Recent research among service jobs, such as sales and social welfare, stated that call center consultants are the number one on high levels of stress and burn-out.
We know that is not breaking news. These agents have to strike the art of “surface acting” when regardless of how broken you are, you serve with a smile because ‘the show must go on’. This can handle a day or two, but taking that, as a rule, is unsustainable for any business superstar.
Photo by Ante Hamersmit on Unsplash
Exposure to anger, hostility, time pressure, high expectations, and poor ergonomics. The list goes on and left undetected, it can be a recipe for job dissatisfaction and emotional exhaustion of call center workers. Believe it or not, people are still prioritised in the digital land. Despite the multichannel support from many companies, talking to a real person was the preferred choice of US customers seeking assistance in 2020.
If you as a manager don't see yourself as a mental health expert, but still want to do right for your people, don't worry. You can take some meaningful actions to support your team from extreme work stress. Finding alerts is the first step.
Identifying red flags
When someone is about to crush mentally at work, signs are displayed beforehand. The Workplace Wellness Lab identify some hints you can look out for in a run-down mind:
- Underachievement is the bad new routine. Whether in form of procrastination, missed deadlines, or having a hard time meeting demands. While to err is still human, recurrent low-performance might be a burn-out-friendly indicator.
- "I can't make it today. Sorry." Frequent absences or tardiness can be a tell-tale sign of a drained employee. The daily routine is now a burden and motivation is more of an old memory. It can be hard to ask for support when you are mentally struggling at work, so missing it may be the last option.
- Mood swings. They are more than just waking up on the wrong side of the bed. Regularly coming from feeling happy and upbeat to feeling sad or angry, can point out a mental overburden.
- Social shielding. You noticed that mate is not a fan of team social events as before or is even flatter than usual. Lately, nurturing connections is not one of their interests.
Be sharp when those signs are intense and regular, and be the first one to empower your team about self-care.
Supporting well-being is the best hallmark of companies. We know that the Great Resignation was led not only by low wages but also by perceived carelessness and indifference. On the other hand, 89% of employees are more likely to recommend their place as a good place to work when they perceive their companies as well-being advocates. Here are some ways of being one:
- Spread the well-being word. The COVID-19 outbreak brought mental health to the spotlight, so welcome the change. Mental health goes beyond helping those in crisis but taking a proactive motion about people craving to work in good conditions and feel heard. From resilience training to sleep and recovery workshops, there are countless initiatives to enlighten your people about mental health. The Mapig pyramid of workplace well-being is a good point of reference.
- Ask. Listen. Reflect. No secrets. Open the communication with your team and see what comes from it. You might be with a "Are you serious?" face while reading to this point but creating a caring culture starts simply as that. However, simple is not a synonym for easy. A 2019 report from Mind Share Partners revealed that employees were least comfortable sharing mental health questions with senior leaders, exposing the stigma around the matter. Ask them what you or the company can do better and don't answer at once. Reflect on what was said first.
- Caring management is the currency. If you are a senior leader, make sure that your middle managers are ready to work with psychological safety as a cultural feature, as opposed to putting out individual mental fires from time to time. Offer the support they need to support others. If you are the direct manager, ask for this. You can be the start of the well-being movement integrate into your work place culture.
- Numbers never lie. Talking about mental health is not just about words. Investing in a quantified approach to employee well-being can provide your team with tangible, evidence-based insights about their mental health. This can take the form of Quan, a digital platform for employee well-being, which offers a comprehensive well-being assessment to identify well-being risks, as well as individual and team-level tailored interventions to support employees and employers on their well-being journey.
Taking one step at a time
You better than no one should know your team, and if you evaluate they are in the very early stage of well-being path to assimilate those actions above, or to share their pains, you still can progress behind the scenes. Ensure they know the rich range of mental health resources available worldwide, offering 24/7 support. Safe in Our World provides a list of several international channels.
Last but not least, remember that nobody should be alone in the mental harsh battle, and call centers should not be immediately associated with a burn-out. They are the bridge between the business and the end customer. Agents are just capable to transmit empathy, emotional stability and creative problem solving once they have where to look out for themselves. Experiencing stress is part of this amazing journey of being a human. The key is finding the balance once something goes wrong, and re-establishing the center of well-being again.