There is plenty of statistical evidence that links high employee morale to the best performing businesses in the world. According to Gallup's 2017 “State of the American Workplace” report, highly engaged teams are 17% more productive, boost customer ratings by 10%, help raise sales by 20% and, overall, increase business profitability by an average of 21%.
On top of that, that report also states that only 33% of American workers feel engaged, versus 70% of those working at the world’s top organizations.
What does this have to do with your IT support agents? Well, in a world where efficient IT service management underpins nearly every aspect of a successful business and its customer experience, the individuals manning your IT service desk controls need to be bringing their A-game every day. A big part of making that happen is keeping them happy.
In this blog post, I’m going to dive into the five biggest ways that engaged staff members can boost your IT service desk performance. From employee retention and recruitment to slashing resolution time and improving consumer satisfaction with your IT services, happy employees are the lifeblood of most respected (and most profitable) companies out there.
Let’s get started!
The most obvious byproduct of employee morale, good or bad, is an organization’s ability to recruit and retain top talent as they try to grow and scale their operations.
The rise of ITSM automation in the form of self-service options for consumers means that “simple” requests rarely even make it to service desks, leaving support agents with complex tasks that require more skill (and, oftentimes, time) to resolve. Being “polite” over the phone or in a live chat is no longer enough to get by.
As a result, the pool of qualified candidates has shrunk considerably and only magnified how difficult recruitment has become in the IT sector. That said, the great equalizer can be your company culture and team morale both of which play a large role in getting talent interested in working for you and, long-term, getting them to stay on board.
Upping employee morale for recruitment purposes goes far beyond company outings and Casual Fridays too. You have to be creative and put together an attractive employee lifestyle built around thorough training, clear advancement opportunities, strong feedback loops, manageable workloads … oh, and fair compensation packages (including paid time off).
“When employees feel valued and vested, they are part of something bigger and work for the benefit of the company, not just for themselves as individuals,” says Melinda Starbird, VP of People & Employee Experience at Auth0. Building that level of organizational ethos will do wonders for those having issues with recruitment and employee retention.
I’ve talked at length on this blog about how the right ITSM tools can significantly reduce your organization’s service request resolution time, but it’s the staff members using those software and platforms still matter. A lot.
If your employees aren’t fully engaged with the work they’re doing, then resolution time for even the simplest of service desk tickets can drag on past what customers would deem an acceptable time frame. In other words, if your team doesn’t care if issues are resolved in a timely manner, can you reasonably expect your organization’s efficiency rate to spike?
Besides giving your employees the tools they need to succeed, leaders looking to increase employee morale levels need to resist the temptation to micromanage. This involves adjusting your management style to suit each IT service desk staffer, managing expectations instead of individual tasks and, above all else, trusting your team to do their jobs well.
On top of that, management must keep an eye out for burnout symptoms and, if they arise, take them seriously. Perhaps the biggest misstep to avoid here is the piling on of last-minute projects. “All too often teams are given short-notice, un-budgeted, and un-forecasted projects without consideration" Mike Guggemos, CIO of global IT and services provider Insight, explains to CIO. "It occurs all the time [in IT]."
Engaged employees do far more than generate additional revenue for their organization through increased productivity. Their hard work also helps to significantly reduces costs, both IT-related and otherwise.
Front and center in this narrative are the avoidable expenses that are an unavoidable product of apathetic staff members. Recent studies suggest that a lack of employee engagement costs companies as much as $550 billion every year. From copious amounts of downtime to a huge backlog of service requests, your IT team plays no small role in this equation.
There are also additional expenses for companies that struggle with high turnover rates. It’s not just the interview process either. Training for new employees, time spent supervising their initial progress, plus the initial productivity hit an IT service desk work unit will take as they integrate the new faces–all this can cost up to three times an outgoing staffer’s salary.
“Operating units feel the pain of turnover in productivity, product quality, and customer service,” says Forbes’ Bill Conerly. Couple that with how well current IT employees are handling their task load, and it's safe to say that high morale helps avoid unnecessary cost buildup.
Every manager wants to work with a team that is giving their all every day. The traditional approach to achieving this level of production was thought to be through recognition and feedback, from manager to employee.
However, today’s workforce demands a different touch. With more and more professionals craving two-way collaboration in the workplace, ensuring that their voices are heard goes beyond simple courtesy. It’s about fostering the kind of inclusivity that can buoy an IT service desk’s level of productivity.
According to Salesforce, “employees who feel their voice is heard at work are nearly five-times (4.6x) more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.” On top of that, staffers who recognized their employer as one of equal opportunity were 3.8x more likely to be proud to work there.
So, whether it’s through a hiring process that makes diversity a priority, managing unconscious biases, or simply spending more time listening and delegating in a managerial capacity, augmenting happiness through validation and understanding will do wonders for support agent performance.
Finally, we arrive back where we started, at the most important positive that engaged employees can bring to an organization: making customers happier.
In short, making employee happiness your primary focus ensures that an exemplary customer experience is sure to follow. A 2016 study from The Temper Group reveals that “companies that excel in customer experience have one-and-a-half times as many engaged employees” as their brethren who lag behind in this department.
It’s a truth that, while perhaps more accepted now than it’s ever been, has never really been proven false. Here’s Southwest Airlines co-founder and former Chairman of the Board Herb Kelleher with more:
“Years ago, business gurus used to apply the business school conundrum to me: ‘Who comes first? Your shareholders, your employees, or your customers?’ I said, ‘Well, that’s easy,’ but my response was heresy at that time. I said employees come first and if employees are treated right, they treat the outside world right, the outside world used the company’s product again, and that makes shareholders happy. That really is the way it works. It’s not a conundrum at all.”
In a world where user expectations are dictating the IT innovation landscape more than internal processes are, keeping consumers happy and engaged is crucial. The best way to do so is by ensuring that those on the other end of service requests also maintain high morale.
As per Gartner, only 9% of consumers report completely solving issues using online self-serve options. This highlights the ongoing importance of IT service desks to an organization’s profitability.
Starting with recruit and employee retention, the benefits of happy support agents are as numerous as they are essential to growing, scaling and increasing the profitability of your operations. Ticket resolution time decreases, along with IT and non-IT expenses, all while performance and your customer experience strive for new heights.
In the past, most companies didn’t take IT service desk employee satisfaction all that seriously. In fact, most managers didn’t even bother to canvas their team and ensure that opinions, concerns, and comments were heard.
Thankfully, that’s changing for the better as well. SDI’s 2017 look at service desk benchmarking shows that many organizations are carrying out staff morale surveys more frequently and, more importantly, taking that feedback seriously with improvements in areas like training, environment, and more.
Are you doing enough to create and maintain a positive IT environment at your workplace? Let us know!
Originally published Oct 8, 2019 7:45:00 AM
Topics: Jira Service Desk