Can dream management reduce high attrition in contact centres? Mike Greatwood of The Dream Manager Programme explains
Perhaps more so than other service based industries, the problems common to contact centres are a very visible indicator of low employee engagement.
Poor service, poor agent knowledge, dissatisfied customers. In many cases agents are equally dissatisfied with their work, which means performance drops and the best people frequently leave. A survey conducted by ICMI/Avaya reported that 25% of contact centre staff were brave enough to actually say that they were planning to leave their employers in the next 12 months and as overall in-employment levels have increased, so has the attrition rate. In reality though, many contact centres would be happy, in the shorter term, if attrition was reduced to that level.
Many contact centres try to resolve the problem of poor employee engagement using traditional approaches. These initiatives focus on gaining increased buy-in to the company strategy and team building activities. They can work for a short while, but fail to address the real issue. The main reason agents are leaving their employers is because they don’t feel engaged in life overall and because their employers are really only demonstrating that they are interested in their own dreams, hopes and aspirations, not those of their agents – its all one-sided. It’s especially the case for ‘millennials’ and younger workers, who are less motivated by financial remuneration or job security, more likely to want ‘whole life satisfaction’ and more likely to do something about it by moving onto new opportunities. If you don’t give them what they want they’ll find someone who will.
Attrition on any scale creates a high level of business disruption. When workers leave an organisation, there are a number of impacts, from the inevitable brain drain and loss of expertise, to the physical costs of having to recruit a replacement. When you add it all up, on average the total costs to replace a departing colleague is just over £30,000, according to the CIPD.
What can contact centre leadership do to reverse the problems of high staff attrition? How can the preference among millenials for their employers to provide life experience and personal growth opportunities be used by organisations for strategic benefit? Based on many years experience as an HRD and MD of a FTSE100 company and executive coach, my belief is that managers and business leaders need to appreciate that a key part of their role now is to recognise the individual dreams and hopes of the people within their organisations and enable them to realise some of these aspirations – both at a personal and professional level. For employees to really be engaged in their work, they have to be engaged in their lives – this is the first step towards creating engaged employees. Putting people first, making them feel listened to and connected with their own lives helps to create a more authentic employer, in keeping with common values of caring and integrity.
This thinking was the inspiration behind Matthew Kelly’s best seller, The Dream Manager and a fresh approach to employee engagement. It is based on the understanding that achieving high employee engagement requires, as a foundation, for employees to be engaged in their own lives first. Dream management does this by following a structured programme of group or 1-2-1 coaching and focusing on improving all aspects of life, from financial and emotional to communication and personality.
Testing this approach within a range of organisations has demonstrated that when an employer helps its employees to facilitate dream making and the pursuit of their individual whole life dreams using coaching, engagement and the associated financial benefits it brings, grow. Very significantly, when questioned about their post programme experiences, participants reported improved mental wellbeing and greater professional focus. As CIPD research has shown, when employees are engaged, their discretionary effort increases by over 50%. In addition, as Avaya research has also shown, every 1% improvement to employee engagement generates a 0.53% improvement to customer engagement.
Working in a contact centre is a difficult job, it’s psychologically and physically demanding. Employers need to help their staff to rise above the day to day issues and work towards a positive whole life experience. How can employers expect their call centre staff, who do a tough job, to be on top form if they are not given the chance to become the best version of themselves?
So let your people be people first!
Mike Greatwood is former FTSE100 HRD and CEO of The Dream Manager Programme
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