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Working in a call centre can sometimes feel like a contact sport with an endless list of demands, deadlines and battles. Conflict can lead to stress and can directly affect your mental and physical wellbeing. And it’s not only harmful to individuals. Companies also pay the price.

The World Health Organisation estimates that stress costs American businesses a staggering $300 billion a year. Last year alone a record 17 million working days were lost in Britain, costing the economy at least £2.4 billion, according to the UK Statistics Authority.

But is it all bad news? Can teams that work in harmony and reduce their less stress?

We decided to do some research in UK call centres where the tensions were running high. To get the best results, we chose a UK utility company with over 14 million customers.

As part of the training, learners took part in a survey to find out how stressed they were, and how well they worked in a team. The results were really interesting.

Firstly, we looked for trends with work experience and stress levels. In the graph below, the figures on the left axis are a measure of stress. The higher the figure, the more stressed a person is.

 

 

What the graph shows is that stress levels increase in the first six years of work, but as staff gain more life experience they become less stressed. The results are even more significant for employees with more than 30 years of work experience. With a score of 75, they are the least likely to be stressed.

Secondly, we tried to find out if staff become more or less collaborative as they became older. The questionnaires completed by staff assessed their preferred Conflict Resolution Style to find out if they were more dominant or collaborative.

 

 

Surprisingly, the graph shows that as we mature, and have more experience, we are more likely to be collaborative and fit in with the team.

So it seems that older people are better team players, and are more likely to take a collaborative approach when working with their colleagues and customers. They are also less prone to be stressed and are more likely to take life in their stride.

What implications do these trends have when companies are deciding who to employ?

We think that age and experience play a big part in performance, as research shows that lower stress levels and better teamwork lead to higher productivity.

At least one thing is for sure: older workers are worth holding on to!

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