Businesses need to be profitable to keep running. So when talking about money, it can be tempting to cut your budget in a number of places – starting with the paychecks of your entry-level employees. But, what happens when a company underpays their employees? For your call center agents, it ruins their experience at work and it tanks your contact center’s potential.
An underpaid employee is far less likely to be engaged at work. And, this lack of engagement — or worse, active disengagement — has its consequences.
Low pay ruins the call center experience (and business results) with:
- Poor performance
- Low morale
- Higher attrition (and the costs that go with it)
The list goes on. Salary negotiations and conversations around money in the workplace are always tricky and uncomfortable. I’ve been in some awkward positions when it comes to compensation and work. I’ve been overpaid for jobs that were incredibly easy. And, I’ve also had jobs where I’m working my butt off long hours for an embarrassingly low paycheck.
>> Download Now: 9 business impacts of a better call center agent experience
Let’s say you’re in a conversation with a coworker. They make a casual comment about their pay…it’s 30% more than what you make and you have almost the same role. How does this make you feel? Undervalued? Fearful about job security? Disrespected?
Our well-being is deeply connected to our finances. And, when we feel underpaid as an employee, it’s bound to affect our morale and loyalty to our workplace. As a manager, part of your job is to advocate for your employees to have the best experience working in your call center. Better pay is crucial to a positive call center agent experience that will improve performance and loyalty.
Let’s talk about 4 ways better pay helps your business and improves the call center experience.
1. Pay well to attract top talent
Call center leaders like you have a list of skills you want your call center agents to have. You want to hire the best of the best and not let that top talent slip away to one of your competitors. But let’s face it. The best hires won’t work for a job that underpays. For long at least. Top tier employees are smart and know their worth — that’s why we want them! If you fish at the bottom of the barrel, that’s what you’ll catch.
Smart people want to put themselves in the best possible financial position. They’ll seek positions that pay them what they’re worth. Understand what your competitors pay agents and what kind of benefits they offer new employees. Your offers should be similar (but preferably better!).
Plus, if you hire the right person for the job in the first go, you reduce recruiting costs and lower the potential for attrition in your call center.
2. Pay well to improve performance
According to Gallup, business disruptions last year paired with lots of remaining uncertainty have employees extra stressed. They’re unclear on expectations, wondering when (or if) they’ll have to go back to the office, what the rest of their team will do, and what work will look like moving forward. With over 60% of the workforce remote and hybrid, collaboration and accountability is hard. How can you make sure you’re getting the best performance out of your call center agents?
More money isn’t the answer to every problem, obviously. But, it does add a layer of stability and certainty. Something we’ve all been struggling with for the past year-and-a-half. When your employees are in a rut or facing additional stress from life outside of work, increased pay can improve performance and productivity for a better call center experience.
Pay has a direct effect on employee productivity and engagement. Gallup found, even in the midst of these tumultuous times, businesses that invest in employee engagement see more productivity, profitability, and higher well-being from their employees.
When your employees are happier, they work harder.
If you pay employees generously, you show them you expect more from them. The higher pay holds them to a higher standard. Plus, when you pay fairly, your employees expect more from themselves, too. Engage your agents by setting the bar high. When you show them you value their work through their pay, you’re conveying that you expect the most from them.
Need more convincing? Laura Sikorski, a contact center operations and technology expert, joined the Sharpen podcast to talk about how to improve your contact center. Paying agents fairly was on her list.
3. Pay well to decrease turnover
Nearly 50% of workers are considering quitting their job after the pandemic. A big reason employees are heading for the door is financial resiliency. Your call center agents are looking for a secure work experience, one that pays well, that offers upskilling and a career trajectory. And Glassdoor reports that 45% of hiring decision-makers say salary is the top reason for employees changing jobs.
For call centers, this picture isn’t pretty. The cost of turnover in call centers is sky high. HBR researcher Keith Ferrazzi estimates the total organizational costs of employee turnover range between 100% and 300% of the exiting employee’s salary. Based on the average salary of your agents, a 100-agent call center with an industry-standard turnover of 45% means turnover costs of up to $4.8M. Each year. Ouch.
But, that same 100-seat contact center can reduce attrition by only 5% and save up to 600k annually. That means investing in your agents up front improves your balance sheets.
According to Harvard Business Review, how your employees perceive they’re paid plays a significant role in their desire to leave your company. In their survey, an employee’s “intent to leave” decreased when they felt they were being paid fairly and favorably. When your call center agents think they’re devalued or underpaid, they’re more likely to quit. On the other hand though, when you show you value their work through fair pay, those agents are less likely to leave your company.
4. Pay well to have more satisfied employees
When your employees are satisfied with their jobs, several things happen. They’re more willing to stay in their roles. They’ll invest more of their energy and time, resulting in higher productivity. They’ll share what they like about their jobs with others and become brand ambassadors. And, when they’re satisfied, they’ll show more care to your customers. Win-win-win!
According to SHRM, fair pay is a big factor in employee satisfaction. It’s less about the actual dollar amount, and more about how the wage relates to their own sense of value. Often, because salary conversations are so hush hush in the workplace, employees don’t actually know whether their pay is fair.
SHRM’s survey also said 75% of respondents who think they were paid at or above the market rate said they were satisfied with their jobs. That’s compared to only 59% of workers who felt they were paid below the market rate.
That 59% sit at a much bigger risk to leave your company. It’s important, then, to have open conversations about wages. As you evaluate how you pay your call center agents, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the process your team goes through to evaluate pay and pay increase?
- How do you assess what is “fair” when compared to competitors or the overall market?
- What kind of culture do you have around pay negotiation?
- Will you invite agents to ask for a raise if they believe it’s deserved?
- Will you allow for transparency around pay and pay increases?
Improve the experience of your call center agents and support their financial well-being. Your team and your company will see the benefits.