If you have high levels of call-centre stress, it could be that a quiet room could help to alleviate some of those shattered nerves.
Barbara Burke looks at how you could set up a quiet room in your call centre.
With stress-related health problems and employee absences on the rise, it is no wonder that an increasing number of companies are looking for low-cost solutions for reducing the stress levels of their employees.
We recently conducted a survey about quiet rooms which produced some interesting findings.
A place of solitude
A “quiet room” is a place of refuge where frazzled employees can go to get a few minutes of solitude.
Steve Bassett, who works in Facilities Management for Wachovia Bank, said that his company has a quiet room in each of their 13 call centres for their 6,000 employees.
“Quiet Rooms are considered an important facility needed to create a ‘Great Place to Work’ environment” he said. “You take care of the call center agents and they’ll take care of your customers. This is proven true for us since we have received the number one customer service award eight years in a row in our industry (banking).”
When it comes to rules, less is more
The vast majority of respondents said they do not have many formal rules for using their quiet room. The employees who use quiet rooms understand the need to respect others and maintain silence.
Avoid allowing the room be used for other purposes
Resist the temptation to use the room as a break room, meeting room, a place to make phone calls or access the Internet.
Some call centres have a separate “fun room” where employees can go to play video games, watch TV, play board games, etc.
Locate the room adjacent to the work area and include an outside window
One respondent said that when they moved their quiet room to a more visible location (closer to the door) they noticed a significant increase in usage. A surprising number of respondents said a quiet room was actually included in the design of their new facility.
Involve staff in the creation of the room
Many individuals added items to the room from their own homes to make it comfy and fun.
When furnishing the room focus on comfort
Standard furnishings include: comfortable chairs, a small table, lights on dimmers, a small clock, soothing colours on the walls (green was popular) and an area rug. Several said that they had massage chairs and sound machines in their rooms.
Other ideas worth considering: a lending library of books (employees bring in books to share), a fish tank, lava lamp, stuffed animals, soft piped-in music. [Doesn’t soft music conflict with the idea of a quiet room?- Ed]
Not all employees will use the room regularly, but those who do consider it vitally important
About 48 per cent of the survey respondents said that between 5 and 15 per cent of their employees used the quiet room in the last week. Another 40 per cent of the respondents said that their room was used by 20 to 40 per cent of employees during same period.
The specialists appreciate the fact that management supports them and understands what they experience every day; providing them with a quiet room communicates that management “gets it.”
Why not suggest a quiet room to senior management?
If your company doesn’t have a designated quiet room where employees can go when they need to get away from it all, why not suggest it to upper management?
Some benefits of using a quiet room in the call centre
- Fewer escalated calls to supervisors (stressed-out reps who are plain out of energy are often short with customers and have no desire to go above and beyond)
- Lower employee absences due to stress-related health issues and emotional burn-out
- Fewer complaints of “rude” reps
Make use of the facility
If you are fortunate enough to have a room at your company, use it a couple of times this week. You will find that taking time out to sit and “do nothing” for as little as ten minutes during the work day can make the difference between a good Monday and bad one.
Barbara Burke: Customer service management consultant, employee engagement champion, and motivational speaker since 1986