Thursday, August 25, 2011

Planning for Attrition

Are You Crazy? Who Would Plan Attrition?

Knowing that it costs thousands of dollars to recruit and train your phone agents, don’t you wish that they would just stay with you forever until they retired? Yeah – as managers we all dream of life as it was in the 1950’s, where people stayed with the company they joined out of high school and worked loyally until they earned their gold watch….but that isn’t our reality any more.

Today, on average, people change jobs 11 times across their career (about every 4 years). Many of us think people would only change jobs because they are moving up – but that isn’t necessarily the case. In today’s fast paced economy, where companies are moving work around the globe, automating, downsizing, merging, and divesting, it is very common for employees to get caught in the flux, meaning they are changing jobs not by choice, but because they’ve been forced to. Due to this Americans have come to expect that they won’t be staying with one company long term. We now live in a world where companies aren’t loyal to their employees and employees aren’t loyal to their companies.

So, what can we expect from employees? How do we plan for the fact that we may only get 4-ish years from each one? You plan for attrition!

Planned attrition is when you know on average you lose xx number of agents per month, so you put it into your financial budget knowing that you will need to replace them. You start by planning for the worst, and then strive to have a positive impact on the things you can influence.

Attrition comes in many forms – with agents who:

  • Don’t succeed through training
  • Aren’t able to perform up to requirements once they are on the floor
  • For whatever reason are unable to fulfill their shift hours
  • Get promoted to another position within the company
  • Leave the company – for whatever reasons (going back to school, pay increase, more responsibility, schedule needs, closer to home, etc.)
  • Agents who are just working for you as seasonal help

Some of these things we can influence and some we can’t. Smart managers look at each type of attrition and dig in to find out why it is happening, and then put action plans around things they can influence in a positive manner. For example, if you have a lot of people leaving and they all have the same supervisor or quality coach, you might want to explore the leadership style of their leaders. Or if you have a group of agents who are all struggling to meet their metrics – was it something to do with their initial training? Do they all need another day in class, or some time nesting with a Sr. agent? OR are they really just a poor fit and it would be better to let them go?

As managers we have to weigh the cost of continuing to work with an agent who is struggling vs. bringing someone brand new up to speed. I know we wish people would just come to work, do their jobs, and go home. But people aren’t that easy – they have thoughts, feelings, opinions, needs, desires, goals, etc. And as their leaders, we have to address all these components in addition to motivating them to get their work done in an efficient and quality manner. And something that does drag on even your best performers is the constant churn of their co-workers.

Let’s see how the type of call center work impacts attrition….

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