The traditional ‘sickie’ costs Australian businesses over $33 billion each year and call centres certainly have more than their fair share. In fact call centre agents record the second highest number of days off (behind transport and logistics workers) with 11.2 days off work each year. So how do you overcome that? I’ve got the top ten tips for reducing absenteeism in your contact centre:
Schedule shifts in advance as far as practical. Its not uncommon for centres to provide a minimum of 3 -6 weeks notice for shift days and times. Knowing when are where they have to work enables agents to plan ahead for any other external activities and appointments they need to undertake.
Empower your staff to trade shifts with other team members. By providing them with flexibility removes the need to ‘throw a sickie’ when they have another unexpected engagement.
Provide training to managers around mental health issues so they have more effective conversations with agents who might be suffering from stress, depression or anxiety. It won’t make them therapists but they provide a practical support network, and signpost the employee assistance programme or private medical plan if appropriate.
Where practical provide your agents with some variety outside of their normal duties. Get them involved in other areas of the business so they feel valued, get to voice their opinions, and see their suggestions come to life.
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Review your sick leave trends and target problem days. For example if Friday is typically your worst day run theme days and budget for incentives like food, drinks and prizes. The required budget will be much less than the cost of your sick leave.
Conduct basic Workforce Management training as part of the induction program and demonstrate the impact one person can have on impacting the centres results. Not only does this help with attendance, but it also assists with adherence. And don’t just train once and forget, conduct refresher courses avery few months.
Conduct return-to-work interviews immediately after any period of absence. Put a lot of emphasis on making the person feel missed when they are not here.
Do not accept text messages or email. Have a clear policy that agents must directly advise of their absence to their manager or another supervisor.
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If you have high absence youll generally find there are factors in your environment feeding this. Most high absence rates can be addressed if you look inward. Creating an environment that people want to work in will do wonders for your sick leave.
Its important not to treat people negatively for genuine sickness. You dont want to drive sick people into work to spread germs.