Customer Experience News & Trends

5 signs workers have had too much — and 7 ways to cut their stress

Some agents wear their emotions on their sleeves. Others mask them like Zorro. But very few can hide stress successfully.

Contact center leaders want to keep an eye out for signs that agents are over-stressed or overwhelmed before the pressure hurts their work and lives.

Here’s what to look for, according to researchers. You’ll likely see these signs in stressed-out agents:

  • Recurring anger and irritability (not just an instance after a bad call or day)
  • Poor memory
  • Lowered quality of work
  • Fatigue (they may talk about being tired or look like they are), and
  • Increased illness (they’ll take more sick days).

Remind you of any agents in your contact center? Probably, considering the demand they face every day.

As a leader, part of your job is to help agents avoid, curb or deal with stress. You might not be able to decrease their workload (which can help reduce stress, but that’s not guaranteed anyway), but these tips can help them better deal with situations that cause stress before or after they occur.

Stress reducers

Pass along these tips — and keep them handy for your own well-being:

  1. Be a rock, not a sponge. Rather than absorb them, let customers’ frustrations and rants roll off you. Yes, you have to listen, and no, you can’t bite back. But instead, take care of issues and walk off or talk off any pent-up anxiety with a friend.
  2. Stay in control of your mood. Decide how you want to feel after work, and do everything you can to maintain control of that (good, positive, energized) mood throughout each day. Avoid negative co-workers. Plan fun or relaxing things for breaks.
  3. Keep the right balance. When work is stressful, take a moment to think how life is good. One contact center manager encourages agents to put a photo of a good time with family or friends at eye level in their cubes as a reminder that work is work, and family, friends and fun are life. It’s important, too, to separate the two. Leave life problems at the office door. Leave work inside the doors.
  4. Make healthy choices. You’ve heard it before: Chocolate and YouTube won’t make you feel as good as nuts and a brisk walk. Now do something about it!
  5. Step away. Stressful situations will only get worse if you stay in the middle of them. Excuse yourself, take a breather and go back into them with a clear mind so they can be resolved and you can move on.
  6. Avoid over-commitment. Even when you want to move up the business ladder, you can’t agree to do everything. Pick the right opportunities when asked to add to your to-do list. Stay focused on job tasks while at work, and you should seldom have to stay late to get it all done.
  7. Prioritize. Keep a to-do list. Put it in order of priority and get the most important stuff done first.

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