Flexible working arrangements have been commonplace for some time — even prior to COVID-19.
Over 70% of employers who have implemented flexible working arrangements believe that it has had a positive impact on agent engagement and motivation. However many contact centers have yet to take advantage of the many benefits that come from offering your contact center agents flexible working arrangements.The evidence is there: working 8 hours straight does not guarantee any level of productivity. Get flexible instead. #flextime #cctr #cctrmanagement Click To Tweet
I should note that for the purpose of this article, we are talking about flexible hours scheduling, not working-from-home arrangements — although this has similar benefits.
Flex-Time is Probably Right for Your Contact Center
It would be quite difficult to make an argument reasoning why you shouldn’t offer flexible shifts in your contact center. The short answer is: Yes, flex-time is right for your contact center. Here’s why:
1. It will make your contact center more cost-efficient
Even the best contact center manager will struggle to predict the level of activity you’ll experience in any one day. You may be able to get close but very few contact centers have a steady flow of inquiries.
Flexible working hours allow you to respond better when demand fluctuates; either bringing in more agents who were ‘on-call’, or letting agents drop their shifts when things get quiet. Flexible scheduling is used to great effect in many industries, from retail to hospitals, to ensure just the right amount of coverage is available when needed.
It may even have a direct impact on your salary expenditure: In research by the SWPP, 33 % of participants said that their agents would accept an average pay cut of 2.5% in return for schedule-change empowerment.
2. Flexible scheduling has been proven to increase morale
According to Stats Canada, “79% of employees with a flexible work schedule reported that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their work.” Flexible working arrangements show your employees that you care about their personal lives, which boosts morale.
Whether that’s making time for their children, a side hustle, or a hobby, when you tell employees they can choose their hours, you’re demonstrating that you value them and their work — and that makes people feel good.
3. Flexible working has been shown to improve productivity
Many contact centers are concerned about this, but the evidence is there: working for ‘8 hours straight’ does not guarantee productivity.
One bonus of boosting morale by offering your call center agents flexible shifts is increased productivity. If your team feels valued, they’re going to put more into their work. It also allows employees to work when they feel they’re most productive, so you get them at the best time — when they want to work.
Another thing to consider is that your overall agent productivity will increase because you’ll be able to better control the length and timing of their shifts to meet demand.
4. Contact centers with flexible scheduling have lower turnover
There are, of course, many other variables that impact this, but there is significant evidence that shows call centers with flexible working arrangements have much lower agent turnover.
One logistics firm with contact center staff reports almost no voluntary turnover in the 16 years since they implemented the policy. Another study found that over 50% of employees would switch to a job that allows them flexi-time — meaning you’ll get more and better applicants to positions too.
It makes sense that if your team is happier and morale is high, then you’ll have lower agent turnover, too. And they don’t even have to be full shifts or days; offering flexible time off in tiny increments — as little as 20 minutes — can be an even more effective way of managing your agents’ time.
5. Flex-time levels the ‘playing field’ in your office
The final point is for those contact centers that have some staff working remotely or on flexible arrangements while others are not. This is bound to breed resentment among the agents who do not have that opportunity.
On the flip side, your remote agents may also miss out on certain social aspects of being in the call center, or may feel less connected to the company as a whole if decisions are made while they aren’t there. It’s only fair to let everyone have the same flexible working arrangements as everyone else.
Empower Your Contact Center with Flex-Time
The ability to schedule your own working hours is a major source of job satisfaction among agents — and takes a higher priority than salary or other benefits. The question is less, ‘Is flex-time right for my contact center’ and more ‘How do I get flex-time to work in my contact center.’
The ability to schedule your own working hours is a major source of job satisfaction among agents. If you haven't already, it's time to start looking at how to bring it to your contact center. #flextime #cctr #cctr management Click To Tweet
As we move out of lockdown, now may be the perfect time to look at how you can add more flexibility into your contact center’s scheduling — if you haven’t already.