How to Motivate Staff and Drive Employee Engagement

Motivation and engagement concept with hands high fiving in the sun
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Quick Overview

Unmotivated and disengaged employees can be detrimental to the contact centre, but there are several ways managers can motivate their staff, including:

  1. Prioritizing Recognition, Growth and Culture
  2. Building a Living Culture
  3. Letting Agents Get Social
  4. Conducting Wellness Checks

In this article, our panel of experts outline their best ideas on how to motivate staff and drive employee engagement in the contact centre.


14 Ways to Improve Employee Engagement and Motivation

Working in a contact centre can be a hard job and agents can quickly become demotivated and less engaged. Keeping staff motivated and engaged is vitally important to operational success and CX, but how can contact centre leaders do this?

We asked our panel of experts for their best ideas, and here are 14 suggestions on how contact centres can motivate staff and improve employee engagement:

1. Prioritize Recognition, Growth and Culture

Ben Booth at MaxContact
Ben Booth

First and foremost, all leaders should be focused on building a positive work environment for agents. Recognizing and rewarding their efforts will boost morale and help employees to stay motivated, even when handling difficult customer interactions.

Secondly, providing growth opportunities such as training programmes and career advancement prospects shows employees that the organization is invested in their personal development and ensures they feel valued and engaged.

Finally, creating a culture of trust and open dialogue will empower employees to share their feedback and seek support when they need it, which is particularly important as, on average, 50% of employees now work from home.

This will keep employees satisfied and motivated as well as help contact centres to identify problem areas and drive continuous improvement.

By implementing these approaches, contact centres can motivate staff and improve employee engagement, ultimately leading to operational success and enhanced customer experience.

Contributed by: Ben Booth at MaxContact

2. Build a Living Culture

When a whole organization from the bottom up is actively invested in a healthy working culture it can make a big difference to motivation and engagement. It should be part of every business and not a set of optional values to include in a brand image.

Healthy working culture includes setting boundaries and expectations on both sides.

Healthy working culture includes setting boundaries and expectations on both sides. There are obvious benefits to this, creating networks of colleagues, enhancing work–life balance, and when you feel respected by an organization it contributes to satisfaction and a sense of purpose.

Culture in the societal sense is ideals plus behaviour; if it isn’t an active element of your organization, it’s not really a culture.

Contributed by: Jake Gardiner at Odigo

3. Let Agents Get Social

By sharing tips for success and supporting one another, agents can instil a sense of community and shared purpose, thus boosting morale.

4. Conduct Wellness Checks

Gauging how agents are doing daily gives managers a vantage point to determine how they can better support employees.

Contributed by: Andrea Meyer at Centrical

5. Invest in Professional Development

Sam Dehart at Assembled
Sam Dehart

Ever noticed how kids crave recognition and responsibility? How they relish the opportunity to prove how capable they are? Adults aren’t so different. But that doesn’t mean you can win them over with the occasional pizza party.

Real motivation is about gratitude, input, and growth. It’s about celebrating achievements, large and small, to show employees that their contributions are valued.

Want a more engaged workforce? Seek feedback through surveys to ensure they feel heard. And don’t just collect answers – report back and act on them.

Foster career aspirations by offering opportunities for professional development. Trust their skills and let them handle things without breathing down their necks. If they aren’t quite there, invest in their success through mentorship that helps them get there.

Motivating employees should feel like work because it is. But that work will pay dividends when it comes to driving operational excellence and improving the customer experience.

Contributed by: Sam Dehart at Assembled

6. Build Career Paths

Fast-track your way to effective employee engagement by giving agents the freedom to turn day-to-day activities into their dream job.

This means giving them the authority to evaluate their own performance and take responsibility for their progression as part of a clearly defined career path.

Start by introducing personalized dashboards. These analytics-powered marvels provide agents with real-time information about, for example, their AHTs or adherence levels so they can benchmark their performance against specific KPIs over time, in a highly visual way.

Meanwhile, data from these dashboards helps to establish a reliable baseline to build meaningful self-assessments and personal development plans.

They are the exact opposite of traditional leader boards – excellent motivators for those at the top but a repeated blow to self-confidence for those languishing at the bottom.

For good measure, involve the Operations Department in sharing good customer feedback that provides agents with continuous, positive validation of their skills and achievements.

7. Introduce Self-Scheduling Freedom

Nick Brook Calabrio
Nick Brook

Scheduling autonomy is a top motivator for agents. Those organizations which ignore this reality risk losing their best talent to the competition.

Contact centre leaders can start the ball rolling, taking a more creative approach to scheduling by introducing shift-bidding, split and micro-shifts, or flexible start and finish times. Then, let technology do the rest.

AI-driven chatbots are great for automating schedule requests and changes. Meanwhile, self-service automation in the form of mobile apps holds the key to giving agents the exceptional flexibility and control they need to self-serve their lifestyles.

Watch employee satisfaction scores soar as agents self-serve their working day. They can view their schedules, manage time off, request overtime, trade shifts, or move breaks and lunches whenever they want, all from the palm of their hand.

For all-round employee engagement, supervisors benefit too with a better, more transparent process for communicating with frontline teams.

8. Balance the Workload

Reduce stress levels to keep frontline staff motivated and engaged. The latest advancements in self-service automation allow agents to build their own schedules, while tried and tested methods such as smart call routing platforms can help balance the load.

This avoids the all-too-common scenario where your top performers – the most talented and valuable employees – are also your most overwhelmed.

Meanwhile, focus on better managing the type of activities agents are undertaking, while chatbots and robotic process automation (RPA) help by automating simple or mundane activities.

