why can’t I keep this position filled?

A reader writes:

I have recently been through a string of people I’ve hired (three in a row) who have abandoned their job: no call no show, within the first two to three weeks. I know one left for a higher paying position. The other two did not have other jobs lined up that I know of.

This has been for the same position, an entry-level customer service representative at a small mortgage company. I have six other CSR’s who have been there for a while and say they love their job and the company. We are a great team who welcome all newcomers. The only difference is that this abandoned position is the only (and highly needed) bilingual Spanish/English position.

What on earth are these people thinking? I’m afraid of getting burned yet again. How do I prevent this from happening again?

I’d take a look at:

1. The market rate for similar jobs in your area. If you’re paying below what the people you’re hiring could be earning somewhere else, they’re more likely to jump ship as soon as they get a better offer (or even without one, if they conclude the pay isn’t enough to justify the work).

2. Whether you’re paying an additional premium for the language fluency. You probably should be — people fluent in both Spanish and English often have additional options or people willing to pay for the skills.

3. Whether the benefits you offer are competitive for your area. Look at things like your health insurance and its premiums and eligibility rules (if you have good insurance but it doesn’t kick in for the number of hours this position works, or if the premiums are prohibitively expensive, that’s going to turn people off), as well as how much paid vacation time and sick leave you offer.

4. How clear a picture people get of the job during the hiring process. Are there big downsides that people don’t discover until they start work (like that the work involves cold calling, or particularly angry customers, or horrible hours, or oppressive big-brother type rules, or a commission structure you weren’t transparent about, or anything else people often find unpleasant)?

5. Your office culture. You say you’re a great team that welcomes newcomers, but keep in mind that “great welcoming team” can manifest in all sorts of different ways, and not all of them will be everyone’s cup of tea. For instance, if it’s a highly social office with Nerf gun battles, some people will run screaming away, never to be seen again. On the other end of the spectrum, if it’s a quiet office where no one really talks to each other during the day, even though relations are perfectly warm and collegial, others might find that stifling. Whatever your culture, make sure that you’re painting a clear picture of it during the hiring process so that people who aren’t a fit can self-select out before you hire them.

6. How you’re screening people. Are you conducting rigorous interviews and making sure that people’s skills and temperaments fit the job? Are you ensuring they have stable work histories? Are you calling references and asking about reliability?

If you’re still stumped, you might reach out to the people who took the job and then disappeared, and tell them that you’d love their feedback on what went wrong so that you can try to make the job more appealing for the next hire. (You need to do this in a sympathetic, non-accusatory way though, or people just won’t bother returning the call.) But I’d bet the answer is in some combination of the six factors above.

{ 218 comments… read them below }

  1. AMG*

    I assume that all the positions are reporting to the same person and doing the same work. If not though, I’d check to see if there is an interpersonal dynamic that is getting in the way. It also sounds like you asked the others what they think if the job, but did you ask them why they think the other position can’t stay ataffed? Perhaps they are privy to some information or insight you don’t have yet. Good luck!

    1. Jipsy's Mom*

      This is a good point. Early in my career, I used my one very, very short-term job tenure “freebie” and gave my two weeks’ notice after two weeks on the job (so, yeah, one whole month there) because the person who was training me was the most negative, back-biting, ranting crazy person I’d ever met on a job. She spent all her time with me telling me how easy it was to fail, how awful everyone else was, how to CYA…. all of which was generally not needed.
      Yes, there were other factors that came into play, which Alison also touches on (ability to move upward had been greatly exaggerated, “flexibility” had been exaggerated, etc), but the main factor was this one individual. I’m sure our mutual manager would never have seen that side of her, and would have said she was welcoming and cooperative. When I left, I did agree to a very brief exit interview, and recommended that they have someone else – someone positive – train future hires.

    2. LizNYC*

      At He**Job, “training” involved working with one person who was supposed to show me the ropes. This person decided she didn’t feel like training me, so she didn’t. She’d hand me a stack of papers to reorder or to enter in myself, and leave me to fend for myself for hours at a time. Of course the boss thought she was “nice” and a “team player.”

  2. Katie the Fed*

    I left a job once after just over a week because it was completely misrepresented to me. The hiring manager wanted to bring on a certain kind of skillet because he thought they’d be better at the job, without realizing that I’d be bored and frustrated out of my noggin.
    To use a poor example, it was like hiring an artist to fill an engineer’s role because he liked that artists were out-of-the box thinkers. He misrepresented the job to make it appeal to artists. Ack. I was frustrated and felt lied to. Luckily I was able to transfer within the same organization.
    Op – really really make sure you’re adequately explaining the job and it’s duties. Nobody likes surprises

    1. LQ*

      This is the best typo I’ve seen in a long time. I not only laughed aloud but then had to explain it and made someone else laugh! :)

      Also you’re completely correct about trying to hire and changing the job to make it appeal to someone. Especially if the OP wasn’t the person who hired the CSRs who have been there for a long time, it may be accidental, but it is worth evaluating.

              1. Vancouver Reader*

                I want Katie the Fed’s phone because it may not be her strongest skillet, but man, if my phone could do that sort of multitasking, it’s almost as good as a singing frog.

        1. B*

          My 3 yo just went to sleep and i need to not wake him up but the skillet talk is making me die laughing :)

      1. Cristina*

        Should I be embarrassed that while everyone else realized it was a typo, I was trying to figure out the idiom?

  3. Raine*

    There is definitely a premium paid for CSR who are bilingual. (1) As AAM says, make sure you are offering it and (2) perhaps you might want to check any bitterness because of it acted out against such a rep by current staff. A premium really is the norm, and those who have been there longer but at an entry level might not understand this.

  4. Joey*

    Are you meeting with the new hires at the end of the first couple of days to get feedback?

    I’m a little surprised you sound so baffled. I’m wondering if you’ve asked whomever is training the person for some feedback.

    1. JMegan*

      I think I would be baffled too. It can take some time to identify that the problem even exists, let alone figuring out how to solve it. Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence – so it’s not all that surprising that it took the third occurrence for the OP to realize there was an issue that needed to be solved.

    2. Joelle*

      I meet with my new hires once a week for 1/2 hour for the first 90 days to ensure their onboarding goes well. After that we meet every other week (because I have a lot of direct reports) unless circumstances say it should be more often (needs improvement, taking on new responsibilities, etc) . It’s not a panacea and I can’t make them tell me everything, but I think it helps show them that I care.

  5. Not So NewReader*

    Great advice. And OP, thanks for being a good boss that truly cares about the employees.

    OP, are you hiring people not familiar with the mortgage industry? Do they ask what their average day would look like?

    I am thinking an entry level CSR- it might be boring to them if they do not understand the job. I can almost picture a scenario like this, “Well, we are going to start you by putting you on the phones so you can begin to learn what we do.” That could be really awkward for some people.

    Having dabbled in the mortgage arena myself, I know it is not for everyone. You have to love (or have high tolerance for) legalese for one thing. Another thing is that you should have an interest in finance and how numbers work. Again, I dabbled and I am not expert, for sure. But for some people this could be a very dry, uninteresting job. Personally, I would rather work with numbers than, say, repair cars. Not everyone feels this way, though.

    I really think that if you go over what an average day will look like, particularly getting started, that will help you find the person who is willing to stay and go through the learning curve. I took a new job a while ago. My boss had run through three people before I came on board. Wisely, she hooked me up with a mentor. She lined up someone doing my exact work that I could talk things over with. Because I had this mentor for a resource I am still at this job. I made it through the learning curve.

    1. Yet Another Allison*

      You mention legalese. It seems like that would required better than average bilingual skills to manage. It is possible they left because they didn’t have the level of language skill needed.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        In that case, the premium for hiring a bilingual employee had better be pretty good. Because chances are they’ll have to be explaining it to people who don’t understand it very well, and in a language that is not their first.

      2. holly*

        this is what i wondered. maybe they aren’t as fluent as you thought or they realized they would need to be.

      3. Jennifer*

        I strongly think this would be the number one reason to leave a job like that.

