The True Cost of Employee Disengagement in the New Normal

The True Cost of Employee Disengagement in the New Normal

3 min read
An employee engagement expert, a black woman in a grey blazer, looks stressed while working on a laptop, holding her forehead and wearing headphones.

Demanding callers. Complex processes. Impossible expectations. These are some of top contact center pain points driving employee disengagement today. In our webinar, What Your Call Center Agents Rant About on Social Media, we went beyond the annual Voice of the Employee survey to explore how agents really view the contact centers they work in—and why they’re leaving at an alarming rate. And with agent attrition racking up an estimated $91 billion* globally, the true cost of employee disengagement is too high to ignore.

David Sokolitz, VP Solution Design at Arise Virtual Solutions, discusses the rise of complex transactions.

The New Normal

Few events have tested the modern contact center—and exposed its shortcomings—like the 2020 pandemic. Call volumes spiked, complex requests doubled, and agents quicky found themselves overwhelmed—and increasingly disengaged. While self-service could relieve some of the pressure to agents, it couldn’t keep pace with the flood of complex calls. In fact, Gartner estimates that of the 70 percent of customers who attempt self-service during their resolution journey, only 9 percent of calls are resolved through that channel alone.

While agent expectations have increased dramatically, the state of agent enablement still looks much like it did before 2020. Antiquated knowledge bases and hit-the-ground-running onboarding practices continue to frustrate contact center workers, hindering customer interactions and fueling employee disengagement and attrition. If organizations hope to stay competitive in the new normal, something must change.

Sheila McGee-Smith, Leading CX Industry Analyst – McGee-Smith Analytics, discusses the importance of curated knowledge.

Drowning in Complexity

According to a Calabrio report on the health of the contact center, 60 percent of agents said they needed better tools to handle increasingly complex customer interactions. Our own research revealed that inadequate systems and processes were among the most popular concerns agents discussed on social media. Chief among them: manual knowledge bases that required agents to memorize thousands of pages of policies and procedures.

Even with digitized databases, few agents can digest a company’s entire knowledge base within two weeks—the average time it takes to onboard most call center employees. Without easily accessible, curated content to guide them, agents are largely left to fend for themselves on calls. This lack of back-end support—compounded with the growing demands of the job—creates the perfect conditions for employee disengagement.

A Multi-Billion Dollar Problem

As we’ve discussed earlier, there are two ways to calculate the impact of employee disengagement on an organization: time lost and increased costs. According to Gartner, disengaged agents are three times more likely to engage in behaviors that prolong calls and postpone resolution. Compared to their engaged peers, disengaged agents are:

Kumaran Shanmuhan, Global Head of Solutions – Jacada, explains the cost of employee disengagement on CX.

While increased call time and customer effort incur their own costs, the real monetary impact of employee disengagement is in turnover. With an average turnover cost of $14,113 per employee and an estimated disengagement/turnover rate of 38 percent, an organization can expect to lose $536,294 for every 100 agents hired. With more than 17 million agents worldwide, according to Gartner, the global cost of disengagement via attrition could be as high as $91 billion.

Reversing the Trend

Because employee disengagement is largely based on environmental factors—like knowledge base complexity and inadequate onboarding—solving the problem requires contact centers to rethink how they train and equip agents on calls. A low-code, on-call assistant, like U-Assist, can help reverse the trend of disengagement—and improve overall performance—in just weeks. Combining artificial intelligence with automation, this solution distills bloated knowledge bases into easily searchable networks and offers agents real-time support during calls to minimize errors and expedite resolutions.

The results? Businesses using U-Assist have seen as much as a 75 percent decrease in agent onboarding time; a 90 percent reduction in error rate; and a 20 percent improvement in first contact resolution. Even more impressive are the solution’s impact on CX and EX. Using the technology, agent intent to leave decreased by 25 percent, while customer satisfaction grew by more than 95 percent.

By empowering agents with the tools they need to perform their best, organizations can re-engage their most valuable asset—their people—and combat the cost of disengagement.

*Based on 17 million employees with an average turnover cost of $14,113 per employee and an estimated disengagement/turnover rate of 38%.U

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