Biggest Workplace Time Wasters

Posted on

June 21st, 2022

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Unauthorized absences are a multifaceted problem for employers. Employee absences are expensive, as salaried employees continue to draw a paycheck even if they don’t work. The company may have to pay other employees overtime if they must work longer to cover the work the absent employee didn’t complete. Productivity diminishes along with workplace morale as they shoulder the burden of an additional workload. Work quality is also likely to suffer as team members attempt to shift between multiple projects.

However, absenteeism isn’t the only attendance issue companies need to manage. Employees at all organizational levels waste time at some point while at work. The following are some of the most common time wasters during business hours:

  1. Email. Employees check their email more than 120 times per day. More often than not, they’re doing this in an attempt to be productive. Employees rely on email for most workplace communication. They check their inbox frequently to avoid missing an important email. However, this activity derails productivity, as employees spend 28% of their workweek checking their inboxes.
  2. Blurring personal and professional communication. Employees use their phones for work regularly. It’s a short leap to go from answering an email to replying to a friend’s text. Employees spend nearly an hour of their workday reading and replying to personal texts and taking personal phone calls. Employees spend 1.5 hours on social media daily, too. That’s 2.5 hours per day (more than 30%) spent on personal communication through texts, phone calls, and social sites.
  3. Aimless meetings. Meetings can enhance productivity and make sure team members understand project goals. However, poorly planned meetings, overly long meetings, and unnecessary meetings waste a significant amount of time. Employees perceive this and find other ways to spend their time. For example, 91% of employees daydream during meetings, 73% bring other work to do, and 39% admit to falling asleep.
  4. Busy work. Many tedious workplace processes are essential but consume too much of the workday (e.g., calculating or balancing accounts and filling out attendance records daily). Employees spend a cumulative total of an entire workday on menial jobs throughout the workweek.

The time spent on checking emails, personal communication, and menial tasks add up to almost 22 hours a week—over half of a typical work schedule. Automating specific tasks can help reduce the amount of busy work and subsequent boredom (a significant trigger for wasted time). Actec’s absence tracking mobile app allows employees to submit leave requests for sick days, holidays, and paid time off via a phone call, text or chat, or the app itself. It delivers all the data to a centralized location to easily identify absence trends and make data-based decisions for addressing attendance issues. Contact us to learn more about streamlining absence management.

How to Create an Office Environment Employees Will Love

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April 19th, 2022

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FNOLThe pandemic forced many companies to shift to an all-remote staff, but many are returning to the office as the omicron surge wanes. Flexibility and the option to telework are here to stay, and employees are likely to divide their time between the office and at home. However, employees have grown used to their home offices. The layout is to their liking, snacks are readily available, and their productivity is impressive. If their workspace at the office falls short by comparison, they aren’t going to want to be there. It’s also likely to tank their engagement and hinder their work output.

Office spaces should energize and motivate employees rather than leaving them underwhelmed and apathetic. Here are several ideas to cultivate workspaces that employees will love.

Create Collaborative Spaces

Teams need spaces to engage, bounce around ideas, and form a cohesive plan. Depending on the company culture and space availability, employees may prefer to gather on comfortable couches in break rooms, meet at a round table, or book a formal closed-door meeting. Stocking these rooms with tools that inspire creative collaboration (e.g., whiteboards and dry erase markers) can maximize their effectiveness.

Define Quiet Productivity Areas

Many employees struggled with distractions from pets, kids, family members, or other people living in the house while telecommuting. The workplace should seek to eliminate these noisy interruptions for times when employees need to focus. Meeting rooms away from the main office thoroughfare work well for this purpose, or companies can designate a productivity space that discourages phone calls, loud conversations, music, etc.

Design Workspaces with Employee Wellbeing in Mind

Enhanced cleaning protocols became the norm as the pandemic progressed, but companies can do much more to make the workplace a relaxing and supportive environment. Dark workspaces can leave employees feeling lethargic and unproductive. Increasing natural lighting in workspaces does wonders for employees’ happiness and engagement. Companies can achieve this with easy and cost-effective changes, such as moving workspaces to well-lit areas, adding mirrors to reflect the light, or using bright lights that mimic natural sunlight if it isn’t possible to rearrange the office layout. Eliminating clutter can also improve employees’ moods, as visual clutter often overwhelms employees and increases their stress.

