Practical strategies & resources to turn workforce wellbeing into your competitive advantage.
We are in the New Now.
BUILDING DECISIVE STRATEGIES FOR THE FUTURE OF WORK
Whatever you call it — the new normal, the next normal, the evolved world of work — we are in it now. It’s now evident that many of the key changes that have defined the last two years will have lasting impact. Customer loyalty is up for grabs — not just because the pandemic changed buying habits, but because it opened consumers’ eyes to a new standard of seamless, personalized customer experience. But as companies strive to meet and exceed these higher CX (customer experience) demands, they’re hamstrung by a tight and tough labor market that experts predict won’t fully resolve for years. Talk to business leaders in just about any sector and they’ll tell you their growth will be determined — or limited — by their ability to attract, retain and foster a talented, engaged workforce.
WORKPLACE WELLBEING EMERGES AS INSIDE-OUT GROWTH STRATEGY
The root cause of the Great Resignation/Great Reshuffling/Big Quit isn’t exactly a mystery: Stats on job satisfaction, workplace stress and mental health have been trending downward for years now — the pandemic was just the inflection point. Employee wellbeing isn’t just about hiring and retention: Fatigue and stress directly impact productivity and performance. One report estimated that workplace stress, mental and emotional fatigue, and disengagement combine to cost companies $850 billion annually.1 In the contact center, the performance impacts are even more clear: Research consistently shows that engaged and satisfied agents and managers provide better service that drives higher customer satisfaction metrics. Companies that are successfully accelerating into this New Now are leaning into this challenge. They’re investing in workplace wellbeing in order to turn a tight labor market into their competitive advantage — building a compassionate and empowering work culture that attracts and retains top talent at all levels. And they’re hedging their bets on a simple equation that will define this next era:
EX2 = CX = GROWTH
People, Process + Technology
A TOOLKIT TO POWER WORKFORCE WELLBEING IN THE CONTACT CENTER
Contact centers uniquely feel the dual pressures of tight labor and rising customer expectations. But there is no silver-bullet solution — contact centers need to put together a combination of people-, process- and technology-powered solutions to address these challenges. Likewise, workforce wellbeing is not uniform across all employees — agents, management and operations staff, and senior leaders all have different stressors. This recovery toolkit provides clear insights and simple resources to help you make smart improvements and high-impact investments that hit every level. With every kit you will identify key stresses, receive checklists to improve wellbeing via processes, and get a tech buyer’s guide to support the wellbeing and success of each stakeholder.
Agent Wellbeing Kit: Drive Engagement + Retention
TARGETING THE KEY SOURCES OF AGENT STRESS
Just as workforce wellbeing is an inside-out strategy for driving growth, it’s also a strategy that must be powered from the bottom up. The unique stressors on frontline workers in every industry have been brought into the spotlight over the last two years, and business leaders increasingly recognize that focusing on the wellness of these workers is a foundational necessity for their success. So, as contact centers look to support and enhance agent wellness, where do they start? Calabrio’s 2021 Health of the Contact Center report sheds light on the three biggest stressors for agents today: Too Many Calls The day-to-day stress for agents stems from the reality that there’s always another interaction coming — the work can feel endless as the queue grows. 1 in 3 agents say too many calls is their biggest source of workplace stress. Smart call routing platforms can help balance the load, avoiding the all-too-common scenario where your top performers (your most talented and valuable employees) are also your most overburdened. The right tech can also help balance staffing levels and build in automated breaks, as well as directly supporting agents during those calls — helping them avoid decision fatigue that can quickly impact performance.
Managing Schedules 41% of agents said work/life balance is their biggest stressor. The unpredictability of life over the past two years — school and childcare closures, caring for loved ones, etc. — makes managing schedules a key opportunity to alleviate some of this stress. Self-service scheduling capabilities can empower agents to take control of their own scheduling, feeling a sense of control and flexibility that directly mitigates work/life balance stress. Higher Customer Expectations Three out of four agents say rising customer expectations are a big challenge. Our consumer research shows people want faster and more empathetic service for more complex needs today. Agents are calling for more support from employers to meet customer complexity. Adopting a data-driven approach to your performance coaching and adding automation to reveal skills gaps enables you to be more efficient and personalized in how you develop their skills, no matter where you are–head to the wellbeing focus zone on coaching.
