Contact Center Absenteeism Rates


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I’ve been searching high and low for inbound call center absenteeism averages. I found several articles that cite an average of 5% to 10%. Is this what one would expect for an inbound call center? Do these numbers take into consideration excused and unexcused absences, or just the latter?

I would really appreciate some insight into this matter.

Thank you for your time,

Bill Price
June 15, 2007
Rates differ

Absenteeism rates vary by country/culture, “maturity” of the operations, whether captive or outsourced, and “pressure” being applied by the management team; the standard definition that we use includes excused and unexcused absences. We like to see absenteeism under 7% but in the US we’re seeing over 10% as the norm, unfortunately, close to 12%.

Bill Price

President, Driva Solutions

Creating and sustaining highly effective contact center strategies, locally and globally

A LimeBridge Global Alliance founding partner
phone 1-206-321-0841

Simon Kriss
June 18, 2007
Varies by country

I agree with Bill that this does indeed vary by country, culture and even the season (high absentee in Winter due to flu/sniffles – high absentee in Summer because the beach is SO nice). However, I have found that absenteeism is normally a symptom rather than a stand-alone problem. There is ALWAYS a reason for absenteeism. These reasons vary from bad air-conditioning filters causing actual illness through to unworkable KPIs causing stress or fatigue.

When we work with clients, we split “planned shrinkage” from “unplanned shrinkage”. We do this because, if Service Level is not met then we first look to ‘unplanned’ and if this number is OK, then we look to ‘planned’. One is a measure of who did not want to come to work, while the other is a measure of how well the WFM Manager is doing his/her job!

In Asia, absenteeism rates are all over the place. There seems to be no consistency between countries or between industries. We would like to see centres with an “unplanned shrinkage” of less than 5% but it does not always happen (particularly on Mondays). We don’t put an expectancy around “planned shrinkage” as this will vary based on projected workloads, business requirements, etc etc.

Simon Kriss

Jodie Monger
June 18, 2007
7-8% absenteeism is common

I generally see confirmation of the 5-10% absenteeism average for inbound contact centers for unexcused absences, such as illness or family emergencies. 7-8% is fairly common which is within the range cited in the articles referenced in the question. If the member has a number that is signifantly higher, he or she should seek some assistance to reduce that percentage.

Jodie Monger, Ph.D.

Mauricio del Rio
June 22, 2007
Excused absences

I would like to thank everyone for their insightful comments. What would everyone agree is the average percentage of unexcused (call-off) absences in the United States?

Thank you.

June 24, 2007

According to me, Unplanned leaves can be curbed by amending the absenteeism policy in which the wmployee would be penalised for atleast one quarter for single unplanned leave. Unplanned whould be treated as sin. Although we have to give sick leave a chance.

June 24, 2007

Tolerance level shd be 10%

Cy Edmondson
August 2, 2007

conventionaly the rate is 7 – 10 % . I understand that this is the “norm” , however dont accept it . The bottom line is that we need to get back to basics with our staff and start working with them. I know alot of this has been done , however it hasnt been done with genuine feeling. Change the perception of have to come to work , to want to come to work….Driving results through people is the answer!
( historicaly i manged to have a shrinkage of 2.3 percent for the year)

stavros bozikas
September 18, 2007
U.S. and EU Industry Absenteeism Rates

Can you please give me the US and EU Industry absenteeism rate?

Surbhi Hospital Pvt. Ltd
September 19, 2012
How to control ABSENTEEISM our request and appeal to all.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Absenteeism no doubt has become a big problem and a challenge for the management to overcome from this problem.This has become a worldwide problem for the organizations and they make their way to find out its solution,they do efforts and invest huge amount of money and time both but still it seems far away from our reach.Certainly there is a very simple way-Would we like it! IS A BIG QUESTION.
First we should honestly admit this fact,we should not take any decision in a hurry and try to understand problems of our employees and consider their applications sympathetically,genuinely an judge them properly,take your own time in this matter to decide it and then pass it if you find it true and correct.
we must love our employees,trust them,have faith on them after all for whom they are doing hard work,we all are benefited and take advantage of their devotion and dedication to us.Hardly they find time for them for their families. This is hard fact they are producing for us.This is their contribution for our nation in its progress,our progress and business promotion.


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