        I’m also reminded of the native Spanish speaking folks I’ve worked with who have flat out said that they have had no idea how to say words related to the job. In one example, I volunteer at a craft center and nobody knew the translation for the weird tools that people use. If the legalese is that complicated….?

        1. Felicia*

          I am bilingual (French and English) and use French at my job all the time, and job related words were the hardest and I still stumble on them – because words related to my job, similar to legalese, or to words that only a few people would ever have occasion to use – aren’t things that come up in normal life if you don’t work there. I may have known them if my first language is French but if these peoples’ first language happens to be English even if they’re totally fluent in Spanish they may not know all the words.

      4. Mephyle*

        Did you have a way of measuring their Spanish language skills, particularly in the technical language required?

        1. Jazzy Red*

          One place I worked was owned by a German company. Everyone who needed to have German language skills was interviewed in German. Problem solved.

          1. Helka*

            When I worked a bilingual position, same thing. I can’t imagine hiring someone for foreign-language fluency without having any way to verify that they actually are competent in that language.

    2. For this one*

      I totally agree that this is something for OP to look into, but I also think that the issues you’re citing (boredom and a steep learning curve) generally don’t drive people to NCNS. They drive people to look for other jobs, but I can’t help but think that something more significant is happening to cause two people to peace out without having anything lined up.

      This is presuming that they are full-time, professional positions. The threshold to walk out of something part-time is a lot lower.

      1. MK*

        To be frank, I feel that way abour all the points Alison raised. Any one ofe them (or a combination) might well make some start searching for a new job or even quit. But to make three seperate people disappear on their employer? I can’t help suspecting not only that something pretty major is driving workers away,but also there is a reason they don’t contact the employer to quit.

        1. Jade*

          Really, I keep thinking the OP needs to consider someone is making even just one pointed, negative comment about “illegals” either directed at the new employee or at the Spanish-speaking clients generally.

          1. Mephyle*

            Yes, this was another possibility I thought of: the bilingual employees have likely been Latina/o, and likely the only one among the employees. The other six may freeze him/her out, and/or make unfriendly comments that show prejudice toward Latinos/Spanish speakers.
            Now, it depends how acculturated they are whether the following is a factor, but I am also thinking about how here in a Latin American culture (where I am located), it is considered the height of rudeness to say negative things, unpleasant things, and most people would prefer to disappear and say nothing than to tell you something you don’t want to hear.

  6. Iro*

    I’d also analyze:

    1) The process in which spanish customers are transferred to the bilingual employee
    2) If the incentive structure is somehow not aligning well with this specific role
    3) Is one bilingual role enough for your customer base?

    #1: Are spanish speaking customers being warm transfered to the bilingual employee or cold turkey (which is upsetting to all parties)? Are the spanish speaking customers being put on hold for longer periods of time, or being directed to queue that has longer hold times? This process will have dramatic impacts on customer and employee experience.

    #2: Confirm that there are no systematic discrepancies that are lowering the bilingual employees incentive. For example, do you incentivize on outbound as well as inbound calls? If so, how do you accomadate for the higher volume of internal transfers the bilingual employee may have to take, or if queued, the different volume of inbound customers? It’s feasible that the inbound/outbound call ratios and even call times of the bilingual employee will differ depending on the process you have in place on item 1.

    #3: It is exhausting to take back to back calls without a single break, especially if it’s for a group of customers who are frequently not serviced well (e.g. when there is no bilingual employee available your customers suffer and the new employee has to build up lost trust). Be sure that the inbound volumes for the bilingual employee are managable. They should not be on back to back calls with a queue blinking red while the english only speakers are sitting and chatting.

    1. OhNo*

      I also think the OP should take a special look at the third point you mention. The fact that this role was described as the only one and highly needed leads me to believe that this person probably is getting pushed out of training into the “real” work ASAP, likely to their detriment, and that they may be expected to handle more call volume than their coworkers (especially if they are expected to answer calls normally and then also have to take transferred calls of anyone who prefers Spanish).

      Also, seriously, WHY is this the only bilingual CSR if they are so highly needed? You’re putting all your eggs in one basket having only one. Then every time you lose that position, you are without bilingual services for however long it takes to fill it! For the good of your customers, OP, please hire at least two bilingual employees.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Also, if no other CSRs are bilingual, it may be very hard for anyone to give feedback to this person on their calls (which they could not understand). Having the new CSR handle plenty of calls in English (for feedback/training) until they are secure in the role may also be important. Despite how badly the Spanish-language skill is needed.

        1. Anonsie*

          Yep. And like AndersonDarling says below, there’s no one else they can escalate a call to or have assist with their calls. There are a lot of ways the odds can be stacking up against the single bilingual CSR that won’t happen to the rest of the team.

          I also wonder if it’s a combination of that and the rest of the long-time employees being crummy to the new CSRs. Maybe they’ve been together for a long time and have a little clique and are generally just crummy to the newbies. Maybe there’s some xenophobia there for there being Spanish services at your company at all. Maybe they are dismissive of the overloaded bilingual CSRs struggling since they don’t have the same issues, and they’re chalking it up to the new CSR being incompetent rather than being supportive. Thinking of what would motivate someone to just straight up walk off a job with no call, I imagine a combination of frustratingly stacked workload with no help or feedback among a group of people that have a bad attitude about you (however that may be) seems likely.

          1. Kyrielle*

            Heck, they may have flatly forgotten how hard the job is at first if they’ve been there that long!

            I’ve been at my job a long time, and I sometimes forget how hard some of this stuff is when you start. I’ve been doing it for long enough that I literally don’t think through the steps. I not only don’t understand what people are struggling with, if I just give an off-the-cuff answer, it assumes too much knowledge.

            I’m very careful about that, because I don’t want to be That Person and I very much want to share my knowledge with new team members and help them out – and because in the past, I had my attention called to the fact that I was doing it.

            Maybe your existing CSRs are lovely people who really mean well and have a great environment, but they simply don’t remember not knowing all these things. Maybe this is one of the issues along with other issues from this thread, but it is something to keep in mind.

      2. Meg Murry*

        Yes, I was coming here to say you probably need to hire 2 bilingual CSRs – that way if one leaves you still have one person who can handle the bilingual work, and the 2 employees can still take on English language work as well.

        I would also look into the materials you have for the bilingual CSR as well – for instance, do you have all your forms translated into Spanish for the customers, or does the CSR have to verbally translate all the forms every day? Are the translations correct for the area you are in (for instance – using the terms common to the US border area instead of ones common in Spain or South America – both are still technically Spanish, but not correct for the area). Is there some kind of commission or incentive based program that all your CSR reps are in, and is it more difficult for the bilingual rep to hit the required numbers due to the extra hurdle of the language difference? Also, not to stereotype, but in one area I lived in, the residents who only spoke Spanish tended to have a lower average income than the rest of the surrounding areas – so I could see this translating to a lower average mortgage than the rest of the CSRs might be dealing with. If part of the pay structure or bonus structure is based on the mortgage amount, that also wouldn’t be fair to the bilingual CSR.

        Last, I agree that you need to look at what you are paying for this position, and what others are paying – if there is a high need for educated Spanish speaking professionals in your area and a low pool of qualified applicants, people may feel more likely to just quit when they are offered a much easier or better paying position.

    2. BritCred*

      Without wanting to bring in too much culture aspects and cross too close to another line…. is the fact that they are dealing with the Spanish customers changing the “pace” or style of the work? For example is the speech faster and therefore the calls more confusing and harrowing if the customer is upset? There are other cultural differences (such as the expectations of haggling) which might also be making the difference too in how comfortable the employee is finding the calls. If they have to do more reassurance or be more firm etc.

    3. AnonyMouse*

      Yep, I wondered about workload too…the description of the position as “the only (and highly needed) bilingual Spanish/English position” made me think it could be a bit overwhelming compared to the volume of calls monolingual employees got. Burnout can be a real issue in some roles and if the workload of the job is described at the recruitment stage as similar to the English only roles, and then the new people show up and it’s much more, I can see how that might drive them away.

