Empowering Agents with Performance-Based Scheduling

Agents always want better schedules and leaders always want better coverage.  It’s one of the natural conflicts in the contact center.  Since these two objectives don’t always match-up for each individual agent, they can sometimes try some pretty creative things to get the schedule they really want or need.  I’ve seen some crazy things over the last 15 years in the contact center including agents selling their schedule for a trade on eBay but there are better ways to give agents control of their own destiny when it comes to scheduling. 

“Don’t Try This At Home” Disclaimer:  If you are an agent reading this post and think selling schedules on eBay is a great idea, keep in mind that you may end-up unemployed for that sort of thing depending on your local labor laws. 

If implemented correctly, performance-based scheduling is a great way to give agents direct control over their schedules without sacrificing coverage.  While some agents will certainly disagree that it gives them direct control, in my experience the people who usually voiced those concerns were lower performers.  Of all the groups I would be willing to put at risk to achieve more efficient schedules and provide better service, lower performers are typically at the top of the list.  Is losing an agent with poor attendance and low quality when they do show up for work a bad thing?  Ask your top performers who provide excellent customer service or who generate revenue every day what they think about performance-based scheduling and you will find a great response. 

Performance-based scheduling is a far more empowering option than some of the other choices like random schedule assignment (where no one has control) or seniority-based scheduling (where their best option is to either wait on or encourage someone else to leave.)  It can also directly improve overall performance as agents are not only motivated to hit their goals for things like AHT and Quality but to also get a better schedule.  While performance-based scheduling won’t work in every environment (i.e. Labor or Union restrictions that require the use of fairness or seniority,) it can be used to improve performance while also meeting your staffing requirements.        

It is important to remember that successful implementation of performance-based scheduling requires that your agents understand the “how” behind controlling their destiny.  For example, if you use schedule adherence as part of their performance ranking but they don’t know what adherence is or how to achieve it, they will likely fail to see the value of performance-based scheduling. 

I’d love to hear from our readers on this.  Do you use performance-based scheduling in your contact center and if so, how’s it going?