“I Quit!” How to Prevent Burnout in your Call Center Team

“I Quit!” How to Prevent Burnout in your Call Center Team

Contact centers have one of the highest turnover rates of any industry. It can be a tough job and it's easy to understand why call center employees are at risk of burnout. Contact center agents are often asked to manage difficult customers for most of their day -- the stress level can be very high. 

Contact center agent burnout is one of the main reasons for high employee turnover rates. But burnout doesn't just lead to churn; it also leads to other consequences that negatively affect your business.

Burned-out employees are 63% more likely to take a sick day; 6 times as likely to be actively seeking a different job and 50% less likely to discuss performance goals with their managers. Burnout employees are likely to perform poorly, risk your reputation, and negatively affect customer satisfaction.

What Exactly IS Burnout Anyway?

Call center managers should look for signs of burnout in their contact center agents. Mayo Clinic, one of the leading healthcare organizations in the world, defines job burnout as “a special type of work-related stress.” An employee feels “a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.”

The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), describes employee burnout as a “syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

It has three characteristics:

  • Low energy or feelings of exhaustion.
  • Negativity or cynicism related to their job, or a feeling of increased mental distance from the workplace.
  • Reduced efficiency in the workplace.

So What Can You Do? 

In order to mitigate agent burnout, you must be able to define it clearly, recognize it in your team quickly and take these steps to manage and prevent it. 

1. Be Proactive, Learn how to Recognize Burnout 

Stay in touch with your team. Watch for employees whose performance levels drop suddenly, are calling in sick often, missing goals, or are consistently tardy or absent. Don’t wait for them to approach you with an explanation or excuse as to why they missed a shift. Check in with them to connect, offer support and inquire if you can help. Try to solve small problems before they become bigger.

2. Create a Culture that Encourages Communication

Communication is always important, but even more so during stressful times. A Gallup study confirmed that employees who feel supported by their managers are 70% less likely to experience burnout. The key to feeling supported is authentic communication. 

Just like customers, agents need to feel listened to and understood. Keep lines of communication open within the team. Encourage a collaborative approach to solving problems, so that leadership is not just dictating more orders. Allow agents to be involved in finding solutions.

3. Acknowledge and Help Manage Stress:

Just the simple act of acknowledging their level of stress can help a great deal. Connect with them, especially on the tough days. “I know that was difficult. This can be a stressful job and you handled that client very well.” Try to give this kind of feedback as soon as possible after a difficult call. 

Value their personal time and mean it. This job is important, but so are families, vacations, hobbies, and personal life. Make sure they are taking breaks and the shift schedule is reasonable. If working from home offers a better work-life balance, allow them to do that. 

If the company offers employee benefits, make sure it includes counseling or therapy to support their mental health. Sometimes the stress your employees are feeling has nothing to do with the workplace, but it still affects their job performance and they need tools to manage their stress.

4. Update Their Technology

Make sure your agents have access to technology that’s easy to use and do their job efficiently. Handling a single issue across multiple channels with out-of-date technology makes their job much more difficult than it has to be. Investing in updated tech is not just an investment in your company, it’s an investment in your workforce. Give them a single platform with Omnichannel Workspace for premium customer engagement and agent satisfaction. 

5. Remind them, they are Part of the Company

You know how essential Customer Experience is for your company’s growth, but do your agents know this? And do they know what an integral part they play in driving positive CX? Make sure you tell them, early and often. It’s easy to feel far removed from the C-suite bigshots. Make sure your employee’s goals align with the company’s goals. Every agent should be able to track how their work every day contributes to the company’s success. 

And when your agents are successful, acknowledge it with employee recognition, across all channels, not just your team. Make sure the C-Suite sees it too and recognizes their accomplishments. An email from the CEO can go a long way to motivate your agent and increase job satisfaction. Also, offer training and opportunities for professional development and ensure that your employees have a real path for promotion within the company.

6.Check in Regularly, but DON'T Add More Work for Them to Do

Employees and managers need to be able to monitor their performance and progress. Offering feedback is very important, but it’s only helpful if that feedback is constructive and immediate.  Employees need clear directions, expectations, and opportunities for improvement. They need to know where they are and what steps they need to improve their performance. Managers need feedback from their employees in order to know if they are communicating properly.

However, avoid adding extra demands on your team with labor-intensive “How Was Your Day?” daily forms for employees to fill out. These can be annoying and there are much more creative ways to gather information and check in with your team. Consult with your HR department for suggestions on effective check-in techniques. 

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