  7. Mike C.*

    Are you sure there isn’t something toxic going on in your work environment that would chase away these sorts of employees? Say, a particularly xenophobic manager (think the type that verbally complains about having to “press 1 for english”) or something similar?

    What have these folks said to you while working there? Were there any issues they hinted towards? Any feedback that they gave, anything weird that they mentioned?

    1. Clever Name*

      Yes, this is my thought as well. For that many people to quit with no/little notice after such a short period of time, and some of them quitting with nothing lined up, well, that’s a huge red flag. To me it says more about the culture and management than the pay or benefits being offered.

      One thing that caught my eye was the other CSRs have been there long-term. They may unintentionally make a newbie feel unwelcome if they are particularly close and don’t make a sustained and concerted effort to be inclusive of the new person. This difference could even be heightened if the new bilingual CSR is one race and the current staff is another race. Not saying that anyone is racist. I’m just saying that might account for a cultural mismatch and make a newbie feel even more excluded, if that’s what is going on.

      I’m also wondering if the bilingual CSR position should really be entry level if it’s the only bilingual CSR position in your entire company. There may be issues that come up during calls that an entry level person just isn’t able to handle and they can’t pass the call on to a more experienced CSR because of the language barrier. You might consider changing the position to be mid-level (or maybe even senior level) and increase the pay accordingly.

      1. Kai*

        The six other long-time employees were my first thought for why someone would leave, too. It seems very possible that they’ve all friendly and great with each other, but not so much with a newbie.

        1. LittleT*

          I was thinking this too. My experience has always been that whenever I hear about how “great” an office culture is, I find it’s anything but.

          Long-timers are not always inclusive and can be very clique-y, which is really off-putting to any newcomers.

          1. kozinskey*

            It sounds like maybe they need multiple Spanish-speaking CSRs rather than just one anyway, so perhaps hiring a couple new people together could help this issue as well.

        2. Chinook*

          Also, depending on the fluency in English of the Spanish speaking CSR, they may be in advertently isolating here. When I worked in a French-English bilingual environment as the only Anglo (my French is good enough to understand who the caller should be talking to and politely transfer them), and my colleagues would socialize in rapid French, using Quebecois slang never heard of in Alberta (we use different dialects). Sometimes it was inadvertent but other times I know it was a power play move to keep me out of the loop (as one colleague would forget I understood a lot more than I could speak and say rude things about an Anglo). Sometimes it was just being left out because I wasn’t part of the culture (i.e. I didn’t understand the comment about a rosary on a clothesline before a wedding and had to Google that it was for no rain). They may not realize they are leaving the colleague out by just being themselves.

          1. Jazzy Red*

            My doctor’s receptionist is Latina, and I can barely understand her. She’s really good at her job, and extremely nice, so I just put on my big girl patience underpants and go with it.

          2. Bwmn*

            I used to work in a multi-language office where I was one of only two native English speakers in the organization. I was basically a department of one, and all of my work was done in English. Regardless of my fluency in other languages being spoken, it could combine to make the job a bit lonely. I stayed in the position for 3 years, and wasn’t overly bothered by that factor – but my replacement found that it contributed to creating a very isolated and difficult environment. Along with challenges with having classic ‘horrible boss’ issues – it led to her quitting fairly quickly.

            I personally never found the linguistic isolation all that bothersome, but it very much so bothered her. Boss issues aside, I liked my other coworkers and had no outsized issues with them. But the language divisions were isolating, and something that I wasn’t bothered by was apparently leaving my replacement in literal tears. And her skills in the other languages of the office were a lot stronger than mine (which may or may not have contributed to her feeling alone and unhappy).

      2. Sharon*

        “One thing that caught my eye was the other CSRs have been there long-term. They may unintentionally make a newbie feel unwelcome if they are particularly close and don’t make a sustained and concerted effort to be inclusive of the new person. ”

        This is what I was thinking when I read the OP. One place I worked many years ago would team up new hires with very experienced people for on the job training. We had a few trainers who would do their best to wash out the new people assigned to them.

      3. AndersonDarling*

        To your last point… If I was an entry level CSR, I would like the option to escalate the call to a manager when needed. I couldn’t imagine having an irate customer and all I could do is say, “Sorry, I can’t help you and there isn’t any one here who can.”

        1. Jennifer*

          Hahahahah, I’ve been there. BOY, IS THAT FUN to say “nope, we have nooooo managers around here right now. You can try calling here tomorrow….”

    2. hayling*

      I also wonder if there is something like this going on that the manager doesn’t/can’t see.

      Either way this is one I’d love an update on.

  8. CAA*

    Is there an issue with cultural fit? If this is the only bilingual Spanish/English position, then does that mean this position is usually filled by the only Hispanic person in the office? Is she also the only employee in a minority group?

    Does this person end up speaking Spanish most of the day and therefore miss out on chatting and commiserating about difficult callers because the others don’t know when that’s happening? Is this person handling more calls than the other CSRs because she’s the only one who can take them?

    I think I’d try to get dual coverage on this role. It might not be possible right now, but the next time one of the English only staff leaves, why not replace that person with a bilingual CSR so that you have two who can cover the Spanish queue.

    1. JMegan*

      The chatting and commiserating thing is really important. I worked for a while in a French-speaking office (I’m a native English speaker), and although I did fine in meetings and direct conversation, I had a much harder time with the casual chatter that happens in an office. It’s not that I didn’t want to participate, it’s just that I didn’t always know when a conversation was going on. If two people were having a work-related conversation in French right beside me, I would tune them out so I could concentrate on my work, and then I would miss out when the conversation shifted and they started talking about plans for the weekend. So I felt excluded, and they probably thought I didn’t want to participate.

      It can be exhausting to work in a second language, especially if you’re learning the nuts and bolts of the job at the same time. So if your CSRs are native Spanish speakers and your office operates in English, that might be something to look at as well. When you’re interviewing, if it’s a native English speaker, ask if they have ever worked in Spanish before, and how it went. If you’re talking to a native Spanish speaker, ask if they have ever worked in an office that functioned primarily in English.

      1. Sandrine (France)*

        Eeek, JMegan, I wish I’d been there with ya. At my last job I had occasions to speak in English but there wasn’t nearly enough… I mean, it’s not like I don’t speak French (HA :P ) but I like speaking English better for some reason :P .

      2. Bea W*

        If no one else in the office speaks Spanish, part of the problem may be it is difficult for the interviewer to assess proficiency and they are hiring people who can’t keep up with native speakers. Do these candidates have to take any kind of skills test to demonstrate they are proficient at the necessary level to handle these calls?

  9. HR Manager*

    A few more thoughts — call center jobs are tough, and not meant for many (even those who are smart and have great work ethics). I’d make sure you’re screening for someone who enjoys being on the phone all day.

    How and when are new hires trained, ramped and thrown to the phones? Do they provide adequate training? Is there an easing in period? Or are they just “Hey welcome! Put on this headset and take some calls!” Some may be game, but I find it’s best to ease people into calls, especially in a high volume or very technical type of role.

    I’d start doing some newbie check-ins. After a month or two on the job, I’d schedule a session to get feedback on how training went, how are things going, what’s working well and what’s not, and also how is the reality different from what they expected. This might tell you a lot about the new hire and on-boarding experience they are having.

      1. HR Manager*

        Then maybe a week or two check-in. A little more time might get you better thought out answers just because they can better reflect back on the on-boarding, but if you’re losing them before that, then a mid way check-in could help.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      + If the hiring manager is only looking for bilingual skills, and just assuming that people can be trained to like phone work, then that is a doomed plan. I was a CSR back in the day and it was nothing like I expected it to be. I had 2 weeks classroom training, then a month of “bullpen” training. I still wasn’t prepared for some situations.

      1. Frances*

        This was my thought, too. I know lots of smart, hard working, multilingual people — but only a small subset of them would be suited for a CSR job. And a lot of people don’t realize how hard those jobs are (and for certain personality types, how much they can drain you) until they actually try to do it.

