Lee JonesLee JonesSeptember 18, 2020
craig-whitehead-E1SID6pKht8-unsplash-1280x1919.jpg

12min565

“We are in unprecedented times!”

That is the declaration that I have heard over and over for several months now, and it is usually the start of an announcement about cutbacks, site closures, and redundancies.

In many aspects, we are in unprecedented times. The complete change to social relationships and economic situations has literally turned the world upside down since March of this year.

But in some ways, we have been here many times over the years. Economic downturns have happened in a cyclical way throughout history for a variety of reasons. Every decade we witness major events that affect our economy, including the recent 2008 global banking crisis that we now know as the ‘credit crunch’.

In economic terms, the simple equation business leaders must always have in their mind relates to ‘supply versus demand’. In essence, the question to answer is ‘can we make more money than we spend?’ This simple equation is the basis of many board discussions every day in every private, public and third sector organisation globally.

It is estimated that 80 percent of business market value is now accounted for by “off balance sheet” assets. What it means is that most of a business’s value lies in its human capital – or, in plain English, its people.

The pertinent question is… do you view your people as an asset or a cost?

Your response is critical for your long-term commercial success.

On August 3rd, 2020 I officially became co-founder and business owner of a startup along with 7 friends. It’s a first for me, and an exciting decision that we didn’t take lightly. We went into it with eyes wide open, knowing that every day we would need to answer the demand vs supply question and aware that one day demand for our services might stop.

Whilst we cannot control when our customers stop buying, what we can do is control 3 things:

1. Maximise performance

Maximise the revenue in our business by supporting each other to achieve optimum performance. Over the past twenty years, my colleagues and I have worked with top FTSE250 organisations to spot opportunities in their performance data that means they can leverage performance in a different way, which in turn leads to significant commercial benefits.

2. Innovation

By tapping into the experience and knowledge garnered through working with our clients we can continually evolve, changing, adapting and growing to meet demand and reflect changes in the customer and business landscape. It’s no coincidence that when you type innovation culture in to Google, you are met with multiple articles from Mckinsey, Harvard, KPMG and Accenture on how creating a culture where people want to show up, leads to employees, not leaders, constantly pushing the organisation forward.

Google once reported that it creates more customer solutions from its employee innovation day once a month than the remaining days in the month! Innovation day was set up to allow employees an opportunity to work on any (work related) project they choose. According to Dan Pink, mastery is one of the biggest motivators available to us. And Google have tapped in to this brilliantly.

3. Climate

Creating a culture characterised by low attrition, high discretionary effort, optimised working conditions and innovation. We are choosing to treat our people like a family, sharing our successes as well as our pain collectively. A group of U.K. researchers have provided the first scientifically controlled evidence of the link between happiness and productivity.

The study found that “happy people” are about 12 percent more productive than “unhappy people.” A business that facilitates employee happiness, through creating the right climate, means lower turnover and better company performance. Employees are loyal, customers are happier, and companies perform better.

I can honestly say that in our business, we will focus on, and prioritise, these principles because we know that it’s the right thing to do. They are also the foundations from which we will achieve commercial success.

There are many organisations that follow these principles and we have worked with some great ones over the years. There are also organisations that treat people as a number in a cost centre, and in troubled times take that cost out of the business to fix short term commercial goals. If you are wondering who these organisations are, turn on the news today and see if you can work it out!

There are literally thousands of news stories and articles right now about companies that have treated their employees terribly through this pandemic. Bleeding them dry, no compassion, treating them like numbers and dropping them without an ounce of loyalty to their service and contribution.

Forbes Magazine and HBR have all been quoted recently with headlines reading…

‘How you treat your employees during this pandemic will define your brand for decades’.

Wow! If this is true (and I believe it will be) then organisations have some big decisions to make right now about how they navigate their way out of this economic period of downturn and instability.

Dr. Catherine Oliver, of the Department of Geography, University of Cambridge has created a database containing over 300 organisations in the UK summarising whether they have treated their people well or badly, and it has been retweeted over 400 times! Think how many people are using this data to influence their buying decision over the coming years.

A recent piece of Bloomberg research suggests that customers that use your product or service for more than 100 days are more likely to be loyal to you. I know this doesn’t apply to all types of consumer-facing businesses, but it makes a point that customers can move their business anywhere at any time. Can organisations really afford to make poor choices around how they treat their people?

Dr. Oliver’s database shows many sectors with organisations at both ends of the scale with regard to how they treat their people. Interestingly, there are 2 well-known kitchen and bathroom suppliers in Dr. Oliver’s database which are of particular interest to me because I have worked with one of their competitors.

The contrast between how these two organisations treated their people during lockdown couldn’t be starker.

The data shows that one of them, Wren, wouldn’t provide hand sanitizer for office-based staff, treated employees appallingly and then made 700 redundancies hours before the furlough scheme kicked in. Their competitor B&Q told vulnerable staff to quarantine for as long as needed whilst still on full pay. Unwell employees were also paid as normal if they needed to self-isolate and all staff were advised that if stores had to close during lockdown, they would continue to receive full pay.

Of course, these two organisations could have completely different commercial situations, however there are some basic principles in here about how to treat people, whether you need to cut costs or not.

Now I am not naive here, I get it. I understand the commercial pressures that CEOs, Directors and Shareholders are feeling, however there are different ways to ensure organisational survival as well as the protection and safety of your people.

The people that work for your organisation are your family. I am sure we all know somebody who has been made redundant or been treated badly by their employer during these times. No doubt it has hit us hard when it’s happened to us or someone we love. Losing our job or being treated badly at work is very emotive and with suicide rates and mental health issues at very high levels, organisations and leaders have a duty of care to their people and how their actions impact on the protection and safety of our society.

Every day I hear of another household brand that has taken steps to reduce costs for a chance of short-term survival. Another business that has looked at its costs versus its revenue and has made a judgement that costs are too high. The formula is simple, remove big costs, slash budgets and spending, close sites and remove people from the organisation to get the cost line below the revenue line.

It’s ok to right size your business and sometimes it’s a must, but there are many other things you can look at changing first. If you are going to cut jobs now, maybe take these things in to consideration as they could define your brand in the next chapter of your journey.

At the start of this article, I talked about 3 of the controllable factors we believe are important when maximising the potential in your people. Points 2 and 3 were about innovation and climate. The rest of this article focuses in on the first point that I made about maximising the performance of your workforce.

Find out how to drive commercial results through people in your organisation here.


Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiSeptember 11, 2020
0.jpg

4min693

The winners of the 2020 UK Employee Experience Awards have been revealed at the Live Online event on 10th September, celebrating teams and individuals who are committed to improving the employee experience.

Finalists were competing to secure Gold, Silver and Bronze titles across 14 categories, with one Overall Winner also named for their high score at the event, with the title for 2020 going to Portico Corporate Reception Management following the firm’s Gold win in the Employee-centric Company category.

Amanda Baber, Portico

Subsequent to the entire morning and the afternoon of the Finalists’ presentations, the Awards ceremony gathered more than 140 people online in one virtual room, for two hours of an entertaining and exciting programme.

Hosted by magician and mind reader, Nick Crown, the Awards ceremony was a highly enjoyable event, with Nick’s tricks leaving the audience in awe between the winners’ announcements.

Another notable win goes to Quilter Old Mutual Wealth, which landed Gold in three categories: Innovative Employee Engagement (Large Company), Business Transformation & Managing Change and Team of The Year.

 

Another huge achievement this year for Liberty Marketing, winning Gold in two categories: Best Company to Work For (SME) and HR Professional Of the Year – Emily Webb.

 

Among other winners were Stockport Homes Group, everis, Aspen Healthcare and Comply Direct. To see the full list of winners, click here.

Running in parallel with the finals, there was a room dedicated to The Future of Employment with 5 presentations from representatives of great organisations talking about EX. The presentations were followed by a panel discussion made up of all the presenters, discussing the state of EX.

The entire Awards ceremony was broadcasted on Youtube which you can watch on Awards International Youtube channel here.

Register your interest for 2021 here.


Debbie CliffordDebbie CliffordSeptember 11, 2020
proxyclick-visitor-management-system-BgT-ZKC6WA4-unsplash-1280x853.jpg

7min741

Recent reports show that the blended workplace is very much a reality. Nearly 1 in 5 UK workers plan to work from home indefinitely, half expect to go into the office every day, and two thirds of Londoners plan to divide their time between the office and home.

While flexible working is well reported to increase productivity by as much as over 10 percent in some cases, today’s hybrid world has taken flexible working to a new level with scope to elevate staff engagement and motivation further still, which will have an even greater positive impact on customer service.

