Employee engagement has been a hot topic for years now, but many employers have found the goal of a fully engaged workforce to be elusive, despite their best efforts.
In fact, a 2011 study from BlessingWhite found that only 31% of employees were engaged, while 17% were “actively disengaged”, meaning they cared little for their jobs and employer.
While these results are disheartening, there is another workplace performance theory that is gaining ground, and may serve to bridge the gap towards employee engagement.
The American Psychological Association (APA) recommends a focus on employee mental health to boost engagement and increase performance. Not only do their recommendations reduce attrition, workplace stress, and unexpected absences, but they can complement existing employee engagement initiatives.
Below are the APA’s five criteria of a psychologically healthy workplace, and how they may impact a contact center’s performance and ability to create remarkable customer experiences.
Giving employees a voice and empowering them with the ability to make decisions results in increased job satisfaction and productivity. In the case of a contact center, increased employee involvement results in more authentic and natural customer service, as agents become more confident in their decision-making abilities.
Committees, self-managed task forces, agent surveys, and suggestion boxes are all great ways to increase employee involvement.
Conflicts between work and home life can create stress and division in the workplace. Schedule adherence is one of the most critical and challenging pieces in contact center performance, but TLs and HR can play a key role in helping agents find a balance between their personal and work lives.
Regular communication and interaction is important. Reinforcing the importance of schedule adherence and communicating the “why” behind the policies can promote understanding and acceptance. Identifying the root cause behind absenteeism or tardiness, and working with the agent on a personalized solution, will benefit both parties.
Employee Growth and Development
Employees thrive in environments where there is opportunity for growth and personal development. When a workplace invests in employee training and career pathing, the results are increased performance, retention, and job satisfaction, as well as reduced workplace stress.
A contact center that invests in helping employees expand their knowledge, skills, and abilities will see happier and more engaged agents that are much more likely to become leaders and managers.
Health and Safety
Employers that invest in workplace health and safety initiatives not only demonstrate a commitment to employee well-being and strengthen employee loyalty, but they also help employees manage stress more effectively.
Examples include safeguards that address workplace safety and security issues, fitness and activity initiatives, and resources to help employees address life problems.
A company rewards and recognition program can have a huge impact on employee morale and engagement. The key is to go beyond the standard “Employee of the Month” programs and develop initiatives that promote inclusion and participation.
Seek out ways to personalize recognition, and give those superstars the opportunity to share their experiences with others. Being asked to mentor colleagues or lead a presentation or workshop demonstrates the value these employees are providing the company, and also inspires others.
A Foundation of Communication
To encourage company-wide adoption of these five principles of a psychologically healthy workplace, the APA recommends building them upon a solid foundation of communication.
Bottom-up communication, from employees to management, provides valuable information about program success or failure, opinions, and employee values. This data allows organizations to modify their programs and policies to meet the specific needs of their employees.
Top-down communication, from management to employees, will increase awareness and adoption of the new initiatives, and demonstrates that management values and supports the programs. However, one of the best ways to encourage employees to adopt these principles is to encourage key organizational leaders to participate in psychologically healthy workplace activities themselves.
Leading by example and making positive mental health a priority will demonstrate the company’s commitment to having an engaged, empowered, and psychologically-healthy workplace.