What is Schedule Adherence and Why is it Important in the Call Center?

Customer Engagement Team December 17, 2021

Schedule adherence ensures agents within a call center stick to their schedules. Call centers define this metric as a portion of the day (usually measured as a percentage) when agents are available to take customer service calls.

Why Schedule Adherence Matters

Call centers must monitor schedule adherence. By definition, schedule adherence dictates the success of your call center. Let’s view how schedule adherence directly affects your customer service success.

If you run a small call center with 5 to 20 agents, you might think schedule adherence isn’t all that important. But if you take a closer look at all the different junctures throughout the day where agent time is “lost,” you’ll realize that it can add up to a serious loss of revenue over the course of a year.

A Positive Impact on Customer Service

If agents aren’t maximizing the time they’re available to take calls, the quality of your customer service will naturally start to dwindle. Maximizing availability ensures that customer calls are answered promptly. This prompt customer response reduces customer service wait times and increases agent engagement.

Operational Efficiency

Call center adherence also improves a company’s overall workforce management. Agents who maximize their availability to take customer calls ultimately make labor costs manageable and optimize the use of company resources.

Agent Productivity and Satisfaction

Strict schedule adherence significantly impacts contact center agent productivity and satisfaction in the call center environment. By promoting consistent and reliable work schedules, schedule adherence supports a better work-life balance for agents.

Agents are assured they will work their assigned shifts and take full breaks, preventing burnout from extra hours or skipping breaks to handle more calls. With proper work-life balance, agents tend to be more productive during their scheduled shifts and have lower absenteeism.

Adherence to call center schedules also contributes to higher agent morale and satisfaction. When all agents maintain adherence, they tend to work less compared to lax environments where hitting customer service quotas or milestones may take longer hours.

Agents can also reliably plan time off work when teams adhere to schedules. This consistency enables them to effectively balance their work and personal lives, reducing stress and increasing overall satisfaction.

Strong schedule adherence ensures optimal staffing levels and an evenly distributed call workload. Agents are not pressured to take on excess calls or skip breaks, improving morale. And without the fatigue of understaffing during peak periods, agents can deliver better performance.

How to Calculate Schedule Adherence Percentages

Here are a few steps to calculate call center adherence:

  1. Determine scheduled hours for each agent. This is the total number of hours they were scheduled to work for the day, week, or month you are calculating adherence for.
  2. Determine the actual hours worked for each agent. This is the total number of hours they clocked in and handled calls.
  3. Divide actual hours worked by scheduled hours. This will give you their schedule adherence percentage.

For example, suppose Agent A was scheduled for 40 hours a week but only worked 38 hours. Here’s how you’d calculate the schedule adherence percentage:

  • 38 actual hours / 40 scheduled hours: 95 or 95% schedule adherence

To calculate the overall schedule adherence for the call center, add the total actual hours worked by all agents and divide it by the total scheduled hours for all agents.

For example, suppose the total scheduled hours for a call center’s staff is 250, but agents only work 225 hours. Here’s how you’d calculate the overall schedule adherence percentage:

  • 225 actual hours / 250 scheduled hours: 90 or 90% schedule adherence

The closer to 100%, the better the schedule adherence. Low adherence means agents are not working their full scheduled shifts. This could indicate high absenteeism or agents not managing their schedules well.

Schedule Adherence Variance

Schedule adherence variance refers to the actual hours worked vs. a percentage. For example, if an agent works 35 out of 40 scheduled hours, subtract 35 from 40. This leaves you with a schedule adherence variance of 5 hours.

Tracking variance helps identify patterns and degree of deviation from schedules. High positive variance indicates poor adherence. A high negative variance may mean overworking or inaccurate scheduling.

Together, percentage and variance provide a clear view of schedule adherence efficiency. Percentage gives the overall rate, while variance shows the magnitude of difference from schedules.

Challenges in Achieving Strong Schedule Adherence

There are a few key challenges to achieving high schedule adherence, especially regarding unforeseen events and agent preferences.

Unforeseen Events

Unforeseen events like absenteeism, technical issues, weather events, and call volume fluctuations can suddenly disrupt agents’ ability to adhere to schedules, making adjusting coverage on short notice challenging. Contingency plans help but can’t account for every situation.

Agent Preferences

Agent preferences around shift timing, maximizing certain days off, scheduling appointments during work hours, and tardiness trends can also negatively impact adherence. While some flexibility is reasonable, too much accommodation of preferences undermines targets.

