The following article is another in our series that examines average employee turnover rates by industry. In this article, we hold the retail industry under a microscope to see what might be affecting employee turnover and retention rates, and why employees in this industry are some fleeting.
According to research conducted by The Quality Assurance & Training Connection (QATC), the average annual turnover rate for agents in US contact centers ranges between 30-45 percent, which is more than double the average for all occupations in the U.S.
High turnover and abbreviated tenure at contact centers mean high costs for recruiting and training, lost employee productivity, and diminished morale at the workplace. Discover what contributes to high turnover, and what specific steps can be taken to improve the metrics.
Turnover Rates by Profile
Turnover rates within contact centers vary based on a number of attributes. For example, according to research conducted by analyst firm, Contact Babel, the outsourcing sector one of the most vulnerable types of contact centers when it comes to turnover. It’s also a sector seeing the most change of turnover year-over-year. In 2016, outsourcing contact centers had a mean turnover rate of 73%, in 2017 it was reported the turnover was only 49%.
The same research indicates the size of contact centers have implications on turnover rates:
- Small: (sub 50 seats) 17%
- Medium: 37%
- Large: 44%
Finally, according to Mercer’s U.S. Contact Center Survey, tenure and job title also has an impact on turnover rates:
- Entry-level agents: 27%
- Intermediate agents: 20%
- Senior agents: 12%
- Team leaders: 11%
- Supervisors: 7%
- Managers: 6%
Ask yourself, how does your turnover fare, compared to these statistics?
What Contributes to Turnover in the Call Center Industry
The list of reasons attributed to agent turnover is long, which is why many contact center operators believe that turnover is a necessary evil of the industry. However, this type of thinking is short-sided. There are solutions for the high turnover rates in the industry, but to get to solutions, one must first pinpoint the root causes of turnover:
- Non-challenging or repetitive work
- Lack of recognition
- No career growth or development opportunities
- Inflexible working environment
- Employee disengagement
- Excessive pressure or stress
- Abusive calls
- Low job satisfaction
Additionally, low pay plays a role in the high turnover rates at contact centers. As many contact centers staff majority minimum wage roles, keeping up with competitors like Amazon, who hire employees with a similar skill set is increasingly difficult considering the tech giant continues to increase their wages.
How to Curb Turnover at Contact Centers
High turnover rates have a multitude of negative effects on an organization. Specifically, contact centers with high turnover also experience:
- A loss of knowledge, expertise, and productivity
- A drop in morale among remaining employees
- A perception that something is fundamentally amiss at your business
- High costs associated with recruiting, hiring and training of new staff
Combining the root cause and the result of turnover starts to generate innovative ideas for curbing turnover as a contact center operator.
Break up the monotony of the job
To work with employees who feel their job is non-challenging or repetitive, blend tasks so your agents aren’t only operating via telephone:
- Consider email campaigns
- Certify agents to support customers or even just interact on behalf of your brand via social media
- Give agents administrative tasks like application processing, faxing or office paperwork
- Find ways to connect your agents to customers before a problem arises, like during a welcome call
By adding diversity to your agent’s jobs, you can help counteract boredom.
Provide training and development options
One of the most cited reasons for leaving a contact center, according to Mercer’s study, is the lack of career advancement and job support.
Training and development can help associates see a clear career path of progression within your organization, which can incentivize them to stick around longer and grow with your company. If a clear career path is not an option, enhanced training programs are still valuable for contact center agents to succeed and feel more secure in their role.
Many contact center agents are forced into learning the role while on-the-job. This can cause undue stress while fielding escalated calls. When employees must provide difficult answers, without appropriate information and training resources, it can push employees toward disengagement at a faster rate than those who feel prepared to handle emotional customer calls.
Promote Well-BeingResearchers in Italy recently found that promoting the well-being of call center employees is an important key to fostering job satisfaction and reducing turnover.
In their study, the researchers focused on training programs that dealt with emotional dissonance. For example, when a customer calls into a contact center, it’s likely they are calling with:
- A problem
- An expectation about the quality of service
- An assumption the call will be handled quickly
If for any reason service dips below the expectations, emotions like negativity, aggression, anger, and frustration can occur. Subsequently, these emotions are pushed on to your agents which can create a stressful work environment, that sometimes bleeds into personal life.
By nature of the job, contact agents mask their natural emotions in the name of customer service, which can create emotional dissonance. As the researchers found, emotional dissonance has a direct correlation to job satisfaction and turnover intentions.
Organizations who focus on training or benefits directed toward employee well-being, can improve employee engagement, productivity, and decrease turnover.
Zero in on Absenteeism
Absenteeism can be a precursor to turnover. In organizations with high rates of absenteeism turnover can happen in two forms:
- The absent worker is disengaged and will eventually find a new job;
- Or those who bear the brunt of the work to cover for absent employees will become overworked, burnt out, and eventually leave.
In either scenario, the customer experience worsens, workplace morale drops, and overworked staff will become disengaged. By focusing on the factors that influence absence, you can help lower rates of absenteeism at your contact center. The following are commonly cited reasons for employee absenteeism:
- Poor leadership
- Low morale
- Lack of schedule flexibility
- Lack of support
One way to discourage absenteeism could be to offer rewards or incentives to those who practice responsible work habits. For example, organizations can consider offering increased paid time off, or schedule flexibility to help accommodate unavoidable absenteeism.
Additionally, offering a daily pay benefit can encourage workers to come to work, as they can cash out after a shift. Our proprietary research has shown that offering DailyPay translates into reengagement and increased productivity:
- Organizations that offer DailyPay experience an average of 41% reduction in turnover
- Some clients have seen up to 77% reduction in turnover
- Absenteeism is reduced by 26%, on average, for clients that offer DailyPay
Giving your employees a reason to come to work, and stay engaged at your workforce is the key to improving your retention rates.