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Ideas for Reducing Agent Attrition

It is often said, “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Many companies view employee attrition the same way and try to apply the same strategies to address all causes of attrition in the same manner. This thinking can result in uneven, unpredictable results and may, in fact, exacerbate the attrition problem. Identifying the different types of attrition, examining its causes and taking a prescriptive approach to its treatment yields significant reduction in its effects. Pipeline Online recently wrote an article on how to reduce agent attrition in the call center. A summary of that article is below:

7 Ideas for Taking Action to Reduce Attrition in Your Contact Center:

1. Measure Separately.

Not all attrition is created equal and it’s misleading to treat them the same way. The strategies used to manage unavoidable attrition may not work well for avoidable attrition and the other way around.

2. Measure Often.

Newly hired employees who leave within 90 days rarely return the investment made in their recruitment and training. Measuring agent retention and performance at key milestone dates—immediately after training, at 30, 60, 90 days post-training and at six months and a year—will provide insights into process improvements that can increase retention.

3. Offer Variety.

One of the leading reasons for avoidable agent attrition is that the job is generally monotonous with little diversity in the average daily routine. Offering alternative work content not only provides variety, but also enables these agents to expand their skills, thereby increasing their overall value to the organization and improving the likelihood they’ll stick around a bit longer.

4. Ask.

Formalize an anonymous employee survey program and include exit interviews in this process. Use this as a vehicle to collect what employees like and dislike about their jobs and what suggestions they have to make the job more palatable. Face-to-face exit interviews are uncomfortable for the former employee and employer alike and rarely uncover the real reasons for someone leaving. Identifying and addressing issues before they become acute enough to drive employees out the door is one of the most effective ways to combat attrition.

5. Innovate.

Find innovative ways to motivate agents and encourage them to stay. These programs need to closely map to the causes of attrition (see “Ask”), otherwise they won’t deliver the desired results. One example might be job sharing or at-home work for those agents who might otherwise leave due to a changing family situation. A valuable employee is retained and the cost to replace him or her is avoided as a result.

6. Reinvest.

Or perhaps, more accurately, invest differently. Once the causes of attrition have been identified, spend some of the money that would otherwise be spent on recruitment, hiring, and training on retention programs.

7. Think Differently.

Not every employee can be prevented from leaving, but if every employee who considered leaving stayed one extra pay cycle (two weeks for most organizations), attrition would effectively be reduced by 4%. Find ways to extend the tenure of those who might be flight risks to “buy some time” to recruit, hire, and train their replacements. This doesn’t solve the attrition problem, but it helps mitigate some if its effects.

Agent attrition will probably never be completely eradicated and, for most organizations, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Organizations that actively seek out the root causes of attrition and implement innovative programs to combat it will be rewarded with less unwanted and undesirable turnover, reduced hiring and training costs, and improved overall operational performance.


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