Fair trade is widely associated with agriculture and cottage industries helping small-scale producers earn a fair income from their labors. While fair trade has helped a lot of farmers and craftspeople in many ways, its application in the call center industry has not been explored thoroughly before.
But, a quick but intensive search through the literature on human resources management has produced a good number of key benefits for both client and agents that can be attributed to the application of fair trade principles in call centers, and in the outsourcing industry in general.
5 Key Benefits to Fair Trade Call Center Agents
The focus of fair trade, whether it's in agriculture or in the call center industry, has always been the people that do most of the work. When the focus is shifted from processes and technology to the general well-being of employees, it leads to superior results.
#1 Agents have peace of mind regarding their employment status and their salary and other types of compensation that they receive.
It's comforting to think that you can feed your family three square meals a day, pay the bills on time, put your kids through school, have enough set aside for your savings account and retirement fund, and still have something left for leisurely activities.
That is why it's fundamental for fair trade call center agents to have fair pay and stable employment. A living wage plus health care and insurance coverage takes away the burden of worrying over one's finances while also dealing with the demands of one's job. When you remove that financial worry, agents are free to focus on their work and lead a happier life.
#2 Agents are less stressed, and therefore, not as vulnerable to a myriad of health problems associated with call center jobs.
The benefit mentioned above has a positive effect on employee health. Agents in a fair trade call center have less to worry about, and are better equipped in managing their health and general well-being. And so, they have stronger immunity against common illnesses, and they're not likely to miss work because they'll have fewer sick days.
Fair trade not only means fairness in compensation, but also in the number of work hours allotted and the amount of workload assigned to each employee. Agents are not bogged down with work, even on their days off or during holidays. And, they're compensated well for the extra work they do willingly.
#3 Agents feel appreciated when they know the company listens to them and acknowledges their hard work.
A fair trade labor outsourcing company strives to listen to each and every employee, giving attention to the challenges they had to face in their line of work and the ideas they may have in improving their level of efficiency and productivity. Employees are treated fairly; their gender, educational background, and economic status will never be a source of contention or a reason for discrimination.
Fairness at work also means that performance evaluation (and its corresponding rewards) is based on merit rather than position and type of account. Agents who outperform their contemporaries are rewarded, and those who were not able to reach their goals are given counseling and, if necessary, additional training.
#4 Fair trade call center agents generally feel safe and secure in the workplace.
Call centers are notorious for their toxic work environment. Career growth is stunted for most, if not all, employees. The younger ones who have little work experience are easily manipulated and exploited. There's little or no emotional support given to them, and agents have little freedom left in the workplace.
Because of the aforementioned benefits, agents don't feel threatened at work or uncertain about their jobs. They know, as long as they're doing great work, the company will always provide financial security, emotional support, and professional assistance to them.
#5 Agents feel secure in the knowledge that both the company and employees operate under a rule of transparency and accountability in the workplace.
A management team that's open and honest towards their employees is a mark of a fair trade labor outsourcing company. With this kind of work environment, agents are assured that they will never be deceived or manipulated, and the flow of information goes both ways. The company adopts top down, bottom up, and lateral flows of information to deliver messages with clarity, and assure everyone of transparency and equity in corporate communications.
Read the second part of this article series here.