What causes early stage attrition and employee turnover in call centers?

Depending on the source of the statistics, the average turnover rate for all employees within the first 90 days is 33-percent, but the number can jump to 45-percent for call centers. This is an expensive proposition for employers. Various studies have found the cost to replace an employee can cost the employer approximately 33-percent of the employee’s annual salary. ZipRecruiter says the average call center job pays $18 per hour in the United States, so replacement cost is over $12,000 for a full-time frontline employee.

{{cta(‘c2a00ff7-84c5-4051-9f93-91d98c4fa4d6’)}}It is easy to see how the cost of attrition and employee turnover in the first 90 days can get very expensive very fast. There are other considerations too. Turnover impacts workforce productivity, employee engagement, morale and customer satisfaction. A myth persists that some worker groups, like frontline employees, primarily leave due to low pay. FurstPerson research found they leave mostly for nonwage reasons.

The top 3 causes attrition and employee turnover in call centers within 90 days

FurstPerson has done extensive research on the reasons for high 90-day attrition rates. The top three are as follows.

1. Poor Job & Culture Fit

What is a poor job fit? It is the equivalent of a bad hire which is usually the result of poor recruiting and selection practices. The employer fills positions with people who do not have the right personality or lack the ability to manage the job responsibilities. A CareerBuilder survey reported that 2-out-of-3 employees accepted a job, only to find out later it was a bad fit.

Hiring people who are a poor fit is usually due to inadequate employer vetting. For example, the Careerbuilder survey just mentioned found 35 percent of the candidates did not have all the needed skills, but employers thought they could learn quickly. Then there are the 33 percent of hires who lied about their qualifications and 29 percent of hiring managers who focused on skills and not attitude, eventually discovering the new hire had a negative attitude or was unable to work with the team. The employee was not a good culture fit.

90-day call center attrition could be caused by poor culture fit.

2. Lack of Clarity around the Role

People accept a job offer on the belief they understand the job responsibilities and work processes, and have the appropriate skills to succeed. They discover after hire they do not, ending up mostly confused and wondering why they were hired despite lacking the appropriate qualities and skills.

A data scientist conducting research for Effectory found that only 53 percent of employees experience high role clarity, and role clarity leads to 53 percent more efficiency and 25 percent overall work performance increase. Another interesting result from the Effectory survey is that employees in small and very large companies experience lack of job clarity.

During the hiring process, the employer must clearly communicate what the job involves and the performance expectations, so there are no misunderstandings or surprises. In a call center, uncertainty is a common characteristic of the job. It is a high pressure job, requiring contact center employees to frequently take calls from upset and even abusive customers while maintaining composure. Sales contact center employees are also under pressure to meet goals, and dealing with the public is challenging.

An important question each employer should ask itself is: Do job candidates really understand what will be expected of them and how the role fits within the larger organization?

3. Miscommunication from the Business About the Job Itself

Recruiters and interviewers may miscommunicate about the job requirements or the culture or the work environment. Sometimes, it is just due to a lack of communication skills on the employer’s part and is not intentional. Other times, it is intentional because the employer is desperate to fill positions so avoids mentioning anything that might scare the job candidate away, like the required performance goals or the need to remain positive when talking to irate customers.

miscommunicationIn fact, Larry Stybel, co-founder of Stybel Peabody Associates, wrote in Psychology Today that his company’s research found there are companies that purposefully plant misinformation about company culture on employee survey websites, like Glassdoor. Clearly, the same misinformation is likely conveyed to job candidates who move forward in the hiring process.

There are other miscommunications that impact new hires. One example is the employee who is hired expecting to work for a particular person. The hiring manager or supervisor, who knew the truth during the interview, is promoted, leaves the department and is replaced by someone the employee does not like. Lack of transparency usually causes issues at some point.

Of course, there are other reasons for people leaving jobs within 90 days of hire. One is lack of a good onboarding process. Onboarding best practices include sharing information the new employee needs on a daily basis, like break schedules, but onboarding also plays a huge role in helping them assimilate and reach productivity as quickly as possible. They must get comfortable with the organizational culture, learn work processes and job responsibilities, and become a team member. Since employees decide early in their employment whether to stay or go, onboarding is a key strategy for minimizing the stress and confusion of learning a new job.

Another cause of early attrition is lack of good training. Forcing contact center employees to learn on-the-job, while taking a growing number of calls, is a sure path to high turnover. Failing to give adequate training on things like the technologies used will lead to early employee disengagement.

how to Reduce Early Stage Attrition

The reasons people quit their jobs so early in employment is not a mystery. What is puzzling is why more employers do not take corrective action when extensive research has demonstrated the best way to reduce attrition. The key to addressing most of the reasons people leave their jobs so quickly is to implement pre-employment assessments that measure what is important to job success. The assessment tests are used to make a good hire which is a job candidate who is a good match for the job in terms of skills, competencies, personality and behaviors. A valid assessment helps managers avoid hiring biases and any propensity to make rush decisions just to get positions filled.

Use Pre-Employment Assessments to Address High 90-Day Attrition

1stScreen?? Personality Assessment Test Can Help Identify Culture Fit.The following is how pre-employment assessment tests address the common reasons for high turnover the first 90 days of employment.

Assessments can identify poor job or culture fit

FurstPerson’s 1stScreen is a candidate assessment test for behavioral tendencies, personality and interpersonal style. Personality assessments identify fit for the job and the work environment. They can indicate whether the person is right for a sales role, a customer care position, a high pressure environment, a dynamic work setting, working as part of a team and so on.

Lack of clarity around the role, including skills needed to perform the job

Furstperson’s set of skills assessments serve two purposes.

1) Assessments measure the skills needed to succeed

One is to demonstrate and measure the skills needed to succeed. Can the person communicate well via email and chat? Does the job candidate possess the necessary keyboard typing skill and have the capability to utilize technology efficiently?

2) Assessments give a job candidate a real feel for what the role involve
The second purpose is to give a job candidate a real feel for what the role involves. Skills-based simulations share a sample of the job with the candidate while also measuring key skills, like data entry, computer navigation, accuracy and so on. A multimedia simulation, for example, allows applicants to play the part of a call center agent, an inbound or outbound sales agent, a field sales agent or a supervisor. A problem-solving, multi-tasking multimedia simulation determines whether an applicant can thrive in a complex work environment. A chat agent audition helps hiring managers determine if an applicant can manage the requirements of the chat environment.

Miscommunication from the business on the job – is there a good fit?

FurstPerson developed motivation assessments to measure a job candidate’s fit into the true organizational culture. Culture-alignment is critical to employee engagement, meaning specific behavioral tendencies are important to employee success. Put a person indifferent to performance management in a position, and it is guaranteed the employee will not work towards goals and objectives and will not be a good team player. Hire someone who is excitable and spontaneous in a fast-moving call center, and the risk of the employee making critical mistakes with customers is high. These are the indepth characteristics the pre-employment assessment can identify.

Assessing the candidate in job Context reduces attrition

Identifying a candidate’s personality and behavioral fit for the role (will they ENJOY this job?) and their technical ability (will the technology and speed of the role stress them out?) will reduce early stage attrition. Customized assessments are also a major tool for successful recruiting because they enable serious job candidates to determine if the job is right for them.

Two of the important aspects of FurstPerson pre-employment assessments is that they are not standardized and they are evidence-based. This is just a way of saying the assessments will measure the job candidate’s personality, behaviors and skills in context of the personality, behaviors and skills that have proven successful in the workforce for particular positions. High attrition and turnover is not something employers just have to live with because there are high-quality solutions available ” pre-employment assessments.