To reap the rewards of this exciting workplace of the future, managers do need to rip up the old rulebook and consider new ways of managing a collaborative, engaged team that is now more dispersed.

Don’t be ‘On Demand’

Start first by looking at your self-management and wellbeing. Working remotely can mean the chance to be more productive but only when managed correctly. Virtual leaders can easily fall into the trap of becoming the ‘on demand’ manager, as employees assume that outside of the normal day to day office distractions, managers are more easily and readily available.

Gone are the visual cues of the office that gauge when to hold off from approaching your manager – like head down at the desk, on a call, or having just finished a long meeting.

It’s too easy in the virtual world to think you have to join every Teams meeting, reply to every email and answer every call, which ends up being unproductive and can make you lose focus of your own leadership goals.

Instead, use the benefits of being virtual without the office distractions. Control how responsive you are to your team. Book space in your diary to focus on your own tasks, goals and demands, and when teams know you can’t be disturbed. Allocate time to reflect and think, and to coach individuals.

Your team will soon realise that you don’t need to be involved in every minute customer service problem and teaches them good virtual working habits. It shows trust in your team to handle matters while giving them greater responsibility and authority to make decisions. This in turn boosts morale and leaves you to handle the more complex and strategic activities.

Accountable culture

Fostering a culture of trust is essential to delivering excellent customer service in a virtual world. A place where employees are given the autonomy and authority to make key decisions wherever they’re working and without manger input. Where employees are accountable for their decisions without feeling like they’ll be chastised if they make the odd mistake, but rather learn from it. Where employees are responsible for where, how and when they work in order to get the best results for the business.

This all leads to not only a more engaged workforce but one that has the flexibility and freedom to resolve customer enquiries quickly and effectively.

At Olive, when faced with a challenge, our Operations Leaders will regularly come together in a self-facilitating coaching session to share experiences, assess results and ways customer service could be improved. This learning and innovation culture requires trust and respect to succeed; a culture where leaders can confidentially share mistakes or acknowledge where things could be done better to refine our service delivery which at the same time draws out innovation and ideas from people whether working remotely or not.

Measuring productivity

There are also measures you can put in place to see how well your blended workplace is performing. Team productivity can be assessed through objective led measures, such as how professionally were customers enquiries handled, virtual or not? How slick are company processes such as the time it takes to refund payments? And what are the overall service levels like – from customer holding times to time needed to resolve a query?

Is your technology suite supporting a better connected blended workplace? How agile and effective is your customer service platform to support customer and employee regardless of location or device? Are you able to use chatbots to resolve some of the more commonly asked questions to relieve employee time?

One front line person isn’t the only customer touch point. Sales, finance, and technical experts, will also be customer points of contact so check your technology effortlessly bridges these teams through secure access to share customer data and conversation threads so your teams can collaborate swiftly to seamlessly resolve customer queries from anywhere, any time.

Return to the office

When employees are asked to come into the office for any reasons, ensure you keep communicating and reassuring them. Be mindful that some will be nervous about coming into contact with colleagues for fear of Covid-19.

Be clear on the new office Covid safety measures and workplace policies. Something we did at Olive was to introduce a ‘Back To Work’ plan including health & safety videos to show staff the changes in place, required temperature checks and sanitisation on arrival, and a ‘Welcome Back’ pack to make employees feel comfortable and safe. For those with heightened anxiety or stress concerning Covid-19 offer a counselling service if possible.

The blended workplace is the future workplace but it will take time for some employees to adjust. With the right support, management leading by example, and secure communications technology infrastructure in place, businesses and their customers can reap the rewards fairly swiftly.


Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiSeptember 8, 2020
pexels-andrea-piacquadio-3807629-1280x856.jpg

5min510

As the UK eases further out of the tight lockdown restrictions that were put in place at the end of March 2020, more and more workers are heading back into offices and factory floors that have laid dormant for nearly six months.

For employers and employees alike, the top concern is how risky it may be to expose ourselves to more people outside of our own households. After all, on a social level, restrictions in England state meetings of only two households can take place indoors, yet settings such as pubs and workplaces allow for far more households to meet inside a comparatively similar space.

Of course, the most important aspect of this is one’s health. But for businesses who are already struggling with the financial impact, could returning to work present another potential monetary pitfall in the form of sick days?

Average cost of sick days in the UK

The average UK employee will take 4.4 sick days every year. With the average salary of a full-time worker in the UK standing at £36,611 per year, that works out at £619.56 per employee per year. This works out by business size as:

COVID infections

But, this year is unlike the average year—this year, we’re dealing with a pandemic.

According to the Office of National Statistics, “At any given time between 27 April and 10 May 2020, it is estimated that an average of 0.27 percent of the community population had COVID-19.”. This works out at around 179,955 people within the UK. Those who test positive for COVID-19 are instructed to remain home for 14 days.

There are 24.6 million people in full-time employment in the UK as of August 2020, making up 37 percent of the population. At a rate of 0.27 percent of the population being infected, applying this to the 24.6 million in full-time work, we can get a rough estimate of around 66,420 full-time workers being potentially infected during this time frame. This gives us a general picture of how many people could be infected in the workplace at any given time.

With 60 percent of business employment being directed to SMEs, this would mean around 39,852 infected people potentially working for micro, small, or medium businesses. This works out at less than one employee per business within the micro and small sectors, and around two employees per business within the medium business sector. With 40 percent of employment held in large business, the remaining 26,568 infected workers have a smaller number of firms to be shared out across—resulting in an average of three potentially infected workers per large business.

Naturally, if an employee has COVID-19, they have to self-isolate for 14 days. They may be able to work from home, of course, depending on the severity of the symptoms.

For this scenario, let’s see what would happen if one employee per business called in sick with COVID-19 symptoms and had to be off sick for the full 14, (i.e. not working from home but resting).

 

It goes without saying that protecting staff is paramount. But with the pandemic potentially bringing additional sick day costs, particularly to small businesses, investing in PPE supplies such as hand sanitiser and microfibre cloths and implementing preventative measures are a must. As we can see, in this scenario, a micro-business—which makes up 1,155,385 businesses out of the UK’s 5.9 million businesses overall and 95 percent of all SMEs—would see their yearly sick day costs soar by 45 percent.


Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiSeptember 2, 2020
pexels-peter-olexa-4012966-1280x853.jpg

4min803

A new study on productivity and employee well-being in a remote-first workplace find inadequate tools, lack of consensus on digital etiquette and guidance as major challenges in this type of working environment.

The international study conducted by digital transformation leaders, Adaptavist, surveyed over 2800 workers from a mix of office-based industry sector and departments across the USA, UK, Canada and Australia.

The findings drove attention to the threats to long-term productivity and overall employee well-being posed by improvised solutions during the transition to remote work.

Of the people surveyed, 82 percent reported they are equally if not more productive working from home. Communications across the company have also improved during the pandemic. However, the lack of a shared understanding of which tool to use to communicate and ‘always available’ feeling of working from home adds to stress and motivational challenges for employees.

The findings reveal considerable benefits of 100 percent remote working approach and some of these include:

  • More flexibility in how employees work, ranked as the top benefit
  • 52 percent said that communication across the company had improved
  • 48 percent agreed that collaboration had been enhanced
  • 46 percent agreed that meeting effectiveness had improved

Simon Haighton-Williams, CEO of Adaptavist explains: “In many organisations their culture and tool use meant that those who were not in the same physical location as the people they were working with, were less able to fully input and collaborate. There was an imbalance, or divide in the way they communicated. The ‘accidental’ benefit of everyone being remote is that communication, collaboration and decision making can be the same experience for everyone. This effect is something organisations should cherish and preserve if, and when, they return to the office.”

The major downside of 100 percent remote working is ‘always on’ nature of digital communication (reported by 42 percent) and the absence of boundaries between work and personal lives. Twenty-one percent of surveyed cited this as the most significant negative impact on motivation.

Other downsides include the ‘number of channels employees have to check’ (reported by 31 percent) and domestic affairs distractions (reported by 20 percent). There has been a significant increase in the use of the same platforms for work and personal communications, as one in three workers is now using WhatsApp for work.

Inefficient use of digital channels has contributed to a loss of half of work day per employee each week. Technical issues, managing workloads and keeping teams motivated are in the top greatest challenges in running remote teams.

The study also found that less than half of workers had been given any training to ensure they are using these channels efficiently.

“High performing teams embody mastery, autonomy and purpose, so it’s natural that people adopt the tools that have proven to work well in their personal lives when faced with new challenges in their professional lives. However, organising the chaos and confusion between these channels is key to maximising the benefits they bring,” adds Simon Haighton-Williams, CEO of Adaptavist.

