Supervising from Afar: Managing Frontline Employees Remotely
With many employees working remotely for the foreseeable future, workplace dynamics have drastically shifted. And, the reality is, even as some states start to reopen and refill offices at limited capacity, many organizations will take their time to repopulate their office spaces – and some won’t do it at all. Remote work is here to stay but in order to maintain the same level of success “in the workplace,” organizations must reassess procedures and operating styles with a long-term mindset.
One role, in particular, that must continue to evolve and be reimagined is the frontline manager. Team members are no longer sitting a few steps away from where leadership can easily check in with them. As such, managers are being forced to find innovative ways to connect with and oversee employees from afar.
The Added Pressure to Employees
During the past few months, Cogito has seen spikes in the volume of inquiries to the service departments within our clients – due to heightened levels of uncertainty, change, and emotional distress across the country. In fact, data captured by and measured with Cogito’s AI platform (between February and April) shows increases in the number of Cogito prompts delivered to customer service representatives. Specifically, prompts advising agents to display more energy rose by 34 percent and prompts to display more empathy rose by 7 percent. The risk to frontline workers to suffer from compassion fatigue and burnout is at an all-time high, requiring more support from those in management at a time they are less equipped to deliver it.
The first half of 2020 has been emotionally taxing and without direct contact, it’s harder to know what an employee is thinking or how they’re feeling. “I’m fine,” for example, may not actually be fine and without the context of tone and expression, it can be difficult to interpret via chat or emails – leaving supervisors unsure about how their teams are coping. These frontline workers and supervisors need guidance and emotional support.
Turning to Technology
The call center has traditionally been very reliant on supervisors working within earshot of their teams. They are tuned in to how the conversations are going over the course of a day by hearing the distress or changes in tone from their agents. They can intervene and support agents. They are also very good at leveraging the team dynamic and motivational techniques or awards, praise and bonding activities such as group lunches to ensure support. With teams moving to WFH, to ensure supervisors and their teams are supported, companies must find new innovative methods to gain insight into each individual’s performance and assist their wellbeing. Fortunately, human-aware technology can provide an “early warning system” into employee behavior and deliver a scalable means by which to help. By analyzing customer and employee behavior within conversations, human-aware technology can detect patterns that may indicate an employee needs assistance or praise. The system can directly provide that assistance to an agent and also provide alerts to supervisors to indicate that one of their team members may need outreach, allowing supervisors to supply support and motivation even when they’re not physically close.
Supervisors can support employees from a distance by ensuring their employees feel heard, motivated and know they have support. Exhibiting heightened sensitivity to emotional intelligence, particularly in a world where physical isolation has become the norm, is vital – human-to-human connections matter more than ever.
Click here to learn more about how Cogito is supporting frontline workers during this turbulent time at home.