Why BPOs should worry less about time-wasting and invest more in monitoring

by Time Doctor
BPO Productivity Monitoring1

Time-wasting is a common phenomenon that almost every company has to face in some form or another. For BPOs, low productivity and motivation levels are common, and many senior figures are still focusing on cracking down on time-wasting.

This is particularly so in companies that have migrated to remote working and hybrid working models, where supervisors and managers cannot easily see what workers are doing from one moment to the next.

This, however, may in fact be counterproductive. Recent research suggests that the spotlight should be on another aspect of productivity: monitoring. It turns out that tracking employee habits and behavior, and obtaining accurate data on these can help resolve time-wasting far better than the threat of punishment or being caught out can.

Recently Time Doctor conducted a survey that aimed to uncover the links between time-wasting, productivity, and monitoring. Amongst all the insights, we discovered that BPOs should not focus on time-wasting, but instead prioritize employee monitoring software.

This brings a range of benefits, not least because monitoring can give team leaders and management a better insight into how their employees work and feel. And with a greater focus on monitoring, BPOs will find that other problems will dissipate too.

Time doctor BPO productivity survey

What constitutes time-wasting at work?

Time-wasting comes in all shapes and sizes. Employees may be visiting unproductive websites, taking too many breaks, focusing their time on something other than work altogether, or undertaking the wrong tasks that don’t add the value the business needs. It’s a problem that weaves itself into every business, not just BPOs, but in an industry that already suffers from high turnover rates and low engagement, time-wasting can be a fatal sign for a BPO.

Time-wasting may also take the form of so-called “quiet quitting”, which is where employees clock out of their jobs and only do the bare minimum required. They don’t resign, but their productivity and performance falter as a result. Quiet quitting can hurt your profits and it’s a strong indication that something is wrong with your work model.

Why do employees waste time?

If you find your employees are often wasting time or being unproductive, this can be a sign that something is wrong with the way your BPO operates. Time-wasting is usually triggered by some form of employee discontent or disengagement, so it shouldn’t be the thing you target for punishment.

A lack of incentives and motivation, improper recognition, and an overly-hectic work schedule are three core reasons as to why employees become disengaged with their work. Since employee engagement correlates to productivity, this is the key factor as to why employees waste time.

Lack of motivation

Motivation and incentivization can improve employee performance and enhance productivity. If we consider the opposite effect, a lack of these factors increases employee disengagement and leads to greater time-wasting. In call centers, motivation is proven to increase agent engagement.

What’s more, a motivated employee is a happy employee. They become more invested in their work and less likely to quit their job. Employees who waste time are likely unmotivated, but by improving their motivation with clear targets and leaderboards, time-wasting will decrease, and engagement will improve – as will a host of other related indicators.

Lack of due recognition

Intrinsically linked with motivation is recognition. If employees don’t feel duly recognized, they are more likely to become disengaged and to waste time. After all, why bother if all your hard-fought efforts are glossed over by management?

In fact, HBR discovered that employees who received even simple symbolic rewards at work performed far better than those who received no recognition. On top of this, they were much less likely to quit their jobs.

Overwhelming work

Time-wasting is prominent in overwhelmed employees, as the motives for time-wasting often overlap with the causes of burnout. Overwhelmed employees are more likely to waste time, simply because they cannot sustain a consistently high level of productivity in the face of stressful and hectic work schedules.

That’s why it’s important to ensure your staffing levels are sufficient for the volume of work expected, and that your employees have the tools to do their jobs properly and efficiently. Time Doctor’s monitoring tools can help you uncover gaps in your processes and technology stack to improve performance and productivity.

Why improving monitoring is more important than punishing time-wasting

Monitoring how and when employees work should be the priority for BPOs, since they can gain valuable insights into what employees need to do their jobs more efficiently. Accurate and real-time data will improve management’s understanding of the time-wasting problem and help alleviate more severe problems like disengagement and attrition.

Accurate data and reporting

BPOs require accurate and real-time data to perform effectively and ensure their productivity levels are as high as possible. According to our survey, 89% of BPOs who employ a work-from-home model use software to monitor their employees’ work habits. This is much more than BPOs who are primarily office-based, of which only 71% use monitoring software.

With the correct monitoring software, BPOs can track the productivity of their employees at certain times of the day. With this information, team leaders can assign urgent tasks at the most efficient periods of the day or week, streamlining the overall team’s operations.

Improved employee engagement

Employee disengagement is a real issue among BPOs, particularly in call centers. According to Gartner, two thirds of call center agents feel disengaged with their work. That’s a huge figure that can be significantly reduced with the application of monitoring software.

According to our survey, low employee engagement is a bigger problem for BPOs who don’t monitor their agents’ work-life balance than those who do. This shows that obtaining monitoring software should be a greater priority in the eyes of upper management than cracking down on time-wasting.

Reduced attrition rates

There are many different reasons why employees quit, but the main factor behind resignations is dissatisfaction and stress. Monitoring software can help BPOs address this issue by giving team leaders insights into their employees’ work-life balance, among other things, in order for them to provide appropriate assistance where necessary.

Our survey revealed that only 23% of BPOs use tracking software to monitor their employees’ work-life balance. Since burnout is a leading cause of attrition, more companies need to employ monitoring software to protect their staff members from overworking and reduce attrition rates.

Don’t punish, improve your culture

BPOs that have concerns about time wasting should always remember to look at the issue in a wider context of performance, productivity, and employee engagement. Punishing or threatening time wasters is not likely to motivate them; understanding why they are time wasting and disengaged, and fixing those issues, will have so much more impact.

What’s also interesting is that time-wasting problems compare evenly across different sized BPOs. In other words, larger BPOs had a similar level of productivity problems as smaller BPOs. As such, outsourcing teams of all scales can benefit from monitoring and time-tracking software to help cure their common issues.

Far from being intrusive, monitoring software, when deployed ethically, can help your organization uncover the gaps in your processes and demolish the roadblocks in your workflows that are killing efficiency and potentially harming the employee experience.

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