It’s no secret that one of the highest rates of staff turnover belongs to the call centre industry. And in an increasingly competitive and customer-focussed market, there’s never been a more crucial time to iron out your internal communications and incentives programmes. Did you know disengaged and unhappy staff costs the UK economy and call centre industry a staggering £2.3 billion annually?

It goes without saying that the most critical component of a business is its staff. Without your workforce, your business can’t function. But this means nothing if your staff aren’t driven or motivated to succeed. This is particularly true in the world of contact centres and outbound sales environments. Benefits and incentives are becoming regular practice for many companies in this sector, and businesses must be prepared to adjust their attitudes to keep up with employee expectations in the workplace.

So, what can you do keep your employees smiling and your business environment a healthy and happy place to be?

Start as you mean to go on

While it’s great to reward employees for their length of service and commitment to the company, it’s also important to make people feel welcome right from day one. Limiting benefits to only long serving staff can instantly create negativity. The benefits of allowing your employees to be enrolled in incentive schemes or commission plans from their first day of employment will more than outweigh the costs.

Create an instant good impression with new recruits – simple things such as having a welcome note, mug or personalised stationary on their desks will go a long way. New employees will instantly feel part of the team and are more likely to hit the floor running with a motivated, can-do attitude.

The proof is in the prize

Every so often, give your staff the opportunity to win something big. Small and snappy incentives are great, but going big will create a buzz among staff and really get them motivated. This has proved particularly popular in the past for EC Outsourcing,we offer sporadic holiday incentives, giving away trips to New York and Majorca to keep the workforce content.

Reward hard work

It’s vital to make all staff feel consistently valued at work, but don’t forget to give special praise to those that have gone above and beyond to make a difference in their role. It’s important to identify those employees who are excelling and to reward appropriately. Not only is this great for continued performance from those who are over achieving, but it will set the benchmark for other staff to work towards too, subsequently motivating them to attain the same achievement.

You should also have a plan in place for staff who are struggling to achieve targets – make sure they don’t fall by the wayside. Set individual targets to increase performance going forward and to give encouragement.

Don’t get caught up on cost

While it’s great to launch big, exciting incentives and competitions from time to time, staff retention doesn’t always have to mean throwing money at the situation. Sometimes you need to invest time not money. Think outside the box – what else can you offer staff other than monetary prizes?

A lot of the time your employees just want recognition or room to express their ideas and opinions. If an employee has done well, why not have the MD give them special recognition, or feature them in the internal newsletter?

Maybe you can start an employee of the month programme. The winner gets a trophy to keep for a month to remind them how valued they are on the team. You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference you can make by simply investing time in your employees.

Listen to your staff

It’s important to understand what motivates your workforce, and then determining how you can best meet these needs. Sometimes the best thing you can do is listen to what your staff want. A lot of the time you’ll be surprised at how the simplest of requests can be enough to develop a valuable and sustainable incentives programme to satisfy your employees.

Why not try launching a monthly newsletter and have your staff help with the content? Or get a suggestion book and ask people to leave their ideas and opinions on what types of incentives or changes they’d like to see.

However you choose to reward your staff, the call centre industry is an ever-changing and incredibly competitive sector, employee motivation has never been more crucial.