An Ancient Key to Innovative Employee Engagement for Today’s Omnichannel Contact Center

How probing questions can shape workforce engagement and where technology fits in

“Know thyself” is a Greek aphorism, which turns up throughout literary history from Plato to Emerson to self-help blogs. It’s also great advice for call center leaders seeking to enhance employee engagement.

Early on, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) often have a leg up in this regard, enjoying a tight-knit community of hand-selected, committed individuals. But as contact centers grow, it can be difficult to bring new people into the fold and, over time, a once cohesive, highly engaged group can fall prey to the “blahs.”

That’s why it’s important to keep probing the contact center’s identity—what makes it special and why should employees care? Who are we today and who do we want to become?

We’ve talked before about the importance of a shared mission, the authentic purpose behind the call center, but knowing thyself is also critical.

A Hacker’s Nightmare

It’s rather common for contact center leaders to hoist the “employee engagement project” on a manager or group of supervisors. And those tasked with delivering better survey results will usually turn to the internet in search of tips and tricks.

This research can get the ideas flowing but rapidly adopting #5 from some call center management post may not achieve much. After all, how do you know whether to use gamification tools or overhaul the hiring process if you haven’t first identified your barriers to workforce buy-in?

Unfortunately for all of us who love quick fixes (and why not, when they work?!), employee engagement is exceedingly resistant to “hacks.” And technology itself isn’t innovation.

It would be wonderful if purchasing a curated selection of products translated into greater workforce engagement, because then we could just budget for it! But it’s rarely so easy. Sometimes, a volunteer activity might do more to bring employees together than a slick new messaging system on their workstations. 

High-tech and high-touch together are typically what it takes to get the innovative employee engagement.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

Remember working with a ruler and scissors in elementary school and being given the pearl of wisdom to “measure twice, cut once”? Not bad advice for the contact center.

Measuring employee engagement is the necessary starting place, and it should happen long before considering how to “cut and paste” other call centers’ techniques into your operations. A comprehensive examination of workforce engagement can help target initiatives and provide benchmarks against which to judge progress.

Here’s where technology can be an immediate asset. Some technology solutions can enable an entire workforce to share perceptions and feedback via their preferred communications channels. And it’s so easy to implement, contact center leaders can check in more than once per year!

Moreover, reporting features built into high-quality workforce management software can drive insights into the variables affecting employee performance. Contact center leaders might, for instance, identify a top-performing team whose manager stumbled onto an innovative employee engagement approach that should be shared company-wide.

When working to know thyself better, it’s vital to ensure decision-makers are really listening, too. Asking for input and ignoring it can destroy any existing engagement. So be open to the opinions offered, even if it means abandoning some entrenched ideas or promoting difficult change.

Tailored to You

Employee engagement demands a customized approach, measured to fit and cut to suit. For instance, some call center environments lack camaraderie. The fun activities typically recommended for workforce engagement can pay immediate dividends there, adding rewarding personal interactions into the average workweek.

Other teams are collegial but not particularly driven and unfortunately, creative event planning won’t solve that problem. Instead, contact center leaders will have to figure out how best to promote a sense of forward movement with career pathing, competitions and other approaches.

Applying the right solutions begins with asking the right questions. Do employees need a stronger voice? Then exciting digital tools to gauge attitude and energy level at varying intervals could make a difference. Would they like more skills-building? Then a training solution that empowers them to learn—and get paid—while providing continual feedback could be transformative.

Innovative employee engagement initiatives are created for an organization based on extensive self-examination. Designing a strategy is a complicated undertaking, but we’ve broken down the most important elements in our whitepaper, The Complete Contact Center Guide to Employee Engagement for SMBs.

Download it now for a walk-through of workforce engagement concepts, from beginning the data collection process to developing a feedback loop to evolve over time. Along the way, you’ll get to know your organization a little better so you can implement the right combination of tactics to drive engagement to new heights.