The mantra ‘happy employees equal happy customers’ has never been more true than right now. That means it’s critical to put extra emphasis and focus on the employee experience now, given what everyone is going through this year. Many workers are still stuck at home in an “office” that was never properly set up, because -- let’s be honest -- they never anticipated they would be working from home long-term. Many have children who are still at home as well, completing their schooling by way of eLearning. Dogs are barking and cats are wandering on-screen. The neighbor is mowing yet again. Many are sharing their workspace with a spouse, too. You get what I’m saying -- distractions abound.
Trying to keep your employees engaged for the long haul? Here’s where to start...
Ensure They Feel Safe
If your teams have already returned to the office or plan to do so soon, make sure they feel safe. That could mean using proper PPE, offering COVID-19 testing to all employees, taking temperatures before allowing entry to the workplace, wearing masks, and encouraging colleagues to stay socially distanced. Simply put: don’t put your employees in situations that they're uncomfortable being in.
If we can’t keep our employees safe and happy, how can we expect them to make our customers feel that way? (Hint: We can’t.)
The same concept applies to working from home. Leaders have to ensure that their employees have a safe, comfortable environment to work at home effectively, along with the tools and technology necessary.
Prioritize Employee Wellness
Because of the added chaos due to abnormal circumstances, it’s crucial that leaders let their employees prioritize their families first. (Psst… Stellar leaders have been doing this long before COVID-19 hit.) Virtual doctor appointments, schoolwork on Google Classroom, and other responsibilities at home are now blended into our collective workdays. Allow these things to happen! And, if your company has continued to stay remote for the time being, encourage WFH employees to take short mental and physical breaks throughout the day.
Studies have shown that brief mental breaks can actually reduce or prevent stress and help to maintain performance throughout the day. Yep, it’s no coincidence that you usually find the answer to a problem once you walk away from it; evidence links periods of rest with greater work productivity.
Remind employees that it’s important to take short walks, chat with a colleague, and step away from the computer for a quick bite! They’ll feel better and, in turn, you’ll see higher output at work.
Lastly, if you didn’t implement employee wellness programs before the pandemic, now is the time to get serious about doing so. Studies found a 6-to-1 return on investment for every dollar spent on employee wellness! Employee wellness initiatives can include things like company-wide virtual yoga classes, guided meditation sessions, stress and mental health care, employee recognition programs, flexible working arrangements, paid sick leave, and monthly allowances for fitness programs.
Connect on a Personal Level
Video conferencing day after day can be draining (made worse by poor connections). To keep employees engaged and motivated, it’s important that leaders find time to connect with their teams on a personal level. Before jumping into an hour-long meeting, take 10 minutes to ask everyone about their weekend. Or encourage fun virtual backgrounds. Or have themed dress-up days. The list goes on. Get creative with ways to better connect with your employees.
Customer experience speaker, author, and coach Dan Gingiss said:
“When people are having fun, they're going to be so much more motivated. Let's face it, it's a little tough to be motivated every day when we're all working from home and don't have any human interaction.”
Taking it a step further, Edify CMO Candace Sheitelman got into the important issue of how to truly connect employees with each other:
“With the growing need to ‘wrap’ your virtual arms around your employees, we've seen huge interest recently in unified communications (UC) since people are dispersed. When you have the right UC in place, it really allows everybody to feel connected. So, not only can the employees connect with each other across various different departments, but you can also unify your contact center agents with the rest of the organization. You have a better employee experience this way. Everybody feels part of the same ecosystem. And, in turn, you can deliver a better customer experience.”
Empower Them with Technology
The whole mentality around working arrangements has changed in 2020. It used to be that companies simply didn’t have the technology to allow people to work from home. Now, they have to. And the outdated concern that people would take advantage of not being in a physical office and not work as hard has been put to rest as well. When your employees can ditch a long commute, they can start work earlier. That’s just one of the many advantages of using a UC solution to fuel a work-from-anywhere workforce. Another big advantage is the ability to hire top talent, instead of being confined to hire within a certain location. Some of your best employees may not be local!
Needless to say, the technology tools available to employees for internal communications are more important than ever. UC tools empower employees from every department to collaborate and take better care of customers. If a front-line employee or agent doesn’t know the answer to a question, give them the ability to get the answer. They should be able to easily communicate with somebody in a different department - or their manager - while the customer is still on the line. This eliminates repeated transfers, long hold times, and customers having to repeat themselves!
So, you get happier, more highly engaged and productive employees, talent sourced from all over the world, and the ability to get customer questions answered more quickly (increasing their loyalty). That positively impacts the experience for everyone. Dan and Candace recently discussed this exact topic, and more, last month during a live discussion. Watch the replay here. And, as always, feel free to reach out to us with any questions or to see how a truly unified communications solution can improve your business.