Call centres have been instrumental in bringing business efficiences to organizations over the last 15 years. They have brought jobs and economic activity to a number of locations inside the UK as organisations have sought to set up specialised Call Centres in areas with the green field sites and cheap labour force that they need. Leeds, Scotland, Wales and Newcastle among others have all actively grown this sector, and a recent survey by Monster.com forecasts the total population of agents to exceed 650,000 by 2007.
However, this growth has come at a price – it has been so fast in some of these areas that different Call Centres have ended up fighting for each other’s labour pool. Competition has driven up wage rates. This increased job choice and wage inflation, combined with roles that can be quite repetitive, have led to high levels of volunitary staff turnover in the sector. The difficulty in finding and keeping staff at cost effective wage rates has been one of the factors that has led many organisations to move these roles offshore to India, South Africa and elsewhere.
Despite the lure of this ‘offshoring,’ opinion leaders in the Call Centre market maintain that there will always be a case for UK-based Call Centres, especially where the service they provide requires knowledge of UK lifestyles and culture. It is, therefore, clear that the organisations that remain in the UK will continue in endeavouring to reduce their staff turnover as much as possible’. This article covers some of the psychological research in to Call Centre turnover and illustrates, with a recent piece of research, why it is relatively poorly understood, despite being a real ‘hotspot’ within the UK economy.