Burnout may cause sea of troubles for contact centers

In the world of credit unions, where trust and relationships are vital, member service reigns supreme. Often, your contact center is your frontline, where member questions are answered, problems are resolved, and relationships are established or nurtured. There’s only one problem: The struggle to keep contact center employees from experiencing burnout is real—and ongoing.

Imagine for a moment your contact center agents are stalwart sailors navigating a turbulent sea of member inquiries, striving to maintain a steady ship. Additionally, they have their own personal turmoil to manage on top of their work tasks. Are your agents battening down the hatches to weather the storm? Or are they abandoning ship?

That’s the essence of call center attrition, the inevitable—sometimes relentless—churn of valuable employees leaving your team. Fortunately, there are measures you can take to minimize its impact. In this article, we’ll explore the signs of workplace fatigue, what causes it, and how you can set up your teams—and, ultimately, your credit union—for success.

The leading cause of contact center attrition

In the wake of the pandemic, burnout has been on the rise. More than a trendy buzzword, burnout is a well-documented occurrence that has captured the attention of psychologists and business leaders worldwide. In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) formally recognized it as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” In a recent report from Future Forum, more than 40% of workers polled across six countries said they are experiencing burnout, a new record since the consortium began tracking the phenomenon in 2021.

Causes and signs of burnout

Odds are good that burnout is impacting your contact center agents in some way. The stress they’re under could be a culmination of multiple things. Here are some primary drivers that may inhibit their success:

  • Unmanageable workload
  • Lack of influence
  • Improper support system
  • Lack of flexibility
  • Scarcity of rewards

When employees have reached—or are nearing—their stress threshold, you may notice some indicators that things are off course. Watch out for the following trends:

Tardiness and absenteeism: Employees who exhibit a pattern of tardiness or calling in could be early warning signs, especially if it runs contrary to the individual’s typical behaviors. Similarly, not reporting for shifts at all is a red flag.

Pessimism or irritability: An employee’s poor attitude could be a distress signal. Burned out employees may express negativity toward their workplace or become more prone to losing their patience with coworkers or customers.

Not productive, making mistakes: Burnout can negatively impact workplace performance, making it difficult for employees to meet milestones or perform even routine work accurately.

How employee burnout impacts your members

The waves caused by burnout don’t just affect your contact center staff and leaders. The ripples can spread throughout your credit union, causing tumult in various areas like customer experience, company culture, and operational costs.

When experienced, knowledgeable agents leave your contact center, they leave a void that new hires may struggle to fill. As a result, your members could notice a dip in service, reducing their overall satisfaction with your credit union.

A high attrition rate can also wither away morale and negatively influence the culture within your credit union, making it challenging to retain qualified candidates. Plus, the cost of hiring and training new agents can strain budgets and may lead to reduced productivity and increased errors.

Plotting a course to improved retention

Understanding the causes and indicators of burnout is crucial to effective intervention. Knowing the obstacles your employees face and how to navigate them will set up your people leaders and their teams for success.

Invest in technology: For instance, you may consider updating technology to help ease your contact center staff’s workload, not only in ways that make communicating and collaborating across teams easier, but also in ways they complete specific work tasks. Tech such as interactive voice response (IVR), chatbots, or other web-based support could reduce contact center workload by empowering members to use effective self-service channels to handle simple tasks.

Provide beneficial options: Flexibility is key for today’s employees, so evaluate your work model. Are your agents working in a physical contact center, are they remote, or is it a combination of the two? In the same report by Future Forum, 81% of respondents said they wanted location flexibility while a staggering 93% said they wanted schedule flexibility. If your credit union’s policies don’t allow for remote work, think about expanding your contact center hours to give employees the freedom to work a shift that helps them achieve greater work-life balance.

Empower your employees: Lastly, give your employees the power to influence workplace decisions—and something to strive for. Let their voices be heard and implement their feedback whenever possible. How your credit union addresses employee issues can go a long way toward making your teams happy. And fair compensation combined with attractive productivity bonuses incentivizes quality output without making your staff feel like they’re overworked.

Smooth sailing ahead

The journey to conquering contact center burnout is challenging, but the right strategies can help. For more than 30 years, SWBC’s Total Contact Center Solution has helped credit unions of various sizes overcome their barriers to success. From seamlessly handling call overflow to effortlessly expanding contact center hours, our teams and technology can integrate with your staff to provide quality service that aligns with your values. To see how we can help keep your members satisfied, your costs in check, and your employee morale high, visit our website.


SWBC is a CUES Premier Supplier Member.

Janet Loriot

Janet Loriot

As Executive Vice President of The Financial Institution Group, Janet Loriot manages all of operations and technology for the insurance tracking business, customer service, and the collections operations. These operations ... Web: www.swbc.com Details