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How to Keep Your Agents Motivated During the Holidays This Year

2020Every holiday season, I get wrapped up in a frenzy of to-dos. I plan for our seasonal meals, map out travel to see family, shop for Operation Christmas Child and click “add to cart” dozens of times. And every year I think, “Wow, I could really use more hours in my day. More time to unwind.”

This year’s different. While I’m still frazzled, it’s not from the familiar hustle and bustle of the merriest season. Instead, I’m trying to figure out how to stay safe and still enjoy time with loved ones. I’m thinking about how to stay productive, but still find time to disconnect.

Your contact center teams are in the same boat. This year, most of us have earned back some time. We cut our commutes and gained flexibility with remote work. We’ve settled into a routine, picked a favorite table, desk, or couch to work from, and know how many breaks to take to re-center throughout the day. But now, after nine months at home, our struggles (gestures wildly to everything around me) have shifted.

As the year drags on, motivation wanes and productivity stifles. How can you help your team stay focused and motivated this holiday season? Here are four tactics to help:

Set clear expectations for remote work

No commute this winter? I’ll take it. Less money spent on gas and grabbing lunch by the office? Yeah, I’ll pocket that cash (almost $7000 annually!) for my holiday shopping.

The advantages of remote work during these crazy times (health and safety, for starters) outweigh the challenges, but you have to set the right expectations to keep your remote team motivated and encouraged. If not, burnout can creep in and crush team morale.

Use these five tips to clarify goals and expectations with your agents while they’re remote:

  • Build flexible policies so your agents can take advantage of some extra time at home with loved ones.
  • Encourage breaks and rejuvenation, so your team feels refreshed at the start of the new year.
  • Make productivity expectations clear. What KPIs do your agents need to meet? What quality standards do they need to uphold? And, when do they need to be logged into their queues each day? 
  • Set goals that match up with your seasonality trends and show agents their daily progress toward those goals.
  • Continue coaching so agents know when they’re missing the mark and when they’re excelling.

Prioritize training

Now is not the time to slack off on coaching and training your team. Your agents need your support and attention to finish the year strong and keep your customers happy.

The whopping majority of employees, 96%, think receiving feedback regularly is a good thing, but only 39% of people say they’ve learned something to help them do their jobs better in the last 30 days.

Ramp up training prior to your seasonal spikes to empower your agents to deliver top-notch service. Share reports and dashboards you gathered from last year to set expectations for what’s to come. Work with agents in virtual team meetings and 1:1s to create an action plan for handling more customer interactions while still hitting goals.

Send out quick, microlearning lessons on specific topics related to seasonal spikes. What caused your uptick in call volume last year? Do you run a chain of hotels and typically get dozens of last-minute reservations? Or, maybe you run a contact center for a university and your busy season hits when tuition is due. No matter what triggers your seasonal spikes, ID the cause and train your agents to handle each situation with poise.

Offer incentives for holiday shifts

When it comes to holiday PTO requests, somebody always gets short-changed. Whether you prioritize requests based on seniority or on a first-come-first-serve basis, chances are you can’t meet the needs of every agent. With this in mind, offer up incentives for your agents who get stuck with the unwanted schedules.

Bonusly’s latest Employee Engagement & Workplace Report found that 90% of highly engaged employees say they have fun at work, compared to only 37% of disengaged employees.

How can you implore the fun factor to keep your team engaged and happy through the holiday tizzy? Motivate your team with bonuses, promises of overtime, or first dibbs on PTO days at the start of the new year – so long as your budget and customer demand allow.

If your agents get stuck working on a holiday, show them you care a little extra. Send a handwritten thank-you note in the mail. Email an e-gift card for a cup of coffee or have DoorDash deliver lunch. Check in with your agents during the day with encouraging words, and make sure they know they’re top of mind.

Small gestures without a high price tag still make a huge impact on morale. You’ll get less fuss and more thanks when your agents know you value them and their commitment to work.

Show appreciation often & encourage peer recognition

Bonusly’s 2020 report also found that highly engaged employees are 2.6x more likely to get formal peer recognition than disengaged employees. It turns out that showing appreciation for hard work plays a major role in agent motivation. When your teams are working remotely, carving out time for formal recognition is more important than in the past.

To help your team feel appreciated and connected, go out of your way to show recognition and to create opportunities for your agents to give kudos to each other. Create an open forum to highlight key accomplishments and call out your agents who’ve hit their target goals. Start your morning huddles with a round-robin session where agents can recognize a teammate. Kick off your longer team meetings with customer success stories and call out the agents who’ve helped those customers.

Appreciation builds call center morale and encourages motivation– no matter where you’re working.