Client-facing and clerical workers, particularly those in sales and customer service, are crucial to the success of any company, yet are often paid relatively poorly. They are often the least engaged employees on staff, which doesn’t allow them to do their jobs effectively. “Motivating client-facing or clerical workers can be challenging, especially when their day-to-day work isn’t as visible or immediately impactful as an ad campaign or customer appreciation event. But even if their deliverables are behind-the-scenes, the productivity of these staff members is important to any organization’s bottom-line and long-term success,” says business consultant Whitney Keyes, author of “Propel: Five Ways to Amp Up Your Marketing and Accelerate Business.” Here’s how to tailor your employee engagement strategy to engage core members of your team:
Discover Individual Employee Motivation
Many employees will be motivated by potential raises and bonuses, but if you can’t offer that, there may be other ways to inspire exceptional efforts. “Some employees will be inspired by the possibility of a new job title or expansion in job responsibilities, or the chance to have their efforts publicly acknowledged by management in front of the team,” says Keyes. Simply getting to know what motivates your employees will help you reward — and engage — them effectively.
Be Visible to Them
Those on the ground need to know you’re behind them and see their efforts, even if you spend your days in an office far from them. Dale Carnegie Trainers suggest spending time “in the trenches” getting to know these employees and finding out what they need from you. Don’t wait until a down time to do this. It’s during busy times that client-facing staff need the most support.
Give Them a Break
Most employees get a chance to break up their work day with lunch out or an off-site meeting. If your customer-facing staff is “chained” to their desks answering calls and emails, make an effort to break them of their bonds. “If your budget allows, consider giving occasionally paid time off from work to take a professional development class, attend a professional meeting, volunteer for a pro-bono client, etc. Do what you can to infuse some fun and flexibility into their often rigid work situation and there’s a good chance their productivity will soar,” says Keyes.
Transfer Employees Who Aren’t a Good Fit
Dale Carnegie Trainers instruct managers to “match the right person to the right job.” Whether you’re hiring a new employee or dealing with one who is not reaching his or her potential, consider their unique talents and where they will do their best work at your company. Superior staffing is like a puzzle. An effective employee engagement strategy is more than just motivation, but also putting the puzzle together right, and ensuring the pieces fit with ease. Try to force a bad fit, and you’ll have a frustrating mess on your hands.
Tell Them Often How Important They Are
Whether it’s in meetings, memos or during performance reviews, go out of your way to thank people who have often thankless jobs. “In most companies, customer service-oriented employees are where the rubber meets the road – in essence, delivering on the company’s brand promise directly with the customer. If they can accept the challenge to provide a ‘remarkable’ experience, they are helping the company enhance their word-of-mouth, buzz and referrals,” says sales and marketing strategist Eric Keiles author of “Fire Your Sales Team Today: Then Rehire Them As Sales Guides In Your New Revenue Department.” These people are the most important link between your company and success, and they need to know that to achieve the highest in employee motivation.
Acknowledge Generational Differences
Dale Carnegie Trainers urge leaders to understand that employee motivation is triggered by different things for each age groups of people, which is important to know when engaging clerical or client-facing workers. For instance, Gen X loves to learn new skills, so those in that group most easily adapt to new technology or systems. On the other hand, older workers need respect for their existing knowledge and may be wary of changes involving new media. By acknowledging this, you can introduce changes in a way that will inspire all your employees.
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