Prior to COVID-19, conversations about the future of contact centers focused on AI and other optimizing technologies, such as real time score cards on customer satisfaction. Due to continuing safety concerns, the industry talk is now about distributed staffing models and best practices for remote hiring. Even with these changes, agent retention remains a priority.
Retention is often mentioned along with motivation and employee engagement. On occasion, there are direct links between these dynamics. Other times, the connections are less clear. Is retention the outcome of a well executed employee engagement program? Is motivation a retention strategy? Is a motivated agent always an engaged agent?
Jeff Rumburg, in writing about employee engagement metrics, states “There is no universal definition of employee engagement, yet everyone seems to know what it means.”
Yes and No.
Clarity is Key
Ben Woodard, Program Consultant for WinShape Teams, says that clarity is essential to employee engagement and starts at the top: “Leaders who fail to devote the time and energy needed to create clarity across the organization often reap undesirable outcomes, including low employee engagement; subpar results; and a culture marked by a lack of initiative.”
From the Artful Thinker blog, “Clear and concise messaging is the key to convincing others to take action. It is no secret, business leaders are often frustrated by the lack of understanding when they ‘feel’ they provide explicit direction or orders. The frustration comes from the failure of communications, which is often caused by lack of clarity. The associated business risks and costs of failed communications can be astronomical depending on the purpose and use. Bad communications can negatively impact revenues, growth, relationships and confidence.”
Case in Point
Let’s revisit motivation and retention as they pertain to employee engagement. Contact Center team leaders are wise to contemplate these engagement concepts and take the necessary steps to ensure there’s a shared understanding among team members.
Think of motivation as a short-term strategy to prompt a desired action for a specified amount of time. When team leaders are encouraged to “motivate your agents,” games and contests are popular responses.
One example might be assigning agents to teams and awarding points based on positive remarks from customer surveys. In a distributed staffing scenario, the reward of a catered meal no longer makes sense. Instead, one company offered to make a donation to the team’s charity of choice. For personal contests, e-gift cards can also say “congratulations – well done!”
Think of retention as a more long-term strategy with relationship building at the core. The best team leaders know that motivating agents toward performance goals is only one component of retention. They take the time to get to know each person. They are sensitive to differing attitudes and temperaments. They’re fair. They don’t play favorites, and they treat all of their team members with respect. Effective supervisors demonstrate flexibility in finding solutions to unique situations.
Do these definitions match yours? What other words or expressions do you use to describe these strategies? Recognizing the power of clarity, why not invest time in defining these and other related terms with your team? Can these questions be part of a new team member’s orientation?
- “What are motivating factors for you on the job?”
- “What gives you a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day?”
- “What do you need from me as a team leader to feel connected to the team and the larger mission?”
“A lack of clarity could put the brakes on any journey to success.”
FOR MORE ON EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT
From Contact Center Pipeline, SAY GOODBYE TO AGENT TURNOVER, NOT YOUR AGENTS