Blair Pleasant
Blair Pleasant is President & Principal Analyst of COMMfusion LLC and a co-founder of UCStrategies. She provides consulting and market...
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Blair Pleasant | July 12, 2016 |


How to Enhance Employee Engagement

How to Enhance Employee Engagement You need to have the right people, with the right tools and technologies to be effective, and the right processes to be efficient and productive.

You need to have the right people, with the right tools and technologies to be effective, and the right processes to be efficient and productive.

Are you happy at your job? Do you look forward to going to work and interacting with colleagues, customers, and others? Are you enthusiastic about your work? Do you feel committed to your company and your job? If so, you're most likely an engaged employee, absorbed by and enthusiastic about your work and taking positive action to further your organization's reputation and objectives.

Employee engagement comes with many benefits for companies. Research has consistently found that companies with higher levels of engagement have better operational, organizational, and financial outcomes. In its worldwide employee polling, for example, Gallup has found that companies with high employee engagement have 37% lower absenteeism. In addition, it's found a 43% correlation between engagement levels and turnover. When engagement goes down, turnover goes up. If engagement goes up, turnover goes down.

Unfortunately, only 29% of the workforce is engaged, while 45% are not engaged, and 26% are actively disengaged, Dale Carnegie Training has reported based on a study of more than 1,500 employees. Meanwhile, in ICMI research, 89% of company respondents ranked employee engagement as an important priority, but only one quarter of them consider their agents to be extremely engaged.This needs to change, especially since companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to a whopping 202%, according to the Dale Carnegie study.

Encouraged Engagement
With so much on the line, how can businesses improve employee engagement? This will obviously depend on the employee's type of job and function, but the key elements are people, process, and technology. You need to have the right people, with the right tools and technologies to be effective, and the right processes to be efficient and productive.

In the contact center, as I discussed in a couple of recent webinars discussing employee engagement (view here and here), happy agents lead to happy customers. Agents who are motivated, engaged, and empowered are happier and more satisfied with their jobs, and that leads to better customer care. One way to increase agent engagement is to enhance agent autonomy and empowerment by encouraging agents to use their skills, knowledge, and insight to make key decisions and improve processes. A contact center can improve agent/employee engagement when agents feel comfortable initiating conversations and listening to customers, and when they have the freedom to use their best judgment and not simply read from scripts and focus on reducing average call handle time.

Other ways of engaging contact center agents involve proper coaching and training, as well as providing feedback through agent dashboards. In addition, competition can be very motivating -- if you see your coworkers doing a little bit better than you, you may want to step up your game a notch. If agents can see key performance indicators and metrics for themselves and for their coworkers, they can see if they need to work a little harder. Gamification can play a role as well, providing prizes and rewards for agents who meet goals, outperform their peers, or learn new skills.

Collaborative Engagement
For general knowledge workers, companies can improve employee engagement through the use of the right communication and collaboration tools. Collaboration and engagement go hand in hand, and organizations that value collaboration among workers are likely to have employees that are actively engaged. An Ivey Business Journal article on employee engagement notes that collaboration is key and that "studies show that, when employees work in teams and have the trust and cooperation of their team members, they outperform individuals and teams which lack good relationships."

Feeling connected is crucial, but that can be difficult for remote and mobile workers who often feel isolated and out of touch. UC, collaboration, and social tools can help make workers feel more connected, while easing interactions among employees, supervisors and executives, leading to improved employee engagement. In Dimension Data's 2016 Connected Enterprise study, 87% of 1,000 survey respondents said collaboration improved teamwork, and many respondents indicated their enterprises have deployed or are deploying collaboration technologies to improve the work experience of remote and mobile users.

Tools such as video conferencing, team workspaces, and social software let employees interact with peers, supervisors, and others throughout the organization, sharing ideas and contributing to common goals. When employees feel that they're being heard and that their ideas matter, they are more likely to be engaged.

What is your company doing to help improve employee engagement? Have UC, collaboration, and social tools helped you create a collaborative culture where employees feel valued and engaged? I'd love to hear your success stories. Please share!

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