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While maintaining high productivity levels is always the goal of any call center operation, a balance needs to be struck between achieving exceptional productivity levels and obsessing over it. And the stakes can be pretty high, as call center 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 results from physical and emotional exhaustion, which a lack of support and resources can further impact. 

According to the International Classification of Diseases, employee burnout is a “syndrome conceptualised from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”  

Specifically, it’s characterized by three distinct outcomes: 

  1. Feelings of exhaustion or lack of energy.
  2. Feelings of negativity or cynicism related to the workplace or a feeling of increased mental distance from one’s job.
  3. Reduced efficiency in the workplace. 

Gap Analysis for Individual Training in the Call Center

The first step in preventing agent burnout is to look for signs that your call center agents might be suffering from it. Below are some of the signs that  burnout is becoming an issue: 

  • Physical symptoms
    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 eager to leave as soon as possible when a shift is over.

  • Pessimistic outlook
    Negativity, especially from an ordinarily cheerful employee, 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 signify burnout.

  • Increased irritability
    Burned out employees may be more likely to lash out at fellow employees or express frustration with customers.

  • Diminished productivity
    Burnout can make it more challenging to put in the time and effort required to sustain productivity, resulting in poor performance or missed milestones.

  • Careless errors
    Burnout makes it harder for employees to focus, resulting in careless errors, especially on tasks usually 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 center burnout from becoming a problem in your business. 

  1. Lower Stress Levels

A company culture that values timeout for agent breaks and finishing work when a shift is over is far less likely to suffer from burnout issues. This kind of culture in a call center 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.  

  1. Support Networks

While agents typically handle client interactions on their own, call center 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, employees who feel supported by their managers are overwhelmingly less likely (around 70%) to experience burnout. Good managers offer an opportunity to discuss tricky situations, provide support during rough times, and work collaboratively to reduce stress. 

  1. Inspire with Encouragement 

Encouraging agents who demonstrate excellent 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. These skills, which are hard to measure and teach, are the best indicators of success and happiness in your call center. 

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 reduces burnout risk. 

Soft Skills Training for Call Center Agents

  1. Incentivize Call Center Agents

The job of a call center 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 center incentive program can help reduce burnout and 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 a monetary reward, as you can match the compensation 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 more profound and favorable impression. 

  1. Improve Call Center Training

According to research conducted by Middlesex University, 74% of workers believe a lack of training is their most significant hurdle to reaching their full work potential. The connection here is that your agents want training to do their jobs better. This leads to the ability to handle better any situation thrown at them. It leads to better employee engagement, improved employee retention, and more employee satisfaction, all of which can significantly reduce burnout. 

 Practical 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.  

Find out how we can help to prevent call center burnout. Request a free trial with Scorebuddy today

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