Reimagine employee engagement trends and shift focus to empowerment

How to Reimagine Tired Employee Engagement Trends with These 12 Empowering Techniques for Your Contact Center

From technology that puts employees front-and-center to better vacation policies, employee engagement trends are constantly buzzed-about.

Too often, though, leaders implement corporate programs, then forget them.

Business leaders figure out the state of engagement (or more likely, disengagement) of their employees. Then develop some five-step plan to fix it. But your agents’ engagement and workplace happiness doesn’t have an end date or a time stamp. You can’t complete a five-step plan and suddenly have permanently engaged agents.

With some 74 percent of contact center agents at risk for burnout, on top of 30-45 percent attrition rates, there needs to be more than an end-all-be-all guide to “fix” engagement.

In fact, wouldn’t it be more beneficial to focus on what intrinsically energizes and motivates your agents, not just what engages them? That’s where empowerment comes in. Empowerment taps into the discretionary energy of your agents. It drives them to think beyond their roles, and to get excited about what they can accomplish as your contact center shifts and adapts.

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Rather than thinking up a five-step plan to “fix” your employees’ engagement, shift focus. Reinvent how you think about engagement. How can you give your team the resources, environment, and direction they need to make more autonomous decisions? And how can leaders support contact center agents, empowering them to shift when needed, and to keep growing in their roles, so they stay happy and in their seats?

We’re talking through 12 employee engagement trends that reimagine what engagement should be. They’re all about empowering your employees to form deeper connections with your company, so work can be a source of fulfillment rather than frustration.

1. Connect your agents to a larger purpose.

Successful, empowered teams have common goals and a single, uniting vision. In fact, 57 percent of younger Americans feel that meaningful work is their primary concern when it comes to on-the-job priorities. When you rally around a common purpose, you give every person on your team a reason to show up for work. That driving force ups engagement and empowerment.

2. Focus on health and well-being.

Now more than ever, companies incorporate wellness techniques into the standard workday. From guided mindfulness exercises to walking meetings, the benefits of exercise and an intense focus on well-being are insurmountable.

Careers consume more than one-third of the average person’s week, so it makes sense to merge work and wellness. Employees who take breaks are more productive and happier in their roles. With recent research showing that 20 minutes outside improves overall life satisfaction, soak up some of that happniess and get outside for your 1:1 conversation with your agent. Swap the monotony of your meeting room with a picnic table or a few laps at the park to give your agents a change of pace.

3. Offer flexible work hours.

Younger generations now expect flexible work schedules from their employers. In the always-on era, it’s important to recognize that after hours work can be unavoidable at times. But you, manager, can make it easier for your team by building flexibility into their schedules. If Angie has to pick her son up early from school on Monday, she can answer a few emails or be active on chat for an hour or two when she gets home. Giving your agents the option to work from the comfort of their couch or adjust their hours when needed cuts down on stress levels.

4. Put humanity back in the work experience.

A pervasive, and important, trend we’ve noticed is the shift away from the term human resources. Your employees are more than human resources (read: human tools). They’re humans. Recognize this now. Even better, some companies even use the term people experience, instead. Your agents aren’t only your employees. They’re people with their own lives and commitments outside of work. Supporting this mind-shift makes your agents feel valued and connected to your company.

5. Include more people-focused metrics.

From a spike in sentiment survey tools to more comprehensive analytics that tap into the way your people work, what you measure needs to evolve. Success and empowerment don’t come from how fast your agents answer the phone or how many interactions they tackle per day.

For contact centers, we saw the lack of intention around employee empowerment and well-being as an opportunity to fill a gap in the agent experience.

We’re evolving contact center metrics with the Agent Experience Score, a new KPI designed to keep pulse on your agents’ 360-degree experience over a rolling 90-day window.

6. Have regular, cross-functional meetings.

Remember that common cause you need to rally your team around? Well, to live out your company mission and keep your team connected to that common cause, unite your agents to the employees beyond departmental walls.

As a leader, meet with other managers and teams on a regular basis to build a culture of feedback and transparency. Then, share the knowledge you gain with your team of agents. That added level of depth and organizational transparency will help agents be more successful in their roles, keeping them engaged and empowered to strive for better.

7. Provide continuous learning and development opportunities.

Ditch the annual training sessions for good. Snackable, frequent learning is the new normal. Some 93 percent of employees say they’d stay at a company longer if the company invested more in their careers. And loyalty is a key indicator of engagement and empowerment.

Use in-line training and micro-learning to give your agents more actionable and relevant feedback. Pair that training with automation tools that use pre-determined criteria to monitor for coaching moments for you. Then, you’ll get more meaningful, developmental opportunities served to you, so you can turn them around for your team.

8. Add gamification to your team’s daily workflow.

We all know the stress and negativity that surround the job of an agent. Help them reduce stress by creating rewards and recognition for reaching certain milestones or completing certain tasks. Want to bump up a much-needed metric? Gamify it rather than striking fear into your agents. Start a friendly competition to get your agents excited about tackling more interactions or reducing the time your customers wait in a callback queue.

9. Build stronger manager-employee relationships.

A stunning 96 percent of employees say receiving feedback regularly is a good thing. And 70 percent of managers say they’d like to spend more time with their manager. Your agents crave more frequent feedback and more touchpoints with managers. Put more conversations on the calendar or drop by their desks and strike one up in-the-moment. Establish more regular touchpoints with each of your agents. They’ll feel more connected and appreciated as a result.

10. Create a culture of organizational transparency.

Eroded trust means less engaged and empowered employees. As a leader, you play a role in creating a more trusting and transparent environment in your contact center, and in your entire organization. You have a seat at a few tables where your agents don’t. Use your leadership role to advocate for more knowledge sharing from the top-down. And, drive high transparency in your contact center on a team level. Start with better role clarity, shared goals, and more visible analytics and insights for your team.

11. Foster an environment based on psychological safety.

Organizational transparency and trust come from the comfort to be candid and 100 percent yourself in the workplace. This starts with building a more inclusive work environment. Employees who bring their whole selves to work are more productive, engaged, and empowered. They’re more confident in their roles at work, and at home, because they feel supported and respected by their peers and leaders.

12. Be socially responsible.

Whether you create a recycling program, offer opportunities to volunteer together, or encourage employees to take time off for a good cause, socially responsible companies have happier employees. And, they secure more top talent. Some 81 percent of millennials expect companies to be good corporate citizens.

With millennials making up the largest generation in today’s workforce, not making moves for social good can cause a disconnect with the people who work for you. A moral disconnect leads to a lack of support for your company mission, and ultimately, to higher disengagement, lower empowerment, and burnout.

See why an intentional focus on better engagement matters to your customer experience. Head over to our blog on the topic.  > Why Engaging Your Employees Should Matter to You: The Relationship Between Employee Engagement and Providing your Customers with the Best Experience