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How to Tackle Staff Attrition with Recruitment

7 min read
Author Business Systems UK
Date Nov 4, 2014
Category Contact Centre Optimisation

CONTACT CENTRE GUIDE BLOG: 8/9 recently published ‘The Contact Centre Guide’ which was sponsored by Business Systems. For those short on time, we created a series of blogs covering the highlights from each chapter.

Please find the 8th in the series below.

With thanks to Steve O’Dell from Talent Q who provided the original article.
The average annual attrition rate in contact centres is 24%, according to workplace performance charity skills CFA’s Contact Centre Operations, Labour Market Report 2012. This report claims that the annual rate of agent attrition varies significantly across different contact centres but in some cases can be as high as 43%.

When nearly a quarter of your staff are leaving your organisation each year, you might be inclined to admit that you have a problem with staff attrition. However, in the contact centre industry, high attrition rates are really just a symptom. The root cause of the problem often lies with recruitment. This is supported by a report from ContactBabel which suggests that 50-60% of attrition occurs in the first three months after recruitment.

What’s the impact of attrition?

For one thing, substantial costs are involved in constantly recruiting new staff. It’s more than just the actual cost and time of recruitment as you have to factor in the opportunity cost for recruiters and the cost of training new recruits. Let’s assume that the cost to recruit each agent is £2,500. If you’re recruiting 400 agents per year, that’s £1m off your bottom line.

A study conducted by Talent Q involving recruiters in UK contact centres and other organisations recruiting large volumes of front line staff each year, uncovered that 37% admitted to knowingly hire unsuitable candidates to fill the role quickly, further aggravating the problem.
The good news is that contact centres can do something about this. In fact, you can go a long way to resolve the issue of the agent attrition by taking two simple steps:

1. Clarify the agent role:

You can help potential staff have the right expectation about their work by clarifying the role sufficiently from the outset. Honesty comes first and a candid account of what the job will entail stops new recruits joining with false expectations. Some contact centres are starting to create a ‘realistic job preview’ on their website. This is a short ‘self-selection’ assessment that allows applicants to evaluate whether the demands of the role and culture of the contact centre are a good fit for them. If you still find that agents are leaving because the job wasn’t what they thought it was going to be, then clearly you haven’t got this step right.

2. Know what you’re looking for:

Your top-performing agents will undoubtedly have certain traits and attributes in common. For example, they might be strong in behaviours such as empathy, reliability or resilience. Once you know the factors that are likely to lead to success, you can then use psychometric assessments to screen your applicant pool so that it only includes candidates with those specific traits and competencies.

These two steps can help you to recruit agents who are a strong fit with the culture and values of your contact centre and with the competencies and traits required in the role. Yes, these people will still need training but, fundamentally, they’ll have what it takes to succeed.
If you can reduce agent attrition through improved recruitment practices you can also free up your time to focus on areas around employee engagement and development, to help further reduce attrition, resulting in lower recruitment costs and happier customers.

Read the ‘Contact Centre Guide Blog 1/9 – The changing contact centre – and what you can do about it’ here.