Gary Kinsella looks at how you can better manage absence in your contact centre.
Absence within contact centres always sparks discussion and debate. One thing most people agree on is that it is one of the important indicators for the “hygiene factor” within your contact centre.
Talk to your people on a regular basis. This is a great way to understand what’s working, what isn’t working. Create a forum where people are not afraid to be open with no repercussions.
This gives you a great opportunity to understand what may be affecting your absence levels. What is really important, though, is that you follow up on agreed actions, otherwise it becomes another Manager whim and credibility is gone.
2. Introduce and follow your absence process
Many companies will have an absence process in conjunction with HR. Often where it falls down is when line managers are not consistent in following the process or do not follow it at all.
This process may include the following:
- A new notification process. One telephone number, which is managed on a rota basis by all managers, including you! This must be communicated to everyone with plenty of notice before implementation.
- A script for all managers to follow, to show that every conversation is consistent.
- A follow-up call in the afternoon to check on well-being, plus allowing time for shift moves if needed for the following day.
3. Return to Work (RTW) Interviews
These must be done on the first day that the absentee is back at work.
- To check that they are well enough to be back at work. Use HR in case the individual needs additional support while at work.
- To update them on important developments whilst they have been off.
- To discuss with them where they are on the absence process and what the next stage may be (if applicable). Remember, you are not a doctor, you are purely basing the RTW interview on facts; for example, number of absences in a specified timeframe.
Be prepared to use them. If people see that absence is being managed in a fair and consistent way, including potentially saying goodbye to people, this will have a positive impact for the following reasons:
- People who have been taking advantage of this before will see that it being taken seriously now.
- The majority of people will see this as a positive as they generally have to work harder and steady the ship when absence is high.
In summary, absence is never “fixed” and has to be managed and kept on top of. The key to all of this is regular communication and working with your teams to ensure they have a voice and are a part of your journey.
With thanks to Gary Kinsella of Contact Centre Performance Ltd