How to Overhaul Your Employee Engagement (EX) Strategy


Strategy concept for employee engagement with chess piece

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You aren’t alone if you’re struggling with employee engagement.  In this article we explore how to drive employee engagement.

In a recent Call Centre Helper webinar, 56% of attendees said employee engagement ‘varies from team to team’, whilst a further 33% said their teams were ‘somewhat engaged’. Only 5% said their teams were ‘highly engaged’.

Time to build an employee engagement strategy that works? Read on for inspiration…

Why Does Employee Engagement (EX) Matter?

Employee engagement (EX) directly impacts business performance and how customers experience a brand. Contrary to popular belief, engagement is about far more than creating a fun workplace with ping-pong tables, free food and trendy workspaces.

IPSOS data suggests that people want opportunities to learn and grow, interesting work that makes a difference, a sense of purpose, and a leader who cares about them as people.

The bottom line is that employee engagement matters and getting it wrong can have dire consequences. To change how engaged people are and how performance is achieved, leaders at all levels must create a team climate where people show up and give their best.

To change how engaged people are and how performance is achieved, leaders at all levels must create a team climate where people show up and give their best.

When did you last speak to your leadership team about team engagement – or make sure they had the right tools to help support their teams? Research shows that leaders account for 70% of the variance in team engagement – so, getting leadership right is a strategic imperative!

Team Climate Eats Company Culture for Breakfast

Engagement and team climate are inextricably linked. People work for teams. Real teams. The team is the reality of their day-to-day experience at work. Team climate (rather than company culture) is therefore what underpins that experience.

The good news is that changing team climate is easier than transforming culture because it is largely dependent on what individual leaders do.

It’s massively influenced by how your team leaders and colleagues ‘show up’ every day, talk and behave towards one another, and support those around them. Small actions and daily habits make all the difference.

The benefits? Getting the team climate just right sustains employee enthusiasm, passion, innovation and a desire to do great work and get results. Leaders who facilitate employee engagement, through creating the right climate, achieve lower employee turnover and better company performance.

Quite simply, employees are loyal, customers are happier, and companies perform better.

Read 7 Pillars for Creating Amazing Team Leaders to find out how to coach and develop great contact centre team leaders.

10 Ideas for Driving Employee Engagement

Here are some things leaders can do to help nurture a positive team climate. Why not start introducing them here and there and see what happens?

1. Make Meaning

Employees can feel really disconnected from their purpose if they don’t understand their role in the bigger picture or their impact. Instead, try to create purpose and a compelling narrative that changes the conversations, shaping everyday thinking and actions.

Just small tweaks and some conscious thinking can help shift the dial here. For example, regularly talking about business performance, sharing positive customer service scores or feedback, or taking some extra time to explain the reasons behind any change.

2. Create Psychological Safety

Make your team a safe place for people to bring their best selves to work.

Make your team a safe place for people to bring their best selves to work.

Listening and understanding can go a long way here.

Try to extend this to your team by helping them make time for each other too – including regular team huddles and lunches with opportunities to share personal anecdotes.

3. Own Your Team’s Performance

Don’t just wait for the annual obligatory appraisals to talk to your employees about their performance. Instead, own your team’s performance and make it part of your regular conversations. Inspire, motivate and encourage people to perform and fulfil their potential. It’s a win–win situation.

4. Positively Disrupt

Show humility, vulnerability and bravery, and always be willing to challenge the status quo. All of these characteristics will help you to stand up for what’s right for your team – and, in turn, earn their respect.

By positively disrupting, you will also be well placed to drive a culture of ongoing improvement. This should have a positive impact on long-term employee engagement.

To find out more about what can impact employee engagement and practical steps your organization can implement, read our article: 7 Drivers of Employee Engagement

5. Build Trust Every Day

Trust isn’t earned overnight. By consistently acting with integrity and the right intent, you can build trust through your daily actions.

6. Engage in Dialogue

Don’t talk down to your teams, withhold information, or assume you always know better. Hold authentic and adult conversations that result in strong, positive engagements.

7. Develop Others

Genuinely care and support your people with regular feedback and coaching to enable them to perform at their best. This will help you build a positive working relationship. Your teams will also increasingly see you as someone who “has their back”, and they will want to continue to come to work.

8. Drive Change and Help Your Teams Thrive

Change is inevitable, but your teams can thrive in uncomfortable and challenging situations. You just have to make sure they have the tools to succeed. Equip your teams to overcome complexity and bounce back from the bumps along the way.

9. Give Permission

Don’t micromanage your teams. Instead, challenge when and why they are seeking your approval, set out clear guidelines for when you need to be involved (and when you don’t). Develop autonomy and accountable freedom, unleashing the shackles. All help to boost self-worth, confidence and ultimately engagement in their role.

10. Be a Good Role Model

Walk the walk and talk the talk. By demonstrating commitment to the desired behaviours and values, you will reinforce what you are trying to achieve and have a positive knock-on effect.

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Avoiding Negative Feeling

Another way to boost employee engagement and nurture a positive team culture is to nip any negativity or bad habits in the bud. Here are some key areas to look out for.

Address Stress Head On

Having less stress or being stress-less

Step back and consider stressful situations your teams find themselves in each day. For example, high contact volumes and dealing with difficult customers.

Could you do more to support them? Could you ask them if they need a break, to switch to another channel, or whether they feel some additional training or other support would help?

You should also consider your teams’ work/life balance. When did you last ask how you could better support them in this area, or double-check how they were getting on with homeworking – for example?

Taking an interest and helping support simple tweaks could make a big difference in how they feel day-to-day.

Prevent Feelings of Isolation

Employees can sometimes fall by the wayside and feel very isolated – often without managers realizing. One way to prevent this from happening is to build good habits into your daily and weekly routines.

