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3 Ways Contact Center Leaders Can Prioritize Agents’ Wellbeing

peacefulToday, 70% of employees admit they feel more isolated than ever before while working remotely, signaling the toll hybrid work is taking on mental health. While we are all susceptible to mental health challenges in the workplace, this is especially true for contact center agents navigating the complex world of customer service. In the U.S. alone, contact center agents account for nearly five million workers who are tasked with engaging with often frustrated or highly emotional customers, creating a work environment that can lead agents to feel a lack of support and control.

It’s up to leaders to prioritize their workforce’s wellbeing to avoid burnout and attrition. Here are three actionable tips that leaders can institute—today—to prioritize their agents’ wellbeing and increase engagement.

Help employees reduce stress, not just manage it

According to David Ballard of the American Psychological Association’s Office, humans can handle stress in short bursts. If we experience stress for an elongated period of time, however, we become prone to burnout.

Consider conducting sessions designed to educate and train agents on how to identify stress and what activities can reduce it. Studies have shown that breathing exercises, for example, can improve and reduce stress, for example. Box breathing is one of the many deep breathing exercises that Headspace recommends for reducing stress.

Agents are tasked with maintaining a consistent level of positivity and service with customers throughout the day. Even the most resilient agents need to unwind and step away from the constant flow of inbound calls. As a leader, challenge yourself to find ways to give agents more breaks throughout the day—with intentionality. Being attuned to how their calls may be impacting their workdays is key, and providing more intentional breaks will ensure agents can decompress when needed most.

Welcome new work perks

Salary and insurance are table stakes for employee benefits. Consider ways to go beyond and introduce benefits designed to encourage employee wellbeing. Some organizations have found success in quarterly or annual fitness reimbursement programs, providing subscriptions to Calm or Headspace, and scheduling guest speakers that can provide expert advice for prioritizing wellbeing at work.

Encourage genuine human connection

Employee engagement dropped in 2021 for the first time in a decade, with only about a third of employees reporting being actively engaged in their work. It has become evident that leaders must foster engagement at work—and creating genuine human connections does just that. Take the time to check-in with agents and foster relationships, a critical component of positive employee experiences.

Leaders must dedicate time and resources to better the employee experience and overall wel-lbeing of the workforce. This is especially true given employee experience is intricately linked to customer experience. Engaged, positive and stress-free employees can help improve customer service and retention and achieve greater brand loyalty to ensure the organization is successful in the future.

Mark has more than 25 years of experience operating and selling large contact center solutions. Mark has proven success in building, inspiring and motivating teams. These teams have been responsible for delivering exceptional outcomes and exceptional experiences to customers. To make this happen requires an enterprise wide adoption of processes and metrics focused on the health of the customer along their journey. As EVP at Interactions, Mark was responsible for executive sales and cross-functional leadership of Interactions’ global Fortune 100 customers.