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5 Ways to Improve Morale on a Budget

If you attempt combatting bad morale by throwing parties, dispensing gift cards, or hosting appreciation lunches, chances are you’ll notice little if any sustained improvements. These “solutions”—although good intentioned—will appease your agents only while the fun, funds, and food flow freely. When the well runs dry, however, the good morale will likely dry up with it.

So why don’t agents respond positively to these generous rewards? Because “bad morale” is only the symptom of far deeper issues. If you don’t address the cause, the effect will continue.

To save your morale (and your budget), consider these solutions, which cost little more than time and effort:

Create an Internal Mission Statement

Chances are your organization has a Mission Statement for its external customers, but what is your directive for your internal customers?

Engage your staff by co-authoring an Internal Mission Statement. What are their service needs? What kind of quality do they demand from you? Furthermore, how will you be held accountable if and when you don’t deliver on your commitment?

When the mission statement is completed, be sure to post it visibly throughout your department. Just as you expect your staff to welcome feedback when it fails to honor its mission, so too should you welcome feedback when you fail to honor yours.

Review Your Policies

Are your customers forced to jump through hoops for a simple refund? Are they required to submit a request in writing prior to canceling a service? Then there’s a good chance you’re past due for a policy audit.

How will a policy audit improve morale?

Frankly, your staff wants to do a good job, but they can only perform to the level that your policies and procedures allow. If they’re shackled to unreasonably arcane policies, they will likely be unable to do the job you claim you want them to do: Provide topnotch customer service.  By removing these barriers for your customers, you’ll also remove barriers for your staff.

And while you’re auditing your customer-facing policies, why not take a look at your internal ones as well? After revamping our attendance policy, my department not only saw a sustained boost in morale, but we also noticed a significant increase in attendance!

Simplify the QA Process

When specialists receive bad QA scores, they’ll likely focus a bit too much on the score and not nearly enough on the behavior that caused the score. So why not remove the score entirely?

Repurpose your QA team so that it reports not on individuals’ shortcomings (judges) but rather on growth opportunities for your organization as a whole (analysts). Have your QA team continue to collect all relevant quality data, but rely on your agents’ supervisors to process and coach to that data.

Cultivate Good Leaders

Good managers beget good managers. Challenge yourself to be the best leader you can be, and watch your utter brilliance trickle down. Coach to behaviors; not to metrics. Host leadership training sessions. Start a Toastmasters club. Remove all the barriers and the hierarchy that divide and alienate staff from management. By doing so, your agents will see how good management works.

In other words, genuinely make your agents’ professional development so much a priority that they’ll invariably begin emulating your unmatched skills.

Ignore this Article

That’s right. If you want to improve morale, consider ignoring this article. Why? Because it assumes to know what kinds of problems your center faces when, in reality, the source of your morale issues may be entirely unique. Just as I shouldn’t assume to know what’s ailing your team, neither should you! Why not go directly to the source? Survey your team. Create focus groups. Hold formal meetings with a group or chat one-on-one—whatever it takes to find the root cause of all your morale woes.  Encourage a culture of “Why?” An unasked question, after all, goes unanswered. When questioned, resist the temptation to explain or defend your position, remembering that when the mouth opens, the ear closes. Recognize the difference between listening and hearing. Once you’ve truly heard your team’s concerns, seek their advice on developing solutions. In fact, refuse to do the heavy lifting! Give them ownership over developing, pursuing and implementing positive change. It will prove to be a challenging but also rewarding responsibility that, through their own devising, will guarantee their acceptance. The ultimate result? A sustainable high morale achieved without taxing your budget!

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