The “perfect” schedule doesn’t exist. Availability Points can help you get close.

High turnover is a constant pain point for contact centers. While turnover in the contact center didn’t notably spike in the Great Resignation—rates have remained steady at 42% annually, according to NICE’s 2022 WEM Global Survey—contact centers spend an average of 13 weeks onboarding a new hire, at a cost of $12,500 for each new employee.

Despite the high rate and cost of attrition, 36% of respondents to the 2022 WEM Global Survey say their organization is investing little to no effort in retention. To reduce resignations, contact center leadership reports they are focused mostly on team-building initiatives, while the survey goes on to show that what makes the highest impact for the agent is better pay, a clear plan for career growth, and more flexible scheduling options.

In this environment, schedule flexibility becomes an important differentiator. In fact, across industries, employees who are given sufficient flexibility are four times less likely to become a retention risk, according to a report by Quantum Workplace. And retention, of course, is linked to higher-performing agents and higher customer satisfaction rates.

While scheduling flexibility is a cost-effective method for attracting and retaining talent, it has not traditionally been feasible to allow agents to pick their schedules, especially if the schedules do not align with the business needs. Moreover, the fact is that not all employees are going to know in January what they will want or need from a scheduling and income standpoint in October.

Many well-intending contact centers have attempted to rely solely on agent preference scheduling practices. However, if not considered against myriad other factors and supported by a flexible scheduling tool, agent preference alone can cause more harm than good and waste valuable time.

While there is no such thing as a “perfect” schedule in a contact center, a feature in NICE Workforce Management (WFM) called Availability Points can help. With Availability Points, supervisors define each interval of a day with a unique numeric value and set rules that agents must meet to complete their availability. This could include:

  • Requiring approval if availability does not meet all rules
  • Requiring a minimum amount of available time
  • Requiring a minimum number of points each week
  • Requiring a minimum number of hours and/or days each week

The rules are defined by the agent data value, and all rules are optional. Once the parameters are set, the agent must then provide their availability in line with the business’s rules. In this way, Availability Points gamify the scheduling process and encourage agents to make compromises with their availability based on business needs. This drives engagement while providing opportunities to further reduce absenteeism.

As the Great Resignation continues to challenge hiring managers and work environments evolve with the adoption new hybrid models, contact center leaders should listen to three out of four agents who cite flexible schedules as an employment requirement. Solutions such as NICE WFM make schedule flexibility a reality while simultaneously meeting business staffing needs and boosting both employee engagement and customer experience. Leaders who innovate in the flexible scheduling space will establish a valuable differentiator in the ongoing fight for employee retention.