what can be done to reduce staff turnover in call centres?

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ex csr

what can be done to reduce staff turnover in call centres?
We all Know that a call centre job can me deadend in terms of promotion, however if a person is content with that position they will stay at the post for much longer. what does the call centre enviroment need to do to encourage this and reduce the overall staff turnover rate?(excluding the normal day to day motivational aspects.)


Gately Consulting

How to reduce employee turnover in call centers
Stop hiring people who will not be successful in their jobs.
I know that this advice seems silly, but that is how our
30,000+ clients lower their employee turnover rates.



Breaking the mould
Offer fixed contracts?

Performance Counselor

Sinja Masterstrokes

Offer fixed contracts
It has been sometime since I visited CSV, and when I did bump into this topic I felt I should add my bit. For starters I endorse the observation about offering fixed time contracts.

The issue as I can see it is - do we call it staff attrition or staff overstay. Two sides of the same coin ?

Fixed Time Contracts could help in defining the objectives and roles along the career path and enable refresh patterns.

What I do need to add is that at this point I am referring only to the front end call centre agents.


Account Manager

Business Systems UK

Common Sense
Hi Mahidhar

Common Sense tells me

Treat them like human beings I.E they are a name not just a number in a contact centre I.E with respect.

Plenty of praise and rewards along the line to help them feel they are doing an important job and are vital to the company I.E make them feel they are in the driving seat and are of uttermost value to the company and that it is their work that is keeping the company sucessful

Security: help them to feel they have a job for as long as they want it and don,t have to feel insecure because they are on a short contract that can leave them with doubts for their future

If they are feeling stressed they should feel they have the freedom to get up from their desks have a cigarette break or a coffee break until they are feeling better ie look after their emoitional and physical well being

I know this may sound like simple stuff however i feel if this attitude is adopted by management and company policy it should act as a foundation stone
for happy and contented staff who look forward to coming to work in the morning and gives you the reputation for being the company that people want to work for.

Hope this is of help

Kindest Regards

John Nutley

Strategy Manager (EMEA)


The Bigger Picture
Aha . . . an opportunity for me to get on my favourite soapbox! I would agree with all the comments above, there isn't one single solution to the issue of turnover but there are a number of smaller fixes which taken together can have a significant impact. It is critical though to have a strategy that encompasses all these elements. In my organisation we talk about the 'employee lifecycle' referring to the range of events that occur within the employment of a contact center agent. Within the lifecycle all the events will contribute to both the agent's level of job satisfaction and as a result the contact centre's success. Therefore effective recruitment is essential as is on-going training and development all the way through to the information that you gather within an exit interview.

Which leads me nicely to analysis. Every exit analysis survey I have seen has always shown that the main reason for leaving (and how you ask these questions is critical - it's not why are you leaving but what would have made you stay) is not lack of money but lack of progression opportunities. Here comes the soapbox bit . . . whilst we all know that contact centers have flat hierarchies and therefore few promotional opportunities, it is still possible to create progression based on competencies and knowledge backed up with training and support. Some contact center roles are not always the most demanding or stimulating and it would be unreasonable, for example, to expect an agent performing a basic call/connect function to stay in the same role for 4 years (which would give you a reasonably healthy 25% turnover). The only way to increase retention is to ensure that employees feel that their strengths are being utilised. Of course there are a good number of workers who are happy where they are and this is fine - as long as they are happy in their roles and performing well we shouldn't push them in to a new position as part of a centre-wide initiative.

My advise is therefore to take a look at the bigger picture. Put your employees at the heart of your business and ensure you have an HR strategy that focuses on retention. I recommend that you visit the E-Skills site to find out about the contact center skills framework and use that as the basis for recruiting and retaining employees.

All the best,

Head - ITes/BPO


Looking at out-of-the-box solutions
It has now become common knowledge that BPO's do not offer roles which challenge ones brains especially youngsters who dream up an fulfilling and challenging career path for themselves. Most of the time they are tricked into these jobs which are advertised as "the jobs" that are. These joinees start realising after couple of months that they would be doing the same thing for months or years, which can be depressing.

I believe this industry does not require "rocket-scientists". It requires a set of people who have this "wood-peckerish" quality, pecking away at work to keep themselves going. I do not wish to make it sound trivial, but the nature of work would be something akin. Profiling for that quality would hold the recruiters in good stead.

