Tips for reducing call centre sick leave
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 recorded 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 such high levels of call centre sick leave?
In this article, my goal is to provide you with some practical examples that can be effectively used for reducing sick leave in your call centre.
From leadership, technology solutions and a focus on your culture, following these steps will go a long way to reducing sick leave in your call centre and improving your employee engagement in the process.
Top ten tips for reducing absenteeism in your call centre
1. Give staff advanced notice of their shifts
Schedule shifts in advance as far as practical.
It’s 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.
2. Enable staff to trade/swap shifts
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.
These days, modern workforce management systems make it easier for agents to manage shift swaps easily.
3. Educate managers on mental health issues
Provide training to managers around mental health 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 can refer the employee to assistance programmes or private medical plans if appropriate.
4. Mix up agent duties
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.
5. Target your attendance trouble spots
Review your call centre 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.
6. Teach agents the impact of their absence
Another tip for reducing call centre sick leave is to conduct basic Workforce Management training as part of the induction program and demonstrate the impact one person can have on impacting the call centre 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 every few months.
7. Address absence quickly
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.
8. Employ clear protocols
Do not accept text messages or email.
Have a clear call centre sick leave policy that agents must directly advise of their absence to their manager or another supervisor.
Also becoming more common is using third-party providers who manage sick leave notifications.
A 2019 industry survey also revealed that nearly 70% of all contact centres in Australia require a medical certificate for two-plus consecutive days of absence.
9. Recognise the causes of low morale
If you have call centre sick leave you’ll 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.
We’ve got a stack of free articles and ideas on how to improve employee engagement in your call centre so there is no excuse!
10. Don’t incentivise damaging behaviours
It’s important not to treat people negatively for genuine sickness.
In Australia, most permanent employees are entitled to 10 sick days per calendar year with only 15% of contact centres in 2019 providing more than the 10 legislated sick days.
You really don’t want to drive sick people into work to spread germs and then wipe out your whole workforce.
So there you have it, hopefully some useful tips on how to reduce your call centre sick leave.
Whilst there is nothing you can do to prevent genuine sick leave, following the above tips will not only help reduce your unscheduled sick leave but it also help you improve your employee engagement levels leading to better retention and productivity.
Which makes for a better work environment for everybody.
Recommended further reading: 3 call centre games to boost performance
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