We continue to hear strains that attracting and retaining talent is a top priority for call center management. Effective employee onboarding is the cornerstone for retaining talent, and it was a leading topic of conversation at this year’s Contact Center Executive Forum (CCEF). Training practices may vary, but all executives agree: the key is investing in strong leaders. When managers are focused and engaged in the training of new employees, those employees are much more likely to be successful at the company long term.
There are some great points in this Forbes article on why good employee development strengthens your company:
- Frequent employee training keeps the whole company up-to-date on technology and industry changes.
- Employees who have been trained well have lower turnover rates.
- Good training leads to greater efficiency and grows your company’s bottom line.
- Encouragement in the workplace increases morale and boosts company culture.
- A strong employee onboarding program improves your employer brand and attracts potential high-talent hires.
So, how can we improve our training process to better prepare our trainees? Harvard Business Review (HBR) research pinpointed the essential tactics of training: “We’ve found in our work with companies across industries that technical training often lacks three important things: hands-on practice, accountability, and breathing room. Learning is not a spectator sport.”
The longer it takes for trainees to move from technical training to tactical training, the more frustrating the process becomes. Encourage management to engage trainees with applied, practical exercises. Casey Kostecka, chief business development officer of Convergent Outsourcing, shared one of his company’s best practices at CCEF this year: “The best thing you can do is get people out on the floor, answering phones next to a mentor, as soon as possible. The training process will naturally improve if they have some knowledge of what it’s like working in the field.” He notes a decreased the rate of turnovers at his contact centers as a result.
When it comes to accountability, Michael Li for HBR recommends “ask[ing] your training group what the learning objectives are and how students are measured.” Employee development programs should include and emphasize assessment and evaluations so that trainees are clear on expectations. This helps drive personal responsibility for their development while adding an element of competition to the training class.
Finally, a development program that overwhelms and stifles leads to a higher rate of turnover. The most effective onboarding allocates time and space for new hires to learn, make mistakes, and gain confidence. They become more engaged in the process when the company displays a more nurturing environment.
Good training and employee engagement together combat the high turnover rates that contact center leaders are all too familiar with. Of the two, training comes first chronologically, so encourage management to engage new hires with hands-on practice as soon as possible, to hold them accountable for their development, and to give them enough breathing room to process their new position.
Employees who feel valued are more likely to stick around longer. Gas South’s Greg Dunavant said it well at this year’s CCEF: “Make sure employees understand why what they do is important to the goals of the company.”