I feel, the BPO industry should invest in creating a supply chain of entry level workforce, ie, they should go one step before recruitment. Identify and support a pool of deserving youth and equip them with these skills through training. This could be done as a Social responsibility activity. I feel this would be a very strong model especially for a industry of this nature. This is not new or unprecedented. I represent an Non Profit organisation through which we are trying to address these issues.

Through our organisation we have trained and created employment opportunities for thousands of youngsters. We mobilise youth from the "Economically Very Needy" sections of the society who couldnt complete their education due to their financial challenges. We equip them with skill sets based on their attitudes and aptitudes. Many Corporates and Industry bodies are actively involved in this as they see sense in creating custom made entry level workforce, which is committed and responsible. The biggest plus is the control of attrition rates as these employees understand and appreciate the opportunities presented to them. Apart from providing the best ROI.

I do feel the industry has to look at solutions like these for long term apart from various strategies being adopted from time to time.

Performance Counselor

Sinja Masterstrokes

Universal Solutions?!

Thanks John for the note on the common sense approach.
Jim the next time you are on the Soap Box maybe you should highlight the futility of searching for Singular Universal Solutions.
You could start a thread on Career Progression Opportunities, as it could make the entry level work foece plan the Career growth pattern.
Shyam you do have a good point about investing in training entry level work force.

Here are a few more thoughts on the issue.

1) Competive Advantage is an end product of coming up with specific solutions by the Team Leader concerned.
2) This is one reason why the forum enables members to perform better by converting the ideas generated through collective advantage into specific solutions with an individual signature.
3) Competive Advantage is also reflected in the retention, attrition, growth patterns of staff.
Improved Performance and Results posted by the company are also indicators of the feel good factors that define the competitive advantage.


Seeking the holy grail
Well, there ain't no holy grail for this problem.

Further complicating the issue, people's expecations differ from country to country. Let me assure you that we handle our American employees differently than we handle our Indian employees.

My first suggestion, is to be realistic. Call Center work is tedious for most people and few people will make a career of it. Half the battle is getting beyond this hurlde.

For instance, I've had people walk in the door that were dynamo's. They were 75% trained in one week. A person like that can leave after 1 year and your company fared well. On the other hand, if a person takes 90 days to train, and leaves after 120 days to take a higher paying position (by 200 rupees per month) then obviously your company has taken a bath on this prospect.

We have used psychological profiles (prepared inhouse and cannot share) to some avail. But they are difficult to use in the States because of legal issues.

Would suggest taking a closer look at older candidates as they tend to be less mobile than the younger candidates. Also, they tend to understand that they will not be an executive in 18 months either.

Honestly, if a worker can be fairly well trained within 45 days, and will stay 2 years, you cannot expect much more than that. Anything else is gravy...

Steve Howell

Senior Trainer

Sykes Asia

Aside from offering competitive finacial package and promotion, I believe Managers and Supervisors should focus on making the workplace a conducive environment.

You may have heard of the FISH Philosophy several times. It works unless you don't believe in it. When I moved to a different center, I launched this project. The hurdles that the project came about was because management were skeptical about it at the start. But when people started to believe in it, attrition rate went down. It came to a point that people didn't want to leave unless we let them go.

happy people are productive people: MOTIVATE

Lean Process Consultant

Worth Solutions Limited

Motivate. By what method?
How should we most effectively motivate people? My opinion is that it is the design of the work which is most motivating. Good work design and letting staff at all levels contribute to improving the work design is the key.

Money and surroundings are hygiene factors (i.e. if they are not to a sufficent level staff will not tolerate it, but above a reasonable standard adding to them will not see added satisfaction). Praise and a smile from a supervisor certainly won't hurt, but is not the be all and end all. I have had jobs I really enjoyed where my immediate boss wouldn't crack a smile or praise anyone from one month to the next.

People need interesting work to do where if they spot a way for the work to improve it will be taken seriously and most of the time implemented. That way even repetitive work can be satisfying. A job done well is fulfilling and a job improved even more so.

So improve the system and let the front line staff help you to do so. Then they will be motivated.


Rob Worth

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