Is it possible to make the most mundane work engaging?

Employee engagement has steadily been making its way into nearly every HR, management and boardroom conversation over the last few years. More organisations are concerning themselves with the needs of their employees as a way to address the needs of the business itself. With a recent study from American Express putting the cost of disengagement at £1,548 per disengaged employee per year, it’s no wonder why engagement is becoming such a massive priority.

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There is an overwhelming amount of research that attributes success to effective HR programmes that have a focus on employee engagement – but how can we promote a culture of engagement and motivation if the nature of a job is typically mundane?

To find the answer, there’s no finer example than the call centre industry. Call centres have a reputation as being ‘the factories of the 21st century’, subjecting those who work there to repetitive, boring and unfulfilling work. It’s also an industry that deals with staff turnover rates of up to 30% (source: talkdesk), much higher than average. Call Centre Management naturally want to improve agent performance at every turn, but the nature of the work makes that quite the challenge.

To truly improve call centre agent performance, today’s contact leaders are turning to approaches centred around engagement rather than simply ‘cracking the whip’. Traditionally, call centre performance management has been based around a relentless focus on efficiency, and stamping out bad behaviours. Slowly but surely, many in the industry are changing their performance management strategies to ensure their staff are engaged, enthused and empowered when at work – but how?

Empowerment and autonomy

Nobody enjoys being constantly pushed – engaged call centre agents are those who have the opportunity to manage and improve their own performance effectively. Rather than being pushed and driven by management to improve, engaged agents are guided by their Team Leaders to identify their own strengths and weaknesses, and make the necessary changes to address them. Many businesses can easily facilitate this by giving their staff the tools they need to gain visibility into their own performance in real time. This gives employees every chance to take the helm and improve where necessary.

Social recognition

Call centres are often made up of many teams all being measured against the same metrics and performance indicators – this gives management a wonderful opportunity to increase engagement by applying gamification to performance. Despite the nature of the work, introducing gamification into the call centre creates a culture of excellence through a dose of healthy competition. With insight into how you’re performing compared to colleagues, the promise of being regarded as number one often gives employees the incentive to get really stuck into their work.

Knowledge sharing and development

One of the keys to engagement in the call centre is making knowledge sharing the norm. To create a culture of knowledge sharing it means encouraging people to work together more effectively, and to collaborate and to share at every opportunity. In the call centre, systems where agents can discover where their colleague’s strengths and weaknesses lie open up opportunities for conversations centred around sharing information, tips and skills. Organisations that facilitate knowledge sharing see sharp uptakes in engagement as teamwork and collaboration become the status quo.

All of these concepts and initiatives as part of a HR programme massively improve the level of engagement in any organisation, not just the call centre. The current exodus away from workforce optimisation toward engagement demonstrates exactly how HR initiatives have the capability to transform an industry – even those with the most mundane and tedious roles.

About the Author

Jaime Scott

Customer Experience Director, EvaluAgent

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jaimescott1

As Customer Experience Director at EvaluAgent – providers of call centre monitoring software designed to enhance staff performance in multi-channel contact centres – Jaime has 17 years’ experience leading customer service operations and customer experience improvement teams and programmes for leading UK brands.