16 Ways to Encourage Agents to Work Overtime


Here are some great ideas for encouraging agents to work overtime – even when it’s sunny outside!

1. Make weekend work more fun than the average weekday

We make a conscious effort to make the weekend shifts more exciting than working in the week.

For example, we give out sweets and host a pizza lunch every weekend. We also try to run themed days such as “Hawaiian Shirt day”, “Ugly Christmas Tree Sweater day” and “Costume Party day”.

We also have a “weekend board” on the call centre floor which is filled with pictures of the silliness and the prizes won on the weekends to tempt other agents to take part.

With thanks to Shondelle

2. Organise a work night out that takes place in the week

One way to encourage overtime on the weekends is to organise a work night out to reward everyone who does extra hours (for example, everyone who works a minimum of 2 weekend days per month can take part).

To emphasise the focus on weekends being work time, you should organise the event to take place mid-week.

With thanks to Simon

3. Set get-go targets so agents aren’t tied to a full shift

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Rather than ask your agents to come in for a full shift on a Saturday, you could set get-go targets which allow agents to go home once they have achieved their figures for the day.

However, this does have to be managed closely, as it opens up the game to abuse. For example, Joe Bloggs may say “oh yes, I achieved x sales, can I go home?” only for it to transpire later that these are not valid sales.

With thanks to Sean

4. Answer the question “What’s in it for me?”

You need to answer the question “What’s in it for me?” – particularly if the weather is nice.

This question is best answered with some form of incentive – either a short-term financial pay-out or some ability to take time off later.

One option is introducing a banked-hours scheme where people can build up extra time now in return for taking off time later.

So people could work two days this weekend and in return they could take off two days later on. They could then build up enough extra time to take a week off.

With thanks to Jonty

5. Encourage agents to make the most of the nice weather in the week

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Don’t forget that time off can be given before the weekend!

It can help if you are having a few nice days to encourage your agents to take time off there and then, as the weekends aren’t always guaranteed to be nice.

This is a win-win solution for everyone involved. Agents get to enjoy the good weather while it’s there and you have bums on seats come the weekend.

With thanks to Trevor

6. Keep your overtime targets realistic for those with an active social life

When setting your overtime targets, it is important that you keep the amount realistic and achievable – even for those with an active social life.

This should be reinforced with a little bonus for the commitment shown.

With thanks to Simon

7. Introduce weekend-only competitions

We run weekend-only competitions.

One example of this is our weekend draw – where ballots are given to each employee per day that they work (so if you sign up for Saturday and Sunday you get 2 ballots).

The prize is then drawn at the end of the weekend. This could be anything from a paid day off to gift cards or a mobile phone!

We also hold competitions on the side for whatever KPI we are focusing on. For example, the agent with the lowest on-hold time for the day would win.

With thanks to Shondelle

8. Give out a raffle ticket for every hour of overtime that is worked

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When I worked in a call centre, I tried to make things visual with things like raffle tickets for every hour of overtime worked.

I then gave out a few big prizes each month to keep everyone motivated.

With thanks to Mathew

9. Give something to everyone who works weekends

While a prize draw for people who work weekends is a good idea, it is better to offer something more tangible such as a free lunch for everyone.

That way everyone is rewarded for coming in and doing overtime, rather than just one lucky person.

With thanks to Simon

10. Give overtime staff preferential treatment

One idea for encouraging agents to work overtime is to give those who work the extra days some form of preferential treatment in booking holidays or taking days off later in the year.

For example, giving them a coupon that guarantees a day off for an important event or jumps them to the front of the queue when choosing summer holidays.

With thanks to Jonty

11. Develop an in-house currency that can be traded for incentives

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We have our own in-house currency – home-printed bank notes bearing my face.

The value is equivalent to an hour’s work and is received for various achievements. This can be redeemed later on for time off and preferential treatment.

With thanks to Trevor

12. Give high street vouchers to those who meet their overtime targets

Another way to incentivise overtime is to give out high street vouchers each month to the individuals who’ve met or exceeded their overtime targets.

For example, everyone who works ‘x’ weekend days per month receives a £25 gift card – setting a metric that will get weekend staff levels to those required.

With thanks to Simon

13. Show live matches during shifts

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Big sporting events like the World Cup, Wimbledon and Commonwealth Games often lead to a decrease in the number of agents who show up to work – and this can make overtime even more of a challenge.

Putting up big TV screens to show live matches on the floor (as well as being more flexible on breaks) can encourage people to come in to work – even when the game is on.

With thanks to Jonty

14. Align overtime with company and personal success

Incentives, rewards and fun days are all good ways of achieving short-term goals.

However, you should also look at the long game. The end goal should be to engage all members of the team in the SLA performance of the contact centre, so that their desire for success ranks higher than their personal life.

This takes more time and consistent energy as it is a question of culture, but a conversation about what defines success is a good place to start.

With thanks to Ben

15. Greater flexibility can be gained if staff are allowed to work from home

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Greater flexibility can be gained if staff are allowed to work from home, as they avoid the cost of coming to work and effectively get a higher rate per hour.

It also means people might be more willing to commit to a weekend shift, as they may be happy to give up a few hours at home on a Sunday but not lose a whole day travelling into work.

With thanks to Dave Millet

16. Offer a bonus pay-out to agents who work overtime

Our agents can earn an additional overtime pay-out which we refer to as “Overtime Bonanza”.

A lot of hype is created around this by the team leaders, and we have posters on the floor explaining the maximum pay-out an advisor can earn in a month (the available overtime hours are split into grids and the pay-outs vary accordingly).

Similar grids are designed for team leaders based on the overtime hours performed by their teams. This helps to ensure that everyone participates – not just a handful of advisors.

With thanks to Mohammed

What do you think are the best ways to encourage overtime in the contact centre?

Published On: 30th Jul 2014 - Last modified: 13th Oct 2017
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5 Comments
  1. or maybe hire more staff if needed instead of pressuring agents to give up their free time?

    Cady 7 Aug at 1:47 am
  2. I think it’s really unfair to let people have first dibs on Christmas holidays if they work weekends. If you need weekend staff that badly, hire more staff to work weekends. I can’t do weekend work because I have children to care for. I shouldn’t miss out on having Christmas with them because I can’t work weekends because I’m a single mum.

    Michelle 18 Aug at 11:45 am
  3. Good articles. It can work for people who are really money making minded.

    Lofu 4 Sep at 3:08 pm
  4. Well, yes you can hire more staff thats if you will still have time to hire..but if you have limited time and you are only talking about the staffs that you only have..its the best way to give incentives or like this article was saying, it will help to encourage your staff to work OT.. its just a reward for those who will get to work on weekends. the question is, what if the Boss of the company dont want to invest for this kind of incentives or rewards? what will those supervisors do?

    abner 30 Apr at 3:07 am
  5. People commenting have obviously never MANAGED staff before. You can’t HIRE every time you have an increase in job needs. It takes time to hired and train staff and it is not always beneficial for a 2-3 week uptick in business. And why shouldn’t people working a weekend get a preference for some other day. You’re literally saying “I can’t work weekends, I don’t want to work the holiday” Why should YOU always have the preference?! I think these are excellent ideas and are obviously best when used sparingly and for urgent, not long-term, business needs.

    Trixy 19 Jan at 5:00 pm
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