Business & Marketing Tips

8 Strategies to Retain More Call Center Employees

From 2021 to 2022, there was a 3% increase in the average call center agent turnover, bringing the average turnover rate to 38%. Additionally, 2022 saw a total call center agent turnover rate that was 58% higher than that of 2020.

last 5 years of call center agent turnover trends

This isn’t the kind of trend we like to see. That’s why in this post, we’re sharing eight employee retention strategies for home improvement call centers.

Table of contents

  1. What is employee retention?
  2. Why is employee retention important?
  3. How to improve employee retention
  4. How to improve employee retention and motivation
  5. More tips to improve employee retention

What is employee retention?

Employee retention is the goal employers strive for. Retention means that the organization keeps their employees with a reduced turnover rate, usually through human resource best practices.

Employee retention is also measurable and is shown as a retention rate. This is the inverse of the employee turnover rate and is seen as a positive when retention rates are high.

If you want to know what your employee retention rate is, set your timeline (start date and end date) and you can use the formula below where EE represents employee count.

employee retention rate calculation

Employee retention rate is: Employee count on last day / Employee count on first day x 100. Image source

Why is employee retention important?

So why is employee retention important? There are many benefits to a high employee retention rate. TechTarget found employee retention led to six business benefits.

  1. Better process efficiency
  2. Greater worker productivity
  3. Higher employee morale
  4. Reduced staffing costs
  5. Improved customer experience
  6. Increased revenue and ROI

business benefits from employee retention

Some of these benefits are more tangible than others. Employee morale can be estimated through surveys or retention rates if that already exists, but staffing costs have been attributed to employee turnover for several years. In fact, the cost to hire and onboard a single call center agent ranges between $5,000 and $7,000. On the other hand, a Cornell study estimates that replacing one agent can cost a call center about 16% of their gross annual earnings.

A 2021 Walden University study showed that there were four main themes driving employee turnover: training, fixed work schedules, communication, and advancement opportunities. These themes continue to drive employee turnover. After all, call center employees are more likely to have better work performance with better training, strong internal communication, and a reason to work hard. So how can we address these issues in the workplace?

How to improve employee retention

As with all performance indicators, employee retention rates can be improved! Here, we’re going to explore some business strategies you can implement to improve employee retention as well as job satisfaction.

1. Provide internal training

Training gives employees confidence in their job performance while also setting clear expectations for the job. In fact, an ASAPP report found that call center agents put a lot of stock into internal training, with 51% of agents saying poor training led to burnout and 38% of agents saying that better training would improve their jobs.

Be it a corporate training with a script, modules, or self-tracking through a monitored program or an internal coaching program, some training is better than nothing. And the best part? Training can be measured! Using set call center metrics, you can evaluate how well the training program works for the agents or how well the agents adapt to the content and coach them accordingly.

types of learning and development opportunities valued by employees

In this Gallup study, 71% of workers say that job training and development increased their job satisfaction.

2. Offer flexible schedules

Fixed working hours are a thing of the past for many companies and since many call centers have a global or national presence, hours of operation almost need to be 24/7 to keep up with demand. Employees aren’t robots though, and a 24 hour shift is not maintainable or healthy.

Offering flexible schedules is possible now though! With the help of AI chat tools and remote working technology, a call center can function 24/7 without having to employ a live representative at all hours of the day. But there’s more to flexibility in employee retention.

pie chart of how people define flexible work

Find out what flexible work means to your employees, and offer what you can. Image source

After the 2020 pandemic, studies found that 46% of employees would leave their jobs if they couldn’t work from home. While we’re not saying, “go remote or else,” we are saying there’s data to support flexibility improving your employees’ outlook and therefore improving the potential for improved retention rates.

