Burnout and turnover are serious issues in contact centers and customer support roles. Unfortunately, managers often miss warning signs until it’s too late. 74% of agents are at risk for burnout, and 30% of those individuals are at severe risk. Wonder why? Well, just think of what your customer experience (CX) team faces day in and day out.
The reality is that working in customer support is hard, and there’s more to the story than just the stress of tickets piling up or dealing with angry customers. Outside of work, your CX team could also feel exhausted by external factors such as a global pandemic.
Wellness can find itself overlooked in the workplace, and then your CX team’s performance drops due to low team morale. Address the warning signs early on and maintain a team morale that prioritizes mental health.
We’ve surveyed 20 professionals in CX about how they support the mental health of their CX teams, creating a guide that reveals actionable strategies for you to talk about wellness openly, proactively manage mental health, motivate and engage employees, and much more.
Let’s take a closer look at the tips covered in this Self-Care in Support guide.
7 Ways to Support the Mental Health of Your CX Team
#1: Create a Safe & Open Space
Nearly 60% of employees have never discussed their mental health status at work. Both at and away from the desk, your CX team deals with a lot day-to-day. Reduce stress for your CX team, and bring people together to speak on how they feel at any time.
Safe, open spaces allow for honesty. Customer feedback is always most effective when honest, so why not empower your CX team to feel the same in their communication with you? Create a safe and open space that also acknowledges the human side of every employee rather than solely their work performance.
While employees will only feel comfortable communicating in a safe and open environment, this means doing more than just telling your CX team that an ‘open door’ policy exists.
Provide your CX team with scheduled opportunities to discuss their concerns and feelings individually and outside of performance-related topics. With a weekly or bi-weekly check-in that focuses on mental health, employees develop trust to communicate effectively about how they’re feeling. Ultimately, this alleviates some pressure that your CX team may feel both professionally and personally as you’re expressing empathy in the workplace.
Sweetgreen makes it a priority to check-in on its employees’ mental health, finding that regular conversations increased productivity for the entire CX team. It didn’t matter that Sweetgreen shifted to a remote structure, either. Whether in-office or via Zoom, they’re able to maintain that tight-knit team culture rooted in trust.
Just don’t count on everyone to share their feelings fully. It’ll take time to develop trust, and even then you may find some employees hesitant to speak in a safe and open space. With that said, managers should remain committed to their employees’ mental health by introducing general resources to the CX team as a group. Forward resources in a Slack channel or team email that remind your CX team to pay attention to their mental health. Even if some employees skip digging into every resource provided, they’ll at least know you care.
#2: Encourage Breaks & Mental Health Days
Taking a break or requesting time off isn’t as easy for your CX team as you may think. Employees often feel they’re obligated to remain working nonstop, and this is particularly true when working remotely — 25% of Americans are struggling to justify time off while working from home, according to a recent Zapier study.
Provide your CX team with an opportunity to unwind, and encourage employees to do so even if it’s just for 30 minutes daily. Yet it’s pivotal that they also take time off to completely unwind for a few days or a week.
Employees should go out for a walk in the afternoon or simply have lunch away from their workstations. By the way, taking a break doesn’t mean eating while at the desk. Encourage your CX team to truly disconnect.
Another option to consider: designated mental health days. Companies are quickly realizing the challenges faced by all employees, and as a response they’re installing mental health days to afford everyone a chance to completely unplug, reset, and refresh away from work.
#3: Focus on Team Morale
Build team morale that lifts your CX team when they’re feeling stressed or sad, but don’t forget to celebrate their accomplishments as well. Collaboration, not isolation, allows for a certain type of synergy to carry the momentum forward and improve team morale.
If employees are able to rely on each other as much as you, the entire CX team benefits. So, what can you do to achieve this? Start out with a weekly session that invites your CX team to discuss recent wins and losses. Acknowledge both the good and bad — yes, even the bad. In situations where an employee experienced difficulty, talk through it and employees will understand they’re part of a supportive group aiming to lift each other.
