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Focus on Mental Health in the Contact Center

Mental health is (or should be) a critical concern in contact centers, as employees in these roles can face a range of stressors that can take a toll on their mental and emotional well being. Contact center employees often deal with high workloads, tight deadlines, irate customers, and repetitive tasks, all of which can contribute to stress and anxiety, and lead to depression.

As leaders, we hold the responsibility of creating a work environment that is safe and healthy, one which mitigates the risk of workplace hazards, including stress. Our goal is to minimize harm to our employees, promote their well being and job satisfaction, and ultimately enhance the productivity and success of the business.

So why (and how) should your contact center invest in your employee wellbeing?

Investing in employee wellbeing is a global imperative. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently estimated that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy approximately $1 trillion annually in lost productivity.

In light of this, it makes sense that there recently have been updated guidelines to help workplaces manage mental health risks under a global standard of practice from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO 45003). These updates come alongside new guidelines for mental health at work from the WHO. 

ISO 45003 offers practical guidance for managing psychological health in the workplace. It emphasizes the importance of a proactive approach to prevent workplace psychosocial hazards and promote mental health and well being. The WHO guidelines offer advice on how employers can care for their employees' mental health. These guidelines give ideas on supporting good mental health, preventing problems, and helping people with mental health conditions succeed in their jobs. 

Both initiatives prove that mental health is a global problem, one that requires companies to allocate appropriate resources, education, and budgets to combat.

The actual cost of employee well being is more than a dollar amount.

The cost to your contact center can show up in employee turnover, lost focus, reduced productivity, high absenteeism, and decreased engagement, all of which can lead to the very frightening experience of burnout. 

The WHO states burnout is “a term that should only be used to describe experiences within a work-related setting, and not in other aspects of life.” It is alarming to note that the incidence of burnout is increasing, with 35% of people who took part in a global burnout study reporting experiencing it in 2021 and more than 40% of people in 2021 stating burnout as the reason they left their job.

By providing resources and support to promote mental health, employers can help mitigate the risk of employee burnout and increase employee retention, engagement, and performance, while also creating a more positive and productive work environment.

The benefits of investing in employee wellbeing and reducing stress in contact centers can also include the following:

  • Boosted motivation: Employees who feel valued are more motivated and satisfied, leading to better performance.
  • Lower absenteeism and turnover: Promoting mental health reduces stress, burnout, and turnover.
  • Empowered for productivity: Supportive workplaces lead to more productive employees and better contact center performance.
  • Happy staff, happy customers: Engaged employees provide excellent customer service, improving customer satisfaction and loyalty.

A 2022 study by Korn Ferry showed that companies at the forefront of promoting well being had integrated it into all facets of their people strategy, resulting in improved retention, decreased absenteeism, increased productivity, and heightened employee satisfaction.

I was excited to read the research which quantifies the business benefit of mental health in the workplace: for every dollar spent on successful mental health programs, businesses can expect an ROI of between $1 and $4, and an average return of $2.30.

By providing easily accessible mental health services and empowering employees to become mental health allies, organizations can shift from simply complying with wellbeing requirements to integrating it into the core of their mission. 

Ultimately, employees are looking for companies to act more human and have a greater purpose that speaks to connection and support. According to the 2022 Microsoft Work Trend Index, “Culture will stand or fall with managers,” so it’s up to you to lead from the front and invest in the wellbeing of your team. 

The role of technology

Technology allows contact centers to support wellbeing & mental health at scale. Digital mental health tools (an example is Coach Indie by Pioneera) can be a practical and effective way to reach large, distributed teams at a lower cost. Technology also allows organizations and individuals to collect and utilize data to support mental health efforts in a non-invasive and safe way. 

Digital employee benefits are becoming increasingly popular, with 95% of employers delivering some of their benefits through digital solutions.  The highest ROI for new technology spend exists when you can deliver an integrated approach that supports employees and managers with measurable results.

For a deeper dive, this 6-part reference guide is full of statistics and an easy read for busy practitioners interested in the topic of mental health in the contact center workplace.

Topics: Best Practices, Employee Experience, Morale

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