On Jul, 30 2021
While conducting business in the U.S. and Canada has many similarities, there are also some minor differences. This is especially true for larger workforces such as contact center teams. However, one area where both countries are similar is the rise in focus on workforce management (WFM). A recent study from Ernst & Young indicated that companies in Canada are focusing on WFM as a top priority.
The study reports that 78% of Canadian executives say their companies are planning to increase their strategic focus and investment on workforce management.
That’s a high percentage and the data point is being driven by the fact that 32% of the same executive audience also indicated that they are underperforming right now when it comes to workforce management.
Whether you are a Canadian company or a U.S. company looking to expand north, here are a few things to consider when it comes to the unique impact contact center WFM software has on Canadian companies for improving in this area.
Higher wages increase the value of accurate forecasting – In Canada, the minimum hourly wage varies between $11.45 and $16.00 depending on the province. To compare, in Canadian dollars, the federal minimum wage in the U.S. is only a little over $9 an hour. This is an important fact to highlight for contact centers because it means inaccurate forecasts at Canadian locations will be more harmful to the bottom line of your business than at U.S. locations. Leveraging WFM software that factors in extensive historical data into each forecast will help improve your staffing accuracy and save your company money.
Increased weather-related call outs and issues – Even though the majority of its citizens live near the U.S. border, there’s still no denying that Canada is a cold weather country. Its two largest metropolitan areas, Toronto and Montreal, experience below freezing temperatures and snowfall for several months each year. And, as any experienced WFM analyst will tell you, cold weather means an increase in call outs and absenteeism. Be prepared for the Canadian climate with a WFM software solution that enables your contact center to quickly adjust schedules on the fly. Intraday management solutions with automated schedule adjustment plans (ASAP) quickly fill weather-related call outs by immediately sending out a shift opening to the mobile phones of relevant agents.
Canada does not have “at-will” employment – This can be a major point of differentiation if you work for a company with operations in specific U.S. states. The change will increase the difficulty of terminating a Canadian agent who may not be a good fit in their current role at your contact center. Instead of outright releasing an employee with no cause, which is common in certain areas of the U.S., a different strategy with struggling agents in Canada is to reskill them to see if they fit better in a different area of your contact center. For example, if an agent is struggling with email support, reskilling them to work phone calls may be an option. Or, if the agent is unable to quickly resolve technical questions, then moving them to a financial team may be a better fit. In Canada there is a higher fiscal value placed on trying to make an employee work within your contact center. Utilizing a modern WFM software solution to skill track in real-time for visibility into where agents struggle and thrive helps to ensure each agent only receive shifts that fit their skills.
Canada requires 44 hours each week for overtime, not 40 – The last item to consider is more nuanced but may catch a WFM analyst by surprise if they aren’t prepared. While surpassing the 40 hour work week is standard in the U.S. for overtime pay, Canada actually adds 4 hours and increases the threshold to 44 hours. This means WFM software that is flexible in defining the overtime criteria by location can be a huge benefit, especially for a WFM analyst managing multiple countries.
To summarize, contact center WFM software provides several benefits to meet the unique needs of Canadian companies. With higher wages and an emphasis on employee retention, this technology assists contact centers in lowering costs and improving agent performance.