Recruiting amidst a ‘Cost of Living’ Crisis – Effects on Contact Centre Recruitment



Recruiting amidst a ‘Cost of Living’ Crisis – Effects on Contact Centre Recruitment

The U.K.’s Office for National Statistics said the cost of living is increasing at its fastest rate in 30 years. Energy bills in the U.K. are expected to rise by an average 50% this year and as a result, higher pay has now taken up the main motivation for changing jobs (however this is against a backdrop of many employers already providing flexible work approaches).

In a recent survey by EY, (their 2022 Work Reimagined Survey), their findings reveal that 43% of employees are likely to quit their jobs, motivated by higher salaries, better career opportunities, and increased flexibility.  42% of employees surveyed also believe that pay increases will address high staff turnover, however, unsurprisingly only 18% of employers agree with this statement! 

Interestingly last year’s survey found that flexible working was the biggest driver in employee moves. However, with many companies now offering some flexibility, remote work is less of a factor, at 19%. So, unsurprisingly money is a huge motivator and driving factor in employees’ decisions to leave their current employer and be attracted to new opportunities elsewhere.

Organisations have to work harder than ever to retain their employees, instil trust and ensure that they are providing a package that takes into account total pay, career path and flexibility to balance market concerns and risks.  In the Contact Centre industry this is a huge challenge with many employees working for minimum wage, in what can often be described as highly pressurised & demanding environments.

So what can be done to support the ‘cost of living crisis’ when considering employee wellbeing, differing working practices and hybrid working models?

When staff work in an office, for example, they are not paying to heat their homes during the day, while food is often subsidised or even free in workplace restaurants. For those who live close to their work and do not commute long distances, returning to their office could make financial sense.

Research by Electric Radiators Direct in the U.K. discovered that more than one-fifth of home workers had not turned on the heating this winter due to higher energy bills. The study also found that 49% of people who had worked at home in the last six months of 2021 are now considering working in the office more often as commuting would be cheaper than the expected additional energy costs.

The EY survey found that for employers based in large conurbations around the world, 40% of people with a 30-minute or less commute were significantly more likely to be open to working fully in person in the office. The figure falls significantly to a quarter when commutes extend to 30 minutes and beyond.

Below are a few ideas that organisations can adopt to ease the cost-of-living burden on their frontline contact centre employees, whilst continuing to focus on employee wellbeing:

Competitor & Market Intel - Make sure you really understand the market around you, what other organisations are offering, what your employees are ideally looking for and most importantly once you have built up a picture of the world around you, ensure that senior stakeholders within the organisation are fully aware of the findings.  Many organisations we are speaking to at HR / Recruitment & Line Management level are often relieved to hear insight around market conditions, but many are frustrated that their senior management team are not listening and many feel that they are ‘bashing their heads against a brick wall’ when it comes to recruitment and retention strategies.

Allowances - Ignoring staff worries over the rising cost of living could impact on employee relations & productivity. Savvy companies are shifting the costs of traditional office space back to help their employees, companies that are generous to their staff and help during a crisis, retain top talent and attract new people who are vital to help them grow.  Organisations could adopt an ‘Energy Allowance’, depending on the number of homeworking days. A similar type of allowance could be offered to support commuter costs and many firms could look at adopting a car share scheme, free charging points or public transport & fuel allowances.

Subsidised / Free Food – If you are able to subsidise canteens or even offer free in-workplace food, this can be a great incentive to get employees back to the office, but also help with spiralling food costs.  We have experienced organisations who have large fridges of canned drinks and cupboards full of bread, spreads, snacks, breakfast cereals and fruit.  You don’t need to offer full meals, often snacks and breakfast can work just as well and can often represent a huge benefit towards employee wellbeing and cost saving.

Technology / Office Costs – Supporting employees with broadband costs, providing mobile phone, laptops, printers, air pods, office furniture etc…

Hybrid Working Strategies – The EY survey also found that four in five employees around the world want to work at least two days remotely per week. This year, only a fifth voiced reluctance toward fully remote working, compared to 34% last year. So, continuing to offer flexibility around hybrid work patterns is still a clear factor in retaining and attracting frontline employees, especially when considering weekend and shift working patterns.

‘Work’ has been re-designed by employees and employers alike, but their visions don’t always align. Both see flexibility and hybrid work as the new normal, however, embedding these successfully still means paying attention to culture, rewards and benefits.

EY reports that, “Global uncertainty connected to inflation and labour costs are fuelling reluctance among employers who are not eager to reset pay and career opportunities.  If companies don’t address pay equity between internal and external labour markets, then efforts toward improving culture, productivity and DE&I (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) will be neutralised by turnover.”


Francesca Randle – Director Cactus Search Ltd