Call Centers Should Tackle the US Employee Engagement Crisis
July 17, 2014
By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor
It’s becoming increasingly obvious that the U.S. has an employee engagement problem. We may be going to work – those of us with jobs, anyway – but we’re not focused while we’re there, our hearts aren’t in our work and we feel pretty pessimistic about how much we’re valued while we’re actually there. Studies have confirmed this: a Gallup poll that measures the state of the American workforce has found that 70 percent of the nation’s workforce is disengaged from their jobs.
While the continued stagnating economy (as far as workers’ household budgets go) certainly doesn’t help, there is evidence that American business management practices aren’t contributing to worker enthusiasm, either. Demands on workers are high, rewards are non-existent, and too many workers feel they are little more than numbers at work rather than people. This is particularly true in the contact center, where employee turnover is traditionally sky-high.
Some companies, of course, have managed to turn this around and build up a well-engaged workforce. This doesn’t happen by accident, but takes a lot of hard work. A recent article by Michael Stallard, a consultant writing for Fox Business, notes that communication with employees is critical.
“Research shows the best leaders communicate an inspiring vision and live it, value people and give them a voice,” he writes.
There are many ways to build engaged employees, and these include setting realistic goals for them, understanding their strengths and building their jobs around them, emphasizing the positive and providing employees with some autonomy over their jobs so they can feel in better control. But one of the most critical elements is providing regular feedback to employees … more than the once-a-year performance review that many organizations rely on. It’s also critical to take the right tone, according to Stallard.
“When providing feedback to help someone improve, always communicate it in private, be respectful in your tone of voice and volume, and begin with three positive things you like about his/her work or character,” he writes. “After sharing the three positives, say ‘I believe you would be even better if… [insert what you want them to do or stop doing].’ Kindness matters and the approach you take will affect how the person receives the feedback.”
As with many challenges in the contact center today, technology can play a large role in helping contact centers boost their employee engagement. Modern workforce optimization solutions such as NICE Workforce Optimization offer better transparency and fairness to the process, allowing employees as well as managers to drill down into each individual’s performance, examining metrics and root causes to find the precise source of weak spots in performance.
Managers can also target their coaching energy at the people and topics that will benefit most, helping both the contact center and the individual agents improve. This, in turn, helps agents feel more valued, more in control of their jobs and better motivated to succeed. For companies hoping to beat that 30 percent employee engagement statistic, this is a vital tool to aid in success.