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Workforce engagement management (WEM): An essential guide

Discover the basics of workforce engagement management, including how to optimize your support operations and benefit customer service agents.

By Hannah Wren, Staff Writer

Last updated May 3, 2024

What is WEM?

Workforce engagement management (WEM) is a set of tools designed to optimize support operations, increase service efficiency, boost performance, and improve the agent experience, saving the whole organization time and money.

Carnivals are full of bright lights, loud noises, and vivid colors. While milk bottles fall, rings get tossed, and basketballs go flying, plenty is happening behind the scenes to ensure the event runs smoothly. From the mechanics to the carnival’s captain, structured systems are in place to manage the games, keep carnival workers engaged, and create a positive and memorable experience for guests.

With the help of workforce engagement management, all organizations can balance employee engagement, performance, and development to provide high-quality support interactions and prioritize the customer experience (CX). While you may not have performance stunts or awesome magic tricks building immersive experiences, WEM principles can strengthen customer relationships, improve transparency, and enhance coaching.

Follow our guide to learn how to support business operations and customer service agents with WEM.

More in this guide:

Benefits of workforce engagement management

WEM is crucial to organizational success—the biggest benefits of workforce engagement management impact support teams, business operations, and customers alike.

A man wearing a green top and purple shorts sits next to a list of the top workforce engagement management benefits.

Increases employee engagement and retention

Effective WEM helps to engage your employees by creating a culture of continuous feedback, which encourages active learning. For example, support managers can use customer service quality assurance (QA) data to recognize and reward high-performing employees by publicly acknowledging their achievements or assigning them to preferred shifts. Internal and customer feedback can also boost morale and motivation and empower team members to own their performance, improving engagement.

Additionally, workforce management (WFM) prioritizes effective scheduling, which can reduce turnover by decreasing understaffed shifts. WFM and QA software can also help to identify coaching and training opportunities to further reduce turnover by showing employees you’re invested in their growth.

Improves support quality

Workforce engagement management uses QA tools to improve support interactions and ensure consistently high-quality service. Customer service quality shows how well your support team meets and exceeds customer expectations, industry standards, and customer service goals.

For example, Zendesk QA leverages AI to enable teams to evaluate all of their support interactions and spotlight issues, so they can turn their support around right away. And according to the Customer Service Quality Benchmark Report, 76 percent of organizations agree that conversation reviews help improve customer satisfaction.

Boosts team productivity and operational efficiency

Similar to workforce optimization (WFO), WEM uses WFM and QA to enhance team productivity and operational efficiency. Workforce management tools provide visibility into where agents spend their time, how productive they are, and whether they adhere to schedules. Teams can use these insights to make real-time adjustments that boost overall efficiency. Meanwhile, QA tools help managers identify performance trends and recurring issues or knowledge gaps, leading to better decision-making for improved productivity.

Enhances customer experience

Empowering your workforce is the cornerstone of elevating the customer experience (CX). A study by Harvard Business Review revealed a compelling correlation between employee well-being and customer satisfaction. By investing in employee engagement, you’re simultaneously enhancing CX.

Moreover, WEM solutions, including QA tools, provide invaluable insights by identifying specific cases needing attention, and tracking escalation trends. These data-driven revelations are crucial for pinpointing where the customer experience is falling flat and why. By leveraging this intelligence, organizations can foster cross-departmental collaborations for continuous improvement. For instance, if recurring issues with a product feature are causing customer churn, this vital feedback can be relayed to the product team for prompt resolution.

Reduces labor costs

WEM uses workforce management software to manage staffing levels correctly and consistently. Using workforce forecasting data, workforce engagement managers can identify staffing demands, balance employee workloads, and avoid over- and understaffed shifts. When you manage these factors properly, WEM can lower labor costs and resource waste across all teams.

Refines compliance

Workforce engagement management isn’t all about fun and games—sometimes, it’s about protecting agent well-being and ensuring regulatory compliance. WEM managers should regulate agent breaks at appropriate times so businesses comply with labor laws. Organizations can also encourage agents to adhere to specific scripts, procedures, or customer service phrases, which can be tracked through QA software.

Improves agent onboarding

Implementing workforce engagement management during employee onboarding enables businesses to prioritize engagement and optimization from the get-go. Automated QA gives managers invaluable insights into the performance of new agents so they can provide feedback and targeted coaching, which helps new hires get up to speed faster. Performance reporting also helps managers identify skill gaps and additional training needs for specific individuals and improve generalized onboarding programs.

