Beyond Business: The Power of Social Impact in Outsourcing

No industry is without its detractors, including our own. One criticism we’ve all heard is that the outsourcing business model “takes jobs out of the community.” Of course, when a job is outsourced, it is not eliminated. Instead, it is moved to another community that is probably in greater need of it. Nonetheless, it is likely out of a desire to very clearly counter this misperception that the customer experience outsourcing community has long engaged in what we’ve traditionally called “giving back” and what the rest of the world has come to call “social impact.”

In addition to the many karmic benefits of executing a well-considered social impact strategy, we find that for our industry, it also makes good business sense, starting with those two areas most vital to our success: recruitment and retention.

Working to benefit the communities in which we operate boosts brand reputation and provides competitive differentiation, both of which enhance our ability to attract quality talent – especially when the employment market is tight. Once on board, we must hold on to that talent, and social impact efforts support this goal as well by improving morale, supporting co-worker bonding, and giving team members the sense that their jobs are more valuable than as a mere source of income.

Not all social impact is community-facing. Any good social impact strategy will be sustainability-focused, which means reducing a contact center’s environmental impact. This is also good for business because it invariably includes energy-saving and waste-reduction

efforts, both of which have the added benefit of cost savings. In addition, by actively including employees in sustainability initiatives and recognizing their efforts, job satisfaction improves, and our commitment to the well-being of the community is emphasized.

Of course, with the move to remote work, in many cases, the days of scores of agents in matching, brightly colored t-shirts joyfully spending the day volunteering shoulder-to-shoulder at some local non-profit may be over; however, that doesn’t mean social impact initiatives are as well. For example, agents can engage in virtual volunteering as remote tutors, interpreters, or even as a remote set of eyes for individuals with low vision. Innovative sustainability challenges with leaderboards for such activities as home energy saving and tree planting can also catalyze engagement and a sense of camaraderie among distributed teams.

In the outsourcing business, it’s not enough to do well – we also need to do good. A well thought-out social impact strategy makes it possible to accomplish both simultaneously.

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