The idea of work recognition is foreign for some leaders. And, unfortunately, the Contact Center industry bears the stigma of a sector stripped of job satisfaction. At least from a call agent point of view. And why is that?
Because in most call centers, especially those specialized in outbound services, the focus is on the numbers. Agents come and go (at least that’s what the concerningly high turnover rates tell us). And you can’t really blame these companies for not focusing on the agent. With high absenteeism and high turnover, there’s no reason to want to invest in agents.
Unfortunately, this is a vicious cycle that can only be broken with a bit more trust in the call center agent and a bit more effort into recognizing their hard work. Because no matter how stressful your management position is, you will never know stress like an individual that has strict targets, a stricter schedule, no control over breaks, and is constantly bombarded with negative energy from angry, frustrated clients.
Learn more about the status of mental health in the Call Center industry from Dr. James Diefendorff Ph.D. (Professor of Psychology), Sam Falletta (CEO of Incept), and Christian Montes (NobelBiz Director of Sales).
In this article we will first look into the reasons behind high absenteeism and high turnover, looking at the cause of the problem, not its symptoms. Then, we will review 6 easy solutions for the root cause of low productivity, disinterested employees, and high training costs.
Job satisfaction, which is one of the bases of motivation, productivity, and loyalty, is derived from a series of factors. From work environment, to promotion policies, personal growth opportunities, relation with supervisors and management, relation with colleagues, work-life balance, there are a lot of elements at play that determine a person’s level of job satisfaction.
In a Call Center, one needs to get a little more creative in order to spark such feelings in the hearts of their employees. Mostly because it is an industry where employees have high demand and low control. What does that mean?
It means that they need to perform at their very best even at their worst times and they don’t have any control on their actions. Call Center agents are one of the most intensely supervised professionals that need to respect strict break and work schedules, are constantly under stress while interacting with customers (be it because the customer is angry, or they need to stick to a predetermined script, or they need to respect strict call times in order to process a certain amount of calls every shift), and usually work in loud environments that only add to the overall feeling of mental and emotional exhaustion.
In fact, the stress of working in a Call Center is notorious enough to have inspired a fair share of studies. It also has its own name – The Call Center Stress Syndrome.
And now we’re getting to the point of it all. Call Center agents don’t quit their jobs or skip a day or two of work unannounced because, somehow, they’re all people with no work etiquette. They do it because they are exhausted at both a mental and emotional level. More often than not, they’re also physically exhausted due to shifts.
Exhaustion leads to burnout and burnout is manifested through a series of behavioral changes that, for the untrained eye, may make it look like they’re bored of working or are not as involved in the company’s culture.
Making sure that your agents feel like their work is valued can go a long way for your business. Not only will it increase work satisfaction, but it will also indirectly lead to fewer expenses due to lower turnover and a diminished need to train new employees all the time.
When you invest more on perfecting the skills of your employees rather than training new ones, you can reach a level of efficiency that will help you decrease overall maintenance costs. I can also help you create a company culture worthy of appraisal. A new positive aspect that can attract more clients and further increase revenue.
But how do you incentivize your agents? What are the best methods to make them feel like the company cares about their work without making it look like you’re excited that they’re doing their job?
We solved this problem for you and gathered 6 simple call center reward and recognition ideas that can help you boost team morale and create a healthy work environment for an otherwise stressful job.
As mentioned above, the job of a Call Center agent implies high demand and low control. In order to balance things out, you can take a page out of Sam Falletta’s book and follow Incept’s great example at giving employees control to all areas where control can be relinquished.
For example, you can offer them the possibility of having a more flexible schedule. Especially now in the pandemic when people need to tend to their children, their pets, their loved ones. Working from home creates a whole new array of problems and offering a flexible schedule that can accommodate personal tasks can go a long way.
Another good example is break time. Even though it’s a bit of a drag on the supervisor to let the agent pick their break times as opposed to having them assigned, it can and will have a beneficial impact on the agent’s mental health to be able to control something as trivial as a lunch break.
