Contact Center

Uncovering the Hidden Costs of Agent Disengagement and Turnover

Rohan Raj Shrivastav
May 31, 2024
 mins read

Last modified on

Agent turnover is a significant challenge faced by call centers globally. Understanding and addressing this issue is crucial for maintaining high call center productivity and ensuring optimal agent performance. 

This article explores the intricacies of agent turnover, its impact on call center productivity metrics, and effective strategies to mitigate it using AI-powered tools like Convin. Agent turnover, the rate at which call center agents leave and need to be replaced, is a persistent issue in the industry.

High turnover rates can lead to increased training costs, reduced efficiency, and decreased overall call center performance. To understand the full scope of agent turnover, it’s essential to consider its root causes, which often include burnout, lack of career advancement opportunities, and inadequate compensation.

Discover the real impact of agent disengagement and turnover

Importance of Addressing Agent Turnover

High agent turnover can severely impact call center productivity. Frequent hiring and training of new agents disrupt workflow and reduce the team's effectiveness. Furthermore, new agents often take time to reach the productivity levels of their more experienced counterparts, leading to a temporary dip in performance metrics.

Financial Impact on the Companies

Agent turnover has a direct financial impact on the bottom line of any call center. The costs of recruiting, hiring, and training new agents can be substantial. According to industry data, the average cost of employee turnover can range from 16% to 20% of an agent's annual salary. In 2023, the average cost per hire includes the recruitment expenses and the time and resources spent on onboarding and training new agents to reach full productivity.

How Does Turnover Affect a Company?

Agent performance metrics
Agent performance metrics

Agent turnover is costly and affects call center productivity and financial performance. Understanding the true cost of turnover and its impact on key productivity metrics is crucial for effective management.

1. Disruption in Workflow

High agent turnover leads to frequent disruptions in workflow. New agents take time to acclimate to their roles, during which they are less productive. This adjustment period can result in lower overall call center productivity and efficiency.

2. Increased Operational Costs

The cost of being understaffed includes overtime pay for existing agents, temporary hiring, and the strain on remaining staff, which can lead to burnout and further turnover. Additionally, frequent turnover can increase administrative costs related to exit processes and severance pay.

3. Call Center Productivity Metrics

Turnover adversely affects key call center productivity metrics such as Average Handle Time (AHT), First Call Resolution (FCR), and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) scores. These metrics are crucial for assessing a call center's performance and efficiency. High turnover rates often lead to longer AHT, lower FCR, and declining CSAT scores due to constantly onboarding new, less experienced agents.

Agent Performance and Burnout

Call centers can mitigate the negative effects of turnover by implementing strategies to enhance agent performance and prevent burnout.

1. Performance Scorecard

A call center agent performance scorecard is essential for tracking and evaluating agent performance. High turnover disrupts the consistency of performance assessments, making it challenging to maintain high standards and identify top performers. This inconsistency can hinder the call center's overall productivity and effectiveness.

2. Agent Burnout

Agent burnout is both a cause and effect of high turnover. Overworked agents are more likely to leave, and the remaining agents are often left to handle increased workloads, leading to further burnout. Preventing burnout through effective workload management and support systems is crucial to reducing turnover rates.

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Strategies to Mitigate Agent Turnover

Leveraging AI tools like Convin can provide valuable insights and support, ultimately leading to a more stable and productive call center environment.

1. Enhancing Agent Performance

Improving agent performance through continuous training and support can help reduce turnover. AI-powered tools like Convin offer real-time feedback and coaching, enabling agents to enhance their skills and job satisfaction.

2. Monitoring and Analyzing Metrics

Regularly monitoring call center productivity metrics and using a performance scorecard can help managers identify areas for improvement and effectively support agents. This proactive approach can prevent issues that lead to turnover, such as burnout and dissatisfaction.

3. Leveraging AI Solutions

Convin’s AI-driven solutions provide comprehensive insights into agent performance and customer interactions. By leveraging these insights, managers can implement targeted interventions to improve agent satisfaction and reduce turnover. Convin's real-time monitoring and automated coaching can significantly enhance agent performance and productivity.

4. Operational Consequences of Agent Turnover

Agent turnover is a significant operational challenge impacting call centers' efficiency and effectiveness. Understanding its consequences can help organizations develop strategies to mitigate these effects and maintain high productivity levels.

