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September 13, 2022

Supporting Agent Wellbeing in a Hybrid Working World: 6 Super Strategies

CX Today

Hybrid working appeared to be the perfect solution for the post-pandemic world. In September 2021, a HealthEquity study found that 96 percent of U.S. employees preferred to work on a hybrid basis.

However, after having a taster of the hybrid life, many agents have grown tired of hybrid models. As the Washington Post article notes: “Hybrid work for many is messy and exhausting.”

The good news is that – as per a 2022 Jabra study – 60 percent of employees still prefer hybrid work.

Nevertheless, many contact centers must improve their hybrid models to enhance employee, customer, and business outcomes.

Here are six ideas to do precisely that.

1. Give Agents More Schedule Control

Many workforce management (WFM) systems come with an that allows agents to view their schedules whenever they like and submit their schedule preferences. These filter through to resource planners, who can build them into staffing plans. Automated features can also do this automatically, allowing planners to make manual tweaks, accounting for their knowledge and experience. Finally, agents can use the app to submit shift-swap requests, bid for additional shifts, and make holiday requests.

2. Reconsider Shift Patterns

Contact centers must consider agent perspectives on shift patterns. After all, hybrid working allows for new flexible working shift types, including micro and split shifts. These offer agents the opportunity to earn extra money and fit their schedule around daytime activities, such as picking up children. Moreover, by adding these into the schedule plan, contact centers may better meet their typical demand profile. Finally, consider alternatives to the rotational system, which often goes against agent preference. Alternatively, a four-day, 37.5-40 hour fixed week tends to be the most popular option.

3. Launch a Voice of the Employee Program

Implement a voice of the employee (VoE) program alongside the usual Voice of the Customer (VoC) initiative to unlock the answers for improving agent experiences. Such a program will deliver more insight into how agents feel about their jobs, which will assist companies in identifying and addressing the reasons for apathy, burnout, or poor performance. Just remember that properly leveraging VoE findings is a long-term, continuous process rather than a quick fix.

4. Encourage the Adoption of Wellness Applications

Wellness applications encourage agents to avoid neglecting their health. Headspace is one of the most popular tools accessible, offering agents mindfulness and meditation sessions — with appropriate guidance — that work around their schedules. Another example is TaskHuman, which provides coaching and support sessions on diet & nutrition, mindfulness, work-life harmony, and breathing techniques. It also connects with various cloud contact center systems, such as RingCentral.

5. Formalize Communication Plans

In hybrid environments, businesses risk losing a vital sense of togetherness. Contact centers may find it difficult to boost agent morale if this goes unchecked. Management can address this issue by adopting a formalized communication plan to ensure agents enjoy time connecting with their colleagues. Non-work-related events, such as Zoom happy hours every Friday, may also aid in rebuilding a sense of camaraderie. Fortunately, several internal communications platforms embed themselves within contact center systems, like Microsoft Teams and Zoom. These help companies stay connected and bring agent wellbeing conversation into the central interface.

6. Leverage Real-Time KPIs as Agent Wellbeing Indicators

Contact center KPIs often contribute to a culture of micromanagement. Yet, in remote environments, they are proving to be an excellent well-being tool, enabling supervisors to identify instances when agents aren’t at their best. Then, they may intervene positively, jumping in with a short pick-me-up session — potentially through video conference – to boost morale. A speech analytics system that tracks customer and agent sentiment is helpful in such scenarios. It can also automate quality ratings to reveal real-time performance blips. Customer reviews, feedback, and lengthy handling times may also offer near-real-time information on agent well-being.

The Bottom Line

Agents have challenging jobs as they repeatedly deal with contacts from anxious or angry customers and must reply appropriately.

In addition, their workday is sometimes tedious due to the iterative tasks they must complete and the solitary, shift-based hours they must put in. This, along with stringent monitoring, has the potential to increase stress.

Moreover, poor ergonomics and a tendency towards bad posture may also harm physical well-being.

Yet, the six strategies above include interesting ideas for contact centers to update their hybrid working models, support agent well-being, and enable better employee experiences.

Looking for more ideas to support hybrid teams? If so, check out our article: The Hybrid Contact Center Agent Starter Kit

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