Pinoy BPO Advice: The Call Center Agent with Panic Attacks

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Dear Ate Helen, I think one of my agents has a disorder. She sometimes gets “panic attacks” which prevents her from performing her duties on the floor (the team covers chat support for an airline). I don’t know what to do, I’m a manager here and I do have to admit, this agent is one of our top performers – but sometimes she gets triggered and goes to a bathroom stall to “relax”. What can I do? the team covers up for her. -Remy, Las Pinas BPO

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Dear Remy, kudos to you for caring enough for one of your agents that you want to know how to best help with this sensitive matter. Usually, I’d suggest to consult with HR, but let’s save that as a last option. Here is what you can do:

  1. Personally talk to her and ask if everything is good. But please don’t expect that she will respond positively. Some individuals who need help tend to become more secretive the more people reach out to them. Just say that you are concerned about her behavior, and would like to know more about what she is going through. If she shares her problems, you will need to decide if its something that you can keep between the two of you, or if you need to escalate to your HR (if it impacts work) or her family (if its “depression related” or if you feel that things may escalate to self-harm).
  2. If you think you are not equipped to handle the situation, then you will need to officially escalate things, a simple email to your HR representative will do. Just explain things as clearly as possible – and include your recommendation. You can ask that she be transferred to a less stressful account, or that she be given a less stressful workload (you said that she is a top performer – which means that the company should be motivated to “save” her).

Remy, just be prepared. Sometimes these things don’t end well. It might be that your call center will let go of this agent because she is not mentally stable, or that she needs to address her problems first before she can function efficiently in an office environment. -Ate H.

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Need advice? Send Ate Helen an email at auxadvice@gmail.com