Better conditions cannot halt call centre staff loss

Call centre managers continue to struggle to recruit and retain employees,
despite measures to improve pay and conditions.

The annual Incomes Data Services survey, which covers 139 organisations and
100,000 staff, reports that despite greater efforts to invest in call centres,
more managers are having difficulties with recruitment and retention.

Nicola Allison, researcher at IDS, explained, "Call centres have an
increasing problem finding people with the relevant skills and experience, and
despite measures to reduce staff turnover, it’s still increasing.

"The problems are about a much tighter labour market, but some managers
are worried about the image of call centres."

The report showed that among the industry’s 400,000 workers the average
salary was £11,900, which represented an increase of 6.5 per cent on last year.
Despite this, staff turnover was 22 per cent – a 4 per cent rise on 1999.

Managers who responded to the survey cited the intensity of the working
environment as the main reason for staff leaving.

But the report also reveals a range of measures being introduced to help
improve the tightening market.

"Many firms are making moves to improve training and development with
things like flexible working hours, a better career structure and improved
salaries," added Allison.

Cheryl Clifford, HR director at outsourcing specialist Merchant, said the
industry needs to move forward.

"Employees in call centres need to be offered more permanent contracts
or they will continue to move on," she said.

By Ross Wigham

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