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call center employee

7 Ways to Keep Call Center Employees Engaged

Your call center employees are very often the first employees your customers interact with. They are problem solvers, and they are the keys to driving innovation, knowledge, and revenue throughout your organization.

Call center employees also spend a lot of time talking to customers who are less than happy. The rigors of this work can lead to increased employee frustration and disengagement. A disengaged workforce can cripple your contact center’s ability to provide quality customer service and will ultimately raise recruiting and staffing costs which will impact your bottom line.

According to Gallup, only 30% of the current American workforce say they’re engaged and inspired at work. The other 70% of workers identify as “disengaged” and fall into two categories:

  • Those who do the bare minimum: show up, do their work, then go home (50%)
  • Those who are actively seeding discontent (20%)

The employees who fall into the disengaged category are at risk of fleeing your contact center and bringing others with them. Both disengagement and turnover have been historically difficult issues to tackle within contact centers.

Contact Babel’s 2017 study on U.S. contact centers Source: ContactBabel

According to Contact Babel’s 2017 study on U.S. contact centers, employee turnover at call centers is the highest it’s been since the recession — currently at 30%. Rates can reach as high as 70% at contact centers who outsource call center employees. Remember, a healthy turnover rate is about 10%.

How can you inspire engagement at your organization? Check out seven ways to keep call center employees engaged.

1. Recognize Employees

Appreciation is a fundamental human need, but it’s one largely ignored in the workplace. According to Gallup polls, only one in three workers in the U.S. strongly agree that they received recognition or praise for doing good work in the past seven days. The same study shows that employees who do not feel adequately recognized are twice as likely to say they’ll quit in the next year.

Recognition in the workplace confirms your employee’s presence —and work —is valued by others. As a result, recognition keeps your employees motivated and engaged, which elevates productivity.

2. Listen to Your Team

A great way to gather employee feedback is through pulse surveys. Surveys drill down on how your employees feel about their working situation and your organization. For example, pulse survey allow you to ask more granular questions about what you could be doing better, or how you can support your team more.

With surveys, you’re able to analyze employee feedback and then implement changes that show your team you are listening to them. Change connected to feedback is a great way to keep valuable call center employees engaged and happy in the workplace. It’s never too late to start leveraging employee surveys and feedback tools to gauge employee engagement levels, and take immediate action to address any disengagement right away.

3. Shorten ASA times

One of the major themes at the 2018 Contact Center Week (CCW) Executive Exchange was the importance of decreasing the average speed of answer (ASA) times at contact centers. Shortening ASA improves both the quality of customer service as well as your call center employees’ overall perception of their job.

Callers stuck in waiting queues for long periods of time may be irritated, annoyed, or emotional when their call is finally answered. These emotions are naturally pushed to the agent who answers the call. The more stress your employees absorb, the more likely they are to become disengaged from work— a high volume of stressful calls is taxing on your staff. Further, Michael Tremblay of Air Canada claims 85% of contact at call centers is considered “bad contact,” according to his discourse at CCW.

Taking steps to decrease ASA times can help soften the tone of a call, which ultimately protects your employees from excessive stress, and improves the atmosphere of their job.

4. Focus on Long-Term Hires

Employees who churn after 90 days or less from their hire date are a common problem in the contact center industry. When a contact center is plagued by 90-day turnover issues, it automatically decreases the average agent competency in an organization. With so many ‘learners’ on staff, it is difficult to provide quality customer service. Agents who have more on-the-job experience have more skills to complete their jobs better.

Specifically, tenured employees are more likely to have higher first call resolution rates (FCR). Favorable FCRs create a better experience for the customer and decrease the volume of follow-up calls that burden your workforce.

A staff with more positive than negative experiences is a happy staff. And, happy employees will stay with your organization longer.

5. Zero in on Staffing Balance

If attrition is high at your organization, you may be placing massive stress on call center employees who remain loyal to your team. These staffing gaps can quickly run down employees who are weighed down by additional responsibilities.

Understaffed contact centers also run the risk of inflating their ASAs and FCRs. At CCW, one contact center executive was asked, “What can you do to bring your ASA down to one minute?”  The response was simple enough, “Get five more people on board.”

Overbooking or spreading your employees too thin leads to resentment, increasing both attrition and absence rates, which is often a telltale sign of disengagement. The average absence rate at contact centers is currently 9.1%. If you notice an uptick in absenteeism, it’s time to act quickly to re-engage your staff.

6. Address Financial Wellness

The financial wellness hierarchy of needs suggests all humans need the following to be true to feel financially secure:

  • Control over finances
  • Capacity to absorb an unexpected shock
  • Savings and planning for the future
  • Ability to make a discretionary purchase

Personal finance issues can cause distractions that create disengagement from the workplace. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, one-third of all employees are distracted by personal financial issues while at work. Nearly 50% of employees with financial stress spend three hours or more each week handling personal finances at work. From a revenue standpoint, this distraction can cost employers $7,000 per employee, per year or about 20 hours of lost productivity each month, per employee.

Many organizations recognize the issues financial stress can cause, and have begun to unroll wellness programs which provide multiple benefits to workers and the corporation alike.

7. Offer Unique Advantages

The current job market is the employee’s market. Thanks to a record low unemployment rate and a plethora of job openings, your employees are always looking for the next best thing. And while monthly bonuses and incentives are a useful strategy for attracting talent, they aren’t always the key to continuous engagement. Find unique benefits that your staff will continue to find useful over their time with your company — something that differentiates you from the crowd.