The Cost of Being Understaffed

Being understaffed is one of the most immediate and severe consequences of high agent turnover. When call centers do not have enough agents to handle the call volume, several issues arise:

  • Increased Workload: Existing agents must handle more calls, leading to longer shifts and higher stress levels.
  • Quality Decline: Overburdened agents are more likely to make errors, affecting customer service quality.
  • Customer Dissatisfaction: Longer wait times and less effective interactions can lower customer satisfaction and potentially lead to lost business.

The financial implications of being understaffed are substantial. Not only do call centers incur overtime pay and temporary staffing costs, but the loss of business due to poor customer service can also significantly impact revenue.

Impact on Call Center Productivity

Agent turnover has far-reaching operational consequences that affect call center productivity, employee performance, and financial health.

Agent turnover directly impacts call center productivity in several ways:

  • Training and Onboarding Costs: Each new hire requires extensive training before they can perform at the level of experienced agents. This training period reduces overall productivity as resources are diverted from regular operations.
  • Reduced Efficiency: New agents typically have higher Average Handle Times (AHT) and lower First Call Resolution (FCR) rates, which can drag down overall call center performance metrics.
  • Inconsistent Performance: Frequent turnover leads to a constantly shifting workforce, making it difficult to maintain consistent service quality and performance standards.

Call Center Productivity Metrics

High agent turnover negatively affects key call center productivity metrics. These metrics are critical for assessing the efficiency and effectiveness of call center operations:

  • Average Handle Time (AHT): The time an agent spends on each call. High turnover can increase AHT as new agents take longer to resolve issues.
  • First Call Resolution (FCR): The percentage of calls resolved on the first interaction. New agents may have lower FCR rates due to inexperience.
  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT): The customer's happiness with the service provided. High turnover can lead to lower CSAT scores, as customers experience longer wait times and less effective service.

Financial Implications of Agent Turnover

Reducing agent turnover enhances operational efficiency and improves service quality and customer satisfaction.

Understanding the financial implications of agent turnover involves considering several factors:

  • Average Cost of Employee Turnover: This includes the costs of recruiting, hiring, training, and lost productivity. On average, turnover costs can be 16-20% of an agent’s annual salary.
  • Average Cost per Hire in 2023: Recruitment and onboarding costs can vary but often include advertising for the position, conducting interviews, training new hires, and the productivity loss while new agents get up to speed.

Agent Performance and Turnover

Agent turnover is a critical issue in call centers that can significantly impact productivity and efficiency. Understanding how to measure agent performance, utilize performance scorecards, and identify and mitigate agent burnout is essential to managing and reducing agent turnover.

Measuring Agent Performance

Effective measurement of agent performance is crucial for maintaining high call center productivity. Key performance indicators (KPIs) provide valuable insights into how well agents perform and where improvements are needed. Some essential metrics include:

  • Average Handle Time (AHT): An agent's average time on each call, including talk time and after-call work. Lower AHT is typically desirable as it indicates efficient call handling.
  • First Call Resolution (FCR): The percentage of calls resolved on the first interaction. High FCR rates suggest that agents effectively address customer issues without requiring follow-up calls.
  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT): Customer happiness with the service provided. High CSAT scores indicate that customers are satisfied with their interactions.
  • Call Quality Scores: Evaluations based on criteria such as script adherence, call etiquette, and problem-solving skills.

The Role of Call Center Agent Performance Scorecards

Call center agent performance scorecards are essential for tracking and improving agent performance. These scorecards typically include a variety of metrics that together provide a comprehensive view of an agent's performance. The benefits of using performance scorecards include:

  • Objective Evaluation: Scorecards provide an objective means of evaluating agent performance based on consistent criteria.
  • Performance Tracking: Regular use of scorecards allows managers to track performance over time and identify trends.
  • Identifying Training Needs: Scorecards can highlight areas where agents need additional training or support.
  • Motivation and Accountability: When agents know the metrics being tracked, they are more likely to strive for improvement and take ownership of their performance.

Identifying and Mitigating Agent Burnout

Agent burnout is a significant factor contributing to high turnover rates. Burnout occurs when agents experience prolonged stress and pressure, leading to fatigue, decreased motivation, and poor performance. Identifying and mitigating burnout involves several strategies:

Identifying Burnout

  • Monitoring Performance Declines: Sudden drops in performance metrics, such as AHT and CSAT, can indicate burnout.
  • Surveying Agents: Regularly surveying agents' job satisfaction and stress levels can provide early warning signs of burnout.
  • Observing Behavioral Changes: Notable changes in behavior, such as increased absenteeism or disengagement, can signal burnout.