    2. Jennifer*

      Yeah, I think answering the phone jobs are total hell. I’m amazed you’ve managed to keep six happy reps, really. Because god knows every time I get thrown to the wolves–oh, excuse me, forced to answer the phones– I REALLY ponder quitting.

  10. AUB*

    As far as the additional pay for being multi-linguistic, most people assume they will be paid more for performing the same job in multiple languages. Also, colleges use a language degree or minor as a selling point…’you can make more money if you add foreign language to your degree’ etc. a native speaker with English as s second language may be aware of this as well

  11. some1*

    Did these employees have experience in customer service for a mortgage company or where people have to deal with a lot of upset customers? That can be a hard job to have and doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand with being bilingual.

  12. Cat*

    I don’t know why everyone is ignoring the obvious answer that this particular position is cursed by a dark wizard. Do you have any undefeated dark lords hanging around? Try defeating them and then hiring someone.

        1. Liane*

          Yeah but I don’t think her job involved Customer Service. She didn’t have the right skillet.

          And thank you, Kat, AMG, et al. Because of you, I am now able to fantasize about having my , um, ah, *challenging* customers sign their return slips with that horrible quill pen. Bonus–it won’t leave the desk.

          BTW, if we’re going to consider dark wizards & nasty undersecretary-witches, we shouldn’t discount Sithlords.

  13. Ashley*

    Just to add another small thought – it’s possible it’s just bad luck. I work in recruiting and I had a position earlier this year that I filled with an excellent candidate – she put her notice in after 3 days because she recieved an offer at a competitor that was closer to home (she was interviewing with them while interviewing with us, we just made the offer sooner). Went back to the drawing board, hired another person – she put her notice in after two weeks because her husband was promoted and needed to relocate. We’re now on number three and thankfully she’s been here a few months and is working out wonderfully, but if you’ve already addressed the ideas previous commentors have mentioned, you might just want to chalk it up to bad luck.

  14. BRR*

    I agree with a lot of what’s been posted but also with the 6 other CSRs look at why they’re happy there. They might be happy because they like the environment or they might be happy because they can get away with murder. Some people don’t leave because they can get away without doing much, with being mean to others, where there are no standards for quality of work etc.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Oh yes. I am convinced that certain ex-coworkers I have known are still working in the same places for this very reason. Either not doing much, or just allowed to be evil.

  15. WFM Anon*

    When hiring for a Contact Center you have to make absolutely sure the candidates understand they will be tied to the phone 8 hours a day talking to people. You may be thinking “I need to hire someone who knows mortgages” or something like that, but my guess is what you really need is someone who can just sit in the chair, headset on, and talk to people. The rest you can probably teach.

    Beyond that, make sure they have the support they need the first few weeks. I nearly walked out my first weekend because nobody was around to help me when I had a question on a call. It can be very frustrating.

    1. Cajun2core*

      Ditto! This is something that other people have pointed at some but it was my first thought. Make sure you are hiring CSR type people. Not everyone is a “people person” and can stand to be interacting with people 8 hours a day. Customer Service is not for everyone, in fact, I think it is for very few.

      1. MJH*

        Which means that the hiring pool for this position might be very, very small, and thus the manager is more likely to just take someone who speaks Spanish and seems interested without really vetting him or explaining the actual facts of the position.

      2. CH*

        So true! I am not a CSR type, but my office is next to the customer service department so I overhear a lot of calls and I know I would rather have my teeth pulled without any pain medication than to have to do that job all day. I have great respect for those who do it well, but you couldn’t pay me enough.

        1. Windchime*

          Same here. I walked into the CSR section of my office the other day and it was filled with people talking about difficult, complex work while sitting right next to someone else who was also talking about difficult, complex things. I don’t know how they can even think straight, let alone concentrate and help the people who are calling in. It looks like a really hard job to me.

        2. Jenna*

          One of the reasons that I stayed low level for so long at last-job was because anywhere above where I was was a customer service on the phones all day (on shifts that changed regularly) kind of position. If I wanted a promotion, I had to do phones, and would have no control over my schedule.
          I have done phones as a temp and I know that there is no way I could survive past a few weeks. Just. No. Way.

      3. Liane*

        I must be very unusual, then. :) I am not what most people, including me, think of as a “people person,”* but I am–so my managers tell me & write on my evals–a very good (in person) CSR, and I like the work.
        But I do agree with you, it isn’t for everyone, including a lot of people persons I know at work. But the only way to find out if it is for you is to try it. I started by covering lunches for the Service Desk when the store was short-handed, and was surprised to find I liked it so much.

        *have only a small circle of close friends, need alone time to re-energize, & am often uncomfortable with strangers/crowds (except when doing a costumed gig, go figure)

  16. hamster*

    As a person who just quit after 1.5 years( and have been promoted to team lead) from a position that in the past 5 years 7 people have quitted ( we are supposed to be 4 person team, but for a long time there have been just two ) i am telling you it has to be something you’re not seeing.
    Maybe other departments/CSRs use this position to dump all unpleasant menial tasks on. Maybe the workload and availability are overwhelming. In our case only people really motivated stuck for a while. Most of them to learn by fire and then move on with more than 40% raises. Or move higher in the company. Or some just to stop being exhausted all the time. The demands/time/money were hugely non-competitive and what was even worse there was a misunderstanding at management level of the importance of the dept. The manager ( managing other projects) was used to dumping and demanding but not giving ( at least encouraging feedback) anything back. Actually when after 1 year i got a vacation it got noticed that i was the sme on a huge platform. the company had to pay back penalties because i was literally the only one that got to deal with ( and the others were also very much overworked) . when i got back they created a process to relieve us of some duties. but it took a while. and some hard lessons

  17. Celeste*

    If the spot is entry-level (lowest pay) but asks for a higher skill than the rest of the office has (bilingual), there is no way somebody is going to be happy there.

    I think your office needs to decide how badly it wants the business of people who speak Spanish. It doesn’t sound like it’s important to the org if none of the established staff want or need to learn it, and if you pay your only bilingual staff the least.

    I would also think that you would want more than one person bilingual there, just to be able to have checks and balances that all is going the way you think it is. You are already assuming it’s a “great” work environment. I think assuming things is going to keep your company small. I don’t mean to be harsh. I just think you are at a crossroads here.

    1. HR Manager*

      Changing demographics often makes new skills newly desirable – that’s the reality in the US and in some industries at least. I wouldn’t read into it that because no one else speaks Spanish, then it isn’t important enough to require. If anything, it’s a sign to those clients that we care about their business and the service they receive.

      1. Celeste*

        But do we really care when we make it the work of the lowest person? That’s what I’m saying. I get that it’s an emerging market. I think if you’re going to do it, then you should do it so you have the best chance at success. Say the OP’s company gets somebody started in the process because they now have a bilingual member of the staff, and that one person leaves (or becomes unavailable due to accident, illness, etc.). Now where does that leave the client? How are they showing the importance of that person’s business when there’s no way to serve them because it wasn’t planned out properly for success?

        1. HR Manager*

          I think it’s a matter of practicality. Since in normal business practices, a bilingual CSR is a more expensive asset, it doesn’t make sense to go all-in without having the revenue to justify it. If you are paying 20/hr for a regular rep and 23/hr for a bilingual rep, but you have enough calls for one rep — then you are paying a premium for someone to take your calls.

          1. Celeste*

            From the followup, it looks like the company doesn’t have much call for the service anyway. I had thought they were looking to really expand with this (my mistake) while it was more of a “nice to have as needed” thing. Her more pressing concern was not being given any kind of notice than it was the person always quitting.

  18. BadPlanning*

    Is there any specialized training for Spanish mortgage terms? I can imagine someone being fluent in conversational Spanish (or English) and then getting thrown for a loop on the specialized language.

    After 3 departures, the existing employees may be in a downward spiral of being frosty to the new person. They spent effort getting to know someone and then they left. Then someone new came and they left. The poor third person may have gotten the cold shoulder by coworkers waiting to see if they lasted long enough to befriend. This could happen consciously or not.

