How to Combat Quiet Quitting in the Call Centre

Cute little kitten in glasses fell asleep on keyboard on working desk place - quiet quitting concept
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Are you taking steps to tackle Quiet Quitting in your call centre? Do you even know where to start? Garry Gormley explains all!

What Is Quiet Quitting?

Quiet Quitting has become a staple in the conversation when we talk about attrition, as well as remote and hybrid working – and it’s raising its head more and more.

So, what is Quiet Quitting? In short, it’s someone who is almost checking out of the role before actually quitting.

Is Quiet Quitting Really a New Thing?

But is Quiet Quitting a new thing, or has it been heightened because of the more distributed nature of the contact centre landscape? Haven’t we always had Quiet Quitting in some form?

Perhaps when we use phrases like “coasting”, “clock watching” or “disengagement”, we are actually referring to Quiet Quitting without the label.

That being said, the term Quiet Quitting may have crept into use to help mask the fact that, as a contact centre industry, we’ve not yet cracked how to engage our teams, particularly how to adapt our styles from a ‘bricks and mortar’ leadership approach to leading in a remote and hybrid world.

What’s the Problem With Quiet Quitting?

The contact centre rightly or wrongly relies on the discretionary effort that some colleagues give over others. But in the new distributed environment – where clocking off mean switching off the laptop and retiring to your sofa in the next room – discretionary effort is disappearing.

And, therefore, Quiet Quitting has become more tangible to the operational bottom line. So, what can you do about it?

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People Don’t ‘Check Out’ From Day 1

People don’t become disengaged or ‘check out’ from Day 1 of them joining your contact centre. In fact, on Day 1, they are usually brimming with nervous excitement about starting a new role.

Then, of course, you induct and support them in the onboarding process until they are ready to be released on live customers.

The reality is that the environment that you foster around your teams is responsible for driving disengagement.

If you don’t have the right support, infrastructure, and communication channels to stay connected to your people, things will go awry. I refer to this as the ‘souring process’.

For practical steps your organization can implement to promote employee engagement, read our article: 7 Drivers of Employee Engagement

Are You Fostering the ‘Souring Process’?

The ‘souring process’ is where agents move from a state of motivation, excitement, and high energy to one where they don’t feel supported by the tools, the people, and the environment.

If we look at the stages of this souring process, people at an early stage start to become overwhelmed, their effort isn’t recognized, they make mistakes and start to feel inadequate.

Furthermore, when they ask for help, they don’t feel heard and they don’t see change, so they become disengaged. They either fix it for themselves or sink… and Quiet Quitting ensues.

To identify and address the danger signs of complacency, read our article: The 5 Danger Signs of Complacency in Your Contact Centre

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Four Steps to Tackling Quiet Quitting

Assuming therefore that ‘Quiet Quitting’ in its purest sense is referring to disengaged employees, then you need to tackle the root of this disengagement – and this falls into 4 key areas:

1. Communication – “Silence Can Become Toxic”

Hand covering mouth drawn on chalkboard,

In a remote environment, communication is critical, and silence can become toxic.

Gone are the days when people learnt or heard things from each other just by being around each other, so you have to over-communicate to make sure the message is understood.

To do this, you must understand how your teams like to be communicated with and adapt your style to the audience – be it remote, face-to-face, or a blend of the two.

Also, create specific communication outlets (e.g. Slack, Teams, etc.), but remember to join your teams up virtually to help bridge that remote gap and enable learning via digital channels.

2. Leadership – “Form More Personalized Connections”

Now more than ever, it’s critical that leaders form more personalized connections with their teams. This doesn’t mean being over-familiar, but making even more of an effort to engage people than perhaps you’ve done in the past.

For example, when you were in the office, you may have spent the first 15 minutes of the shift getting round the teams and seeing how they were.

In a remote and hybrid world, does this become more one-sided and out of sight, out of mind, in your leadership approach? You need to be engaging for your teams to engage.

Are you looking for tips on how to improve employee engagement? Read our article: How to Overhaul Your Employee Engagement (EX) Strategy

3. Coaching and Development – “Adapt Based on the Environment”

The way your teams learn has now changed, so the way you coach, monitor, and develop your teams needs to change too.

Running office-based training and virtual training separately can have a separatist effect on team engagement.

The ‘speed to competency’ for an office-based or hybrid worker may be different from that of someone who hasn’t got that peripheral support as a remote worker, so your approach to coaching, training, and learning must be adapted based on the environment.

People need to feel included and not separated from the team when training, so running office-based training and virtual training separately can have a separatist effect on team engagement.

If overlooked, this can contribute to a feeling of bias that office-based employees get treated differently, so you must try to be creative in how you train and develop your teams.

4. Culture – “Re-Evaluate Your Operating Model”

Understand what culture you are trying to create and benchmark that against the culture you have.

  • What words do your people use when describing your culture as a team, and as a wider business?
  • Are you setting your team leaders and your teams up to fail by not creating the capacity to coach, develop and communicate?
  • Is your culture KPI and target driven, which means that all the nice developmental and supportive activities get pulled when the pressure is on?

You may need to re-evaluate your operating model to change the culture if you want to stamp out Quiet Quitting once and for all.

Summary

Garry Gormley, Founder, CEO - FAB Outsourced Solutions
Garry Gormley

Quiet Quitting has existed in many different guises for many years, but ultimately it’s about how engaged your teams feel and how aligned they are to the goals and objectives of the business. Not only that, but how supported they feel in the pursuit of these.

Get these elements wrong… and ultimately people vote with their feet!

Written by: Garry Gormley, Founder and CEO The FAB Group

For more great information on employee engagement, read these articles next:

Author: Garry Gormley

Published On: 11th Jan 2023 - Last modified: 9th Nov 2023
Read more about - Call Centre Management, , , , , ,

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