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    Contact centres: 4 ways to look after your agents' mental health

    The mental well-being 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.
    Image source: Ljupco Smokovski –
    Image source: Ljupco Smokovski – 123RF.com

    With research showing that mental health issues such as stress, depression, and anxiety cause 44% of work-related ill health, it is more important than ever to care for the well-being 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.

    In honour of World Mental Health Day, which was celebrated on 10 October, we will look at some measures you can take to improve employee morale and the mental health of your team in contact centres.

    1. 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.

    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 10 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.

    2. Introduce meditation

    You can also set in place well-being 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.

    3. Personal check-ins

    Ensuring you maintain regular one-to-ones with your employees is important for managing good mental well-being 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.

    4. 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 well-being, as they have the means of finding support and guidance. Specialised advice and counselling access is particularly important during a time when waiting lists for public mental health facilities are long.

    Ensuring your company has strong partnerships with mental health providers can help boost the well-being of your employees, as well as establish your business as a socially conscious company. Providing professionals that your workers can speak confidentially with 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, well-being sessions and management training can all help to support your employees as they endeavour to aid others.

    About Julie McIntosh

    Julie McIntosh is the Chief Culture Officer at Kura.
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