3. Create opportunities for professional development or advancement

People don’t want to stay stagnant in their lives, and since people are expected to spend an average of 23% of their week working, having opportunities to develop and grow within their role is important to their personal professional satisfaction. And when people are satisfied with their job, they aren’t likely to look for a new one.

pie chart showing 24 percent of our lives in spent working on average

The Work Institute’s 2021 Retention Report, indicated the lack of career development opportunities as one of the top reasons for high turnover. Growth and development opportunities look different for everyone though, so don’t immediately jump to promotions as your solution. New learning opportunities, tuition, and leadership options are also forms of career development that will help your employees feel fulfilled in their work.

How to improve employee retention and motivation

There are more personal ways to keep employees motivated and engaged in their jobs that aren’t directly related to their job responsibilities. Let’s look at some strategies that can help your employees' motivation in addition to their desire to stay with your company.

4. Provide personal wellness options

Companies that implement strong health and wellness programs have been known to see an increase in both employee morale as well as employee retention. Health and wellness options include everything from healthcare (that includes mental health) to PTO. Even encouraging little breaks during the day can help increase overall focus upon the return to work. All of which have been found to contribute to higher rates of job satisfaction.

types of employee wellness initiatives

Image source

This particular strategy can be challenging for employees at first though. To effectively implement this, consider offering employees incentives for taking a break during the day or have regular reminders of the benefits breaks can provide to the employees.

5. Create a trusting company culture

Did you know that Glassdoor conducted a survey and found more than 50% of their 5,000 respondents said they value company culture over salary when considering job satisfaction? It’s true! But how do you create a positive culture?

Some of the strategies we’ve mentioned here, such as practicing open communication, lead to a trusting relationship between the employer and the employee. Other ways to promote trust within your company might include a top-down approach. People are more likely to trust someone if they feel trusted in return. One way to show employees you trust them is to avoid micromanaging. Don’t let culture be what turns your employees away.

6. Recognize and award employees

The saying “a little goes a long way” is true for the use of many consumer goods, but it’s also true in the employer/employee relationship. A genuine show of appreciation and recognition for the work put in by an employee has been shown to increase employee engagement by 2.7 times!

employee recognition preferences in the workplace

Besides increasing employee engagement, an old Bersin & Associates study witnessed 31% less voluntary employee turnover when strong recognition programs were implemented. While the study is on the older side, the psychology behind it has not changed. Employees that feel appreciated are more likely to stay.

More ways to improve employee retention

There are more strategies companies can use to improve employee retention than those listed above. Two of these  include practicing open communication and providing tools and technology that ease the workload.

7. Practice open communication

Annual reviews don’t get down to the core of employee mindsets. Surveys aren’t enough either. Employee feedback actually needs to be acknowledged and, at least occasionally, implemented. And if not implemented, at least addressed in some way as to why not and what will be done instead as a compromise or alternative.

When people feel seen and heard, they are more motivated to contribute and feel safe enough to speak up. Open communication has even been found to improve productivity by 25%. It’s a win-win!

communication trends in business from 2020 to 2023

8. Provide AI tools and automation

Proper tools make a difference in any profession and can change the employees’ outlook on their responsibilities. You wouldn’t give a lumberjack a butterknife and expect them to feel confident or excited about trying to chop down a tree with it, would you? The same concept applies to call centers.

It’s important to empower call center reps with AI tools and automation options. Not only will it increase their productivity, but it will also take the repetitive tasks off their plate so they can focus on more meaningful ones. Both of these outcomes improve job satisfaction which combats turnover.

business priorities when considering ai tools and automation investments

Image source

As we mentioned earlier, the digital era has brought many AI tools that streamline workflows and are capable of taking the brunt of call center tasks. From cold outreach to scheduling appointments, AI and automation tools are here to stay. They may have upfront costs and learning curves, but in the long run are designed to save you money! So they’re well worth looking into.

Start improving employee retention with these tips

While there are many more strategies your call center might wish to try out in an effort to improve employee retention, these eight should get you off to a good start. To recap, here are the eight employee retention strategies we covered.

  1. Provide internal training
  2. Offer flexible schedules
  3. Create opportunities for professional development or advancement
  4. Provide personal wellness options
  5. Create a trusting company culture
  6. Recognize and award employees
  7. Practice open communication
  8. Provide AI tools and automation

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