In the last two articles in this series, we explored both sides of employee engagement: what causes disengagement, and the characteristics of folks who are engaged.
The benefits of developing and maintaining an engaged contact center staff are immense. The most obvious benefit is lower turnover, which has a big bottom line impact. Long term advantages also grow over time, including a stronger company culture, better communication, collaboration, and innovation.
In this final installment, we take a look at a few practical and affordable employee engagement programs that call center leaders can start now. We also discuss longer term approaches and how technology solutions can provide a sustainable competitive advantage in employee engagement.
Fast and cost-effective employee engagement tactics
(1) The employee recognition program
Creating a consistent and reliable way to acknowledge your staff’s contributions is a popular and effective way to start improving engagement. If you recall the ‘Six reasons why call center employees disengage,’ article, this tactic primarily addresses the issue of poor feedback mechanisms. If designed properly, a recognition program can also inject a bit of fun and joy into the workplace.
Proper design is key! Some points to consider:
- Sufficient recognition. This needs to be balanced between authentic, meaningful, and affordable. An impersonal $10 gift card may be affordable, but can come across as somewhat meaningless. Good leaders will understand what their staff appreciates and enjoys (maybe it’s a free day off, or a picture on a wall). Also, don’t forget the recognition aspect: the employee(s) should get specific feedback on why they were chosen.
- Consistent and sensible criteria. How does one achieve this honor? Do not be lazy and simply tie it to business objectives—then all you have is a quota competition versus genuine recognition. Use both quantitative metrics and qualitative ones. Be consistent on how the recognition is chosen as well!
- Get peer input. A recognition program can be much more effective if the employees’ peers have a say in the process. Some recognition programs are entirely peer-to-peer! At minimum, you should gather feedback from staff to develop both the criteria and the method of recognition.
(2) Earmark a learning & development budget
The potential size of such a budget will vary from organization to organization, but the idea remains the same. Set aside a certain amount per year (or quarter) per employee. Give them the option to exercise the budget against a relevant learning objective or skill development goal.
It works best when employees have as much choice as possible (promoting autonomy), although some guardrails should be in place to avoid misuse of the L&D budget. Some companies may impose stricter limits, requiring leadership or upper management approval of courses or learning expenses.
However it shakes out—as a leader it is important to promote and encourage employees to explore the learning & development opportunities that are on offer. This will help identify the already engaged employees, and give others an opportunity to become more engaged. You could also consider tying participation in these programs into your recognition program.
(3) Model accountability behavior
Holding folks accountable is a big part of engagement—disengaged folks won’t care if rules are broken or targets are missed. But before a leader can start to turn the tide of a disengaged staff, they themselves need to demonstrate what accountability looks like.
Modeling behavior simply means that you’re showing others how to behave. Work with your own leaders to develop a system of feedback and accountability for both wins and misses—then show your staff what it looks like when you are held accountable. This must be done consistently and meaningfully before you can expect them to adopt a similar system.
Long-term employee engagement strategies
(1) Overhaul your onboarding
As mentioned in the previous articles—an employee’s first impressions and experience on the job can set the tone for years to come. “Training” is not onboarding. Onboarding involves an ongoing tour and easing into company culture, and coaching on how to access information, contribute, collaborate, and grow.
A good onboarding program may last several weeks, with active involvement from yourself and the new employee’s peers. Because many firms skip onboarding, confuse it for training, or substitute it for a 45 minute HR presentation… this could be a big undertaking. But it is almost always worth the investment.
(2) Ensure processes and policies align with a set of values
To develop a strong culture and a sense of purpose, actions within an organization need to connect to a shared set of beliefs, goals, and values. If your company’s mission statement is vague and bland, and everyday tasks are purely oriented towards “make more money or spend less money”—culture will quickly evaporate.
People want purpose and meaning. It needs to be more than running a food drive every other month or so. They want to come to work and feel like they’ve done something apart from grinding away for a paycheck. Those that feel like they’re just grinding away are the same folks that will propagate disengagement among the staff.
There is no quick fix approach for aligning daily behavior with company values. It is a broader discussion that will almost certainly involve senior leadership. However as a team leader you may be able to find ways to create your own purpose and values within your group.
(3) Technology solutions to solve process bottlenecks
WEM (Workplace Engagement Management) is the three letter acronym to remember.
These enterprise software solutions use advanced technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence to drastically impact information and process bottlenecks, such as:
- Inter-departmental communication
- Information repository access
- Fair, flexible and efficient scheduling
- Quantitative and qualitative performance monitoring
- Feedback systems (e.g. gamification)
In a nutshell, WEM platforms can accelerate and supercharge almost any engagement tactic you can think of. Quality WEM offerings also come with slick user experiences, offering employees and managers alike a smooth, app-like interface that rivals the things they’re used to downloading on their phones.
GTS specializes in deploying WEM systems designed especially for contact centers—this technology not only helps with staff engagement, but it plugs right into the contact center process itself. A platform like Genesys WEM will interface with a CRM, IVR, chatbots, voice systems, and more.
Perhaps best of all, modern WEM systems are entirely cloud-based, meaning that there are no on-premises servers or systems to maintain. The cost-savings in IT alone can be a huge selling point.
We hope this three part series on contact center employee engagement has been useful. When staff is disengaged, it creates a downward spiral of lost productivity, empty culture, and frustrating turnover.
Contact center leaders can do something about it though. First, it’s helpful to understand what it looks like when people are engaged, and how these attitudes and behaviors create a positive feedback loop that promotes productivity, collaboration, innovation, and more.
We went over a few short-term and affordable tactics that can help improve engagement, like a recognition program, an L&D budget, and practicing accountability. But for long-term success in this area, things like solid onboarding, values-align processes, and specialized WEM technology are key for consideration.
If your organization would like to learn more about deploying a robust WEM solution, we’re happy to show you how GTS can improve employee engagement across the board. Get in touch today.
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