• The COVID-19 pandemic created huge demand for call centre staff, but the sector continues to be plagued by high rates of staff turnover.
  • The ability to manage and mitigate potential people risk issues in a typical contact centre environment starts with a holistic understanding of the different factors at play.

Almost half of call centre staff leave annually

Every year, on average 45% of call centre staff leave their job, with 56% of those leaving the business altogether. The average tenure for call centre front-line staff is only 22 months. These statistics indicate there is a problem. However, a multi-faceted approach to managing common issues could improve workforce resilience, creating an environment in which people can adapt to adverse situations, manage stress and retain motivation.

Covid brought resilience to the fore

COVID-19 brought about dramatic changes to the way we work – and call centres were no exception. For example, prior to the pandemic, 7% of call centre staff worked remotely. Today that figure is 58%. Amid the upheaval, leaders became more aware of the fragility of their staff and the importance of developing a resilient workforce.

According to Aon’s 2021 Global Wellbeing survey, 82% of organisations globally believe wellbeing is important to their company. Ensuring a resilient workforce is now the ‘new normal’. For call centres, addressing risks associated with talent selection, employee wellbeing, and health and safety will contribute to a more resilient workforce.

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Challenges to wellbeing

Staff in call centres face unique challenges that contribute to high rates of turnover.

Firstly, dealing with the general public is inherently stressful. Callers are often ringing with a problem. Dealing regularly with angry or upset customers takes a toll on staff.

Call centres are also fast-paced environments, and there is a strong focus on achieving targets. Some companies don’t allow breaks between calls, and some display call rates, identifying slower workers on central screens. Others display personalised messages on employees’ screens, advising them to pick up their pace. Being forced to work at high levels of speed and intensity over extended periods can contribute to stress, repetitive strain injuries and other poor health outcomes.

Talent Assessment & Rewards Strategies are key

A critical input to building a resilient call centre workforce is the right talent assessment and selection.

Online tests can be used to assess for qualities that are appropriate for the role and to ensure that applicants have a realistic understanding of the job.

Additionally, talent can be nurtured in a number of ways, for example by communicating clear career pathways and offering appropriate rewards, ensuring a diversity of work, and having the appropriate technology and information to provide holistic customer service.

Offering employee benefits, and encouraging staff take them up, can also help counteract some of the challenges call centre workers face.

Workplace health and safety is in the spotlight

The pandemic has shone a spotlight on health and safety – both physical and mental wellbeing. Many aspects of a call centre workplace are similar to traditional office environments but there are some key differences to be considered for call centre employees.

Staff sit at desks for extended periods, putting them at risk of developing physical injuries such as back or neck pain. Working for long periods in front of a screen can also affect the eyes, potentially contributing to pain, dry eyes, blurred vision and headaches. Call centre workers also use their voices extensively, putting them at risk of voice problems, such as dysphonia, which can cause permanent damage.

Wearing headsets can also become uncomfortable after long periods of wear. Injuries can be caused by users listening to loud noise for an extended period, or acoustic shock, when the wearer is exposed to a short, loud burst of noise which can permanently affect the user’s hearing.

Tailoring processes and equipment to suit staff needs, training, and implementing suitable protections are vital for staff wellbeing.

Aon’s People Solutions Team can help manage and mitigate the potential risks present in call centre environments. A multi-faceted approach to the challenges staff face, from initial staff selection, through to job design and an ongoing focus on health, safety and rewards will ultimately contribute to a more resilient workforce. Find out more.


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