High sickness and absence in temporary staff

Topic Views - 2830


Frankly Recruitment

Hi, I am desperately trying to find a solution for one of our clients. We have 38 call agents in a small contact centre handling customer service for a catalogue company over the Xmas period. The sickness and absence is ridiculous and naturally as their agency supplier we are getting some heat. 9 of those temps went sick last week.

Any tips on how to handle this? We do return to work interviews, they have to call in every day and we do release them if repeated absence.


Is there a chance they be given permanent contracts with this client? We notice if we offer chance to have permanent contract people always work more proactive. (only do that if there is a chance they get kept on)

Also If your the agency, May sound harsh however you should of done better vetting. If your the contact centre make some fun games and reason to come to work such as Count down to Christmas or we run various games around getting lowest call time. Or Getting most sales.

We use one Agency and that is just due to I know our contact does Vetting really well and we always start agency staff on a 7week trial and if they get any unexplained Sick period, We will release them as it clear from start in there contracts.


Frankly Recruitment

Hi Kris, not harsh at all. We screen them, psychometric profile them and test them - more than most agencies. We do release them for absence but we are constantly replacing. Once they are in with the client I wonder what more we can do but I want to do more because the absence is crazy....


Call Centre Helper

It sounds like there are two things wrong here.

1. You may be recruiting the wrong people. The people that you are recruiting may not be resilient enough.

2. There may be something wrong in the contact centre - e.g. bullying of staff, unrealistic targets, dodgy goings on etc.

The best way to find out is to spend a couple of days working on the phones yourself. Talk to the other people on the phones during your breaks.

It will help to develop a better understanding of what is happening.

Marketing Executive

Bellcom Worldwide

Hi Amanda,

I recently wrote a blog on this topic and I'd like to share some of our tips on managing absenteeism:

1. A clear attendance policy – When making a strategy to minimise levels of absence, it is essential that a clear attendance policy is put in place and that all employees fully understand what is expected of them when it comes to absence and timekeeping. With a system like this in place, there can be a level of consistency in how absence is dealt with and monitored. Ensuring that employees are fully aware of what measures to take when calling in absence adds a bit of structure to the businesses and creates a level of understanding between employer and employee. Time stamping procedures are used in many companies to monitor attendance levels of all employees, while absence procedures should be clearly illustrated in employee contracts.

2. Flexible schedules – Having flexible working schedules offers employees some leeway that doesn’t force them into absenteeism for reasons beyond their control. This is especially useful to accommodate workers who may have family commitments or that are working on a part time and temporary basis. With a high number of European staff working in call centres, your office could open from 8am until the evening to accommodate time difference in Europe and the USA, which makes it easier to be more flexible with working schedules.

3. Incentive programmes should be tied to attendance – We strongly believe in rewarding hard work and creating incentives to keep employees motivated. A ‘Masterclass’ is an annual programme which takes into account not only sales performance and talk time but attendance and time keeping. Masterclass prizes could be an all expenses trip to an exotic location such as Las Vegas or Dubai, so staff have that extra incentive to never miss work. Monthly award ceremonies which also have prizes tied into attendance help contribute to low levels of absence.

4. Link promotions to attendance – When promoting workers to positions of management or as team leaders, you need a strong sense of reliability that this individual will be able to lead by example and will be ever present during business hours. Promoting an individual who has a record of absence could damage morale amongst co-workers, as they will be required to enforce attendance policies which they themselves could not comply to before they were promoted.

5. Weight attendance on the scorecard – Having a balanced scorecard with attendance in the weighting ties in with incentive programmes so instead of only rewarding agents for sales and skill, loyalty and commitment is also rewarded. It is far better to have a good sales agent working five days a week rather than sporadically.

6. Find the root cause of the problem – If your business suffers from high levels of absenteeism, it is imperative that managers find the root of the problem in order to successfully tackle it. Taking steps such as providing a more flexible arrangement, engaging employees, getting them to offer feedback about their schedules and clear procedures about absence discipline are all viable methods into tackling absence.

7. Value long time service – Valuing long term excellence and rewarding loyalty and hard work creates an air of excellence in a call centre. Working in such an environment helps to keep motivation high and an air of positivity maintained in the workplace. Acknowledge long service with “long service walls” where those who have worked for the company for 2, 5, and 10 years have portraits on the walls recognising their hard work.

Hope this helps!

Hi. Set realistic ta...
Hi. Set realistic targets for the people so their targets doesn't seem unattainable.. Also since they are temps try to offering a performance-based salary. They determine they own checks!! That way, more effort would be put into work. To be honest having permanent staff in a call center is more wearying.

How about paying the...
How about paying them more. And offering benefits. Don't be cheap and pay up. Its a hard job talking to people all day.

Want to add a comment?

Not found what you were looking for?

1. Try searching through our site.
2. Still not got an answer?

Why not ask the Call Centre Helper Community? Click here to ask your question