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Employee Engagement vs. Disengagement: How It Impacts Call Center Productivity

Employee engagement and productivity are inextricably linked. Here are a few key things you can do to ensure your call center is as productive as possible.


By ActivTrak

Woman wearing a headset engaged in a conversation while being productive at a call center.

The connection between employee engagement and call center productivity

A call center is more than a point of contact for your customers — it is a relationship building operation. Call center employees are your front-line access to customer sentiment, pain points, common queries and feedback — day in and day out. The most effective teams leverage these into a rapidly growing, customer-focused, high-value business.

But lately, call centers worldwide have been reporting declining performance. Nearly 50% of customer care managers experienced increased attrition in 2021 — driving up training and replacement costs.

Poorly implemented self-service solutions intended to lessen the overall support burden can be extremely frustrating and hard to navigate, increasing the volume of difficult calls for the call center reps to manage. As a result, employees are disengaging and quitting — making it even harder for managers to retain employees with high-value skills. And a vicious cycle begins.

While the majority of call center tech stacks monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) and performance efficiency measures, they overlook the impact of disengagement on support outcomes and employee retention. Fortunately, you can track employee engagement and prevent it from entering this cycle. With the right tools and techniques, you can even drastically improve employee engagement.

In this article, we’ll see how employee disengagement affects call center productivity and the business bottom line. We’ll also look at how you can leverage technology to track metrics that matter — engagement, well-being and overall productivity — with a real-life use case.

So let’s dig in.

The cost of employee disengagement on call center productivity

Employee engagement and productivity are inextricably linked with your bottom line, customer experience and brand loyalty. However, per Gartner, a massive 38% of customer service reps are disengaged and ready to quit. 

Disengaged employees are among the highest cost drivers for call centers. They are indifferent to work and take three times longer to resolve issues. Unfortunately, replacing them comes with its own set of problems. It takes three to six months and around $20K for companies to replace and train an employee. 

To eliminate all of these roadblocks at the ground level, it is important to track employee engagement—beyond vanity metrics. The key is to leverage a tech stack that measures the pulse of employee engagement and identifies areas of improvement. 

But first, let’s understand why your employees are disengaging.

Why are employees disengaging?

Disengagement is not a linear process — it has multiple touchpoints and agents. These include:

Lack of role and goal clarity

Unclarity originates because of contradictory objectives at the rep and organizational level. 

A common contradiction is between performing high quality work and getting results quickly. For example, staying on a call to give a customer additional value versus ending the call quickly to hit handle time targets. 

Polar opposite metrics cause confusion and frustration in employees — slowly building feelings of indifference and disengagement. 

Lack of support

A lack of direction can make even the most motivated employees careless — or worse — detached. When they have no feedback loops or directives, they have no criteria for self-evaluation. They have to decide what to prioritize and when. As a result, employees are unaware of the impact their performance has on the organization. 

To eliminate even the possibility of creating a disengaged workforce, it’s important to be proactive. Engagement metrics — when tracked early and clearly — can indicate patterns of disengagement. 

In the next section, we’ll look at how you can create a culture of productivity through investment in employee wellbeing, training and knowledge management.

How to improve employee engagement and call center productivity

According to data, engaged employees report a 12% increase in productivity, with greater issue resolution, time management and work efficiency. On a personal front, they are 16 times more likely to refer friends to their company and 8 times more likely to stay with a company longer than a year. 

These are enough reasons to put an imperative on enhancing engagement. 

To ensure your call center employees maximize productivity and bring in results, become the expert at these three things:

Set clear goals and expectations

Identify which areas directly impact your business and create an employee action plan for those.

For example, if product development is an important area of focus, your call center employees should document customer feedback around product features, capabilities and bugs. 

An important next step is to encourage employees to take ownership. When employees are aware of their contribution, they’re more inspired to act on their goals.

Train your employees

Employee disengagement can often be a result of poor training. Poorly-trained employees don’t fully understand their responsibility and the value of their relationships with customers. To compensate for their lack of problem-solving skills, they can drag out conversations, misrepresent solutions and frustrate customers. 

Well-trained employees can connect the dots and deliver solutions 3.3 times more effectively. They also take charge, ask meaningful questions, and identify areas of growth. 

Leverage technology in call center environments 

Training employees and setting clear expectations are foundational elements in building a productive call center. But they can be time-consuming operations, riddled with strenuous ideation, instruction and iteration. For a more targeted approach to enhance employee engagement, it’s important to answer:

  • Which employees should you train? And in which verticals?
  • Which areas of business are the worst affected by dips in productivity?
  • How can you balance high employee productivity and employee well being?

Performance reports alone are not enough to identify these answers. Nor are one-on-one employee interviews and strategy brainstorm sessions. These techniques are too dependent on human intuition and understanding and can take a long time to show results. Large organizations that pride themselves on customer service, cannot afford a time lag or mismanaged upskilling. 

Productivity tracking software can indicate lowered productivity before it manifests into disengagement or burnout. It can also identify areas where employees are underutilized, overutilized or involved in unproductive activities. 

Once you understand every moving part of an unproductive operation, you can strategically drive up employee morale and revise systems to create an engaged workforce. 

What improved employee engagement does for revenue

Ensuring your employees are engaged and happy is no small feat. It takes constant evaluation and reorganization to create an environment where people thrive — even more so in large-scale call centers. Activtrak allows you to focus on employee development by arming you with information on each employee’s:

  • Time utilization
  • Alignment to goals
  • Tools reducing productivity

In early 2022, a Customer Support Outsourcing company improved employee engagement for 61 full time employees, translating to $1.4M in revenue. But it only came with identifying productivity sinks and disengagement drivers. After six months of ActivTrak implementation, the company measured a 13% improvement in focus hours and a 14% hike in employees in the healthy utilization zone. 

To see how ActivTrak can create similar results for your organization, book a demo today

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