Do your contact center agents seem tired, irritable, or emotional? While it’s easy to assume they’re having a bad day, you could be ignoring a few classic signs of employee burnout.
Anyone can experience burnout, regardless of their job title, position, and salary. However, customer support workers are at a particularly high risk of burnout, and that risk is even higher for call centers. That’s why it’s so important for businesses to practice mindfulness and take steps to support the wellbeing of their agents and other employees.
What causes call center burnout?
Stress is notoriously prevalent in call center agents. Because of this, 75% of call center agents are at risk of burnout.
Here are some of the most common causes for agent burnout:
- Unsustainably high workload
- Emotional burden and/or abuse from customers
- Overly strict workplace policies
- Conflict with coworkers
- Lack of progression or recognition
- Lack of meaningful feedback
Sounds stressful, right? Working long hours, receiving verbal abuse from customers, feeling snubbed by management, and not seeing any progress are enough to make an employee feel hopeless. In fact, the above reasons also contribute to high call center agent turnover.
That’s what burnout is – a gradual feeling of hopelessness towards work, paired with exhaustion, due to unrelenting stress.
8 ways to prevent and address call center burnout.
Luckily, burnout doesn’t have to be part of your business culture. As a call center leader, it’s up to you and your management team to provide the support your team needs to do their work in a sustainable way. Here are just a few ways to do that:
1. Advocate for work-life balance.
Contact center managers have hard jobs. They must ensure agents are providing a consistently positive experience to all customers. To achieve this, your call center needs to prioritize work-life balance and create policies and procedures that support this.
Begin by auditing your current employee experience and identify aspects of their work that significantly contribute to stress and burnout. Are your agents able to take their breaks during peak periods? Do their have sufficient time off between shifts to rest and recharge? By fostering a company culture that values work-life harmony, you’ll have a happier and higher-functioning staff.
2. Invest in technology.
Call center technology doesn’t just improve your customer experience – it also takes pressure off your agents! If your call center operation isn’t streamlined, and your agents are spending significant time on manual tasks, it adds unnecessary work to their plate.
Invest in technology to improve your agents’ day-to-day so they can spend more time serving your customers. Cloud-based technology is especially great for remote and hybrid agents who don’t work from your physical location. This way, your agents will feel more accomplished at the end of the workday, and the risk of overwhelm during high call volume periods will be significantly lower.
Voice Call-Backs can alleviate pressure off your agents during high call volume periods by offering customers a call-back option as an alternative to waiting on hold.
3. Offer flexible scheduling.
Shift work is an essential part of the traditional call center model. However, it can present its own set of challenges when it comes to agent engagement.
Flexible scheduling is a great alternative approach, as it allows agents to have more control over the hours they work. Contact centers with flexible scheduling show higher levels of morale and engagement overall.
4. Build strong inter-team relationships.
Employee relationships in a call center are important. Strong inter-team relationships help agents form bonds and build trust, which will make a huge impact on culture and morale.
Try planning activities as a team, scheduling regular team lunches, and investing in video chat software when necessary to connect with remote employees. By creating opportunities for staff to engage outside of daily work, you increase your chances of developing a positive and motivating work environment.
5. Give employees autonomy.
Offer your agents autonomy over their daily work to increase call center agent engagement. Employees enjoy work more if they have fluidity and independence in their day-to-day activities.
Empower your agents with autonomy by giving them the proper training to support their customers. Investing in your agents’ knowledge and skills will allow them to help their customers without relying on manager approvals and escalations, eliminating unnecessary roadblocks and giving them a sense of accomplishment with each interaction.
6. Support their career growth.
As noted above, work and money are common sources of stress. So if your agents feel like they’re at a dead-end job, they are more susceptible to burnout.
Ensure there are ample opportunities for career growth in your contact center, and help your agents plan a path towards their career goals. An internal mentorship program can give them a sense of progression as they learn and grow with your business.
7. Provide meaningful feedback.
Offering feedback can put your agents’ minds at ease about where they stand performance-wise. By providing consistent feedback to your agents, both positive and constructive, you give them goals to work towards while making them feel good about their strengths. Experts recommend that you give feedback in person (or through a video chat) for optimal results.
Ask your agents how you can best support them with a call center agent engagement survey.
8. Encourage physical fitness and wellness.
Exercise and healthy eating contribute to improving mental health. This isn’t an opinion – it’s science! Help your agents with their wellness efforts by allowing flexible breaks for physical activity, even for agents working from home. Offering gym memberships, wellness plans, and other resources and services are also great options.