A Publication of WTVP

The new Community Spirit sculpture and Washington Pride Plaza were dedicated at Five Points Washington last month. Both the plaza and the sculpture recognize and commemorate the rebuilding of the community after the 2013 tornado, and were financed entirely by private donations. Community Spirit features five figures representing the organizations that came together to form Five Points Washington—the city, high school, library, park district and Washington Area Community Center. The plaza will include a seating area with personalized “Building Stronger” bricks and bluestones to recognize the residents, volunteers, businesses and first responders who came together in the aftermath of disaster to rebuild.

Are Call Centers Coming Back?

During the 1990s, many companies relocated their call centers overseas to reduce labor costs. But as offshore centers have not lived up to expectations, five million call center jobs have returned to the country. So how are U.S.-based call centers outperforming foreign ones?

Based on hold time, agent speech time and dozens of other metrics, the analytics firm Marchex determined the top three differentiators between the two:

  1. Hold time. The average offshore call center “hold time” was about one minute and 15 seconds longer than the average domestic call center hold time for a similar product.
  2. Too much information. There was a statistically significant difference in “agent speech time,” with offshore agents requiring 40 seconds more time to describe the same product information to a consumer.
  3. Too many transfers. Offshore centers use far more “call transfers” than domestic centers. This is because domestic agents tend to have a more comprehensive understanding of technical topics, which limits the number of transfers.

Source: Marchex Call Analytics

Peoria’s Newest Holiday Tradition
The Peoria Civic Center and PNC Bank announced the inaugural PNC Winterfest coming to downtown Peoria on November 27th. The 39-day event will feature an outdoor ice skating rink at the corner of Fulton Street and Jefferson Avenue. Patrons can bring their own skates or rent them, and spectators will be able to watch from a heated tent with seating and refreshments. A promotional calendar and additional information will be available at at the beginning of November.

Expanding Apprenticeships
The Greater Peoria Economic Development Council recently announced its CICESS apprenticeship program received a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. The $3.9-million award will support the Northern Illinois Consortium for Advanced Technical Training and Central Illinois Center of Excellence for Secure Software (CICESS), among other initiatives.

CICESS (pronounced “success”) is a collaborative effort to build a local workforce of trained secure software development professionals. Through a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, ICC adopted a nationally-recognized curriculum for a first-in-the-nation associate degree in secure software development, which launched this fall. Fourteen students have qualified for the apprenticeship component, which begins in January.

HR Trending…
Today’s workplace has little in common with the workplace your parents encountered when they started building their careers, and the workplace of tomorrow is sure to be vastly different from today’s. As this slow-motion revolution continues to unfold, the HR Trend Institute has distinguished eight key areas that are influencing the organizational domain.

Leaning Rentward
The U.S. homeownership rate dropped to 63.4 percent in the second quarter of 2015—the lowest rate since 1967—down from its peak of 69.2 percent in 2004, according to the latest census data. Meanwhile, apartment occupancy is at an all-time high, with a national occupancy rate hovering around 95 percent, and rent continues to increase. Annual rent growth hit five percent in the second quarter, according to real estate analytics company Axiometrics. 

Inside the Freelance Mind

Why freelance? According to a survey by 24Seven Talent, “flexibility” (47%) and “freedom” (42%) top the list, while “laid off from previous job” (38%) ranked third among the reasons. In general, freelancers are happy and optimistic—62 percent expect their satisfaction to improve over the next year, while just 46 percent of traditional employees felt the same. Another discovery: the longer someone is a freelancer, the less likely they are to desire permanent employment.

Top Factors Impacting Freelancer Happiness

  1. Salary/hourly rate
  2. Great work/life balance
  3. Flexible work schedule & skill development opportunities

Top Issues Keeping Freelancers Up At Night

  1. Staying professionally relevant
  2. Meeting deadlines
  3. Lack of clear direction/path


Addicted to Work?

Are Americans addicted to working? That’s what a recent 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll suggests. When given a choice between starting a new job with $20,000 more in salary or four weeks’ extra paid vacation, Americans go for the green. We’d rather trade in our unused sick days for money than take more time off, and when asked what we do in our spare time, the top answer was: “Look for work to do!” Just 34 percent of respondents knew the U.S. is the world’s only developed nation that does not guarantee some amount of paid vacation time—a fact that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon…iBi