Regional

Repair image or else, HR expert warns call centres

BY HORACE HINES Observer West reporter

Thursday, July 03, 2014    

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — CEO of Great People Solutions Lisa Soares Lewis has urged stakeholders in the call centre industry here in the second city to do all they can to repair the negative image that fraudsters have brought on the sector if they intend to attract the best talent in the country and ultimately, survive.

Part of that work, she said, involves doing background checks on potential employees and ensuring that standards are met.

But HR manager at Integrity Solutions Service Inc Peta-Gaye King complained that although all call centres are guilty of recruiting workers from each other's company, some of their numbers in the freezone were hindering that process of background checks by refusing to provide references for former employees.

"Now, in order for us to protect our industry, we need to know who is out there committing fraud, who has terrible attendance, who can't read, who can't do things, who don't have good work ethics. I have companies who refuse to share that information with us. One company actually said 'do not call us, we don't ask you so you don't need to ask us'. And I was like wow!" King argued.

"I was really particular in saying 'should I touch on this corn today'? And I said 'but why not'? I don't ever see you all so I am going to go there. I have been here since 2003 and that's sad -- I cannot get a reference from the companies in the Freezone. All the companies that give me references on a regular basis are XEROX and OMI, which is Alliance One -- which isn't here (today).

She was speaking Friday during a panel discussion on concerns in the IT industry at the first in the quarterly HR Leaders Forum hosted at Vista Print Jamaica in Barnett Tech Park by Columbus Communications Jamaica Limited and the Business Process Industry.

"I am an advocate for references because I want them. I need to know when you worked at the other call centre what did you do? 'Cause we steal people from everybody. We steal. I am not going to lie and I am trying hard to not steal."

Several of the human resource managers in attendance at the forum agreed with King.

But if nothing is done to stem the current tide, Soares Lewis, who was guest speaker at the forum, believes the industry will suffer.

"I think employees now are choosing 'do I go and work with a bank with a high reputation, a communications company, or do I come to this industry'?" the human resource expert noted, making reference to the poor reputation with which call centre businesses have been dogged in recent years.

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