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MYTH #1: It costs $4,683 to hire a contact center agent

Is this plausible?

Contact centers depend on frontline workers to create exceptional customer experiences (CXs). However, with average annual attrition hovering around 42%, the industry has struggled for decades to hire people who stay and perform well. Data suggest that attrition-related problems are accelerating despite advances in recruiting and talent assessment technologies.


A 2004 U.S. Call Center Industry Benchmark study reported attrition of 33% compared to 42% in 2022, a trend consistent with year-over-year increases in the broader U.S. economy (see Figure 1).


FIGURE 1: 2011 - 2021 ANNUAL ATTRITION IN THE U.S.

High attrition requires centers to hire more people to maintain headcount; it’s an expensive cycle. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimates that, across all jobs, companies spend $4,683 to hire one person. However, the contact center industry’s median cost per hire is substantially lower at $1,750, according to ContactBabel.


An alternative to generic benchmarks is to calculate cost-per-hire directly. Figure 2 outlines internal and external expenses that affect a company’s cost-per-hire.


FIGURE 2: COST-PER-HIRE CATEGORIES


Box 1 below shows that it costs $2,250 ($94,492 / 42 hires) to hire one person in our featured 100-seat center. Our estimate is less than half of SHRM’s benchmark and 29% higher than ContactBabel’s median.



So, the myth that the average cost-per-hire for a contact center agent is $4,683 is plausible but unlikely. We draw this conclusion for three reasons.


First, the $4,683 estimate is an average across jobs, including executive roles.


Second, a few very high cost-per-hire estimates are inflating SHRM’s estimate.


Third, the expense categories highlight the role of market-specific factors, such as office space, in cost-per-hire calculations.



Want to learn more? Check out these other myths:


Stay tuned for other myths that will be busted!



**Excerpt from The Hard and Hidden Costs of Attrition by Mark Alpern and Brent Holland published in December 2022 in the Contact Center Pipeline magazine


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Find out how Cinareo can guide your decision-making for hiring ahead of attrition in order to maximize your profitability and boosting employee performance and satisfaction.



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