As mentioned in my previous post, offering voluntary time off (VTO) is a win for staff, your company and the customer. You can get similar benefits from voluntary overtime (OT), too. If your center does not support real-time VTO and OT sign-up processes, and you are considering putting them into place, here are some tips to get you started.
First, you need to equip your intraday managers with time and workforce management tools to determine over- and understaffing conditions, and which agent populations (by skill set) are affected. Next, develop a communication plan. Being able to communicate the availability of VTO and OT, and process the changes quickly will be a critical part of the process. Your plan should address four component parts:
- Intraday managers communicate the VTO and OT slots to the agents who are interested in them and who have the skills that are under- or overstaffed.
- Agents respond with their willingness to take VTO or OT.
- Intraday managers process the sign-ups and update agent schedules.
- Intraday managers notify the agents and their supervisors if they were granted the VTO or OT or not.
Implementing VTO and OT processes takes time and requires a change management approach to effectively launch them. Make sure that you establish and communicate a clear policy for fairly processing requests when more agents want VTO or OT than there are slots available. Also, you will have to ensure that agents do not take too much VTO and risk losing their benefits. Similarly, if higher pay differentials are provided when a certain level of overtime is reached, you may want to make sure agents do not take too much OT, which would increase your costs.
The good news is that many workforce management (WFM) systems can help you automate some or all of the communication between managers, agents and their supervisors. Some of these systems can even automatically process the sign-ups and update schedules as well, greatly lowering the amount of work to implement these processes. Plus, the real-time communications that WFM systems provide can get VTO agents off the clock faster, thereby increasing the savings. If you don’t have these processes in place, I hope you are able to build consensus to put them in place and enjoy the win-win-win.