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8 ways to prevent call center burnout in your agents

Fatima Puri
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Call centers are notorious for causing workplace burnout. Workplace burnout results from long periods of excessive physical, emotional, or mental stress caused by a person’s work environment. Call center employees often suffer from the latter two due to dealing with angry customers all day with minimal support, monotonous work, and usually low pay. The recent pandemic is also a large source of stress for call center agents who have to deal with the repercussions of COVID inside and outside of work.

According to the MayoClinic, workplace burnout can occur due to several factors:

  • Lack of control. The feeling that an agent has zero to little control over their choices at work. It can include anything from not being able to schedule their own hours to not having a say in workplace decisions.
  • Unclear job expectations. The agent is unclear about what is expected from them to fulfill their job duties or succeed at work. For example, the agent doesn’t know the company’s SLAs. 
  • Dysfunctional workplace dynamics. The employee works with an unfavorable colleague(s) or feels micromanaged by their manager. Perhaps a manager who is strict about breaks and doesn’t allow the call center employee to relax. 
  • Boring or chaotic work routine. If a job is too monotonous or unpredictable, it can cost a loss of energy, leading to fatigue and workplace burnout. Agents can get tired from dealing with the same set of phone calls day-in-and-day-out.
  • Lack of support system. An agent who feels isolated at work or in their personal life can feel extreme stress, impacting their work. An agent’s productivity level might decline, and they might take longer to answer and complete calls.
  • Poor work/life balance. A poor work/life balance can be difficult for employees to manage because of multiple stressors that the imbalance can bring. 

How to detect call center burnout

One of the telltale signs of burnout can be seen physically. Does your employee seem more tired than usual, lose their patience with customers quickly, or generally appear apathetic toward work? If so, they may be experiencing burnout. Other signs of burnout can include crying more often or taking more frequent sick days to protect their mental health. 

But physical signs of burnout typically show up much later than when the burnout first kicks in. Managers can proactively avoid burnout by offering their employees the support they need to succeed and be happy at work. 

8 ways to avoid call center burnout

1. Give real-time, continuous feedback both ways

One of the reasons call centers have a high turnover rate is because employees might not understand what they’re doing right if they don’t get constant feedback. By giving employees real-time feedback often, they have a better idea of their expectations and areas for improvement. This gives employees something to work towards and can also help them learn ways to improve their roles and move further in their careers.

Likewise, it’s essential to let employees give feedback to their managers. That way, it’s a two-way form of feedback that is beneficial for everyone. 

2. Provide professional development

Call centers are typically thought of as a side job or temporary place of employment. You can help change this perception and encourage employees to take their work more seriously by offering professional development courses or opportunities. 

Employees are less likely to slip into apathy about their role if they know that their company cares about their long-term success. By providing an employee with the opportunity to pursue new responsibilities or explore new careers (i.e., management), you increase the likelihood that they’ll be invested in work and stick around.

3. Align employee and company goals

Sometimes, it can be challenging for employees to get behind company goals because they can’t see how their daily work impacts company goals. By aligning employee goals with company goals, you give employees a more transparent picture of how their role impacts the company, making them feel important and less likely to be bored or under-appreciated for their work. It’s crucial for employees to feel like they have a purpose at work or are doing something beneficial to more than just themselves. 

When setting goals, make sure that they are aggressive yet manageable. Let employees contribute writing goals that align with the team or company goals. 

4. Give employee recognition

Most workplaces focus on having fancy perks or external motivation like ping-pong tables or pizza parties. While these types of rewards can help motivate some employees, studies have shown that intrinsic motivation works better in the long term.

One way to offer intrinsic motivation is to give employees recognition. Studies show that 69 percent of employees would work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated. You can give recognition verbally or use employee recognition software to encourage employees to provide peer-to-peer recognition, too.

5. Lighten the call load

Talking on the phone can be stressful if employees are constantly dealing with angry customers. One way to lessen the call load and ease the tension is to implement business texting. Allowing customers to text with your call center has many benefits.

Not only does it save your employees the energy of dealing with demanding customers on the phone because they can take their time to formulate a response or ease the tension, but it also allows employees to handle multiple tickets at a time. A business texting software centralizes all conversations and makes it easy for managers to hop into employee conversations to assist them.

6. Offer a support system

Providing your employees with the necessary resources to remain productive and healthy is crucial in preventing burnout. If your company offers benefits like counseling or can recommend therapy at discounted rates, then make sure this information is public to your employees. Not all burnout is work-related, but regardless of where the burnout comes from, it can affect your employees at work.

7. Give employees flexible paid time off (PTO)

One of the best ways to prevent burnout is to encourage your employees to take time off when they need to, or you notice that it would benefit them. Often, employees are scared to take work off or discouraged due to passive-aggressive work policies. It’s better to have an employee take a few days of PTO than lose them entirely to burnout.

If you struggle with scheduling conflicts due to PTO requests, consider streamlining your out-of-office calendar with vacation tracking apps like Vacation Tracker.

8. Make work fun with frequent workplace celebrations

It’s important to take the time to celebrate big or small victories and also to have fun at work when you can. People spend most of their time at work, and it’s important to shake things up when things get too routine. You can throw small office parties or pick random days to wear a fun outfit to work, like a sports day or matching outfits day, and having something to look forward to makes coming to work a fun thing.

In a way, you’re transforming your workplace into a community, which makes your call center employees feel safe and welcomed.

The bottom line

Employees need to work in an environment that understands their needs and caters to them. Some can say that your employees are the heart of your business, and it’s crucial to check in on them often to make sure they’re healthy and happy.

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