Self-rostering by agents has been around for a long time and so have the arguments for/against it. Views on the most effective method of implementing it have been equally contentious. I think that there are a number of points to consider:
1. Bidding can be a tricky process to get right. An incentive to only the top performers may perpetuate their success at the detriment of other agents and possibly your customers. Once an agent has accumulated the 'credits' necessary to pick the 'best' shifts the poor performers may find it difficult to improve sufficiently to topple them. A clear division is never good for business or morale. In this instance the consistency of caller experience may also suffer – for example, a caller speaks to a highly motivated agent on one call and a depressed agent on the next call.
2. Most WFM systems tend to adopt either a bidding or preference based approach to self-rostering. Either can work but it will vary from business to business as to which is the most effective. In recent years there has been a trend towards preference based rostering in recognition of the need to accommodate ‘lifestyle scheduling’. This is basically the view that everyone is unique and should be treated accordingly. This in turn highlights another question that covered – how is a good or bad shift actually defined? Because each agent has a different set of circumstances inside and outside of work, their view on what is a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ shift will also be different. Children, family commitments, hobbies and interests all play an important part. Because of this individuality it is a fact that your agents will not universally agree on the definition of a good or bad shift. This in itself causes issues when attempting to implement a bidding process – you will always risk alienating and losing those that do not have the ‘traditional’ view on which shifts are good and those that are bad.
3. Whilst a universal agreement on what constitutes a good/bad shift is rare, the variance in this perception is influenced by the number of different employment contracts that you have – e.g. full-time v’s part-time, flexi v’s fixed, team based or block scheduling…and so on. In fact, flexibility in staff contracts is a key factor in determining the success of self-rostering solutions altogether (preference or bidding). The fewer the options available to agents the more likely it is that they will be split into two camps – good v’s bad shifts. The greater the selection of shifts, the more an agent will be able to pick options that suit their lifestyle and do not cause conflict. If there is sufficient choice to allow agents to influence how and when they work this will naturally have a positive impact on morale.
4. The ability to self roster should apply to all and not just a few top performers. It is possible to allow each agent to feel that they have the ability to influence/determine when they work but within parameters that ensures service levels are maintained. It’s certainly not easy, but there are quite a few that have managed it.
In summary, if you are able to define what constitutes a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ shift from both a business and individual agent perspective then you are already one step ahead of most contact centres. The fewer rules and restrictions that are in place regarding shift patterns the more likely that self-rostering will work. If you use a bidding or preference based system you should aim to balance individuality with a consistent service.
Hope this is of some help.