Building contact centres of choice: Creating rewarding, balanced and fulfilling workplaces for all

In today’s dynamic work environment, contact centre (CC) agents are seeking more than just a monthly wage. They want work that aligns with their lifestyles, provides growth opportunities and respects their personal needs and values. As CCs grapple with high attrition rates and a competitive job market, creating a workplace that meets these demands is not just beneficial but essential.

What keeps contact centre employees engaged

While compensation remains a critical factor in employee retention, it’s clear that CC workers choose to stay in their roles for a combination of reasons. A lack of these options can drive them to leave, but many of the issues can be addressed through improved training, flexible scheduling and method changes.

  1. Embracing hybrid and flexible working: A recent report indicates that 53% of CC workers prefer a fully hybrid working model. This preference is a reflection of the 84% of workers who experienced remote work during the pandemic and intend to continue doing so. With this in mind, offering a variety of working arrangements – fully remote, hybrid, virtual call centres or in-office – can significantly enhance job satisfaction and retention.
  2. Four-day work week: This model involves employees working four days a week while maintaining the same productivity and often the same pay as a five-day week. There are many reasons why CCs would benefit from this approach, such as an enhanced work-life balance for employees, enhanced employee wellbeing and reduced operational costs.
  3. Onsite facilities: There are many different onsite facilities that would benefit employees. Some businesses have an onsite gym and/or creche which allows workers to manage their personal needs like physical health and childcare. Onsite facilities are a great incentive for employees and encourages office culture.

Meeting employee values and expectations

Contact centres often view labour issues in transactional terms – salary, benefits, commuting costs – when emotional factors are a major cause of staff turnover. Employees seek workplaces that align with their values, offer career progression and provide recognition for a job well done.

  • Underdeveloped DEIB policies: Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) are critical in today’s workplace. Two-thirds of UK workers consider DEIB important in deciding whether to stay with an employer. Younger employees, in particular, value DEIB highly, with 78% of 18-to-24-year-olds emphasising its importance. Companies that fail to address DEIB may see higher turnover rates as employees seek more inclusive environments.
  • Career progression opportunities: Career growth is a significant factor in retention. Many workers feel that loyalty to a company does not advance their careers, leading them to look elsewhere. In 2023, 23% of UK workers intended to quit their jobs, primarily due to a lack of career opportunities. Providing clear pathways for advancement, reskilling and professional development is crucial for retention.

Balancing efficiency and employee wellbeing with omni-channel customer service

Today’s consumers expect seamless service across multiple channels – face-to-face, online, by phone, text, email or via social media. This expectation has led to longer hours and higher stress levels for CC agents, contributing to high attrition rates.

Supporting omni-channel customer service requires sophisticated coordination of technology, human agents and remote services. However, the increased demand for 24/7 service often results in longer shifts, higher targets and greater scrutiny for workers, leading to burnout and turnover.

Intrusive monitoring practices, like keystroke tracking and video surveillance, are detrimental to employee morale. A 2020 Reuters survey found that 66% of UK CC workers were uncomfortable with such practices. However, it has become commonplace to use monitoring tools to ensure CC employees are working to achieve higher goals. CCs should consider avoiding these practices in the workspaces.

Attracting and retaining young workers

The contact centre industry predominantly employs younger workers, but this demographic is becoming more selective about their job choices. With a higher employment rate post-pandemic and youth unemployment rising to pre-pandemic levels, young workers have the leverage to seek roles that better meet their expectations.

  • Changing negative perceptions: CC jobs often carry negative perceptions of low pay, long hours and high stress. To attract and retain young workers, CC must innovate and improve transparency, transforming these roles into attractive career options.
  • Financial compensation and benefits: Financial compensation remains a primary motivator for employees. The median salary for UK CC workers is significantly below the national average. To compete, CC must consider salary increases or invest in desirable benefits such as private medical insurance, life insurance and childcare assistance. Flexible bonus schemes can also enhance employee income without permanent salary increases.

Moving forward and building better contact centres

To succeed in the future, CC businesses must make strategic changes to improve employee attraction and retention. This includes offering flexible working arrangements, addressing DEIB and ESG issues, providing career progression opportunities and investing in digital skills training.

In conclusion, building a contact centre of choice involves creating a workplace that is rewarding, balanced and fulfilling. By addressing both transactional and emotional needs, offering flexible working options, and investing in digital skills, contact centres can turn ‘bad jobs’ into ‘good jobs’ and secure a bright future for the industry.

To succeed in 2024, CC businesses must be original, agile and confident in their recruitment strategies. Brook Street is the go-to choice for bespoke recruitment experiences, perfectly positioned to help organisations navigate the UK’s current and future labour market challenges. To find out how Brook Street can support your business, please get in touch.