“Worn-out” Agents, the Burnout Syndrome

JULY 2013

Stress and the necessity of handling conflicts with external clients are constant features in the work environment of contact centers; therefore, a staff with skills to control such situations is required.

Dealing with calls throughout the day so as to receive complaints (or even mistreatments in some cases), offer products or services and explain clients why it is advisable to buy them causes changes in telephone agents’ disposition to continue with their duties, which can lead to a decrease in their enthusiasm for arriving at work or even to an aversion to it as weeks and months go by.

Such syndrome has been deeply studied (particularly in the United States, place where the contact centers were born) and it has been defined as “burnout”.

The burnout syndrome identifies the high and constant level of stress faced by telephone agents, which eventually makes them feel tired and incapable of dealing with the clients’ objections and bad temper for any longer and causes them frustration as they are not able to achieve the daily goals, hence they give up and quit. The aforesaid level is one of the causes of employee turnovers in contact centers, which is an inconvenient situation if we take into account the previous investment entailed in hiring and training each agent.

In the light of the above, it is easy to identify the benefits of taking measures to reduce the “burnout”:

  • Reduction in employee turnovers
  • Better work environment
  • Better performance among telephone agents
  • More satisfaction among the staff = more commitment to the company

Consequently, it is necessary to come up with strategies that reduce or completely avoid the abovementioned syndrome among telephone agents. Hereunder are some ideas:

Work Environment

A nice, respectful and fun work environment helps to keep staff in any job (and when it comes to contact centers, this is even truer since the vast majority of their staff is composed by young people who start their work life). Running integration events once in a while, providing a recreational lounge for breaks, and organizing small celebrations in special days such as birthdays and work anniversaries, among others, can make telephone agents feel attached to their company, hence they keep their jobs.


The prizes that encourage the agents’ work do not always have to be monetary, given that in some scenarios, such as in a hostile and humdrum work environment, said stimulus do not even achieve the target. On the contrary, social incentives are usually good means to make the staff feel at ease and satisfied in their workplace. The aforesaid incentives can be given for duly meeting the established procedures or remarkably achieving work goals, among other awards aimed at the company’s operation or related to the staff interaction such as those for duly complying with the company’s values, being the best co-worker, etc.


Constant training is one of the best resources that help agents to become more efficient at handling difficult situations during phone calls and, therefore, reduce the level of stress caused by them. On the other hand, it is important for telephone agents to know that the company cares about them and their professional growth. Therefore, it would be better not only to offer separate courses and workshops, but also to create a career plan that allows agents to see themselves in a company on a long-term basis and that focus their effort on carrying out the best possible work so as to improve in the same workplace, both in their area and their general knowledge.

CenterWare Xion

Our application AgentRia is the means through which agents speak to clients. Consequently, we have set ourselves the goal to create an efficient application with a friendly and fun interface that is easy to use. Our aim is to solely focus the telephone agents on taking the call and, therefore, providing the external clients with an excellent service by satisfying all their necessities.