Mitigating Burnout

  • Workload Management: Ensuring agents have manageable workloads and adequate breaks can prevent burnout.
  • Providing Support: Offering mental health resources and creating a supportive work environment can help mitigate stress.
  • Recognition and Rewards: Recognizing and rewarding agents for their hard work can boost morale and reduce burnout.
  • Training and Development: Ongoing training and development opportunities can help agents feel more competent and less stressed.

Financial Implications of Agent Turnover

Agent turnover has significant financial implications for call centers. The average cost of employee turnover, including recruiting, hiring, and training new agents, can range from 16% to 20% of an agent’s annual salary. The average cost per hire in 2023 includes recruitment expenses, training costs, and lost productivity while new agents ramp up.

Calculating the Cost of Agent Turnover

Agent turnover is critical in call centers, impacting the team's productivity, performance, and financial health. Understanding the average cost of employee turnover and the average cost per hire in 2023 is essential for calculating the true cost of agent turnover.

What is the Average Cost of Employee Turnover?

The average cost of employee turnover can vary widely depending on several factors, including the position level, the industry, and the specific processes involved in recruiting and training new employees. However, several key components consistently contribute to this cost:

  • Recruitment Costs: include advertising for open positions, agency fees, and time spent reviewing applications and conducting interviews.
  • Training and Onboarding: Time and resources spent on training new hires, including initial training sessions and ongoing support until they reach full productivity.
  • Lost Productivity: New employees typically take several months to reach the productivity levels of their more experienced counterparts. During this ramp-up period, the team's overall productivity is reduced.
  • Separation Costs: costs associated with the employee's departure, such as exit interviews, administrative tasks, and potential severance pay.

According to industry estimates, the average cost of employee turnover can range from 16% to 20% of the annual salary for entry-level positions. This cost is particularly significant for call center agents due to the high turnover rates often experienced in the industry.

Average Cost Per Hire in 2023

In 2023, the average cost per hire has been influenced by several factors, including the competitive job market and advancements in recruitment technology. Key components of the cost per hire include:

  • Advertising and Job Postings: Expenses related to posting job openings on various platforms and advertising to attract suitable candidates.
  • Recruitment Process: Time and resources spent by HR professionals in screening resumes, conducting interviews, and assessing candidates.
  • Background Checks and Testing: Costs associated with background checks, skills assessments, and other pre-employment testing.
  • Onboarding and Training: Costs of onboarding new hires, including initial training programs, materials, and any specialized training required.

According to industry reports, the average cost per hire in 2023 is estimated at around $4,700. This figure can vary depending on the role's specific requirements and the efficiency of the recruitment process.

How Does Turnover Affect a Company?

Agent turnover poses significant challenges to call centers, affecting the business's financial and operational aspects.

Financial Impact

Agent turnover has a significant financial impact on call centers. Beyond the direct costs of recruiting and training new employees, turnover affects the bottom line in several ways:

  • Increased Operational Costs: High turnover leads to increased recruitment and training expenses, which can strain the budget.
  • Lost Revenue: Reduced productivity during the transition can result in lost sales and revenue opportunities.
  • Customer Satisfaction: Frequent turnover can negatively impact customer service quality, leading to lower customer satisfaction and potential loss of business.

Operational Impact

Enhancing agent performance, utilizing performance scorecards, and addressing burnout are essential in reducing turnover and maintaining high call center productivity and efficiency.

The operational impact of agent turnover includes:

  • Disruption in Workflow: Constantly training new agents can disrupt the workflow and decrease overall efficiency.
  • Inconsistent Performance: High turnover makes it challenging to maintain consistent performance standards, affecting key call center productivity metrics.
  • Increased Workload for Remaining Agents: When understaffed, remaining agents face higher workloads, leading to increased stress and potential burnout.

Mitigating the Cost of Agent Turnover

Agent turnover is a significant challenge for contact centers, leading to increased operational costs and disruptions in service quality. Addressing this issue requires a strategic approach that reduces turnover rates and enhances agent performance and satisfaction.

