Burnout in the workplace (also called job or occupational burnout) is one of the oldest occupational hazards, which affect millions of people around the globe. Noted American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger coined the term in 1974. But it has been around since the dawn of the modern civilization.
Even though burnout happens in every industry, its prevalence in the call center industry is extremely high. A study performed by Toister Performance Solutions found that more than about three-fourths of contact center executives face burnout risk, of which thirty percent are at risk for severe burnout.
This blog post discusses the reasons and signs of burnout in the contact center industry as well as ways to deal with it effectively. Read on to know more.
Reasons for burnout in the contact center industry
When it comes to workplace burnout, every industry has some challenges that manifest among employees. The contact center industry has its share of unique challenges, which makes burnout among agents so common.
- Increase in call volumes
With time, businesses in various industries are recording increasing call volumes. Many factors are causing the surge. Some of them are the rise in online shopping, the increasing number of overall customers, the record high phone usage, and many others. As per industry experts, the call volumes are even going to increase further.
Post-pandemic, many customer center executives are working longer hours and experiencing a decline in their work-life balance. As per a report released by employment website Indeed, over a third of remote workers say that they feel the pressure to work longer hours from their managers, while 21 percent feel pressure from customers.
- Digital fatigue
Some years back, an average contact center executive used to handle calls and resolve queries and problems. But with the integration of various communication tools, customer support agents are more exposed to a wide range of technologies than ever before. Remote contact center agents are spending more time in video conferences and meetings after the pandemic. All these are causing digital fatigue.
- Micromanagement and stringent policies
If a call center has strict policies in place it makes the work culture less employee-friendly. Excessive monitoring, focus on in- and out-times, and micromanagement, increase stress and cause burnout in employees. Excessive monitoring and pressure to achieve targets can demotivate employees and create unfriendly work culture. Rude managers and customers are also among the major reasons for call center burnout.
- Inadequate technologies and resources
Even though excessive technology tools can cause digital fatigue, the lack of them can increase stress among employees and cause burnout among employees. Some technology tools such as an integrated cloud-based VoIP system can enhance coordination and collaboration among agents.
Signs of high burnout
Even though the burnout among contact center executives increased in the last two years, it may not be that apparent as most of the employees are working remotely. However, managers and supervisors can find out if their team members are experiencing burnout from these signs.
- Exhaustion and illness
Burned-out employees display signs of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion more frequently. They are also more likely to suffer from physical and psychological ailments and tend to fall sick more often. They also experience higher physical symptoms that cause malaise. A Gallup study found out employees who’re burnt out are 63 percent more likely to take a sick leave.
- Increased absenteeism
When employees find it difficult to cope with their work and manage the stress, they end up taking leaves to avoid work and to rest and recuperate which provides a temporary respite to their problems. Some use the leaves to look for new jobs.
- High turnover rate
The turnover rate in the call center industry, which has always been high compared to other industries, is at risk of rising higher thanks to employee burnout. As per many call center industry experts, burnout accounts for over half of annual employee turnover. As per the Gallup study, employees who’re burnt out are 600 percent more likely to leave than employees who aren’t burnt out.
- Reduced productivity
Many studies have found a direct correlation between burnout and reduced productivity. The former affects the latter at both personal and organizational levels. Employees experiencing burnout are considerably less productive than others. Burnout reduces their attention span, problem-solving ability, and motivation.
- Disengaged and sensitive to feedback
Burned-out customer support executives and contact center employees are more sensitive to feedback and are more disengaged. They are even more likely to display negative behaviors and feel angry, pessimistic, and demotivated.
Steps to manage burnout in customer support agents
Fortunately, there are many effective steps to manage burnout among call center employees.
- Leverage technology to reduce workload
Invest in technology tools that can automate routine and repetitive work and can reduce the workload of customer support representatives. Get a sophisticated cloud call center platform from a trustworthy and reputable VoIP provider to enhance agents’ performance and reduce stress.
- Focus on providing work-life balance
Build a company culture that promotes work-life balance. Provide a flexible work schedule, promote a healthy lifestyle and organize some stress-busting activities and team-building activities. Encourage employees to take regular breaks and tell them to leave (or log out) on time.
- Facilitate effective communication and collaboration
When the work is unevenly distributed, then it can put excess pressure on some employees. To manage that, facilitate open communication and collaboration within the team so that the agents can work together as a single unit and help each other when the need arises.
- Provide adequate training and support
Before onboarding new employees, provide them with adequate training and support so that they can work effectively and efficiently. Clearly define roles and help them manage their time. After they start with their work, use metrics and key performance indicators to keep them engaged and motivated.
- Build a strong culture that encourages autonomy
As per a Gallup study, when employees have freedom over their schedule they are 43 percent less likely to be burnt out. Another study by UC Riverside found that when employees have the freedom to complete tasks by themselves, they are more likely to work better.
Managing employee burnout at the right time and in the right way can result in higher employee retention, increased productivity and motivation, as well as decreased absenteeism and turnover. Leveraging the right communication technologies can be extremely useful in reducing call center burnout.