Managers must balance empathy with operational needs. Clear scheduling policies, incentives, expectations setting, and emphasizing adherence goals are essential to counter these preferences.

Strategies to Overcome Schedule Adherence Challenges

Here are some strategies your call center should implement to boost your schedule adherence percentages during challenging times:

  • Sourcing contingency staffing and cross-training agents helps provide coverage when unforeseen events occur.
  • Building in buffer times between shifts allows for unexpected delays.
  • Implementing alternative work arrangements, like the ability for agents to work from home, enables continued operations during weather disruptions.
  • Monitoring call volume trends and forecasting helps anticipate needs.

On the agent preference side, transparency and two-way communication around scheduling policies and adherence goals help gain buy-in. Offering limited flexibility, like a flexible start time window, shows accommodation.

Consistent enforcement of policies and repercussions for non-adherence establishes expectations. Gamification through scoreboards and rewards reinforces positive behaviors. Above all, promoting a culture focused on operational excellence and customer experience helps agents intrinsically value adherence.

With preparation, accountability, and an engaged workforce, call centers can overcome many potential roadblocks to schedule adherence.

Best Practices for Improving Schedule Adherence

If you want to improve your schedule adherence protocols, here are some best practices you can easily implement in your business.

Agent Training and Education

Training on adherence policies and expectations during onboarding sets the tone from day one. Ongoing refresher training helps agents manage schedules and attendance effectively.

Regularly sharing adherence statistics and goals helps agents understand adherence’s impact on operations. Educating on the forecasting methods used in scheduling also gains more agent buy-in to the plans.

Advanced Scheduling Software

You can leverage robust workforce management (WFM) software to automate and optimize agent schedules and improve adherence. For example, Verint WFM software uses predictive modeling to forecast call volumes and calculate required staffing levels, which helps to strengthen schedule accuracy based on expected traffic.

Verint WFM also allows call center agents to quickly request schedule changes, shift swaps, time off, and task and channel switching — all of which help to create more efficient schedules while improving work-life balance. Verint WFM Scorecard reporting also gives insight into agent and schedule efficiency to help you identify improvement areas.

Effective Communication

Frequently sending schedule adherence reports to agents and managers keeps the focus on schedule optimization ongoing. Additionally, regular meetings provide a channel to discuss any issues or challenges arising. Timely notifications of necessary schedule changes or flexes keep agents in the loop. Allowing anonymous feedback on proposed schedule changes also gives agents a voice and lets them feel heard.

Performance Incentives

Linking schedule adherence to bonus pay, recognition, or other privileges ties it directly to rewards. Contests for best attendance records gamify adherence and foster engagement. Publicly rewarding teams and individuals with top adherence adds a recognition element that applies positive peer pressure. Managers can also implement small incentives like gift cards for perfect weeks, providing continuous reinforcement.


Schedule adherence is essential for call centers, measuring when agents can take calls versus their scheduled time. Good adherence improves customer service, operational efficiency, and the agent experience.

Calculating adherence involves comparing actual hours worked to scheduled hours. Call centers face challenges to adherence from unpredictable events and agent preferences that must be managed.

Strategies like flexible scheduling, open communication, and performance incentives can enhance adherence. Ongoing monitoring, evaluation, and optimization of schedule adherence contribute significantly to call center success.

At Verint, we provide advanced scheduling software and real-time adherence tracking to help call centers reach their targets. Call centers can ensure success by leveraging our solutions to monitor, evaluate, and optimize schedule adherence. Contact Verint today to learn how our Workforce Management software and CCaaS tools can take your call center’s adherence and performance to the next level.




What is an example of schedule adherence?

Schedule adherence refers to how closely an agent sticks to their official schedule. For example, if an agent scheduled for an

 How do you maintain schedule adherence?

Schedule adherence requires contingent scheduling, clearly communicated policies, adherence-based incentives, and schedule optimization software. Call center managers can also achieve schedule adherence by incentivizing engaged agents. Providing bonus pay, vacations, or other gifts can gamify schedule adherence and help agents reach company milestones and goals.

 Why does schedule adherence matter?

Schedule adherence directly impacts customer service levels, operational efficiency, and agent engagement and satisfaction. Agents whose call time is close to their scheduled hours are more engaged, productive, and able to help customers better. As adherence numbers drop, call center managers will also see a dip in the quality of their customer service, ultimately resulting in more complaints, a poor overall customer experience, and reduced revenue.