Contact centers are notorious for high employee attrition rates. In fact, as many as 26% of contact centers have a staff turnover rate of over 30%!
Well, new hires often don’t understand what the job’s really about. As such, it’s common for new contact center employees to feel dissatisfied with their work. Not to mention, staff often complain about having little (if any) learning and progression opportunities. People want to see a future for themselves, and it seems the workplace culture in lots of contact centers fails to inspire staff into to pursuing their jobs, longterm.
For you, as an employer, you don’t need us to remind you that it’s costly for employees to leave. This forces you to hire new people all over again, which means spending money on job advertising, recruitment process and training new recruits.
So with all that in mind, how can you combat contact center attrition? Well, here are 7 surefire ideas!
- Be real with your candidates
- Match the best possible candidate to the right position
- Collect feedback and act on it
- Provide training
- Chart career paths
- Build an attrition action plan
- Invest in your company culture
What’s employee attrition?
Before we delve any further into this article, we need to break down what employee attrition actually means.
In short, it’s the rate employees leave your workforce over a set period. As we’ve just mentioned, attrition is shockingly high amidst contact centers (especially the BPO sector). But, more worryingly, it’s how quick workers leave. Some studies reveal as many as half of the advisors quit within their first 90 days!
How do you calculate your businesses attrition rate?
There’s a very straightforward formula you can use.
Your attrition rate percentage is just the number of employees that left during a set period, divided by the avearge number of employees you have during that same time frame.
Then take that figure and multiply it by 100.
Voila, it really is that simple.
Now, you’ve calculated your attrition rate, let’s delve into how you can lower it.
How to combat contact center attrition?
1. Be real with your candidates.
Honesty is always the best policy, and this couldn’t be truer when hiring contact center staff.
You need to be real with your candidates from the get-go. This means being transparent in your initial job ad and continuing your forthrightness throughout the entire recruitment process. So, no overly bragging about the perks of the job and concealing the not-so-glamorous aspects of the work.
If you want to take things a step further, why not let prospects experience the job with an open house event? This should give candidates a better idea of your workplace culture. Alternatively, you could use videos to give candidates a realistic preview of the kinds of tasks they’ll be doing.
6 in 10 employees claim that they’ve found aspects of a new job different to what they expected. Following aspects differ most from their expectations:
2. Match the best possible candidate to the right position
By this we mean, testing candidates to see whether they have the right skills to do the job justice before they work for you.
For instance, you want to hire people who show:
- • Resilience
- • Stress resistance
- • Patience
- • A positive attitude
You get the idea!
Identify who out of your staff are your top performers. Then, use their standards as a benchmark for other potential candidates. With this info at your disposal, you can create and implement an assessment(s) to evaluate your candidates. This should help you better predict whether they’ll make a success of the job and stay with you long term.
Top Tip: Look out for candidates who left their last advisor role within six to nine months. Statistically, there’s a good chance they’ll do it again. That’s unless you have an excellent leadership program and/or room for them to grow. Advisors tend to quit pretty quickly because they soon realize there’s little (if any) opportunity for job progression in their role.
In addition to all the above, think about the work schedules you need to fill.
This means finding and employing people who can work the hours you need. For example, a parent might not be interested in working the evening and weekend shifts. Whereas, a student looking to make extra cash might be searching for jobs where they can go to school during the day. Therefore, they’re more likely to want to work outside the traditional nine to five.
This is just another thing to screen for before offering out any jobs, as you don’t want your new hires to leave because of working hours.
Not only scheduling but also the length of your employees’ commute also influences attrition. That’s why matching candidates from the local talent pool to your roles can help reduce unwanted turnover.
3. Collect feedback and act on it
Ask new hires how the job matched their expectations. For more truthful answers, use an anonymized survey and ask questions that evaluate the recruitment process. Find out what you can improve on.
You can also conduct exit interviews when staff quit. Find out what your employees struggle with and learn how you could make their lives easier. After all, happy teams make for high retention rates.
Needless to say, it’s no good collecting all this data and doing nothing with it. You’ll need to analyze the info and take action. For instance, if you notice that several employees identify a lack of personal development opportunities as an issue, think about how you could improve that. Did you know that 75% of reasons why employees leave their jobs are actually preventable?
So why not conduct these feedback interviews earlier, to help stop members of staff leaving in the first place? Not only does checking in with advisors help you tackle employee grievances before it’s too late, but it also shows workers you care about their working environment. When employees feel respected, you should see a boost in morale as well as overall job satisfaction.
4. Provide training
Teach staff how to better do their jobs.
This doesn’t mean telling them they’re rubbish and need to up their game. Instead, provide actionable and practical advice on the following topics:
- • How to be more productive
- • Steps they should take to meet broader company goals
- • Best practices relevant to their everyday tasks.
You get the idea!
Now, once your employees have learned the ropes, encourage them to mentor new hires. Set up a buddy system. This reinforces the ideals of your company with your current staff and saves you a pretty penny on training. What’s not to love about that?
