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Legal Wake-Up Call: Why Call Centre Businesses Must Invest in Employee Safety

Call Centre roles make up a large part of the employment sector; it’s an avenue that requires a lot of human resources.

Plus, it’s one job where you can join with minimal experience and gain much knowledge along the way. 

Since the job profile requires a lot of customer interaction for long hours, many people who work in this sector neglect their mental and physical health, impacting productivity and quality of work. 

For those wanting to run a thriving business, workers’ occupational health and safety must always be a primary benefit.

Here we will explore all aspects of employee safety and how investing in their welfare will improve your returns.

By the end of the article, you’ll have a clearer picture of why you should invest in employee safety. This must not be a choice but an imperative perk to ensure the success of call center operations and well-being. 

Employee Safety: Benefits Of Including Employee Safety Programs In Offices.

Let’s get right down to the importance of having a safety program in place for the office.

There are several reasons why you should implement such measures for employees; here are some of them,

1. Improve Your Profits

You may see this as an added expense, but substantial proof exists that companies with such wellness intervention programs thrive better.

Certain companies that have invested in employee safety have been able to save more in health care costs.

Another company found that their returns on investment increased significantly after investing in such programs.

2. Minimize On Losses And Increase Employee Retention

There’s a high probability that companies will achieve business continuity if a health management system is in place.

Those businesses that care for their employee’s health and mental wellness automatically create environments where the employees can thrive.

Employee wellness can directly affect your client’s experience too! Employee safety and wellness plans can be set up so that more workers are engaged and actively participating in work activities. 

3. Build Bonds With Workers

A solid employee safety program can help you build stronger bonds with your staff. The undertaking will demonstrate that you care deeply about the security and well-being of your workers. 

This will show employees that your business is a secure environment where they can work without worrying about risks or problems. 

4. Your Reputation Matters

Another aspect that can adversely affect any business plan is its reputation. Individuals looking for work will look at the company’s policies and benefits before applying for the job. 

Similarly, customers and potential clients will significantly investigate the company’s brand image before collaborating with them in future business plans.

Here’s a sobering look at the substantial financial costs that inadequate employee safety protocols may have on your company. All of these events have taken place in the recent past for actual companies. 

Is This A Wake-Up Call from Safaricom’s Costly Lesson?

In an unexpected turn of events, Safaricom, Kenya’s leading telecommunications provider, was in a legal entanglement that sent shockwaves through the call center industry. 

The company was ordered to pay a staggering ksh2.5 million, equivalent to $18,000, to an ex-customer care representative, as reported by Africa’s number one independent media outlet.

What was the cause of this jaw-dropping deal?

The employee who received the settlement was asked to retire voluntarily after she had lost her voice while working for the company in question.

She was let go on medical grounds due to her health complications, resulting in a lawsuit against Safaricom.

She had been a regular worker for the company from 2008 until 2012, when her issues hindered her work performance, ultimately leading to her being let go by the company.

Employee Safety Is A ‘Must-Have’ And Not A ‘Nice-to-Have’

The Safaricom incident is a prime instance of the constant threats that call center workers must face.

Hence, it highlights the necessity for call center companies to adopt thorough staff safety measures such as,

  • Physical Ergonomics and Mental Health: Long hours at the desk, constant phone calls, and high-pressure situations can affect employees’ physical and mental well-being. Ergonomically designed workstations and regular breaks are not just niceties; they are vital to prevent long-term health issues and burnout.
  • Harassment and Intimidation: The Rest of the World’s exposé on employee allegations of sexual harassment and intimidation within a call center company2 underscores the urgent need to establish a safe and respectful work environment. These instances harm the targeted employees and damage the company’s reputation and employee morale.
  • Remote Work Challenges: New safety challenges have emerged with the rise of virtual call center businesses and the opportunity for employees to work from home. Ensuring remote employees have access to the required tools, proper training, and adequate support is essential for their well-being.

The Path Forward: How To Highlight The Importance Of Organizational Health And Wellness

Call center businesses must develop a robust plan that encompasses the physical and psychological safety of their workers for those located at their home base and their outsourcing centers like the Philippines or Sindia.