 


Debbie CliffordDebbie CliffordAugust 20, 2020
pexels-andrea-piacquadio-3860931-1280x853.jpg

7min962

A lot is written about diverse workplace policies – especially in recent times – and much is talked about around diversity.

In my opinion, there are two sides to the diversity ‘coin’ and, when it comes to the contact centre inclusion is as important, if not more so, than diversity itself.

Diversity is perhaps considered the more measurable side of the equation; race, gender, religious belief, sexual orientation – are all data points we can capture on someone’s identity. However, inclusion is more than this.

Inclusion is not about labels or how one wishes to be identified (or not in many cases because of the lack of inclusion) but about how you are treated, how you feel when you are at work, how comfortable you feel in bringing your true self to the workplace.

Inclusion forms our culture and that culture drives how we interact with our customers, our suppliers, our contractors and the external world at large. So, it could be argued that inclusion is more measurable than diversity because it has a direct impact on the individual, the company and employee’s performance.

All CX organisations should have a D&I policy in place. It helps to demonstrate that you are mindful of and thinking about how to improve your diversity demographics across the organisation. I believe that to fully harmonise this a truly great working D&I policy also gives you:

  • Greater reciprocity – the working parent or carer who is trying to balance home with having a great career as a call centre manager will be as flexible if not more so if they can move their working day around their other commitments and have a flexible work location – which is of course all possible with AI and cloud contact centre technology.
  • More diverse thinking – having a broader group of people from different socio-economic backgrounds, education levels, abilities, race, age and gender etc, naturally gives the organisation different perspectives and approaches, which increases the chances of call centre staff better resonating with a diverse, wider reaching customer base. ‘Group think’ diminishes, constructive conflict is positive to enable improvements. Innovation and creativity heightens plus accountability increases: if your voice is heard and listened to, you are more likely to follow through on your ideas.
  • Call centre agents that enjoy their work and their environment will be more engaging with the customer and higher performing.

This is certainly the experience at Olive – a true togetherness where everyone respects and understands the importance of each other’s role, how their job, input and output make a difference to how the company does commercially. This hasn’t come about by referring our people to the ‘policy’ but through leaders being open, honest and authentic and enabling their teams to do the same, and to share ideas or problems to come to better solutions.

While most organisations will either mention or talk about their diverse working environment, not all implement the policy past uploading it onto a communication channel internally or sharing as part of a tender. But there are tangible consequences for not actually implementing your D&I policy across the contact centre: –

  • There is a loss of trust in the policy, which affects employee engagement.
  • You can take affirmative action to help with your ‘diversity slates’ but the unconscious bias continues. This causes loss of talent as people don’t feel respected, valued or developed because of the organisation’s bias toward their gender, education, disability or race (as examples).
  • Diversity of thought is lost. Many times I’ve worked somewhere and know I can’t be the dissenting voice because it will reinforce that I don’t quite fit causing me to be ignored, creating conflict with others or reducing my potential to progress. This leaves people feeling disengaged and creates loss of innovation.
  • Your customers will feel that lack of inclusion, whether that is from what you say outwardly or because your company lacks the innovation and creativity that comes from true diversity to lead the way in your sector and deliver excellent customer experience.

To check that your organisation is operating a diverse working culture, ensure to have a blueprint of your business’ DNA based on the characteristics and behaviour of your workforce. This isn’t based on background, heritage or upbringing but dependent on attitude to life, work and ensuring your team are bringing the best person they can be to their role and career.

Openly discuss your diversity and inclusion policies with leaders and employees, and work towards being more inclusive, more diverse and more thoughtful about every aspect of your people’s ‘work lifetime’ with the company so you aspire to be the best place to work.

Employee experience is well documented to positively impact customer experience which is ever more important within a customer centric, call centre environment. So, now is the time to heighten the focus on inclusion of all your people to make the difference to everyone’s experience – customer and employee.


Robert PenderRobert PenderJuly 3, 2020
crop-businessman-giving-contract-to-woman-to-sign-3760067-1280x853.jpg

5min1542

The initial interactions candidates have when dealing directly with organisations represent the very first opportunity to demonstrate who you are, your people values and to build a relationship that may live long in the memory, irrespective of the application outcome.

All too often we see and hear of experiences that are bereft of the human touch and do great disservices to some very good organisations.

A digital experience must do its utmost to replicate the same positive emotions and feelings of that of a face to face encounter. Here are just four examples, where improvement opportunities are in abundance:

1. The window of opportunity.

Typically when you talk to organisations, they’re keen to fill positions quickly, yet bizarrely processes are incredibly longwinded. They must capitalise on candidate’s excitement and enthusiasm about the prospect of the opportunity but be under no illusion that with each passing day interest dwindles. Shorten application windows. Make a commitment to review and communicate with incoming candidates daily. Notify them if they’re unsuccessful. Put others on initial shortlists and inform them of such. Send them further content about you and the role. Organisations can get seriously creative about how they maintain interest if they spared it thought.

2. The application process.

Organisations stipulate how candidates must present themselves and showcase their experience, be it CV’s, personal statements, excruciatingly long-winded application forms or even video submissions. As opposed to dictating how candidates must apply, why not empower people to represent and express themselves in a manner they feel most comfortable with? Let them showcase their creativity. Don’t confine and restrict people. You’d learn far more about someone by doing so.

3. “If you’ve not heard from us within xx days/weeks, please assume you’ve been unsuccessful on this occasion” 

How did such a discourteous practice ever become so commonplace? At the very least is it really such an imposition to inform people they’ve been unsuccessful and thank them for the no doubt significant time and trouble they’ve invested into showing an interest in your organisation?

4. “Due to the high volume of applications we are unable to provide individual feedback”

Imagine the scenario. You provide feedback that would help someone secure the next role they applied for. Everyone would jump at the chance to do so. You’d feel great you were able to help someone. So why has a reluctance to provide feedback become another mind-boggling practice that’s such a widely adopted norm? Organisations are not unable to provide feedback. They’re unwilling. They deem their responsibilities to have ended at this point.

All of these things take time, consideration, effort and the appreciation that change is necessary. The treatment of candidates is often inconsistent with the people values organisations profess to have. The fact that very few organisations measure the candidate experience paints its own picture.

Organisations should be crafting a human experience they can be proud of and should never overlook the fact that candidates are often customers too.

When they reach the point of realisation that they exist to serve communities of people, and their responsibilities are far broader, only then will they unlock outcomes that eclipse any previous endeavours.

These examples represent poor starts to a relationship that requires candidates to yield to a process that exists to suit organisations, completely lacking in compassion and empathy. If you likened the current candidate experience to a first date, with everyone striving to make a positive first impression, humankind would have a perilous future.

We must challenge ourselves, our colleagues and our organisations. Whether we build a lasting relationship today with a candidate, in the future or our paths just momentarily cross this once in life organisations can do so much better.

CXM had the opportunity to speak with Robert in January this year.

Robert is a Judge at the upcoming UK Employee Experience Awards 2020.


Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiJuly 3, 2020
startup-594091_1920-1-1280x853.jpg

2min1155

According to research collected by Instant Offices, having friends in the workplace can positively affect mood and workflow.

Sixty-six percent of British workers say having a friend increases job satisfaction, while over half of UK employees think that having a ‘work best friend’ ultimately makes the job engaging and more enjoyable.

Some of the benefits of having friends at work are increased trust, strong bonds outside work which can increase a sense of loyalty at work, support, better communication and overall happiness.

For many employees, making friendly relationships with coworkers and managers is already the norm, as the 2020 UK study shows that 76 percent of employees enjoy a positive relationship with their superior and 77 percent states the same with their colleagues.

Lucinda Pullinger, Global Head of HR at the Instant Group says “As a manager, it is important to get to know all your direct reports and show interest, care and concern for all team members equally. There are commercial as well as human reasons for this. Also, in a work environment, it can be the team members who are actually most different to you that are your most valuable, as they provide you with alternative thinking and/or challenge which drives a better outcome. Therefore, valuing, trusting and treating all team members equally is important to enable a team to perform at its true potential.”

Bosses and managers can have friendly connections with their employees by being open about the changing dynamics and staying consistent in the treatment of everyone. It’s just as important to establish a balance between sharing too much information with your work friends and being closed and serious to deserve respect.


Hannah Louise CoxHannah Louise CoxJune 25, 2020
people-on-a-video-call-4226140-1280x853.jpg

7min1563

Hannah Louise Cox is Executive Search Consultant at Douglas Jackson and a Judge at the UK Digital Experience Awards 2020.

Read about Hannah’s experience at last year’s UK DXA.