  19. B*

    I once left a job after 2 weeks with nothing lined up. The position was completely misrepresented, we weren’t allowed to speak to one another, were spied on, never allowed to sit, you name it. During the interview process I asked multiple questions and was very happy with the answers. Unfortunately, they were all fake. All of this is my way to make sure what you are representing in the interviews is the full truth.

    And I agree with those who said are the spanish speakers being inundated with calls. Are the longer-term employees welcoming or standoffish. Is the area they are working in welcoming or does it show others have come and gone and nobody cares about the space. I like Alison’s idea of reaching out, in a sympathetic way of “I am sorry it did not work out but for our future could you please let me know….”. That will give you the greatest amount of insight.

  20. Chriama*

    I really like the speculation going on here. I have to admit I’m stumped, but I’m throwing my hat in the ring anyway: is it possible you’re hiring for 2 skillsets but only screening for 1? You need a bilingual mortgage CSR: Is this an entry-level job where anyone can be a successful CSR, or do you really need a specific skillset or personality type? Are you screening for both language skills and CSR skills, or are you taking in inexperienced people who just happen to speak the language? If so, why aren’t you hiring a more experienced bilingual CSR? Is the salary too low (usually there’s a premium for an additional skill such as language) to get them to apply? Is there a cultural issue where the Spanish-speaking customers are more difficult to deal with?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      As I was reading the posts here, I started thinking that OP may need to hire an experienced person who is bilingual. That makes sense, especially if no one else in the office is using another language and therefore, there is no one to compare notes with.

  21. Hooptie*

    Alison’s #4 –

    One of the best things I ever did as a manager was to include a couple of current employees in the interview process. I rotated people in and out so it wasn’t overwhelming to a candidate to walk into a room of 12-15 people.

    1 – the candidate got to meet at least a couple of people on the team
    2 – the candidate got to ask questions of the current staff – and some of the questions and answers were very interesting. For example, once someone asked a current team member, “What was the hardest part about starting this job?” and the team member answered, “it is a really long learning curve”. This was a red flag for me that hadn’t come up in check ins or training before. We were able to re-evaluate some of the processes and train better for the job.
    3 – the current staff have an interest in helping the new hire succeed, since they had ‘a say’ and were somewhat vested in the process
    4 – it increased morale by showing trust and genuine interest in our current team members’ opinions.
    5 – on the rare cases where we made a ‘bad hire’, it gave our staff insight into how tricky it can be to be a manager and make these kinds of decisions.
    I don’t know if the OP’s company is set up to do this, but I highly recommend giving it a shot if you’re having trouble keeping people.

    1. Maggie*

      Totally cosign! I always think bringing the team in as part of the interview process is valuable. How can it not be?

  22. Anoners*

    I’m not sure how it works in the US, but in Canada someone who is bilingual usually makes a significant amount more than english speakers. If it’s kind of the same there, they could be leaving for higher paying jobs that require both languages.

    1. Mephyle*

      Big difference, though. In Canada, bilingual means French/English, whereas in this U.S. case it means Spanish/English. The sociopolitical history of French in Canada and Spanish in U.S. are very different, and the social meaning of being bilingual is very different in the two countries.

      1. Chinook*

        But regardless of the sociopolitical history of bilingualism in the US (and you are right about the huge difference), being able to communicate professionally in two languages is a significant skill set that should be compensated accordingly if it is a job requirement because it is not something that can be learned easily or quickly.

        As well, employers have to learn to actually test this skill in a quantifiable way and not just rely on whether or not someone has a Latino or Francophone name (not that I am implying that the OP is doing this). I was livid in my bilingual job that they never asked their volunteers which language they spoke and just assumed based on names and geographic location. I personally added a simple question to their forms and they were surprised at the answers (i.e. just because your paternal side is not francophone doesn’t mean you don’t speak it at home).

  23. Stephanie*

    I just finished doing some freelance technical writing work for a small business. The owner said I was the fourth freelancer I had hired for this particular role. And after working with him….I understood why. I would probably say #1 (he was paying below market rate, especially once you factored in that he hired people as 1099 contractors), #4 (he wasn’t upfront about expectations for deliverables or the level of detail required), and #6.

    OP, I’m glad you’re trying to figure out what the issue is, rather than bemoaning a lack of talent. Here’s what I’d look into:
    1. Echoing everyone else–are you paying extra for the bilingualism? Especially with something specialized like mortgage customer support?
    1a. Are you screening for experience with Spanish-speaking with specialized terms? I’d imagine someone could be fluent in conversant Spanish, but have no clue how to explain amortization in Spanish (especially to an angry or upset customer).
    2. How’s the support? (Are these are first- or second-level CSRs?) Are the English-only CSRs are able to pass off a call to a supervisor while the bilingual CSR is stuck dealing with all escalating calls?

  24. so and so*

    Perhaps check into your training process. Every time I’ve taken a role in a company with only long-term workers, I’ve found that no one seems to realize that the job isn’t second nature to a new hire. Depending on the stress level and management of the job, poor training and the feeling of hopelessness that cones from everyone around you acting like you really ought to just “know” the ins and outs is enough to make a new hire walk away,

    In one such job, the stress and constant feeling of failure while I desperately tried to flounder for any training at all was enough to break my confidence for several years after. If I could have walked away from that job I would have.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I see too much of this, where workers sneer or make fun of the newbie for not figuring out something that should be common sense. Well, when you have a 100 new ideas flying at you and you are only able to pick up on 95 of them, I think you have done very well. But not all people feel this way and they are very vocal about that remain 5 that people miss.

    2. AnonAnalyst*

      Yes, this is actually what I was thinking as well. It’s really easy to forget everything that a new hire may not know coming in if you’ve been doing the job for a long time, so while the people training are probably hitting the big steps in a process, there are a lot of little things that they may be missing, which could make the job seem overwhelming pretty quickly (or could at the very least cause the new hire to feel like she will never be able to succeed in the position).

      Long ago I actually left a job where I got absolutely training because I was so stressed not knowing how to do anything, and it was after about a month when it became clear that the training was never coming. For context, I had several years’ experience in a similar role, so the training I needed was almost entirely about the organization and the proper way to do things there, as opposed to general skills to perform the job. I can imagine that this might be even more overwhelming to someone coming in as an entry level employee, though, and I can see someone just deciding that they’ll never be able to succeed in that type of role period if they had no previous experience, so I can understand why someone might just cut bait.

      If the OP runs through Alison’s suggestions and is still coming up with nothing, I think re-examining the training process is probably a good next step. If nothing else, it may help the OP identify ways to improve the process going forward that will make it easier for both the new person coming in as well as the people training her.

  25. Armchair Analyst*

    If this job and position is really important, you need to treat it and the people in it really importantly. Pay well for a qualified person in the position, and stress the importance of needing notice before leaving, and give your best trainer time and space to train the person and allow them to ramp up.

    Is it REALLY important? How does the person in the job know that?

  26. Anonnnn*

    So……..what can you do when you are newly in a very horrible misrepresented position and want out, but you’ve used your ‘short team freebie’ within the last 3 years? Because my god, I can’t bear the thought of staying here when the job is nothing like describe but am worried I’ll get the job hopper tag if I peace out.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Not the best advice, but if you really have to get out then get out. Only you know how much you can hack. But promise yourself you will learn something about picking employers so your next one is not a jerk.

      I have sweated out some of the moves I have made. But in the end, mostly, the new employer just responded by saying “oh, You worked THERE? Never mind you don’t have to explain why you left.”

  27. Chriama*

    Another idea: If you’re hiring super entry-level people (who have little professional experience), maybe this is just the reality of the candidate pool. Your other CSRs have been been there a ‘while’, but before you hired them, did you go through a lot of issues with finding realiable workers? That may just be the reality of minimum-wage work,, and you forgot about it because you’ve had a solid staff for a while.
    If it’s not entry level, or that behaviour isn’t typical of your usual candidate pool, then I’d take a look at your office environment. People have mentioned that there could be difficulties being the only Spanish CSR (rushed training period, more call volume than the English speakers, difficulty with the technical language, no higher-level support), but I think there must be something going on in your office culture as well (with the other reps being unwittingly or deliberately exclusionary) to cause people to just… stop showing up (again, assuming you’re hiring people with at least some professional experience who would generally know better).

