The contact center is a unique workplace for many reasons, but one of the most important of these is the central nature of employee engagement. Because the integral day to day work of the employees involves person-to-person interactions, engagement and enthusiasm are one of the decisive factors that determine whether customers have a positive experience. Keeping in mind these 7 keys to employee engagement in contact centers will help you to unlock the full engagement potential of your employees, breathing new life into every workplace interaction.
1. Feeling Valued
From entry level employees all the way up to supervisors and managers, one of the most important elements of workplace engagement is a strong sense of feeling valued. Employees need to see themselves not as isolated drones in a machine doing the bare minimum to get a paycheck, but instead as part of a vibrant community that takes pride in the work they do. Sending out appreciation and receiving recognition are vital elements of workplace happiness that too many leaders fail to emphasize. Additionally, a general sense of value can put workers more at ease with one another, allowing for greater peer-to-peer communication.
2. How Employee Engagement in Contact Centers Conflict Management
Conflicts in the workplace are an enormous drain on employee focus and engagement. Unfortunately, many management higher-ups are unaware of (or even purposefully ignore) the negative effects of conflicts spawned from highly competitive and fast-paced workplaces. The ability to diffuse a tense situation and keep frontline employees on friendly terms is a central element of employee engagement. This also ties into the first key, feeling valued, because workplaces that put a person’s value front and center are inevitably more prepared to deal with conflicts than those that do not.
3. Ownership along with Employee Engagement in Contact Centers
Ask yourself: what helps employees build a sense of belonging and engagement in a workplace? In a grander sense, what encourages people to get excited about projects and jobs? For many people, the number one driver is a sense of ownership. If an employee believes that he has an active part in building a healthy workplace culture, and feels like they own some stake in its future, the impetus for engagement is significant. Alternatively, employees who feel no ownership of the positive elements of work will also refuse to take responsibility for mistakes. This is one of many reasons why the contact center industry tends to have a high rate of turnover.
One problem that leaders in contact centers across the country frequently complain about is the lack of open communication that occurs between employees and bosses, as well as between peers and between departments. What they often fail to understand is how their own behavior is modeling poor communication for others. Openness can be complicated for leaders because it is a double edged sword. Real openness includes a willingness to discuss both strengths and weaknesses, not simply one or the other, even when a situation seems black and white. However, once this skill is mastered, it can foster explosive growth in healthy relationships and productivity.
Motivation is another central aspect of engagement. The interesting thing about motivation is that the motivations for employees can vary widely. Each kind of motivator prompts a different response from leaders. For example, in any workplace, there will always be employees whose main motivation is income. Particularly for those with families and significant financial responsibilities. However, it would be wrong to assume that this is the main motivation behind every employee’s decision making and drive. A pleasant working environment and strong relationships with co-workers rank high among reasons why some companies successfully retain long term employees and boast high efficiency. As a leader, it is up to you to know what motivates those around you, and use this knowledge to everyone’s advantage.
We have all seen the value of constructive criticism in our own experience at one time or another. If done right, it can be a great way to redirect employees who are making mistakes without being overbearing. However, it is important to keep in mind that feedback should also be used to encourage employees who are succeeding. In order to avoid the impression that you will only get involved to punish those who make errors. As a leader, it is your responsibility to provide feedback through good times and bad.
7. Difference Management
Last but not least, understanding difference management is a valuable tool in your quest to employees engaged. While differences can cause personal rifts and make managing the workplace difficult, they also provide opportunities. In fact, a workforce with a diverse set of backgrounds, skills and dispositions can be an enormous benefit if handled correctly. It is up to you to learn how to use differences to draw people together instead of pushing them apart.
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Jim Rembach is the Editor in Chief of the Customer Service Weekly and it’s Podcast host. He is President of CX Global Media and the creator of the Call Center Coach Virtual Leaders Academy. As the host of the Fast Leader Show Podcast, he has interviewed hundreds of experts, authors, academics, researchers, and practitioners on various angles, viewpoints, and perspectives for improving the customer experience. He has held positions in retail operations, contact centers, customer support, customer success, sales, and measured the customer experience. He is a certified Emotional Intelligence practitioner, Employee Retention Specialist, and recipient of numerous industry awards.