Will I Ever Be Engaged? Exploring Employee Engagement in the Workplace
George and I recently attended an HR Roundtable of Charlotte area companies that are members of the Contact Center Network Group. We were given a list of what would be considered universal HR problems and asked to rank them. The list included,
- Training & Development
- Employee Engagement
What would you rank as your most pressing HR problem? With this group, Employee Engagement was the big winner.
So, what is employee engagement? And why do so many want it and how do they get it?
According to Curt Coffman (Author of First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently) via the Gallup Management Journal, “Engaged” employees are builders. They want to know the desired expectations for their role so they can meet and exceed them. They’re naturally curious about their company and their place in it. They perform at consistently high levels. They want to use their talents and strengths at work every day. They work with passion, and they have a visceral connection to their company. And they drive innovation and move their organization forward.
David Zinger, who founded the Employee Engagement Network would say that an engaged employee is wise; they know when and how to make the exception to every rule, they know how to improvise and they know how to use moral skills in the service of the right aim.
What’s the big deal? Why do we want engaged employees?
According to Gallup, disengaged employees cost businesses billions of dollars a year. Let’s consider the effects of a disengaged and engaged employee in a contact center. Employee A, let’s call him Albert, is engaged. Albert understands and believes in the company’s goals, values and services. He consistently makes an effort to communicate professionally and effectively during his contacts. Customers appreciate his demeanor and tone. Employee B, let’s call her Brenda, is disengaged. Brenda slouches in her chair, reads straight from her call guide and is passive towards the needs of the caller. She speaks with a monotone voice and answers questions as quickly as she can. Her activity suggests a belief that her job is a waste of time.
Now consider the overall effect if the majority of your employee base is made up of “Brendas”. Imagine how exponentially different your business would be if your employee base was comprised of mostly “Alberts”.
THAT is why we want engaged employees.
There are lots of articles out there discussing ways to engage your employees. Several tactics are common among them. Of the most important is to start with your management. Start at the top and let it trickle down. If they are on board and exude enthusiasm and passion about their job, their respective teams will also adopt this behavior. Engaged managers lead to engaged employees.
We do several things to foster engagement at GCS:
- Focus on Engaging Your Management Team – Our management group is required to travel to our centers, sit with our front line employees, see and hear the results of our activities. Areas for improvement are adopted as Core Initiatives that are assigned to a senior manager to quickly address. These visits are a fantastic way for our management to become engaged in every aspect of company operations.
- Frequent Communication & Demonstration of our Mission – Every site has the mission statement displayed on the contact center floor. But it’s not enough to display your mission. You also have to “walk the walk!” GCS’s mission is to Always Enhance the Quality of Life in the Communities where we Work and Live, for this Generation and the Next; which we accomplish through community service efforts, employee morale and wellness efforts and constantly improving the quality of the work environment.
- Engaging and Consistent Training –We are exploring non-traditional educational techniques (read fewer passive powerpoint presentations) to promote trainee involvement, collaboration and feedback. We use role play to facilitate active learning and mentoring programs to foster positive relationships between co-workers (which can increase investment in the organization).
- Self-Coaching – We employ a self-coaching system where our supervisors allow employees to hear and critique their own contacts. This way employees become directly involved in their own training. Supervisors and managers are then able to reinforce specific techniques and tools to help the employee improve their performance.
Every contact center is different and tactics that work for one might not work for another. So experiment with different techniques. Ask employees what works for them (*listening to your employees is an easy way to make them feel valued and engaged)!
And remember how exceedingly important employee engagement is to your bottom line and to overall employee satisfaction. Besides, do you really want to work with anyone who doesn’t care about their job or the company? Be passionate and be engaged about your company and others will follow.
- Building a Highly Engaged Workforce
- Are You Wise to Employee Engagement?
- The Cost of Disengaged Employees
- How Can I Motivate a Disengaged Employee
- Disengaged Employees Cost US Businesses Billions of Dollars
- You Must Have Engaged Employees – And it’s Not That Hard
- Employee Engagement : A leading indicator of financial performance
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