 

Times have certainly changed in these last few months and we are living in an unrecognisable world now for sure. However, some industries and businesses are still functioning as normal, and some are even growing.

I have still been hiring during lockdown and have some tops tips and practises to share of how I have been working with business leaders to do this successfully during the lockdown period.

Video calls and conferences have now become a part of everyday life for us all and have certainly been invaluable in the virtual recruitment process. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Facetime, WhatsApp, the list is almost endless of the technology available to us to facilitate the virtual world that we find ourselves now living in. Rather than meeting face to face, the majority of businesses are now fully au fait with the use of video calls for internal meetings and external meetings. The virtual interview process has become ‘the norm’ during lockdown.

Video introductions from candidates to accompany CV applications have also been utilised. Some businesses have been using one way video applications with huge success. The technology has always been at our fingertips and for many weeks now it has been the best way to stay in touch with others and continue to do business.

However, please do proceed with some caution as some people are still not comfortable using video, and you wouldn’t want to rule out a super star candidate just because they are not completely confident in using this. Remember that video to the extent that we are now using it is still in its infancy. A lot of people are still learning and practising.

In many instances, there can never be a replacement for face to face contact. However, video communication has been an excellent ‘second best’. I have had some processes conclude purely through video and have candidates waiting to start who have never met their new line managers in person and have not yet visited their new office premises.

In these instances, it is quite critical that close contact is maintained after offer between a client and candidate, so that the candidate feels welcome and engaged with the business, enabling the relationship to flourish before the new employment starts.

As great as video is – and clearly it has been and will be moving forward an absolute necessity – we do have to remember that, although outwardly we are communicating with the world, inwardly we are still isolated in our homes, or wherever else we may have been locked down, and so additional contact and care to build and maintain that client and candidate relationship is often very much appreciated.

The likes of Glassdoor and similar platforms give great insight into organisations’ cultures and have been really helpful. It would be a great idea to keep on top of online reviews because potential candidates will be doing their research before applying for a role within your business.

We have seen a much bigger uptake on our online behavioural profiling tool. This is an extremely useful tool for us to establish desired behaviours from the client and assess culture, and then also to match this against the potential candidate’s core behaviours. Cultural fit is exceptionally important and in the absence of onsite meetings, this has proven to be a great solution for us with many benefits.

Some processes have progressed to preferred candidate status virtually and then have had last stages inviting people into office premises social distancing, with hand gels and temperature monitors on doors. With some of the restrictions being lifted now, we can look at mixing and matching video and face to face to suit the needs of a Hiring Manager and wider business.

I absolutely believe that businesses that are willing to take the leap and be confident enough to join the likes of Amazon, who have been hiring virtually for many years, display innovation and forward thinking and this, in turn, will attract a higher quality of candidate, as well as reducing the time to hire significantly. In fact, there are numerous benefits to running virtual processes.

Effective and efficient recruitment and onboarding has been and will be critical moving forward as we move into a world where Customer Experience is quite likely to be even more important than before.

Candidate care and providing a great Candidate Experience is achieved by giving that extra personal touch, and if this has to be done virtually rather than face to face, then we move with the times and adapt accordingly.

Good luck with finding your business’ ‘new normal’, and I definitely recommend that you join other businesses in at least looking at the benefits of running virtual recruitment processes. The opportunities really are endless and this could be where you begin to attract an even better quality of candidate to your business.


Rebecca BrownRebecca BrownJune 19, 2020
1-1.png

12min1405

This week many retail businesses are starting to reopen. Shops that were considered non-essential during the initial phases of lockdown are preparing to throw their doors open again in a new era for customer experience.

It’s been 89 days since lockdown was first announced on the 23rd of March, and people were told to work from home where they could. So, the big question is, how much can 89 days change how our customers think, feel and shop, and how can we meet their expectations in this new world?

No doubt you’ve heard about the perspex screens, the one-in / one-out policies and the closure of fitting rooms to try and ensure that both customers and staff are kept as safe as possible. There are plenty of health and safety guidelines available, and businesses offering to help you get your premises up to code popping up daily.

It is of course crucial that any retail business re-opening follows any health and safety measures as issued by the government, but there are plenty of articles out there that deal with that side of things. This is a different sort of Covid related article, and here’s why:

Our customers have just undergone a massive change. It has been thrust upon them with little warning, with no consultation and they have had limited control on what their day to day life has looked like since March. That has been scary, but it’s not the end of the story.

Dr. Larry Richard, a leading expert in the psychology of behaviour when it comes to change management, believes that when dealing with change, there are essentially two types, episodic and continuous. We are able to deal with episodic change easily, a loud noise might distract us, or startle us, but we move on quickly and soon forget about the noise. Continuous change, however, such as the state of change we have been experiencing since March, has the potential to be far more unsettling.

Continuous change is relentless and far more unpredictable. It puts us in a constant state of alert. We remain “off balance” much of the time. Since it has no end point, we’re never fully able to relinquish all of our refocused attention.” – Dr. Larry Richard

Our customers could be suffering from the effects of living in a state of continuous, unpredictable change with no clear end in sight. So, doesn’t it make sense to try to understand what kind of impact that might have had on them, how to help support them through this period and ultimately how to adapt our businesses to their needs?

Change of this nature – unrelenting, sudden, and continuous – can trigger our threat response, setting off anxiety and a heightened sense of constantly being on alert. Alongside the increased anxiety, our customers may:

  • Suffer from mood swings and emotional instability
  • Feel an increase in negative emotions such as irritability, distractibility, sadness, worry, agitation or passivity
  • Have a lower attention span
  • Experience lower levels of trust, and increased cynicism
  • May feel disconnected from others (this is especially true in the current climate)

So, what can you do to help your customers, aside from the more obvious safety measures being put in place?

Look after your staff

Looking after your staff should always be no.1 on your list of priorities.

Staff who feel cared for, and genuinely looked after, will always be happier, more dedicated and more likely to enjoy their work. This impacts your customers.

This isn’t new advice, but what might be new are the measures you may need to take to make your team feel safe and cared for. Ensure they have everything they need to keep them, and their families as safe as possible during their return to work. Ask them what would help them feel safer and ensure you really take this chance to listen and understand their concerns about returning. Don’t just assume that everyone will be happy to get back to work now that the government advice has changed.

It’s the right way to treat your team, but now we know it’s also something that’s important to your consumers.

Ninety-one percent of UK consumers who took part in the Edelman Trust Barometer 2020 felt “brands must do everything they can to protect the well-being and financial security of their employees and their suppliers, even if it means suffering big financial losses until the pandemic ends”

Crucially, the same study also reported that 71 percent of consumers felt that if they saw brands placing profit ahead of people those brands would lose their trust forever.

Be consistent where you possibly can

Ease the impact of all the change where you can by clinging to the things you can be consistent on. If it’s possible:

  • Keep your opening hours the same
  • Keep your usual people on the tills – a familiar face will go a long way to creating a sense of normality and trust
  • Where you can, keep your stock in the same place as normal and don’t make the route around the shop too convoluted
  • If you need to put some stock away to make more room for customers to move around in a socially distanced way, try to anticipate customer needs and have high sales items readily available, clean and ready to replace

Don’t become so distracted by the required changes dictated by government guidelines that you forget your core messages, your core values, and how you communicate with your customers.

Make things clear

Don’t assume that your customers have read the social distancing guidance that you have, or that they will instinctively understand any new ways of moving around your premises.

You will have thought out your opening, and planned a safe route for shoppers to follow. Make sure there are signs available on entry and at every potential point of confusion. Be careful not to remove the human element though, a friendly and reassuring face to help explain to any shoppers what to do on entry is a great way to ensure your returning customers feel more at ease. Don’t forget, it’s a nerve-wracking experience going shopping for the first time since lockdown, and many shoppers will be hesitant, unsure and look to you and your staff for clarification on the new rules.

Another element to consider is how you ask your frontline staff to handle anyone who has misunderstood the new ways of shopping. It might be scary for them if someone steps too close, or picks something up they shouldn’t, but the chances are your customer has simply forgotten, become distracted and slipped back into a lifetime of habit and if your team can politely and firmly but in a friendly way just remind them of the new rules it will help everyone feel safer. Empathy, as always, is key here.

Be kind – you could be the best part of someone’s day

With the heightened level of anxiety and new guidelines for how to go shopping, your customers may not know what to expect.

Showing kindness is a great way to help your customers feel more comfortable and to ensure that their first shopping experience with you cements their brand loyalty.

If you can, be flexible with explaining how things work, extending returns deadlines, allowing vouchers that expired during the lockdown period to still be used. If someone can’t make it to the shop, think outside of the box – could you send them photos of a product, or give them advice over the telephone instead?

