Combating the High Agent Turnover Crippling US Contact Centers

Combating the High Agent Turnover Crippling US Contact Centers

Combating the High Agent Turnover Crippling US Contact Centers

by JD Fairweather

The revolving door of employee turnover is a source of frustration for any organization. For contact centers, an industry known for its high attrition rate, high employee turnover can impact not just team morale and productivity, but customer acquisition and retention as well.

According to research conducted by The Quality Assurance & Training Connection, the average annual turnover rate for a U.S. contact center agent is somewhere between 30 to 45 percent, which is more than double the average for all occupations in the country. And that average is not surprising, given the condition many centers find themselves today: the inability to attract quality candidates, a competitive job market with increasing wages for entry-level positions within and outside the industry, global unemployment rates – the lowest in decades (four percent in the U.S., and five percent in Canada) — and a growing dissatisfaction among younger workers about limited career advancement and perceived compensation. Being in the contact center business has never been harder.

So how can contact centers compete in this climate of high agent turnover and stiff competition for new hires?

Loosen qualification requirements for positions while implementing creative ways to hire “good fit” candidates. It’s thrilling to discover that rare candidate with deep industry knowledge and a robust formal education, but when those skills prove difficult to find, you may want to look to your corporate culture to identify the behaviors, values, and attributes of your next prime hire. Administer personality tests like Myers Briggs, DISC Assessment and Winslow to reveal the traits that support your company culture and then source those traits via your recruitment process. An additional goldmine for talent: Leverage the social network of your best workers by encouraging them to share open positions within their circle of friends and colleagues. New hires identified through employee referrals typically have higher engagement and job satisfaction, leading to greater employee retention.

Implement a soup-to-nuts onboarding program, then customize as needed. Don’t just train to be training. Introduce new staff to your business, its operations, and the success markers needed to excel while also incorporating a training plan to bolster any skills they might be lacking. Also provide career development training for future opportunities within the organization. Offer opportunities to expand knowledge and skills in areas that aren’t immediately required for the job but are good to have, such as advanced computer desktop application skills, project management, and leadership.

While competitive wages and low unemployment rates may be a contributing factor to employee retention, do not underestimate the impact of management. Conduct regular pulse surveys to gather agent satisfaction and experiences about the company and management. Studies show that about 20 percent of employee turnover happens in the first 90 days of employment, so be sure to gather this feedback early from your new hires. Once you capture the feedback, make every effort to communicate the results and to demonstrate management’s commitment to respond to and implement any necessary changes

Most importantly, make it a great place to work. Gone are the days when unlimited gourmet coffee and a company-issued cell phone qualified an organization as a great place to work. To attract and retain top talent, today’s employers are investing in the four core needs of their employees — physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual — so they’re freed, fueled, and inspired to bring the best of themselves to work every day. Engaged employees are significantly more productive, drive higher customer satisfaction, and outperform those who are less engaged; and they are more likely to deem their place of employment a great place to work.

High turnover doesn’t have to cripple your contact center. By enhancing your recruitment process, customizing your training program, and incorporating feedback mechanisms and workplace satisfaction measures, you can make quick gains in retaining the right employees, your best employees.


Follow Taylor Reach and JD Fairweather on Twitter at @Taylor_Reach and @JD_Fairweather.

To find out more about how Taylor Reach can help your company with agent attrition and retention, CLICK HERE to schedule a free consultation.

One thought on “Combating the High Agent Turnover Crippling US Contact Centers

  1. Vincent Snyder says:

    There are more factors than what you are listing for the attrition rate.

    I’ve been working in Call Centers between 2003 and 2019. I can tell you that allot has to do with the culture of the management. Having older managers work best as they’ve been in the workforce longer and can help mentor the youth that are being hired. Having management that understands that issues may arise that are not cut and dry (or strict) for call center metrics. Having management that talks to the subordinate, not down to makes a difference. Keeping agents on the same team or project can improve moral.

    Having worked for a number of companies, all of them have the same mental attitude. Personnel are a body to fill a chair to meet call center metrics or SLA. All have failed to keep employees for long term. All have lost employees due to poor management, strict metrics or SLA, poor morale, terminated projects and or location closing.

    There’s more I can go on with but that’s the basics.

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