Beyond team huddles, you could offer each employee a “chat buddy” for a weekly coffee, or encourage homeworking agents to come into the office from time to time. If you feel concerned about someone being distant or isolated – particularly if it’s out of character – you should set aside time to talk to them one to one.

Rethink Your Coaching

Is your coaching technique effective? Do your employees engage and take actionable insight from each session? If you’re not sure, it can help to ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your coaching approach work for everyone?
  • Do you need to change your approach?
  • Is the way you give feedback effective?
  • Are you doing too much coaching or not enough?
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20 Team Engagement Ideas

That’s not all. There are plenty of other ideas and initiatives out there for improving employee engagement. Here are some tried and tested tips from our readers…

1. Make Time to Talk to People

It starts with you! Make a conscious effort to be a visible leader, invest time in your teams and never be too busy to stop, chat and build better relationships.

Thanks to Andrew

2. Introduce Daily Meetings

It can seem a bit excessive at first, but switching to daily meetings can make a big difference.
By reviewing targets and celebrating results, you can make sure every day gets off to a good start.

Thanks to Gio

For some ideas you can try to help improve your team meetings, read our article: 10 Ways to Improve Your Team Meetings

3. Set Up an Employee Engagement Committee

We’ve developed an employee engagement committee made up of members of our staff. They work together to provide activities or ideas to keep our teams engaged.

They do a great job of organizing events and activities (big and small!) throughout the year – from charity bake sales through to the annual Christmas party.

Thanks to Kevin

4. Celebrate National Customer Service Week

We celebrate National Customer Service Week. It’s great to get involved with an industry-wide event – and it definitely helps to engage our colleagues, as well as our customers.

Thanks to Abbie

5. Send Out Company-Wide Newsletters

Have you tried sending out a regular update? We find weekly company newsletters make a big difference. They help to keep teams better informed with details of any changes, as well as offering opportunities for feedback.

It’s also great for celebrating colleague of the week, great stats and anything (or anyone) that deserves recognition – before it gets forgotten.

Thanks to Anna

6. Continually Recognize Success and Improvements

Give everyone an equal opportunity to be the hero of their own success.

Give everyone an equal opportunity to be the hero of their own success. Continually recognize and reward people for their effort.

Thanks to Nick

7. Tell People How Good They Are

What are you waiting for?! Tell your team how good they are – all the time!

You could even start a ‘Tell them you love them’ campaign to encourage everyone to share positive feedback about each other.

Thanks to Abbie

8. You Said, We Did!

Introduce a “You said, we did” feedback loop.

This will help to give your employees a voice and reinforce the fact that you are listening to them and their opinions matter.

Thanks to Abbie

9. Start Personal Development Plans ASAP

We find it makes a massive difference to employee engagement to kick-start personal development early on – and not just wait for the annual appraisals.

When a member of staff passes their probation, we always end the meeting by starting their Personal Development Plan there and then. We then schedule regular 1-2-1s across the year to maintain focus too.

Thanks to Jamie

Read The Best Ways of Providing Corrective and Nurturing Feedback to find out how call centre managers and team leaders can provide corrective and nurturing feedback.

10. Involve the Team in Change

When creating new processes and procedures, we always involve the team.

It is critical to have team buy-in for success to happen!

Thanks to Wendy

11. Link Rewards to KPIs

Joined-up thinking can help your employee engagement strategy succeed.

Instead of giving out spot prizes for good performance, why not invest some time in establishing a reward and recognition scheme that’s intrinsically linked to your companies KPIs and Quality.

That way, when employees are recognized, they understand how their success feeds into the bigger picture – and how it could contribute to building a career in the business.

Thanks to Abbie

12. Never EVER Cancel 1-2-1s

In a busy contact centre, there’s always something that could take priority over an employee 1-2-1. Don’t do it! Even cancelling a session as a one-off will send a very loud message to employees that they don’t matter.

Thanks to Wendy

13. Reduce Your Data-Driven KPIs

Data analysis and information

If you can reduce your data-driven KPIs to focus more on putting the customers’ needs first, this can lead to more positive interactions, greater autonomy and higher employee engagement.

Thanks to Leanne

14. Share Best Practice

Share best practice across all lines of business to build a high-performing and motivated team.

Thanks to Abbie

15. Encourage Employees to Get Outside

We try to encourage wellness walks during lunchtimes. Also, for employees to generally get outside, and change their space at the end of the day.

Thanks to Leanne

16. Regularly Ask Your Team If They Need Any Help

Always ask your employees if there is anything they need or anything you can help them with. It provides an “opening” for employees to be heard and can help to nip smaller issues in the bud – before they become big problems.

Thanks to Wendy

17. Introduce Watercooler Chat

We have established a watercooler chat to provide an area for staff to talk about things other than work. It’s helped them to bond with one another.

Thanks to Kevin

18. Do a Daily Wellness Check

Conduct daily wellness barometer checks. Simply ask “how are you feeling today?”

It’s a quick message that they answer with a score of 1–10. This makes it easy to spot stress, and when someone’s mood dips, you can engage proactively.

Thanks to Leanne

Conduct daily wellness barometer checks. Simply ask “how are you feeling today?”

19. Take It in Turns to Host the Team Huddle

I like encouraging my team to take it in turns to hold a huddle. They cover all the bits I normally would, but then also have some freedom to do something that’s their idea. It’s worked well, and they’re always keen to listen to their peers.

Thanks to Jamie

20. Host “Themed” Coffee Mornings

We’ve found that adding themes to coffee mornings has really helped to encourage non-work conversations. For example, films, sports, etc…

Thanks to Peter

If you are interested in more great ideas on how to improve employee engagement and avoid burnout, read these articles next:


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