Magazine article Management Today

Call Centres under Pressure to Change Sweatshop Image

Magazine article Management Today

Call Centres under Pressure to Change Sweatshop Image

Article excerpt

Call centres are in danger of becoming the 'dark satanic mills' of the 21st Century as the industry gains a reputation for sweatshop practices and assembly-line methods. Centres already exist where staff sit in tiny pens with high screens around them or in assembly-line rows, says Simon Roncoroni, European managing director of SITEL Consulting, the call centre specialist. A report by the Merchants Group in 1997 said a survey of 106 centres showed that morale was low, stress levels high, and absenteeism 5% compared with the national figure of 3.5%.

Early in their development, call centres became a victim of their own success with response often outstripping projections, says Sue Dives, principal consultant with The Oxford Group, the training organisation. 'High stress levels were caused by the sheer volume of calls, wrongly forecasted levels of success, and the heavy pressure on achieving targets,' she says.

The call centre industry is expanding rapidly. It employs about 125,000 people and this is predicted to rise to five million in the next three years. Recent research by Incomes Data Services into pay and conditions in call centres shows that their rapid growth has led to rising pay settlements, intense competition for staff and high levels of turnover - between 11% and 25% annually - all attributed to competition between centres and the intensity of work. The speed of the growth in the call centre industry has meant effective management strategies are often left behind. Centres that don't invest in training and development are bound to suffer from high rates of absenteeism and poor performance, says the Institute of Personnel and Development.

Jim Parle, business personnel manager at Halifax Direct, which has 800 staff, agrees that stress is a symptom of poor management but argues that call centres are no different to any other working environment. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.