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The importance of talking about your call center mental health

As the call centers are getting more traction, with new occupations and changing workplaces, your call center mental health might be at risk. There are unique occupational health hazards which are emerging in this field. High volume occupations like those in call centers pose a host of new health challenges particularly those related to mental and social health

All over the world, call centers are one of the most sought after workplaces for young graduates. This is due to a good work environment, attractive lifestyle, and working packages. When a company concentrates on the core business and outsources its activities like payment services, customer services, and administration, then it is referred to as Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). A call center can be identified as the voice-based part of a BPO organization.

Employment in a call center usually means the ability to reach career milestones and financial goes for young adults much earlier than before. However, surveys have shown that a call center experience comes with high levels of stress and its related disorders.

Mental Health in your Call Center

Mental health is an important topic in all fields. There is an opinion that stress is not only an individual problem, but is also located within a framework that emphasizes the interrelationships between structural relations of power and the subjective interpretations and actions of employees.

For example, chronic exposure to stress can result in long-lasting changes in the brain’s biology. This is why it is important to main excellent call center mental health. The changes that resulted of stress may alter the functional states of various transmitters in your bran and as a result, a person is at a high risk of undergoing episodes of depression, even without an external stressor.

There is a significantly large proportion of call handlers that were found to have high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Call center mental health is at risk, due to the high levels of stress among call center employees.

This problem isn’t confined to one country, it’s a worldwide issue. For example, in Australia, an ABC News article had a shocking headline that call centre staff face insecurity and mental health issues secondary to abuse. A call center manager claimed that the high level of monitoring allowed for potential issues to be exacerbated. For example, if your job is highly monitored, your bad day is more apparent.

This is why the stress relating to key performance indicators is on the rise. If your employees are suffering from stress in your call center, their mental health is on the decline. They could become withdrawn, lethargic and unmotivated. This would lead to burnout and the eventual churn of the employees. However, with carefully constructed measures, this can be prevented.

Improving your Call Center Mental Health

There are a few steps to developing a healthy, inclusive culture in your call centre. The best way to start is to promote wellbeing, ensuring people are happy to talk about any issues that they may have. The most dangerous thing you can do is to let issues linger and fester. This will lead to them becoming much worse over time.

During the promotion of issues related with mental health, we are able to encourage discussion. The start of the discussion is the first step to finding solutions. And when a solution is found, you will see the drop of absence and, more importantly, you will be able to support your employees in leading a better quality of life.

Here are a few ideas on how to improve your call center mental health.

When does Call center mental health become an issue

If you notice an increase in absences within your call center, or if your call center employee churn has gotten higher than expected this year, then this could be a sign that your call center mental health needs improving. There is always a question of, how far does a call center’s duty of care extend to the mental well-being of its employees?

It is the employer’s duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of all employees. This means that they must do whatever is reasonably practicable to achieve this. Do not be afraid to include your managers.

It is likely that many managers will brush off the idea of watching over their employees mental health, along with the other issues they have to look for. However, all call centers that truly care about the well-being of its agents should take pre-emptive steps to protect their mental health.

The importance of engaging your employees

In the last decade there has been a focus on optimizing the working environment. The workplace optimization is there to help ensure that there are enough agents with the necessary skills to answer customers’ enquiries, however it sometimes fails to acknowledge the level of engagement or the job satisfaction of employees. Unfortunately this leads to an unmotivated and stressed workforce.

There is a cure for this, of course. Engaging your employees and your managers is always a good idea. For example, where traditional operational management techniques will increasingly fail, something new and innovative is needed. Try shifting the focus to employee engagement. This will help with nurturing a happier, more motivated workforce in your call center.

Focusing on the needs of your employees, mental or otherwise, will help with their well-being. There is also a proven correlation between an employee’s level of engagement and the impact it has on both the customer experience and overall corporate performance. The happier your agents are, the happier your customers will be!

Appoint Mental Health Workers

We are not talking about hiring a professional right away. Why not try talking to your managers and ask if one of them wants to become a mental health champion? They would be appointed to promoting the cause across your call centre. They will bring awareness to your call center mental health and work to improve it.

It is always better to assign the role to someone who is willing to talk about their own mental health challenges, so they can make the first move.

Once you have selected your resident mental health champion, ask them if they want to share their mental health story. If they are comfortable with it, spread that story across the call center. This will help to create a conversation.

It is good to have a senior member of management team that would like to spread this first story, as everyone will know who they are. This would encourage your employees to share their own stories and suggest what can be done to improve the working environment.

Train Your Managers to Handle Mental Health Issues

While your call center leaders aren’t doctors, you of course can’t expect them to have a detailed knowledge and resolve issues on the spot. However, they can be taught the requirement of dealing with people in different conditions.

Your call center managers should be able to notice the signs of stress and a toxic working environment and they should be able to work on improving it. If you have not tried this already, try setting up a training that would ensure that your managers can confidently respond to your call center mental health issues. They would know how to do this without embarrassment or ignorance.

Monitoring KPIs and Offering Assistance is Important

Sometimes, when people are given medical leave they might want to extend that time as much as possible. After a longer medical leave, coming back to work might seem like an ever bigger challenge.

It is important to prevent these situations. This can be done by closely monitoring absence and other indicators such as lateness or drops in KPIs. That way your managers can be educated on how to offer assistance before the problem escalates.

A CRM or a WFM system would be of great help here. This is how you will with ease notice the changes in employee behaviors. You will see a change regarding the quality of their work or their attendance. If one of your employees has a lower KPI, it would be the time to talk to them and see if you can help them.

Lead Internal Conversations

There are a lot of issues within call centers that can lead to a decline in mental health of your employees. This should be closely monitored by the managers that care about a healthy working environment.

The most important thing to do is to remain open to suggestion and to just talking. Some people do not like talking about their mental health, while some just need an incentive to do this.

Having an open company policy, where your employees can talk with their managers and work on resolving a situation before it becomes an issue will lead toward a healthy workplace.

While stress gets us out of bed in the morning, and we need some stress to complete an assignment or get to work on time, it is not healthy to be stressed all the time. While working, we are susceptible to an overload of stress. One that happens, it can become something we cannot respond to.

This is why it is important for a call center to create a culture in which the issues you are dealing with are not seen as a failure. Letting your employees feel vulnerable in a safe place and talking about their mental health and the ways to improve it, will be a huge step in the right direction.

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