5 Tips for Improving Contact Center Schedule Adherence

The backbone of managing labor within a contact center is often centered on a workforce management (WFM) system. WFM systems are responsible for forecasting the volume of contacts (phone calls, chats, SMS, email, etc.) and scheduling the staff required to handle that forecasted volume. Schedule adherence is simply the measurement that quantifies the percentage of time that the staff adheres to their scheduled shift. The adherence percentage can become a variable input into the WFM system when determining staffing needs. The higher the schedule adherence, the more efficient your staff will be - it may even reduce the headcount required to serve forecasted volume. Here we’ll explore some tips on improving schedule adherence without adding any punitive measures to enforce it.

Understanding some of the most common reasons behind why employees struggle to follow their schedule will help you determine what actions you should take to improve adherence.

 Offer schedule adjustments

Allowing an employee to adjust their shift time by 15 to 30 minutes can have a positive impact on attrition (within reason, of course).  Making the change should also help the agent comply with their schedule requirements. This tip can help your staff become more predictable and influence for what adherence percentage your WFM system can plan.

Ensure swapping shifts is easily accessible and simple

This entire area of focus relies on covering shifts that the WFM system has identified as a need. If someone calls in late or absent, there is always a chance that they could have found someone to trade shifts with if there is a process for them to follow. This options provides a little more flexibility to allow employees to handle personal responsibilities as they arise, without having a negative impact on the business.

Offer adherence incentives

Not all incentives have to be monetary, although money generally seems to get results. Adding schedule adherence into your rewards program will almost definitely have lasting positive impact. If you are working within tight budgets and worry about where to get the funds, it doesn’t take much effort to analyze how much money is wasted due to low adherence. If leadership doesn’t want to invest in this area, show them how much they’re already spending with your current adherence percentage. But also remember that not all incentives have to be cash based – for example, “first go” when picking shifts as a reward for adherence can also be effective.

Don’t excessively punish tardiness

In my experience, leading with a strong punitive measure to enforce basic compliance leads to unhappy employees. There should be some sort of recourse but not to the point that someone will get anxiety over being 10 minutes late. Late is always better than absent and if the consequence of being late are significant, I’ve often seen call center agents just skip the whole day - compounding the staffing problem.

Offer an “earn back” program to make up for missed time

People will sometimes run late or miss a shift and therefore instead of simply punishing the violation, offer employees the ability to “earn back” the missed time during periods where over time / extra hours are needed. This works well in environments where attendance has some sort of points system but ultimately can be accomplished in nearly any structure. If someone gets written up or documented for being late or missing a shift, allow them to work it off within a defined period of time. Think of this as an “extra credit” approach.

Hopefully this helps you down the right path to understanding your agents a little better, leveraging workforce management (WFM)  and hopefully will help headcount and accountability. After all, they are one of your most important assets!