With competition for top talent as fierce as it has been in recent memory, retaining employees in call centers has never been more challenging. And especially in industries that rely heavily on fourth quarter revenue, the risk of missing goals and forfeiting financial gains is serious.
According to Kathleen Valenti, director of strategic accounts for Aerotek, reducing turnover in call centers in this candidate-driven job market requires a multi-pronged approach that recognizes the different reasons employees leave, as well as what makes them want to stay.
“For almost every employee, pay is the top motivator,” she notes. “The most successful companies stay up-to-date on what competing employers are paying.” She compiles and provides third-party data such as local market analyses, per capita density reports, market-rate wage data and regional competitors’ pay scales, to ensure that her client companies can judge the true cost of low wages.
Although pay is an unsurprising motivator for call center employees, the second factor Valenti mentions seems less obvious — a thoughtful onboarding process and comprehensive training. Research finds a strong link between job training and job satisfaction.
“Employees who have been given a solid understand of their responsibilities through onboarding and training are more likely to feel they’ve been set up for success,” explains Valenti. “And the more successful they are in their job, the happier they usually feel, making them less likely to jump to another company.”
“This is especially true during the ‘nesting period,’” she says, “when formal onboarding ceases but before an employee reaches full productivity. This is a great time to have new employees shadow more experienced workers to get a sense of what the job entails. Throughout that time, it’s especially important to provide consistent and honest performance assessment and recommendations. As employees begin to grow into their jobs, ongoing feedback will encourage positive behaviors such as timeliness and attendance, while discouraging negative behaviors.”
Danger of poor training
On the flip side, employees who receive cursory or inadequate training are more likely to feel ill-prepared and overwhelmed once they begin handling calls on their own. “Imagine a strong job candidate with a great personality and work ethic who has just been recruited,” Valenti says. “She is going to want to know she’s going to get a good return on investment for the time and energy she’s putting into her new job. If she doesn’t feel supported, she’s going to take her high potential elsewhere to where she does feel valued and worth investing in.”
Provide a positive environment
While some employees just want more money, others are also motivated by recognition. Awards such as “top performer,” or even just recognizing employees who demonstrate an excellent attendance record, can help employees feel supported and acknowledged.
Even companies that don’t boast a household name or offer market-topping wages can experience exceptionally strong retention rates if they offer a positive work environment, Valenti says. “We partner with one company that doesn’t offer the highest hourly rates in its region, yet it consistently is able to recruit and retain excellent workers,” she says. “The company is known for treating its workers very well, offering thorough training and providing ample opportunities for advancement.
“They hire a large number of contract employees every year, and a high percentage of those workers are able to progress to permanent employment,” she adds. When an employer uses contingent labor, Valenti recommends they also employ an on-premise manager. That way, employees have the immediate coaching and performance feedback that will maximize their chances of career advancement.
A comprehensive strategy
“There’s no single bullet to ensure retention in this economy,” Valenti says. “But if you pursue a strategic combination of the methods listed above, you can really move the needle.”
Want to learn more about reducing turnover in call centers? Contact Aerotek now.