Three Tips for Increasing Employee Engagement

The past year drove rapid changes to the way we work, particularly in the contact center. Most employees did a great job of pitching in to make things work. However, as we move beyond necessity-driven changes to long-term strategies, ongoing employee engagement is a growing challenge.

In a recent study, Valoir found that only four in 10 workers would give their employers an A grade for engaging remote workers, and only one in three would give their employers an A for supporting morale.

Beyond the new home office chairs and technology changes, supporting employee engagement and morale takes changes in culture to be sustainable over the long term. In our conversations with contact center managers, we found a few key areas where intentional changes are delivering results. Here are three tips to increase employee engagement, which, as has been proven time and again, improves customer engagement:

1. Change onboarding.

The advantage of a remote workforce is that employees can work from anywhere, enabling companies to access a broader talent pool. The challenge is how to train and engage new recruits when the traditional boot camp approach doesn't work. Simply moving classroom training to video conference does little for knowledge retention and nothing for engagement. Smaller group training is more effective if you have to go the videoconferencing route, and shorter sessions with more breaks will reduce student and instructor fatigue. Microtraining, peer coaching, and support for agent-to-agent collaboration will drive more effective ramping up for new recruits.

Obviously, welcome packages are a good way to build engagement from the start. They should include ergonomic consulting for those working remotely, even if they're remote only part of the time. Instructing employees on how best to work from home, not just how to do their jobs, shows you care while reducing the risk of work-related injuries.

2. Rethink coaching.

Coaching by walking around doesn't work in a work-from-home or hybrid setting, and team huddles need to be recreated to ensure both in-office and remote employees are part of the experience. Technology is your friend when it comes to coaching remote and hybrid teams. Natural language processing (NLP) for call analysis is a must to effectively scale coaching, and real-time NLP-based solutions can enable you to identify when it's time to pull employees off a queue for coaching or positive reinforcement. However, technology is not enough. More frequent employee check-ins and temperature checks that address the whole employee, not just their metrics, are necessary.

3. Care for your community.

As we reconsider team activities in a hybrid world, service managers should consider group volunteering as a means to build comradery and community. Valoir's recent work-from-home study found that one in three employees have started volunteering for a new cause in the past year, spurred on by the desire to have a positive impact on their community and the need for more human connections. The great news is that virtual volunteering has come a long way in the past 12 months, and virtual volunteering enables you to include everyone, regardless of location. Being an organization that supports caring will get you brownie points, of course, but it's also a good thing to do, and it will also enable your workforce to connect in more meaningful ways.

As we move beyond temporary arrangements to long-term planning for remote or hybrid staffing, it takes more than technology and location changes to attract and engage talent. Cultural shifts in onboarding, coaching, and team building will help you build and maintain an engaged workforce, no matter where they live or work.

Rebecca Wettemann is CEO and principal at Valoir, a technology industry analyst firm focused on the connection between people and technology in a modern digital workplace.