875 — IDS call centre survey shows high and rising staff turnover

Oct 8, 2003 | Conteúdos Em Ingles

The seventh annual survey by Incomes Data Services (IDS) of pay and conditions in UK call centres found out an average reported staff turnover of 25.1 per cent, the highest since the survey was first published back in 1997. Reported staff turnover was highest in the retail and leisure/transport sectors and lowest in the public sector, where staff are more likely to be skilled people in such areas as nursing (NHS Direct) or housing (for example in Liverpool Direct). The report predicts an employment expansion in UK concomitant to a growth in outsourcing operations.

The 180-page report contains information from a total of 125 organisations, employing around 112,000 staff in around 300 call centres.

Other key findings include:

· More than half of the survey participants reported problems of staff retention.

· The average starting salary for a customer adviser is £12,800 per annum (€ 18,068), an increase of 3.2 per cent on last year. The average midpoint salary is £14,500 (€20,468), an increase of 3.6 per cent on last year.

· The vast majority of workers are on permanent contracts.

· A majority of those in the survey (51 per cent) expect the numbers of employees to grow during the coming year. Only 8 per cent expected employee numbers to contract.

· The report challenges the view that outsourcing offshore will mean employment in the sector will collapse.

· More than half the employers in the survey negotiate pay with a trade union.

“Contrary to media myths about call centres there is a strong trade union presence in the industry and a number of recognition agreements have been signed in the last year, for example at London Energy. More than half of all the organisations in the 2003 survey (55 per cent) negotiated pay and terms and conditions with a trade union, while more than two-thirds of call centre workers included in the survey were covered by a collective agreement. This is the highest proportion of respondents with trade union recognition since we began recording this information in 1999,” the report states.

This year IDS has found that the key salary range for a customer service adviser starts at £12,200 (€17,221), has a midpoint of £14,000 (€19,762) and a maximum of £16,000 (€22,585). IDS believes that salaries continue to reflect skill level and the type of industry, rather than region. IDS found out that a majority of call centres have built systems of progression into their salary ranges, with some link to performance or competency. In some cases a form of skills-based progression has been introduced and/or new career progression schemes.

Pay and employment initiatives continue to evolve in the call centre industry in the UK. Expectations from within the industry are that employment will continue to expand, while simultaneously there will be more outsourcing to India and elsewhere. Recruitment and retention problems are still central for employers in call and contact centres.

Filipe Samora

Em Foco – Projecto