The change to exclusively telecommuting happened quickly, and employees had little time to adjust. Businesses have much more control over the return-to-office process. Creating a workspace that employees want to use doesn’t have to be grand or cost prohibitive. Simple changes to layout and lighting can improve employees’ mood, productivity, and desire to go to the office.

The office setting needs to support employees’ creativity, productivity, and mental wellbeing. If their home offices are better equipped, companies may struggle to transition their workforce back into the workplace. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about what influences employee attendance and how you can improve it.

5 Surprising Advantages of a Four-Day Workweek

Posted on

November 2nd, 2021

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Everyone loves a three-day weekend. Employees chat excitedly about their plans for their extra day off, and they often return to the office with more energy and vigor for their work than usual. With employee burnout worse than ever, many businesses are looking for new and creative ways to combat the problem. For most organizations, the four-day workweek yielded impressive and unexpected benefits.

Why a Four-Day Workweek?

Advancements in technology expedited how quickly employees can complete tasks. However, this doesn’t mean employees can necessarily perform more work without suffering from burnout. There are only so many tasks, processes, and projects a single person can juggle each workweek. Many are questioning the validity of a five-day workweek, as long hours don’t always translate to better productivity in the modern workforce.

Benefits of a Shorter Workweek

Companies may worry that productivity will suffer or that they’ll struggle to meet deadlines if they reduce employee hours to four days a week while still providing a five-day workweek salary. However, numerous countries around the world are giving the four-day workweek a try and report the following benefits:

  1. Happier employees. Many employees spend their two days off running errands, attending appointments, and tending to their life responsibilities that have to wait during the workweek. They have little time for leisure, and it tanks their productivity. The additional day off allows employees to do the things they love so they can recharge.
  2. Reduced costs for businesses and their employees. Utility bills drop significantly for companies, as employees are in the office less. Employees use less water, less electricity, and produce less trash, which yields direct savings. Employees also save money on gas, coffee, and going out to lunch.
  3. Increased loyalty. Employees value workplace flexibility, and a four-day workweek is a significant perk to dangle. It improves their motivation, job satisfaction, and loyalty to their employer.
  4. Better productivity. Unhappy employees are less likely to give their full focus to their work, and they are more likely to have attendance problems. They may arrive late, duck out early, take long breaks, or chat with their coworkers instead of doing their work. With a shorter workweek, productivity rises as employees are less prone to these attendance issues. Employees that work a four-day workweek are also more creative and use their work hours much more effectively.
  5. Fewer health-related absences. Employees suffering from burnout are more likely to call out of work due to their mental health. Mental health problems can affect physical health as well, leading to more infections and illnesses. Many employees reported an improvement in their wellbeing when working a four-day workweek compared to a five-day one.

Some businesses adopting a four-day workweek model split their employees so that some work Monday through Thursday while the others work Tuesday through Friday. This approach ensures companies are still available to their customers five days a week while maintaining a reduced workweek for all employees. Flexible work hours are just one of the ways to improve employees’ health, productivity, and attendance. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more ways to reduce absenteeism.

How to Improve Your Call Center’s Internal Communication

Posted on

September 21st, 2021

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Quality customer service is the core goal of any call center, and it relies on call center agents’ communication skills. However, a call center will struggle to perform if internal communications are problematic. Contradictions from management, misunderstandings, and unclear directives can wreak havoc within a call center and reduce agents’ abilities to reach their target key performance indicators (KPIs).

Improving internal communication provides several benefits, including increased productivity, heightened employee morale, and a boost in profits. Companies can implement the following to improve their call centers’ internal communication:

  • Provide clear communication expectations. Employees use a variety of channels to communicate, such as emails, texts, phone calls, or in person. Outlining expectations for tone and usage of these channels can eliminate confusion and frustration.
  • Define each employee’s role. When employees don’t understand how their job contributes toward a team or company-wide goal, they’re likely to struggle or disengage. When employees know each other’s roles, it also empowers them to seek the right individual when handling a problem.
  • Incorporate transparency into training. Onboarding and ongoing training are critical to honing employees’ skills, but that may not be clear to everyone on the team. Explaining the why behind the training demonstrates honesty and respect for employees’ time.
  • Avoid spam-like communication. Employees aren’t machines, and they’re likely to glaze over when they open a long-winded or not-relevant-to-them email. Embedding pleasantries like “We appreciate your time and effort!” at the end of an email with little value comes across as empty and false. Emails should be easy to scan and truncated to the most salient points.

