This is the original Bullyonline website developed by the late Tim Field. It is provided as a testament to his pioneering work. Visit our new website.

stress, call, centre, center, harassment, bullying, centres, centers, toilet, break, breaks, ccma,
management, association, dark, satanic, mill, mills
Constant criticism, excessive monitoring, denial of rights, abuse, coercion, threat? Read this

Bullying in call centres

A TUC hotline set up for call centre employees in the UK to report unhealthy practices has been flooded with calls. Amongst the worst examples are employers' attitudes to toilet breaks, from keeping logs of time spent on the loo to forcing the person needing most frequent breaks to wear a nappy. The Call Centre Management Association (CCMA) was disappointed with the poor management in some call centres. Meanwhile a report by the Industrial Society suggested a link between badly run call centres and mental health problems. The report, New Work, New Stress, indicated that the obsession with efficiency and productivity resulted in reduced control for employees, a significant factor in mental health problems.

Call centres handling telemarketing and telesales, one of the fastest growing industrial sectors in the UK and Republic of Ireland, have been hailed as the saviour of British jobs. However, working practices and conditions vary and rates of 50% staff turnover are common. Some call centres have churn rates in excess of 80% and staff turnover rates of 100% or more have been reported.

Phrases like "sweat shop" and "slave labour" are frequently used to describe working conditions. Whilst managers have been reported as claiming that 87% of staff enjoyed their jobs, less than 60% of employees said they were happy.

Among the worst examples are:

No need for toilet breaks in this call centre
One solution to toilet breaks...





Some facts and figures:

David Oliver, a researcher in Newcastle, northeast England, reports that the hi-tech software used by most modern call centres allows supervisors to directly compare call length and amount per hour. Although this is a useful management tool, it is used by supervisors on the floor of the call center to discuss which staff are better than others. This is discussed openly and meant to induce competitiveness but in reality often leads to undue competition which makes people more stressed when they deal with customers. Supervisors can also specify particular call takers and transfer calls straight to them, rather than let the system distribute calls fairly.

In many centres there is a poor structure whereby the management (who are mostly competent and well respected) put pressure on the supervisors to increase performance. These supervisors are not professionals; all they do is increase the pressure on the call takers. This increases the stress on the call takers who, due to this stress, underperform. This underperformance is picked up by the managers who again pile on the pressure. It's this cycle of pressure, David suggests, which leads to unhappiness at all levels and is thus the cause of the high turnover rate.

Bully OnLine is a gold mine of insight and information on bullying which identifies the different types of harassment and bullying, and exposes the main perpetrator, the serial bully. Everyone knows at least one person in their life with the profile of the serial bully. Click here to see ...who has this behaviour profile in your life?

Have a look through this web site to recognise the bullies and bullying in your life ... start with Am I being bullied? then move on to What is bullying? To find out what you can do about bullying, click Action to tackle bullying. Have a look at the profile of the serial bully which is common to sociopathic managers, harassers, stalkers, rapists, violent partners, abusers, pedophiles, even serial killers of the organized kind.

If bullying and harassment have caused injury to your health, commonly diagnosed as "stress", see the page on injury to health and the one on the psychiatric injury of trauma, a collection of symptoms congruent with the diagnostic criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.

Where now at Related Issues?
Violence, rage, abuse, discrimination and issues related to bullying
Related Issues Home Page
Bullying by neighbours | Bullying by landlords
Bullying by the church | Bullying and cults | Bullying and prisons
Bullying and whistleblowing | Bullying and stammering
Bullying and age discrimination | Bullying and long hours
Bullying and minorities | Bullying of gays and lesbians
Transsexuals and bullying | Bullying and disfigurement
Bullying and adoption | Bullying and eating disorders
Bullying and racism | Bullying because you're seen as overweight or fat
The cost of drugs and alcohol at work | Corporate bullying and fad-speak
Working from home | Management consultants
Bullying and business ethics | Toxic management | Bullying and fat cats
Bullying and call centres | Bullying and snooping
Cyberbullying, emails and the Internet
Abusive telephone calls | Bullying and mobile phones
Health and safety | The welfare officer
Domestic violence | A serial bully in the family | Female violence
Bullying and anger | Road rage, office rage | Verbal violence
Violence | Gun violence | Spree killings
Bullying and abuse | Sexual abuse | Drug rape | Stalking
Bullying in the movies | Trauma and the paranormal

Home Pages
The Field Foundation
| Bully OnLine
Workplace bullying | School bullying | Family bullying
Bullying news | Bullying case histories
Bullying resources | Press and media centre
Stress, PTSD and psychiatric injury
Action to tackle bullying | Related issues

Success Unlimited
Books on bullying and related issues