Agents increasingly face a barrage of more complex and/or emotional interactions that can quickly become overwhelming and exhausting.

Aim to build a wellbeing factor into the task assignment algorithm. For example, if an agent must handle three complaints calls in a row, ensure their next interaction is something a bit simpler, such as a change of address or a call where they can do something nice like offering a customer a voucher.

Contributed by: Nick Brook at Calabrio

9. Reduce Workload and Provide Opportunities

Geoff Donnelly at Five9
Geoff Donnelly

It is impossible to ignore how employee expectations have evolved over the last few years. Employees are no longer satisfied with the status quo. Especially when it comes to career opportunities, work environments, and technology.

According to ICMI research, overwhelming workload and lack of career opportunities are two of the top reasons why agents leave their job.

The good news is that they are both preventable. Ensure your contact centre is leveraging the right tools to reduce agent workload and provide opportunities for advancement.

As call centre volume increases, so do the challenges in delivering great customer experiences… and outdated technology won’t rise to the challenge!

Leaders must proactively provide agents with exceptional training, opportunities to progress – and the technology to get them there.

Contributed by: Geoff Donnelly at Five9

10. Implement Gamification

Andrea Meyer at Centrical
Andrea Meyer

Tying gamification (badges, levels, points, rewards, etc.) to the entire employee experience, including learning, social sharing, and performance goals, helps organizations boost morale by improving motivation and engagement and adding an element of fun to the workday.

Contributed by: Andrea Meyer at Centrical

11. Reset the Gamification Button

Remote agents can quickly become isolated, losing confidence and motivation along the way. Create a sense of belonging by pouring extra energy into building better communications and digital camaraderie.

A quick video call at the beginning of the day or an online video that can be watched at leisure is often all it takes. Above all, don’t forget to celebrate agents who do well and encourage peer mentoring so everyone is inspired to succeed.

Give gamification a modern twist and make team collaboration the end goal. Offer rewards to those who share their customer success stories and learning with others. And remember, not everyone wants a trophy on their desk.

Think up more creative ways to reward staff. While gift cards are a popular choice, consider awarding points for ‘perfect attendance’ or ‘highest quarterly quality scores’ that agents can cash in for extra time off.

Contributed by: Nick Brook at Calabrio

12. Look at Intrinsic Motivators

Jake Gardiner at Odigo
Jake Gardiner

The power of intrinsic motivators like enjoyment, pride and a sense of purpose can easily be undervalued.

Not only are the positive effects on motivation more sustained than using rewards, intrinsic motivators are also better for long-term engagement and satisfaction. Unfortunately, inappropriate reward schemes can sometimes actually decrease intrinsic motivation.

For this reason, it’s important to promote intrinsic motivation and be calculated with the use of rewards. Surveying agents about their motivations and what they perceive your organization offers can be a great way to target improvement.

13. Consider Extrinsic Motivators

Earning a reward or avoiding negative consequences are extrinsic motivators. Essentially both the carrot and the stick. Both have a place when used appropriately. Too many rewards, however, can promote reliance and may even decrease motivation when removed.

Furthermore, research suggests that rewarding someone for something they already enjoy can have the opposite effect, making a task feel more like work and decreasing valuable intrinsic motivation.

This is no excuse for withholding praise and rewards, though, it’s just to illustrate that throwing prizes at a problem isn’t guaranteed to have the desired effect, especially in the long run.

Unexpected surprises, though, provided in response to praiseworthy professional performance, can be especially powerful.

Contributed by: Jake Gardiner at Odigo

14. Give Employees a Voice in Their Schedule

Andrea Matsuda at NICE
Andrea Matsuda

Employees are at the core of your company, and it’s clear that having happy and motivated customer care staff has a tangible impact on your business.

The shift to digital has led to many staff handling multiple digital and phone interactions at once, leading to higher rates of burnout and more complexity than ever.

To keep pace, wholesale changes in forecasting and scheduling engines are required. In the new digital landscape, companies must be able to seamlessly expand and automate daily workforce management (WFM) processes, such as planning, forecasting and scheduling to effectively elevate and transform both the agent and customer experience.

Although most WFM tools were built for telephone-based platforms, today’s consumer behaviour is demanding a digital-first approach that easily optimizes asynchronous interactions.

Customers now expect instant gratification at every touchpoint, so traditional response KPIs can no longer be the standard.

AI can identify patterns of activity to predict when staffing fluctuations require scheduling adjustments.

Therefore, business leaders have access to constantly updated forecasts, while being able to incorporate business rules and employee scheduling preferences.

And, as agents report unplanned absences, automated systems can instantly reforecast net staffing shortages and promote resulting shift openings to the right agents, avoiding overtime and targeting those most likely to opt-in based on their self-selected preferences.

It’s also important to give employees a voice in their schedule. An AI-powered employee engagement manager allows agents to self-schedule, giving them the freedom to swap schedules when staffing levels allows.

This is a win-win for businesses, ensuring that agent resources are optimally aligned with customer demand, while also engaging and empowering agents.

Providing a culture in which employees can grow, from the onboarding and coaching stages, to equipping them with the right scheduling and forecasting tools, will ensure they remain motivated and engaged, and will contribute to retention in the long term.

Contributed by: Andrea Matsuda at NICE

For more great insights and advice from our panel of experts, read these articles next:

Author: Robyn Coppell
Reviewed by: Megan Jones

Published On: 31st Jul 2023 - Last modified: 9th Apr 2024
Read more about - Call Centre Management, , , , , , , , , ,

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