Ineffective communication within a call center can lead to information silos, process breakdowns, and unsatisfactory customer service. Excellent communication, both internal and external, is the backbone of a successful call center. Actec can provide your company with the high-quality call center you need. Contact us to learn more about our nearshore call center solutions.

How to Reduce Employee Turnover with Better Onboarding

Posted on

September 14th, 2021

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The employee onboarding process has far-reaching effects within an organization. Effective onboarding improves productivity, boosts employee retention, and reduces absenteeism. If a company is struggling to retain its workforce, an ineffective onboarding experience may explain the churn of new hires.

Onboarding and Productivity

An unsatisfactory onboarding experience can hinder productivity and diminish a new hire’s performance. On average, it takes eight months for a new employee to reach their full productivity potential. Unclear objectives are part of the reason for such a long timeline to proficiency, as 60% of organizations don’t set goals for new employees. Meanwhile, 35% of companies lack an onboarding process altogether, while 63% don’t extend the onboarding process beyond the new employee’s first month with the company. Most organizations stop the onboarding process after just one week.

The focus of the onboarding process often compounds the productivity problem as well. Fifty-eight percent of companies report that their onboarding process concentrates on paperwork and administrative tasks rather than helping new employees learn their job. In addition, one-third of employees experience inconsistent or reactive onboarding. The result of these issues is a discouraged employee without a clear understanding of their role.

Onboarding and Employee Retention

Replacing an employee is a costly process. Businesses must spend money on recruitment, training, benefits, and more. It can take up to half a year or more to see a return on investment with a new hire, so companies can’t afford to have a retention problem.

Studies have shown onboarding has a direct correlation with how long an employee will stay with their company. One-fifth of employee turnover occurs within their first 45 days on the job, and nearly a quarter of new hires leave within the first year of their employment. In contrast, 69% of employees are more likely to remain at their organization for three years if they have a satisfactory onboarding experience. In addition, 58% of employees are more likely to stay at their job beyond three years if their company has an efficient onboarding program.

Onboarding and Absenteeism

An employee’s onboarding experience sets the tone for their tenure with an organization. A great experience improves retention by 82%, while a poor one makes new hires twice as likely to seek alternate employment. However, turnover isn’t the only problem associated with poor onboarding. A negative onboarding experience can leave new hires disengaged and unmotivated to perform. Unhappy employees are more likely to have attendance problems, such as arriving late, leaving early, or failing to show up to work at all.

If productivity is lagging or turnover is surging among a company’s new hires, their onboarding process may be to blame. Problems with attendance are often an early warning sign that an employee is dissatisfied and considering looking for a new job. Tracking the frequency and type of absences can help companies identify struggling new hires. Businesses can use this information to offer new hires support and reduce the likelihood of turnover. Contact the experts at Actec to learn more about our absence reporting solutions.

Integrated Absence Strategies to Control Costs and Reduce Risk

Posted on

June 21st, 2021

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Large corporations commonly realize tangible operational improvements utilizing a cohesive absence management strategy. A few of the notable benefits include cost reduction, improved employee communication, and increased productivity. But large corporations aren’t the only organizations that silo their absence management, disability programs, and other human resource tasks. Whether you’re an organization of 100 employees or 10,000, separating HR functions can lead to:

 

  • Duplicate forms required to satisfy regulatory requirements (more work)
  • Inefficiencies in returning employees to work after their leave expired (wasted labor)
  • HR staff struggling to track all the different types of leave (wasted time, increased risk)

These inefficiencies also lead to drop in their revenue. Numerous organizations have merged their absence reporting and absence management with disability management in order to coordinate claims tracking, integrate lost time data, and implement best practices across all HR operations. The result:

  • A reduction in overall costs
  • An understanding of employee leave and absence drivers
  • A company-wide increase in productivity

Another step in this integration process was to establish a centralized reporting center. The call center offers employees a phone number that will connect them with a representative capable of tracking all absence types and answering any absence-related questions. You don’t have to be a large corporation to leverage an integrated absence management program. Contact the experts at Actec to learn what an integrated call center can do for your business.

