Your call center plays an indisputably important role in providing superior service experience to your customers. For most, it’s the only direct way they interact with you. With increasing pressure to do more work without necessarily adding more manpower, call centers are not only being used as service centers, but also as strategic components of business that build revenue and relationships.

However, when your call center employees are stressed out, quality of service can plummet and your company’s reputation for customer satisfaction is in danger of disappearing.

For environments like call centers with inherently – if not famously – stressful working conditions and annual turnover rates that exceed 100% in some cases, on-the-job enjoyment and employee retention can seem like goals that are frustratingly out of reach for those in charge of hiring and retaining talent.

We’ve talked before about 3 key issues that increase call center stress, but what about the impact those issues have on your workers themselves?

Call Center Agent Stress and Your Bottom Line

Call center agents often work in challenging environments. They can be stuck in cramped cubicles for long stretches of time, dealing with angry customers. The effects of physical and mental stress in service environments include depression, obesity, and anxiety, to say nothing of the universal issue of work-life balance. Stress can also put these workers at a higher risk for many dangerous health issues, such as asthma, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

Mental and physical stressors can lead to higher levels of absenteeism, as well as presenteeism (attending work while sick, and therefore underperforming). This can hinder overall employee morale, decrease productivity, and increase turnover rates.

A recent commentary published in Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice explored more closely the effects of workplace stress in frontline and service environments. The article suggests that the stress experienced by frontline employees ultimately impacts the entire workplace and can have huge results on a company’s productivity and profitability.

Employees who are unable to successfully deal with their home and/or work stress can have a detrimental impact on customer relations. Your frontline employees oftentimes are the first line of communication between the consumer and your organization. If this stress influences the way the employee interacts with the customer, it could reflect poorly on your company’s reputation.

Steps Your Company Can Take to Avoid Call Center Burnout

It’s understandable why turnover might be seen as par for the course in call centers, as any number of factors that are beyond a call center agent’s control lead to high workplace stress, burnout, and call center attrition. Stress is an inevitable part of life and it would be impossible to hire frontline employees that don’t bring some level of stress into the workplace.

Your company, however, can take several steps to minimize the impact call center stress has on the company’s bottom line.

  1. Make Reasonable Accommodations – While you can’t accommodate every employee in every situation, reasonable adjustments can improve a person’s productivity and workplace morale. For example, a minor adjustment in a work schedule to accommodate an employee’s personal needs like doctor’s appointments can go a long way in boosting an employee’s morale, and decreasing stress levels.
  2. Educate Managers and Supervisors – One of the most important things your company can do to combat the impact of physical and mental stressors in the workplace is to educate your managers and supervisors. Managers who are ill-equipped to help their subordinates deal with stress may only serve to exacerbate the problem. However, training will provide management with the necessary skills to deal with overstressed employees effectively.
  3. Recommend Local Resources – Once management is able to identify issues affecting work performance, they can offer the employee support. Providing employees with local or company-wide resources for help dealing with their personal and work stress is a good first step.
  4. Dig deeper into why your workers are stressed, absent, or quitting: The only things more harmful than attrition are the myths and misinformation that perpetuate it. Taking the time to dive deeper through data-driven analyses of your workplace attrition will put you on the path to determining viable solutions, and then driving relentlessly toward them with actionable insights.
  5. Pre-Screen Frontline Employees – While stress is inevitable, that doesn’t mean that everyone has the coping skills to effectively deal with it. In a high volume hiring process, it can be difficult to determine which applicants can deal with the level of stress frontline workers face every day using only interviews. Pre-hire assessment tests can help distinguish between stress-prone applicants and those that have the skills to handle stress appropriately.

Understanding the full impact that mental and physical stressors have on both the employee and the company will help you realize the need to address this issue head-on. Educating your staff on how to detect and deal with mental and physical health issues in the workplace is a great place to start.

Learn more by downloading your free copy of the whitepaper below.