Call centres are still struggling to retain staff because of anti-social shift patterns, poor pay and stressful working conditions, according to a major report on the industry.
The study, published last week, reveals that although there have been improvements in training, career progression, flexible working and bonus schemes, call centres are still failing to retain staff.
Pay and Conditions in Call Centres 2002 reveals that call centre managers believe that low pay rates are the most important factor in losing staff. Pay levels for new staff are still only £12,400 on average, despite increases across the sector of 4.6 per cent last year.
Six out of 10 of the 133 organisations polled cite retention problems - up from half in last year's survey. Average staff turnover rates have increased by 2.5 per cent to 24.5 per cent since 2001.
Half of the call centre organisations polled also report difficulties recruiting staff.
Sarah Miller, one of the report's authors, believes that staff burn-out is one of the main reasons for the staffing problems.It shows that a third of companies run a 24-hour, seven-day week operation, while three out of 10 are open seven days a week.
"More work needs to be done on flexible working and job designs - the roles need to be less monotonous. Staff need to be multi-skilled and given more breaks. It takes more than pay [to retain staff]," said Miller.
Shey Garland, chief executive at Garland Call Centre - who has ultimate responsibility for HR - agrees that one of the keys to retention is to make work interesting. She said: "The main reasons for staff leaving is boredom and stress. Variation is key."