The distributed workforce is growing increasingly disengaged. They don’t feel connected to their work and many businesses continue to struggle to replicate the critical pieces of an in-office dynamic and work culture. Part of the solution? Contact center leaders must take a new approach to onboarding as they continue to recruit and grow a distributed workforce. You can learn tips, tricks, and ideas to improve your remote onboarding experience by joining me at the QATC Virtual Summit for Quality Assurance & Training in September for my session, “Welcome to Your First Day…At Home.”
Has the move to work from home created more disengaged employees?
This topic became a common thread in my conversations with contact center leaders over the past year and a half. The increasing frequency with which it kept coming up caught my attention.
With no signs of the distributed work trend changing, I needed to understand if there’s a new problem when it comes to engaging remote employees. More importantly, determine what could be done to help contact center leaders understand how do to address and prevent disengaged employees.
Let’s first acknowledge the (painfully) obvious: Contact centers had an employee engagement problem long before the pandemic forced a different approach to how we all work.
If it’s not the combination of low pay and difficult customers, it’s the cumbersome systems and processes, monotonous workload, mediocre management, or a combination of it all. These things are pervasive to most contact centers and create real problems for leaders to overcome — regardless of whether they’re within their control or not. It’s not hard to understand why employee engagement is a top challenge for many contact center leaders.
But, back to the original question, is the distributed work environment causing employee engagement to get worse?
My belief is that, yes, the mass move to work from anywhere has contributed to a greater decline in employee engagement than if we had all stayed in the office.
Here are some reasons why:
- Managers were largely unprepared to effectively coach and lead a distributed team. The physical separation and ad hoc nature of the circumstances caused an unintentional rift in the connection employees feel to their work.
- Businesses have a historically inconsistent record when it comes to the planning, communication, and successful competition of onboarding work from home employees. Machines don’t arrive on time, first days are confusing, and the new worker can fall through the cracks. The pandemic forced companies to get better at this, but it still has a long way to go.
- Traditional orientation and new hire training fall short in connecting employees, their work, and their intrinsic motivators to the organization’s mission, vision, and values. Furthermore, these experiences are often designed to delay an employee’s ability to make an impact in the role. The remote onboarding experience has only made this worse as employees miss-out on the valuable relationship building that happens when you can be in person.
- People are experiencing work-life integration in a new way, and it’s led to historical numbers in terms of relocations, career transitions, and the pursuit of gig work. In other words, people are rediscovering what matters most to them and are realigning their lives around it.
But does that really matter? (Yes.) And is there anything that we can do about it? (Of course.)
It matters because engaged employees don’t just show up to do a job — they come to contribute to something that’s greater than themselves. They’re strategic assets who help businesses find ways to reduce costs, expand revenues, and evolve to meet the changing needs of the world around them.
One of the best indicators of an engaged employee is someone who’s willing to exert discretionary effort. It’s not just about going above and beyond one customer at a time — it’s someone who’s actively working outside of their role to help the business improve.
Here’s the kicker: highly engaged employees aren’t mythical creatures who elude job fairs, talent boards, and recruiter emails. Almost everyone holds the potential of being highly engaged and, in my experience, it’s often more a matter of nurture than it is nature.
You just need to know where and how to get started.
It’s the result of being consistent, authentic, and committed to understanding and enabling employees to be an active part of the mission — not just a cog in the wheel. Once you do, you’re able to influence, cultivate, and sustain engagement among your team. And, over time, it grows when you apply a conscious effort, every day, and build upon a foundation that’s established during the hiring and onboarding process.
So, to get started, what should that foundation for orientation and onboarding look like? And how should that vary from in-office to at-home? That’s what I’m addressing in my upcoming session, Welcome to Your First Day… At Home, during the QATC Virtual Summit on Tuesday, September 21 at 11:00 ET. Join me there for an interactive time together as we look at orientation templates, new hiring training program examples, and discuss the key things to cover — and avoid when it comes to onboarding new employees.
Watch for the highlights in future QATC tips of the week or send me an email if you’d like to discuss the topic further!
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.