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Written by Julie McIntosh on 26 October 2022 in Features
Features

Contact centres are stressful, so looking out for your people’s mental health is vital says Julie McIntosh

The mental wellbeing of your employees should be a top priority as companies are expected to maintain higher standards of social responsibility. This is particularly so in contact centres, where dealing with customer complaints and problems on a daily basis can prove to be especially stressful, resulting in high levels of burnout.

Mental health issues such as stress, depression, and anxiety cause nearly half of work-related ill health, showing it is more important than ever to care for the wellbeing of employees. The emotional environment of contact centres can have a draining effect on your employees as they advise sensitive personal matters for your customers.

Here are some measures you can take to improve employee morale and the mental health of your team in contact centres.

The importance of rotating tasks

Assisting customer calls daily can be draining. Complaints management can negatively impact your employees both mentally and emotionally throughout the day if there is no room for respite. 

Jumping from one call to the other, with unhappy customers, can begin to take its toll. Offering your employees rotating tasks, in different customer service channels, can give them the breather they need to maintain the highest quality of customer service across the day. This will also ensure that their mind remains focused on the task, as they will encounter different problems regularly.

It can sometimes become difficult to recognise signs of burnout and problems within individual team members. This is even more true for those working hybrid and remote jobs

Communicate with your advisors and find a routine which fits your company best. Rotating channels each hour, for example, could be the best way to maintain high levels of call availability while allowing your employees respite. Or perhaps introducing ten minutes of admin work or call-free communication such as emails and live chats an hour would provide the best results, giving your employees a retreat from back-to-back calls.

Repetition can be exhausting, even more so when the content of each communication is heavy. Preventing employee burnout through recognising harmful work routines can make your company more efficient, maintain high customer service standards, and make your workplace a better environment.

Introduce meditation

You can also set in place wellbeing sessions to increase employee morale and stress-management techniques. Live meditation classes, which can be provided both in-office or across Zoom or Teams channels, can equip your employees with the tools to manage their own stress within the workplace.

Meditation can also boost concentration, focus, and compassion – all valuable attributes in contact centres. Practising meditation and breathing techniques as a cohort will not only make employees feel more comfortable with one another, but it can also encourage team bonding.

Personal check-ins

Ensuring you maintain regular one-to-ones with your employees is important for managing good mental wellbeing in the workplace. Holding meetings with individual employees can help identify problems and potential burnouts and set in place new routines and measures to manage this. These meetings should be no-pressure situations which happen in neutral environments. Rather than taking the meeting in an office, try an employee canteen, café, or video-calling for remote workers.

As a business, it can sometimes become difficult to recognise signs of burnout and problems within individual team members. This is even more true for those working hybrid and remote jobs as face-to-face interactions are limited. Equally, your employees may not feel comfortable approaching you for help with their mental health struggles, so outlining regular meetings can help provide a secure and safe space for employees to communicate their emotions.

Making sure you are trained in the necessary skills to recognise and treat burnout is important for employee mental health. Compassion training can make it easier for workers to communicate their needs. It is important to make sure you are a part of the team structure so that you can connect with staff and open up the dialogue around mental health in the workplace.

Support employees through assistance schemes

You can further open the discussion of mental health in the workplace by ensuring that your company provides effective employee assistance programmes and schemes. Offering access to counselling, support services, and advice resources can improve employee wellbeing, as they have the means of finding support and guidance. Specialised advice and counselling access is particularly important during a time when the NHS waiting lists for mental health are long.  

Ensuring your company has strong partnerships with mental health providers can help boost the wellbeing of your employees, as well as establish your business as a socially conscious company. Providing professionals that your workers can speak with confidentially can remove the added pressure of opening discussions with line managers, while still getting the guidance needed both inside and out of work.

Understanding your employees, their needs, and the signs of burnout are significant for the success of your call centre. As a customer-focused role, it is often easy to miss employee problems, but a happy workforce can lead to higher quality customer service and satisfaction. Investing in partnerships, wellbeing sessions and management training can all help to support your employees as they endeavour to aid others.

Julie McIntosh is chief cultural officer at Kura

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