  28. Former Call Center Worker*

    The fact that these people are leaving within the first two to three weeks makes me think they aren’t receiving adequate training. I’ve worked customer service at a call center before. The first month was easy because it was nothing but training. We read through what were basically PowerPoint modules and were in what was essentially classroom instruction. After the first month, we were placed in what was referred to as the “tank.” We would be out on the floor taking actual calls, but there were several seasoned coworkers walking around our special area who’d assist with difficult calls. You’d stay in the “tank” for another two weeks. After those two weeks, you’d then be placed in the Tier 1 section of the call center and would progress from there. I really, really struggled even after a month of classroom training and two weeks of additional “tank” training. I’m willing to bet your new workers aren’t receiving enough training. This would also explained why your experienced staff members aren’t having the same issues.

    1. OP*

      The training is simple and quick. This is a relatively new company and the call center is about 5 months old. I was an original CSR, promoted to hiring manager. (I have been a customer service manager and trainer before, over 20 years of experience). The training is easy enough that workers are ready to go on the phone system within 3 days. We hold their hands while they come across special situations. We do mostly follow up calls, and mostly leave voice mail. We don’t usually run into mean or angry people. Multiple people have come from *another* call center like the one you speak of that they hated working at. We are not like that.

      1. Meg Murry*

        Just because the employees are ready to go on the phone system in 3 days doesn’t mean they feel comfortable doing it at that point.

        I think this right here might be your biggest problem. The fact that its the bilingual position is a red herring – its simply the newest position you’ve been hiring for. I would recommend you greatly extend your training to include a lot more shadowing of existing reps, then going to taking calls with a mentor next to them able to step in immediately if needed, then finally going to taking calls on their own when the person feels ready.

        If I am reading this correctly, you are throwing people in the deep end and seeing if they sink or swim. That is probably your biggest problem, in my opinion.

        1. HappyDay*

          No, no, no. We do ask if they feel ready to give it a go on their own. All of the other CSR’s help with the training and we’re all fully supported of the new person’s comfort level. Please, let’s focus on why someone would just not come in or call to quit?

          1. Dan*

            I have to ask: do you shut your new hires down like you did this commentor? You basically said “tell me what I want to hear and I’m going to shout down any answer I don’t like.”

            Since you want a very narrow answer, I’ll give it to you even if you don’t like it: something about training or management sucks. It sucks to the point that they don’t even want to tell you because they don’t feel like their feelings are respected. It sucks to the pont where they just don’t want to show up.

            Its not the money. They don’t go from being OK to hating the past in two weeks.

            Its something about your pay or culture quieter they feel they cant be heard or respected.

            1. Lili*

              I totally agree with you.
              I am afraid both (management and training) are not as good as they should be…

          2. Jenna*

            They don’t call in or quit in person because they are not comfortable doing so. There is SOMETHING in the situation that makes them feel that they should just cut their losses and pretend this job didn’t exist. If they were truly supported and comfortable they would be either staying, or talking to someone before they leave.
            That they are vanishing means that you are mistaken, somehow, about something or some one in the situation. They do not feel comfortable. They may feel pressured to say that they are ready when they are not, and then they make mistakes and feel that they failed the job, and don’t want to face anyone. The fact that you are rejecting this scenario as hard as you are (“no, no, no”) is actually a red flag for me.

          3. neverjaunty*

            You know that old joke about the guy who loses his wallet in a dark alley, and then starts hunting for it under the streetlight? And when his buddy asks, why are you looking under the streetlight, you lost it in the dark alley, the guy says “Yes, but the light is better here.”

            That’s kind of the sense I get from your reaction to these comments. You want to believe that there is something about the people you are hiring – some red flag, or thing they have in common – and that if only AAM or someone can tell you what it is, then all you have to do is NOT hire people with that red flag.

            That’s….not going work. When you have three people quit without notice for the same job in a short time, there is almost certainly a problem WITH THE JOB. It might be management (I think you mentioned you are a new manager?), it might be the office culture – which is going to appear very different to a new hire than to you – it might be poor communication, or bad expectations, or something else.

            But if you are going to refuse to consider those things because you love your job, and want to think of yourself as a great manager, then you’re not really going to arrive at a solution. And you’ll still be hunting for that magic red flag when the next hire quits.

      2. Bunny*

        3 days is a horrifically short amount of time to train someone for a job that is primarily call-centre based. I’ve worked in a bunch of customer-facing positions – shop-floor retail work, customer service in-person, sales roles, complaints handling… by far the hardest and most difficult to get to grips with was the work revolving around call-centres. It’s not just the business knowledge or knowing how to use the phone system… it’s being able to find information fast because customers have less patience when the person they’re speaking to lacks a face. It’s being able to confidently make small talk while you work on what the customer asked for.

        Honestly, even in an “easy” call-centre job I would expect at minimum a week of training. And hands shouldn’t just be held during “special situations” when people are new – because one thing you have to remember is that new people are slower at everything, including recognising when a call counts as a “special situation”. Training isn’t just “here’s the information you will be giving customers and how to find it, here’s how the phones work, here’s the legal stuff”.

        One full day of training should involve shadowing more experienced call-centre agent – the trainee’s headset plugged into the experienced agent’s line and muted so they can listen in. If they are confident, that afternoon swap it around so that the trainee is taking some calls while *continuously* listened to and supported by an experienced agent, sitting next to them and plugged in/muted. If they are feeling a little overwhelmed, do the swap-around the following morning.

        1. Felicia*

          The training that you described is definitely what’s needed for a call centre job and I quit a call centre job after a few days without notice because I didn’t get anywhere near that sort of training and it felt like being thrown to the wolves

      3. Zillah*

        Hold on – if the call center is only about five months old, how do you have six other CSRs who have worked there for “awhile,” which is what you said in your original letter? Maybe I’m missing something here, but at this point, I’m wondering if there’s a widespread issue that has simply been exacerbated for the bilingual people, who may feel that they have more options. I can’t imagine saying that I “love” my job and the company I work for so quickly, particularly when the work is what you’re describing.

      4. Alex*

        Yeah, I am guessing that the problem is in the environment/training.

        You might think they are ready- but they are not. And you are not providing an environment where they feel comfortable admitting it.

        This is going from the comment you just left. When I read it, my instinctive reaction was yikes! I moved on because it was off putting and I didn’t want to be shot down.
        Then I realized that is probably the same reaction your staff are having and it would be worth mentioning.

      5. Jazzy Red*

        Holy cow!

        OP, this pretty much explains what your problem is. Inadequate training, for both CSRs and managers, leads to disaster. You think the training is “easy”, but you have people walking out after just a few days. The training *might* be easy, but it’s not enough to do the job well.

        I can almost guarantee that your other employees know exactly why you lost these three. They probably will never tell you, though, if they’re already a clique.

      6. Helka*

        Three days?

        Man, when I trained for a call center, my training was seven weeks including going live in a carefully monitored setting, and my company’s talking about expanding that to ten weeks. Three days isn’t enough training for anything — especially if they’re new to the industry.

  29. Sherm*

    How new? If it’s just a few days/weeks I’d leave it off the resume, not only to avoid the “job hopper” tag, but also because it probably wouldn’t be accurate to say that such a short-term job contributed to your skill set.

  30. OP*

    I am the OP. Thank you all for your awesome commentary.

    The biggest question I had (and maybe I didn’t make that clear in my original post) is WHY do people think it’s okay to just quit without coming in or calling, or even texting or emailing? All were viable methods of contact. Also, is there a way to screen for people that do this or prevent it from happening again?

