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The Pros and Cons of Upward Mobility in the Contact Center

Most people want to work for a company where they can excel at their position and earn their way up the ladder. They want to feel like they have no limits and can keep evolving with the company. The problem is, the company doesn’t always have a need for more people in higher-up positions due to lack of company growth or financial reasons. This ultimately causes problems with the employees who feel like they’re being held back from moving up from their roles and their skills aren’t being fully respected. The company is put in an unfortunate situation because they may not be able to afford to hire and train new people if their employees decide to go elsewhere. This is a very complicated situation, but there is a way to handle it properly.

In the article “The Pros and Cons of Upward Mobility in the Contact Center”, Jeremy Watkin reflects on his days as a customer service manager and how his company worked with employees to ease their pain of feeling like they were hitting a career ceiling. Watkin states that they created an incentive program based on factors such as tenure, responsibility, and external training. Basically, their agents were awarded for loyalty and taking initiative to better themselves professionally in their respective roles. The incentives were broken up into tiers, and making it to new tiers meant an increase in pay and more responsibility.

With programs like the one Watkin’s company implemented, there are always going to be pros and cons. To start with the positive points, the company was able to retain good employees by enabling them to move up in their pay and responsibilities. While there was some turnover, it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been had the company not addressed the issue at all, and as the company grew, these employees who stayed eventually did move up into leadership positions. The program provided a jumpstart to positive employee morale by giving agents the chance to grow within their roles.

While there were positives to this program, there were also negatives. Bad employees didn’t advance through the program, but there was an issue where employees would advance to new tiers but then they wouldn’t actually utilize their knew knowledge from the training to improve their day-to-day work output. As a result of this problem, the workers who performed highly would have to pick up the slack for the ones who didn’t maintain a high level of work output. Ultimately, the biggest problem was that the program ended up just giving raises to people who happened to stay at the company the longest instead of those who performed the best.

Watkin says that as he’s reflected on the cons of the program, he’s come up with a few things he would have done differently if given the chance to try it again. The biggest changes include managing performance with goals and consistent key performance indicators (KPIs), providing one-on-one time with employees to check in on how they’re doing with their goals, and having a clear and consistent vision for the overall process.

Watkin went through this program as a customer service manager for a small contact center, but his lesson can apply for contact centers of any size. Incentivizing employees is a great thing if you reward hard work and not strictly tenure. Depending on how you structure your own program, you could find a way to make your agents and management happy while your company continues to grow.

This blog post is based on an article by Jeremy Watkin. To read the original article, please click here.

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