The Call Center Agent Employee Lifecycle

Employee Lifecycle

Call center agents go through a lifecycle starting at the point they are hired for the call center job and ending at the point they leave the company. Often, this cycle leads to low engagement and performance and ultimately turnover. In our experience, the cycle can be broken down into four distinct phases, but they key is that effective management including coaching, mentoring, and development can greatly impact the cycle and the outcome.

New Hire and Honeymoon

New agents are often the lifeblood of a call center. Bringing new energy and excitement – they are highly engaged and motivated. This can often rub off on the rest of the agents. When new agents come on-board, it is up to management to direct that energy and enthusiasm in the right direction while giving the new agents the tools necessary to be successful in the center. The importance of an effective on-boarding and training program cannot be overestimated.

Crossing the Chasm

At some point, the honeymoon phase wears off and agents either reach maturity or need to be coached up or out. Often, the chasm occurs at the point agents are leaving the “nesting” phase of their on-boarding. The realities of the job are sinking in and exposure to more experienced agents can result in picking up bad habits. It is critical to continue the development of the agent at this point to ensure long-term success.

Experienced, but at What Cost?

Call Center work is a grind. If you center isn’t taking steps to actively impact agent engagement, the daily grind of the job can begin to wear down an agent. We have written extensively on the cost of call center agent engagement, but here are 5 key methods for keeping agents engaged:

  1. Create a Connection Between Work & Company Success
  2. Show a Commitment to Employee Development
  3. Ask for Employee Feedback and Ideas
  4. Set Expectations about Performance
  5. Establish a Clear Value Proposition

Working to keep agents engaged is critical, but failing to act will mean they move on to the next step in the agent lifecycle – checking out.

Checked Out

If you are not actively keeping agents engaged, they will “check-out” mentally and sometimes physically. At this point, the agent is most likely lost and no amount of coaching will bring them back. It is typically better for everyone for the agent to move on at this point.

Bottom line, there is a natural cycle to the life of a call center agent, but effective management, mentoring, coaching and development can greatly impact that cycle making the agent more productive at work and happier in the position. If you have questions about your call center’s agent lifecycle and how you can impact the cycle for your agents, please contact us.


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  • Bob Cowen

    The “life cycle” discussed in the article was
    documented first by Dr. William Menninger during the 1950’s and is often
    referred to as the “new job morale curve.”
    A very relevant article was recently written by Brooks Mitchell Ph.D.
    about how call centers can overcome the symptoms of the “new job morale curve”
    of absenteeism, tardiness and turnover (especially new-hires). The article contains some excellent graphs
    and real-world examples

    • Chris Bracken

      Thanks Bob. Funny – I had not seen that article before, but it is fairly on point.