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Tips and Tricks to Help You Inspire Your Team

Spotlight on Culture: Join your peers at ICMI Contact Center Connections from October 28-30 in Chicago. Take a deep dive into case studies and expert guidance for boosting your culture!

Every contact center leader wants to manage a highly engaged team, but it’s easy to overlook employee engagement in the day-to-day push to drive performance. What are the characteristics of engaged employees, what detracts from engagement, and how can we all promote healthier workplaces and more inspired teams? Here are some suggestions sourced from our #ICMIchat regulars.

What Are the Characteristics of Engaged Employees?

Before you can address employee engagement in your contact center, you first must define it. Here are some of the ways #ICMIchat participants define employee engagement:

•    Those that are enthusiastic about and committed to their work. (via Nate Brown, @CustomerisFirst)

•    Attitude and willingness to help others. Someone who puts the team first, ahead of personal agendas. (via Gregg Gregory, @TeamsRock)

•    They exert discretionary effort toward their work! (via Justin Robbins, @justinmrobbins)

•    Engaged employees share lots of feedback about how the customer experience can improve. They invest lots of energy in the company's success.  (via Jeremy Watkin, @jtwatkin)

•    Highly engaged employees are committed to quality work and understand their purpose in the organization. (via Beth Gauthier, @BethGauthier)

•    Engaged employees are innovative, curious, and purpose driven. They’re committed to quality work. (via Sheri Kendall-duPont, @sherikendall)

•    Qualities of highly engaged employees: aims to learn, inclusive of others, always improving their craft/skills. (via Patrick Russell, @Patrick_SaaS)

•    They seek out resources for skill development. Attendance & punctuality are high. They meet deadlines and contribute ideas for improvement. (via Next Caller, @nextcaller)

•    They’re willing to help out their team and share knowledge. (via Troy White, @MrWhiteSaysThis)

•    Engaged employees look for solutions, not just problems, and seek out tasks to accomplish during down time before being asked. (via Evan Watson, @evenwatson)

What Causes Employees to Become Disengaged?

Poor processes, unexpected changes, and bad behavior can all detract from employee engagement. What are the main culprits that lead to disengagement? Here’s what our chat participants said:

•    Dysfunctional teams, micromanagement, arcane processes, and incorrect technologies. (Roy Atkinson, @RoyAtkinson)

•    Misalignment between goals and tasks. Poor leadership. Lack of flexibility. Poor leadership. No coaching. Poor leadership. (Next Caller, @nextcaller)

•    Not listening to your employees, or listening and not taking action. (Jeremy Watkin, @jtwatkin)

•    It's little things that become big things. The company shifts focus just a bit - and all the sudden it's "just a job."  (Nate Brown, @customerisfirst)

•    Poor communication, lack of transparency, unclear objectives, and no appreciation - to name a few. (Erica Mancuso, @esmancuso)

•    Not having the information/resources/tools to do the job well. (Katie Bromley, @KatieRBromley)

•    When employees are not allowed to explore different avenues. When they're asked to 'focus on just their own work.' (via Sanjeev NC, @yenceesanjeev)

•    Management plays a big part in an employe being disengaged at work. Just say no to micromanagement. ( via Troy White, @MrWhiteSaysThis)

•    Not feeling valued, lacking the tools/coaching to be successful. Not having an advocate. (via Beth Gauthier, via @BethGauthier)

•    Employees become disengaged when they're not: challenged, appreciated, incentivized, included. (via Patrick Russell, @Patrick_SaaS)

•    Disconnect from their role in the big picture, lack of challenge, and poor training. (via Debi Mongan, @debimongan)

•    Lack of flexibility, feeling restricted, lack of the freedom to help customers. (via Jenny Dempsey, @jennysuedempsey)

Budget-Friendly Ways to Invest in Employee Development

Investing in ongoing development is critical to keeping engagement levels high, but it’s often hard to find funds to make this a priority. Here are a few low-cost ways you can invest in employee engagement.