This includes:

  • Ongoing Training: Regular training sessions on stress management, conflict resolution, and handling demanding customers can equip call center agents to navigate challenging situations confidently.
  • Open Communication Channels: It is essential to establish a feedback loop where employees can voice their concerns without fear of retribution. It helps address issues promptly and demonstrates that the company cares about its workforce.
  • Remote Work Guidelines: For a virtual call center business, providing clear guidelines for remote work, including ergonomics, data security, and communication protocols, ensures that employees feel supported regardless of location.

Why Does Employee Safety Matters In Call Centres?

Call center employees are the frontline representatives of a company’s brand, acting as the bridge between customers and the business itself.

Their well-being directly influences their ability to provide top-notch customer service.

Neglecting employee safety can lead to higher turnover rates, increased absenteeism, and a compromised customer experience.

These are some of the hidden costs of neglect:

  • Employee Turnover: A lack of safety measures can result in employee dissatisfaction, leading to higher turnover rates. Considering all the resources that go into recruiting, hiring, and training new employees to replace the ones who have resigned far outweighs the investment needed to improve workplace safety.
  • Absenteeism: Unsafe working conditions can contribute to health issues and burnout. This, in turn, leads to higher rates of absenteeism as employees take time off to recover.
  • Decreased Customer Satisfaction: Employees who are stressed or uncomfortable are more likely to provide subpar customer service, negatively impacting the overall customer experience.
  • Legal and Reputational Risks: As the Safaricom case highlighted, neglecting employee safety can lead to legal disputes that tarnish a company’s reputation.

Create A Culture Of Safety And Security.

Investing in employee safety involves more than just providing ergonomic chairs and proper lighting.

It’s about fostering a safety culture embedded in the company’s values and practices. 

It’s also about leveraging intelligence to enhance safety practices.

Call centers can take their safety efforts to the next level by incorporating data-driven insights and emerging technologies.

Here’s how call centers can create such a culture:

  • Training: Regular training sessions on safety protocols, stress management, and conflict resolution equip employees with the tools to navigate challenges confidently.
  • Open Communication: Encourage workers to voice their worries, concerns, and suggestions regarding safety. Establish a clear communication channel for reporting hazards or discomfort.
  • Management Support: Management plays a pivotal role in setting the tone for protection. When leaders prioritize safety, it sends a strong message to the workforce.
  • Continuous Improvement: Safety measures should be reviewed and updated regularly to address evolving risks and challenges.
  • VR and Predictive Analytics: Intelligent systems can analyze historical data to predict potential safety risks and proactively implement measures to prevent accidents. Virtual reality training can simulate real-life scenarios and prepare employees to handle emergencies effectively.

Looking Beyond the Present!

Investing in employee safety isn’t just about the present; it’s an investment in the future of the call center. A safe and healthy workforce increases employee retention, reducing recruitment and training costs. 

Moreover, a positive safety culture attracts top talent, ensuring a steady stream of skilled employees. Call centers face the dual challenges of meeting customer expectations and ensuring employee well-being in a rapidly evolving business landscape. 

The two are not mutually exclusive; they are intricately intertwined.

Call centers can build a strong foundation for sustained success by placing employee safety at the forefront.

Let’s Keep Employee Safety A Priority

As we wrap up this exploration of why call center businesses must invest in employee safety, let’s take a moment to reflect. 

The stories of Safaricom and other companies serve as vivid reminders that the well-being of employees is not just an optional consideration – it’s a legal, ethical, and business imperative.

So, here’s a simple question: should call center businesses compromise on employee safety and risk their reputation, profitability, and retention?

The answer is unequivocally “no.”

Now, armed with the knowledge of why employee safety matters, it’s time for action.

As a business leader, HR professional, or concerned employee, advocate for comprehensive occupational health and safety measures within your call center business. 

We must all collectively create an industry that delivers exceptional customer service and stands as a beacon of employee well-being.

Happy Workers: The Ripple Effect On Performance

Picture this scenario, an employee who arrives at work in a comfortable, ergonomically designed workspace, knowing their physical well-being is a priority. 

Such an environment has a direct impact on their performance. Comfortable seating, proper lighting, and regular breaks reduce physical strain, resulting in increased focus and productivity.

Furthermore, when employees feel valued and safe, their morale soars. High morale is infectious, creating a positive atmosphere through customer interaction. 

This positivity translates into improved customer interactions, ultimately enhancing customer satisfaction levels.

If customer satisfaction is improved, you will have a greater chance of maintaining business continuity and upholding company standards.

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