Transparent, impactful interactions within your CX team lead to efficiency among employees. You’ll notice that employees communicate with each other to resolve issues quickly and, in regard to mental health, discuss how they’re feeling to gain support.
#4: Reward, Recognize, & Engage
Hardworking employees drive a business forward, and it’s key to reward, recognize, and engage these individuals for their results. Every victory deserves appreciation, so take the time to highlight accomplishments big and small for your CX team.
Not only does this boost confidence and overall mental health, but an effective rewards and recognition strategy addresses burnout and turnover before either gets out of control.
It’ll also motivate other employees who may have missed quota to recalibrate and become a top performer like their peers. In fact, a Gallup survey found that “74% of those who say their team receives praise also strongly agree that they ‘have the feeling that what [they are] doing at work is valuable and useful.’” With a sense of meaning and purpose, your CX team understands just how integral they are to the business.
Create a bonus or spiff structure to reward employees, or introduce monthly appreciation days (or weeks!) to celebrate your CX team for their successes.
Of course, don’t forget the value of the spoken or written word. Gallup found in another survey that nearly 25% of employees feel the most memorable recognition came from a high-level leader. Personal feedback means a lot to an individual, and the employee recognition coming from a leader as high-ranking as a CEO leaves a lasting impression.
Employees quickly realize all the effort is worth it, earning a reward or recognition in the moment that proves to your CX team that you care deeply about their contributions and impact. Happier employees, happier customers (and a lot more).
#5: Consider Personal External Factors
Workdays are busy enough, right? Consider this, too: before, during, and after every workday, employees still need to manage stress and anxiety from their personal lives. With that said, avoid jumping to conclusions if an employee’s performance starts lagging. Offer a listening ear, and talk through what may be affecting this individual on your CX team.
Employees try to keep personal and professional lives separate; however, it shouldn’t surprise if personal external factors spill over and affect an employee at work.
Understand that your CX team, like everyone else in the world, is also dealing with extraordinary times at a constant pace. Whether a global pandemic or civil unrest, the unpredictable nature of the world at this time weighs heavily on mental health. As always, be present for your CX team by acknowledging the events and offering flexibility for them to process in a 1:1 or while taking time off.
#6: Wellness While Remote
Traveling to the office on a daily basis creates a routine for employees. With the shift to remote and hybrid workstyles, routines went right out the window.
It may sound relaxing to simply roll out of bed and turn on the laptop, but a study in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine makes one thing very clear: humans need habits and routines. Remote work doesn’t allow employees to easily prepare for the workday ahead and commute to the office regularly. Employees work where they live and live where they work, which isn’t ideal for some individuals on your CX team to maintain productivity.
Encourage your CX team to assemble a dedicated workspace at home, and maybe set aside some budget for employees to purchase a small desk, a comfortable chair, and a monitor. Remind remote-based employees to take breaks, too, and follow working hours. It’ll allow for a much-needed change of scenery after staring at a screen for several hours. By reshaping remote work around the business’ needs, your CX team feels empowered to tackle the workday as if they’re sitting side-by-side in the office.
Life at the office also provides for face-to-face interactions between employees. If your CX team is still entirely remote or reentering the office at different times, be mindful that some employees could be struggling without those social interactions. Gather your CX team for casual meetings, discussing their personal interests and overall wellness to keep the conversation light. This is about building team morale that supports and protects mental health for all employees.
#7: Lead By Example
Pay attention to your own mental health, too. Show your CX team that you’re logging off at a reasonable hour, and share with employees your feelings that they may identify with.
Remember that your CX team is adhering to your directions as a manager, so lead by example and support your mental health as intently as you do theirs. It’ll indicate to employees that you’re setting the same boundaries they should.
Transparency on your end reaffirms that everything you practice is acceptable, and the same is true for open communication — talk openly about your own mental health with your CX team.
How to Support the Mental Health of Your CX Team
Ready to get started? Download our guide, Self-Care in Support: A Guide to Supporting the Wellness and Mental Health of Your CX Teams, to learn more about supporting the mental health of your CX team. In this Self-Care in Support guide, you’ll discover tips recommended by industry experts on how they monitor and proactively address wellness for their teams.