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Employee mental health is a big theme following two years of Covid-19 living restrictions. Research has shown that 44% of work-related ill health is the result of stress, depression and anxiety caused by work.

Contact centers can be especially stressful places for employees who help customers on a daily basis. These environments can be intense and emotionally draining, and many advisors deal with customers experiencing distressing personal circumstances.

It’s clear that the mental well-being of our colleagues needs to be a business priority in 2022. But if your contact center has never had a well-being plan in place, it can be difficult to know where to start.

With all this in mind, Julie McIntosh, Chief Culture Officer at Kura, shares their top tips on supporting the mental health of employees in your contact center.

Hold check-ins with your employees. Many times, it can be hard to spot someone who may be struggling, especially if you have a remote or hybrid workforce. Your  people may not feel confident enough to approach you, especially about personal matters, so it’s important to check in with them regularly to see how they’re doing.

At Kura, we hold weekly catch-ups with our team members to check on their well-being. Our employees report finding this really helpful because they can work with their manager to address their well-being without having to be the one to bring it up.

You could implement regular check-ins in a number of ways to make it a no-pressure situation for your people. Video calling your remote employees will help to make the experience more personable. For office-based employees or remote workers who live nearby, arranging to meet at a café outside of the office can provide a more relaxing setting. Speak to your people to find out which environment they’ll feel most comfortable in (following whatever Covid guidelines are in place, of course).

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Host well-being sessions. It’s vital to check in personally with your people on a regular basis. But now more than ever, we need each other to get through hard times. At Kura, we started hosting live meditation classes via Zoom during the first 2020 lockdown, and it’s something we’ve continued as we’ve gone through periods of home and office working.

In these sessions, we practice meditation and breathing techniques — focusing on the breath is one of the most powerful ways to pause during our busy lives, and it can dramatically reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Bringing people together to do these kinds of exercises can help your team to bond and make one another feel more comfortable. Strong camaraderie among your team is important because it makes them feel less alone.

Invest in an employee assistance program. It’s important to have an open environment where your people feel comfortable confiding in you if they’re struggling with their mental health. But investing in an employee assistance program will also give them access to expert advice, support services and counseling. Having access to professional counseling is important at a time when NHS mental health services are stretched thinly and waiting lists are long.

Kura has partnered with Pam Assist, which offers a huge range of well-being and mental health support to our employees. Our people can speak to mental health professionals confidentially, giving them the confidence to communicate openly and honestly with a trained expert. As well as telephone support services, our employees have access to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and eye movement and desensitization reprocessing therapy (EMDR) for a range of mental health conditions without having to wait for a referral from their GP or doctor.

Give your employees flexibility. Talking to customers on the phone all day, especially if it is a serious topic, can be mentally and emotionally draining. Allowing your advisors to rotate between your different customer service channels can help them to relax and recalibrate.

Have a discussion with your advisors to find out how best to implement this. You might find that an even split, with phone calls in the morning and live chat in the afternoon, is most suitable, or you could allow your employees shorter periods of working through emails or chats throughout the day to give them a break from the exhaustion of back-to-back phone calls.

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