On Jul, 15 2022
Finding a balance between professional and personal obligations as a contact center agent is never easy. Leaning too far in one direction can have unintended consequences and can leave you in a place where apologies, either to your boss or family, are necessary.
To help strike the right balance, more contact centers are turning to workforce management (WFM) software to provide unique options for agents so they can better align their needs both at work and at home. Below are some of the best work/life scheduling methods this technology enables for modern contact centers.
Split shifts – Depending on the daily contact volume fluctuations, a scheduling solution like split shifts can be a win for both agent balance and overall operations. It involves splitting up a shift so there is at least one gap in the shift during the day. An example would be working from 8AM to noon and then again from 4PM to 8PM. It can be a good choice for busy parents who need to provide transportation and care for their children.
Gig and self-scheduling – Putting at least some of the scheduling power back in the hands of agents is a great way to improve the balance within your workforce. Both solutions allow gig agents to create their own schedules and decide when they want to work (assuming it fits your requirements). While this “Uber model” may not be a fit for all contact centers, it can sometimes leave only sporadic scheduling gaps after the parameters are put into place.
Shift bidding – This solution is powerful and can be managed entirely by a modern WFM software solution. A WFM analyst will create multiple schedules and ask agents to bid on them based on their personal preference. Once all agents have placed a bid the schedule will be created automatically and every agent will be notified of their upcoming shifts. It’s a great way for agents to select a schedule that is more aligned with their lifestyle. In addition, incentives for top performers or senior agents can also be set up to ensure they have a higher chance of getting to work when they want to during the shift bidding process.
Shift swaps – Life happens and it’s important a contact center has ways to support agents without always demanding they finish out their shift. Implementing a solution like shift swaps is a great way for agents to find their own replacement when they need one. An agents can swap a full shift, a partial shift, a break/lunch, and more. Complex swaps can even happen between multiple agents with the right WFM technology. To ensure every swaps make sense, they can all be closely monitored and approved by a WFM analyst.
Flex scheduling – Agents may be busier in their personal life on some days than others but still want to hit their hours for the week. Flex scheduling is a great solution for an agent that can’t work a 9 to 5 shift on a specific day. If they can only work until 2PM on Tuesday, they can utilize a flex schedule to make up three hours later in the week. While this may not work for all contact centers, many have figured how to make flex scheduling an option within their staffing requirements.
Preference-based scheduling – Different agents have different priorities. It’s a core reason why preference-based scheduling is being implemented within contact centers to meet the unique work/life balance of every agent. For example, if Tuesday afternoon is a frequent conflict for an agent, they can provide availability that states having this day and time off is the top preference for them when a schedule is made. An agent often has additional preferences, like not working on Friday morning, which a WFM analyst will try to accommodate as well and can also be a backup option if granting the top preference isn’t possible. This type of scheduling is a way to meet agents in the middle while still satisfying requirements from unions, state/local laws, and company policies.
To summarize, there are several ways WFM software helps give agents the work/life balance they want. If you’re unsure of which contact center scheduling method would work best for you, asking agents directly is a good staring point and a great way to obtain feedback on scheduling processes. Doing exactly what they want may not make sense, but it can give you an idea of what does and doesn’t matter. This information can help you determine the best solution to improve both your operations and agent morale.