Balancing Life and Work: Managing and Motivating Agents in a Healthy Way


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BenchmarkPortal, The Source For Call CentersA healthy approach toward work-life balance is crucial for both productivity and motivation. Instead, we often see dysfunctions in the contact center workplace. At one end of the spectrum, some cultures require and reward consistent presence and continual connectivity. This often leads to agents developing a sense of “presenteeism”, a condition whereby people feel they must show up for work – no matter what, even if they are sick. This can actually impair productivity and cause others to get sick as well. On the other end of the spectrum are those who are chronically disengaged, who some studies indicate are an increasing percentage of workers. These include “retired in place” individuals who sap motivation and efficiency from the center and its culture. Both of these conditions are highly detrimental to the center as they decrease both productivity and morale. Following these simple Best Practices will help reduce these dysfunctions:

CallTalk Caramels

  • Encourage employees to take breaks, holidays and vacations, and avoid taking work home unnecessarily – everyone needs a break from work in order to be productive when they are at work.
    Track presenteeism just as you do absenteeism– avoid letting employees become obsessed with work and “coming in” even when sick. Establish a sense of wellbeing in the workplace. This can actually increase productivity, dedication and loyalty long term.
  • Due to technology, the lines that delineate between work times and leisure times often become blurred as people become “always available” due to text, email, smart phones, and web communications. Let employees know that it’s okay to not be at work during leisure times.
  • Set the right expectations – walk what you talk. Avoid sending mixed messages.
    Motivate people by acknowledging with sincere, specific, positive, public recognition. Tell people what they did right, and use ‘muscle words’ to praise them.
  • Pizza, extra money, gift cards and their likes work only as band-aids; research shows that public praise and recognition works best in motivating employees. It doesn’t take money – it takes commitment!
  • Listen to what people say about what motivates them. Don’t jump to conclusions about what you think they will say, offering solutions based upon your preconceived notions.
  • LEARN: Lead by example; Energize others with your enthusiasm; Adopt a positive attitude; take Responsibility for reaching goals; and, Never give up on your dream.
  • CallTalk is a monthly internet radio program featuring the most innovative managers and thought leaders in the customer contact field, interviewed by BenchmarkPortal CEO, Bruce Belfiore. “Caramels” distills “Aha!” moments from these interviews into practical, bite-sized nuggets to inform and assist you as a contact center professional.

    This CallTalk Caramel was compiled and edited by Bruce Belfiore and Kamal Webb. It was drawn from a CallTalk episode with Dr. Rosanne D’Ausilio, entitled “Tips On How To Motivate/Manage Your Supervisors and Agents”. To listen to the entire episode click on this link:

    Tip of the Week: Motivate people by acknowledging with sincere, specific, positive, public recognition!

    Bruce Belfiore
    Bruce Belfiore is Senior Research Executive and CEO of BenchmarkPortal, custodian of the world's largest database of contact center metrics. He hosts the monthly online radio show "CallTalk" and is chancellor of The College of Call Center Excellence. He has consulted for many Fortune 1000 companies, helping them to improve efficiency and effectiveness of their customer contact operations.


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