Keeping employees engaged, motivated and happy in their roles is a challenge for all industries, but this has proved to be extra tricky in contact centres. With call centres experiencing a higher than average staff turnover rate of between 25% and 35%, it’s safe to say that there is work to be done.
A key part of running an effective contact centre is workforce engagement management (WEM). This is an approach used to increase agent engagement, which can help call centres operate smoothly, keep costs to a minimum and reduce staff turnover.
What is Employee Engagement?
For agents to deliver the level of service expected in their call centre, they must be engaged with their role. Employee engagement is an approach that helps create the right conditions for staff members to give their best each day.
Engagement is about more than staff satisfaction, and instead refers to the commitment employees have towards the business. While satisfied employees feel content at work, engaged employees want to help the business succeed. They tend to be more productive and motivated than those with job satisfaction.
At call centres, engaged employees will be committed to their roles and more likely to contribute to a successful call resolution. They will take on and care about the company mission, goals and objectives. An engaged workforce consists of staff members who understand their individual role in the organisation, and how they can impact the overall output.
Why is it Important?
It’s up to team leaders and management to ensure employees are engaged in their role. On a purely financial level, an engaged workforce will help to reduce costs. This is for a few reasons.
The first is that an engaged workforce allows call centres to run with a smaller, yet more efficient team. Happy employees are thought to be 13% more productive. Increased productivity will allow agents to deliver a higher level of service, which can improve customer loyalty and retention.
We spend a lot of time at work, and there’s no denying that working as a call handler can be lonely and monotonous. The higher than average staff turnover corroborates this. Call handlers often experience burnout due to high levels of stress, demanding customers and unachievable performance metrics.
High staff turnover can lead to a number of issues within the contact centre. With the need to regularly hire and train new employees, it’s easy for team leader’s to lose sight of the company’s mission. Team leaders will spend time and money training new agents, while also dealing with any issues or disputes that occur as a result of agent inexperience. Newly trained agents may not be able to provide the level of service customers require, leading to frustrated callers and inefficiency across the board.
Additionally, high staff turnover can reduce morale in long-term employees, which in itself can lead to an even higher staff turnover. Experienced employees may become overloaded with more work while new agents are trained. New employees may struggle with too high a workload, or may feel their training has been rushed.
What Drives Employees?
When considering employee engagement, it’s important to look at what actually drives a workforce. While most employees would decline the opportunity to work for free, money isn’t the deciding factor when it comes to employee satisfaction.
But it’s only fairly recently that employee engagement has started to be taken seriously. With countless studies suggesting that employee engagement has a direct impact on productivity and subsequent profits, the benefits of creating a culture that helps employees feel valued and engaged cannot be overstated.
Research has shown that some of the top employee engagement drivers are:
The working environment
Creating a positive and collaborative workplace environment can reduce attrition and help staff feel comfortable and confident coming into work. Staff engagement levels have been shown to increase by up to 50% when workers develop close relationships with their colleagues.
Create a positive, collaborative working environment to help engage and inspire your workforce. This can be achieved by hosting company events, encouraging collaboration and promoting diversity.
Value and purpose
Employees want to feel as though their values align with those of the company. Ensure new staff members understand and engage with the company mission. Allowing call handlers to take a paid day off to volunteer with a charity of their choice can go a long way towards making staff feel like they are working for a company that listens to them.
Mental and physical wellbeing
Awareness around mental health has skyrocketed over the last few years, with mental wellbeing now given the same importance as physical. It’s been shown that stressed and overworked employees will take more sick days and be less productive. Standing desks, lunchtime yoga or walking meetings can help improve both physical and mental wellbeing.
Learning and development
A survey conducted by Hays suggested that amongst 5500 people looking for a new job, only 13% were doing so because they were unhappy with their salary. 22% on the other hand, were looking for improved training and career progression opportunities.
The right training and career progression opportunities are important in all industries, but in call centres where turnover tends to be higher, appropriate training is even more imperative. Quality training will motivate call handlers, which will subsequently reduce staff-related costs. Well-trained staff have better job satisfaction, will be more committed to their roles and are able to deliver a higher level of service.
EvaluAgent’s eLearning platform makes the task of onboarding and training new employees simpler and more efficient. Interactive quizzes and lessons keep employees engaged with their training from the very first day. Agents are kept motivated through real-time feedback, and are given an active role within the platform to acknowledge feedback. Gamified leaderboards and personal development celebrations will help create a culture of positive, engaged employees who are happy coming into work.
All of these features will improve workforce engagement, leading to a lower staff turnover, better service for customers and reduced training costs.
Tools to do the job
Providing call centre agents with suitable tools for the job is a big driver when it comes to both engagement and efficiency. In contact centres, this can be achieved by implementing integrated call support. By connecting telephone and computer systems, agents can access all the tools they need for a positive interaction with a customer on just one system.
Handy features such as call recording, ticketing and routing can help make conversations more efficient and lead to more pleasant conversations with customers.
Communication and clarity
Regular, clear and fair communication is paramount when it comes to employee engagement. Agents want to feel as though they are being listened to, while also being informed of company updates and performance.
Achievable KPIs can help handlers understand what is expected from them, ensuring they feel less like a cog in a machine and more like a respected and valued member of staff.
When employees are disengaged, it’s often the tools or working environment that get blamed. More often than not, it’s their relationship with their team leader or manager that demotivates staff.
Relationships with line managers can also impact employee productivity and willingness to work. One-to-one meetings between agents and team leaders should be prioritised, with feedback communicated clearly.
Effective Quality Assurance
QA can contribute to staff engagement by offering agents full transparency over their progress. If agents can clearly see how they are performing and receive meaningful feedback, they will be more motivated and engaged. Effective quality assurance can help encourage self-direction and boost inner drive.
EvaluAgent’s QA software means agents won’t need to ask team leaders how they are performing, they’ll be able to see their scores, customer service coaching sessions and feedback. KPIs can be uploaded to the system to allow agents to view how they are performing compared to the indicators set.
The right quality assurance system will enable agents to take charge of their employment and prevent them from becoming complacent at work.
Looking to create a more engaged workforce? Arrange a free trial with EvaluAgent or get in touch for more information on our platforms.