Look for ways to add value and be prepared for a little light-hearted conversation from your customers – you might be the first person they’ve had a chance to speak to face-to-face for three months. You could change their whole day by showing some kindness.

Prep your team for the potential of complaints

If we accept that our customers may feel more irritable, experience increased cynicism and generally be experiencing a permanent state of anxiety, it stands to reason that this could materialise in more customer concerns being raised. If this does happen, make sure your team understand the emotional backdrop that your customers might be experiencing, and practise empathy before responding to try to offer a helpful resolution.

We are all in this together, and for the first time in memorable history, almost all staff and customers have something major in common. Build on that to help fuel more understanding customer interactions.


Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiJune 9, 2020
person-in-blue-denim-jeans-sitting-on-floor-using-macbook-4134791-1280x853.jpg

2min1129

A nationwide study commissioned by tech PR agency Eskenzi PR and carried out by OnePoll, shows that 6 in 10 working individuals of the UK feel less stressed while working from home thanks to using video conferencing tools.

The study was conducted on a thousand individuals to examine the sentiments of the UK workforce towards remote working and the use of video conferencing tools.

Softwares such as Skype, Zoom and Teams helped in overcoming the impact of the unprecedented circumstances, allowing many to feel less stressed or unaffected by the use of these tools. One in three respondents feels more relaxed and comfortable when working from home, while 36 percent believe that they are more productive while remote working.

Over a third (35 percent) of surveyed individuals would prefer to work from home for 2 to 3 days a week after the pandemic restrictions are lifted.

Yvonne Eskenzi, Founder and CEO of Eskenzi PR said: “Coronavirus was our wake-up call. For years, we have ignored signs of global warming, growing economic inequalities and rising mental health issues. Our society has prioritised profit over sustainable and responsible growth.”

“Having now been forced, en masse, to work from home, we might have inadvertently been offered our saving grace. This study has shown that remote working ‘works’ and, more importantly, it can have a positive impact on people’s well-being, the community as a whole as well as the environment.”


AIbluesky-webinar-1280x720-v2-1.png

3min1130

An upcoming webinar will discuss the importance of trust in organisations and different ways of adapting to the current climate with reinvented leadership styles.

Hosted by Awards International in partnership with BlueSky and Capita, the free webinar will take place on June 4 at 10.30am BST on Zoom video conferencing platform.

The last decade has been characterised by scandals involving people in influential or senior positions. People in jobs we once respected and looked up to are now regarded with suspicion with only 38% of people saying they trust what their CEO says about their organisation.

Trust is a huge organisational issue and especially relevant in the current climate. Remote working and long-distance leadership are posing a range of challenges most of which are predicated on our confidence or trust in others. Many leaders are having to find new ways of working and for some that has meant adjusting their leadership style, letting go of some elements of control, and empowering their people remotely to ensure that roles and tasks are fulfilled.

The free webinar will cover the latest insight across three pertinent topic areas:

  • Exploring how trust is built and lost and the impact it has on business outcomes, along with tangible actions you can take right now to build and improve trust between the people you work with.
  • Discussing approaches to empowerment and how it is intrinsically linked to accountability, motivation and engagement and a support tool to show you how.
  • The role of leaders in role modelling high trust behaviours because in uncertain times, people look to those in positions of influence for behaviour cues. ways you can demonstrate your intent through meaningful actions

The keynote speaker will be Stu Trevena, who spent over a decade employed within learning and development for some of the most recognisable brands within the UK and has built a sound understanding of what it takes to support behavioural change to deliver results.

To register for the webinar, click here.

Be the leader your employees deserve!

 


Rebecca BrownRebecca BrownMay 22, 2020
1.png

9min1499

Author: Rebecca Brown

There are lots of different styles when it comes to leadership.

Lots of approaches, lots of management books and leadership guides. Volume upon volume of materials that you can digest online, on your kindle or even these days, in an audiobook. You can read up on just about anything. You can learn all there is about any subject. Any subject that is, except your customer.

No off-the-shelf book will be able to tell you which elements of your customer journey your clients love, and which bits they are finding most frustrating. It’s not because there aren’t plenty of (fantastic) books on customer experience out there – it’s more that your customers’ needs are a constantly evolving thing. They change with the economy, they change with trends, they change with advances in technology – Let’s face it, it can sometimes feel like they change with the wind!

Being the type of leader who relies solely on your years of experience, and the experience levels of your senior leadership team to shape your customer journey could mean you’re working with out of date material before you even begin. By assuming you know what your customers want because you knew what they wanted this time last year, you could end up like Bill, walking down a familiar road only to get a nasty surprise when you turn the corner.

Experience is no substitute for up to date feedback. The two need to go hand in hand. This has always been the case, but is true now more than ever.

We’ve all been impacted by Covid-19 in one way or another. Some of us are lucky enough to have the relentlessness of 24/7 childcare and the potential peril of stepping on duplo first thing in the morning be our biggest stressor, whilst others have been left in heart-breaking situations that no one should have to face. The world we knew is forever changed, and along with it are the consumers we want to attract and retain.

It’s predicted we’re about to enter the largest recession in recorded history. People are nervous and uncertain, with both their emotional and physical wellbeing under threat with no clear timescale for when that might end. Whilst most people are desperate for things to go back to normal, it’s a safe assumption that even when it does, the new ‘normal’ won’t resemble what we’re used to. How could it?

It’s a grim picture, but it’s not all doom and gloom – or at least it doesn’t have to be. We need to come to terms with the fact we don’t know our customers like we once did. We need to rekindle that relationship, and we need to do it fast if we’re to remain relevant in what’s about to become one of the most competitive markets any of us have seen.

But… here comes the exciting bit! If we accept that our customers are not the same, and that our old way of approaching them may no longer cater for their needs then we can start to open our minds to the possibility of nationwide innovation and maybe even cross-industry collaboration on an unprecedented scale.

By approaching your customer experience strategy as a priority, having an open mind, asking the right questions, and taking clearly defined steps to improve your customer journey through journey mapping, you could well be setting your business up for the best cultural shift it’s ever encountered, and in turn a strong recovery followed by a period of sustained growth.

Our top tips:

1. Look after your people

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, 71% of people say that if they perceive that a brand is putting profit over people, they will lose trust in that brand forever. We all know that looking after your people is the right thing to do, but now it’s also good business.

Our most recent instalment of Bill and Doug covers some ideas on how to check in with your employees if you get stuck for ideas!

2. Change the way you ask for feedback

Offer your customers the ability to provide feedback on their agenda, at a time, place and in a way that’s convenient for them. Don’t make feedback all about you and your company by asking old fashioned questions and long-winded surveys.

Utilising simple feedback tools that can be triggered by a customer when they feel particularly motivated to tell you about their experience will yield more results, and give you more relevant insights.

Then make sure you use that feedback in the right way. Share it with everyone in your business. They all play a part in the customer journey so they need to know how they impact it, and what they can do differently. Make customer feedback a part of your team meetings, and make sure that your team see your leadership embracing feedback as the positive and transformational tool it can be.

3. Map your customer journeys

Using current insight gained from feedback and customer focus sessions is the best way to map your current journey, your aspirational one and to complete a gap analysis of the two.

Plotting an emotional curve against your current journey will enable you to know exactly which areas of business change to focus on and which are just fine as they are.

4. Implement a Shadow Board

For those of you who have yet to come across this concept, a shadow board is where you select a diverse group of young individuals from within your company, not necessarily from existing high potential groups, and usually the same number as are on your actual board or senior team. Their purpose is to challenge and innovate, injecting fresh ideas and cultural change into senior leadership decision making and organisational processes.

In a lot of cases they will be far more likely to represent your customer base than those you have in senior positions. Shadow boards see things in a different way to you, and can offer new perspectives on age old challenges, not to mention it’s a great way to encourage employee engagement and personal development!

 

Check out the first instalment of Bill and Doug:
Easy as ABC: Employee Recognition and How To Do It Right

 


Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiMay 21, 2020
design-desk-display-eyewear-313690-1280x960.jpg

2min1218

The findings of research done by MHR reveal that 53 percent of all employees believe their employer is not showing concern about their mental health well-being during the current lockdown.

The research involved 5,000 UK employees, two-thirds of which (66 percent) say they are worried about the effects of the pandemic on their job. More than three-quarters (76 percent) of respondents express a need for increased contact with their managers to discuss their health and wellbeing.

Employees might be in the right as the poll found that only 24 percent of managers make sure to check in with their employees about their mental health regularly.

While the duty of care employers is to check in with their employees about their mental health and wellbeing, 43% percent of employees said that their manager makes no effort to do so.