•    Build a specific path for entry and growth. Start by taking call A, if performing well, learn B, etc. (via Jeremy Hyde, @JeremyHyde_)

•    Devote a portion of every team meeting to overcoming barriers. (via Roy Atkinson, @RoyAtkinson)

•    Send employees to conferences or off site engagements, then have them formally share/present their learnings to the office. (Patrick Russell, @Patrick_SaaS)

•    Use internal projects as growth opportunities for people interested in learning/growing with your company. (via Beth Gauthier, @BethGauthier)

•    Listening is FREE. Acting on the feedback is a way for the team to know you have their back. (via Jenny Dempsey, @jennysuedempsey)

•    Reading! Several of my former teams had a book club, then determined a few takeaways and held each other accountable. (via Erica Mancuso, @esmancuso)

•    Job shadowing and collaborative projects (especially those that are mission driven) are fantastic. Creates flexibility while engaging staff. (via Nate Brown, @customerisfirst)

•    Peer training is great. I’ve seen so many people become more invested in their role when they realize they're the expert. (via Evan Watson, @evenwatson)

•    Online courses! There are sooooo many to choose from, many for free. Also 1:1 mentorship goes a LONG way. (via Scott Ontiveroz, @scottontiveroz)

•    Hire the right people, get them in the right seats and get the wrongs ones off the team. (via Gregg Gergory, @TeamsRock)

Ways to Promote a Healthier Work Environment

Another key to keeping employees engaged? Providing a healthy work environment and making employee wellness a priority. Here’s how other contact centers are doing this:

•    Create a gossip-free zone. (via Roy Atkinson, @RoyAtkinson)

•    Do a better job of MODELING work/life balance and transparent communication. You can't ask your employees to do it if you’re not displaying it. (via Next Caller, @nextcaller)

•    Whatever "healthy" thing your team chooses, be there to support, participate, and help with the accountability part of it. (via Jeremy Watkin, @jtwatkin)

•    Lead the way in helping to provide balance in people's life. People work better when they are healthy and happy. (via Nate Brown, @customerisfirst)

•    Appreciate both the Introvert and Extrovert way of working.  They each work better in different environments. (via Sanjeev NC, @yenceesanjeev)

•    Offer veggies in the break room. (Washed, chopped and ready for consumption). (via Carmen Nader, @TweetCarm)

•    Secure discounts for gym memberships, yoga classes, and dietitians. (via Gregg Gregory, @TeamsRock)

•    Teach mindfulness to reduce stress & increase focus at work –it improves quality of life at home, too! (via Debi Mongan, @debimongan)

•     Don’t send email during their time off, and don’t schedule meetings at bad hours. (via Roy Atkinson, @RoyAtkinson)

How to Make the Contact Center a More Inspiring Place to Work

Contact centers are notoriously seen as boring, uninspiring places to earn a paycheck. That doesn’t have to be the case! Here’s how #ICMIchat participants are making their contact centers more inspiring:

•    It is my mission to change the conversation about the work we do. We play an important role in the lives of others.  (via Sheri Kendall-duPont, @sherikendall)

•    It’s amazing what a bit of color & natural light can do for a contact center. Gray walls and fluorescent lights can take a toll. (via Scott Ontiveroz, @scottontiveroz)

•    Tie daily contact center activities to the unique fiber of your company’s mission! Focus on what separates you from all others. Create opportunities for the organization for honor and thank customer service. They rarely seek these opportunities on their own, but will run with it when nudged. (via Nate Brown, @customerisfirst)

•    Allow and encourage appropriate fun. Don’t suck the life out of people. (via Roy Atkinson, @RoyAtkinson)

•    Share how your employees impact customers and each other in a real way. Recognition from other departments shows everyone's worth. (via Debi Mongan, @debimongan)

•    Some of my employees started a peer reward program - hustle points - and it was amazing to see the positive impact this had on everyone. (via Erica Mancuso, @esmancuso)

Bringing It All Together

Keeping employees engaged isn’t easy, but it’s crucial to providing outstanding service. What can you do to make life better for your employees?