Cornell University

Global Call Center Project

169 Ives Faculty Building, 607-254-4437

AustraliaAustralian Graduate School of Management

National Country Report

"The Australian Call Center Industry: Work Practices, Human Resource Management, and Institutional Pressures."  A Project of the Australian Graduate School of Management, UNSW, and Hallis, Pty., Ltd., 2005.

This report is the outcome of a project between the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM), which is a school of UNSW and Sydney University, and Hallis, Pty Ltd who are a leading recruitment and research organisation in the call center industry.

This report is the first large-scale national survey of work, human resource practices, and institutional pressures (organisations or other external pressures which influence call centers) in the Australian call center industry.  It is based on a survey of call center managers in a sample of 83 call centers, fielded in 2004.  Call center and human resource managers provided information on the types of customers and industries served, competitive conditions, and management practices. 

Highlights of National Report

Strategy and Work

The majority of call center managers indicated that the strategic focus of their call center was service differentiation and the primary customer interaction involved agents providing service only or service and sales. Perhaps inconsistent with this are the findings that only a small percentage of interactions involved the agent building a rapport with the customer and that a considerable percentage of the agents’ work is scripted.

The way work is structured for call center employees appears fairly rigid, and there is only a small amount of discretion in the work they perform. Few agents are involved in self managed teams or quality or improvement groups and less than a quarter of agents have any flexibility in regard to being able to job share or tele-commute.

Human Resource Management

Call centers have been traditionally criticised for having poor human resource management indicator results, such as absenteeism, tenure and turnover. However, an encouraging finding in this study is that the figures reported appear to indicate better performance in these areas than has been previously noted.

In this study call center managers reported generally very good relations with employees in the call center. Employee resignation rates are reported at 16%, compared to previously reported rates of 26% (Hallis Turnover and Absenteeism Survey, 2003). On an average day, 7% of agents are absent which is a similar level to the all-industry national average and the length of tenure for call center employees is 30 months which is an increase on the length of tenure of 22 months reported by callcenters.net (2004).

Selected Call Center Publications

Frenkel, S.J., Orlitzky, M. and  C. Wallace.  “Accounting for Absence from Work in Australian Call Centres: Re-enter Human Relations Theory?” International Human Resource Conference Proceedings, Melbourne, 2005, pp.18.

Australian Research Team

Steve Frenkel, Professor
Organisation and Employment Relations
Australian Graduate School of Management
UNSW SYDNEY NSW 2052
Australia
stevef@agsm.edu.au

Markus Groth
Senior Lecturer, Organisational Behaviour
Australian Graduate School of Management
UNSW SYDNEY NSW 2052
Australia
markusg@agsm.edu.au
http://www.agsm.edu.au/mgroth

Report Co-Sponsors: Australian Graduate School of Management, Sydney University, and Hallis, Pty Ltd.

For more information, contact Steve Frenkel, stevef@agsm.edu.au.