The Soft and Hard Benefits of an Engaged Workforce
The latest acronym to hit the contact center, WEM which stands for Workforce Engagement Management, may be the most impactful in a decade or more. Workforce Optimization (WFO) is an undeniably valuable suite of technology and methodologies for managing and driving efficiencies in contact centers but optimization carries a negative connotation. As a contact center agent, do you want to be optimized? Probably not but you most certainly do want to be engaged. Engaged by and with the business. Engaged with your peers and your management. Engaged with your customers. Engagement is almost always a positive thing.
WEM, this agent-centric view is the evolutionary byproduct of the thought processes around contact center staffing. While metrics are, and will always be, a key management tool for assessing agents, businesses of all sizes are recognizing that empowered and engaged agents not only perform significantly better, but they can dramatically impact the overall bottom line.
Think for a minute about what it practically takes to evolve a new contact center agent from when they walk in the door on day one until they become a multi-skilled, highly efficient and productive team member. It is not an insignificant investment when you factor in recruitment, onboarding, training, shadowing, evaluating, coaching, upskilling and others. It can easily run into many thousand or, depending on the environmental complexity, tens of thousands of pounds to get them to that point.
Now let’s contemplate attrition and the far-reaching impacts it has on the contact center. Attrition rates in the teens are common but many centers have rates of thirty or forty percent or more. All of that investment we discussed above walks out the door along with the agent when they leave the business. Now what if your business could decrease attrition, improve staff morale and enjoy significant efficiencies and dramatically improved core metrics along the way?
This is at the heart of WEM which is broadly defined as encompassing functionality to address:
- Recruitment and onboarding
- Evaluation and improvement
- Time Management
- Assistance and Task management
- Metrics and recognition
- Voice of the employee
Now is the perfect time for businesses to start thinking in this manner. Whether you call them Generation Z or Millennials, younger employees are coming into the workplace and they can’t remember ever being disconnected. They are natively engaged through technology in their day to day lives like never before. You can debate the pros and cons of this but that doesn’t negate the reality – connectedness, engagement, having a voice, having control, transparency – all of these aren’t benefits or nice-to-haves, they’re expected.
Imagine this scenario; You’re an agent and bump into a friend you used to work with on another team while walking into work. You chat briefly but need to get to your desk. “Want to grab lunch today?” With the technology supporting WEM, this previously challenging request is now solved by opening an App on your phone, making the request and it’s instantaneously approved, an alternative time is offered or, if the service levels can’t support it, denied. This is done in the moment, at the behest of the agent in order to facilitate lunch with a friend while not impacting the service levels. That’s empowerment and a happy agent. Little things can make a huge difference and that was just one small example.
Looking at the contact center operation through the lens of an agent can provide some very interesting insights and now that the tools exist to actually drive change and empowerment and truly enable a WEM-focused center, there is no better time to undertake this exercise. Once you examine this, you will find that the ripple effects of engaged and satisfied employees across the business are far reaching and positively quantifiable.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on WEM, or anything else WFM or Intraday related. You can find me on LinkedIn.
Dan Carpenter, Chief Revenue Officer