4 Ways to Combat Pandemic Burnout in Call Center Agents

Posted on

January 26th, 2021

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COVID-19 is affecting every industry, particularly call centers. Call centers for medical facilities, insurance providers, and other related sectors are experiencing abnormally high call volumes from stressed customers. Regardless of industry, all call centers are dealing with upset and stressed out callers. Call center agents must be polite, patient, knowledgeable, and upbeat, which is difficult when managing customers’ stress on top of their own.

However, employers have to motivate call center agents as customers will remember which companies supported them through the pandemic crisis. Companies can use the following methods to keep their call center agents happy and reduce the likelihood of burnout:

  1. Focus on reducing stress. Employees need breaks, but a company’s culture may make them feel like they should work through lunch or after hours regularly. For example, employees may opt to take another call when they should be on their lunch break. Such practices can quickly burn out their enthusiasm for their jobs. Agents are also fielding more stressed customers than usual, which can affect their morale. Implementing stress-relieving activities such as app-guided breathing exercises between calls can help agents lower their stress levels.
  2. Provide encouragement. Recognizing a job well done or applauding soft skills can boost agents’ morale. It also provides an example for newer agents to follow and shows the team that management values their work.
  3. Protect top performers. Top-performing agents are the most likely to burnout due to the demands placed on them. For example, companies may ask top-performing agents to coach and train new employees. While this is a sound strategy, businesses need to balance top performers’ workloads as well. If they’re training new employees and trying to complete their usual amount of work, they’re likely to burnout.
  4. Offer bonuses and other rewards. Call center agents are working harder than ever during the pandemic. Offering cash bonuses, gift cards, gift baskets, and other non-monetary rewards can boost motivation and productivity. For example, companies can hold a monthly raffle for employees with perfect attendance or offer quarterly bonuses to top performers, most-improved employees, etc. When agents have something to look forward to or work towards, they’re less likely to lose enthusiasm for their jobs.

Call centers play a critical role in a business’s success. If your company is considering investing in a call center or looking for new options, Actec can help. Contact us to learn more about our nearshore call center services.

5 Techniques for More Effective Employee Scheduling

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January 19th, 2021

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Building an effective employee schedule is critical to every business’s success. This is true whether an organization operates 24/7, works a traditional nine to five, or spans unusual hours. While these companies have different scheduling requirements, all businesses can benefit from the following guidelines when putting together their employee’s schedules:

  1. Understand the business. Employers need to know their scheduling requirements before they can optimize work schedules. For example, 24-hour businesses will need rotating shifts, whereas companies that operate during standard business hours will do best with fixed schedules. Businesses like coffee shops or restaurants have an additional complication of peak business hours. For example, the coffee shop will need more employees to cover the morning influx of commuters, while restaurants will need to schedule more staff to cover the dinner rush.
  2. Consider employees’ needs. This isn’t as simple as knowing employee availability. Every employee has unique skills and preferences. Businesses that don’t consider these factors may schedule employees that are ill-suited to the shift. Continuing with the coffee shop example above, a new employee may have morning availability all week. However, their inexperience can become a significant bottleneck as they require more time to perform tasks than experienced employees do. It’s also best practice to try and schedule employees during their preferred hours. It may not always be possible, but it reduces employee turnover.
  3. Keep the schedule predictable. Employees appreciate having some consistency to their schedule. While this isn’t an issue for companies with standard work hours, it can be a problem for shift work or 24-hour businesses. For example, ER nurses that work 12-hour shifts won’t appreciate their schedules switching from night shift to day shift every week.
  4. Empower employees. Employees have lives outside of work, and they won’t always be able to work their usual schedule. Employers can implement software that allows employees to request time off rather than routing through a manager, then to a department head, before finally making it to HR. This allows companies to see all leave requests in one location, which facilitates better scheduling. It also gives employees some autonomy over their schedule.
  5. Invest in technology. The days of creating a schedule with pen and paper are long gone. Investing in the right software can reduce the burden of schedule building, improve productivity, and increase profits. Employers can also use software to identify trends and make data-based decisions.