Anton Roe, CEO at MHR, said: “As we enter Mental Health Awareness Week, our poll clearly highlights the need for more regular communication between managers and employees. Organisations must utilise technology to connect their remote workforce and enable better people engagement. Organisations need to prioritise creating a culture of collaboration, transparency and kindness during this difficult time.”

“Many employees find themselves in isolated situations when working from home, and the physical workplace was an important means of social interaction. It is essential that managers demonstrate to employees that their safety and wellbeing is paramount.”

Roe adds: “Regular check-ins can help managers and employees to stay connected. This gives a useful insight to the line manager about how an employee is faring in the current climate and provide the necessary reassurance and support to aid their mental wellbeing.”


Adrienne GormleyMay 20, 2020
business-2717066_1920-1280x847.jpg

8min1239

We believed that digital technology would bring seamless collaboration and boost our productivity.

Yet the reality has been markedly different.

Over 80% of companies believe that they still need to improve their collaborative working methods to hit their productivity goals – and many are investing in this goal.

Now that many businesses have found themselves thrust into an extended period of distributed working, there’s a newfound focus on the tools and technology required to nurture effective collaboration and productivity amongst a distributed workforce.

Technological overload

However, merely introducing more technology won’t necessarily facilitate an efficient and focused workplace—in fact, this approach of relying on more tools has created a digital workplace that is overloaded with counter-productive ‘work about work’.

We all know the struggle of sorting through a swamped inbox or the trouble it takes to figure out which notification ‘ping’ came from what platform, and whether it’s a priority. The numbers bare out the strain that this monotonous ‘work about work’ subjects us to—in the UK, a third of all time at work is wasted with valueless admin.

As a result, it’s no longer enough for us to plug away with our assigned tasks, we also have to struggle even harder to stay on top of our extra ‘work about work’. This blurs our clarity, eats at our wellbeing, grinds us down and makes it impossible for us to be focused.

From sales to finance, every day our workplaces, which were designed to maximise businesses productivity, are unintentionally undermining our problem-solving processes.

A smoother approach

So how do we fix this?

With employees facing even more on and off-screen distractions today than ever before, layering technology over technology isn’t making anyone’s work-life easier.

We need to start thinking about a workplace that restores the ability to focus on what really matters: thinking strategically to solve the business challenges we face each day.

There are two distinct elements here. To begin with, interoperability is key: when businesses deploy a variety of tools and applications to get different jobs done, people often find themselves inundated with the busywork of operating across disparate systems.

This can be, for example, the nuisance of making different file formats work together or of struggling to recall where a key component of a project ‘lives’.

Businesses should look for tools that easily bring content and tasks together as much as possible, cutting through the clutter and allowing their people to focus on the work at hand.

But overcoming technological distraction isn’t just about making the pieces fit together more smoothly. It’s also about making the pieces that don’t matter at a given point in time fade into the background.

A functional digital workspace should use smart technology to quiet the constant ping of notifications where and when they are irrelevant, and surface what truly matters—whether that’s using AI to predict which document we need or serving relevant notes ahead of a meeting.

A cultural shift

The right tools are just the beginning when it comes to bridging the digital divide, however. The future of the workplace is an environment where terms such as ‘empowerment’, ‘collaboration’, ‘problem-solving’ and ‘creative thinking’ are valued and not simply the next set of empty buzzwords.

This means intentionally designing a culture where team members can communicate openly, collaborate easily, and feel free to find time for focus work.

For example, teams can’t be expected to use multiple communications channels effectively if they don’t feel safe enough to disagree or share ideas. Everyone needs to be heard and a successful digital workplace is one where every member of the team is included in the conversation, and valued.

This becomes even more critical when you can’t rely on the dynamics of an in-person meeting to bring forward people’s opinions.

Amy Edmondson, a Harvard Professor who studies leadership and psychological safety, says that “Distributed work is making us realise we have to be more deliberately—more proactively—open. We have to be explicit in sharing our ideas, questions, and concerns, because we can’t just overhear what’s happening in the next cubicle.”

The notion of being more open to disagreement might seem simple, but it is central to creating a work environment that brings your teams closer together and boosts performance.

The output-focused mindset

The first step to creating a successful collaborative working environment is a matter of asking the right questions of your team. Instead of constantly questioning how productive they are being and distracting your team with message updates, begin the day by asking what do we want to accomplish today? And how can we achieve it?

This is a shift towards an output-orientated approach, and it is particularly important at this time. When employees aren’t in front of you, it might be tempting to worry that they aren’t being productive, but constant check-ins and box-ticking exercises are simply sapping time for focus work.

This means ruthlessly prioritising for your team and honing in on how you are progressing towards your key goals, then trusting that team to work towards those goals, speak up when necessary, and collaborate effectively without prodding.

Technology will still underpin the future of work that we’re all jumping headlong into at the moment, but without the accompanying cultural change, it’s doomed to fail. Businesses shouldn’t implement increasing numbers of tools without considering how they impact how their teams collaborate and how individuals go about their days.

We need to unlock the potential creativity that keeping things focused, simple, and streamlined can bring. We’ll only be able to truly realise the future of the digital workplace when we move away from micromanagement, and begin to encourage a culture of open collaboration and empowered teams.

 

 


David K. JohnsonDavid K. JohnsonMay 14, 2020
photo-of-people-using-laptop-3194521-1280x853.jpg

8min1562

The coronavirus pandemic blindsided every organisation.

It not only disrupted business; it also exposed the vulnerabilities in employee experience (EX) and workforce strategy that executives thought they had plenty of time to address.

For example, when only 10 percent of a company’s workforce is working remotely and the rest are in an office, it’s easy to understand why ensuring that those 10 percent feel both included and enabled has always been less of a priority for leaders. But when 80 or 100 percent are working from home, it can no longer wait.

Astute leaders recognise that while the pandemic presents challenges, it also presents opportunities to make lasting improvements.

So while they’ve scrambled to get people up and running in home offices and offered understanding and latitude for employees who have unique circumstances like kids running around, or at-risk people sharing their space, they haven’t yet addressed the enablers that make remote working what it can be at its best – an engaging and rewarding experience, where deep work can get done.

Now is the time for leaders to develop their “listening” strategy and keep it going long after the pandemic is a memory. A listening strategy has 4 key components, at a minimum:

1. An ongoing employee survey program.

It should include both a comprehensive periodic survey (e.g. once or twice a year), and an ongoing pulse survey with no more than 3 questions taken from a rotating pool of questions, and offered up randomly to revolving groups of employees through various touchpoints, such as when they punch-in or sign in each day, visit the intranet, use a company mobile app, etc.

2. Exercises that reveal what surveys can’t.

Exercises can paint a rich picture of what employees’ daily experiences look and feel like for them, such as employee journey-mapping. With it, you can see things that surveys can’t reveal, such as how metrics impact their behaviour and decisions, where there are gaps in tools and processes that are hindering their effectiveness, or how well they understand how their work fits into the overall organisational goals.

3. Targeted, ongoing conversations to gain a deeper understanding.

These will reveal nuances of things identified by the surveys and exercises. The findings should be summarised for leaders to develop an action plan for addressing each area.

4. Action and follow-up, no exceptions.

Clients often express fears about survey fatigue whenever I suggest that they should either put one in place or expand it, and in my experience, the survey is not the source of their fatigue. Inaction and lack of follow-up are.

For every listening programme there has to be follow-up that shares both what the leaders of the organisation heard, but also what actions they are taking as a result. And this communication stream needs to continue until all actions are complete.

As our clients are moving through the complications of this pandemic on their workforces, I’m often asked what questions they should be asking their employees to keep their hands on the pulse of what matters most. Here are a few areas I’ve been recommending they consider asking questions about:

  • Quality of their home working environment: Specifically whether it’s a good place for them to be productive or not, due to distractions like homeschooling kids, shared spaces with others, poor wi-fi, etc.
  • If they’re a parent who is suddenly burdened with childcare and education demands, what might help them if the company could offer it. Examples: remote tutoring of kids, reducing work demands, etc.
  • How well-connected they feel with their manager and colleagues
  • Quality of the technology environment that the company provides: specifically how satisfied they are that they have easy access to the information they need to do their work, satisfied with their collaboration tools, and that the security controls in place aren’t hindering their ability to be productive, to name just 3.
  • If they have any specific concerns such as feeling less relevant, less productive, or less effective, etc.
  • What they will need to feel safe about returning to work, or if there is anything, such as an at-risk parent living with them, etc. that will make it more difficult for them to feel safe.

All of these areas will provide your leadership team with much greater insights that will allow the company to provide targeted support where and when it’s most needed.

