An Advice Column Only for
Contact Center Managers
For this edition of Challenge Solved! we asked Anne Ivey Slough, Vice President, from LSA Global to serve as our guest expert. We think you’ll be pleased we did! The reader question selected this month is on the topic of employee surveys – a topic that Anne knows quite well. Anne has extensive experience aligning company culture and talent with thoughtful, results focused strategies, including employee surveys, among other strategies for high growth and optimal business performance. Anne also has significant experience in the contact center space, both as a front-line call center manager and consultant.
And thank you to our reader who submitted this month’s question!
Q: What's the real value of employee surveys and how can contact center managers help engage employees further with survey results?
A:Anne Ivey Slough, LSA Global
I’m a firm believer in the power of a well-planned and executed employee survey. Thank you for asking this question! Ultimately, the real value of employee surveys is to provide business intelligence so you can take purposeful and timely action. One of the worse things a company can do is to ask for employee feedback and then not follow through with meaningful actions and answers. Surveys driven simply by curiosity only raise employee hopes that things will improve and they can actually do irreparable harm to your culture and disengage your reps.
I have seen, first hand, what happens when employee survey results fall on deaf ears. If no action is taken, leaders lose credibility and fewer employees will invest time sharing their feedback the next time they’re asked for it. Even worse, it can lower morale and start a chain reaction of negative and, sometimes, covert behaviors from excessive absenteeism (“no one cares if I show up anyways”) to priority sabotage (“I’m not participating in this campaign”). But surveys undertaken with the will and resources to follow through upon what is learned can strengthen employee faith in their company’s leaders and inspire reps to care even more about their work and positive contribution to your center’s culture.
Another point I’ll share with you is that the real work in the employee survey process begins earlier than you may think. What I mean by this is that many mistakenly believe that the most important part of the survey is what happens once the survey response period has closed. As I mentioned earlier, it’s true that what you do with your survey results is vitally important but so is the work you do upfront, before the survey has even been announced. Here are a few tips to consider before you launch your employee survey.
Be Strategic. Identify the role employee engagement and retention play in your business strategy and where it falls compared to other strategic priorities.
Focus on Implementation First. Ensure your leadership team has the capability and willingness to follow through on employee engagement survey results before you worry about survey design.
Make Employee Engagement a Key Performance Indicator. Monitor, measure and reward employee engagement and retention as one of your key management success metrics.
Now, let me address the second part of your question regarding how contact center managers can engage employees further with survey results. What I’ll share with you are five tips from LSA Global’s best practices playbook compiled after surveying over half a million employees across more than 5,000 organizations each year.
Tip #1: Communicate Engagement Results. Communication is perhaps one of the most overlooked and under-executed elements of the employee engagement survey process. Your survey communication can increase participation rates, build employee trust, encourage open and honest feedback and lead to positive organizational change.
Ineffective communication is one of the biggest barriers standing in your way of survey success. The goal of all engagement-related communications must be to inform, educate, build momentum, ensure confidentiality, disclose intent, improve engagement, build trust and gain buy-in.
At a minimum, your communication plan needs to include: 1) a “thank you” Email (thank people for participating, share response rates and outline next steps); 2) a “results overview” (share a quick look at first insights regarding the highest- and lowest-rated areas and high-level next steps and 3) a “details results” communication (provide a more in depth look at results, what leadership plans for next steps and how managers can access their team’s employee survey results)
Tip #2: Actively Discuss Results in Smaller Groups. If you want to follow through on employee engagement results, you must actively involve managers in reviewing the results and creating actions to improve engagement. In turn, managers must actively involve their teams in reviewing the results and creating actions to improve engagement for their teams.
Tip #3: Identify What Matters Most. At the company and team level, identify the engagement areas and items that: 1) have the highest correlation to engagement in your unique culture; 2) have the greatest room for improvement; 3) make sense for your unique strategy and culture and 4) have viable potential actions that align with your business and people strategies versus pie-in-the-sky ideas that will never truly be implemented. Also, if you want to have a higher chance of follow through on employee engagement results, actively involve employees in identifying what matters most, rather than telling them what they should do next.
Tip #4: Agree Upon Next Steps. After the data has been analyzed and options have been fully discussed and debated, it’s time to identify the critical few actions to get from where you are to where you want to be for each strategic area of improvement. To create a higher chance of success, have clear success metrics, assign clear ownership and break the actions into manageable steps.
Tip #5: Monitor and Continuously Improve. Create a project plan to evaluate and share progress, learn and adjust. Learn from both successes and failures and involve employees in making your call center a great place at which to work.
If you’re prepared to commit to meaningful action and your employees understand how their engagement in and support of your employee survey initiative fits into the strategic picture, go for it! Your employee survey results will help you move your call center forward. Remember to hold yourself and others accountable for implementing the steps you have committed to take with the business intelligence gained from your survey. The overall objective of an effective, value-producing employee survey is to take steps to positively influence how employees get their work done every day, year-round, and gain their whole-hearted commitment to improving performance overall.
This month’s featured expert is….
Anne Ivey Slough, MA,Vice President, LSA Global
Anne Ivey-Slough, currently leads the Client Solutions organization for LSA Global. She also runs the learning and development company’s Sales and Services practices. Anne has a rich history of partnering with senior level executives in the development of their corporate strategies, sales and service initiatives. She has an extensive background in helping organizations to develop business plans, diagnose operational gaps and implement results-oriented sales and service cultures. Anne has both a breadth and depth of experience in establishing and growing high-performing teams.
Her experience spans from developing enterprise strategies, establishing recruiting and selection procedures, creating and implementing goal setting processes, feedback systems and coaching models and implementing sales and service skills. She is particularly focused on linking these strategies and initiatives to measurable outcomes.
Before joining LSA Global, Anne served as an Account Executive for Plateau Systems, a Talent Management software company in Arlington, VA, where she developed new and existing accounts and performed market research and ROI analysis for leading clients in the Southeast Region. Prior to Plateau, she was a Senior Vice President at Omega Corporation where she led the Contact Center Practice and developed and implemented service, sales and coaching solutions to meet clients’ business goals. Prior to Omega, Anne was an Assistant Vice President at First Citizens Bank where she managed day-to-day operations for their 100-seat call center, as well as a Sales Leader for Centura Bank, for their start-up Instore initiative.
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