Do you remember the TV game show, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” On the show, contestants could use a “Lifeline” and call someone for assistance. Having a lifeline meant they were not alone. They could turn to someone else for help. They could also find answers to problems. Being on a TV game show is like being a work-from-home (WFH) Agent in some ways. Agents are constantly being recorded (for “Quality assurance purposes.”) They face a barrage of questions designed to test their knowledge. They are punished for wrong answers. They can be put in the spotlight on social media by an unhappy customer. Plus, they sometimes need help from a lifeline.
For onsite Agents, a lifeline could be as simple as leaning over to ask the Agent sitting next to them a question. However, remote Agents do not have the luxury of another Agent sitting next to them in their living room. So, Team Leaders are an Agent’s primary lifeline. However, Team Leaders are typically the newest, least experienced, members of your management team. Think about your Team Leaders. Have they been trained for that challenge? Do they know how to coach people? Do they know how to increase employee engagement? How many of them even realize employee engagement is part of their job?
As a Manager or Director, work with your Team Leaders to understand their role has changed. Help them realize supporting WFH Agents means more than handling escalations and coaching them on Key Performance Indicators. Employee engagement is part of the job. That means helping Agents feel appreciated and supported. How many of your Team Leaders’ coaching sessions this year focused on Agent appreciation? How many times have Team Leaders sent instant messages, emails or done Zoom calls to thank Agents for going, “Above and Beyond” to help a customer? What has your company done to make WFH Agents feel their contributions matter? Feeling appreciated helps build engagement.
In addition, WFH Agents need help with career pathing. Remote work can mean fewer opportunities to network with other departments or even senior managers in your contact center. In fact, remote workers are only half as likely as their office counterparts to get a promotion, according to a Stanford University study. Combine lack of career growth, with the isolation of working from home, and you get a recipe for rapid employee turnover. So, equip Team Leaders with procedures to introduce WFH Agents to other parts of the company. That may involve inviting high performing Agents to contribute to cross functional teams. It could mean harnessing Agents’ firsthand knowledge of customers via focus groups. It could take the form of “ride alongs” with field technicians or salespeople. It could be as simple as giving WFH Agents a chance to come to the office for team building events, training, and other networking opportunities.
The key is helping Team Leaders develop their engagement skills. So, they know how to show appreciation, build relationships, and develop career paths to increase WFH Agent engagement. After all, a Team Leader is their Agent’s lifeline to the company.