Call Center Staff Turnover - a workable remedy

The level of staff turnover in Call Centers is a major Management challenge. In my own view the core reason is to be found in Galley Slave operational mode in call centers.. who wants to volunteer to be a Galley Slave ? However the idea of approaching this problem from the recruitment and staff selection side is very refreshing and may very well prove a solution to focussing management on what conditions exactly do we offer staff in a call center .

Others with experience and views on this subject is encouraged to submit articles and notes.

Niels Kjellerup 18.06.98


1. Summary of Introduction by Anthony J. Adorno ( sent to me as email, but contains valuable points not repeated in the article)

2. The Article 'An Innovative Approach for Cost-effective Turnover Reduction




Summary & introduction:

Over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to develop working relationships with several companies through the internet based on our innovative method for reducing employee turnover.

Although the Job Congruence System (JCS) is in its developmental infancy, it certainly has raised more than a few eyebrows as a method for attacking a pervasive and enigmatic problem. In fact, in May it was cited as a "Best Practice in HR" by the Human Resources Learning Center . In one organization, this type of system has shown to reduce turnover by 54% (from 168% to approximately 78%). In another, this type of process lowered annual turnover rates from 120% to 48% (60% reduction). These figures are significant to some decision makers- such as those in the call centre industry- where up to 70% of their organization's total costs are a result of unnecessary employee turnover.

Here are the basics:

1. The JCS is designed specifically to reduce employee turnover. It is designed to assess the compatibility ("fit") between the demands of the job and the interests of the applicants.

2. It is most useful for positions in which there a number of negativities associated with job duties.

3. Currently this process is customized to fit each client's environment.

4. Because of its design, applicants have great difficulty "faking" their responses to appear more favourable to HR managers.

5. After customization It is a 80-100 item inventory, and takes about 15-20
minutes to administer.

6. The JCS instrument can be scored by in-house HR staff.

7. At this time there are no per applicant screening fees; it is marketed as a system, and can be used as often as the client desires.

We have prepared a brief article about the JCS, and I would be interested in having it considered for publication at your Website. It describes the system in detail, and includes discussion of its theory and validation evidence.

Introduction by Anthony J. Adorno in Email to the Editor.


The Article : An Innovative Approach for Cost-effective Turnover Reduction

by John F. Binning, Ph.D., and Anthony J. Adorno, M.S. of The Human Resource Group.

The Job Congruence System (JCS)

This article describes an HR management tool for decreasing turnover which is based on professional research linking various job characteristics to job applicants’ sources of frustration. While this selection process is relatively new to the professional HR literature, it has been shown to dramatically reduce annual turnover rates. In one organization where this type of process was used, annual turnover was reduced by 54% (from 168% to approximately 78%). In another organization, the process lowered annual turnover from 120% to 48% (60% reduction).


There are many potential causes for turnover. Certainly, area economic conditions, as well as other factors such as labor market conditions, affect general turnover rates. These more general causes for involuntary turnover are difficult to directly manage. However, there are certain causes for voluntary turnover that are associated with any specific job in a given organization (e.g., non-competitive compensation, high stress, unpleasant physical or interpersonal working conditions, monotony, and poor direct supervision) that can be managed.

One management option for addressing the issue of employee turnover is to change the job to eliminate negative characteristics, but this often is not feasible or desirable. An alternative method for reducing turnover is to screen out potential leavers during the hiring process. Organizations can use the information regarding negative job characteristics as part of their pre-employment screening process in order to identify job applicants who are likely to have particularly adverse reactions to these characteristics.


There is an alternative pre-screening method for reducing employee turnover which has demonstrated both effectiveness and consistency. The system described here is called the Job Congruence System (JCS). In the HR literature, this general approach has been referred to as job compatibility or job congruence assessment. The JCS focuses on motivational characteristics of employees as opposed to traditional assessment of knowledge, skills, and abilities. The three basic steps of the JCS are, (1) identifying specific negative job characteristics which are used to (2) create a custom screening instrument in order to (3) screen out individual job applicants who are most likely to have negative reactions to specific job characteristics.


The JCS is not an "off-the-shelf" assessment instrument. The predominant feature of the JCS which is likely responsible for its success is its client-specific, customized development. The JCS development process creates a standardized assessment instrument specifically tailored to target jobs in a given organization.

We have been working with a Fortune 50 telecommunications company that wanted to reduce their annual turnover for customer service and telemarketing representatives in 20 call centers. Although there were no specific estimates calculated for costs relating to annual turnover, the company currently screens two thousand applicants a month, and has a 135% annual turnover rate.

The development of the JCS instrument began by administering a structured job analysis questionnaire specifically designed to identify personal characteristics associated with successful job performance. Current employees indicated the degree to which each of the statements contained in the questionnaire were necessary for successful job performance. The structured survey also included a section of open-ended questions, to which employees reported in detail the most consistently frustrating aspects of their job duties. This information was subsequently examined, and redundancies were eliminated.

The survey results were augmented through employee focus groups in order to clarify ambiguous information, inconsistencies, and to gather additional data. The sample of employees selected for participation in the focus group meetings was independent of those who completed the structured questionnaires and open-ended questions described above. Confidentiality was maintained, and employees spoke freely about the negative characteristics associated with their job responsibilities. Focus group facilitators guided the discussion, and occasionally asked questions specifically designed to clarify uncertainties with the existing job analysis data.

To summarize the JCS findings for the telemarketing representative position in this organization, representatives are primarily frustrated with system problems, dealing with constant rejection, noise in their work areas, the pay system, scheduling, goal setting and achievement, and the frequency of unannounced changes. Although to a lesser degree, they also reported factors associated with their co-workers, supervisors, and training to be significant sources of job-discomfort. Based on the information gathered from the job analysis, the JCS instrument was then assembled in order to be pilot tested so that necessary refinements could be made.


Validity evidence for this system is strong. First, it is based on a rigorous job analysis. From a legal perspective, the courts have consistently ruled more favorably for screening processes which were developed from competent job analyses. Second, it has "face validity". That is, job applicants see the relevance of the questionnaire and are unlikely to question its use. Third, the underlying constructs or dimensions assessed via the questionnaire are consistent with those required for successful job performance. Fourth, localized validation research can provide strong empirical support, which also is reviewed very favorably. Finally, this type of screening has no prior history of litigation.

An impressive way to bolster claims of validity is to collect empirical data and statistically demonstrate that the information collected from job applicants actually "predicts" important aspects job performance. To reiterate the effectiveness of this type of process: in one organization annual turnover was reduced by 54% (from 168% to approximately 78%), and in another the process lowered annual turnover from 120% to 48% (60% reduction). While this empirical validation research (i.e., criterion-related) is not legally mandated, various regulatory agencies and the courts have consistently been impressed with organizations’ attempts to empirically investigate the quality of their selection practices. In addition, the information collected can guide refinements to the assessment process that improve decision making over time, thus returning the initial investment in the form of a more effective workforce and less legal vulnerability.

Contact details : Anthony Adorno, MS, Human Resource Group. Email:

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