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5 Ways to Optimize Your Call Center Workforce To Increase Engagement and Reduce Turnover

As the labor market is experiencing some of the tightest conditions in recent years and as jobless claims—or the number of people filing for unemployment benefits—just hit a four decade all-time low, employers across the board are having trouble recruiting new workers to fill open positions. Consequently, companies are attempting to reduce their employee turnover rates to prevent staffing shortages since these open positions are becoming increasingly harder to fill. However, many of the methods employers are taking to combat the tight job market are already built into your workforce management (WFM) and workforce optimization (WFO) tools. In this article, read about five ways to utilize your existing systems as well as new and innovative approaches and strategies to engage your current workforce in reducing your turnover rate and improving your employee retention rate.

Contact Center WFO Strategies

1. Monitor productivity with WFO resources

The latest State of the American Workplace Report, published in 2017 by Gallup, reports that 67% of employees are disengaged at work. Even more striking is the fact that 16% of those disengaged are actively disengaged, meaning that they purposefully take actions to hurt their employers and fellow employees’ productivity. When employees are disengaged at work, their productivity lowers, and their desire to quit their jobs begins to increase. By using your workforce optimization tools, you can monitor trends in productivity to see if an employee’s productivity levels are starting to decline. Even better, begin to emphasize engagement from day one of an employee’s tenure at your company. If you start early, you can prevent each employee from becoming disengaged during his or her entire time at your company. While it is possible to change the attitude of an employee, if an employee is never disengaged in the first place then you won’t have to exert extra effort to move his or her status from disengaged to engaged. It is far easier to retain the engagement of an employee than it is to change his or her attitude. By starting at day one of his or her employment, you ensure that the employee will never be disengaged or causing harm to your company’s bottom line.

2. Motivate your company’s management team

The same report from Gallup indicates that only 29% of managers are engaged. It also states that “managers' engagement directly influences their employees' engagement, creating what Gallup calls the "cascade effect," and the link between the two is compelling. Employees who are supervised by highly engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged than those overseen by actively disengaged managers.” In this sense, the importance of having a team of engaged managers is crucial to having engaged employees on the front lines. By focusing on your managers first, you are fostering a positive cascade effect. Your managers are the ones teaching and developing your front line employees, and their engagement exponentially affects the engagement of your team overall.

Consider engagement options similar to those approaches for front line employees, such as monitoring performance and trying to implement a clear cycle of reporting that allows you to monitor productivity levels of your managers successfully. Chances are, if a manager is unproductive, his or her reports will also be unproductive. Also, if you find disengagement trends on the management level, it is very possible that these trends are also affecting front line employees. Doing this research on engagement or productivity trends will prove beneficial across your business parallels in relation to the workforce you employ.

3. Use payroll technology to offer unique benefits

Many WFO and WFM suites don’t provide direct solutions for payroll and paycheck processing. Thus it is extremely likely that your call center will have to utilize a separate payroll processor to handle HR aspects for your team and to facilitate payroll. Engage your front line by offering something that your employees want and your competition does not provide, such as daily payments. Find a daily payment software company that provides this payroll tie-in free of charge to your business, so it does not have an adverse impact on your bottom-line. In fact, since many of your employees will want daily payments as opposed to weekly or biweekly payments, you will also reduce employee turnover at your company, which directly improves your bottom line. DialAmerica, a call center with over 3,000 employees, was able to reduce their rates of employee turnover by offering daily payments. With the cost of replacing an employee estimated at $4,129 by SHRM, retaining your employees will certainly save your company money that could be allocated for other purposes.

4. Track and reduce shrinkage w/ WFO

Most of the call center WFO tool suites will allow for some shrinkage tracking. Shrinkage is that time in which employees are not able to take calls, e.g., breaks, meetings, training, and development, etc. Denis McHugh, Vice President of Workforce Management for DialAmerica, states that DialAmerica defines their WFM toolset as being made up of two factors: workforce planning and workforce optimization (or real-time analysis). His team uses these tools, specifically the real-time analysis, to analyze and interpret this shrinkage time. If an employee is using his or her time not to answer calls, it’s possible that during this period, an employee may start a habit of being disengaged while at work. Try setting a weekly maximum of shrinkage hours available to each employee in order to cut down on the hours an employee spends not answering calls. By setting this maximum, you will prevent the employee from forming a habit. Certainly, shrinkage time for rest breaks and training is inevitable, but do your best to limit the amount of time employees take away from their workstations.

5. Set goals and intentions for employees and deliver ongoing feedback

Feedback is a critical component for employee growth and also for employee engagement. Another study by Gallup reports that employees who receive strengths feedback have turnover rates 14.9% lower than employees who received no feedback. They suggest that a successful company must nurture both engagement and deliver feedback about strengths to develop its workforce to its fullest potential.

By setting clear goals and intentions for your workers at the managerial level and the front lines, you will have clear options for delivering feedback that is more objective rather than subjective. Clear goals will allow you to give specific feedback such as “you improved your call volume by 25%, exceeding your monthly goal” instead of general feedback such as “you did well last month.” You can use your WFM/WFO toolset to track most of these metrics. Having an ongoing feedback loop based on clear goals and intentions using these tracked metrics will help to engage your employees and ensure that they stay longer at your call center.

A tight job market means that retaining your company’s top talent and reducing your rate of employee turnover is more important now more than ever. And with employees having the upper hand in this job market, you must do all in your power to ensure that your company is not giving up workers that can be retained just by ensuring their engagement. Many of the methods to ensure engagement are already available to you in your call center’s WFO and WFM tools. Additionally, utilizing perks that are compatible with your other processing systems will give your company the competitive edge when recruiting and retaining talent.