Jason Napierski explains the issues of absenteeism and how they can be avoided.
In the call centre environment, workplace absenteeism isn’t a laughing matter: It’s a major concern. Statistics show the employee attrition rate for call centres can be as high as 20–30% annually. So what are some strategies call centres can take to curb agent “avoidance” behaviour, reduce absenteeism, and ultimately build an engaged workforce?
1. Look for the signs of call avoidance
The most classic and prevalent behaviours are as follows: unscheduled personal break time used; excessive outbound calls made to local numbers before break, lunch, or end of shift; short calls where the agent has disconnected the line; dissatisfied customer survey ratings corresponding to the agent’s end of shift; and so on.
Integrating a workforce management scheduling tool with a contact centre’s call delivery system can proactively manage long-duration call types (for example, avoid routing those calls to agents approaching a break, etc.). As an agent, there’s nothing worse than getting a 30-minute average trouble-shooting call 5 minutes before the end of a shift.
The end result of such an integration can impact both agent and customer experiences, as there is, more often than not, a clear correlation between agent job satisfaction and the experience of the caller.
2. Motivate agents with automated, direct feedback
While not every call centre representative will be motivated by a competitive spirit, performance feedback is still a critical part of establishing agent job satisfaction. The logic is sound: If an agent isn’t engaged in and informed about his or her performance, what’s the motivation for success?
There are several options when it comes to giving agents direct performance feedback. Speech analytics can automatically score agent calls and deliver near real-time feedback right to the agent desktop. Some call centres post team or overall statistics on large televisions, so everyone is aware of the most important metrics.
3. Ask agents “what would encourage attendance?”
In today’s digitally connected world, we’re hard-wired for instant gratification. When we want results or information, we want them fast. But one of the most overlooked (and often underutilised) ways of discovering what motivates, inspires, and engages agents is simple: just ask!
The point is: Managers will never truly know what could make a difference to an individual employee until they take the time to ask.
The cards may be stacked against call centres when it comes to call-avoidance behaviour and absenteeism; after all, attrition rates for this industry in particular are notoriously high. But that doesn’t mean that managers can’t proactively identify ways to engage employees and inspire them to want to excel in their daily work.
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