Note that Forrester is also fielding a monthly survey now that we’re calling our PandemicEX survey that’s providing insights into how people’s thoughts about COVID-19 in the context of their working lives is changing and evolving.

For example, we’re finding that with each successive result set, people are feeling more and more ready to get back to working in their offices, as before, but that they’re also feeling afraid.

There are a couple of implications of this that I think are worth paying attention to: One of them is that probably 25 percent of the people who started working remotely for the first time during the pandemic will likely want to stay working that way as much as they can from now on.

The second is that you need to be thinking now about what employees will need to feel safe as they return, understanding that we’re going to be dealing with ongoing ebbs and flows of the virus spreading for at least the next year until a vaccine is widely available.

 

David K. Johnson is Principal Analyst at Forrester.

Learn more about Forrester and the firm’s research on Employee Experience here.

 

You may also like:


Rebecca BrownRebecca BrownMay 13, 2020
thumbnail_another-day-another-dollar-1.png

7min1317

Employee recognition is key to the success of any organisation, but whilst this fact has been well established, it seems there is still a lot of room for interpretation.

For example, a statistic published by World at work states that the no.1 type of recognition that organisations have in place is still recognising years of service, with a whopping 87% of companies still building their recognition schemes around tenure. Compare that to the research produced by York College of Pennsylvania’s centre for professional excellence which found that Millennials require immediate recognition for accomplishments, and you can see where things could go wrong.

Another potential problem area applies specifically to the world we all work within. Whilst it’s an outdated principle, and becoming less and less prominent in organisations where customer experience is a specialist function, some companies still feel that complaint handling is a negative thing, not to be openly acknowledged or shouted about. They feel that admitting they get complaints shows the company in a negative light, and that can mean that anyone working hard to help customers in a complaint handling function, may not get the reward or recognition they deserve.

The chances are that if you spend time reading CXM, you already know how crazy that is. But maybe you’re having trouble getting that message through your whole organisation.

On top of everyday challenges, employee recognition and engaging the workforce has just become harder with the widespread enforced adoption of working from home to keep us all safe. How your company chooses to respond during this period of remote work will not only help you with your current employees, it will help you attract and retain high quality candidates in the future too – now is a great time to look at your employee engagement strategy.

We’ve pulled together just a few quick tips to help any organisation struggling to motivate and retain top customer service talent:

1. Enable your teams to provide peer to peer feedback, publicly and encourage this as much as possible.

Studies have shown that peer to peer feedback can have up to 36% more positive impact than manager praise alone. Looking at a platform that can allow your teams to shout about great work remotely will help them to stay connected and to know their hard work matters.

2. Reward the continued focus and hard work of your teams since the lockdown with a token gesture.

It’s not easy to adjust to working from home, especially for those also balancing child care. Studies show that gift cards mean a lot to staff, so why not invest in your local community at the same time as recognising hard work? You could buy a gift card for a local restaurant for when they open back up or try something a little different – Employee discount schemes such as My Vip Rewards can offer discounts on local independent retailers as well as larger national brands and may help keep the economy going once things start to re-open.

3. Say thank you face to face, and at a deliberate time.

Fitting a rushed thank you in at the end of the working week, or as part of a catch-up call can make it seem like a bit of an afterthought. Contact your team member via video call (if your internet speed allows) and say thank you. Make the call specifically about thanking them and finish the call without adding any other agenda items, so it’s clear that thanking them was your sole driver.

4. Be transparent and communicate regularly about any plans that could impact your workforce.

Share proposed plans on how you will safely manage their re-entry to the office. Staff will appreciate being kept in the loop and it will inspire their confidence that there is significant consideration being given to their safety and welfare. If it’s more serious than that, and there is potential for layoffs, you couldn’t do much better than look to the recent communication from the AirBnB CEO to all of his team. He delivered a heartfelt, and honest address that reassured his team he would do what he could to look after them, even if the worst should happen and he couldn’t keep them on.

 

Cartoon author: Rebecca Brown, CEO and Founder of ThinkWoW.

 


Alon GhelberAlon GhelberMay 4, 2020
person-using-a-tablet-computer-3740248-1280x636.jpg

8min1752

Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients. -Richard Branson.

Technology has pushed workforce optimisation forward through the years, and it’s impressive how far businesses have come. What some organisations don’t realise is that optimising business processes and manpower allocation isn’t enough; ensuring that employee morale and engagement is as important, if not more so.

Excellent customer service has always been the main objective of every business, and it’s vital that you know and understand the link between employee experience and customer experience.

A recent study by Frost & Sullivan found that 89% of surveyed companies believed that an improvement in contact center engagement will lead to a significant increase in the overall quality of customer experience. In the current gig economy, employee attrition is a major concern because unhappy and unsatisfied employees are prepared to simply find that happiness elsewhere.

If employees come in and out, it makes it challenging for management and HR to stabilise business processes and transfer knowledge effectively across the organisation. If employees are not properly equipped to do their jobs, this could lead to a deterioration of employee morale that could transfer inadvertently to your customers. Providing employees the proper training and tools is a wise investment that will serve both the business and its customers in the long run.

What is Workforce Engagement Management (WEM)?

Because of the repetitive nature of their jobs, customer-facing employees often find it challenging to maintain an upbeat and positive attitude throughout the day. Fortunately, technology has also stepped in to help address this through Workforce Engagement Management (WEM).

WEM is a suite of products focused on helping companies manage and improve employee engagement. These products encompass all stages of employment, from recruitment and onboarding to management and performance. They also work to supplement an already established set of tools that fall under the Workforce Optimisation (WFO) category.

Compared to WEM products, the focus of WFO products is on the overall efficiency of business operations. They will inevitably overlap in their practical application, but they are fundamentally different.

Is Employee Engagement Important?

If you consider the overall financial and manpower cost of recruitment, it’s easy to see how expensive it is to replace employees. The good thing, though, is that employee attrition can be minimised significantly by focusing on engaging employees and keeping them happy.

After all, employees don’t leave because they found a better opportunity elsewhere; they leave because that opportunity isn’t provided them in their current employment.

The importance of keeping employees engaged is evident in the fact that there are companies that exist solely to promote employee engagement. LinkedIn is one of the best examples of a company focused on the employee experience because it helps companies promote it within their organisation and also does the same with their own employees.

Glassdoor is also becoming a trusted resource when it comes to employee engagement because it goes beyond providing insight into how it is to work for certain companies and plays a major role in the whole recruitment process.

Below are a few tips to help you enhance employee engagement in your company through online reviews.

  • Monitor employee feedback on online review sites and respond accordingly.

If you aren’t keeping track of employee review sites, now is the best time to start. This should be a major part of your employee engagement program because most of your potential and past employees are now online. Companies now even have a strategy when it comes to managing employer profiles on employee review sites—and you should have one, too. Monitor what your employees are saying about your company and your brand and address issues and answer questions if necessary.

  • Encourage employee reviews.

Getting feedback is important if you want to constantly improve your business processes and employee engagement programs. Encourage employees to provide company reviews, especially new hires because they have fresh insight and are enthusiastic to start on their new journey. Ideally, the best times to look for reviews are during the employee onboarding process, when you roll out new benefits or incentives, before a major hiring push, and during the exit interview.

  • Promote your company reviews online.

The reason behind the success of online review sites like Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and Indeed is that they focus on user-generated content. Positive reviews on these sites are proof of excellent employee experience straight from the mouths of the employees themselves. Many job seekers rely on these reviews because they are relatable—speaking in the voice of a specific company’s workforce. Put these reviews front and center by posting a link to them on your company social media accounts, on your job postings, and on your careers page.

You could also add the link to your candidate outreach emails to help candidates get a feel for your company and make the decision to accept your offer or look elsewhere.

 

Employee engagement goes beyond the duration of employment; it begins once an employee or candidate first engages with your company and continues through the entire employee lifecycle. Although online reviews can help in the management of employee engagement, the involvement of the business or its stakeholders will ensure that both employees and candidates get a comprehensive, balanced view of how their future looks with your company.

 


Alan WatkinsAlan WatkinsApril 20, 2020
ashkan-forouzani-f44b7g7cM7E-unsplash-1280x1920.jpg

6min1609

Helping staff manage their fear and anxiety will be essential as we move through the Covid-19 pandemic and for those employees in vital customer facing or frontline roles this is going to be especially important.

Most organisations have recognised their legal and moral responsibility towards their employees. Most have directed employees towards practical advice – hopefully from reputable sources, such as those provided by the NHS and WHO.

So far, the focus has been on physical measures- things like hand washing and keeping space between you and others. But given the profound interaction between a human being’s psychology and immunology such guidance is not enough. In fact, organisations should do much more if they care seriously for their employees.

