Understanding workforce shrinkage categories to improve customer and agent satisfaction

Workforce shrinkage is the time that a workforce is not productive in delivering tangible business outcomes for an employees primary role.  Workforce shrinkage may provide value to the business, but does not have a direct impact to the amount of workload completed by the workforce.  It is important that the workforce is resourced to allow for shrinkage in addition to workload to ensure that shrinkage factors do not impact productivity and customer experience. Examples of shrinkage include annual leave, sick leave, training, coaching and breaks and can also extend to include other tasks that are not considered the primary outputs of a workforce.

Usually expressed as a percentage, shrinkage is typically applied in a call centre or contact centre environment where having the right number of employees within short intervals is essential to ensuring customer satisfaction.  In business environments where interruptions to productivity don’t have an immediate impact on the customer or deadlines, shrinkage is often overlooked and is the cause of backlogs or delays.

Overlooking significant non productive activities such as annual leave can have impacts on the workforce’s ability to deliver to service standards.  If you have ever worked in a small team you will have no doubt felt the affects of a colleague going on vacation and the impact that this can have on the rest of the team and productivity.

In a Contact Centre where the impacts are felt in real-time, overlooking shrinkage in calculating workforce size can have a devastating impact on your customer and your workforce.  This can lead to longer wait times, lower customer satisfaction and call abandonment; not to mention the impacts this will have on the workforce and their engagement.

We at Qtiviti consider three main types of shrinkage:

  1. Mandatory or legislative shrinkage which includes all non productive activities that are mandated by legislation, an enterprise agreement or an award where the employer is obligated to provide unproductive time to an employee e.g. annual leave, breaks, sick leave.
  2. Ancillary work shrinkage captures additional time dedicated to work tasks that are not captured as part of primary work productivity.  In a Call Centre environment this may include off phone time for email inbox management, fax or social media.
  3. Value add shrinkage allows your workforce to be resourced for activities that improve productivity, increase skill and capability or improve the culture and engagement of your workforce. Examples include coaching, development, training, team meetings and company information forums.

Some shrinkage factors are flexible while others are fixed and it is important to understand which shrinkage factors within your workforce can be moved to maximise workforce availability.  Shrinkage factors such as sick leave, jury duty and breaks tend to be more rigid while vacation leave, training sessions and coaching are more flexible and can be used to balance overall workforce shrinkage.

How do you balance your shrinkage factors to maximise customer and agent satisfaction?

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