While maintaining high levels of productivity is always the goal of any call centre operation, a balance needs to be struck between achieving exceptional productivity levels and obsessing over it. And the stakes can be quite high, as call centre agent burnout can become an issue.
Agent burnout is the human cost that comes from focusing solely on productivity and neglecting the toll it might be taking on your agents’ emotional and mental health.
This form of employee burnout is a culmination of physical and emotional exhaustion, which can be further impacted by a lack of support and resources.
According to the International Classification of Diseases, employee burnout is a “syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
Specifically, it’s characterized by three distinct outcomes:
- Feelings of exhaustion or lack of energy.
- Feelings of negativity or cynicism related to the workplace, or a feeling of increased mental distance from one’s job.
- Reduced efficiency in the workplace.
The first step in preventing agent burnout is to look for signs that your call centre agents might be suffering from it. Below are some of the signs that burnout is becoming an issue:
The physical toll of burnout includes fatigue, insomnia, loss of appetite, depression, or anxiety.
Loss of Enjoyment
This may look like a pattern of being late or being eager to leave as soon as possible when a shift is over.
Negativity, especially from an employee who is normally positive, could be a sign of distress.
Isolation or Absenteeism
Skipping team social events could be an early warning sign. Similarly, calling in sick or not reporting for shifts could be a sign of burnout.
Burned-out employees may be more likely to lash out at fellow employees or express frustration with customers.
Burnout can make it more difficult to put in the time and effort required to sustain productivity, resulting in poor performance or missed milestones.
Burnout makes it harder for employees to focus, resulting in careless errors, especially on tasks that would normally be considered part of routine work.
Once you’ve determined that burnout is becoming an issue among your agents, you can follow these five strategies to help mitigate call centre burnout from becoming a problem in your business.
1. Lower Stress Levels
A company culture that values timeout for agent breaks and finishing up work when a shift is over is far less likely to suffer from burnout issues. This kind of culture in a call centre prevents agents from hopping on to another call when they should be eating lunch or opening a chat when they should be getting ready to pack up and go home.
2. Support Networks
While agents typically handle client interactions on their own, call centre managers should always be available to help with a particularly challenging call or provide a listening ear for longer-term issues.
According to a Gallup study on the topic, employees who feel supported by their managers are overwhelmingly less likely (around 70%) to experience burnout. That’s because good managers offer an opportunity to discuss difficult situations, provide support during rough times, and work collaboratively to reduce stress.
3. Inspire With Encouragement
Encouraging agents who demonstrate great customer service soft skills such as adaptability, initiative, teamwork, empathy, integrity, problem-solving, communication skills, and emotional intelligence is also a great way to help combat burnout. It’s these skills, which are hard to measure and teach, which are the best indicators of success and happiness in your call centre.
Agents can also be encouraged by offering job security, particularly under the difficult circumstances of the last two years. Recognizing agents who go above and beyond also provides a boost in employee satisfaction and customer service, as well as reducing burnout risk.
4. Incentivize Call Centre Agents
The job of a call centre agent can be a tedious and sometimes thankless one. Agents spend hours every day talking to customers, many of whom are upset, demanding, and unkind. Even under the best circumstances and with the best employees, this can wear agents down.
A call centre incentive program can help reduce burnout, as well as agent churn.
The key to a successful incentive program is to identify the behaviors that most impact your bottom line and then find a way to recognize top performers.
This recognition doesn’t have to be in the form of a monetary reward, as you can match the reward to the agent. An employee who loves TV might enjoy a few months of free access to a streaming network while another employee might enjoy a gift certificate for takeout from a nice restaurant.
This also personalizes the reward, leaving a deeper and more favorable impression.
5. Improve Call Centre Training
According to research conducted by Middlesex University, 74% of workers believe a lack of training is their biggest hurdle to reaching their full work potential. The connection here is that your agents clearly want training to do their jobs better.
This leads to the ability to better handle any situation that is thrown at them. In turn, it leads to better employee engagement, improved employee retention, and more employee satisfaction, all of which can significantly reduce burnout.
Effective training also creates highly skilled staff members who are more dedicated and passionate about their area of expertise. As they learn new skills, they gain confidence and feel more competent and fulfilled in their jobs.
All of these factors help create opportunities for promotion and new career paths for call centre staff which helps mitigate burnout as well.
This blog post has been re-published by kind permission of Scorebuddy – View the original post
To find out more about Scorebuddy, visit their website.
Call Centre Helper is not responsible for the content of these guest blog posts. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of Call Centre Helper.