Building a Strong Foundation for Employee Engagement

5 Basics Every Call Center Must Get Right

Employee engagement is a powerful force. An engaged workforce is associated with better customer retention, lower turnover, greater productivity and among publicly traded companies, even higher stock price.

Enticed by these benefits, some contact center leaders dive into employee engagement strategy with motivational speeches and recognition programs to fire up the team—only to find the initiatives don’t move the needle. Employees might give lip service to the mission or participate in “fun” events without energy.

Such issues frequently arise when workplace engagement is treated as an “add on” within a call center lacking an employee-centric purpose. The challenge is that engagement is all about meaning, which can only be built from the ground-up.

So what are the prerequisites for robust workforce engagement? Here are five basics you must get right.

#1 Hiring

The candidate recruitment process shapes new employees’ first impression of the contact center and the perception can be remarkably enduring. That’s why it’s vital to communicate the organization’s mission and advantages, in actions as well as words.

Consider whether a commitment to people is conveyed throughout screening. Do interviewers put candidates at ease so they can show their personality? Is the process respectful of the time and effort they expend to win the job? Are the hiring criteria fair and clearly explained so prospects know what’s expected?

It’s worth examining all aspects of recruitment, from job postings to onboarding functions, to set the right stage for employee engagement from Day 1.

#2 Compensation

The next question is whether the contact center is investing adequately in employees. Below-market compensation can harm morale and drive up turnover. A call center may feel like they’re saving money on staffing, when they’re actually spending more to continually refill the seats while losing the sense of community on which employee engagement rests.

Fortunately, it’s not just the hourly rate that matters. For some call centers, wage increases aren’t in the budget, and throwing money at employees is no panacea. 

So look at the package holistically. Could an extra personal day lower stress levels with minimal impact on operations? Would online sign-up for schedules enhance agents’ life balance, for the modest cost of some workforce management software? 

There are usually many options for offering employees meaningful rewards within any budget.

#3 Training

Imagine being called to a microphone to give a speech. You don’t know the topic and the audience is fidgeting impatiently. Your heart would be beating a mile a minute, right?

This isn’t so different from how an unprepared agent feels when taking their seat. They know they must answer questions, recommend products, resolve problems, operate technology systems and be “on” every moment. If they don’t have the skills and information they need to feel successful, every day can be full of discouragement.

This makes proper training an essential precursor to workforce engagement. When an employee feels like “I’ve got this,” they aren’t losing energy to panic and self-criticism. They’re comfortable, confident and ready for full engagement.

#4 Wellness

It’s tough for an agent to give their all if they’re sick, run-down, stressed out or slumped over in their chair on the verge of sleep. The contact center industry in general has become increasingly aware of how good physical and mental health contributes to employee performance and engagement and why a company health plan is only the beginning.

As a result, many contact centers are reexamining their sick day policies, building in active breaks to get people moving, offering a little more downtime during the day, ensuring leaders are inclined to provide support after a tough call or champion an agent who needs a boost. It’s called a wellness strategy, and every call center should have one.

#5 Promotions

Most people are motivated to achieve goals, make progress or enjoy a variety of experience—if not all three! As a final employee engagement point—contact centers can tap these instincts with opportunity.

When a company has a culture of promoting from within, agents sense the potential. And when there is a skills-building structure, they understand how to move forward. Encouraging agents to look toward the future can have a transformational impact on engagement, and call centers have the added advantage of creating the talent they need.

From hiring practices to training and promotion, treating people well is the ticket to engaging them. But if you have a strong foundation, what’s next?

We’ve developed an entire whitepaper on that! Download The Complete Contact Center Guide to Employee Engagement for SMBs to learn how to shape the environment, build community and innovate on workforce engagement. 

It’s a short read that’s long on impact.