Holding onto talented contact center agents isn’t always easy.

The contact center is known for having one of the most significant turnover rates of any industry, and research suggests that this issue is about to grow. 1 in 4 employees are already planning on starting a career with a new company after the pandemic subsides.

Countless employees are feeling burned out and overwhelmed after the events of 2020. While many staff members hunkered down and held tight during the pandemic itself, 57% of US employees now say they’re overwhelmed by their current role and dealing with heavy feelings of stress.

At the same time, it’s growing increasingly easy for your employees to find alternative opportunities elsewhere. Agents can now support customers and encourage sales from anywhere in the world, thanks to an influx of cloud-based technologies and CCaaS.

So, how do you convince your team to stick around?

Reducing Agent Attrition in the Age of the “Covid Career Churn”

Studies demonstrate a significant increase in people considering alternative career options following 2020. People are looking for employment closer to home, more freedom in their roles, and greater flexibility. Average turnover rates among contact center agents ranged anywhere up to 30% in 2019, and numbers will only increase going forward.

The only way to survive this new landscape is to ensure you’re considering your contact center staff’s needs properly. Here are just a few ways you can reduce churn.

1.    Empower Your Agents

An overwhelming increase in feelings of burnout has left many agents unwilling to deal with complex business processes and difficult work experiences. As around 70% of employees pursue a hybrid work environment, they’ll be looking for employers capable of empowering and supporting staff wherever they are. This starts with implementing the right technology.

Tools like Microsoft Teams represent an excellent opportunity to bring teams together in an aligned space for collaboration and work. Teams offers an excellent environment for front and back-end employees to stay connected. Teams can connect through video, share files, and stay up to date with announcements from leadership.

At the same time, a contact center partner for Microsoft Teams can implement essential tools into the Microsoft environment, from smart routing to self-service solutions. When building the ultimate contact center environment for your agents think about:

  • Autonomy: How can you make it easier for employees to do their job independently – wherever they are. Around 50% of contact centers don’t offer enough autonomy to agents. Could you use dashboards and real-time metrics to help guide your employees in making the right decisions to boost their work quality?
  • Workforce support: How can your employees get help when they’re struggling with a difficult contact center experience? How accessible are supervisors and managers? Do you have a knowledge base in place to assist your teams? Are presence features available to show staff who they can reach at any time?
  • Productivity: Could you streamline your workplace with tools like helpful virtual assistants, automated interaction recordings, and skills-based routing? How can you make life easier, and the job more rewarding for your staff?

2.    Create a Strong Company Culture

Today’s top talent is looking for ways to work with companies that understand their values and goals. Creating a strong company culture makes your employees feel like everyone is part of the same connected community, which makes churn far less likely.

Start by making sure your employees know what matters most to your company. This could include having brand guidelines available within a company Wiki to explore at any moment. It may also mean using your call center performance management and tracking software to examine the right metrics.

Performance monitoring isn’t just a great way for business leaders to ensure the company is operating as it should be. The right metrics can also inspire and motivate your team members wherever they are. Showing your staff how they’re performing in terms of customer satisfaction compared to their colleagues can help to preserve motivation in a hybrid landscape.

Some companies even find it useful to implement friendly competition, creating leader boards where people can compete for the chance to win fun prizes. This strategy improves company culture by showing your team which concepts matter most to you, and ensuring they have more fun in their day-to-day work.

3.    Prioritize Appreciation and Recognition

Another major benefit of tracking employee performance is its ability to show you which of your team members are generating the best results. For years, companies have struggled to provide the right level of feedback and recognition to larger groups of employees – particularly in the contact center. Now team members are working remotely; it’s even harder to keep track of who deserves the most positive feedback.

Fortunately, there are various tools to help with this. Supervisors can use wallboard metrics and dashboards to determine who is performing above their peers in different parts of the contact center. You can also tap into the internal features within your CCaaS environment. For instance, Microsoft Teams offers overviews of productivity to see whether your teams are moving in the right direction or risking an increased chance of burnout.

Once you’ve found a way of tracking employee performance effectively, make sure you encourage peer recognition through as many incentives and awards as possible. Recognition doesn’t have to be monetary to make an impact. Something as simple as awarding Kudos through an app in Teams could be an excellent way to keep staff motivated. Alternatively, a small gesture, like a card sent to someone’s door can make a huge impact on employee commitment levels.

4.    Commit to Employee Wellbeing

During the pandemic, a study from Harvard Business School found that employees contributed an average of around 48.5 minutes more a day to their jobs. While team members working longer hours might seem like a positive thing at first, the reality is that over-working significantly increases your employee’s risk of burnout.

Even if your team members wanted to stay with your team, failing to focus on their long-term wellbeing could mean that you see more people spending time away from work, simply because they can’t cope with the additional stress. With that in mind, focus more consistently on your employee’s wellbeing and good health. You can do this by:

  • Encouraging regular breaks and consistent working schedules for hybrid teams.
  • Offering opportunities for employees to reach out when they need support.
  • Encouraging good mental health through shared resources and supportive articles.
  • Offering mental health sick days to team members who need it.
  • Having regular face-to-face video meetings to reduce feelings of isolation

There are various tools and apps that can help you keep your finger on the pulse of employee wellness too. Even something as simple as an anonymous poll can help to determine whether your team members need extra help.

5.    Create a Feedback and Training Culture

Regular training has always been a valuable investment in the business landscape. However, it’s more important in a post-pandemic world than ever. Employees need assistance to ensure they’re delivering the best possible experiences to customers, particularly in a world where they might be using new tools and operating remotely.

To ensure you’re offering the right kind of training and support, you first need to encourage feedback from your staff. Ask your employees to tell you what they need to remain as productive as possible in any environment and respond accordingly. The more time you spend developing your new workplace environment, the more useful feedback your employees will be able to give.

Some staff members will respond best to direct one-on-one mentorship and coaching from business leaders. Others will appreciate being able to approach training in their own time, with online webinars, video lessons, and other forms of content.

Remember, training and support aren’t just for your everyday employees – your managers and supervisors will also need assistance to show them how to properly leverage the new hybrid working environment.

6.    Conduct Exit Interviews

Finally, even if you work hard to ensure your employees have everything they need to operate at their best in this new world, there’s still a risk that some employees will decide to leave. When this happens, the best thing you can do is find out what’s driving your people away.

Exit interviews are a wonderful way to get to know your employees a little better and determine whether it’s your employee experience that’s driving talent away or something else entirely. Conducting exit interviews will also give you the guidance you need to pinpoint warning signs when other employees are thinking of jumping ship.

You might notice that your first-time resolution numbers go down, or customer satisfaction begins to diminish as your employees feel less happy and supported in their roles. Being aware of these problems could help you to lose more staff members in the future.

Keep your Staff Close

A great contact center experience starts with an amazing team. With more employees than ever before considering a change in the years ahead, now is the most important time to start thinking about how you’re going to keep staff engaged and committed to your workforce.

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