Retain, engage, succeed: Decoding attrition in contact centres

Employer advice, Sector updates, employer...

The UK’s talent shortage, which has persisted for many years, has been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As the world of work continues to evolve post-pandemic, the dynamic between employers and employees has changed significantly. Workers now hold more power, and when their needs are not met, they are quick to leave. This trend is especially impactful for industries with high worker turnover, such as contact centres (CCs), leading to increased recruitment costs, decreased productivity, accelerated loss of knowledge and experience, reduced workforce morale, and damage to the organisation’s Employer Value Proposition (EVP). Together, these issues can cost businesses an average of £30,000 per departing worker.

Why are contact centre workers leaving?

Among the various reasons for high turnover in contact centres, compensation stands far above the rest. UK employees, including those in the CC industry, often decide to leave their jobs primarily due to insufficient pay. This industry, particularly in organisations supporting public services like the NHS, typically offers lower salaries compared to other sectors requiring similar skill sets.

A recent salary analysis for permanent UK customer service and contact centre representatives reveals a salary range of £15,500 to £29,700, with a median salary of £21,861. When compared to other industries, this difference becomes even more evident. Sectors like retail and hospitality, despite facing severe labour shortages, are offering higher salaries to attract recruits. A contact centre agent could transition to these industries and potentially receive a salary increase of £7,000 to £10,000, along with less work-related stress.

The compensation gap

With inflation rates still above the Bank of England’s target of 2.0% and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, contact centre workers not only want but need higher incomes. Therefore, CC businesses must consider upgrading their financial offerings. This could include providing higher salaries, cash bonuses, or other desirable benefits to retain current employees and attract new talent.

Beyond compensation: Improving working conditions

  1. Flexible working models

    According to a recent report, 53% of contact centre workers prefer a fully hybrid working model. This includes options like permanently remote work, hybrid working, virtual call centres, or permanently in-office arrangements. Contact centre organisations would find it useful adapting to these preferences, especially while labour shortages give employees more leverage. The Office for National Statistics reports that 84% of workers who experienced remote work during the pandemic intend to continue doing so.

  2. Emotional factors and job satisfaction
    Apart from financial reasons, emotional factors significantly influence staff turnover. Contact centres often fail to meet employee values and expectations, do not provide adequate career progression pathways or reskilling opportunities, and lack sufficient employee recognition. Addressing these issues is crucial for enhancing job satisfaction and retention.

    • Developing DEIB policies: Two-thirds of UK workers consider Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) important when deciding to stay or leave a job. Effective DEIB policies can significantly impact employee retention, especially among younger workers and women.

    • Career progression opportunities: For many employees, career progression is just as important as pay and benefits. By implementing reskilling programmes and training middle managers to support junior colleagues in their quest for advancement, companies can address one of the main reasons why 23% of UK workers considered leaving their jobs in 2023. Investing in these initiatives not only enhances job satisfaction but also fosters a more motivated and loyal workforce.

    • Employee recognition: Recognising and appreciating a job well done is vital for retaining employees. Simple gestures of appreciation can go a long way in enhancing job satisfaction.

Implementing practical solutions: Enhanced financial benefits

  1. Private medical insurance: Offering private medical care can be a powerful alternative to salary increases, providing employees with access to quality healthcare.

  2. Private life insurance: Private life insurance can protect employees’ families without the high cost of individual policies.

  3. Childcare assistance: Offering childcare support, such as the Workplace Nursery Benefit, can significantly reduce childcare costs for employees, making it easier for both parents to work.

  4. Bonuses: Implementing or expanding bonus schemes can provide occasional financial incentives without the permanent cost of salary increases. Bonuses tied to various performance and social metrics can motivate employees and improve retention.

To transform attrition into retention, contact centre businesses must address the primary drivers of employee turnover. While compensation is a critical factor, enhancing working conditions, offering flexible working models and addressing emotional and job satisfaction factors are equally important. By implementing these strategies, contact centres can create a more attractive and supportive work environment, ultimately reducing turnover and fostering long-term employee loyalty. By understanding and addressing the key factors driving employees to leave, contact centres can build a more resilient and dedicated workforce. The future holds promise for those who take proactive steps to meet the evolving needs of their employees.

For more insights, download the full report now.

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