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Ideas for Minimizing Unscheduled Absences

Unscheduled absences are a constant source of pain for workforce management professionals.  We work so hard to come up with a “perfect” staffing plan, and then as we sit back to watch the day unfold, things start to fall apart as agents do not report as we expected. We solicited some ideas from our SWPP members about how to combat this problem, and I thought I would share some of the results. Now we all know nothing is going to solve this problem totally – life happens to all of us. But here are some thoughts that might help to minimize some of the issues.

Minimizing Monday Call-Ins

Monday is the busiest call volume day in many centers, but also a day when there are many agents out. Here are some ideas to combat this problem:

  • Have your attendance and/or schedule adherence scores give a heavier weighting on Mondays, rewarding those who show up on what is usually the busiest day of the week for a call center.
  • Include some element of attendance and/or adherence in the performance equation for performance-based scheduling. Agents who call in sick on Mondays will get a lower performance score, which then places them lower on the ranking list for schedule bidding.
  • Turn Mondays into days people actually want to come to work by furnishing pizza or having special contests or theme days.
  • Have “casual” dress day on Mondays instead of Fridays. It seems easier to drag yourself out of bed on Mondays if you can be comfortable. That’s a pretty cost-effective solution, too.
  • Do random prize drawings on days when attendance is critical (like Monday or a day when a lot of training is scheduled).

If Monday isn’t your busiest day, just use these on whichever day is the busiest in your center.

Increase in Sick Time in the First Quarter

Unscheduled absences during the first quarter can be a large and persistent problem for a contact center if sick and vacation time allotments are allocated at the beginning of each year. Once agents receive that bank of leave, you can see a huge increase in agents calling in sick or taking an unplanned vacation day.

To try and combat this problem, see if you can change your accrual policy. Instead of giving agents their time up front, break it up into segments throughout the year. For example, give them a few days of time each in January, April, July and October. With this change, you can distribute the absences throughout the year, and therefore the center is minimally affected.

Use these tips to help make that “perfect” staffing plan stay “perfect!”


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