Key elements of workforce engagement management

Workforce engagement management comprises three key elements: workforce management, quality assurance, and performance management. Together, they improve the agent experience and impact team productivity.

Workforce management

WEM’s workforce management principles help businesses manage agents and resources, optimize productivity, and refine operational performance. Managers track workforce management metrics like agent productivity and overtime occurrences to streamline scheduling and balance workloads.

Powerful workforce management systems will include:

  • AI-powered forecasting: Using historical data, AI can provide insights into future workforce needs and remove potential misalignments and scheduling inefficiencies
  • Automatic employee scheduling: Built to reduce or remove manual tasks, this automation feature schedules employees based on availability and forecasts.
  • Real-time team management: An accurate team activity overview provides visibility into how employees spend their time and what projects they’re working on. It also highlights any schedule gaps or overlaps.

A solution like Zendesk WFM allows managers to automatically schedule agents to meet AI-forecasted needs and avoid staffing inefficiencies, helping them reduce overhead and manage costs. These workforce management tools also provide visibility into team activities and historical and current team performance, enabling managers to identify growth areas and ways to boost productivity.

Quality assurance

Customer service QA is the practice of reviewing customer conversations to improve your support team’s performance and increase customer satisfaction. By leveraging QA data, you can set agents up to better respond to customer questions, adjust products and services, and reduce customer churn.

QA software solutions provide:

  • Scoring and evaluation: With visibility into employee performance and support quality, managers can identify areas for improvement and produce meaningful action plans.
  • Actionable feedback: Continuous feedback fosters employee engagement, and peer-to-peer reviews help create a collaborative, transparent, and engaged workforce.

Software like Zendesk QA can help you review every single support conversation via AI and give you instant insight into your support performance.

Performance management

As an offshoot of WFM and QA, performance management focuses on the training and coaching opportunities available within an organization. Using customer service metrics and other KPIs, WEM managers can monitor weak performance, knowledge gaps, and recurring issues to identify areas for improvement. Leadership should regularly provide transparent and actionable feedback in the form of quality assurance updates, which your teams can implement together with guidance from managers.

A combination of WFM, QA, and performance management principles helps:

  • Enhance and simplify employee onboarding.

  • Increase interaction capacity.

  • Reduce costs.

  • Improve service metrics like average handle time (AHT).
  • Encourage career advancements.

Teams can incorporate learning management systems (LMS) and gamification into these practices to motivate employees and promote development.

Learn more about Zendesk WEM

Effectively manage support teams, ensure high-quality service, and drive meaningful agent engagement with AI-driven workforce engagement management solutions. Discover what Zendesk WEM can do for your business today.

6 WEM best practices

Six icons represent the six best practices for implementing workforce engagement management.

According to the Zendesk Employee Experience Trends Report 2024, 80 percent of employees believe their company could improve EX. However, it’s not only important that businesses improve engagement; they must also focus on how they improve it. Workforce managers and teams should implement these WEM best practices to encourage engagement and enhance EX:

  1. Leverage AI: Embrace emerging technologies and the power of AI by implementing AI-powered software where applicable. Provide AI training and continuously research and discuss AI transparency in your workplace.
  2. Lead through action: Teams with invested, enthusiastic, and transparent managers are likely to value and model the same behaviors.
  3. Encourage cross-team collaboration: Encouraging internal collaboration between departments like sales and customer service teams breaks down silos and instills a sense of organizational unity.
  4. Gather employee feedback: Conduct employee engagement surveys to collect firsthand accounts about initiatives and use this feedback to inform future activities.
  5. Offer professional development: Clear growth paths and supportive management allow employees to engage with business goals and initiatives while investing in their careers.
  6. Recognize employee impact: Make recognition a regular practice by rewarding employees for exceptional work, setting attainable milestones, and celebrating accomplishments as they occur.

Frequently asked questions

Optimize team productivity with Zendesk WEM

From resource planning, scheduling, and team management to monitoring the quality of service to help with coaching, WEM is essential to providing great customer and agent experiences. Workforce engagement tools enhanced by AI are critical to enabling support teams to optimize their operations at scale without sacrificing quality. Enter Zendesk WEM.

Zendesk offers AI-powered workforce management and quality assurance solutions so you can boost team performance, reduce customer churn, and, in turn, improve the bottom line.

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