Is Call Center Work really stressful?


Hi Se7en. I am currently job hunting. Karamihan sa mga company na ina-applyan ko are call centers. What really scares me is the stress level. Totoo ba yon? I mean, stressful ba talaga? Pano ko iiwasan na ma stress? Also, sabi mo sa blog mo almost 13 years ka na sa industry, how did you survive that long? Akala ko kasi pang trabahong fresh grad lang ang call center.

Marian

Hi Marian. Thank you for your email. It’s true that I’ve been in this industry for 13 years (going 14). When I joined the call center industry years ago, I had the same opinion, in fact, sabi ko sa sarili ko “ito na lang ba ang kaya kong gawin?” This kind of unhealthy, immature, misdirected mentality led me to a negative attitude towards my work made me unhappy. Literally, I had to drag myself to work everyday.

When i turned 30, I realized that I had nothing – no career development, with little management and leadership skill and competency. I searched deeper and realized that the problem was not with the work or the company, it was my perception towards the work, the industry, and the fact that I perceived it as future-less. In order to change my situation, I needed to change my mindset. When I did, everything changed.

That’s when career  stepped in. I began to look into the long term. I started with looking at what I needed to improve on (leadership and management) and asked all my TLs to guide me (I still do that today). Bottom line, if you need to change the situation, you need to change how you think, else, you will get stuck in an endless stream of resignations and applications.

As for stress in the call center, it is true. In fact, as soon as you decide to sign a job offer, you need to embrace  the reality that there will be stress, whatever that account is. Failure to accept this reality means  you will be wallowing in it – dizzy, demotivated, and wanting to quit. Thing is, everywhere you go, there will be stress, sometimes, the stress where you went is actually far worse compared to the stress of where you came from. Sabi nga nila, from the frying pan, straight to the fire.  This is the reason why call center employees are paid higher – the more complicated the task, the higher the pay (sadly, volume (or the number of calls you take) is NOT a basis for a higher pay).

What do you do with stress? You don’t avoid it. You face it head on. Well, you face it head on with information and solution. This is how I behave towards stress: I am stressed because of a problem. There is a problem because either there is a gap in the process, there is lack of communication or understanding, or it is behavioral (people).  When facing the problem, remember the 80-20 rule (otherwise known as the Pareto Principle). In simple terms, it means that the source of 80% of your problems is caused by 20% of something – find out what that 20% is and solve it, then the rest of the problem will collapse.

Finally, you need to learn which battles to fight and which ones to ignore or let go. Lifehacker wrote a wonderful article about that here.

Hope this helps.

Se7en