When working in a call-centre, people traditionally don’t tend to stay long term. Attrition and staff turnover is high. Many employees arrive simply needing a job, with no intention of committing to the organisation. Like many of their retail and hospitality counterparts, they are just doing it for the money.
A big factor in this attitude is the fact that they just don’t know what opportunities are available if they stay. It is therefore up to the HR professionals and the organisation itself to educate them.
There was a time when cooks and chefs were perceived as being tough roles and looked upon negatively as a career choice. Then MasterChef came along and made the world of cooking fun and interesting. As HR professionals, we need to ensure we are presenting the opportunities in our own businesses to our own people in a similarly positive light.
There is definitely a stigma attached to working in a call-centre. In my experience, the call-centre workforce is predominantly made up of Gen Ys — a generation that is more interested in faster career development than any generation before them. So, if the perception is that working in a call-centre is a dead-end job and nothing more than a stepping stone to somewhere else, it is no wonder they come in without any intentions of staying.
We need to combat these negative notions. As an example, Aegis employs more than 2500 people in Australia. We, and companies like us, must take measures to ensure employees are aware of the wealth of opportunities that exist in organisations of this size.
By keeping the aim of filling a large percentage of job vacancies internally at the heart of all we do, I firmly believe an aspirational culture can be developed. Aside from making employees aware that appealing positions further up the tree do exist, we also need to make sure they are aware of the experience, competencies and qualifications necessary for those positions. Over and above that, we need to equip them with the realistic, tangible means to get there.
Our Career Map clearly shows all employees the route from call-centre agent right through to president. It looks exactly as it sounds — a clear and easy-to-follow map. This is really a very simple concept, but the way we have presented it is unique. It means our people can see at a glance all the options — 92 roles – that might be available to them, and the steps they need to take to get there.
Another great way of opening employees’ eyes to the possibilities is through holding open sessions, exposing them to other areas of the business. Take human resources, for instance. If a call-centre agent has aspirations in that area, why not give them some face-to-face time with a staff member from that department to explain what their role involves? It is important we give them real, living, breathing examples.
Secondments and training programs, particularly those that give staff the opportunity to study for nationally recognised qualifications, also prove key in increasing engagement, retaining talent and, as a result, reducing recruitment costs.
In this industry, people are truly our most valuable resource. We want them to want to stay with us and realise the opportunities available. As HR professionals we should ensure we are offering as much assistance as possible to help and educate employees about the opportunities within the organisation, while also allowing the individuals to manage their future and their own growth.
This in turn will provide benefits to the organisation of greater attraction, engagement and retention, making employees their most valuable asset.