what we know as Digital Competencies.

Organizations are already gearing themselves up for the dramatic changes we will see in the coming years and identifying and developing these digital competencies in its candidates and employees. Learning new tasks and new competencies will require development, training and re-skilling and this will become a new challenge for HR and Learning & Development practitioners.

What is your organization doing to meet the digital challenges?

The Digital Workplace: its impact on how we work

digital competencies

Stronger performance, empowered employees and responsive leadership

The workplace has become more digital – and more connected. We have a wide range of collaborative tools to use, access to ‘always on’ communication, more flexible working practices and a more regular use of cross functional and virtual teams.

This connectedness relates to the extent to which employees can engage with co-workers, customers and other stakeholders but also their access to information, knowledge, and ideas. With such connectedness, new working practices are being established. In addition, we see a more responsive leadership style being adopted and new competencies needing to be developed.

Nick van Meulen (formerly Assistant Professor in Information Management, University of Amsterdam) and his team there set out to investigate the business impact of these new digital working practices. They surveyed over 100 organisations and carried out interviews with nearly 70 executives.

The results
1. Stronger financial and customer service metrics
The researchers found that those organisations which had develop an integrated approach to connecting employees, tended to outperform their direct competitors in the areas of growth in market share, profit and employee satisfaction.

2. Empowered employees
The study also found that those organisations which had moved to empowering their employees and encouraging them to decide when, where and how to work, tended to be the high performing organisations. Such organisations foster new approaches to work and have a high tolerance for failure of new initiatives. They tend to be open to employee suggestions and offer continuous learning opportunities.

3. Responsive leadership
The research showed that high performing leadership teams are those that draw together people from different departments and functions. And such teams are also strong at articulating a clear vision of the company.

The need for trust – and a new set of competencies
The research emphasises that responsive leadership is needed to realise the benefits of the digital workplace and also requires a shift in mindset; it requires trust in employees. But it requires, we believe, more than a development of trust to make the new digital workplace successful. It requires key digital competencies as we have outlined in our Digital Competency Model. You can learn more on our website.

Join the cut-e Talent Forum

LinkedIn is the ‘go-to’ professional network of many HR, Recruitment and Talent decision makers – and a great way to keep informed about work-related issues, ask peers for advice, post a job and take part in relevant discussion. 

But the world of work is transforming; attracting, assessing and developing the skills employees need is changing rapidly. Our LinkedIn Talent Forum is there to share relevant articles and news, and to prompt discussion and thought as we shape and adapt talent management

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