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Call Center Hiring: How to Stop Attrition in its Tracks


TMCnews Featured Article

June 26, 2008

Call Center Hiring: How to Stop Attrition in its Tracks

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

One of the greatest challenges within the call center industry is attrition. Companies that operate as call center, or support call center operations, continue to deal with a culture that is prone to high turnover.

Often, these organizations will spend literally millions of dollars trying to fix the problem, only to find their attrition numbers have barely moved. So, the big question in the industry is how do you reduce attrition and improve the overall outlook for the company?

In reality, attrition is the result of other problems within the company, or even the industry itself. As such, treating merely the problem of attrition is in effect treating the symptom, instead of the actual cause of the symptom. To really be able to tackle attrition, the contact center must be able to identify what is causing employees to leave.
In looking at the big picture, there are six business specific issues that contribute to attrition: hiring competition, equity, recruitment, environment, job design and leadership. Each of these areas of consideration present different challenges, some are internal and therefore, can be controlled. Others, such as competition, present obstacles to hiring competent and qualified employees as often the competition can offer an easier job for more pay.

The attitude within the labor pool continues to be an issue of challenge for the contact or call center dealing with high attrition. Three common challenges include transient attitudes, fear of failure and a sense of entitlement. Each of these attitudes reflect challenges of their own and the contact center hiring process must be able to detect them before they become a problem.

One of the most effective ways to drive improvement in the contact center is to use well-validated assessments to balance both the needs of the business and those of the employees. While the process can be intensive, it follows best practices and leads to the right solution for the hiring organization.

New research has highlighted that some assessments may be able to predict attrition most effectively during early phases on an employee’s lifecycle. But, only focusing on the first 30, 60 or 90 days fails to tell the whole and true story.

Longer-term assessments have found that assessment test sensitivity to attrition goes down over time, indicating that outside factors have greater influence on the agent’s likelihood to stay with or leave the company after six months. At the same time, internal factors gain in importance for the agent.

To get a better grasp on attrition and how to turn the cycle around the contact or call center requires that the organization understand the internal and external factors and how they influence the agent’s actions at different points in the lifecycle. At that point, the organization can begin to make positive change that will drive down attrition and improve overall performance.
For more, check out the Call Center Hiring channel on TMCnet.
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMC (News - Alert) and has also written for Market Drive News. To see more of her articles, please visit Susan J. Campbell’s columnist page.

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