As more and more call centre executives move to greener pastures, the attrition crisis is gaining improportionate shape. It all boils down to one thing – motivation, or rather, the lack of it.
Motivational Games to boost morale and retention in Call Centres
“You can smell lack of self-esteem when you walk through the door,” said Kirk Weisler, a public speaker and authority on team building and creating positive corporate cultures. It all boils down to one thing – Motivation, or rather, the lack of it. What’s required is a mix of company policy with motivational tactics, along with an active participation by the management, and a conscious effort to reward the employees, not only monetarily, but also with appreciation and recognition. Sounds difficult?
Games at Southwest Airlines
Rob Lalim, one of the Directors in Southwest Airlines, says, “We use caution not to create a kindergarten-type environment to motivate employees. Our motivation efforts are geared towards treating employees like adults. We host fun-event days and internal contests to motivate”.
The attrition rate in the telemarketing sector is currently around 25 per cent, and expected to rise in the next 18 to 24 months to 35-40 per cent. (Source: NASSCOM) Southwest Airlines sets an example in this respect. Their call centres are well known for a fun working culture. They always end the weekend in style; Friday is always a “fun day”. This creates an interest among executives and they look forward to coming to the office, and begin their shift.
Consequently, more and more call centres have started organizing events on a regular basis that encourage the employees to bond with one another. Various contests such as, Scavenger Hunt, Halloween howl, Talent Show, and Mr. and Ms. Customer Service Contest are also organised for recognising the latent talents of the employees. The recognition they get further improves their morale.
A simple act of showing appreciation, such as a pat on the back, makes a lot of difference, but is passe. Shauna Verges, alias Ishika (20) a call centre executive with Daksh said, “The best boss I ever had came into my office at the start of every day and gave me a rousing welcome. He knew that if I felt good about what I was doing, my agents would feel good about what they were doing. He recognized that if he got me off to a rousing start, I would project that enthusiasm to my agents”. But recognition practices are not enough to make agents stick at a job for long.
Weisler puts the onus of the problem on management who don’t realise the importance of motivating their executives. He grimly observes, “Who with good esteem would like to work in this type of environment? Many people who work in call centres are doing something until they can find the job they really want.” According to Weisler, the all-important link that the management ignored so far was that motivated and happy staff would yield better performance, and result in increased profits for the company.
Though the level of motivation is very much correlated to the morale of the executives, but they are not the same. In absence of either of these, the performance of the call executives suffers. As Kimberly Croft, President of InterWeave, a Tampa, FL., based performance management consultancy for call centres, recounts her experience, “I’ve been in call centres where supervisors have pulled agents out of bathrooms–yelling at them because they weren’t meeting performance goals”. That is why, while starting a motivational tactic it is elementary to build up the morale of the team. Otherwise, as Croft says, “Contests can whip agents into a frenzy for today. Then tomorrow–when there is no game–people are crumbling. That kind of emotional yo-yo just kills motivation”.
Thus, the requirement of the fun culture to motivate the agents. It can be a contest, a game, or any other event that has an element of fun.
Have a get-together of the agents, over a short coffee break, and ask them to put forth fun ideas to be incorporated at the centre. Reward the executives with the ‘monopoly’ money. Fix some goodies that can be bought with that money. The rewards should be based on day-to-day performance of the agents. Gauge the team spirit. Hide some prizes, anywhere on the floor, and then give out clues to the team to locate the hidden object. You may give out the clues on the basis of the day-to-day performance, or hold a separate contest and give the clues to the winners.
Bob Nelson, Director of Nelson Motivation Inc., stressed that applying 5-I approach (i.e., Interesting Work, Information, Involvement, Independence, and Increased Visibility) as the fundamentals in a human-sensitive organization that ensures higher motivation levels among its executives. The result shows in the performance of the employees, as in the case of Yash Singhal (25), a call centre executive with Wipro Spectramind. In his words, “I am a lot more self-confident than I used to be in my initial days. These interactive programs and fun sessions are really very helpful. I have started believing in myself again, and I am ready to take on any challenge”.
But there’s a long way to go!
Communication plays a major role in enhancing the motivation. And all the management experts, and the strategists unanimously agree on the importance of communication. The management has to communicate with the executives on a regular basis, regarding company policies, future plans, and the incentive plans. It is also needed that the agents be constantly updated about their performance.
Thus, the actual role of management lies not only in improving the performance of the employees, but also ensuring a quality life for them. Ingeniously, if the employees feel cared for, the attrition issue gets resolved on its own, because no one wants to leave a good company.
To initiate a fun and motivational approach towards work, think creatively!
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