Calling all call centre workers - could your company make your working life more family friendly?

(21 Posts)
catlovingdoctor Mon 30-Jun-14 22:59:59

Things like calls overrunning past the end of shifts and the time not being made up to you..might sound a bit petty but when you're on an hourly wage which they take ages to pay you and have to make trains, etc it can get a bit irritating..

Ubik1 Thu 15-May-14 17:33:25

uggmum

I am shock at how lovely your employer is.

We get a bit of toast at 5 am. Sometimes.

Sometimes there's a raffle.

Ubik1 Thu 15-May-14 17:29:33

I work in a public sector 24 hour call centre.

Turnover is high

I recently asked for nightshifts to be reduced to less than 50 % of my rota as I have three children and survive nights on less than five hours sleep a day. This request was denied due to 'expense' and 'service demand.'

Parental leave is offered but not granted. A/L is often denied.

They are constantly training new people. Which must be expensive.

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Snatchoo Mon 03-Mar-14 15:40:32

My company is number 3 on the list!

That doesn't surprise me tbh - we are unionised so I think they bend over backwards for parents (note: the parents of 22 year olds that can't be on a flexi contract because they 'have to be home for the kids' - true story btw!) rather than face potential union action.

I am a parent but I work full time on a regular schedule because DH is a SAHD. I was told I couldn't take carer's leave to look after my husband when he was ill - he had swine flu, I was looking after the children NOT him! (Not that it should matter - carer's leave isn't just for children)

But like I said before, I think this is specific to my dept rather than the company as a whole.

Snatchoo Mon 03-Mar-14 15:35:31

I work in a call centre.

Things are sort of flexible - they were happy to agree to my flexi working requests when it was because of childcare - but when it isn't, they aren't.

I do have a weeks unpaid carer's leave which has been helpful, but they won't let me use holiday unless there are hours available for it! I don't get the logic of this, if I have to be off to look after the children, I have to be off - saying I might face disciplinary action doesn't change that!

Having said that, I didn't have a problem when my twins were little and I was off seemingly every other day.

I was hired on a 12-8 Monday-Friday shift which changed when we started to be open on a Saturday. I'd rather work lates than ever do a Saturday.

The other benefits are good but my department in particular is shitty and these and other issues are really getting me down.

QwertyBird Sun 02-Mar-14 00:51:27

I have worked in several of call centres. One was in the holiday industry, and was very good. It worked both ways though, if they needed you to stay late or change shifts, you would do it.
The last one was for a company contracted by a large telecommunications company, and it was hell on earth. They were VERY difficult over children being ill etc, but then if X could not come to work at 12 because their child was ill, they would not even attempt to get cover for the shift. So it made the staff feel that they were being difficult for the sake of it, rather than business needs if you see what I mean. Turn over if staff was very high, costing the company a fortune in training etc too.
I left because it was soul destroying. I rang one morning to say "I'm very sorry but I can't get there this morning, my little boy has been sick all night and I have nobody to care for him", to be met with "you don't tell me you can't come in, I tell you if you can have the day off and you can't". I wasn't leaving my sick child alone I'm afraid, so had to hand in my notice.
The others were more balanced between the two.finding a balance of flexibility that benefits the business and the staff is key. I did 12 hour days at one job, rather than shorter days over more days. That worked well. I would love to get that again, 2.5 -3 days a week was perfect for me, the company was getting nearer full time hours than part time too.

CannotthinkofaNN Sat 01-Mar-14 12:32:20

The things I most appreciate are being able to ring up in the morning for same day holiday and booking holiday at short notice. Also being allowed to start late/finish early for school plays etc. As my employer helps me out I am also willing to work my day off or stay late if a large volume of calls is forecast.

NomNomNom Thu 27-Feb-14 17:14:34

I don't work in a call centre anymore but used to. Flexible hours would definitely make life a whole lot easier. I had one employer who hired me to work 5-9 for a while, and when I couldn't do that (after weeks of training), they fired me rather than giving me different hours or a different job in the same call centre.

In my opinion, employees' flexibility should be returned in the same way by the employer, it's good for morale.

The fact that so many call centre staff are agency workers definitely complicates things though as it's easy for the company and the agency to hide behind 'well, this is our contract' and 'that wouldn't work for [the other one]' etc.

We are in North London.
I guess that could be an issue, greydog we do not use agency staff so I dont know too much about it but that does sound a terrible way to treat people.

