I recently attended a health and wellness conference in Johannesburg as a speaker but also had the opportunity to connect with leading health and wellness experts within the South African context. Some interesting research and findings were shared. A BPeSA event on wellness followed.
Top Fortune 500 companies spend more on health and wellness than their profit
Direct cost of absenteeism for South Africa seems to be around 12-19 billion per annum
Stress remains to be a the biggest employee wellness issue
There is a direct correlation between employee wellness and productivity in the workplace
The wellness industry is one of the fastest growing industries globally with a huge trend to get back to basics, to look at old problems in a new way. We will catch up eventually but are behind on strategy and implementation when compared to our global partners and competitors.

The key message is that health and wellness are critical issues to consider as it affects your agent pool, team leaders, productivity and directly your bottom line.
The sensory intelligence perspective on call centre issues and suggested solution:

Primary problem: High attrition rates?
Experts in the industry agree that there is definitely a certain type of person who is suitable to work as an agent. What is this type?

Our solution: Senses on Call, our recruitment offering to establish whether potential agents have the sensory thresholds to sustain the environment. Can they work distraction and stress-free amid the high noise, visually busy and small work spaces?

Secondary problem: High stress levels and low performance
A 2005, UK study found that call centres were part of the top 6 of 26 occupations to experience the most amount of on the job stress
Our solution: The Sensory Matrix for work, is our performance management offering to suggest simple, effective strategies for optimum utilisation of space; i.e. change the position your chair is facing to reduce visual distraction.

Secondary problem: High absenteeism
Although personal and social issues can play a role, absenteeism is often the result of too much stress for extended periods of time. Our solutions: Senses on Call – Recruit best-fit agents which will result in lower absenteeism.
Sensory Matrix – Re-space or make minor adaptations to ensure a better fit of the agent within the physical call centre space. What does your leadership and corporate culture prescribe? Go back to basics!  Join our call centre workshops to learn more about the work that we do, or contact me for a personal discussion.

Some Research Resources:
* Benner, C., Lewis, C., & Omar, R. (2007). The South African Call Centre Industry: A study of strategy, human resource practices and performance. (Part of the Global Call Centre Industry Report).
* Brown, C. (2001). What Is the Best Environment for Me? A Sensory Processing Perspective. Recovery and Wellness. The Haworth Press, 115-125.
* Deery, S., Iverson, R., Fraser, S., & Walsh, J. (2002). Work Relationships in Telephone Call Centres: Understanding Emotional Exhaustion and Employee Withdrawal, Journal of Management studies, Vol. 39, pages 471-496.
* Houlihan, M. (2001). Managing to manage? Stories from the call centre floor. Journal of European Industrial Training, Volume 25, Issue 2/3/4, Pages 208 – 220.
* Johnson, S., Cooper, C., Cartwright, S., Donald, I., Taylor, P., Millet, C. (2005). The experience of work-related stress across occupations, Journal of Managerial Psychology, Volume 20, Issue 2, Pages 178 – 187.
* Kandel, E., Schwartz, J., & Jessell, T. (Eds.) (2000). The principles of neural science (4th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.
* K. A. Lewig, K.A & Dollard ,M.F.,(2003) Emotional dissonance, emotional exhaustion and job satisfaction in call centre workers, European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, Volume 12, Issue 4, Pages 366 – 392.
* Phil Taylor, P., Baldry, C., Bain, P & Ellis,V. (2003). A Unique Working Environment: Health, Sickness and Absence Management in UK Call Centres  Work, Employment & Society, 2003, Volume 17, No. 3, Pages 435-458.