Promoting a Culture of Recognition
Illustration by Julia Soderberg

Do you have a culture of retention or turnover? Do your employees feel like they are on a progressive journey, or that the foot they’re putting forward is halfway out the door? Here are some inspirational ideas and practices to show your agent population that they are important and necessary to the overall success of your organization. First, ask some questions to get a better understanding for the types of recognition your team appreciates. To assume that everyone appreciates balloons and public displays of recognition can sometimes backfire on you. Sure, some people like the competitive nature of showcasing success, but others prefer a quiet, one-on-one thank you for a job well done.

Asking questions is a small step that accomplishes more than you think. By taking the time to understand their interests, employees sense your investment on a personal level, which adds a layer of recognition even before the actual reward is given. (Bonus points!)

There are many ways to show recognition to your teams. Here are some effective programs I’ve seen over the years:

Department events. A contact center adds value to other departments in your organization. Ask those departments to schedule a “thank you” event. Event options could include lunch for the contact center, or a BBQ where the sponsoring department does the grilling; random prize drawings, or thank you gifts for all agents (t-shirts, promotional items, etc.)

Goal celebrations. You set the goal; the team meets the goal, what next? Celebrate! Plan a reward program for each goal achievement and consistently carry it out. Determine which goals are important to the success of your organization and when your team achieves the goals, plan a celebration, provide prize drawings or give individual awards to the top performers.

Improvement program awards. Having trouble with customer experience, customer satisfaction, long call times or other metrics? Go to your agents and together create a program to reward them for the solutions. Set up an idea program where good ideas are incorporated into the contact center and the idea with the biggest bang, get a prize. Most issues you are experiencing can be solved by talking to your agents—they’re the ones who handle the contacts, and they are also the ones who have great ideas to improve the processes.

Peer reward program. Your employees do something good every day. Are they able to recognize each other? Maybe someone handled a tough call particularly well; helped a co-worker fix a challenging issue they were stuck on; volunteered to give someone a ride home. Whatever the good deed, it should have the chance to be recognized. When employees appreciate each other, and are able to show that appreciation publicly, they build bonds that decrease attrition.

Small and spontaneous. One word: donuts. Have you ever met someone who didn’t appreciate a surprise donut offering? While larger rewards are likely the most impactful, small acknowledgements of gratitude are also meaningful. Did your team have an especially busy week? Did they handle a shift in direction gracefully? Reward them by bringing in donuts and coffee one morning, or cookies and pop in the afternoon.

Recognizing your team during Call Center Appreciation Week in October is a great start, but really you need to put energy into recognition all year long. With a few thoughtful tweaks to the processes you already have in place, you could soon be managing a strong, cohesive, fully engaged and record-shattering workforce. I would love to hear how it goes—connect with me on LinkedIn and tell me about your call center successes and challenges.

Yes, I’m the guy who posted a delicious looking photo of donuts in the middle of New Year resolution diet season. My apologies, friend.