Company culture has a big impact on how long employees stay with the organization. A great company culture helps keep employees engaged in their work, which has a positive impact on productivity, profitability, customer loyalty, and employee retention, according to research from Gallup. On the other hand, a poor company culture can cause employees to become actively disengaged–and Gallup found that almost three-quarters of actively disengaged employees are looking for new jobs.
The shift to remote and hybrid work has forced many organizations to reckon with the fact that company culture must go deeper than an office ping pong table and a well-stocked kitchen. Keeping people engaged, especially in a hybrid contact center environment, requires making employees at all levels partners in achieving the organization’s mission. Contact center employees must see how their work is contributing to the overall customer experience and be rewarded for positive contributions. They must also have easy access to the resources and knowledge they need to be successful–and opportunities to grow within the organization.
Maintaining Parity Between In-Office and Remote Employees
One of the big cultural challenges that every hybrid work organization needs to address is how to maintain parity between in-office and remote employees. Working from home and working from an office are inherently different experiences, so how do you create an environment that’s equitable to all employees, regardless of where they’re located?
Here are a few best practices to keep in mind if your contact center has a hybrid work model:
Document your remote work policy and publish it where everyone can access it.
Your policy should make it clear who is eligible to work remotely–and when–so that it doesn’t feel arbitrary. You should also make your expectations around remote work clear. For example, how often will agents check in with their managers? Will they still need to report to the office a certain number of times per week or month?
Provide remote and in-person employees with the same opportunities.
Don’t fall into the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. If your organization allows for remote work, employees shouldn’t be overlooked for promotions, training, or other professional development opportunities just because they’re not in the office.
Make company knowledge and resources available on demand.
In a hybrid work environment, employees shouldn’t have to come into an office to access the resources and subject matter expertise they need to do their jobs. Migrating all company and customer service documentation to a cloud-based knowledge management platform allows employees to quickly find the information they need anywhere they’re working.
Keeping Employees Engaged–No Matter Where They’re Working
According to a 2021 study from Gallup, only 36% of employees report being engaged in their workplace, and 15% say that they are actively disengaged. Not only are disengaged employees at a higher risk of turnover, but they can also have a negative impact on customer experience–especially when they’re working in a frontline role like a contact center agent.
Keeping team members engaged should be a priority for any contact center leader. Whether you and your team members are working together in an office, working remotely, or a combination of the two, you must build engagement into your culture so that team members feel connected and enabled to succeed.
Want to learn more about the relationship between employee experience, customer experience, and knowledge management?
Check out our exclusive report with 451 Research, “Five Best Practices to Future-Proof the Customer Experience.”
Strategies to Improve Contact Center Employee Engagement
Get agents involved in goal setting.
As a contact center leader, you no doubt already have goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) that you and your team are responsible for–and your team should certainly have visibility into these goals. However, you should also work with your direct reports to set individual and team goals. These goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. For example, an individual goal might be to complete a certain training series by the end of the quarter, while a team goal might be to improve the first call resolution rate by 15% by the end of the year.
When agents play a role in setting their individual and team goals, they are more invested in meeting those goals and can see how they are contributing to the organization’s overall success.
Encourage autonomy and professional growth.
A contact center agent’s job is typically highly structured, but it’s still possible to build in more autonomy so agents feel like they own the results they deliver. You could give agents a budget that they can use to resolve customer issues without having to escalate to a manager (for example, the Ritz-Carlton empowers customer service employees at all levels to spend up to $2000 per guest per incident). You could also block off a certain amount of time per month for employees to spend learning and developing a new skill or area of knowledge.
Provide recognition and rewards for successes.
While it’s important to provide constructive feedback on areas in which a contact center agent can improve, it’s just as important to recognize and reward their successes. Give team members shoutouts in department or company meetings, use gamification and prizes to reward top-performers every quarter, offer rewards in the form of job perks, and so on–lean into the forms of recognition that fit best with your company culture and resonate with employees. Just make sure you are recognizing and rewarding both in-office and remote employees for their good work.
Make time for team building.
Employees feel more engaged with their workplace when they get to know their co-workers. Team building may seem more challenging when employees aren’t all working from the same location, but it’s still possible to strengthen trust and relationships remotely. Even little things like setting aside a few minutes at the start of team meetings for small talk can make a difference. Virtual games and activities can also help people connect with their co-workers (just make sure you aren’t asking anyone to commit to team building activities outside of their normal work hours).
Give agents meaningful outlets for feedback.
As one of our customers told us, “the most important thing in a company is listening to the people right on the front lines.” These are the employees who are directly interacting with customers–and learning from those experiences–every day.
Give your contact center agents multiple ways to share feedback, such as sharing directly with their manager in check-in meetings, adding comments or questions to your knowledge management platform, or sharing anonymously through a survey. When your organization acts on employee feedback, clearly articulate what you are doing and how the feedback led to that outcome. And if a team member shares feedback that you are unable to act on, explain why, and make sure that they understand their feedback is still valued and taken seriously.