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Three Levels of Call Center Agent Burnout


Call center agents need to go through a lot of stress during their working hours every day. They need to meet the growing customer expectations, adhere to the processes and policies of the organization, meet the performance metrics and give their best for meeting the stringent requirements imposed by the management. It is because of all these factors that call center agents find their work quite taxing, as well as, stressful from time to time. In fact, many experts rank job at a call center as one of world’s most stressful jobs.It is imperative that management in a call center should take proactive steps so that there are fewer stress factors for the agents and can improve their productivity as a result. That is because too much stress can demoralize the agents, bring their level of productivity down, and make them dissatisfied with their jobs. Their health may also start deteriorating with time as the burnout increases. A thorough understanding of the reasons for burnout should be analyzed by the managers of a call center to lower the burnout rate and stress of the agents.

The burnout of a call center agent is his or her response to physical or interpersonal, chronic mental and emotional stressors in the call center.

There are three levels of call center agent burnout. As the stressing factors start accumulating, a call center agent progresses through a particular level and goes to the next one.

  1. Emotional exhaustion- A call center agent may suffer from stressors such as extreme tiredness, overstrain and inadequate emotional resources for coping with the demands in the workplace.
  2. Depersonalization- Call center agents may bring down their cognitive and emotional involvement with the work to handle their emotional exhaustion. Due to this burnout level, they start getting detached. The agents also start responding impersonally to their management, colleagues and customers. It helps in protecting a call center agent from getting further emotionally depleted.
  3. Personal accomplishment is reduced- When the various stressors start getting accrued, a call center agent may lose his or her ability to work effectively in the workplace. The productivity level may also come down as a result.

Burnout is an experience that is quite common in a call center agent. But the experience may vary from individual to individual. Burnout in a call center agent is impacted by interconnected personality, organizational and interpersonal factors. Thus it may be unique to find call center agents without experiencing burn out.

Check out some of the factors that are related to call center burnout.

Inadequate Resources

When a call center agent may find that there is inadequacy in space, supplies, equipment or personnel, he or she may be distracted, not prepared or feel overwhelmed with an overcrowded work environment. Thus inadequacy of resources that may hamper the job performance can be a key contributor for frustration and stress of a call center agent.

Higher Job Demands

When an employee is overloaded with work, it may result in emotional exhaustion. This rule also applies to a call center agent. In a call center, when an agent is overloaded with work, it means making or getting calls continuously, higher degree of customer contact, extremely high performance targets, management pressure, and unpractical time constraints. Often agents do not get sufficient rest as there are stringent call schedules, overburdened with different types of tasks and assigning ambitious quotas. All these may make a call canter agent feel exhausted and overworked.

Insufficient Training

When agents at a call center are not given proper training for meeting the specific requirements of their customers, they may feel under-qualified and underprepared. It can further result in increased stress level especially when organizations continuously expect high-caliber interactions with their customers. The agents at a call center may feel that they lack the relevant experience or knowledge for meeting the customer demands, as well as, their company.


Most of the times, a call center agent needs to perform mundane job duties. The job becomes further monotonous as they have to strictly follow a given script. All those call center agents who have to do the same tasks every day have been known to exhibit a higher burnout level than all shoes employees who need to do lesser routine work.

Ambiguity in Role

Whenever the role of an agent at a call center is not clear or they do not have adequate information for performing their jobs effectively, they may have to struggle for finding a new direction. Such factors may lead to rising frustration, lack of effectiveness and chaos.

Stringent Practices for Call Monitoring

If there is too much of call monitoring, the emotional exhaustion and anxiety level of a call center agent go up leading to faster burnout and higher stress level. Agents at the call center may feel that they are under constant observation and may even feel frustrated when the call monitoring procedures are too stringent.

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