Are call centres really the "dark, satinic mills"of the 21st century

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Murray, Declan
Issue Date
BA (Hons) in Human Resource Management
Dublin Business School
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"The growth in call centres in Ireland, the UK and Continental Europe is one of most remarkable phenomena of the nineties. At the start of the decade, few would have anticipated the expansion in this sector, let alone it emergence as one of the most significant areas business activity." (Quote from Precision Marketing, 1999) Call centres are usually customer service sites/centres provided by large companies as a means of communication over the telephone, fax and email between company representatives and the customers. It gives customers the opportunity to solve after any after sales problems or queries they may have. The subject this was chosen, in the light the emerging employment issues, such as levels of trade union membership, employee attrition stress and pressure of the work involved as well as the predictions for the of growth of call centres, in the future. In order to an insight into the call center industry it was necessary to gain data from both primary and secondary sources, to establish if call centres are "dark satanic mills of the twenty-first century" that some industry commentators claim that they are. The authors primary research came from carrying out a survey among employees of a typical pan – European call center located in Dublin, Ireland. Which revealed interesting information, in relation to the attitudes and opinions which call center employee hold of the industry in which are a part. The secondary research, which mostly came from UK, HR and Marketing magazines as well as Irish Newspaper supplements and articles, revealed a high level of dissatisfaction among employees, with such issues as career development prospects, monotony, pressure and intensity of the work involved, which result in a of staff turnover. The results of the primary revealed that, none of the respondents are currently members of a trade unions, is not surprising as the survey was carried out in a company that does not recogonise trade unions. Fifty percent of tile respondents survey said that, non-union recognition of trade unions was principal reason why they had not joined a trade union, indicates that the anti -union policy of many US owned companies operating in Ireland is suppressing the right of employees to join trade unions. In comparison over half of all call centres in the UK recognise trade unions. The largest area, with forty-five percent of respondents dissatisfied, is in the area of pay and conditions. Sixty percent of respondents felt that one of the main benefits of trade union membership, would be an improvement in their salaries. In the future I would recommend that call center management heed the requests of their employees, with regards to employee relationship some call center operators continue to ignore their staff grievances, a continuation of high levels of employee attrition is likely to continue, resulting in wasted investment in recruitment and training, poorer of customer care and ultimately the loss of customers.