The South African call centre and BPO industry, which employs more than 200 000 people and has consistently grown at 15% per annum for the past decade, has to devise new and innovative staffing strategies and tactics to maintain this momentum.

This is one of the findings of the country's first Human Capital Focus Report for the Contact Centre and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Industry. The report was launched today by C3Africa following demand from national organisations and contact centre and BPO operators to provide relevant and accurate information to enable them to compare their contact centre operations and capabilities with their peers and competitors – and to address current personnel issues with fact-based business intelligence.
It will also aid the industry in finding solutions to rapidly bring about contact centre industry "transformation", the provision of "decent work, career pathing, skills development" and the eradication of "unfair, unjust and immoral labour practices".
The 2009 Human Capital Focus Report comes at a time when the local contact centre industry is experiencing several major upheavals – certain of these issues relate to pressures being brought to bear on the industry by some quarters of organised labour demanding the disbanding and banning of "labour broker"  and "flexible staffing" employment practices. The implications of this threat would have severe negative effects on the industry as a whole with tens of thousands of potential job losses at stake.  
But the survey indicates that the human resource management practices in most sectors of the South African call centre and BPO industry are positive and healthy.
The majority of call centres have employee wellness programmes in place, including access to educational services, financial planning advice, legal assistance, 24×7 psychological support, and staff canteen facilities. The survey also revealed that between 60% and 75% of most contact centre's operational costs are vested in the recruitment, training and remuneration of personnel.
The survey also reveals that the typical agent remains in the call centre between 12 and 24 months. Findings from the report indicate that some of the primary reasons for high agent attrition as being salary related, frustration with IT systems, lack of career development initiatives, job design and leadership development.
 “South African contact centres certainly appear to be striving to build world class operating environments,” says Rod Jones, marketing director of the Ascentys-C3Africa Group. “However, to succeed in our prevailing economic conditions, businesses need to enhance their competitive advantage through the retention and development of key staff, and by providing exciting and dynamic career options to all levels of personnel – starting with the agent pool.
"The data, interpretive insights and the business intelligence contained in the Human Capital Report will provide many of the key strategic and tactical solutions," he says.