Employee Engagement in the Contact Center | Job Satisfaction as a Proxy for Employee Engagement
There is no universal definition of employee engagement, yet everyone seems to know what it means. How can this be? Although the term has not been rigorously defined, there seems to be universal agreement that employee engagement and employee job satisfaction are highly correlated. In fact, many who write on the topic of employee engagement simply conflate the two terms, and treat employee engagement and employee job satisfaction as one and the same thing. But they are not the same thing. Employee engagement is a complex set of behaviors driven by numerous contact center practices that can be hard to quantify. These include employee recognition, wellness, personal growth, team huddles, and relationship with peers. Employee job satisfaction, by contrast, is a metric that by definition is quantifiable.
Assuming that conventional wisdom is correct, and that agent job satisfaction is a strong proxy for employee engagement, I will focus in this article on the metric of agent job satisfaction and the underlying drivers of job satisfaction.
Agent Job Satisfaction Defined
Agent Job Satisfaction is the percentage of agents in the contact center that are either satisfied or very satisfied with their job. It is typically measured annually or semi-annually using an agent satisfaction survey (sample here). Unfortunately, fewer than 30% of all contact centers track agent job satisfaction. When I ask clients why they don’t track this metric, the answer is usually the same: it’s too difficult to measure, or the metric just isn’t that important. On both counts, they are wrong. Here’s why…
Why it’s Important
Agent Job Satisfaction is a bellwether metric that impacts many other metrics in the contact center. It is positively correlated with customer satisfaction, and negatively correlated with absenteeism and turnover, meaning that absenteeism and turnover go down as agent job satisfaction goes up. It turns out that the old adage “happy agent equals happy customer” is not just a cliché; it can be demonstrated empirically! Figures 1, 2, and 3 below show these correlations using data from MetricNet’s contact center benchmarking database.
Figure 1: Agent Job Satisfaction vs. Customer Satisfaction
Figure 2: Agent Job Satisfaction vs. Annual Agent Turnover
Figure 3: Agent Job Satisfaction vs. Daily Agent Absenteeism
So, why do we care about these correlations? Two reasons. First, they are not just spurious correlations; they are cause-and-effect relationships. Agent job satisfaction (along with first contact resolution rate) drives customer satisfaction; it drives agent turnover; and it drives agent absenteeism. More importantly, if we can control agent job satisfaction (which we can), then we can drive positive improvements in customer satisfaction, turnover, and absenteeism.