If your contact center is like most, you may experience a dip in productivity and agent performance during the fall and winter months, Likewise, you may notice more disgruntled or distraught consumers or clients on the other end of the phone lines. While this pattern is normal, there is a cause behind it - and it’s one you can address to create a better work environment for your call center agents and better customer experiences for your consumers.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
SAD - or seasonal affective disorder - may be the root cause of a loss of productivity in your contact center. This seasonal form of depression occurs for many sufferers between fall and winter as a result of lower light levels and temperatures, which force us to remain indoors for longer periods during the shorter daylight hours. All of this comes together to create a breeding ground for poor production of serotonin and other feel-good chemicals in the brain, leaving those who suffer from SAD feeling exactly that.
How SAD Affects Your Call Center Agents and Consumers
Had you heard of seasonal affective disorder before reading this? You likely had, but it is less likely that you knew just how prevalent the condition is. Around ten million Americans are diagnosed with the condition annually, while another whopping estimated 10-20% of the American population is thought to suffer from at least a mild form of the condition. It often goes unreported due to mental health stigma, but can cause serious, real-world problems for sufferers.
How do these statistics and this condition impact your call center agents and callers? Statistically speaking, it is very likely that you have at least a small portion of your staff dealing with the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder throughout the fall and winter. This can cause numerous concerns for both mental and emotional health, all of which can eventually impact work productivity and efficiency. Some of these concerns include:
- Mood swings
- Feelings of sadness or frustration with no apparent cause
- Feeling hopeless, guilty, or worthless
- Difficulty focusing or concentrating
- Low energy levels
- Trouble sleeping
- Feeling lethargic or sluggish
- Being easily agitated
- Loss of interest in hobbies or enjoyable activities
- Changes in taste, weight, or appetite
- Oversleeping or overeating
- Social withdrawal
- Thoughts of death or suicide in extreme cases
Just as your call center agents can be impacted, so too can callers. These same emotional issues can lead to shorter tempers and less patience, causing rudeness when dealing with your agents. This, in turn, only heightens the irritation or frustration being felt by agents dealing with SAD, leading to a cycle of problems that seems to have no escape until the spring sunshine dawns.
Combating SAD in Your Contact Center
Just because many people suffer from seasonal affective disorder doesn’t mean your entire team of call center agents has to. If you find that many of your staff members are sluggish, sad, or otherwise feeling less-than-stellar at work this fall and winter, there are many ways to combat the problem on both an individual level and as a group.
Here are a few ways to work against this common problem in your workplace:
Let the Light In
The strongest force that exists in fighting seasonal affective disorder is light. Preferably natural sunlight. The light triggers the production of chemicals in the brain which can help restore mood balance, improve energy levels, regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycle, and more. All of this, just form a little more exposure to the sun.
During the winter, it isn’t always possible to take a quick walk during work breaks. Freezing temperatures and precipitation make this inadvisable in many parts of the country. Compromise - and fueled the brains and bodies of your call center agents - by letting light in through windows as much as possible. Make it a company policy to allow more light into your building during the fall and winter months and watch productivity skyrocket.
Stay on Schedule
It can be easy during the months that revolve around holidays and other festivities to get off-schedule. In doing so, though, we may throw our body’s natural clock out of alignment. This can trigger or worsen the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.
To prevent this problem, ensure that your staff sticks to their regular schedule as much as possible. Allow for vacations and holiday off-time, but insist on punctuality and productivity at work.
Keep It Moving
Your agents may benefit from movement during bouts with SAD. The condition is known to cause aches and pains along with mental and emotional symptoms, and the lower energy levels and negative emotions associated with SAD can make it difficult to want to exercise.
While you can’t take your team to the gym, you can bring the gym to them. Encourage movement between work shifts, during breaks and on lunch hours, and even consider booking a private instructional class for your team one day each month. This way, you’ll offer them both relief from their symptoms and a whole lot of fun at the office.
Bring Your Technology Up to Date for Easier Workdays
Work is frustrating and tiresome when it’s tedious or challenging. While call centers have a reputation for being both, there’s no reason for them to be. You can make the tasks your call center agents do every day easier and make your team more productive with a few technological upgrades.
Swap out old software. Upgrade your hardware for newer models. Before long, things will be easier on your staff - and your callers will be greeted by happier employees ready to make their days a little brighter, too.
Ready to create a more comfortable, brighter, and happier place for your call center agents to work this fall and winter? Contact the industry experts at ChaseData for the tools and technology you need to streamline everyday operations and make the most of the great indoors this season. Give us a call today to see what we can do for you!