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Employee experience and workforce optimisation

The art and science of the optimised workforce

Diane Meyers

Head of Human Resources – Merchants SA, Dimension Data

Diane Meyers is an HR professional with local and international experience in HR management, business management, and client engagement, focusing on the CX and contact centre industry.

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Mithum Singh

General Manager: Operational Support and Shared Services – Dimension Data

Mithum Singh has 18 years of contact centre experience in both captive and business process outsourcing organisations, across a variety of industry verticals.

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Harmonise automation with high impact engagement

When we talk about an optimised workforce, we’re not necessarily talking about one with the greatest outputs or the fastest delivery. Rather, optimisation is about maximising delivery and customer satisfaction at minimal cost, throughout the customer journey. Both employee experience (EX) and workforce optimisation play a role here.

Simply put, EX = CX: happy employees mean happy customers. Employees who feel engaged, valued, and motivated in their work will strive to deliver for both the customer and the organisation.

It’s one thing to claim that employees are your greatest asset, but if you’re leaving EX to chance, you run the risk of low productivity and poor CX. It’s up to organisations to create opportunities for their agents to be difference-makers. Listen to what your employees are saying so you can create a positive environment for them to deliver.

If EX is the art behind CX, workforce management is the science. Workforce optimisation (WFO) tools empower employees to perform better, so you get more value from the skills you’ve invested in. Look at building a model that combines CX, quality management, and operational data to reveal opportunities – and opportunity costs – in your workforce.

Employees as the heart of CX

Efforts to improve CX through technology, better marketing, or more efficient processes are valuable but will take you only so far. Recognising employees as the heart of CX will make all the difference.

In this year’s report, we see that the relationship between EX and CX is the main reason behind the drive to reshape organisational culture.

EX is becoming a tactic for improving customer satisfaction and, ultimately, CX. Tweet this

Implementing this strategy may well require you to adapt your recruiting, training, and management practices to meet the expectations of a workforce that takes something of a consumer approach to employment. People choose who they want to work for based on what they see online and read on social media. They’re looking for learning and development opportunities, and on-the-go managerial experience, and they expect to work in a fast-paced, digital environment.

Creating memorable EX, from recruitment to exit

One bad experience can drive an employee to social media within minutes, so it’s critical to pay attention to every experience an employee has within the organisation, from the recruitment process to the exit interview. Here are some approaches to consider in creating an environment of trust and ownership.

Technology-driven talent recruitment

As technology takes over more mundane tasks, leadership and interpersonal skills are becoming more sought-after than technical abilities. Digital recruitment methods allow you to set up skills profiles for different roles, test certain technical abilities upfront, and even run algorithms to determine which environment would best suit a particular employee’s profile. This makes the process faster and more efficient and is particularly helpful if you’re running bulk recruitment campaigns.

On-the-go learning and development

Training is moving from room to screen. Some organisations are restructuring budgets to offer online self-service training that’s designed to meet the needs of a wide range of employees. Online learning can replace, or complement, other training methods, such as classroom-based courses, experiential training, and mentoring. Microlearning modules allow people to learn on the go, in short, powerful bursts, empowering employees to manage their own career development.

Augmented reality, which allows employees to practise new skills without the ‘fear factor’ of being in a live environment, will be the next disruptor in employee training.

Real-time communication

Communication is vital to EX but often tends to get stuck at managerial level. Now, messaging and social networking apps are being used to communicate within teams and across the broader organisation, drastically improving information sharing and allowing people to get answers to questions quickly.

Leaders who listen

Not sure how to make your employees happy? Ask.

Memorable EX is only sustainable if you have a supportive, empathetic leadership team who can engage respectfully with their employees, listen to their individual needs, and take a holistic approach to their wellbeing and development.

If you’re not listening, you can’t drive change. Tweet this

Here are some of the items we’re seeing on the wish list of today’s workforce:

  • Allow me to engage in meaningful work that gives me a sense of purpose.
  • Recognise the value I bring to the organisation.
  • Take a holistic approach to my wellbeing – give me access to support for my emotional, psychological, financial, and family wellbeing.
  • Help me achieve my lifestyle goals and career aspirations with a development programme that’s set up just for me, and training opportunities that allow me to progress quickly and get promoted faster.
  • Be flexible and give me options that support the work-life balance. I’d like to choose when, where, and how I work.
  • Trust me to take ownership of my work.
  • Enable me to do my best by providing facilities and technology that help create a productive work environment.
  • Create a work environment that promotes creativity and makes coming to work an enjoyable experience.
  • Recognise my needs in the context of my future career, not just my current role.
  • Give me variety in my work – keep me interested and engaged.

Creating connections with predictive analytics and knowledge management

Knowledge management also has a vital role to play in supporting new ways of work and increasingly well-informed, self-sufficient customers. Organisations will need to get smarter about using predictive analytics to help agents not just answer the current query but also prompt or anticipate the next two or three.

By using analytics to build employee profiles, organisations will have a clear view of the skills people have (for example, verbal or written), where these can best be deployed (telephone or web chat), and where the gaps are. It will also help to develop more advanced capabilities, like linking customer profiles with the profiles of frontline staff to improve customer satisfaction, and better enable cross-selling, upselling and next-best-actions to retain customers.

New ways of working and measuring success

Absence and attrition rates reflect how engaged and committed employees are, but evolving workforce demands may require new metrics. Rather than hiring for long-term tenure, organisations will be bringing together cross-generational teams with specific skills for shorter periods to drive innovation or fix a specific problem. Old-school recruitment and performance management models will need to be transformed to build a workforce that best suits their objectives and CX goals.

Workforce optimisation needs data and analytics

Regardless of which metrics you use to measure, manage, and optimise your workforce, you’ll need more than just experience and in-house knowledge going forward. Data and analytics will be critical to workforce optimisation, helping you correlate employee performance data with organisational metrics to find the right balance between maximum C-SAT and minimum costs.

Accountability across the value chain

The reality in many organisations is that workforce management, operations, quality management, and CX teams work independently and have separate key performance indicators. To match the art of EX with the science of workforce management, you need to take a step back and critically look at your workforce optimisation plan. If it’s limited to pockets of people and processes dotted across the business, you could be missing out on opportunities to create value and differentiate your employee value proposition in a cost-effective way.

Realistically look at where you’re focusing your resources: if your budget and planning are going to old-school employee perks, you’re not offering what people are looking for from their work. Find a way to create a unique workforce model that integrates analytics, technology, and employee performance so your people can deliver in a way that leaves them feeling valued and empowered, leaving you with a workforce who are willing and able to make a game-changing contribution.

Employee experience and workforce optimisation insights

See the top employee experience and workforce optimisation trends

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