Why Burnout in Call Center Agents can have Significant Impact on Call Center

Agents in a call center are vulnerable to various stress-related factors. Some of them include working in an environment that may be distracting, experiencing high pressure while meeting various organizational standards, and facing high expectations from consumers.

This pressure is compounded by the continuous expectations to exceed performance metrics, while their service quality is continuously scrutinized by managers. All of these factors contribute to call center agent stress. There is a pervasive effect of stress on the agents, and their attitude in the workplace & their performance. That is not all because the stress they go through also has a negative impact in the organization they are working in.

Let us take a look at the various effects of burnouts on the agents and on the organization.

1. Bad Health

Burnout or stress can impact an agent’s immune system, gastrointestinal system, endocrine system, cardiovascular system, respiratory system, musculoskeletal system, and nervous system – to name some. When stress is more, it can be correlated to back pain, stomach upset, panic attacks, headaches and frequent illnesses and longer time to recover. There is also proof that about 30-40% of the call center agents suffer from conditions such as headaches, sensitivity to light, blurred vision and eye soreness.

2. Deterioration in Performance

When stress and burnout exist, an agent’s energy gets diverted from his/her regular activities towards dealing with the stress. Thus, the ability to carry out tasks gets affected to a great extent.

3. Lower Level of Work Satisfaction

It has been observed that agents who face stress-related problems and burnout have a lower level of job satisfaction.

4. Less Degree of Professionalism

Call center agents who suffer from burnouts at work become less devoted to their organization, as well as their job position, leading to less professionalism.

5. Conflict in the Workplace May Go Up

When more stress is being experienced by call center agents, they get into more conflicts at the workplace with their superiors and co-workers.

6. Getting Exhausted Emotionally

Burnout may eventually lead to deep exhaustion, thus extracting the emotional resources that are essential for coping up with the existing work environment.

7. Cynicism

When an agent faces burnout, he/she may become a cynic and develop an indifferent approach towards the job due to over-stress.

8. Inefficacy

The term refers to a decrease in an agent’s personal achievement. Agents in a call centers are less efficient, if they continue experiencing a significant amount of tension and stress at their workplace.

9. Increase in Absenteeism

When an agent is completely burnout, it affects his/her voluntary decision to get involved in a stressful workplace. In 1987, Ivancevich and Mattenson found out that stress leads to 50% of all absenteeism cases and 25% of the employee turnover in contact centers.

How burnout and stress in agents may affect the call center?

When an agent feels burnout or stressed, it not only affects his/her own performance but also has a significant impact on the organization and the call center. Here are some of those major effects of agents’ stress on the performance of a contact center.

1. Reduced Level of Customer Satisfaction

When agents working in a call center are over stressed at the workplace, they become less efficient, professional and effective. All these have a deep impact on customer satisfaction.

2. Increased Rate of Agent Turnover

Those call center agents who are more stressed at the workplace are usually less satisfied and can quit their organization easily.

3. Higher Costs due to High Turnover

The contact center industry has a high mean turnover rate at about 40% while the approximate cost related to turnover is an estimated $10,000 per agent. It is a huge cost to lose good agents just because the work environment has become stressful for them.

4. Lower Efficiency at Workplace

More stress in call center agents means higher turnover dates, less effective agents, and reduced harmony among teams. All these leads to decreased efficiency in the workplace.

5. Increased Costs Associated with Mental Healthcare

Studies have found that stressed employees may have to take more time off from their work as compared to workers who are stress free. This kind of absenteeism among the agents can have a drastic impact on the bottom line of an organization.

Since there are significant effects due to agent burnout and over-stress, call centers should give high priority to address stress related problems at the workplace. Today, burnout has become like an epidemic and has been bothering many call centers. Therefore, the management should take a proactive and positive approach for identification and lowering burnout in call centers so that they are more successful. 

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