The Signs of Agent Burnout
You don’t typically hear very many kids talking about how they want to be call center agents when they grow up. That’s because it’s actually an incredibly hard, taxing job. I certainly couldn’t do it. Call center agents go into work every day without knowing what to expect. Will they have a stream of angry callers to deal with today? Will the other agents actually show up to work on time and adhere to their schedules? Will the outdated systems in place finally give out? Each day represents a sea of unknown, and that can be incredibly hard to deal with.
There are certain times of the year where it can be especially stressful to be a call center agent. Summer, for instance, is one of the worst times. More agents take vacations, meaning that there are less people to deal with calls. Plus, customers have more time off as well, which means more time to contact the call center. Any way you slice it, call volume goes up in the summer months. That, combined with already stressful conditions, is a major cause of agent burnout.
According to Ameyo, there are three levels of call center agent burnout: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and the reduction of personal accomplishments. All three can cause agent burnout if left unchecked for a long period of time.
In the emotional exhaustion level, agents may be experiencing extreme tiredness and overstrain due to high call volumes. If they don’t have an adequate way to cope with these stressor—like taking breaks throughout the idea of gamification throughout the workday—it’s going to take a negative toll on them.
Likewise, depersonalization is another big problem that occurs when agents just feel like a number at a desk. If they’re over stressed, they may detach from their work and stop caring about quality of customer calls. Not only is this bad for a business’ reputation, but it’s also damaging to the agent’s mental well-being. Depersonalization is a coping mechanism many agents use to detach themselves from stress, and it can be avoided altogether if managers learn to keep an eye out for agents that look overwhelmed.
Finally, agents can burnout if their personal accomplishments are reduced. For some people, too much stress results in an inability to work effectively. It may get to the point that they’re so overwhelmed they don’t want to do anything at all for fear of making the stress worse.
All of these scenarios are quite common in the call center, unfortunately. Managers need to learn how to look out for the signs so that they can talk to agents before the burnout completely. Implementing mandatory breaks and fun games throughout the day are also good ways of keeping agents happy and reducing stress. Scheduling in time for agents to step away from their desks and stressors is the only surefire way to ensure that an entire call center doesn’t get burnt out.