To mitigate the cost of agent turnover, call centers can implement several strategies:

  • Enhancing Agent Performance: Providing ongoing training and support to help agents improve their skills and performance can reduce turnover rates.
  • Using Performance Scorecards: Regularly using call center agent performance scorecards to track and evaluate performance can help identify areas for improvement and prevent burnout.
Evaluate call center agent performance
Evaluate call center agent performance
  • Addressing Burnout: Implementing measures to prevent agent burnout, such as manageable workloads and mental health support, can help retain agents and reduce turnover.

Strategies to Reduce Agent Turnover

Reducing agent turnover is critical for maintaining high call center productivity and ensuring consistent agent performance. Effective strategies include improving agent engagement, implementing effective training programs, and leveraging AI and automation.

1. Improving Agent Engagement

Engaged agents are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and less likely to leave.

Here are some ways to enhance agent engagement:

  • Foster a Positive Work Environment: Creating a supportive and positive work environment can significantly impact agent satisfaction. Encourage open communication, recognize achievements, and provide opportunities for growth and development.
  • Offer Incentives and Rewards: Implementing a rewards program for high performers can motivate agents to excel. This could include bonuses, additional time off, or other perks.
  • Provide Career Advancement Opportunities: Offering clear paths for career progression can help retain agents by giving them goals to work towards within the company.

2. Implementing Effective Training Programs

Comprehensive and ongoing training programs are essential for improving agent performance and reducing turnover:

  • Comprehensive Onboarding: A thorough onboarding process ensures new agents are well-prepared for their roles. This includes training on company policies, procedures, and the skills required for the job.
  • Continuous Training and Development: Ongoing training helps agents stay current with industry trends and improve their skills. Regular workshops, webinars, and e-learning modules can be beneficial.
  • Mentorship Programs: Pairing new agents with experienced mentors can provide additional support and guidance, helping them acclimate more quickly and effectively.

3. Leveraging AI and Automation

AI and automation can play a significant role in reducing agent turnover by enhancing performance and reducing workload:

  • Automated Performance Monitoring: Using AI to monitor agent performance through call center agent performance scorecards can provide real-time feedback and identify areas for improvement. This can help agents improve their skills and reduce the likelihood of burnout.
  • AI-Powered Assistance: Implementing AI-powered tools that assist agents during calls can help reduce the cognitive load and stress associated with complex customer interactions. For example, AI can provide real-time suggestions and prompts to agents, helping them handle queries more effectively.
  • Predictive Analytics: Leveraging predictive analytics can help identify patterns that lead to agent turnovers, such as high stress levels or low engagement scores. Managers can then take proactive steps to address these issues before they result in a turnover.

Financial Implications of Reducing Agent Turnover

Reducing agent turnover has significant financial benefits. The average cost of employee turnover includes recruitment, training, and lost productivity. Call centers implementing strategies to reduce turnover can save substantial amounts in these areas.

  • Average Cost of Employee Turnover: Typically, this cost ranges from 16% to 20% of an agent’s annual salary. Reducing turnover can, therefore, result in significant savings.
  • Average Cost per Hire in 2023: The average cost per hire, including recruitment and training, is estimated at around $4,700. By retaining more agents, call centers can reduce these costs.

Impact on Call Center Productivity

Implementing these strategies not only reduces turnover but also positively impacts call center productivity:

  • Enhanced Performance Metrics: With well-trained and engaged agents, key productivity metrics such as Average Handle Time (AHT), First Call Resolution (FCR), and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) scores are likely to improve.
  • Reduced Burnout: By leveraging AI and providing continuous support, agents are less likely to experience burnout, reducing turnover and maintaining high productivity levels.
  • Consistent Performance: A stable workforce ensures consistent performance and service quality, critical for maintaining customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.

How Convin Helps Improve Agent Performance and Reduce Turnover

Convin is an AI-backed contact center software designed to enhance agent performance and reduce turnover. By leveraging advanced conversation intelligence, Convin analyzes customer interactions to provide actionable insights and personalized coaching for agents. This continuous feedback loop helps agents improve their skills, increasing job satisfaction and reducing burnout.

Convin’s Unique Features and Benefits

Personalized Feedback coaching to agents
Personalized Feedback coaching to agents
  • Automated Quality Management: Convin reviews 100% of customer interactions across all channels, identifying areas for improvement and ensuring compliance.
  • Conversation Behavior Analysis: Using AI, Convin tracks parameters that influence positive and negative outcomes, providing proactive insights for better decision-making.
  • Real-Time Agent Assist: During live calls, Convin offers real-time guidance, suggestions, and prompts, helping agents perform more effectively and confidently.
  • Automated Agent Coaching: Convin identifies coaching opportunities and delivers tailored training sessions based on AI-driven performance assessments.
Automated Agent Coaching
Automated Agent Coaching
  • Comprehensive Analytics: The platform generates detailed reports on agent performance and customer experience, allowing managers to make data-driven decisions to improve call center productivity.

