Calabrio’s recent Agent Wellbeing and the Great Resignation study uncovered a fundamental disconnect between intent and reality in contact centres aiming to enhance workforce wellbeing and reduce stress.
Indeed, 86% of organisations acknowledge that lowering stress is a top priority. But, only half have a strategy in place to do so.
So, how can companies combat this problematic disparity? Acknowledging the following three workforce wellbeing blockers and addressing them with the suggested solutions below is the ideal starting place.
Rising Stress and Burnout
According to the aforementioned Calabrio report, work-life balance is the number one challenge in contact centres today.
The study, which surveys hundreds of agents, also finds that 96% of contact centre employees feel stressed at work at least once a week. Meanwhile, one in three feel stressed multiple times a week, up from one in four just five years ago.
Flexibility is a critical tool to combat this. Yet, offering hybrid work alone will not suffice. While sharing the accounts of many unsatisfied employees, The Washington Post reports that hybrid work is “messy and exhausting”. It reads: “A hybrid schedule sometimes means going to the office and discovering you’re the only one there.”
Of course, the ability to offer remote and in-office work is an enabler to better engagement – if brands get their strategy right. However, it is not the be-all and end-all.
To achieve better work-life balance, give employees control of their working lives via their schedules.
Such is the advice of Ed Creasey, Director of Pre Sales at Calabrio, who says:
“More contact centres will use software to automate the shifts agents work as we move from a nine to five, Monday to Friday, single-channel contact centre to a 24/7, omnichannel, multiskilled, multilingual operation. With this transition, employees want flexibility.”
During the pandemic, many innovations came to the fore to enable this, including split shifts and respite shifts, which may make a comeback due to rising inflation and the energy crisis.
Even soft-scheduling – which empowers agents with an app to book a holiday, change a shift, or request a shift swap – can provide a new level of flexibility and autonomy.
Then, there are more sophisticated tactics, such as “build your own schedule”, which leading WFM providers – such as Calabrio – help to accommodate.
Subpar Training and Development
As a new cohort of Gen Z employees enters the workplace, curating a career is especially critical. Unlike other generations, many young employees are less likely to be interested in job security. Instead, they are more pragmatic and risk averse.
Making this point, Deloitte research suggests: “A more nuanced picture emerged as we explored career aspirations, career development, working styles, core values, behaviour and character, education, and stance on diversity.” In this new reality, agents require a more forward-thinking approach to training and development to remain enthused by their work.
A monthly skills refresher is no longer enough to meet these aspirations. After all, queries that reach human agents are becoming tougher to resolve, thanks to the rise of self-service and automation. Therefore, more personalised coaching for agents is required.
Creasey recommends a three-pronged approach to reinvigorate performance management, starting with self-assessment, which he believes is “one of the simplest contact centre wins”.
After all, playing back calls to an employee or showing them transcripts of digital interactions and giving them the space to reflect on the exchange – perhaps against a framework or as a more general qualitative assessment – is often eye-opening.
Secondly, Creasey suggests letting data tell the story. He says:
“Data exists everywhere, but seldom do contact centres build a platform that hosts recordings, relevant reports and feedback in one place.”
Finally, get specific and harness analytics tools to automate quality scoring – across all contact centre conversations and hone in on agents’ strengths and weaknesses. From there, operations can utilize and address these respectively.
Performance coaching tools – including Calabrio solution – pave the way for such a progressive approach.
A Gartner study once found that agents use an average of 8.2 systems and tools to resolve customer interactions every day. Yet, despite this – as per the Calabrio study – 40% of agents say that the most common reason they cannot solve a problem is a lack of tools.
There are many potential reasons for this. For instance, the rise of digital channels has resulted in more silos. Without integrations, it is tricky for agents to access data and navigate various systems. Meanwhile, managers struggle as they cannot access a single view of agent performance.
Also, it is much trickier for remote agents to gain support in remote operations, as they cannot raise a hand or turn to a colleague to receive much-needed advice. As nine in ten contact centres have at least half of their agents working remotely, the demand for analytical insights and digitized support is likely to increase from both agents and managers.
Today’s contact centre technologies must be designed for the remote workforce. Cloud is crucial, but so is thinking deeply about visibility.
Without seeing agents on a daily basis, AI and analytics tools play a significant role in ensuring wellness remotely and offering a helping hand to overcome complexity in real-time.
Channel integrations are also critical. As Creasey recommends:
“Cast an eye over the multichannel environment. Is every channel available to manage in one place – with context travelling between each one? Too often, each lies in a silo.”
Finally, consider how to hide architectural complexity through a smart desktop. Even a solution that unifies the CRM, back-office systems, and engagement channels into one user interface can make a world of difference.
The Workforce Wellbeing Toolkit
While agents often struggle with wellness, they are not the only employees in the contact centre. As such, it is crucial to consider workforce wellbeing from every angle.
With this in mind, Creasey shares his top three actions to combat stress for agents, operations and leadership in this forward-thinking workforce wellbeing toolkit.
To enhance agent wellbeing:
- Use technology to promote a healthy work-life balance with flexible scheduling and self-service apps for all employees (including managers)
- Help define development paths with performance coaching
- Create transparency over individual and team performance
To enhance operation’s wellbeing:
- Evaluate and invest in intuitive software
- Consider intelligent automation – from agent performance analytics to help tailor coaching and save time when dealing with scheduling requests
- Understand hybrid working models by connecting agent location to schedules and performance
To enhance leadership wellbeing:
- See clearly. Use business intelligence (BI) to break down data silos and gain a broader view of customers and contact centre performance.
- Search out cloud-based solutions for omnichannel and operational flexibility
- Empower agents with greater scheduling self-service to create a culture they want to stay in