Call centres losing millions of working days to absence

centres are losing millions of working days a year because of staff absence,
according to a study.

survey by technology organisation Dimension Data, for call centre firm
Merchants, found absenteeism is a problem for the contact centre industry,
which accounts for almost 3 per cent of the UK’s workforce.

Merchants Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report 2003 found that UK
absenteeism was running at 8 per cent, equating to 10 million lost working days
a year among the country’s 500,000 call centre employees.

study of more than 200 call centres around the world also reported very high
staff turnover rates, at 19 per cent globally, but up to 25 per cent in Europe
and the UK.

poor attrition rate and absenteeism may be partly dueº to not enough emphasis
being placed on career development, staff retention and salaries, which had not
changed much since 1999, the report suggested.

Garton, contact centre HR manager at Merchants, said absenteeism levels were a
concern. “Although contact centre management would appear to be compensating
for any agent absenteeism, this can only be a short-term solution, as it only
treats the symptoms and will ultimately lead to increased ‘burnout’ rates among
the supervisor levels,” he argued.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE), meanwhile, has called for greater ‘community
sharing’ among call centres to improve their occupational health record.

sharing is where employers share information to identify existing problems,
assess risks and share best practice. Such an approach could help to address
concerns about OH support in call centres.

Risk Factors in Call Centres: an evaluation of work design and well-being
argues psychosocial issues are a major contributory factor to poor mental
health among call centre employees.

as a call handler is more stressful than working in other jobs, although not
all staff are affected equally, or by the same factors, it suggested.

in some call centre environments, such as telecommunications and IT business
sectors, affected well-being more directly, it added.

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