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Scheduling

Shift puzzleOne of the most controversial issues in a contact center is the scheduling of shifts, especially when a center works outside the regular nine-to-five working hours and weekends. Then we have to deal with evening shifts, and very often, overnight shifts as well. Generally these are not very popular with agents. They’re off when most people are at work, work when most people are off, or enjoy the weekends, public holidays and events, such as the World Cup. With changes in shifts, we can’t commit going to that wedding a month from now, etc….

Unfavorable shifts will bring about high absenteeism, attrition and low morale. Productivity is impacted and recruitment becomes all the more difficult. To overcome these challenges, we’ve made a list of best practices in use at best-in-class centers:

  1. Create schedules that take longer time periods into account, allowing team members more future planning. Knowing what to expect allows them to plan better.
  2. Allow swaps and trades. Let people have more flexibility in covering each other without impacting the business.
  3. Allow agent preferences. All can’t be honored but an attempt can be made to the greatest extent possible.
  4. Reward top performers by granting preferred shifts. Let everyone know that the better quality, CSAT or attendance delivered, the greater the empowerment, control and planning of one’s life.
  5. Give those who have to work during holidays or special events something extra. For example, at Christmas, give small token gifts. During the soccer world cup and major games, perhaps mount a few TVs in the center, with the games on – in muted mode.
  6. Give extra compensation for overnight shifts to encourage greater volunteering.
  7. Use balanced rotations and ensure fairness of the more preferred shifts.
  8. Use the same blocks of time for shifts and days off for a longer duration.
  9. Keep changes reasonable. An agent going home at 10 pm on Monday night, and required to come in at 9 am on Tuesday, and then 7 am on Wednesday is a strain.
  10. Careful with overtime. It is required at times with temporary volume increases. Utilized too much and the staff will tire out. It will back-fire, increasing sickness levels and absenteeism.

Today, there are some great, automated workforce management software programs that will make incorporation these suggestions a real cinch.

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