Fear damages immunity

The thing that impairs human immunity more than anything else is the stress hormone cortisol. And what determines the level of cortisol we have flowing around our body is the level of fear and anxiety we experience. The more we panic the worse our immune system becomes and the more likely we are to become infected if we are exposed to the virus.

In addition, how well we cope with the virus if we do become infected is also significantly influenced by our cortisol levels. The more anxious we feel the more likely the virus will replicate and the more likely we could experience complications such as pneumonia, which is the thing that is killing people. Furthermore, the more anxious we are the more likely the virus will linger and replicate in our bodies and this may actually make us more contagious to others.

Reducing fear should be a top priority

So responsible organisations need to not only offer practical guidance they need to offer emotional guidance too. They have a responsibility not to fuel the panic and anxiety. In fact, reducing fear and anxiety for employees must be a top priority for all organisations.

Employees are being bombarded by scary stories on mainstream and social media. Their anxieties are being fed by this stream of news, rumour and speculation. While there is little control organisations can exert over the news reaching their employees from outside, they should take care not to amplify employee fears in their own internal communications.

The right information helps reduce anxieties, and good internal communication is a start when it comes to addressing this emotional aspect of the current pandemic.

Social distancing

Its worth remembering that some of the practical advice might even directly increase fears and anxieties. Where they are able, many employees are being encouraged to work from home, something not always possible for customer facing employees in essential services.

While absolutely necessary from a physical health perspective this social distancing, is likely to affect our mental health too. It can create feelings of isolation which can increase anxiety levels. Without those social support networks in your office, you may feel less able to deal with the anxieties you face.

All of this means, that the best advice for organisations right now to help them reduce the fear and anxieties of their employees is for them to help their workforce to emotionally self-regulate. In other words, to help them move away from a state of fear and anxiety towards a state of resolve.

 

Effectively embrace the classically British mantra “keep calm and carry on”. Panic will not help you. It will reduce your immunity and make you more likely to make the wrong choices for your situation.

Take a positive breath

Effective emotional regulation starts with stabilising your breathing – breathing rhythmically and evenly through the heart area. Not deep breathing and not abdominal breathing. Such a breathing pattern stabilises your biology. Then try and deliberately experience a state of optimism or resolve or patience. Really try and feel this emotion in your body rather than just thinking it.

Positive thinking won’t cut it. Positive feeling will increase the levels of the vitality hormone DHEA in your system. DHEA is the body’s main antidote to cortisol.

Enabling employees to become masters of their own emotional state is critical to reducing fear and anxiety. It’s clearly very relevant to the current pandemic crisis and it’s my strongest piece of advice for organisations right now, but it’s something that will soon be seen as central to any effective employee wellbeing programme once this present crisis has passed.

 




Inform. Inspire. Include.
A free way to improve your business.

Customer Experience Magazine is the online magazine packed full of industry news, blogs, features, reports, case studies, video bites and international stories all focusing on customer experience.


CONTACT US

CALL US ANYTIME


UK Trademark UK00002648900

EUIPO Trademark 018131832

Contact Information

For article submissions:
Editor
Paul Ainsworth
paul@cxm.co.uk

For general inquiries, advertising and partnership information:
aleksandar@awardsinternational.com
Tel: 0207 1932 428

For Advertising and Guest/Sponsored posts:
jovana@cxm.co.uk

For Masterclass enquiries:
danilo@cxm.co.uk
Tel: +44 20 86386491

Customer Experience Magazine Limited
Company number: 12450532
International House, 24 Holborn Viaduct,
United Kingdom, London, England, EC1A 2BN

JOBS IN CUSTOMER SUPPORT

Find a job in customer support with Jobsora


Newsletter


weight loss: diets for quick weight loss best weight loss exercise orange theory weight loss challenge hclf weight loss weight loss information goo goo atkins weight loss weight loss incentives juices for weight loss seaweed lotion weight loss unhealthy weight loss pills chiropractors and weight loss does keto advanced weight loss work gary shirley weight loss diet drops for weight loss paleo diet weight loss meal plan nicole nafziger weight loss meat for weight loss weight loss diets during pregnancy phentermine weight loss reviews quick healthy weight loss diet plan sd weight loss center nexgen hcg weight loss drops weight loss after 35 food combining for weight loss fast weight loss women weight loss covered by insurance weight loss clinics in jackson ms weight loss clinic memphis tn weight loss work up 4c diamond slimming diet pills forward medical weight loss what juice is good for weight loss weight loss and joint pain viibryd weight loss weight loss calendar calculator vitamin b12 weight loss dr oz weight loss insurance high carb diet plan weight loss kettlebell for weight loss boost weight loss best diuretic pills for weight loss motivation weight loss stories dollar tree weight loss pills review whey protein isolate weight loss chinese diet pills philippines is shrimp good for weight loss 2 diet pills lingzhi ice cream diet weight loss new image diet pills reviews vegetarianism and weight loss lipo 13 diet pills didrex vs phentermine chia diet weight loss priyanka chopra weight loss phen pill store reviews alexa prisco weight loss keto pills shark tank cigna weight loss

vape: open vape shops near me whats the best ecig vape review smoke shop huntington beach smok alien vape 20700 vape mods safest vape liquid how to refill electronic cigarette with e liquid vape tank stand online vape stores wow vape the vapeshop pen battery vape vape pen 101 dragons blood vape how much nicotine is in an electronic cigarette vape shop glendale az charge through voopoo drag 2 smokes order ipv vape mod smoke shop austin tx no e cig signs warframe vapor specter vaping bag a vapor is which state of matter ecig oil flavors vapor stores springfield mo voopoo drag 2 platnum is vapor smoke bad for you 30 ml bottle e juice ecig city coupons nectar vapes ecig news 2013 sigelei mini reviews ecig juices cheal anti vaping ads bad drip vape juice reviews uwell cbd oil cbd vape juice coupon code voopoo vape tsunami e cigarette reviews aqueous vapor how is vaping better than smoking baby beast vape best hybrid mods how to fix a juul that wont charge how much is a juul at qt vapor hub smok light up coil size marijuana vape pipes smok procolor vs alien snow wolf box mod white how to get uwell crown top lid off stuck is vaping the same as smoking uwell crown 3 with innokin cool fire 4 tc100 why do kids vape voopoo uforce t2 dawn win e cigarette

cbd oil: cbd oli hemp oil canada inc cbd oil and copd mp diol cbd oil dispensary cbd brazil apple wellness cbd oil monti cap crestron c2n cbd p cbd oil for stress and anxiety medix cbd coupon best restaurants melbourne cbd schizophrenia cbd green wellness cbd is it legal to mail cbd oil what does mmj mean cbd at whole foods cbd oil roll on for pain cbd vape juice with thc canna blast does cbd oil affect birth control cbd oil fleming island best cbd online store organix cbd oil review cbd clones oregon cbd oil kentucky youngevity login que significa feeling how much cbd should i vape for anxiety cbd crumble can cbd help migraines side effects movie online cbd for migrains does cbd make you high high cbd vs thc jamba cbd accommodation auckland cbd new zealand eur j neurosci hemp cbd smoke rubbing cbd oil on skin how long cbd take effect cbd incense can edibles damage the liver cbd hormones thc tincture dosage does cbd smell doterra distributor cbd oil eye pressure when is blood and oil coming back on what does the word intensive mean medical marijuana fda charlotte web cbd top cbd oil for anxiety pain oil carolinas hope cbd oil eur j neurosci cbd oil contents where to buy purity organic juice

male enhancement: cure for ed cheap viagra alternative viagra pills amazon penis grower natural erection remedies large asian dick blue stop max walgreens blue 15 pill why is my penis small pimples on dick how can you get a bigger penis penis enlarment what can make my penis bigger maca vs yohimbe pills for penis enlargement buy sildenafil penis size increase oil what does erect mean sexually how to increase blood flow to penis top 5 male enhancement cream what a dick how big is a mans penis average penis size 2020 us side effects of extenz men erect penis just for men beard review pure dhea what is high sex drive best way to build testosterone making your dick harder androzene high potency formula causes of ed arginine dosage for ed vascularity pills average size of a penus little drugs pomegranate erection male enhancement growth sex hero muscle retro vigor reviews penis diseases penis weightlifting how to clean penis viagra online reviews prescription drugs that give you energy vigrx walgreens jym alpha safest drugs chart methyl andro review where to order viagra blood test testosterone drive in movie sex how to tell if testosterone is low generic viagra names male enhancement trial offer price of viagra 100mg penis enlargement weight stimulated penis