AGENT DE-STRESSING TOOL: A CHECKLIST FOR LESS STRESS AT WORK
Agent stress is an organizational problem that demands process- and tech-driven solutions — which we’ll get to next. But there are suprisingly simple steps agents can take that empower them to reduce their own stress levels and feel more in-control of their own wellbeing. This agent de-stressing checklist gives simple tips you can promote that they put into practice today to help lower their stress at work:
WELLBEING FOCUS ZONE: EMPOWERING AGENTS TO TAKE CONTROL OF THE WORK/LIFE BALANCE
Juggling the work/ life balance is a major source of stress for employees in every sector today. But as empowered workers re-think what they want their jobs to look like in the future of work, it’s not just about offering flexibility to alleviate stress. Workers want to see companies that make flexibility a core value that drives wellbeing, satisfaction and engagement. Employees don’t want to be locked into rigid schedules that are handed down from above. They don’t want to be at the mercy of a slow, manual approval workflow when they need to or want to make changes. Companies that fail to adjust to these new expectations will continue to see high attrition and low employee engagement — and they’ll struggle to deliver the service levels and customers experiences they need to thrive in a CX-driven world. Ten years ago, handing scheduling power over to agents just wasn’t possible. But today, smart contact center management platforms use AI and automation to finally make self-service agent scheduling a simple and practical possibility in every contact center — empowering agents to set, manage and change schedules, right from their smartphones.
BUYER’S GUIDE: AGENT-CENTERED SCHEDULING TECHNOLOGIES
The proliferation of contact center technology keeps accelerating, creating an overwhelming situation for organizations looking to implement forward-thinking tools that will attract, empower and retain agents and managers. To help you get started, here are key agent self-scheduling capabilities to look for as you evaluate contact center management solutions:
Build your own schedule: Letting agents work extra when they can, by giving them the freedom to add work hours on either unscheduled or scheduled days. Based on contact center service needs.
Power over breaks: Enabling frontline employees/ agents to independently move lunches and breaks — and automatically re-balancing shifts.
Shift trading: Enabling employees to trade shifts — with or without approval/intervention (depending on policy) — while maintaining staffinglevel requirements.
Overtime management: Allowing employees to set their own overtime availability — and see and accept available overtime shifts.
Vacation planning: Employees should be able to schedule their own absences and vacation time from a mobile-friendly portal.
Absence/Overtime probability: Showing employees the likelihood of having a time-off or overtime request approved before they submit to streamline the approval process.
Chatbot support: AI-powered chatbot technology that automatically notifies agents when voluntary time off or overtime is available. Conversational flows easily make the changes for agents.
Management + Operations Staff Wellbeing Kit: Lead Teams Amid Every-Growing Complexity
TECHNOLOGY PROLIFERATION ADDING BURDENS RATHER THAN SOLVING THEM
Here’s the focal point of major stress for contact center management and operations staff right now: They’re juggling multiple people-centric problems around agent stress and agent performance — but these problems are all filtered through an increasingly complex web of technology. On the back end, they’re adding new channels to their core platforms to drive omnichannel strategies, splintering data into more and more silos: 1 in 4 organizations now has more than 50 distinct data silos.
Those silos make it harder for manager to get the clear visibility to performance metrics and information they need to manage their teams. They’re being asked to provide more reporting and analytics insights from the contact center to the rest of the business — requiring them to manually pull together data and often create spreadsheet driven reports. On the front end, agent frustration with poor user experience is adding to stress and turnover. Half of agents say they don’t have the tech they need to be successful. And tech complexity is also making it more stressful to connect and communicate with teams. Two in three contact center managers are now leading remote or hybrid workforces, trying to figure out how to effectively onboard, train and coach agents when they’re not all just a short walk away. This complexity is all on top of the traditional challenge of balancing scheduling — which is eating up more and more time as it becomes trickier to find symmetry between more variable and dynamic contact volumes and the scheduling preferences of a hybrid workforce that is demanding greater control and flexibility than ever.
WELLBEING FOCUS ZONE: BUILDING BETTER TEAMS WITH SMARTER COACHING + TRAINING
All of the agent stress trends and statistics covered in the last section fall squarely on the shoulders of contact center management and operations staff. They’re getting pressure from above to drive customer satisfaction and deliver stand-out, omnichannel experiences — and pressure from their agents who say they’re not getting the support they need to meet these rising demands. Agent coaching sits in the middle of these pressures. As customer self-service and automation handle more of the simple calls, agents have made it clear that they need more support from management to help with tough calls and the increasingly complexity of customer needs. Support doesn’t mean stepping in to handle those tough calls. Rather, agents want more individualized coaching to help them grow their skillset — including targeted training on how to better use the tech tools available to them.
More effective employee coaching also helps address the agent retention pressures that contact center managers are feeling right now. Agents are happier and less stressed when they feel they’re skilled and successful in their jobs. But more personalized training and coaching are also the core foundation for building a work environment that fosters professional development and growth. Considering that agents cite lack of professional development opportunities as one of the top reasons for leaving jobs right now, better coaching is a powerful strategy for boosting employee performance and satisfaction today — and creating a talented and loyal workforce for tomorrow. In addition to meeting employees’ expectations, improving coaching and training is proving to be a powerful operational strategy for many organizations. Facing the ongoing labor and skill shortages, leading contact centers are focusing on upskilling and reskilling to fill gaps and build out talent with the employees they already have. Data-driven performance coaching is no longer a nice to have, but a must-have in the era of remote and hybrid working.