Last, but definitely not least, we’re talking dress code. And this applies more to brick-and-mortar companies. If your agents don’t have direct visual contact with clients, don’t enforce a dress code. Let them be comfortable and have a say when it comes to their daily outfits.
A peer-to-peer system can help you achieve two important things: reward your hard workers and improve team work and company culture.
People tend to respond better to jobs where they feel like they belong. Where they have a group of people that share their interests and on which they can rely in dire straits.
A peer-to-peer system would look something like this: You hold a monthly raffle with exciting prizes like a voucher for a nice dinner at a good restaurant (maybe takeaway in this context), tickets to an event, electronic devices, whatever you believe would categorize as a good incentive.
Throughout the month, all employees will be able to enter the name of a colleague in the raffle. The more entries, the more chances to win. This will help them up their team work game and go the extra mile while to help a colleague in need, therefore solving company problems.
Your agents get a team exercise, a lucky hard-working individual gets a prize, and the company sees a boost in productivity and motivation.
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This is also an idea that we stole from Sam Falletta. While he does give more details in the webinar video, I’ll present the basics of the idea.
There’s a website called Cameo where you can get personalized messages from celebrities. From wishing someone a happy birthday to offering a personalized motivational speech for a team or a specific individual, this is a failproof way of making someone’s day and increasing their job satisfaction.
Now, you can use the raffle system or choose teams according to KPIs, the system through which your agents get this awesome reward is entirely up to you. All we can say is who wouldn’t want to brag that their favorite baseball player wished them a happy birthday or personally congratulated them for reaching their targets.
Speaking from our own experience here at NobelBiz, getting a quick 15-minute workout can work wonders for both body and soul.
One can argue that this maybe doesn’t really qualify as a reward but rather a benefit. However, no matter how you look at it, it’s still an efficient way to help your agents eliminate a part of the stress accumulated throughout the work day.
For us, yoga did the trick. We all gather on a Zoom room three times a week and follow the instructions of a certified yoga instructor that made it her goal to help us relax and let the positive energy flow through our bodies. It’s such an energizing experience and most agents are happy for the opportunity to shed all the negative energy that builds up throughout the day.
With NobelBiz OMNI+ you can reduce costs while making sure your agents feel safe and valued.
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This tactic is often used by Jake Bush from Infocu5. Because Infocu5 was build to be a hybrid business model that encouraged remote work, they quickly perfected the art of keeping employees motivated and engaged even from afar. So, once every other month, Infocu5 employees would receive a gift basket with all kind of goodies.
You can include anything you see fit in a gift basket. From sweets to pandemic protection equipment (masks, portable water bottles, small exercising equipment, etc.). The most important thing is to show your employees that you care about them and their wellbeing.
This is, maybe, the most important thing a company could do for their employees. If you were to choose from all the call center reward and recognition ideas in this article, this would be the best bet. Having a safe working space from a mental and emotional perspective can make the difference between a burned-out agent with dwindling results and an empowered, efficient agent that reaches KPIs.
We believe so much in the power of a nurturing workplace that we invited two experts on the field to talk about it and recorded an insightful webinar complete with solutions proposed by a doctor in Psychology.
Find out more efficient approaches to creating a nurturing environment for your Contact Center employees from our exclusive on-demand webinar.
Join Christian Montes (NobelBiz Director of Sales), Sam Falletta (CEO of Incept), and Dr. James Diefendorff Ph.D. (Professor of Psychology) in a revolutionary discussion meant to raise awareness on the state of mental health in the Call Center industry.
Check out the details of their unique study and gain important insight only available in the webinar. Find it here.
While increased turnover and high absenteeism in the Call Center industry can lead to the misconception that investing in employees is futile, it’s important to look at the core reason why this is happening.
Making sure that your agents feel safe at work, that their hard work is appreciated, and that they have the possibility to balance their work and personal life can make the difference between a Call Center with high turnover and average services and a Call Center with exceptional services, low turnover, and loyal employees that go the extra mile to reach KPIs and serve customers.
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