Call Centres - monitoring

Margaret Williamson worked in unionis and in OHS for many years.  When Compensation, OHS and Training Officer for the Victorian branch of the Communications, Electrical, Plumbing Union (CEPU) she prepared this talk about monitoring in call centres.

Being Micro-Managed to Death

In call centres, in order to increase profits, the worker is made/forced/threatened/intimidated through excessive monitoring to become a part of the process, to fit the technology used.

The OH&S standard approach is that the workplace and the processes of work should be made or designed to fit the needs of the individual worker.

Technology used to monitor workers then and now. There is too much monitoring and workers are being overmonitored.

Who and what are monitored

  • Calls per hour
  • Length of calls
  • Time transferring calls
  • Amount of rework
  • Adherence to roster/start and finish times
  • Adherence to standard/set phrases
  • Number of sales
  • Dollar value of sales
  • Tone of voice
  • Quality of call
  • Compliance with company policies
  • Team performance
  • The worker as a team member
  • Shareholder satisfaction
  • Sick leave
  • Toilet breaks
  • Who the worker calls
  • Who the worker emails
  • How the worker uses company assets
  • Customer information

All of this information can be stored indefinitely.

Monitoring = Stress Related Illnesses

Monitored workers report:

  • Higher workloads
  • More tension
  • More anxiety
  • Higher levels of depression
  • More anger
  • Higher fatigue
  • Higher levels of stress and other stress related illnesses

Extensive monitoring has been used to bully and harass workers.

What the Union says:

Monitoring should be developed through agreement with workers' representatives.

Monitoring should only be used to train, encourage and support workers - not to discipline and intimidate them.

Workers should always be informed they are being monitored, and for what purpose.

Monitoring as a performance measure should not be so oppressive and intrusive that is interferes with the health and well-being of workers.

Monitoring processes should also be accompanied by procedures for fair and effective grievance raising and problem solving.

Monitoring practices which affect the health and well-being of Call Centre workers should be addressed as OHS issues - by employers, by unions, by OHS reps and by government inspectors.

Last amended February 2015