It really surprises me what people at my company expect from us, the management. We are very, very clear about our expectations -- we are open 24 hours a day, which means that you can expect to work some holidays, evenings, and weekends, especially when you're new. We're also a site that does shift bids, and they're based on performance. If you want a new schedule, you have to wait for the next shift bid, and you have to be doing your job reasonably well. We'll make exceptions for emergencies, but only rarely, and it's still based on performance and behavior. Lest you worry that new agents can't compete, trust me, the bar's not that high -- if you want to do well, you will. I would say that anyone with a modicum of intelligence and common sense could easily rise to the top 10% within a few months. We provide a lot of support and additional training, too, in case you're just not that smart or you just learn better from one on one help.
Nonetheless, despite the fact that they are told all this not only at the interview, but in orientation as well (if they're offered a position) and in training, it seems that every single new class will have two or three people that feel that they are above the rules.
This is probably our number one reason for attrition right now -- people making unreasonable requests, then leaving when they're not approved.
One person in recent memory decided that his family came first. This is a common phrase to hear, of course, in the workplace -- but he decided that it meant that literally any family need would come before any work need, all the time. So, if his kids were even the slightest bit ill or even just didn't have anything to do that day, he wouldn't come in. He was also very inconsistent about calling in. Thus, he missed about two-thirds of his first two weeks, with several no-calls, which we take seriously. He wouldn't respond to our phone calls.
The next time he came in, we had "The Meeting" with him. He became very agitated and quit on the spot, screaming "I can't believe that this company is so hostile to families!" Have you ever had a freaking job, bub?
It got to upper management that he made this comment, and they practically grilled me about it.
"So, what happened with Agent X? He's telling everyone we're not flexible with families."
"He told me that he should be entitled to miss work whenever he wants, and that we cannot ever count it against him on his scores because it's family related. He also says that he should not have to call us if he wants to miss work. I told him that everyone gets a number of occurrences, and that we do consider the reason for being absent, but he needs to find some source of child care and be at work more consistently. He missed a week and two days out of his first two weeks after training."
"So, what do you think we could have done differently, to retain this agent?"
"Uhhh... well, I guess we could have completely bent over backwards and allowed this, but then every agent would ask for the same treatment, and we'd have attendance problems beyond the pale of what we already have."
"Well, we shouldn't give up on people so easily."
" ... Do you want me to make this accommodation? We can, if it's from your direction."
"No, I'm not saying that, no. I'm just saying we need to reduce our attrition." [walks away]
Urgh. Upper management. They vaguely want something, but they don't know how to get what they want, so they blame the little guys for not meeting impossible goals.
This week, it was a similar situation. An agent has school schedules that keep mysteriously changing, and she expects to be able to pick her schedule every time it does. She wanted a weekday off now (she's already part time at the minimum hours required) and wanted to just, you know, work the extra hours kind of whenever she wanted. I let her know that, because she has Saturdays off, that if she wanted an accommodation so fast, I could arrange if it she wanted to take Saturdays (which are busy right now). She said that no, she didn't want to give up Saturdays off. I said, ok, but it'll probably be declined, especially because her attendance was so poor (she had already missed several days because of vague school-related reasons, and still couldn't understand why those were counted on her scores instead of just freebies).
Sure enough, it was declined. Now, all of a sudden, she's telling people she has class on Saturdays. She didn't say this when I talked to her. She won't bring in a class schedule, either, because she says it's an informal lecture but it's required for her to attend by her professor. Of course it is.
I take it to my manager who again denies her request unless she works Saturdays. The agent decides to pull the "I'm not going to come in until you fix my schedule" scheme. We advise her that this is not acceptable, and she chooses to quit.
I'm looking forward to being grilled about this one. Here's how it will probably go:
"So, why did we lose Agent C so soon after training?"
"As with many agents, she was making unreasonable demands for scheduling, which I can tell you about if you like."
"What I'd like to know is how we could have retained this agent."
"I guess I could have let her pick whatever schedule she wanted, and miss days whenever she wanted, too. Oh, and let her study at work on the clock instead of taking calls, that probably would have helped, too. I could have bought her a Trapper Keeper. Maybe that would have helped. Is there budget money for Trapper Keepers?"
Ok, that's probably not how it would go, except in my fantasy. My work fantasy life is pretty lame. I should at least get a raise in my fantasy, but I can't suspend my disbelief.