Workforce management (WFM) technology is probably the most underrated solution approach to tackle agent attrition in contact centers. In this blog post, we will tell you about the top WFM features you need to reduce attrition rates and explain the benefits of WFM from an agent’s perspective.
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When it comes to reducing agent attrition in your contact center, WFM software is probably the most underrated or less obvious solution approach. There are many strategies and tactics out there that can make a difference to increase agent satisfaction. However, these often take time, and effort.
With a WFM tool however, you are likely to see positive effects on employee turnover in a short amount of time. You will also be fully equipped to take on measures that prevent high attrition rates in the first place. Here’s how:
A refresher on why contact center staff leaves
It’s nothing new that employee turnover is at an all-time high these days, especially in the contact center landscape. The negative side effects of employee turnover can really break a business. These include:
- High cost
- Reduced operational productivity
- Decreased employee engagement
- Lower agent satisfaction
A 2016 study in the US by Contact Babel estimated that 60% of turnover goes back to agents quitting their job. According to our injixo WFM experts, the main causes for that phenomenon can be mainly broken down to three core factors:
- Little flexibility in shift planning negatively affects an agent’s work-life balance.
- Lack of feedback, training and overall development to give an agent purpose and perspective in their daily work.
- Bad leadership and supervisor relationships characterized by little empowerment and appreciation (aka. “People don’t quit their job, they quit their boss”.)
When it comes to agent attrition, there are early warning signs such as increased agent absenteeism. Contact centers may also experience a drop in productivity such as lower adherence and customer satisfaction scores.
Although it is important to pay attention to these warning signs and tackle arising issues, businesses should be proactive when it comes to attrition. In the previous article, we shared a set of proven strategies and tactics to stop agent attrition that can really make a difference for your employees today. One of them - probably the most sustainable and efficient tactic - is to make agent attrition a main topic of concern in your approach to workforce management (WFM).
But first things first! Before we dive into answering the question of how a WFM tool can help you lower attrition, I’d like to do a brief detour to explain what WFM is all about.
What is workforce management (WFM) and why does it matter?
In its broadest sense, workforce management can be defined as an organizational discipline that helps companies maximize performance and operational efficiency. In contact centers, it is also viewed as an agent productivity tool which plays a major role in improving both agent and customer satisfaction.
The main premise of WFM is to have the right amount of people at the right time and place to provide timely customer service in the best possible way. That’s why demand-based planning is essential. It allows contact centers to predict future workload in order to create optimized schedules that help minimize over and understaffing.
And there’s more: successful workforce management can pay into 3 high-level business objectives:
- A consistent high standard of customer service
- Optimization of schedule efficiency and consequently, lower labor costs
- Increase in employee engagement and reduction in agent attrition
… all of which have a positive effect on the business bottom-line.
Now, in this article, we will mainly focus on the third objective because it may seem as the most difficult goal to reach, but actually it’s not. Knowing what workforce management technology can do beyond streamlining and optimizing your WFM process will get you to look at it from a new perspective. More so, you will be able to tackle the problem of agent attrition from different fronts whether you are already using a WFM tool or not. So, let’s get down to it!
How WFM technology can help lower agent attrition rates
One of the biggest drawbacks of an agent’s job in contact centers across the world is the repetitive nature of daily work. Handling administrative tasks, while solving service requests and responding to customer complaints, can be frustrating.
It is especially annoying if you’re always on the same fixed schedule; working your tail off on the same shift and trying to get work done without no end in sight. Customers keep calling, service requests keep rolling in and emails pile up.
And now, picture a scenario where you have to work over hours every other day because of staffing gaps. In this situation, it’s obvious to assume that your agents may find themselves in a downward spiral, which eventually causes them to be less productive and burn out.
Workforce management can put an end to this by setting the foundation for an environment where:
- Agents feel more productive
- Their work schedules become more diverse and flexible
- Their needs for development and growth can be addressed more effectively
But what exactly does WFM technology specifically do to help you lower attrition rates? We’ve compiled a list of top WFM features and functionalities that can really make a difference for agent morale.
Top WFM features that increase agent satisfaction and productivity
WFM technology usually comes with a variety of helpful features that cover the entire workforce management process - from forecasting and scheduling to intraday management, employee engagement and reporting. A good WFM tool provides three major capabilities that can have a great impact on increasing agent productivity and satisfaction such as:
- Self-service agent portals for more autonomy and engagement
- Schedule optimization that promotes agent satisfaction and healthy productivity levels
- Intraday management and adherence monitoring to balance daily workload with available resources
Self-service agent portals for more autonomy and engagement
Self-service is on the rise in customer service as today’s customer becomes more self-directed in searching for solutions and solving their problems. In response, companies are integrating self-service options (e.g. knowledge bases, FAQs, chat bots etc.) to their websites to help customers find the information they are looking for without requiring agent support. This especially reduces the number of service requests and lowers the burden on agents, resolving every tiny little issue that customers may face.
But self-service does not only need to be directed to the end user. Many WFM tools cover self-service employee portals for agents themselves to help them manage their work more efficiently and autonomously. Agents are empowered to make vacation requests, view their schedules, trade shifts and get reminders that drive schedule adherence as well as monitor their own performance.
