How to Keep Morale Up in a Short-Staffed Contact Centre

Teamwork concept and working together with hands being put together

Quick Overview

When a contact centre is short-staffed, a lot of pressure is placed on the remaining team members to carry the load. This can lead to stress, absence, and even attrition. However, there are ways to counteract this and boost morale, including:

  1. Let Agents Know What You’re Doing to Resolve Staffing Issues
  2. Encourage the Team to Laugh
  3. Remember Who Helped Out

In this article, our panel share their top tips and ideas for keeping up morale in a short-staffed contact centre.

Inspiration for Boosting Morale

Here are 25 ways to keep up morale in a short-staffed contact centre:

1. Let Agents Know What You’re Doing to Resolve Staffing Issues

It’s not enough to simply appreciate agents for what they are doing now.

You also need to think to the future and let them know what you are doing to resolve the issue.

With thanks to Linda

Pop art style comics panel mouth laughing out loud comedy

2. Encourage the Team to Laugh

Whether it’s ‘dad jokes’ or funny memes, encouraging the team to laugh is a mental health tool with power.

Cognitively using humour allows for improved physical and mental health, eases stress, and can influence team dynamics like no other tool I’ve tried.

With thanks to Dr M. Dave Salisbury PhD/MBA

3. Remember Who Helped Out

Remember the people that helped during these times and reward them later!

With thanks to Karl

4. Have Daily Check-Ins

As we run mainly remote agents, daily check-ins are a priority for us when it’s busy.

With thanks to Justine

For ways to engage teams and invigorate morale with a remote workforce, read our article: 15 Great Ideas to Make Remote Working Fun

5. Homemade Jam on Toast Goes Down a Treat

My deputy manager and I make everyone teas, coffees, and toast, or serve other goodies at their desk. This has ranged from Domino’s pizzas to homemade hot dogs and chips, biscuits, fruit etc…

My dad also sends in homemade jam for the toast and that goes down a treat.

With thanks to Martine

6. Help Where It Is Needed

Jump in and help where it is needed.

In our team, we look out for each other, and support each other when things get too tough.

With thanks to Roland

7. Give Out Additional Breaks

We give people additional breaks to let them get some fresh air, have a breather, and a leg stretch away from the desk.

With thanks to Martine

8. Make Time to Listen

It feels counterintuitive when you’re busy and short-staffed, but make time for short team meetings.

Recognize the people and the work they are doing, the impact they are making, and use the time to listen to any problems they are having.

Recognize the people and the work they are doing, the impact they are making, and use the time to listen to any problems they are having, so you can give an update on how you are fixing them at the next team meeting.

With thanks to Sarah

9. Create an Appreciation Wall

One way to keep morale up in a short-staffed contact centre is to design an appreciation wall.

The background is our logo made of words from past kudos with comment bubbles. They are rewritable and it’s updated bi-weekly with current kudos from our customers.

We also make sure to include major events that our staff have played a part in, so they remember that they are an important part in service delivery and are proud of what they do.

With thanks to Clarke

10. Be Physically Present

Fatigue – both physically and emotionally – can be mitigated by ensuring that employees feel autonomy and appreciation.

A person with a lightbulb head standing out - being present concept
Be visible, be open, be helpful

It’s much easier to get through the brutal times when you feel you have a part in the direction of the company, and you know your voice will be heard and valued.

As a manager, making sure that you’re aware that the load is difficult is important, but perhaps more important is your presence in the difficult times.

Be visible, be open, be helpful. Offer to bring coffee, offer to take some calls, bring in some food – be PHYSICALLY present!

With thanks to Jay

11. Capture Real-Time Feedback From Agents

Pull a couple of agents for 1-to-1s (individually) – even though it feels everyone is needed on the phones – and get some specific, real-time feedback.

This helps your team to know you care about what they are up against, and your message of caring will spread through the team. Then follow up on what was shared!

With thanks to Ann

12. Explain Past Call Volumes and Events

One of the most important things I do is record a weekly video for staff to explain past weekly call volume, anything coming up that they may need to know, as well as fun things we have done in the office or remotely.

This keeps them engaged, as there is also the opportunity to ask me questions.

Helpful Hint – As I can see a general summary of what staff rewind and rewatch too, I know what to enhance or expand on for the next weekly video.

With thanks to Clarke

13. Host a “5-Minute Dance Party”

I recently scheduled a “5-Minute Dance Party” on my team’s calendar once a week.

You don’t have to dance, but I really encourage people to get up and move around. It seems a bit silly, but my team really appreciates it.

With thanks to Brendan

14. Invest in a George Forman Grill for ‘Breakfast Mornings’

We bought a George Forman grill, so grilled cheese, waffles, and other goodies have been created. Our Pancake and Waffle Breakfast Mornings have been a HUGE hit!

With thanks to Dr M. Dave Salisbury PhD/MBA

15. Set up a ‘Refer a Friend’ Scheme

Encourage a ‘refer a friend’ scheme that allows agents to contribute to the recruitment process, which in turn alleviates the short-staffed situation.

It works relatively well when attached to a monetary reward!

With thanks to Raïssa

16. Try Laughter Yoga

Person laughing in a yoga pose

A laughing yoga or laughter yoga session involves movement and breathing exercises to create deliberate laughter.

Sessions can be run in-office or via Zoom and can be a fun opportunity to try something different and lighten the mood.

You could also try remembering one or two techniques to include at the beginning or end of future team meetings.

With thanks to Megan

17. Send out ‘Thank You’ Cards

Send a card later thanking them for all they’ve done to help the team through a difficult period.

With thanks to Georgia

For some great ideas on examples of goodwill gestures that will help leaders strengthen employee relationships in the contact centre, read our article: 18 Goodwill Gestures to Build Better Employee Relationships

18. Take Agents Away From Their Desks

Alongside things that keep agents at their desks (like free coffee), also remember to mix in treats and support that take them away from the stress – like a quick extra break from it all.

With thanks to Linda

19. Set Up a ‘Spirit Committee’ to Add a Bit of Fun

We have a spirit committee that we contribute to but is run by our staff to keep things fun with events throughout the month.

With thanks to Clarke

20. Run Hourly Contests With Multiple Opportunities to Win

I have found that a productivity contest really works.

It can be even more effective if you have hourly contests and multiple criteria to give more agents the opportunity to win.

The agents that show up appreciate the opportunity to show that they can handle the extra work created by attendance and adherence concerns.

It can be even more effective if you have hourly contests and multiple criteria to give more agents the opportunity to win.

With thanks to Michael

21. Treat the Team to Drinks on a Friday

Soft drinks being poured in glass

Sometimes I treat my team to Friday drinks – out of my own pocket.


Sometimes we need to act fast and not miss the moment! Waiting for a budget approval and so on can be time-consuming and not fit for purpose.

Plus, I find my team are all happy to return the favour at future social outings.

With thanks to Paolo

22. Shout Out to Congratulate Hard Work

Make time for regular shout-outs to congratulate hard work, result, and effort.

With thanks to Justine

23. Put on Some Music to Lift the Mood

I find some good music helps if your team is short-staffed. It’s simple and effective.

With thanks to Shavaughan

24. Make Encouraging Comments on Slack

My team is all remote, so I make encouraging comments on our Slack channel and check in with them for a quick huddle individually.

With thanks to Shannon

25. Request a Bonus From Senior Management

I help my team in stressful periods by requesting an extra bonus for their hard work.

With thanks to James

We’ve also got some other great articles on managing a short-staffed contact centre, so you should read these next:

Author: Robyn Coppell

Published On: 3rd Jul 2023 - Last modified: 10th Jul 2023
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