According to McKinsey, nearly 70 million workers left their jobs in 2021. Journalists have dubbed it the “Great Resignation” in response to these staggering statistics.
For those who remained in their jobs, remote work became the norm in the wake of the pandemic.
Although it feels as if best practices for how to manage a virtual team are being defined in 2022, the rules of remote work are well understood by companies who’ve done it for decades. One thing is clear: employees need motivation to perform at their best, whether they are virtual or in a physical building.
Changes on the Horizon for Customer Service Staff
Two years ago, when the world went virtual, most companies focused on getting remote employees set up with the technology to make working from home a tangible reality. The second half of 2020, companies focused on productivity. For example, helping employees such as call center agents to be productive in a home environment was the focus. Although these improvements helped to aid in the transition to a virtual world, what was still lacking for most teams was motivation.
Why Motivation Matters
All of us were affected by world-wide challenges that the Pandemic created. Customers found themselves impatient and frustrated, which presented challenges for customer service team members. The sheer volume of interactions, from both customers and staff alike, was unprecedented. Many executives overlooked the importance of motivation during these challenging times.
Motivation requires understanding the needs of your team. Given the tumultuous changes in the past few years, it makes sense why customer service staff would feel unmotivated. Simply having empathy for your employees can make a positive impact. When we listen to what they want and why they want it, they will tell us how to support them.
Most leaders realize that a virtual workforce is here to stay, and that business must be rethought around new ways of working. This includes more virtual team building and integrating motivation into the virtual work culture.
There are many resources, such as social business platforms, recognition programs, gamification, and closed-loop employee feedback. Management teams are tasked with providing employees the training (both company-specific and professional development), fun, and tools they need to be successful and stay motivated in a virtual environment.
The success of any program will require an intensity that is much more difficult for remote workers than for in-person environments. Maintaining the same high-caliber level of interaction while working remotely requires dedication, discipline, and focus. These are all traits that can be difficult to manage from half a world away, so persistence is key.
Maintaining Employee Focus
For a program to be successful, it needs to start from day one with engaging employees during company orientation. Early training programs should demonstrate for new employees how to stay connected to remain interactive. The goal is to define the world differently, so employees realize that they can’t disengage just because the team is virtual. Engagement is the key to maintaining a pulse on your team’s motivation.
For example, rewarding employees with gift cards for providing helpful feedback, or making meaningful contributions to improve service, is one way to incentivize engagement.
Another way to make sure employees have an ongoing avenue for engagement is requiring their input as part of regular communication with their management team. This can be accomplished through online messaging platforms, weekly huddles, or other communication loops. The goal is to focus on building trust and connection, which enhances culture.
Team Building in a Virtual World
For team building to be effective in the virtual world, it has to be widespread across the entire company. One of the benefits of a virtual environment is that employees no longer live within silos created as a result of being location-based. Having call centers in different cities, often meant that culture was established within the facilities versus throughout the entire company. The virtual work model eradicates those old barriers.
In a virtual setting, it really doesn’t matter where employees live, because everyone is working in the same location–online. This shift opens up cross-departmental team building and creates an environment where everyone is able to contribute and experience camaraderie, even if facilities, roles, and responsibilities vary.
There are many options for improving virtual team building, but the most important element is variety. Stimulating your employees’ sense of fun is a great way to get people to relax, but it’s also the best way to get staff to engage and contribute. Focus on encouraging your staff to share about their passions and hobbies that are important to them. The more they feel free to express themselves in a casual, friendly culture, the more comfortable they will feel when it comes time to talk about work.
Companies who have had success with this type of culture shift have implemented Pen Pal programs, themed Office “days” such as Feel Good Fridays. Some even create groups for gamers, movie buffs, and book lovers to come together virtually and discuss their shared passions. Creating outlets for employees to come together and share a sense of passion and conversation, helps promote intercultural connectivity. More traditional team-building activities including sharing and getting to know each other should not be overlooked.
If you want to motivate your staff, the goal is simple: create loyalty. Let your employees know on a weekly basis how much you care about their wellbeing, and make sure that they are aware of resources available for them to get support when they need it. Change happens from the top down, so it is vital to motivate your employees by having front-line leaders, Directors and Executives participate in events and engaging in conversations right alongside entry level employees. Creating a culture where everyone is valued will lead to a motivated staff that can rise to meet the new challenges of a digital world.
If you want help creating a better customer experience, reach out to Humach today and let’s discuss how we can help.
For over 30 years, it’s been our mission to provide call center services that transform brands, support teams, and grow businesses. We’re here to answer all your questions and tell you about your options so that you can confidently decide if outsourcing is right for you. Ready to learn more? Contact the experts at Humach today!