Greydog Thu 27-Feb-14 12:49:50

I wonder where the more friendly companies are based? Are they South/London? The other problem with call centres is the number of people employed on an agency basis. They're not looked on as "proper" employees, some have worked on the same job for years. They have few rights, little protection, and are shabbily treated

DrewsWife Thu 27-Feb-14 09:45:39

Wow. I work in a call centre. It's pretty inflexible. Low pay but I get the odd perk like working on my days off lol. Think I need to rethink my employer

uggmum Thu 27-Feb-14 07:40:12

The company I work for has a large call centre. They recruit externally into the call centre and then promote internally from there.

My employer is extremely family friendly. We have an on site crèche which both my children attended from age 6mths to 4years. We pay discounted fees.

It's a 24 hour organisation and my hours completely fit round family life, I am entitled to parental leave if my children are ill and family leave for other circumstances. If there is an inset day or strike day at school they will change my hours to suit me.

We have family fun days and discounted events for family and receive many gifts, ie all mothers receive a Mother's day gift and we all received a gift on Valentine's day.

We also have a concierge service where someone will run errands for you when you are at work, ie shop, post items, tax your car etc.

We have an on site ironing service, a gym and you can get your car valetted.

To be honest the list goes on. It really is a great place to work.

Greydog Wed 26-Feb-14 21:36:32

I was a union rep in a company that had call centres. It was like working on a production line. They had "family friendly policies" but always managed not to use them. They were reluctant to give flexible working, leave in school holidays almost impossible. It was a miserable place for the people that worked there - and no doubt still is. the transport problem is another issue as mentioned above. So many companies are London based where there are buses/trains that they don't believe people who can't get to work if there isn't a bus running. Not all can afford cars. What would improve things? Common sense, and TALKING to your people.

jimijack Wed 26-Feb-14 19:35:01

I'm about to start work in a call centre.
I am leaving nursing due to the inflexible working patterns and lack of support for working parents.
The call centre is great, they are accommodating my needs allowing me to work evening's 1800-2300 and weekends 7am- 5pm. I have offered flexibility and so have they.
I have no intention of taking the piss, I am loyal & Very hard working but nursing made my work/life balance impossible and stressful.

I was sick of feeling guilty and pulled in different directions constantly.

Thecircle Wed 26-Feb-14 19:21:30

I work in a call centre for a government dept.

I'm a single mum and my employers could not have been more supportive or flexible.

We have same day holidays requests, flexi hours and both paid and unpaid emergency leave.

Debs75 Wed 26-Feb-14 18:46:41

My nephew works in a call centre and although he doesn't have his own family yet there is one thing they could do to help everyone. He lives out of town an hour away and as a result has few buses to get him there and back. The company is not flexible and he often starts his commute at 6.30 for a 10 am start. Then he leaves dead on 6pm only for him to miss his bus by 10 mins and have to wait almost 4 hours for the later bus. He spends a lot of time wandering in Tescos.

A bit of flexibility wouldn't go amiss. Just knowing your workers transport plans and realising that a vast majority rely on crap public transport would be a start.

If he did have his own family he would never see them as he is sometimes out of the house for well over 15 hours each day

They have a really low staff turnover, once you get here, you don't want to leave grin
I've been working for the company for 16 years, through 2 house moves and 3 maternity leaves.

They promote internally, pretty much always as well so it's the same staff, just different roles.

NotAQueef Wed 26-Feb-14 15:23:15

Wow Tantrums they sound like a great company to work for. It's no wonder they are rewarded with staff loyalty.

The company I work for has a call centre in it, I actually started working in the call centre when I was 18. I still work for the same company but not in the same role.

Anyway, it is one of the most family friendly places I have ever heard of. But it is a very relaxed environment overall.

Our employers are aware that being a working parent presents a few unexpected challenges and we were always able to change our shift times if there was a school event we wanted to attend. During holidays we were able to switch shifts which was great for me as DH would work 7-2 and i would work 3-9.

We have 1 week emergency parental leave, paid. Also we can request holiday on the day we need it so if a child is unable to go to school/childcare we can book annual leave that morning.

The managers also encourage us to bring in older DCs to the office on inset days etc so we didnt lose a days pay or holiday.

People are able to work 10-2 which fits in with the school times, or 8-4, or 9.30-3, whichever fits in best or evenings 5-9

I cannot think of anything they could do to make the staff lives easier.

carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 26-Feb-14 12:38:10

Hi there

A number of our Family Friendly companies operate call centres and we have been talking to them about what Family Friendly policies they could offer to make that working experience better, while ensuring that the calls still get answered.

We just wondered if any mners had any experience of this kind of work, or knew someone who did it and what, if any, suggestions you might have for HR policies or company culture that could make life easier. Or perhaps your company is already getting it right - in which case please share!

Thanks all

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