De-Stress Your Call Center: How to Manage In a Stressful Environment

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The reality is that job-related stress has long been the nemesis of employees/employers around the globe. Stress has been linked in studies to everything from increased illness and related absenteeism, lower productivity to obesity. Given the economic situation we have experienced over the last few years, the reality is that many are working harder for less money, and still wind up wondering (and hoping) if they’ll have a job at day’s end. All of this combined with new technologies that make it easier than ever to work anytime, anywhere and you’ve got the “perfect storm” – high levels of on-the job stress.

The truth is that no matter who you are and/or what job you have, how good or bad the economy is, etc. we will all experience some level of stress on-the-job. So the answer isn’t waiting for the circumstances of your job and/or the economy to change. A better answer is to learn how to manage your stress before it manages you!

What is stress?

According to Dr. Hans Seyle, one of the prominent psychologists of the twentieth century and one of the first to research, understand and define stress; stress is the “single, nonspecific reaction of the body to a demand made upon it.” Put another way, stress is the psychological and physiological reaction that takes place when you perceive an imbalance in the level of demand being placed on you and your ability to meet that demand. The key words in the latter definition are the words, “you perceive.” Seyle said, “It’s not the event but your perception of it that makes all the difference.” So there isn’t a single event that categorically leads to stress. Two people faced with the same event may perceive it differently. One may find it stressful; the other may not.

According to Dr. Hans Seyle, one of the prominent psychologists of the twentieth century and one of the first to research, understand and define stress; stress is the “single, nonspecific reaction of the body to a demand made upon it.” Put another way, stress is the psychological and physiological reaction that takes place when you perceive an imbalance in the level of demand being placed on you and your ability to meet that demand. The key words in the latter definition are the words, “you perceive.” Seyle said, “It’s not the event but your perception of it that makes all the difference.” So there isn’t a single event that categorically leads to stress. Two people faced with the same event may perceive it differently. One may find it stressful; the other may not.

Is all stress bad?

To most of us, it implies something bad. The truth is that there is also good stress. There is actually a term for good stress: “eustress.” Eustress is what gets you up and running, what enables you to get to work, to get to the football game on time or to clean out the basement. Eustress is what provides us with stimulation and challenges and enables us to grow, develop and change.

What we typically associate with the word stress is, technically, distress. This is the kind of stress that makes us anxious, restless, irritable, exhausted, sad, etc. Distress is a reaction to some kind of external or internal self-imposed pressure, that illicit undesirable physical and psychological change.

Symptoms and Warning Signs of Excessive Stress (Distress)

  1. Difficulty concentrating
  2. Problems sleeping (falling or staying asleep)
  3. Loss of interest in work
  4. Fatigue
  5. Headaches, muscle aches
  6. Withdrawal from friends, family, social activities
  7. Stomach/digestive issues
  8. Excessive use of drugs/alcohol to cope

 

A Manager’s Role in Reducing Stress

 

Managers can look for signs and causes of stress. One of the first places to start is the chart below (Common Workplace Stressors). Use it to assess which stressors exist in your workplace, for you and your employees, and determine which ones you can impact/improve.

 

Common Workplace Stressors

 

Categories of workplace stressors Examples
Organization culture and/or structure
  • Communication processes
  • Management styles (participatory or non-participatory)
Interpersonal relationships at work with:
  • Managers
  • Co-workers
  • Peers
  • Direct reports
Career Path/development
  • Correct job fit
  • Job security
  • Career growth development opportunities
  • Overall job satisfaction
Role in the organization
  • Conflicting job demands, multiple managers)
  • Lack of clarity about job role, responsibilities, expectations.
Factors unique to the job itself
  • Workload (too much/not enough)
  • Pace, variety, meaningfulness of work
  • Autonomy (for example: the ability to make decisions)
  • Work hours (shift work, hours of work)
  • Physical environment (safety, noise, air quality, space etc.)
  • Isolation at the workplace (emotional or physically working alone)

 

Once you’ve identified the most common stressors in your organization, you can start to help reduce it by doing the following:

  • Improve communication. For example:
    • Share as much information as you can with employees to assist in reducing uncertainty about their jobs and the future.
    • Be sure that you clearly define and communicate each employee’s role, responsibilities and the expectations of the job.
  • Involve your employees. For example:
    • Consult with employees about scheduling and work rules.
    • Ensure that there is a right “job fit” for employees.
    • Give employees as many opportunities as possible to participate in decisions that impact their jobs.
  • Be sure that your organization’s policies and procedures are fair, applicable to everyone and are enforced consistently.
    • Ensure that employees understand the importance of their role and contribution to the “bigger picture.”
  • Reward and recognize the team and individuals.
    • Praise good work performance often and sincerely.
    • Provide opportunities for skill and career development

 

And remember, you are their leader. They take their cue from you, so being a positive role model for managing your own stress will go a long way to helping your team!

 

Photo Credit: http://kovacorp.com/

Article Provided by SCC Services Group

Since 2000, SCC Services Group has been successfully providing services to the Automotive, Banking, Financial Services, Travel, Telecommunication and Retail Call Center organizations. This depth of experience is complemented by our commitment to service excellence, a healthy corporate culture, and a highly skilled team. If you are interested in learning more about SCC Services Group consulting or business services offerings and how we can assist your organization  improve  its overall performance please send an email to:info@sccservicesgroup.com.

Fenero is a leading provider of cloud solutions for contact centers. Based in Miami, Florida and headed by CEO Marlon Williams, Fenero helps companies to lower their contact center costs, increase agent productivity and create an exceptional customer experience through its flexible, reliable and scalable cloud contact center solution. Find out more at www.fenero.com

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One Comment on ““De-Stress Your Call Center: How to Manage In a Stressful Environment”

  1. TheaLewis

    Nice post. Many thanks for sharing this with us. I am agree with your opinion. In today’s scenario everyone is living stressful life. But in order to reduce stress at work place mangers should try to resolve each and every queries of the employees.

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