Call centres lose one in four staff a year

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The Independent Online
UP TO one in four of the 150,000 staff who work in call centres leave their jobs within a year, according to research published today.

In one of the most comprehensive studies so far of this new business phenomenon, it was found that the "intensity of work" in the centres contributed to a high labour turnover.

There was also considerable competition for staff in some of the "hot spots" where there is a high concentration of centres such as on Tyneside, Leeds and Glasgow, the research group Incomes Data Services found.

The Glasgow Development Agency yesterday predicted that the present 9,000 jobs in the sector would expand to more than 20,000 by the year 2000.

The most common levels of staff turnover were between 11 and 25 per cent a year, but most managers argued against the accusation that call centres were the new "satanic mills".

They believe their premises provide a pleasant work environment, but said they were aware of a need to alleviate the constant pressure of repetitive tasks on the workforce.

At a time when pay rises in the rest of the economy were hovering around the 3 per cent mark, more than half the deals in this sector were 4 per cent or higher.

A fifth of settlements were 5 per cent or more and some were struck at 7 or 8 per cent, according to an IDS report "Pay and Conditions in Call Centres 1998".

At Doxford International Business Park near Sunderland the concentration of call centres had created a "micro labour market," according to IDS.

Starting salaries for customer service advisors are bunched between pounds 9,000 and pounds 11,000 and salaries for most staff ranged from pounds 11,000 to pounds 13,000. Team leaders were paid salaries of between pounds 15,000 and pounds 19,000.

The study covered 75 companies with 120 centres with just over 32,000 staff.