For years, effective knowledge management programs have stressed that employee engagement is important, but for more reasons than you may think.Motivated employees are more likely to put their heart into their job which drives performance results, but it turns out that you can actually measure motivation and the cost of low motivation – to the tune of $350 billion. That is the total amount of money that businesses lose every year due to poor morale.
If you think that number is obscene, think about how much your contact center loses due to high turnover rates, a problem that most contact centers constantly contend with. Hiring a new employee, training them, and all the time wasted in the process adds up to overall organization expenditure. When you look at the numbers, businesses are bleeding money left and right. So why is the average business still more concerned with the bottom line and not their employees?
It is because they are not really looking at the numbers right. It turns out that the real bottom line is set by employee satisfaction, and given that 80% of Americans report they are not happy at work, it’s time to look at team members and not at cost-saving strategies. The most effective way to save money ironically is by taking some money to reinvest in employees, their training, and their performance.
Maintaining the team you have at your call center now is the best way to stop losing money due to a high turnaround rate or loss of performance productivity. However, it’s not as simple as buying donuts on Fridays for the staff or sending out appreciation emails. First, you need to recognize the unique needs of contact center culture, and then you need to develop an action plan that addresses the unique challenges of contact center turnover.
Be Aware of Mental Health Demands in the Contact Center
There isn’t just one factor that determines how satisfied someone is in the workplace, which means that curing retention rates is not a flip of the switch, or overnight process. Several factors work together to determine how satisfied someone is at work, but within the context of a contact center, it can sometimes be an uphill battle.
Team members’ mental health at a contact center always has to be at the top of a manager’s mind because the job itself places employees in a position where they are in very high demand with very little control. How often have you called a customer service line and gotten immediately through? It’s a safe bet the number is low.
Call center team members are constantly in-demand with queues of people lined up, which means that every customer may start their conversation frustrated. Often a call is a last resort, as attempts to resolve through self service has failed. In addition, there is no such thing as a rest between calls because there is usually another caller waiting and strict rules governing how quickly calls need to be handled, and how many calls the average agent needs to handle per hour.
In addition, team members generally have specific break schedules to follow to ensure availability for customers. When a customer reaches an agent there is often specific solutions that must be used, limiting what they can actually do for customers. Compliance is important and thus scripts must be followed, and when the scripts don’t work, they face the wrath of customers repeatedly without reacting. All while sitting in a loud room that is full of chatter constantly.
The point of all of this – team members at a call center have demanding jobs and without the right support and atmosphere, it can be exhausting. They aren’t quitting because they don’t respect their employer or their job – they are quitting because they can get mentally and emotionally tapped out. Something has to shift to stop this cycle.
Top Tips to Boost Contact Center Morale & Retention Rates
With that in mind, it’s time to actually talk about what can be done to help address high turnover rates at a contact center. Addressing the problem requires a multi-step process, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Rethink the Hiring Process
Every industry is dealing with high turnover rates right now, but contact centers, in particular, have faced this challenge for decades. Instead of hiring with the intent to get anyone in a headset, hire with the intent of getting the right employees into a headset. Before hiring each team member, look at the culture, communication skills, personality, skills, and attitude. Not everyone is cut out for customer service, so stop hiring the candidates who clearly will contribute to your turnover rate in a few months (or weeks).
Create Stronger Training Programs
The number one thing that defines whether an employee lasts a week or a month is their training process. Contrary to popular belief, tossing anyone into the deep end rarely works. Stop letting your new employees sink and instead offer them comprehensive training programs that boost their confidence and prepare them to adequately deal with customers on the phone. The more prepared they feel, the better they will perform, which will increase the odds they stick with your company.
Adopt an Open Contact Center Culture
Too often, companies create a closed-door atmosphere between managers and employees. Don’t isolate your employees. Instead, work hard to create an open culture where employees feel welcome and encouraged to speak up when they have concerns. The more valued and heard team members feel, the more committed they will be to your organization and making a positive difference through being actively involved, offering solutions and delivering performance results.
Promote Knowledge Sharing & Connection within Your Team
One great way to create the above-mentioned culture is by setting up a clear management line. Employees, for instance, can talk to their trainers, front line supervisor, or campaign managers. Often, employees don’t speak up because they aren’t sure who to speak up to. Erase this concern by creating teams and encouraging weekly check-ins.
Mentoring programs, can be a great way to build connection and share knowledge within a team. Encourage informal mentoring and commit to formalizing the process. Mentorship can help create career pathing for emerging talent as well as support new or struggling team members by leveraging more experienced employees who know the struggles and have found ways to overcome.
Financial incentives alone are not enough to reduce high turnover rates, but they certainly help. Employees often tie their value into their paycheck, so offering them rewards for a job well done provides that the company is not only noticing but valuing their hard work. An alternative way to approach financial incentives is by building a solid benefits package to reassure tired team members that their job is worth their time. Leadership development programs, paid time off, opportunities to participate in community give back initiatives, tuition reimbursement, daycare reimbursement, investment planning, and full solution health benefits are all important considerations.
Another popular way to incentivize is much more personal, in the way of gifts and tokens of appreciation, meals, and group activities. Don’t underestimate the power of community, especially in today’s demanding environment. We all need someone who understands the challenges we face and can offer support.
If you are looking at ways to improve your contact center, contact Etech to discuss how we can best support your journey to implement effective contact center management options.