I was surprised this week when I read that Tampa, FL-based Sykes Enterprises, an $819 million business process outsourcing company, decided to close its 12-year-old Minot, North Dakota contact center because of a lack of applicants for job openings.With the economy reporting a loss of 651,000 jobs in February alone, this news grabbed my attention. The report that I read stated that a year ago, management wanted to increase the number of contact center employees to 450 (there are currently 200 employees). Over the past year, so few people applied, that the company decided to close the contact center on May 10.
Given that Minot is sparsely populated and the unemployment rate stands at 5.1 percent, why wouldn't Sykes advertise for applicants in cities with high unemployment and pay for relocation costs? Wouldn't that have been a more viable option than closing a call center that is experiencing significant growth?
So maybe the weather and demographics would keep out-of-state residents from applying. Then how about deploying a strategic blend of remote and at-home agents to fill the vacant spots?
I'm sure the woman I saw on the news this morning riding her horses from Florida out West to look for work, or the man who moved his family into a tent in California would have welcomed the opportunity to stay employed and work from home.