A growing trend, perpetuated by major contact centers like DialAmerica and CaLLogix is on-demand pay. Offering on-demand payments means your employees have access to their earned but unpaid wages at the click of a button; no more waiting for their next paycheck. It is a great way to reward your employees for the work they’ve already done, and provide them with something valuable as a perk— their money, faster. Daily pay benefits are proven to reduce turnover and absenteeism while simultaneously boosting engagement.

By focusing on employee engagement, you can keep your employees from burning out and turning over. After all, the highest level of growth in an organization occurs when companies have highly engaged staff.

To learn more about how to engage your employees, check out Achievers’ e-book, “Engage or Die: How Companies that Act Fast on Engagement Outpace the Competition.”

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Do you have any thoughts on this article? Share your comments below.

About the Author
Megan Wells HeadshotMegan Wells is a writer for DailyPay, a data journalist, and content strategist based in San Francisco, California. Wells’ work has appeared on Fox, Nasdaq, MSN, Motley Fool, and more. Wells also spoke at the 2015 Exceptional Women In Publishing conference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reduce Employee Turnover

4 Ways to Reduce Employee Turnover and Improve Your Bottom Line

Employee turnover is one of the most bottom line busting costs associated with a company’s workforce. SHRM estimates that, for entry-level employees, the cost to fill an open position hovers near $4,000. Using this insight, if your company loses 100 employees a year, your company experiences a loss of at least $400,000.

While this number is certainly frightening, the good news is that turnover is an easily avoidable problem and with the right tools, your company can ensure that top talent is not leaving your company. It’s also worth mentioning that none of the following causes and solutions presented here exist in a vacuum—when an employee quits his or her job, it’s usually a reflection of many factors that led him or her to finally quit.

That being said, what tools and initiatives will help you reduce employee turnover? Let’s jump right in…

  1. Hire Managers Who Manage Well

Hiring managers and putting people in charge who show compassion and have the skills to manage others is one method to combat employee turnover on the front lines. Achievers employee survey showed that 57% of employees don’t feel recognized at work, and Entrepreneur claims that when workers are not recognized, they are not motivated. Low motivation can make an employee that much closer to quitting his or her job, or even put him or her over the edge far enough to finally quit.

Performing a top-down audit of your management team can have a huge effect on your entry-level workforce. While you may not have direct contact with these employees, the managers you choose certainly do. It is absolutely crucial that your management team is personable and qualified to lead. Poor managers also make it more difficult for an employee to work, and if the job itself (which may already be difficult by nature) is harder than necessary, an employee might find it not worth it to work there any longer. Address this issue early on by being transparent with recruiters about what traits you’re looking for in a manager during the hiring process.

  1. Be Flexible

Work flexibility is important for every employee at every level. I’m sure you can remember the last time you had to leave the office early or take a personal day for an inevitable issue. Being flexible with policies and protocols shows your employees that you understand that life happens. When an employee thinks that his or her employer is understanding, you reduce his or her risk of leaving the company. On the other hand, if an employee thinks that the company doesn’t understand his or her life situation, then it’s more likely that the employee will try to find a job for an employer who does care.

On the same train of thought, flexibility in other areas will show your employees that the company cares about them. Since entry-level employees may not be making as much money as they need to be able to save a hefty sum for emergency expenses, offering financial flexibility is another area to focus on if your company cannot afford to pay them more. One such initiative is allowing your employees to control the frequency of their pay. Simple add-ons to your existing payroll system allow you to do this at no cost to your company and no changes to the way your company handles payroll. In result, a study by DailyPay showed that employees are 1.9x more likely to apply for a position whose job description mentions that it offers daily payments.

  1. Prioritize Recognition and Rewards

Along with the previous point about hiring managers that care, instilling an employee recognition and rewards program that allows you to easily highlight achievements and strong work will also show your employees that you care and appreciate them. Making it as simple as possible for your managers to recognize employees on a daily basis will help ensure that your managers are actively participating. By promoting this type of program across your organization, you are letting employees know that your company takes employee recognition and happiness very seriously.

Recognizing employees will directly help improve your bottom line. For example, an Achievers’ video highlighted the following findings:

  • a 1% increase in employee engagement returns an additional .6% growth in sales for your company
  • 50% of HR leaders said that an increase in employee recognition would boost employee retention
  1. Offer Unique Advantages

In the current job market, it’s becoming increasingly harder and harder to hire top talent due to the record low unemployment rate and tight job market. Employees across all industries and skill levels are continually searching around to see which company will offer him or her the best complete package. Additionally, it’s been reported that if you offer help to improve financial wellness, employees are more willing to work for your company. The plain advice is that offering work perks and advantages that your competitors are not offering will help put your business ahead in overall employee preference.

Now more than ever, it’s crucial that your company is doing everything in its power to retain your current workforce and improve its employee retention rate. Since it is incredibly hard to fill open positions, you must prevent the need to fill open positions by retaining your workforce. In turn, your company will save time and improve its bottom line significantly without the recruitment costs and countless hours spent searching for talent. Try out some of these tips and let us know which worked best for your company.

To learn more about employee retention, check out this fun infographic covering 6 Stats That Speak to Employee Retention.

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About the Author
Seth LoftisSeth Loftis
Seth Loftis works at DailyPay, Inc., a financial solutions company dedicated to reducing employee turnover by improving the financial lives of employees. Employees can receive their wages days before their scheduled payday at no cost to your company or change to your existing payroll system. Learn more at trydailypay.com or follow them on Twitter or LinkedIn.