Are You Overworking Your Call Center Agents?

Posted by Ahmed Macklai on September, 9 2019 7:29 pm

Your call center agents are the lifeblood of your facility. It’s only natural that you depend heavily on them for the work they provide. However, there’s a difference in appreciating their hard work and overworking your agents to the point of burnout.

Here, we’ll explain how to find the balance to create an appropriate call center agent workload and how to keep your agents from becoming overwhelmed. You might be surprised at just how much control your management team actually has over these scenarios - and how much can be done to keep agents happy, healthy, and productive on the job!

Burnout - The Result of a Poorly Managed Call Center Agent Workload

When contact center employees feel overworked and ill-prepared for the tasks they are assigned, a feeling known as burnout can rapidly occur. This feeling is common in the customer service industry - particularly in call centers - and can have the following effects on call center agents:

  • Cynical or critical attitudes when they might not be warranted
  • Lack of focus
  • Difficulty in forcing oneself to show up for work
  • Poor productivity levels
  • Trouble getting or staying motivated each day for work
  • Irritation with customers, coworkers, managers, etc
  • Little to no satisfaction from achievements
  • Negative sentiments about the work being done or the company one is working for that weren’t present before
  • Physical or psychological symptoms, such as difficulty sleeping, change in eating habits, stomach upset, headaches, muscle tension, or other issues that have no other explanation

Burnout can be difficult to treat or “undo” once an employee is suffering from it, but the longer it is left unaddressed, the more likely it is to lead to serious consequences. The employee leaving their position with the company is only one of these. More serious physical and mental health concerns can result as well, making preventing and addressing burnout a priority for professionals in the customer service setting.

Avoiding Burnout - Tips for Better Workload Management

How can employee burnout be avoided or addressed? There are many potential causes of burnout. According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the most common include:

  • Poor balance between work and life activities
  • Too little social support
  • Not enough clarity in job descriptions and expectations
  • Uncomfortable dynamics between staff
  • Inability to control or contribute to workplace scenarios

Perhaps one of the most overlooked yet most common causes of burnout in the contact center setting, though, is an inappropriate or imbalanced call center agent workload.

Some ways to handle overwhelming workloads include the following:

  • Be sure employees feel welcome to communicate openly about their feelings regarding their workload. This is the best indicator of how employees are feeling about the tasks assigned to them and how they feel equipped - or don’t - to handle them.
  • Check in regularly with employees to find out how they’re feeling. This can alleviate the feeling of isolation that sometimes leads to burnout.
  • Be sure that tasks are evenly distributed between employees so that no single person or small group are expected to handle a disproportionate amount of work.
  • Provide support for employees who express concerns about burnout and address their concerns promptly. Failing to do so can quickly make things worse.

Also consider offering nontraditional options for employees who are experiencing or trying to avoid burnout, by giving staff members the opportunity to engage in activities that can stave off these feelings. This might include time outdoors, exercise, relaxing breaks, and more. The better quality breaks you can offer your staff, the better quality their work is likely to be when they clock back in!

How Scheduling Makes a Difference in Today’s Contact Centers

Smart scheduling is a great way to keep employee burnout from tanking productivity and satisfaction in your facility. If you’re currently experiencing issues with your staff, consider overhauling your scheduling approach.

Some tips for changing the way you schedule include:

  • Make use of remote agents. Using remote agents as part of your workforce can really free up your on-site workforce to focus on more meaningful tasks. Consider this: when you experience a seasonal or other increase in call volume, the best way to handle it is an increase in staff. However, you can’t always literally increase the number of bodies in seats at your center, for both financial and logistical reasons. When you employ remote agents - or allow a portion of your current staff to work remotely - you can scale your staff on a moment’s notice.
  • Rethink your use of on-the-clock time. What do your employees do while they are on the clock? If you can’t immediately answer that question, it may be time to assess and evaluate whether they are making good use of their time. After all, their time is your time when you are paying them for it! Ensure that every dollar they are being paid is in exchange for engagement and activity, rather than dead time sitting at a desk with nothing to do. As peculiar as it may sound, too much dead time can lead employees to feel overworked as it leaves them without a feeling of direction or purpose.
  • Get your staff involved in their own staffing. How exciting is it to be able to call the shots on your own schedule? This is a perk many people earn through excellent performance at work or another achievement. Offering your employees this kind of perk does the two-part job of rewarding employees for focus and hard work and also giving them an opportunity to feel involved in creating a schedule that works best for them.
  • Use the right technology. Your staff needs the right tools to ensure that they can handle everything that is asked of them efficiently without getting overwhelmed. Outfitting your center with the right tools will both help your staff make the most of their time on the clock and keep them from feeling overworked in the first place.

If you’re looking for technology that helps you balance call center agent workload with scheduling, look no further than ChaseData. We have the tools your team needs to find the balance that helps you be both productive and profitable - and keep your agents from burning out in the process. Contact the industry experts at ChaseData today to learn more!

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