Setting up a mentorship initiative doesn’t have to break the bank. Just ensure the more experienced colleagues have the tools and support they need to train newbies.
You may also find providing job shadowing opportunities in other departments, and online courses help supplement your buddy system. These techniques also help promote a sense of cohesion across the company. After all, you want ALL your mentors to be on the same page, so newbie training remains consistent across the board.
If you’re about to create your first online training materials, you’ll find it hard to fit everything in. But, there are a few skills, like resilience, you’ll want to hone in on. Contact center employees have to deal with angry customers all the time, so ensure workers are prepared for that. When people have the know-how to do the job justice, they are less likely to quit.
Also, personal development training shouldn’t be overlooked. This helps keep workers engaged with their jobs. On the whole, people want to improve. So, allow them to nurture and enhance the skills they already have. Not only is this good for morale, but the better your employees perform, the more of a benefit they’ll be to your business — win-win!
Some contact centers go as far as to use ‘multi-skilling’ as a way of expanding the horizons of their employees. This means training them in skills and jobs that other people in the company do. When people have a broader understanding of all the different tasks that keep the business ticking over, you’ll provoke a greater sense of purpose which encourages efficiency.
Top Tip: Once an employee reaches a certain standard or level of ‘multi-skills’ training, communicate it, so they know they’ve achieved something. Perhaps a certificate of completion?
Contact center employers realize that keeping their employees engaged through learning and development is beneficial to reducing attrition rates and prioritize this.
5. Chart career paths
Look at each employee as an individual. How can each member of staff progress in their career as they continue working for you? Can they, for example, move onto to become a shift leader, supervisor, manager, etc.? Needless to say, promotions won’t happen straight away, but do you have a career ladder in place? Or, just something for employees to aspire to?
If not, we encourage you to get something up and running. It stands to reason that when people see themselves working for you in the long term, they’re less likely to feel disillusioned with their job.
Be specific and let them know what they need to do to reach the next stage of their career. Show you’re going to support them and explain how you’ll go about helping them with that. Promote horizontal career growth – teach your contact center agents new skills, expand on their knowledge and give them new tools and resources to do their job better. However, be realistic and don’t overpromise. You don’t want to run the risk of setting unrealistic expectations, this just has the opposite effect.
It is one of the most common causes of contact center attrition. Charting your employees’ career paths will differentiate you from your competitors and keep the employees on board.
6. Build an attrition action plan
If your call center suffers from a high staff turn over, get an action plan in place to fight it. Start identifying signs that a person wants to leave. What are they? Note them down. Typical indicators are things like consistent low performance, absenteeism, low morale, insubordination. Look closely, the clues are there.
Once you get the feeling someone isn’t happy with their job, have a meeting with them. Find out what’s wrong. Then, work with the employee to make things better. What would get the employee stay? Be sure to keep a detailed record and use this info to help fuel your ‘attrition action plan.’
As you’ve probably heard before, communication is vital for the success of any business and contact centers are no different. So, be sure to communicate and engage with your workers. If employees feel as though “nobody listens to me,” there’s a good chance they’ll start looking for another job.
7. Invest in your company culture
If you’re not already, invest in your company culture, so it reflects the values of your brand. Do your utmost to make your workplace as inclusive as possible by creating a safe place for workers to voice their opinions. They must feel they would be heard if they raised an issue.
There’s a popular notion that ‘bad managers’ don’t work in isolation; instead, they form part of a broader company culture.
This tells us one of two things:
- An unproductive culture has occurred because these ‘bad’ managers haven’t been given the heave-ho. As such, their negativity has permeated through the rest of the business.
- Alternatively, the lousy workplace culture exists because of the negativity of the workers, which, in turn, encourages the poor behavior of the manager.
Either way, people are going to leave, so you want to avoid either scenario arising.
Start by laying the foundations. Like we’ve said a few times already, start speaking to advisors and listening to their needs. At the bare minimum people want to be recognized, valued, and respected.
You’ll also need to respect the work-life balance of employees. This can be a challenge but if you want to boost morale, you need to note that employees often have pressures outside of the workplace to handle. By respecting that, they’re far more likely to engage with you and their work.
In some instances, you’ll find this isn’t just the ‘right’ thing to do, but it’s actually the law. Look at some of the more recent family-friendly legislations and see how this impacts the scheduling of your staff.
This may mean having to offer several ‘lifestyle’ schedule options. This gives employees more choice while still meeting the needs of the business. As we’ve just said, each employee is an individual. So, providing options is an excellent way of showing you understand that workers have different needs. This should help everyone enjoy a solution that works for them.
Promoting work-life balance through flexible scheduling is one of the top strategies to reduce contact center attrition. Almost 50% of contact centers aim to improve their company culture by focusing on close relationships between agents.
All in All
Decreasing contact center attrition is tough but not impossible. Just be aware that the problem isn’t going to solve itself. You’ll have to dedicate time and energy into improving the situation. So, take time to figure out where the problems lie, create an action plan, and put it into place. Over time you should see a gradual decline in employee turnover.