A Guide to Improving Mental Health and Reducing Stress in the Contact Centre in 2024

Author: Simon Black | Date: 02/02/2024

Mental health issues have become more prominent in the workplace and statistics reveal that 1 in 4 people experience mental health issues every year.1 It has never been more important for employers to consider staff wellbeing – especially when an estimated 12 billion working days are lost globally each year due to depression and anxiety.2

Various studies have shown that call centre agents are at a higher risk of suffering from mental health issues. One study suggested that more than eight in 10 call centre workers feel that their work is worsening their mental health,3 with 95% of those surveyed admitting that work-related wellbeing problems were reducing their productivity.4

Before the emergence of the in-depth insights we have today, agent stress was often misunderstood as someone simply not being ‘cut out for the job’. Thankfully, with more understanding about mental health, those perceptions are changing. Across the industry, it’s now a priority for contact centre leaders to understand how to support positive mental health and wellbeing for their agents. There are multiple steps contact centres can take to improve employee wellbeing, including utilising technology to support agents.

This guide explores the best techniques to reduce agent anxiety and stress in contact centres in 2024 and tackle employee burnout head-on.

Suggested reading: Read our eBook, Your Contact Centre Could Operate Better… A Lot Better, to learn more about how agent wellbeing can improve contact centre operations.

The problem with contact centre wellbeing

It is a well-researched fact that call centre agents have a higher risk of stress and mental health issues when compared to employees in other industries. It’s not uncommon for call centre agents to feel emotionally drained, experience sleep problems, or take anti-anxiety medication because of their work.5

To tackle this problem, employers must understand the causes of call centre stress and the impact it can have on their business. This is the first step towards effective call and contact centre management.

The causes of contact centre stress and anxiety

Call centres are fast-paced and competitive environments, and the role can be extremely demanding. Below are some of the key factors that contribute to poor mental wellbeing in contact centres. 

  • Target-driven environment: Contact centre agents work on tightly controlled schedules and have intense pressure to perform well and hit targets. 
  • Challenging interactions: Contact centre agents are expected to handle a high volume of customer service calls and often have to deal with complaints.
  • Repetitive tasks: Contact centre agents typically perform the same tasks throughout the working day and follow monotonous scripts which can lead to low job satisfaction. 
  • Low salary: Most call centre agents are given a relatively low salary which can cause financial stress. They may also have a lack of career progression opportunities which may lead to low morale.

How employee wellbeing can impact your contact centre business

  • Lost workdays: Poor mental health is one of the leading causes of lost workdays in the UK. Physical and mental stress can lead to employees being absent from work and underperforming when they are in; globally, an estimated $1 trillion is lost per year as a result of depression and anxiety.6
  • Low productivity: Stress may also cause employees to become less productive when they are in the workplace, making it harder for contact centres to keep up with demand. First Contact Resolution is likely to decrease, alongside customer satisfaction.
  • Poor customer service: Employees dealing with stress are more likely to cause customer service challenges, which may affect client relationships and reduce customer satisfaction. 
  • High turnover: High stress levels will affect employee morale and this is likely to increase staff turnover rates. Recruiting and training new call centre agents is expensive – so it pays to retain your existing staff!

Suggested reading: Learn more ways to reduce turnover by reading our article, 8 Ways You Can Reduce Call Centre Staff Turnover.

Improving agent wellbeing in contact centres

Mental health and stress among call centre employees can lead to burnout and serious health complications. This can have a significant negative impact on the customer experience, productivity and profits. 

Employers must be aware of this problem and take steps to protect their employees’ wellbeing, boost mental health in the workplace, and take steps towards becoming an intelligent contact centre. We will explore 5 ways to achieve this goal below. 

1. Create a welcoming culture

Work culture is closely linked to employee wellbeing as a welcoming culture will make agents feel happier and encourage productivity. 

Getting the culture right starts from day 1 with training and onboarding. With the right technology, new agents can be onboarded quickly without the need for weeks or months of training as guidance and assistance solutions eliminate the need to learn every intricate detail of complex processes.

The time that’s saved can be channelled back into training programs that focus on more enjoyable soft-skill programs and career development sessions.

