The way we work has been altered forever by COVID-19 and the move away from in-person offices. While hybrid work is becoming the preferred modality for the everyday employee, turnover rates remain sky-high across the country. Remote contact centers are no exception, seeing a 42% attrition rate in 2021. What is it about contact centers that make for a perfect storm of dissatisfaction and stress so severe that employees are leaving in droves?
Unsatisfactory working conditions
Subpar working environments are a key talking point in the Great Resignation discussion. People are looking for more than a place where they can put in their 8 hours and clock out at the end of the day. Adequate healthcare, PTO, working conditions, and more are becoming non-sequiturs for employees across the nation. Better working conditions are directly correlated to higher employee performance, job satisfaction, and a reduced rate of turnover. Higher employee retention helps companies avoid the charge of up to 20% of an employee's salary it costs to find and train their replacement as The Center for American Progress reports.
It’s no secret that working in a contact center can be taxing. Between hostile customer interactions and constant troubleshooting, contact centers are a petri dish for strain - even when remote. Not only do these factors make for a stressful day on the job, but the impact on mental health is tremendous. The Indian Journal of Community Medicine reports that call center employees experience depression at higher than 50% of the national average. That number is astounding, and the theme permeates to other physical and mental health conditions as well. High levels of emotional distress make for the perfect storm of employee turnover.
Not feeling part of the team
The move towards remote work can feel isolating, regardless of your career field. For many, their job is a primary source of socialization that got cut short by the pandemic. While this connection gets supplemented through video calls and after-hours socializing for some, some call center employees find themselves feeling more isolated due to the nature of their job. Spending all day going back and forth with customers or being unable to get off the phone leaves very little time for chatting it up. This might look good from a productivity standpoint, but there’s actually a strong correlation between poor social connections and a decrease in productivity. Feeling separated from your coworkers and not being afforded time for laid-back socialization breeds an emotional disconnect between employees and their jobs.
Lack of advancement opportunities
Providing job growth opportunities in remote contact centers can be tricky. If employees don’t see ways for them to develop their careers with a company, they don’t have much reason to stay. Feeling stuck is miserable, and not being shown recognition from higher-ups can make an employee feel as though their contributions aren’t seen as valuable. When work isn’t being appreciated, it gets hard to give your all to a company that seemingly does not care.
Poor work-life balance
The advice that balance is key to a healthy life rings true across professions. Burnout rates are especially high among those working in contact centers, something that’s not only devastating but preventable. It’s no surprise that attrition rates are high in contact centers, where 74% of employees are at risk for burnout. Changes have to be made across fields, like offering an ample salary, reasonable expectations, and adequate time off to help with recovery.
What can we do?
Contact centers don’t need to be a place of anxiety and dread for remote workers. There are plenty of ways employers can foster a positive working environment to boost employee satisfaction and reduce churn.
Provide adequate benefits, particularly healthcare and time off
Healthy people are happy people, and being able to quickly respond to medical situations without breaking the bank is important to maintaining a balanced lifestyle. By being able to address health issues quickly, employees are able to mitigate their risk of further illness and get back to work faster and with more energy.
Keep tech updated and running smoothly
This is important, especially when maintaining a remote contact center. Providing employees with up-to-date technology and equipment cuts back on extra frustration and stress that can quickly turn into resentment. By having the latest tech, contact centers are able to provide a better customer experience and reduce attrition.
Foster community and encourage social connections
Work climate is a huge determinant of whether or not an employee will stay on board. Creating opportunities for coworkers to regularly interact with each other outside the confines of their jobs helps build a sense of community that employees can rely on.
Provide opportunities for growth and career advancement
Hiring internally and recognizing hard work creates a positive feedback loop that promotes employee confidence, loyalty, and passion. Seeing your work recognized and others around you moving up is confirmation that you’re on an upward trajectory.
Overall, remote contact center employees are looking for support and balance in their jobs. Feeling valued, cared for, and stable creates the perfect environment to promote productivity and reduce employee churn.