A few months ago, one of our contact center customers suggested we foster employee growth by creating a reward-based learning program for the team of agents dedicated to its account. We loved the idea because it not only could help our team members learn skills that would improve their performance, but also help them grow both personally and professionally. But we didn’t want to limit it to just one team – we wanted to do something for our entire company. After researching our employee and customer goals, we developed SaviLinx University to provide a growth opportunity for all agents on our team.
The World Economic Forum recently published an article about lifelong learning that reinforces its importance not just for individuals, but also for business.
“For companies, investing in worker skills makes sense too – it promotes flexibility and creativity, problem-solving, teamwork and an increased sense of agency among staff, making them happier and more productive.”
Our investment in building this resource had to benefit our company and our team. We started by looking at some ideas we already use at SaviLinx. For example, our agents embrace performance-based incentives. We offer numerous opportunities for them to meet and exceed goals, and actively request feedback on any ideas they can offer to improve the team’s performance. We decided to build on that by looking at the big picture of what we needed to do for our customers and what do we wanted to do for our agents. We took the following steps to move SaviLinx University from idea to reality:
- We audited every contract to track requirements, contract-specific and company-wide aspirations, supervisor performance goals, and individual employee goals.
- We evaluated our strengths and weaknesses, specifically identifying the skills that we wanted to concentrate on.
- We looked at trends and changes in the K-12 education system that impacted the way our employees interface with one another and our customers.
- We researched the skills that every person needs to be successful in the workplace, both soft and hard skills.
- We reviewed all of our technology, what we expect our employees to know, and how we equipped our employees for success.
The process has taught us a lot. We thought we were doing well when it came to re-certifying our employees on contract requirements, adhering to state and federal employee laws, and offering support for computer literacy and technical skills. And we were. But creating SaviLinx University helped us realize we could do better, and we could do more.
Building Opportunities for Contact Center Agents
In its simplest definition, SaviUniversity is an evolving library of training courses and learning opportunities for our contact center agents. Employees receive awards for each course completed, or performance goal attained. Lessons vary from contract-centric and state-mandated trainings; metrics-based performance improvement; lessons on computer literacy, grammar, and soft skills; and volunteering at community based events.
Before, we honored individual supervisor and employee goals; today we have a master matrix that delineates required and desired learning opportunities on each contract For example, all Maine-based employees must complete Video Terminal Display training annually. We have created a custom training solution for all employees, and use that training time as credit toward continued learning through SaviLinxUnversity. What was once a requirement, is now an accomplishment. Each contract has a custom employee learning solution, with specific courses and lessons tailored for each team.
The program was modeled after the level achievement acquired in karate, and we give participants different colored lanyards and pins that represent progress and achievements. Some of the opportunities included:
- Expanded learning on Microsoft Office applications to increase employee skills, proficiency, and confidence.
- Email etiquette with lessons about when to reply to all versus just one, salutations, and more.
- Community-based volunteering efforts that enable employees to bring their green thumb or empathic heart to the garden or a special cause.
SaviLinx University Provides Unanticipated Benefits
Andrea Georgian, SaviLinx Staff and Community Engagement Manager, has taken the lead on developing SaviLinx University, working with employees throughout the organization. Since its rollout in May, she says, “Employees have immediately applied the lessons, and are proud of their own accomplishments.”
We believed that we could grow skills, but we found a number of unexpected benefits from SaviLinx University, including:
- Cohesiveness among Maine and Mississippi supervisors.
- Engagement and participation in courses by supervisors.
- Learning and knowledge sharing between supervisors and employees and vice versa.
- Recognition that we all learn and share knowledge in different ways.
Because all of life lessons are not found in a book, we included participation and support of community events in our curriculum. For example, several employees helped prep, plant, and maintain the SaviLinx Brunswick community garden this spring and summer. Their contributions have been rewarded with an events pin, tethered to their lanyards.
Georgian says, “They are learning from one another and encouraging one another. They are building their love of learning, and that’s the culture we are committed to.”
At SaviLinx, we recognize that our employees’ ability to solve problems for our customers is our unique differentiator. Our commitment to creating the right culture is steadfast, and our values have to be more than words. Our work with SaviLinx University embodies our guiding principles:
- Every single interaction is important and meaningful.
- Create an inspiring, passionate culture.
- Empower creativity to bring forward innovative solutions.
- Operate with respect and integrity in everything we do.
With SaviLinx University, we are able to tell our customers that we not only meeting, but exceeding our contract requirements, at no additional cost to them. Investing in our team means greater tenure and happier employees, all of which shines through in our performance and commitment to best practices. We wholeheartedly agree that we should never stop learning.