Doing more with more for less. The great staffing challenge.

As we enter a new year and many contact centers begin their new budgets, one challenge often hits them square in the face:  I have less money in the budget for staffing than I had last year but I still have the same or even more volume.  How can I do even more with less?    

One option is to do more with more for less.   Over the course of the year, it can be more expensive to hire less people if you have to use overtime to cover for meetings or peak periods.  This is especially true if your peak periods last for several hours each day or several months each year in seasonal shops.  One option is to actually hire more people than you’re budgeted for (yes….more people than you have in the budget) and offset that expense through the use of Voluntary Time Off (VTO.)   

VTO is a program where agents can leave early or come in late without pay instead of using vacation or sick time.  The days, amounts and periods of time are typically selected and approved by the Workforce Management team so that they have no impact to the business.  Agents sign-up for “slots” of time to use VTO the same way they would for vacation but in many cases it’s in one or two hour blocks.  VTO programs can also be popular with agents as it allows them to have shorter periods of time for errands, doctors appoints and other things without burning their vacation time. 

Depending on your company’s culture and the demographics of your agent population, the amount of money you can save will vary but can be substantial if the program is managed well.  In one of my previous roles, I implemented a VTO program as a pilot in a contact center that had around 500 agents and saved over $480,000 in the first year alone.  That equated to about 4% of the staffing budget for that contact center and easily off-set some of the additional expense we were carrying in extra staffing.  

While VTO programs do require some administration (i.e. set-up, sign-up and approval process, work with HR and payroll, etc.) these programs are definitely worth the extra work and can be a great way to offset expenses.  I would love to hear from some of you on this one.  Are you currently using a VTO program and if so, how’s it going?  How much money have you saved?