The Hidden Costs of Disengaged Agents: How Low Morale Impacts Your Contact Center

A disengaged agent sitting at a desk with his head in his hands

Contact centers handle a huge volume of customer interactions daily. This constant demand can affect workers’ morale and engagement levels. Think about it—do any of them seem bored or lacking enthusiasm lately? This could be a sign of disengaged workers.

Disengaged workers can severely impact customer satisfaction and the overall efficiency and atmosphere of your contact center operations. Employee disengagement is also a hidden drain, negatively affecting customer retention, brand reputation, and your bottom line. But don’t worry—there are ways to re-energize and motivate your team.


The Causes of Employee Disengagement

Before improving employee morale, it’s important to determine the causes. Here are some of them.


1. High workload and pressure.

Agents often handle high call volumes, tight deadlines, and recurring tasks. The emotional toll of dealing with angry customers makes it easy to identify what negatively affects morale in contact centers. The majority of contact center agents report feeling disengaged due to the sheer number of customers they deal with daily.


2. Poor work-life balance.

An inflexible schedule, long hours, or unpredictable call volume can lead to stress and burnout. This makes it difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance, further affecting employee morale and commitment. Agents need time for their personal lives to be happy and productive at work.

Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Combat Customer Service Burnout: Symptoms, Causes, and Solutions


3. Lack of recognition and opportunities for professional development.

Feeling undervalued can quickly drain motivation. When agents feel their hard work goes unnoticed or unappreciated, they become less invested in their roles. This can happen if there are limited opportunities for raises, promotions, bonuses, or career advancement.


4. Insufficient resources and training.

Agents need the right tools and knowledge to handle customer interactions effectively. If agents don’t have the proper training or tools to do their jobs effectively, they can feel frustrated and underprepared. This can lead to a decline in confidence and problem-solving abilities. Ultimately, this causes longer call times, affecting customer satisfaction and employee morale.


5. Job security issues.

Job insecurity is a two-edged sword for disengaged agents. Feeling like their position is at risk can heighten anxiety and decrease motivation. For instance, an agent worried about layoffs might prioritize short-term metrics (like call volume) over customer satisfaction.

They might rush calls, fearing they appear replaceable. This leads to frustrated customers and reinforces feelings of being dispensable. It also creates a negative cycle of low morale, performance issues, and bad customer experience.


The Hidden Costs of Disengaged Agents: How Low Morale Impacts Your Contact Center

While low employee morale might seem like an internal issue, disengaged customer service agents are a hidden threat to your contact center’s success. Here’s how it can negatively impact your entire business:


1. Reduced Customer Satisfaction

It’s not uncommon to come across a rude, disrespectful, or disengaged salesperson or call center agent. However, this negative attitude directly impacts customer satisfaction. An agent’s perceived pleasantness or lack thereof affects a customer’s experience.

Disengaged agents also lack the motivation to go the extra mile, which can lead to frustrated customers and lost business. For instance, if a customer calls about a late internet bill, a disengaged agent might just offer basic answers without investigating further. This leaves the customer feeling unheard and frustrated, potentially leading them to switch to a competitor.

A study revealed that 80 percent of customers switched brands due to poor customer experience. 43 percent of respondents said they were somewhat likely to switch brands even after only a single negative customer service interaction.¹ With disengaged agents providing subpar service, your company risks losing loyal customers to your competition.


2. Increased Customer Effort

Customer effort is the time and resources it takes for a customer’s needs to be resolved. Disengaged agents often require customers to explain their problems multiple times, navigate complex menus, or wait on hold for extended periods.

This can be incredibly frustrating for customers, causing them to abandon their calls or contact attempts altogether. This forces the customer to call back later if the problem persists, wasting their time and the company’s resources.


3. Higher Employee Turnover

When agents don’t feel engaged or interested in their jobs, they are at risk of turnover. Disengaged and unhappy employees are much more likely to start slacking off or decide to quit altogether. Studies show disengaged employees are twice as likely to leave within a year than engaged colleagues.

A high employee turnover rate creates significant costs and operational disruptions for a business. According to SHRM, replacing a single departed employee can cost 50-60 percent of their annual salary in direct hiring expenses. The total cost balloons to 90-200 percent when accounting for lost productivity, hiring downtime, and training new hires up to the prior employee’s skill level.²

Beyond the monetary costs, losing experienced staff, especially in key roles, makes remaining employees question if the grass may be greener elsewhere. This instability and knowledge drain can negatively impact customer service quality and efficiency as you constantly backfill positions.


4. Damaged Brand Reputation

Disengaged agents who act rudely, dismissively, or provide subpar service leave customers frustrated and dissatisfied. In today’s hyper-connected world, those negative experiences get amplified across review sites and social media.

One snarky or unhelpful agent risks going viral as the face of your brand’s poor customer service. Did you know that 93 percent of customers reading online reviews before choosing a business?3 This shows how reputation damage can be disastrous for attracting new customers.

A pattern of disengaged employees essentially signals to consumers that your company doesn’t care about their experience or prioritize customer satisfaction. Why would anyone want to be treated rudely or have their issues brushed aside? Maintaining an engaged, customer-focused staff is crucial for controlling your online narrative and protecting your brand’s reputation.


How to Keep Your Agents Engaged

Happy agents are productive agents. Productive agents translate to a stronger, more engaged, and thriving work environment. Here are some ways to keep your agents engaged:

Read More: Empowering Workforce Well-being: 5 Strategies to Align Company Culture with Employee Mental Health


  • Show appreciation: Recognize your agents’ hard work. A simple “thank you,” or a small bonus can go a long way.
  • Help them grow: Offer training and development opportunities to motivate employees and make them feel valued.
  • Listen to their needs: Address workload concerns and ensure your agents have the tools to do their jobs effectively. This will boost employee experience and team morale.
  • Prioritize work-life balance: Allow flexible scheduling, leaves, paid time off, and even remote options. This work-life balance improves job satisfaction and employee morale.
  • Safe staffing level: Practice safe staffing: task allocation. This helps to reduce workload, improve employee morale, and reduce turnover rates. If you are understaffed, you can employ a staffing agency. A specialized staffing agency will provide quality temporary agents within a short time, saving you cost and time without compromising the well-being of your staff.
  • Engage in team building activities: This fosters community and collaboration. These activities can help strengthen relationships among team members, boost their morale, and create a more cohesive team.


Investing in your agents’ well-being is not just doing the right thing; you’re making a smart financial decision. Engaged agents are more likely to take shorter calls and resolve issues faster, saving your company money.

They’re motivated to find customer solutions, leading to higher satisfaction and reduced customer effort. Engaged agents also take pride in their work and go the extra mile to create a positive customer experience that reflects well on your company.

Read More: Empathy Is at the Core of Sustainable and Effective Leadership



The negative impacts of disengaged agents on customer satisfaction, operations, and revenues are too significant to ignore. Investing in employee engagement strategies is crucial to reenergizing your team and avoiding these costly pitfalls. If you need help filling your team, Salem Solutions can assist.

Our team understands the importance of employee morale and can provide solutions that are tailored to your needs. Don’t let disengaged agents drag you down—contact us today to boost your team’s performance and ensure customer service success!



  1. “80% of Customers Said They Have Switched Brands Because of Poor Customer Experience.” Qualtrics.XM, 14 Dec. 2021,
  2. “Reducing Employee Turnover With Creative Workplace Solutions.” Society for Human Resource Management, 12 June 2022,
  3. “Online Reviews Statistics and Trends: A 2022 Report by ReviewTrackers.” ReviewTrackers, 9 Jan. 2022,

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