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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).


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.


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


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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