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Call Center Adherence vs. Shrinkage

Published: July 8, 2024 | By: Barrett Bolton

In the world of contact centers, maintaining efficiency and customer satisfaction is paramount. Two critical metrics that play a significant role in achieving these goals are adherence and shrinkage. While both are essential for workforce management, they have distinct meanings and implications. By understanding their roles and implementing effective strategies to manage them, managers can optimize their operations, control costs, and enhance customer experiences.

What is Adherence?

Adherence is the degree to which contact center agents follow their planned schedules. It encompasses login times, break durations, and end-of-shift times. High adherence indicates that agents are following their schedules closely, whereas low adherence means agents are not. Maintaining adherence is critical as it improves customer satisfaction, operational efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.

Calculating schedule adherence involves a simple formula: Subtract the amount of time agents spend deviating from the schedule from their scheduled time, divide that by their scheduled time, and multiply the result by 100 to attain a percentage.

Adherence (%) = (Scheduled Time – Non-Adherent Time) / Scheduled Time x 100

What is Shrinkage?

Shrinkage is the period of time when agents are scheduled to be working but not actually available to handle customer interactions. It includes factors such as training, meetings, absenteeism, and other activities that take agents away from the agent’s primary task of handling calls.

To calculate shrinkage, take the non-productive time of an agent, and divide it by the total time an agent works.

Shrinkage (%) = (Non-Productive Time / Total Time) x 100.

Comparison of Adherence and Shrinkage

Adherence refers to how well agents follow their schedules, while shrinkage measures the time agents are on the clock but are unavailable for customer calls. Adherence includes login times and breaks, while shrinkage looks at non-productive time. This means that adherence is calculated based on time an agent worked while shrinkage looks at total time worked in relation to non-productive time. Contact centers are hindered when one of these metrics is unsatisfactory. High adherence ensures that agents are available when needed, while low shrinkage ensures that more time is spent on customer interactions. Both lead to improved customer satisfaction. However, if adherence is low and shrinkage is high, agents are not available when they should be and not efficient when they are available.

While adherence and shrinkage measure different aspects of workforce management, they both have important effects on efficiency and planning. Shrinkage and adherence go together, as agents need to be working in their scheduled time and productive when they work. Both metrics are used to determine agent efficiency and help workforce managers determine staffing and scheduling.

Managing Adherence and Shrinkage

Effective management of both adherence and shrinkage is essential for maintaining a well-functioning contact center. Ensuring high adherence and low shrinkage helps optimize the use of available resources, leads to better customer experiences, and reduces the need for overtime or additional staffing. Communicating to agents a clear schedule and an expectation to follow proper scheduling is the basis of managing adherence and shrinkage. However, flexibility is important as long calls can interfere with breaks and unforeseen circumstances can disrupt scheduling.

Intradiem enables workforce managers to improve scheduling and flexibility, which can reduce shrinkage and improve adherence. Intradiem monitors pre-scheduled events like breaks, lunch, and end-of-shift times, alerting agents ahead of time that an event is approaching. It can prompt agents to leave early, based on service conditions, and automatically adjust the workforce management (WFM) schedule accordingly. It also monitors agent time and events in authorized and unauthorized auxiliary (AUX) states, prompting agents to return to the appropriate state or ask for assistance if needed. Notifications are provided to supervisors, and assistance is sought if necessary. Intradiem enables flexible workforce management that optimizes agents’ time.


Understanding and effectively managing adherence and shrinkage are crucial for the success of contact centers. While both metrics focus on different aspects of workforce management, they are interconnected by operational efficiency. By following best practices and continuously monitoring these metrics, contact center managers can ensure optimal performance and provide exceptional service to their customers.

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