By integrating these features, Convin supports call centers in maintaining high agent performance, reducing turnover, and boosting overall operational efficiency.

Long-Term Benefits of Reducing Agent Turnover

Reducing agent turnover yields significant long-term benefits that extend beyond immediate cost savings. Addressing the root causes of turnover enhances overall call center productivity and leads to sustained improvements in agent performance and customer satisfaction.

1. Enhanced Call Center Productivity

Reducing agent turnover directly contributes to improved call center productivity. A stable workforce means fewer disruptions in workflow, allowing for smoother operations and higher efficiency. 

Experienced agents tend to have lower Average Handle Time (AHT) and higher First Call Resolution (FCR) rates, critical call center productivity metrics. By retaining experienced agents, call centers can maintain high service and operational excellence standards.

2. Improved Agent Performance

Agents who stay longer tend to develop better skills and deeper knowledge of the company's processes and customer needs. This improvement is reflected in their performance scores on call center agent performance scorecards. Consistently high performance among a stable team leads to better customer interactions, higher satisfaction rates, and increased loyalty and retention. 

3. Prevention of Agent Burnout

A high turnover rate often leads to increased workloads for remaining agents, causing stress and eventual burnout. By reducing turnover, call centers can distribute workloads more evenly, giving agents the necessary time to recharge and perform at their best. Preventing agent burnout is crucial for maintaining a healthy and motivated workforce, reducing the likelihood of further turnover.

4. Financial Savings

Reducing agent turnover has substantial financial implications. The average cost of employee turnover, which includes recruitment, training, and lost productivity, can range from 16% to 20% of an agent’s annual salary. 

Additionally, the average cost per hire in 2023, estimated at around $4,700, highlights the significant expenses of constantly hiring new staff. Call centers can achieve considerable savings by lowering turnover rates and allocating resources more effectively toward strategic initiatives.

Positive Impact on Company Performance

Turnover affects a company in various ways, including the cost of being understaffed and the impact on customer satisfaction. High turnover can lead to understaffing, resulting in longer wait times and poorer service quality, negatively affecting the company’s reputation and bottom line.

Reducing turnover helps maintain optimal staffing levels, ensuring consistent and high-quality service delivery. This stability enhances customer satisfaction and boosts overall company performance and profitability.

Future Trends to Reduce Turnover

Reducing agent turnover is not just about cutting costs; it's about fostering a productive, efficient, and motivated workforce. The long-term benefits include enhanced call center productivity, improved agent performance, prevention of burnout, significant financial savings, and a positive impact on overall company performance. 

Call centers can create a more stable and thriving work environment by focusing on strategies such as improving agent engagement, implementing effective training programs, and leveraging AI and automation.

This approach benefits the agents and leads to better service quality and higher customer satisfaction, driving long-term success for the organization.

Discover Solutions: Book a Demo to Reduce Agent Turnover Today with Convin.


1. How much does it cost to disengage an employee?
Disengaging an employee can cost an organization up to 34% of the employee's annual salary. This figure includes lost productivity, recruitment, and training expenses, highlighting the significant financial impact of employee disengagement on businesses.

2. How much do US employers lose annually due to disengaged employees?
U.S. employers lose between $450 billion to $550 billion annually due to disengaged employees. This substantial loss arises from decreased productivity, higher absenteeism, and increased turnover rates, underscoring the importance of maintaining high employee engagement.

3. What is the hidden cost of turnover?
The hidden cost of turnover includes expenses beyond the obvious recruiting and training costs. These hidden costs encompass lost productivity, decreased employee morale, knowledge loss, and the time managers spend hiring and training new staff.

4. What are the costs of turnover?

1. Recruitment Costs: Advertising, interviewing, and hiring expenses.

2. Training Costs: Onboarding and training new employees.

3. Lost Productivity: Time taken for new hires to reach full productivity.

4. Knowledge Loss: Departure of experienced employees with critical knowledge.

5. Operational Disruptions: Increased workload for remaining staff.

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