Employee Engagement: Motivating Your Gen X Agents

Skeptical. Self-reliant. Independent. These are just three characteristics used to describe Generation X — those born between 1965 and 1980. When read out of context, they could seem like negative attributes. But when you consider them in a work environment, they could very well be hallmarks of a highly efficient and high-performing employee. The trick to successful employee engagement is knowing what makes Gen Xers tick.

Much like other Gen Xers, I was skeptical I fit the mold. I mean… I’m my own person — a true individual. Then I read into it a bit more. Gen X is often are called “the MTV Generation;” as the first generation born to working mothers, they were the first latchkey kids; they listened to grunge and hip hop and watched independent films; they seem “disaffected.” Sigh. Check, check, check. Check and check.

Knowing — and understanding — these qualities of the “Slacker generation” is critical for employers who want to retain and engage a large swath of the workforce.

Smells Like Employee Engagement

Numerous studies show that employee engagement is a critical factor in your business’ success. When your contact center agents are engaged and happy, that satisfaction transfers to your customers. These employees become vested in their overall success because they know it translates to the overall success of the company — and happiness of the customer. That not only inspires customer loyalty, it improves the bottom line. According to McKinsey, engaged and satisfied call center employees are three times more likely to resolve customer issues.

And because members of Generation X totaled 56.8 million, or 60% of the workforce in 2018, engage them you must.

Didn’t realize there were so many Gen Xers out there? It’s not surprising. This “middle child” generation (brooding right between the Baby Boomers and Millennials) generally doesn’t like to draw attention to themselves. Unlike their younger Millennial coworkers — who grew up receiving participation ribbons and praise — Gen X employees prefer that promotions and raises be based completely on merit. Grand gestures aren’t necessary employee engagement tactics for Gen X workers. Bonuses, tuition reimbursement and a flexible work environment can pay dividends in keeping these workers satisfied.

Here We Are Now; Entertain Us

Gen Xers consider themselves fiercely independent. That means the new work-from-home structure that nearly all of us have embraced in 2020 is a welcome benefit for them.

Generation X employees also value flexibility and having a recognizable work-life balance. So, using artificial intelligence (AI)-based forecasting and scheduling tools in your contact center can give these agents the freedom they want to work around other obligations or to choose their preferred shifts. In addition, these AI-based tools can spot patterns within your contact center, learning the ebbs and flows of call volumes. This means you can schedule your most productive agents during the busiest times.

While the independent spirit of a Generation X employee means they don’t need a lot of hand-holding or prodding to be productive, it doesn’t mean managers can just sit back and do nothing. Gen Xers require clear and concise communication and direction from their managers. The tricky part here is they also want to be trusted that they’re doing things correctly — without Big Brother watching.

Outdated workforce engagement management tools that listen in or monitor calls are a big turnoff for the Gen X agent. Real-time monitoring and workforce management software that uses AI can give these employees the cues, training and professional development they need in the hands-off approach they want. Gamification tools that train or monitor employee performance in fun, competitive ways can also be useful in motivating these employees and keeping engagement high.

Reaching Employee Engagement Nirvana

Every contact center agent is different; no single management approach will work. But understanding the demographics and dynamics of your employees is an important start to meeting their individual needs. And doing so has both financial and customer loyalty benefits for your company.

With a little know-how and modern workforce engagement management tools at the ready, you can cultivate an experienced, engaged and long-term workforce — no matter which generation they belong to. And because your contact center agents are the face and voice of your company, providing a great customer experience depends on having highly engaged agents.

For additional information, check out our CX Day resources for customer service best practices and employee motivation.