Top ten tips for reducing sick leave in the call centre

Reducing sick leave in your call centre

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 such high levels of 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 sick leave 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.

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 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

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.

If you don’t know how to show someone the power of one person calling in sick download our Call Centre Calculator that uses the power of Erlang formulas.

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 policy that agents must directly advise of their absence to their manager or another supervisor.

9. Recognise the causes of low morale

If you have high absence 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.

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.

You really don’t want to drive sick people into work to spread germs and then wipe out your whole workforce.

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