The great Brain Drain some countries are facing has seen much coverage in the mainstream media of late and is close to being reported to exhaustion. This “Brain Drain” phenomenon according to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org) is “…emigration of trained and talented individuals (“human capital”) for other nations or jurisdictions, due to conflict, lack of opportunity and/or health hazards…” From a global perspective, this occurrence seems natural seeing that human beings will always seek and flock to areas of opportunity and abundance. However, on a smaller but frighteningly close-to-home scale we bear witness to the very same anomaly right before our very eyes; the Contact Center industry Brain Drain.

What is seen by many as poaching of talented staff, many organizations point the finger at competing Contact Centers for propagating this problem. On the opposite side of the spectrum, you will encounter Brain Gain – the injection of immediate skilled staff into the organization. But is everyone happy? As Brain Drain/Gain becomes a vicious cycle, organizations see a loss or dilution of knowledge, experience, social and organizational culture. The Contact Center professionals are experiencing such a rapid rate of accepting and adapting to new practices it is inevitable that at some point, there will be confusion and consequently a merging and evolution of a generic synonymous culture, one that is unique to the profession; a Contact Center chameleon.

But with the emergence of a highly competitive industry, is there anything that can be done about this mass migration of Contact Center talent? I would like to present some possible solutions to the Brain Gain phenomenon by borrowing the approaches adopted by some countries to manage this circumstance.

Industry agreement – The Contact Center industry needs to come together and forge arms in establishing an agreement across the board to control and limit remuneration packages offered to habitual “Contact Center Hoppers.” By doing so, Contact Center professionals will find less motivation to move from one operation to another. Competition between Contact Centers will be leveled and limited to non-financial areas like job quality, conducive environment, staff treatment and quality of life.

Flexible Visas – Creation of a Contact Center Visa where should an individual want to move from one operation to another, this visa will provide individuals with free movement without the difficulties of the formalities like official resignations and sneaky arrangement behind the backs of their current organizations. Vice versa, should they choose to return, the transition is easier. The advantage of the visa idea is to exercise transparency in any movements of individuals. This allows organizations to put in place proper succession initiatives and also opens the door for these individuals to return. All movements are also tracked to avoid individuals behaving unethically with any of the organizations that they may be associated with at any point.

Centralized Human Capital Database – The creation and collection of a centralized Contact Center professional talent database allows member organizations to work together to develop or focus on areas of required expertise to benefit the industry. This effort will also provide organizations an opportunity to accurately gauge the competence of registered individuals prior to securing their employment by acquiring information on their level of knowledge, experience, past performance, strengths and possible development areas.

Contact Center Professional Union – The establishing of a Contact Center professional Union will act as the balance to the above proposed solutions. It will provide an outlet for the professionals to air their grievances and also act as the liaison party that represents the individual in occurrences of staff-organization grievances.

The industry will only benefit by providing this much needed check and balance system. Efforts invested into developing a well thought out initiative in creating a stable balance to the “Brain Drain” challenge within the industry will propel the Contact Center industry to new heights, developing the industry yet further; a future Contact Centers have been wishing for.

Ken Ng
CEO/Senior Managing Consultant