Engaging employees cannot be done by simply proceeding through a checklist of actions. Actions to increase engagement deemed by employees to be disingenuous are often met with worse outcomes than doing nothing as the actively disengaged employees will quickly point at leadership as being part of the problem. Engagement begins with the leader of the organization. The leader must show unwavering belief in the organizational values, mission, and measures of success. Furthermore, the leader must communicate to the point of over-communicating. Every employee must see commitment in their leader, commitment to the organization and commitment to the individual. Developing a world-class organization with 8 engaged employees for every actively disengaged employee is a goal that can be reached. However, change is not easy, and the actively disengaged will find every reason to fight the change. So, line up your engaged employees and garner their help with one or more of the following recommendations.
First and foremost, and this is more of an imperative than a recommendation, your organization needs to have a documented set of values, and one of the values needs to read something like “our people are the most important asset in our organization.” There is a wealth of material available on building organizational values, but I have found the focus on three principles most important; employees, customers, and continuous improvement. Furthermore, your statement of values needs to come from the leader. These are not democratically developed by committee or you will end up with a set of values to which nobody is committed. If you are going to take away one recommendation, you absolutely need a statement of values that includes your employees. The remainder of the recommendations that follow will likely not produce results without this statement of values.
Closely connected to the statement of value for the organization is the statement of the value of the organization. This is typically referred to as the mission statement, but I prefer to label it the organization’s value statement. The statement should be clear and concise and address the value of the organization to its stakeholders and to its customers. For those familiar with Kaplan and Norton Strategy Maps, this is the external view of the organization, comprised of the financial view and the customer view. The value statement drives objectives in these two areas and objectives drive measurements.
The key external measurements become the value measurements, which must be translatable to the lowest level of the organization if each employee is to understand their contribution to organizational value. Furthermore, ensure the larger organization or company understands and agrees with the value statement and the measurements of value. Broader organization or company communications such as quarterly meetings and newsletters should communicate positive value associated wit the contact center. Bring in a company executive for town hall meetings on a quarterly or annual basis to talk about the value being provided by the contact center. Recognition from senior executives, and communications from the broader organization or company recognizing the value contribution that can be understood by every employee in the contact center will drive an increased level of engagement.
Open, honest, and continual communication is a must to foster engagement. Communication must be top down and bottom up. Newsletters, leader blogs, unit and organization-wide meetings are all venues to foster two-way communication. Another key action leaders can take right away is gather employee input is to schedule roundtables. Choose 4-7 front-line employees and schedule a roundtable session where the leader not only gets to hear the challenges, improvement suggestions and opportunities, but employees also get to hear what is on the mind of the leader in terms of challenges, opportunities and future directions. I have found it best to have separate meetings with the supervisors, and have only non-management employees in the roundtable meetings. Be sure to write down any actions or follow-ups from the meeting, and provide closure to the actions or follow-ups in organization-wide communications.