Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Absenteeism is a Major Problem Among Call Center Employees

March 05, 2012

The International Customer Management Institute, ICMI, conducted a quick poll that found absenteeism to be the top human resources problem in call centers. Making time for coaching agents was the second most common HR issue, followed by stress management and maintaining engagement, which were tied in the survey responses.

According to Dimensions Data, absenteeism in call centers averaged 14.9 percent around the globe and was slightly higher in Asia because employees had to work the graveyard shift. Doctors also suggest that call center employees are four times more likely than other types of employees to miss work because of mental health issues such as stress or depression.

Some of the main causes of absenteeism have been identified as too much focus on the quantity of customers helped rather than the quality of the service delivery. Other causes for a less-than-ideal environment included inadequate equipment and equipment failure, punitive use of call monitoring, unsupportive management and customer abuse. Signs of distress in workers include fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of interest in work, physical symptoms like headaches, withdrawal from social activities, and excessive use of drugs and alcohol.

Call Center Helper suggests several steps for improving employee absenteeism in call centers. First, managers should speak directly to employees when they call in sick rather than allowing other employees to take messages. Saying, “Call me back at lunchtime and tell me how you are feeling” often motivates employees to come in for at least the second half of their shifts.

Second, managers should sit down with chronically absent employees to devise strategies for helping them to come into work more regularly. During this conversation, managers should highlight the financial consequences of absenteeism to the employee and the importance of each employee in generating profit at the call center. Finally, if more compassionate techniques do not produce results, then employers should progress to more formal disciplinary procedures.

ICMI also offers advice on how to de-stress a call center environment. ICMI suggests improving communication within the center, giving employees more say in policies that concern them and offering more individual recognition and reward for individual accomplishments. Also, employees have to learn not to sweat the worst customers that they encounter. As Bill Gates once said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

Edited by Jennifer Russell