Here are a few tips to create a positive workplace culture in your contact centre: 

  • Encourage your employees to bond with team-building activities.
  • Celebrate successes and reward staff for their hard work.
  • Encourage employees to share feedback with managers and ask for support when needed. 
  • Create light, open workspaces that are warm and decorated to a high standard.

Pro tip: Plants are powerful mood boosters that have been shown to improve employee wellbeing by 40%.7 Adding greenery is a simple way to improve morale and create a positive working environment.

2. Train managers to deal with mental health issues

Mental health issues are not always easy to spot and can go unnoticed and become more serious. It’s important to educate your managers on the importance of mental health in the workplace and how to support agents who are feeling stressed or burnt out. 

Mental health training will help your managers spot the signs of anxiety and stress and give them the skills to provide support and improve employee wellbeing.

Pro tip: Don’t forget about your managers too. It can be easy to focus all your attention on agents and their wellbeing, but line managers often feel stressed and under pressure.

Implement a regular program of check-ins for managers so that they feel supported and able to confidently help their teams.

3. Monitor and reward performance

Monitoring employee performance plays an important role in improving wellbeing and productivity in the workplace. Technology has made it easy for managers to track agent performance in contact centres. 

For instance, managers can use a customer sentiment analytics tool to monitor the interactions that agents have with customers. This software uses conversational analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to interpret customers’ unspoken feelings.

Pro tip: One area that can also help is improving agent remuneration. If budgets are challenging, contact centre leaders may not think that improving pay and bonuses is a viable option. But one of our clients was able to use the money they saved from reducing agent churn after deploying our platform and used it to award a bonus to their agents. Although financial recompense isn’t solely responsible for improving employee wellbeing, it can help alleviate financial difficulties agents are facing.

4. Offer support when it’s needed

Where appropriate, companies should offer call centre agents specialist support such as stress management resources, counselling, or professional mental health referrals. This support will address mental health issues and improve employees’ wellbeing. 

Pro tip: Providing technology that works with the agent rather than against them can also reduce anxiety and stress in the workplace by helping agents perform better and feel more confident in their roles.

5. Deploy cutting-edge contact centre technology

Agents are expected to be knowledgeable in a vast array of products and services, including process steps, timescales, systems and hand-off requirements for support departments.

Technology has revolutionised call centres and can be utilised to streamline processes and enhance the customer experience. One of the key benefits of modern AI-driven contact centre technology is that it also makes it easier to monitor employee performance and wellbeing, even when they are working remotely. 

Pro tip: Hold improvement sessions that combine data from your contact centre platforms with agent suggestions. This engages agents and can improve wellbeing as they feel part of the journey to identify future transformations.

Key takeaways

  1. Contact centre technology can identify where improvements can be made with the help of agent training and refresher courses. 
  2. Contact centre technology allows managers to support their agents and make their jobs easier with tools like scripting and desktop automation. 
  3. Contact centre technology can improve job satisfaction and boost productivity, leading to higher customer satisfaction and profits.

Use technology to manage and improve employee wellbeing

Having the right contact centre technology can help you improve mental health in the workplace and manage call centre anxiety and stress. However, you must partner with the right provider if you want to get the most out of your investment and achieve the desired outcomes.

Awaken has an AI-driven suite of tools that have been specifically designed to support call centre agents and maintain a productive working environment. Our innovative software comes with a host of extra features designed to improve customer service and support positive agent wellbeing:

Our intelligent agent software has been shown to increase operational efficiency and profitability within call centres by 85% and 300%.

Book a bespoke demo of Awaken to see how our solutions can improve mental health in the workplace, improve agent performance, and boost customer satisfaction. Our team is ready to answer any questions you have about Awaken and our products.

1  Mental health facts and statistics

2  Mental health at work 

3  Eight in 10 call centre workers feeling mental strain 

4  Poor Mental Health Costs UK Contact Centres Almost £1 Billion Each Year 

5  Making Call Center Jobs Better: The Relationship between Management Practices and Worker Stress 

6  Mental health at work 

7  Plant some wellbeing in the office