Call Center Workforce Attrition: It's not always about performance

Contact Center Attrition rates...I bet you've never come across an article on this topic.

But seriously, it is the bane of today's call center industry. We have, in previous articles, discussed how it can be addressed - through a more engaging and relaxed work environment, an employee-centric philosophy, and with the assistance of predictive applications.

First, let's look at some high-level statistics: the median tenure for wage and salary workers in the U.S. was 4.2 years in January 2016, down from 4.6 years in January 2014. Workers in service occupations, who are generally younger than persons employed in management, professional, and related occupations, had the lowest median tenure (2.9 years)  (source: U.S. bureau of labor statistics).

One of the common misconceptions about what causes churn in contact centers is that it can be narrowed down to a single main reason: The employee "didn't work out". They were not the "right fit" (you mean my shirt size?).

This can happen, but the causes are varied, and most of the time, they are not recognized because management is loath to look in the mirror, especially in cases where they either tolerated the toxic behavior or created/promoted poor team dynamics. 

Let us not lay blame either squarely on managers, or on agents. Instead, let's take an objective look at the most common causes of attrition - and the following list is by no means exhaustive.

Top 5 causes of attrition in Contact Centers

  1. Lack of respect: Studies have shown that uncivilized behavior at work can lead to attrition. Workers will simply not put up with being poorly treated, whether by managers or colleagues. 
  2. Lack of work-life balance: Regardless of the macro, or micro-economic issues at your organization, there are limits to how far you can add to an individual's workload. Proceed with caution. Ask yourself if you could do everything you ask of each employee, not in terms of skill-set, but within a 40-hour week. Not 70 hours. 40 hours. There are always disruptions and unofficial, off-the-clock tasks involved in a typical day.
  3. Shifting job descriptions: Continuing from the second cause on our list, is the expectation to deal with completely off-course tasks. While an "agile" mindset is becoming more common, agile is a process, not a sudden ability to complete tasks for which you have little or no training. People are not computer threads waiting to handle a request. Choose how you delegate with care.
  4. When did we stop saying "Thank you"? Recognition. Rewards. Empowerment. Gratitude. If you think any of these words are only part of some famous humanitarian's vocabulary, you are not fully grasping the power of civility and good manners. Make a note to thank someone today.
  5. Lack of coaching: One of the most time-consuming, yet most important activities for a manager is ongoing coaching. Most people continuously strive to learn, increase their skills, and gain more confidence along the way. That will never happen if you limit your interactions to a morning greeting at the coffee machine. Draw up a coaching schedule and stick to it. It will always take less time and money to coach consistently than to correct poor performance or re-hire down the road.


Learn more about nGUVU gamification platform and employee engagement technology