Why Do Call Center Employees Leave or Stay?
There are many reasons why turnover is so high in the call center industry. Some of the reasons are under your control and are “fixable”, while some must be chalked up as simply costs of doing business. One of the responsibilities of the managers and supervisors in the call center is to consistently assess the reasons why people leave the center. Perhaps more importantly, it’s also critical to talk to happy staff and find out what keeps them there.
Some of the reasons that employees leave fall into a category that may not be under the direct control as a supervisor or manager. These reasons are compensation, job fit, and career path.
● Compensation. Inadequate compensation is a reason often cited in agents’ exit interviews. This will be a common factor for call centers located in highly saturated call center labor markets such as Phoenix or Dallas where competition for qualified call center staff is high. Your call center should do periodic compensation benchmarking studies to ensure your wages are competitive with the wages of nearby centers for the same type of work, particularly in highly competitive areas.
● Job Fit. Many times the reason an individual leaves the center is simply due to poor job fit. This type of turnover can be reduced significantly by better defining the job, widening the advertising process to attract a bigger field of candidates, and working harder at the screening and hiring for a proper fit. More effort during the selection phase will pay off for itself many times over in improving retention. The key element for change here is taking time to assess motivational fit and ensure that the candidate will be happy with the unique working conditions found in most call centers: solo work, confined space, repetitive tasks, constant monitoring, and inflexible work schedules.
● Limited Job/Career Opportunities. Many individuals leave the call center due to limited possibilities for career growth or opportunities for advancement. While some organizations have multi-level job ladders with numerous levels of agent positions and multiple career paths to many areas, others are severely limited in growth potential and see turnover as a result. After 15 years in the industry I’ve certainly seen my fair share of people leave one call center job who were looking for another because of lack of promotional opportunities as their primary reason to leave. Redefining job levels and looking for career advancement opportunities within the call center should be evaluated often.
All these factors contribute to the turnover and should be examined by the call center management team and perhaps senior management to address needed changes and strategy. Some of the other reasons that employees leave may fall under the realm of control as an immediate supervisor.
Assuming that compensation meets local standards and a thorough job has been done in recruiting and hiring so that these two are not a factor, it’s time to look elsewhere to fix the problem. Most of the other reasons that employees leave a call center are directly under the supervisor’s control.
For the most part, the adage “people don’t leave companies, they leave leaders” is certainly true in the call center environment. In the majority of cases, the supervisor can be either the greatest contributor to staff retention or the primary cause of turnover.
Although compensation can be a factor too, staff exiting call centers and looking for positions in other call centers do leave sometimes for reasons the supervisor or manager can influence. These reasons included:
● Feeling not recognized for their work
● Feeling bored and unchallenged by the job
● Feeling they did not receive enough training
All of these items are ones that are directly under your control as a call center supervisor.
There are many different factors that affect why staff will leave or stay with a job. According to a study on staff retention done by The Call Center School, the reasons that people give for staying with the job are a little different than leaving, as shown below.
It’s interesting to note that job fit is the top reason listed both in terms of why people leave as well as why they stay. Either they’re a fit or they’re not, and getting people matched to the right job in the first place is one of the top things you can do to improve long-term retention. While compensation is an issue for people that leave a place, it is generally not mentioned in the top reasons of why people stay. If people truly enjoy what they are doing and find other advantages in the job, compensation is less of a factor.
Keep in mind there is much a supervisor or manager can do to address many of the reasons employees leave or stay in the call center.
Shane Corey is very active in the industry and has been a part of many contact center operations bringing 17 years of practical contact center and workforce management knowledge to injixo & The Call Center School. Twitter: @WFMCOACH
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