Actec understands the complexity and nuances involved in scheduling employees. Without the proper software, businesses may run into labor compliance issues, struggle to keep up with leave requests, and overlook attendance problems. Our absence tracking mobile app helps ensure compliance with labor laws, allows employees to submit leave requests, and provides actionable insight into employee attendance. Contact us to learn how our mobile app can help your organization.

5 Causes of Costly Unplanned Overtime

Posted on

January 4th, 2021

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Working overtime happens in all industries, particularly during peak seasons. However, paying employees overtime is an expense that executives don’t accurately calculate into the budget. It can cause several headaches across multiple areas within the company as well. HR has to make sure the company complies with labor laws as well as field disgruntled employees. Managers have to distribute the additional hours across their teams, which makes scheduling a challenge. Employees that work overtime may harbor resentment toward their employers or burn out from the extra work.

The costs of unplanned overtime have a domino effect throughout the entire organization. If businesses are paying more for overtime than they planned for, they may have one of the following problems:

  1. A company culture that encourages working overtime. If employees receive bonuses for working overtime, it can incentivize staying late. Similarly, if management or company leadership conflates loyalty with working overtime, employees may feel their job is in danger if they don’t work more than 40 hours a week.
  2. Chronic staffing issues. Every company has surges that may require employees to work late. However, if these periods of knuckling down become a weekly event, the company may have a staffing shortage. Employees that seem burned out or complain of needing a vacation may have too much work for one individual.
  3. Insufficient training. Employers may notice certain employees take an excessive amount of time to perform their work. This issue could also present as new employees consistently taking longer than their coworkers to perform the same task. Providing employees with additional training or professional development opportunities can help cut down on this kind of unplanned overtime.
  4. Outdated technology. Slow technology or insufficient equipment can hamstring productivity. If employees don’t have the tools they need to complete their work within normal hours, the overtime will begin to accumulate.
  5. An unclear or poorly enforced overtime policy. If managers aren’t clear on policies, they may consistently schedule overtime without realizing the costs. Employees may also work additional hours without approval if the company handbook doesn’t outline the rules for working overtime.

Having advanced attendance tracking technology can provide actionable insights to help businesses combat unplanned overtime. Actec’s absence tracking mobile app provides data so companies can identify trends. This allows them to pinpoint which departments or employees have consistent attendance issues. Whether your company is struggling with employee tardiness, absenteeism, or unplanned overtime, Actec can help. Contact us to learn more about our absence tracking mobile app.

4 Benefits of Allowing Call Center Employees to Socialize

Posted on

December 28th, 2020

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Considering that call center employees spend their working hours on the phones with customers, opportunities for socializing may seem scant. However, agents aren’t tethered to their seats from the moment they arrive to the instant they clock out of work for the day. Employees visit the breakroom for coffee, take breaks for lunch, or pass each other in the halls.

While productivity-driven employers may frown upon idle chatter, socializing amongst agents can reap several benefits:

  1. Happier employees. Call center agents spend a significant portion of their day at work. If employees don’t engage with each other, the office can quickly become a dreary place. Call center employees who don’t enjoy their work environment are less likely to grow their skills or deliver superior service to customers.
  2. Faster onboarding. The first few days on the job are often daunting for new employees. Even if their employer provides extensive training and guidelines, employees often learn better from their peers. They can discover helpful tips that help them perform better at their job and find their fit within the company’s culture.
  3. Less employee turnover. Call centers often struggle to retain employees for several reasons, some of which are outside of their control. However, allowing employees to socialize is an effective means to reduce the turnover rate. The environment is friendlier, which helps employees perform better. These successes often lead to praise and recognition, which fuels future efforts in the workplace. When employees thrive in the workplace, they’re more likely to stay.
  4. Better collaboration and coaching. All teams are stronger when they work together. Call center employees that socialize are more likely to help each other out or offer advice. Without this camaraderie, employees are less likely to improve, engage, or enjoy their work.

Managing a call center is a challenging task but well worth the effort. If your company is considering investing in a call center, Actec can help. Contact us to learn more about our nearshore contact center solutions.