Preventing the ‘January Blues’ in your workforce
By Marije Gould, VP of Marketing EMEA, at Verint Systems
January can be a tricky period for employers. While many people return from some time off over the Christmas holidays having had a chance to recharge their batteries, others may take the time to consider what they enjoy or dislike about their current jobs. Throw in a mixture of the cold weather, dark mornings and evenings, and it’s common for employees to start to believe that perhaps the grass is greener on the other side and they should start looking for other opportunities. In fact, the first Wednesday in January tends to be the busiest day of the year to look for a new job.
There are other triggers throughout January that may also impact on your employees’ morale. The first Wednesday of the year is also called ‘fat cat Wednesday’ – the day where many high earning execs exceed the national average wage. Then there’s the second last Monday in January (also known as Blue Monday) when many have faltered on their new year’s resolutions, feel like their Christmas break is but a distant memory and are still a fortnight away from pay day.
So, what can employers do to motivate and retain their employees through these January blues – particularly for those in customer-facing roles? The key lies in employee engagement.
The first steps of employee engagement
To really engage with employees, organisations need to adopt a culture of consultation with their staff and, most importantly, act upon feedback. Central to this is having the right processes and technology platforms to capture and analyse employee feedback. With this in place, employers can measure and understand vital indicators such as employee motivation, employee satisfaction and interest levels, what drives performance, and where employees perceive obstacles or areas of misalignment. This process helps employees feel valued and part of the business’ decision making processes. It provides insights which can used to make crucial business decisions to foster employee retention and improve overall performance.
Providing the right tools for the job
The employee engagement process and understanding employee pain points can be used to identify any gaps in skills, processes and technology to best serve their customers or clients. This is especially important in the modern business environment, where customers engage in many different ways across different channels and international boundaries have blurred.
The right tools can provide staff with real-time information on customers across a huge range of possible contact points – whether email, recent phone enquires, Facebook and Twitter, or perhaps live message or video chat discussions with other agents. And all this vast quantity of data, along with complete account history and the status of all ongoing transactions, needs to be at their fingertips in an easily digestible format.
Providing these tools helps your employees to better serve their clients and customers, while better managing their workloads, following more efficient processes, reducing stress and gaining more satisfaction from their roles. You could also explore gamification in some processes and systems, to make some elements of your employee’s routine more enjoyable.
Opportunities for employees to improve
One cannot simply provide all the right tools and expect employees to be able to do the job. The employee engagement process helps to identify your teams’ strengths and any potential areas for improvement through training. A comprehensive training regime gives employees the opportunities to upskill, grow and develop. By engaging staff in a job with greater variety and empowering them to make informed decisions and substantive contributions, you can decrease stress increase employee happiness and reduce churn.
Employee engagement has a direct impact on increasing staff retention and loyalty, reducing turnover costs and driving a more productive, profitable business. An enlightened approach to employee engagement, where employers consult with employees and act on their feedback plays a vital role in boosting satisfaction and retention of employees. Only once employers know what stimulates and encourages their employees (and what annoys them!) can organisations take the necessary steps to ensure they are appropriately tasked, trained up and challenged to continue to want to remain committed and loyal to their employer.
With this in mind, employers can try to reduce the impact of the ‘January Blues’, however, it needs to form part of a consistent approach to employee engagement throughout the year, and not just when it is dark and gloomy outside.