According to a study by Circadian, unscheduled absenteeism costs $3,600 a year for each hourly worker and $2,650 for each salaried employee, which highlights the fact that you absolutely cannot ignore absenteeism within your contact center business.

However, managers aren’t stuck dealing with the costs if they know how to prevent absenteeism, and have an action plan to minimize it. So how is a contact center manager supposed to prevent and manage sudden staff absences?

Make sure staff schedules are updated with sick or annual leave as soon as you become aware of it.

1. Update schedules immediately

Make sure staff schedules are updated with sick leave and vacation as soon as you become aware of it. This will help provide everyone with a better insight into the impact that the absence is likely to have, enabling you to optimize breaks, meetings or other activities during the day so that your customers’ experience is impacted as little as possible.

If the absence isn’t entered until later, other activities might be approved that shouldn’t be.

2. Try to understand and empathize

If sudden absence is due to a negative event like illness or bereavement, HR firm KGA recommends that office managers begin all conversations about the required time off with “I’m sorry you’re going through this.” Managers should then offer their assistance or, at the very least, their ear.

While this won’t necessarily help on the day of a sudden absence, it could prevent absenteeism in the future. Forbes explains that a lack of staff motivation can cause absenteeism. And motivation is linked to job satisfaction, which in turn is linked to empathy. The Center for Creative Leadership found in a study that there’s a positive relationship between manager empathy and staff job satisfaction levels.

3. Deploy smarter, faster tools

Intelligent workforce management solutions can make a huge difference when office managers are trying to cope with sudden staff losses. Call Center Helper – the world’s leading contact center magazine – says that a major cause of agent call avoidance, which often leads to staff absence and attrition, is getting routed calls at the wrong times. For example, a 30-minute troubleshooting call five minutes before the end of a shift.

However, integrating an effective scheduling system like Aspect WFM into your center will give you greater oversight on staff workloads so you can better manage long-duration call types in the future. Additionally, schedules that can be viewed and modified in real time can help you balance the workload between agents should someone suddenly become absent.

Australian call centre leaders can prevent absenteeism with better scheduling.

4. Offer easier shift-swapping

Call Center Helper also recommends allowing shift swapping between agents to reduce absenteeism. Managers might feel like they need to intricately control shifts and schedules, but in actual fact, most agents will be more than willing – and capable – of swapping between themselves in order to meet the needs of both their personal and work lives.

This is another area where contact center management software is important. A tool like Aspect WFM or the Call Design ME app allows agents to quickly and easily request leave or swap shifts, without the need for the often slow process of manager intervention

5. Education

Ensure you educate staff on the “The Power of One“. The purpose of these sessions is to help staff understand why their attendance and adherence is important.

If you’re interested in optimizing your workforce with better software or training, contact Call Design today to see what our consultants can do for you.