3 Ideas to Help Customer Service Employees Work Through Burnout

Stressful day at work

The twentieth of May marks 16 years that I’ve been in business for myself, doing the things I’ve dreamt about, the things I love – training, writing, designing curriculum. I love where I am and what I do; yet recently I have experienced burnout.

Guilt was my first response to burnout. How dare I feel bored, dis-interested and un-creative. So many people would be happy to be where I am; I should be grateful. I’m my own boss. A typical workday for me includes dining at a highly recommended local restaurant, perhaps a walking tour of a historic city in the south, shopping for shoes in Toronto’s fashion district or meeting beautiful spirited Native Americans in Milbank, South Dakota. All this is after a well-received training session or keynote.

I am grateful, actually, and yet, I was experiencing burnout. I wonder if your employees have ever been where I am just now emerging from – the brink of burnout. Maybe you, too, have felt un-motivated at work. I’ve addressed, really still addressing, my burnout by doing 3 things. These 3 things, I believe, can help your employees (or you), out of a rut when they feel burned out or simply un-motivated.

1. Don’t allow customer service employees to spend more than 80% of their time on the phones

Continue reading “3 Ideas to Help Customer Service Employees Work Through Burnout”

The Psychology of Employee Motivation

Motivating Employees

Abraham Maslow developed the concept of the Hierarchy of Needs and it has been extensively applied to managerial situations. Maslow suggests that people are motivated by 5 levels of needs and higher level needs do not motivate until lower level needs are met. That is, if the need for adequate money is not met, even the most creative employee rewards program cannot motivate employees. Take a look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and think about where your employees are today and determine what you’ll need to do next.

  • Physiological Needs

    The lowest and most basic needs in the workplace, and in life in general, are physiological needs. Physiological needs are usually associated with money; that is, people use money to satisfy basic motivations. If a person’s physiological (financial) needs are not met, higher level needs are relatively unimportant. If employees don’t earn enough money to comfortably meet basic financial needs such as rent, healthcare, etc., it is difficult to focus on creating value in the workplace Are your employees consumed with the salary issue? If so, conduct market research to ensure your salary is competitive and fair.

  •  Safety Needs

    Safety and security needs in the workplace involves job security factors. This doesn’t mean that employees need assurance of lifetime employment, but rather that reasonable precautions are being taken to minimize risks. (Of course, in today’s economy there are no guarantees.) You can meet employees’ needs on this level by keeping them informed of the company’s health and financial position and keeping them in the loop on all company matters that affect them.

  • Social Needs

    Not surprisingly, most people are concerned about their social relationships and want to belong and be accepted by others. Managers must expect that employees will want to satisfy the need for social relationships on the job. If the satisfaction of social needs is hindered, employees may become apathetic, uncooperative, and even aggressive toward the manager. Years ago I brought in a consultant to my call center who told me that one of the biggest problems facing my group was that they did not have the opportunity to meet their social needs (on the job). I had to learn to provide opportunities for socialization through staff meetings, employee luncheons and even venting with one another between calls.

  • Esteem or Ego Needs

    Esteem needs relate to individuals’ achieving the confidence and respect they desire in themselves and want to be recognized by others. These needs include the desire for recognition, promotion, achievement and accomplishment. Failure to meet these needs can result in apathetic behavior and substandard work.


  • Self-Actualization or Self Realization Needs

    The highest level of needs in Maslow’s hierarchy involves the development of full potential. Self actualized people want to use their capabilities to the fullest and continue to grow. We all have the need to express our full potential in life and in our work, but according to Maslow, most people don’t become fully self-actualized because they expend their energy trying to meet the lower level needs. In order to help your employees express their full potential, you must first create an atmosphere that supports the first 4 basic needs.

Employees are motivated by needs that are not satisfied. In other words, it is what employees are seeking that is motivational, not what they already have. As lower level needs are satisfied (physiological/financial and safety/a sense of job security, etc.) they retain less motivational value in an individual’s behavior. Once a level of needs is satisfied, you must move to the next level in order to truly motivate your employees.


Now you can get even more ideas for motivating employees, specifically how to motivate employees working in customer service. Join me for my 60-minute webinar, How to Motivate Customer Service Employees. It’s loaded with practical ideas to resist burnout and fire-up customer service employees. Attend live or watch the recording, which is available 4-hours after the live event.

Myra Golden is a consultant and keynote speaker who has been helping companies for over twenty years to improve employee relations through her work with Human Resource Departments. Myra has a master’s degree in human relations and a bachelor’s degree in psychology, helping her to understand the challenges of Human Resources as it relates to the psychology of the employees. She is also a veteran customer service expert who specializes in engaging employees through live training and online learning.

Who Says There’s No Free Lunch?

Two years ago I walked into my client’s office for the first time for an exploratory meeting. The aroma of deli sandwiches and fresh salads was in the air. I spotted a buffet table surrounded by a few dozen employees. When I sat down in the Human Resource Director’s office I asked what special event accounted for the luncheon. She explained that there was no special event, “We provide lunch for our employees every day.”

“Lunch is provided every day?” I asked. “Yes. Every day we provide free lunch to every employee.” I was blown away. I actually have conducted full-day seminars for companies that didn’t so much as provide pastries for breakfast, let along lunch. And this company is giving every employee free lunch every day!

That’s Like Putting an Extra $1,200 in Your Pocket Every Year.

I wondered if the employees fully realized the perk they were getting. When I eat out for lunch, I spend an average of $5. That’s $25 a week. $100 a month. $1,200 a year. When I eat out I drive, which means I’m also spending money on gas. This company is giving employees a minimum of $1,200 in food a year…a $1,200 net savings to each employee.

What company is providing this amazing benefit, you ask? Video Gaming Technologies. Check ‘em out here. Take a look at my full cool client list here.

The Top 10 Things That Matter to Contact Center Representatives

 What matters most to call center agents?


According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the top 10 things that matter are:

1.    Good wages

2.    Job security

3.    Promotion and growth in the company

4.    Good working conditions

5.    Work that keeps you interested

6.    Personal loyalty to employees

7.    Tactful disciplining  

8.    Appreciation of work done

9.    Sympathetic help on personal problems

10.  Feeling in” on things

Recognition Made Easy – 10 Low Cost Ways to Recognize and Reward Employees

Smiling receptionist 

There are two things people want more than sex and money…recognition and praise.

Mary Kay Ash

Mary Kay is right, as studies indicate that employees find personal recognition more motivational than money. A work climate filled with praise and recognition is a workplace where employees are positive, productive and motivated.

Recognizing and rewarding employees doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or take a lot of time. Perhaps the primary reason more managers don’t take the time to intentionally motivate employees is that they lack the time and creativity to come up with ideas.

After reading this week’s article you will have no excuses for not motivating your team, because I am giving you 10 low cost ways to recognize and reward your employees.

  1. Call an employee into your office just to thank him or her; don’t discuss any other issue.

  2. Give the employee a 2-hour lunch.

  3. Send a thank you note to a spouse thanking them for their support during the employee’s overtime.

  4. Hold a potluck lunch for your group. This is always so much fun for everyone!

  5. Write a letter of praise to employees recognizing their specific contributions and accomplishments.

  6. Send an email acknowledgement and copy your boss or higher manager.

  7. When paychecks go out, write a note on the envelope recognizing an employee’s accomplishment. (They’re sure not to miss this one!)

  8. Give gift cards. Food, movies, music, whatever!

  9. Provide an extra break. We can all do this, can’t we?

Continue reading “Recognition Made Easy – 10 Low Cost Ways to Recognize and Reward Employees”