    To answer some of the top comments…I am the hiring and training manager. It is a friendly, upbeat and playful office. It is possible it’s a little too friendly, but I am trying to hire personalities that would fit in with the jovial nature that goes on between calls or during slow periods. The interview is held in my office cubicle within view of the call center and I make it very clear what the work involves and what the environment is like. I make it clear with the interviewees that it is important that they look at this as a place they want to work, not a place that is just a job.

    The bilingual skill is something that is not used all day every day, only as needed. I understand they may be better compensated for this skill elsewhere. The starting wage is very competitive for the area and for an entry level position. We also offer bonuses for performance and excellent health and personal time benefits. I’m not concerned at all that this is not a good place to work…I have worked some horrible jobs for low pay myself and this is not one of them.

    Again, my biggest question and concern are how to weed out these people that quit without communication. I’m interviewing this week, so any and all ideas are welcome!

    Thank You

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d take a look at #6:

      6. How you’re screening people. Are you conducting rigorous interviews and making sure that people’s skills and temperaments fit the job? Are you ensuring they have stable work histories? Are you calling references and asking about reliability?

      That’s really how you weed those people out.

      1. OP*

        Yes, I have done all of the above expect for calling the referrals. I believe they are all chosen to give the best possible feedback so I really don’t spend my time on them. I also look on facebook and linkedin, although few at this level have a linkedin profile. I am very clear about the work environment. I’m just bewildered (as I said before) about they people that feel not saying a word about quitting is ok, and if I should mention this in the interview. I’ve been addressing this during the first day with the new hire.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Whoa. Okay, there’s your problem. You need to call references. You always should be calling references, but particularly when you’re having this sort of problem.

          And it’s not true that references just give positive feedback. Many references give nuanced feedback, and some give outright negative feedback. Moreover, you’re not limited to the list the candidate provides — you can specifically say you’d like to speak with their last two managers, or whatever.

          1. hayling*

            Yes! My company has had a string of bad hires that would have likely not happened if we had talked to references.

          2. Amy*

            I have given that kind of nuanced feedback. Call it damning with faint praise. I supervised someone with a terrible stutter who had applied for a job that is heavy on the phone. I stressed his strength in behind-the scenes work (which was all he’d done for me anyway) and didn’t say anything about his phone skills. If a person calls and there’s no answer, they don’t know it’s because the employee is struggling to get out a greeting. They’ll hang up. It’s harsh but true, and it’s not illegal to weed out someone whose disability makes it almost impossible for them to handle an essential task. I just stressed as much as he could how great he is in other areas and let the caller figure it out.

          3. Weasel007*

            We are interviewing for a specialized tech skill set on my team. We prefer for people to have had experience in my company. Since it is a very large company, 75% of our resumes from staffing companies are with that experience. I’m not saying we would never choose someone who has never worked here, but it is a plus. We can look in the system and see who there manager was in their last assignment and make a quick call. We were really gung ho about a guy last week. Until, we called one of the references on his list. That person pointed us to someone who was an indirect manager and the reference was not positive at all. In fact, we found out the applicant had been released from his last assignment due to a horrible attitude and not taking feedback well. ALWAYS check the references, and ask the reference if there is anyone else they can point you to that is not on the list. Do your research. Ask the hard questions!

          4. Dan*

            I’ve read a few of the op’s responses, and I’m not sure they are willing to consider that there could be management issues or that management and training could be done differently.

            The few responses I’ve read come across as “I know that *I* am not the problem.”

        2. Observer*

          So, you aren’t calling references, and you are screening for the wrong things. It’s no wonder you are having problems.

          I don’t agree with the later posters who say “Jovial” = “not responsible”. On the other hand there is NO correlation between “jovial” on the one hand and “responsible” OR “easy to get a long with” on the other hand. Forget about screening for jovial and start screening for responsible, conscientious, flexible and considerate.

          Also, start calling references and ask questions. Pay attention to what they say – and to what they DO NOT say. And, ask about the environment at that place. It could tell you a lot.

        3. MsM*

          Yeah, here’s the thing about hires who would just up and leave without giving notice: they also don’t necessarily think through whether the references they’ve listed are going to have anything good to say about them, or worry that anyone will actually call those people. So you are missing a potential early red flag by not taking that step.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Yes. Also, rah-rah references may not really be prepped to answer every question ‘correctly’. How long have you known Wakeen in a professional context? Did you supervise him? How did you find him to handle problems X, Y and Z? Are there any areas where you think Wakeen can improve?

            If you are calling references and only getting vague, evasive but superpositive answers, THAT in and of itself is important information.

        4. Alternative*

          Ack. It’s frustrating to me to hear that a hiring manager doesn’t call references or doesn’t think they are useful. I WANT hiring managers to call references! They are incredibly useful, potentially the most useful thing, in a hiring process.

    2. MJH*

      To go along with #6, what kind of jobs have the people who quit held in the past? It could be they came from jobs where not showing up was just what you did when you no longer wanted a position. Maybe they didn’t care about getting a reference from you.

      Did you talk to past employers and find out about how they left?

      1. Kelly L.*

        When I briefly did telemarketing, which is somewhat related to call centers, pretty much nobody gave notice. I figured that out when I tried to give notice and they seemed just kind of baffled by it. People would just stop showing up when they got sick of it, and almost everybody eventually got sick of it–it’s draining work unless you really love selling.

    3. Amtelope*

      I’m still not sure based on this whether you’re paying competitively compared to other positions that require bilingual skills. If you’re paying the same “competitive entry level” wage to these employees as you do entry level employees who only speak English, they’re going to keep leaving, because you’re underpaying. You may be able to screen better and get employees who will leave in a more considerate fashion, but if you want someone in this role who will stick around for the long term, you need to be paying market rates for someone with this specific skill set.

      If you’re paying for this role comparably to other call center jobs that require being bilingual, then I have no idea why you’ve hit a run of employees who left you in the lurch — probably better screening about how and why they left past jobs is your answer.

      1. Lauren*

        On that note, if you’re looking for bilingual candidates, it probably doesn’t matter to them if they use Spanish once in a while or everyday, unless you’re settling for candidates who speak Spanish a bit haltingly and are in a position where customers are grateful for any Spanish service they can get. (I am at a similar level in French and don’t expect much of a bonus for being bilingual but rather am pleased when I get to put my French to use, but I also get frustrated if I’m put in a situation where I’m presented as THE bilingual option to clients.)

        I might be reading it wrong, but like Antelope, I’m not sure if the pay is based on bilingualism being “something that is not used all day every day, only as needed.” It’s not like they stop being native Spanish speakers with a valuable skill the other days.

        1. Zillah*

          I might be reading it wrong, but like Antelope, I’m not sure if the pay is based on bilingualism being “something that is not used all day every day, only as needed.” It’s not like they stop being native Spanish speakers with a valuable skill the other days.

          This. It kind of reminds me of employers who don’t want to pay people for the time it takes to switch on their computers at the beginning of the day – their time and skills don’t only matter when they’re convenient for you.

    4. Meg Murry*

      I would also add that in addition to screening for it, you need to directly explain it to entry level people during their training. As in “here is my business card, if for any reason you aren’t going to make it in or will be late, I need you to call me or text me at this number. While I hope it won’t happen, I understand that emergencies come up, and if you are sitting by the side of the road with a flat tire waiting for AAA, please call and tell me that.” I definitely know someone who was going to be late to her job for a reason like this and therefore was convinced in her mind that they were going to fire her for being late so she just shouldn’t bother. Luckily, someone talked her down and it was fine, but I’ve seen stranger things happen.

      And you can also add something in your training materials and handbook if you have such a thing about the notice period. Again, if this is a true entry level job that may be the first job someone has EVER held (or their first job that wasn’t retail or food service), they may just not be aware that there is such a thing as a 2 week notice.

      1. Frances*

        Very good points. I’d add that student jobs/internships and temp agencies often have set end dates instead of notice periods, so a person eligible for an entry level position could actually build up quite a bit of work experience without ever having to give notice to leave a job.

