Are You Looking After Your Agents’ Mental Health?

A picture of a mental health light bulb

Ignoring your agents’ mental health may be costing you more than a few missed workdays.

According to estimates by Penn State, poor employee mental health is leading to around $53 billion in lost revenue each year. Workplace stress and poor working environments causes disengagement, low employee retention, and low productivity.

Not only that, employees with mental health conditions like depression and anxiety go to the emergency room six times more than the average worker, and submit up to four times more in medical claims.

Poor Workplace Environment

For their part, more employees are pointing to workplace stress as one of the main sources of their anxiety and depression. This is particularly true of customer service agents. They are the frontline of your company’s public face, which means they’re the receptors of customers’ concerns and, at times, ire. So, it’s unsurprising that this can have an effect on their mental health.

A CareerCast study published on INC found the following as the main contributors to a mentally taxing workplace environment:

  • Unpredictability
  • Deadlines
  • Safety of others

While not surprising, these give you a glimpse into how you can foster a more positive and healthier workplace environment. While including programs and events that tackle mental well-being is a step in the right direction, tackling this issue should also include changes in how the work is structured.

What Goes Into Creating a Healthier Workplace?

Ensure the workload is right. As mentioned above, workplace anxiety stems from the work itself, and fostering a better environment for your agents means ensuring that they are not overworked. It’s not uncommon for agents to be doing extra tasks on top of their usual workload due to lack of resources, spreading agents too thin.

Modern companies hire specialists for these types of jobs not only to improve results but also to alleviate the pressure on current employees. Companies need to weigh up the cost of investing in the right amount of resources versus their employees’ mental health.

Bringing in temporary workers on a freelance contract can help in this regard.

Stress on work–life balance. This has become some sort of a mantra for most companies, but how it’s being implemented varies across the board. Good practices include insisting that employees go on regular vacations, respecting “offline” schedules, and offering wellness perks such as free gym memberships. Numerous studies have shown that agents who engage in hobbies and take care of themselves are more productive employees.

Promote support systems. Regularly discuss the Employee Assistance Program and the benefits to your agents. Make sure there are support and cushion systems in place or create one if it’s not available. For one, Google has institutionalized an employee-led initiative called Blue Dot which is a peer-to-peer counselling programme.

Having someone ready to listen is one of the best ways you can help employees unload their stress.

A mentally healthy workforce is always beneficial for business and company growth. Learn more about improving mental health in a contact centre.

This blog has been re-published by kind permission of ProcedureFlow

Author: Robyn Coppell

Published On: 16th Mar 2020 - Last modified: 13th Jan 2023
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