Poor conditions pushing staff out of call centres

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."

By Paul Nelson


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