Offering such self-service options can make agents feel more in control of their daily job. It grants them a certain level of gratification and convenience, which comes with more self-determination to manage their own work. Furthermore, agents are grateful to be involved in the planning process by having a say in which shifts they’d like to take on. As a result, they tend to be more happy.
So, when looking at WFM tools that include employee self-service capabilities, make sure to look for the following functionalities. Your agents may love the following:
- Vacation management/holiday requests
- Shift trading and exchange
- Agent dashboards
- Mobile schedules and notifications
Give agents the freedom to use these self-service options, and you’ll see a positive impact on overall agent satisfaction and productivity.
injixo WFM, for example, provides an intuitive and easy-to-use mobile self-service portal for your contact center agents - injixo Me. It enables agents to view their schedules, request holidays, trade shifts, and get schedule notifications on any device, anytime. Learn more
Schedule optimization that promotes agent satisfaction and healthy productivity levels
Forecasting and scheduling are key components in workforce management. WFM technology offers automations and optimization capabilities to help planners increase forecast accuracy and improve schedule efficiency.
Whereas forecasting is about projecting workload and respectively calculating staffing requirements, scheduling ensures you’re allocating available resources to forecasted workloads in the best possible way.
As a result, the way your schedules are set up can affect overall performance in your contact center as well as agent satisfaction. In fact, you aim to minimize over and understaffing to reduce both cost and agent burn-out.
This can sometimes be a balancing act between operational efficiency and employee satisfaction, which has a direct influence on agent productivity and morale. However, using the right schedule optimization techniques and strategies can give you the power to actually promote healthy working conditions and better agent engagement.
Here are a few sustainable opportunities that WFM technology can provide to enable an agent-friendly scheduling approach:
- Flexible staffing strategies and shift patterns (fixed, rotating shifts, remote etc.) for a better work-life balance
- Multi-faceted scheduling (multi-channel, multi skill and multi activity) for more diversity in daily work
- Break-optimization for healthy working conditions
- Integrated meeting planning (one-to-one appointments, team meetings and self-learning sessions) to make time for collaboration, feedback and training
- Compliance through predefined scheduling rules to meet legal/contractual requirements and protect employee rights
- Intelligent optimization and automation capabilities for increased schedule efficiency and a productive day
injixo WFM, for example, offers a wide range of powerful scheduling functionalities that are both operationally efficient and agent-friendly. With our intelligent scheduling engine, contact centers can benefit from optimized and rule-compliant scheduling for multi-channel and multi-skill environments.
Intraday management and adherence monitoring to balance daily workload with available resources
Intraday management should be an essential component of every good workforce management application. It helps to ensure you’re achieving and maintaining service levels by eliminating unwanted elements of surprise.
Unexpected events such as unplanned agent absences (e.g. due to sickness) and fluctuations in workload (e.g. spikes and peaks in contact volume) can occur and result in deviations from the plan that shake up your schedules. In cases where demand and supply don’t match, staffing gaps can arise that may affect agent productivity.
Inadequate staffing levels create unhealthy working conditions. Agents in these environments feel more stressed, work over hours and consequently tend to be less productive. As performance drops, your contact center may not only be sacrificing revenue but also be at risk of losing its most valuable assets: your employees.
In order to prevent agent burnout and eventually minimize attrition, it is crucial to react to intraday changes in a timely and effective manner. Make sure to act smart and quickly by using the following WFM functionalities to mitigate negative effects on your schedules and employees:
- Intraday monitoring enables you to see deviations from the plan when they arise and empower you to react immediately.
- KPI dashboards allow planners to report on key metrics that affect service level including abandonment rate, average speed of answer (ASA), average handle times (AHT), offered contact volumes and staffing levels.
- Real-time adherence compares planned and actual agent activity on the day and in real-time. Take corrective action and adjust schedules in an instant to better match reality - always with your agents in mind.
injixo WFM, for example, enables agent-focused and efficient intraday management operations in your contact center. You can monitor all the key variables that affect performance, such as offered contacts, staffing levels, forecast variance, overstaffing, understaffing and much more. With these insights, you can instantly take action when and where it matters.
Benefits of WFM from the perspective of an agent
Let me tell you one thing: Learning about the tools and strategies that WFM offers to help lower attrition is good, but it’s not enough. To really tackle the problem with WFM technology effectively in the long run, you need to be able to see things through the eyes of an agent.
We’ve talked to our WFM experts and customers to find out about the benefits that workforce management delivers from an agent’s perspective. Here’s a list of bulletproof advantages that the right WFM technology can deliver for your agents:
- More fairness and transparency in planning
- Having a say in the scheduling process
- Being able to view, manage and trade shifts
- Being able to access schedules from any device
- Autonomy to request shifts and absences
- Getting notifications on shifts and updated schedules
- Improved work-life balance due to more flexibility in schedules
- Transparent and easy holiday approval processes
- Less stress and exhaustion on the day due to optimized staffing levels
- More time for feedback and training thanks to optimized schedules
Contact centers should embrace technology to reduce agent attrition. A WFM software helps to simplify work, automate processes and reduce waste (such as no-value adding activities) to increase productivity and performance.
With this article, we wanted to show you what a WFM tool can do to help you to tackle agent attrition in your contact center. WFM software is a win-win for your business and your employees because it takes both organizational goals and employee needs into account when it comes to workforce management. This is the heart of every successful contact center.
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Originally published on Jun 09, 2020, updated on Oct 17, 2022.
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