How Companies Can Build Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is a term that is frequently discussed but not well defined. In general, it is used as a catch-all phrase to address the need for organizations to improve how they treat their employees, and when it comes to contact centers, their agents. I thought it would be helpful to share a definition for this term, as it's one that I expect to be used for a few years, after which it will be replaced by another more current phrase describing how enterprises should interact with their employees. DMG';s definition is as follows:

Engaged employees are enthusiastic, connected, and vested in their jobs and companies. They identify with the missions of their companies and strive to achieve their personal objectives to help their companies succeed. They are proud to work for their companies, comfortable with their cultures and people, and are empowered to act on their behalf.

Clearly, employee engagement, as defined above, is essentially the opposite of what is causing the Great Resignation. And it's the Great Resignation that drove home the importance of building employee engagement; the ideal way to retain employees/agents is to create a warm and welcoming environment where people enjoy their jobs and want to work (in the office or at home). In an engaged workplace, people are given the tools and authority to perform their jobs properly, have a sense of community with their coworkers, and feel fulfilled because they are part of something that makes a difference.

While there are more studies to come, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way many people feel about life, which includes the companies or organizations for which they work, since people spend about a third of their time (during their wage-earning period) involved in their jobs. Prior to the pandemic, a lot of people were searching for more meaning in their lives and were making it clear that they expected the companies where they worked to be socially and environmentally responsible; this gave rise to the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) movement (for lack of a better description). The pandemic kicked this into high gear as it forced all of us to face the reality that life is fragile and should be lived responsibly and to its fullest. While every person has a different idea of what this means, one thing on which most people agree is that they want to spend their time doing something that brings them pride and joy.

Companies that appreciate this and have corporate culture that cultivates, recognizes, and rewards positive contributions by employees are well-positioned to build working environments that encourage employee engagement. This is made possible by fostering a culture that empowers employees to take positive actions and instills a sense of pride in what the company does and their own work. This does not mean that companies should not be dedicated to generating revenue and profits, as they certainly should. It does imply that companies need to carefully re-assess how they support, recognize, and reward their employees and rethink what is expected from them. This is particularly the case for a number of contact centers where agents have been overworked, stressed out, and underpaid for decades.

Contact centers need engaged agents, as these are the front-line employees who interface with customers and prospects and represent the brand. Contact centers should build a working environment and establish a culture in which their agents have a compelling reason to be enthusiastic, connected, and fully vested in the company mission. Companies must empower their agents to do what is best for their customers so they feel they are making positive contributions and can be proud of the organizations where they work, instead of asking them to enforce outdated and ineffective policies and procedures.

Engaged employees should be more than a term for discussion. Employee engagement needs to become a core element of corporate culture for companies that want to change course and reverse the impact of the Great Resignation. This is especially true for contact centers. Making the necessary changes is not going to be easy, but it will be rewarding for your customers, employees, brand, and bottom line.

Donna Fluss, founder and president of DMG Consulting, provides a unique and unparalleled understanding of the people, processes, and technology that drive the strategic direction of the dynamic and rapidly transforming contact center and back-office markets. She can be reached at