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How do you motivate Millennial agents?

In the UK alone, almost 4% of the working population are employed in contact centres. A large number of these are of the millennial generation, typically born between the 1980s and the year 2000. Although relatively new to working life, this new generation of young adults has already developed infamy as the most demanding group of employees.

Millennials work to live, and don’t live to work. They make hard-working and loyal employees, often when it benefits them. Most notably, they’re some of the most difficult people to manage and retain. But what does this mean for the call centre when motivating millennial agents?

One of the first and most important challenges for us to overcome is the growing reputation of Millennials. Lazy work ethics, incompetence and apathy are all characteristics many cynical call centre managers claim are common to their younger staff.

This is not true of Millennials, but it is true of disengaged staff. This confusion results from the fact that today’s call centre leaders aren’t often aware of best practice when engaging and motivating millennial agents.

There’s no doubt that millennial workers are different to their Gen X and Baby Boomer counterparts, but it’s understanding these differences that allow managers and team leaders to unlock the potential of this new generation and deliver a great customer experience.

If you are struggling when it comes to motivating millennial agents, here are three top tips to get you started:

Communicate the company mission.

All employees like to take pride in the work they do and who they do it for, but millennials often need to feel like they are contributing to something worthwhile. Effectively communicating the values of the company provides agents with direction and meaning, allowing them to really engage with their work and align their efforts to greater business objectives.

Instead of solely focussing on performance metrics during coaching, explain to agents how their performance contributes to the success of the business, and the impact their behaviour has the customers they interact with.

Provide regular and constructive feedback.

Millennials require steer and direction, but little and often. Helpful praise and feedback allows agents to identify what they’re doing well, and exactly where they need to improve. This allows them to become more engaged and motivated with improving their performance on a day to day basis.

The trick is to not make a big deal about feedback; you don’t need to conduct a formal appraisal whenever it’s time to discuss performance. Let millennials know what they can do to improve with a simple chat, or an email.

Empower millennials to own their own performance.

Millennials value independence and autonomy in the workplace. Giving them the opportunity to own their own performance also creates a culture of accountability and responsibility in the call centre. Millennials tend to be enthusiastic, creative and driven individuals when they are empowered to succeed.

Work closely with them to identify opportunities for improvement, set clear goals, and define timescales. Guide their performance and mentor them as individuals rather than over-managing or doing too much ‘hand holding’.

The bottom line is that millennials typically want to engage with meaningful work that expresses their talents and fuels a desire to learn. These things aren’t unrealistic requirements by any means, and should be available to all call centre employees.

The specific challenge many face with millennials is that they actively pursue the career and the work they want. Once they become disengaged, it’s only a matter of time before they move on. It’s not that they lack loyalty - millennials simply need to be understood and engaged in order to deliver a great customer experience and add immeasurable value to your business.