At call centres, work schedules change frequently and are often announced at the last minute, which causes absenteeism and turnover. We analyzed the call centre of a major Spanish electricity company. This centre requires a long initial training period and therefore turnover is especially damaging. New scheduling methods were adopted that limited the variability of individual timetables. Lower turnover and absenteeism were expected to compensate for the disadvantages of limitations to changes in timetables. We developed a software tool to assign timetables. An interval of time was assigned to each worker. The software calculated the coverage demand associated with these assignments. Next, the software establishes work on weekends and public holidays, weekday days off and, finally, individual timetables. This process is fully automatic, but every detail is displayed. Middle managers approved of the new policy and the tool. Nonetheless, turnover decreased less than expected and absenteeism, rather than decreasing, increased.
CitationOlivella, J.; Pastor, R. "Stabilizing work schedules in a call centre: expected and unexpected results". OR Insight, 2006, Vol. 19, No. 1, p. 26-32.
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