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We are all familiar with the concept of overtime. When we require more staff than we can provide on certain days and intervals, we have a staffing shortage. If this shortage is significant enough, we offer overtime to fill the need. But what happens when we have more staff than we need on certain days and intervals? Consider offering "undertime!"
Undertime is the opposite of overtime; when there is a staffing surplus, we can allow a certain number of agents to take full day or partial day leave without penalty. This will help reduce wasteful and costly idle time while allowing agents the flexibility to take leave on short notice. After all, agents have to take their leave sometime. Why not allow them to take leave when it doesn't negatively impact staffing levels? Your call center will reap the benefits as well as your agents, and your Workforce Management team will be seen as supportive instead of too rigid.
It is advisable to limit the amount of undertime you initially offer to ensure you don't unintentionally create staffing deficiencies. This can happen if a large number of agents call out sick or if your volume is higher than forecasted. Every call center and inbound queue has individual volatility, so determining the amount of undertime to offer can be an "art" more than a "science." Be conservative at first until you get a good feel for your specific situation.
Do you offer undertime in your contact center? Would you consider it?
Jeff Bretana is the Business Operations Analyst - Technology and Operations - Workforce Management for Navy Federal Credit Union. Jeff is also a finalist for the SWPP 2013 Workforce Management Professional of the Year.