    5. Interviewer*

      I managed a small call center for a year many moons ago, and that’s standard pattern I saw back then. Once I got an email in the morning that today would be her last day, but by far the norm was no-call/no-show. My favorite was the one who left for lunch and never came back. Were they intensely afraid of actual confrontation or difficult conversations? Did they want to take advantage of us? Not sure. But they left like that every time. No one gave 2 weeks notice.

      I think you are looking for punctuality, loyalty and ethical behavior. Plus, two weeks notice. That should drive your interview questions and the reference checks. Good luck.

      1. some1*

        “Were they intensely afraid of actual confrontation or difficult conversations?”

        IME, this is why most people who quit this way do it.

      2. Anonsie*

        Haha, I wonder if it was my own mother. She walked off a telemarketing job at lunch on her very first day without a word to anyone.

    6. soitgoes*

      I have walked out on customer service jobs when the company did not do a good job of making me feel safe at work. At one job, our company email addresses were first-initial.last-name@company.com. I have a very unique last name. An unsatisfied customer punched my name into google, found some of my old info, and proceeded to bombard my mother with late-night phone calls. The company refused to give me a new, more anonymous email address, so I walked out.

      Another time I walked out when management refused to address sexual harassment among staff. An employee was sending VERY vulgar images to everyone via text and would not stop. I was rated on a scale of 1-10 daily. Almost weekly, I was asked to answer very private questions (along the lines of “so, when was the last time….”). Yep, I walked out.

      People do not repeatedly walk out of companies if they are being treated right. Also, are you selling a product that is of decent quality? If you’re in a business that is a little scammy and you’re forcing your phone people to deal with a high volume of angry customers, I don’t blame anyone for bailing.

      1. ethel*

        Yeah, I thought of this. OP sounds like a delusional jerk who doesn’t know how to manage. The way he’s running down bilingual ability, refuses to pay for Spanish speaking ability, he’s probably racist.

    7. DC1012*

      Hmm. Well, I can see that you are sort of venting here, but I think you may have some blinders on. Good luck.

    8. JustPickANameAlready*

      I also work in an IT Call Center. The job is stressful and difficult– we are paid at Tier 1 Help Desk rates, but due to the demands of the client we routinely do troubleshooting that is Tier 2. The sales reps we assist are imperious, mean, and often cross the line into being abusive. The client changes things constantly, and our desk is not made aware of these changes until we start getting calls on them. The job is constant chaos, and requires a certain mindset to surivive, much less master.

      …As a result, we have a lot of turn over. And as far as I can tell, most of it is the direct result of inadequate screening. We have had employees make it to the desk who cannot type at even a basic level; an employee whose only IT experience was circa 1974; an employee who readily admitted that he hates computers, etc. At the other end of the spectrum we sometimes get employees with a high degree of technical skill who cannot wrap their head around the way things are done in the office– which is of course dictated by the client. We currently have an employee who wants to spend up to 2.5-3 hours troubleshooting an issue, when our metrics dictate that calls need to be completed inside of 10 minutes. He refuses to adhere to these metrics, and cannot give up the fantasy that this is a job where his interest in solving a technical puzzle is less important than satisfying customer demands.

      In short: screen screen screen.

    9. Lizzy*

      I responded below, but didn’t see your response. As someone who bolted without notice, I can admit that part of the reason for was feeling incompetent and hating the work. To further exacerbate my flakiness, I was young and couldn’t handle how to cope on the job, nor how to tell an employer that I wasn’t working out.

      I think Alison’s most recent response to you should be a good starting point for screening. I don’t know what the profile is for the typical person you hired beyond having an upbeat personality, but maybe you need to go against the grain a bit. I also don’t know how much or how little experience constitutes entry level at your organization, but this position might require someone with more experience than you usually hire. And you may want to dig more with their past experiences and how they handle tough situations on the job. Just my two cents.

    10. Laura2*

      “I make it clear with the interviewees that it is important that they look at this as a place they want to work, not a place that is just a job.”

      Most call centers just aren’t places that people want to work long-term, though, even for people who aren’t bilingual, and someone who has a decent work history, who has bilingual skills (and possibly mortgage knowledge?) probably has other options. You might also be making the job sound more desirable than it really is (i.e. by selling them on the potential to move up quickly to other positions).

      I had a job like that, and I took another position as soon as possible just to get out of call center work – not because it was really awful (which it was), but because I didn’t want future employers to see that I had X years in a job that many people see as low-skilled.

      1. JustPickANameAlready*

        Why the heck do people want to lump all call center work together?

        My actual title is Senior Analyst. I handle workflow management, Quality Assurance, document/policy creation AND take calls/troubleshoot tech issues. Anyone looking at my job and writing it off as low-skilled can quite frankly kiss my ass.

        1. Dan*

          Because this is the internet and we don’t have enough information to separate the outliers from the mean. If your job is different, make sure you present it as such for future job searches.

        2. Jenna*

          Call center work gets labeled as low skilled by the companies that hire for the job. They want to pay low skill wages, so, they label it as such, even when the actual job requires a great deal of emotional resiliency, quick thinking, and diplomacy at minimum. Most CSR positions are also technical in some fashion, with lots of things to remember, trouble shoot, update, and all the rest.
          But, if you just say CSR, rather than Senior Analyst, what people think of is the high turnover, low pay, entry level positions(that still require all that emotional resiliency, quick thinking, and diplomacy).

  31. Armchair Analyst*

    I bet “fun, jovial” people = spontaneous = more likely to leave without notice.
    I would even add that for many of us at our jobs, “fun, jovial” = selfish = more likely to leave without notice.

    Could be you’re screening for the wrong things.
    Try reliable, concerned about personal and professional reputation, driven, ambitious…

    1. ro*

      So true. My old boss and the team always misrepresented the position and hired for fit, namely: how much fun are you. Every 3 -18 months they were surprised why people quit. Most of your time was spent making arts and crafts, ordering food, and being the punching bag for executive and mid management disputes.

    2. ethel*

      “Fun and jovial” usually just means frat boys being assholes. Never take a job where the hiring manager takes pride in that, especially if you’re a woman or a minority. You’ll be required to “relax” at all those “just jokes.”

  32. Lizzy*

    I definitely agree with Alison’s 4th point, as well as the 5th one (but to a lesser extent).

    I admit to being someone who bolted early in my career. I lasted one month at a sales position and tried out street canvassing for a day. I hated bith jobs and felt utterly incompetent. I was also not a cultural fit for the sales position. It was surreal being hired for a job you don’t feel the least bit competent doing, you can’t find yourself ever doing and that you felt was misrepresented to you during the hiring process. Don’t get me wrong, I was not faultless and I do blame my immaturity — I was a total wreck at 22/23. But in both cases, the hiring managers were not as transparent as they should have been about the work. They were also hiring for the sake of filling positions, not looking for the best candidates.

    I think it comes down to either you aren’t screening candidates effectively or not representing the job correctly, or both. There have been some good points brought up about cultural fit issues, but based on my experiences, people bolt quickly from jobs because they dread the work; toxic or unwelcoming coworkers are just the added incentive to get out of there. People can tolerate a toxic environment for at least a few months to even a year (or two), but they have to at least to feel competent in their job to do so.

  33. soitgoes*

    Forgive me if I step on any toes here, but I think it needs to at least be considered.

    Are there any issues with the Spanish-speaking community in the area? When I had customer service jobs in the past, my enjoyment of those jobs depended largely upon how well I was treated by the customers. Businesses/products are geared toward certain demographics, and it’s not unreasonable to discuss the issue of how that demographic tends to react to the business in question. For example, I once worked for a company that sold discount car parts. The people who are most likely to buy after-market car parts online are also very unlikely to want to speak with women when they call customer service. They also get finnicky over things like having to pay return shipping, which makes sense if they bought the products after comparing prices on ebay. So I’m asking: is there maybe a cultural thing going on with the Spanish-speaking customers that is making it hard for an employee to do his or her job in the same manner as the English-speaking employees? Is there something in the phone script that is inadvertently offensive and effectively throws the employee into the line of fire?

    1. Meg Murry*

      I see the OP has responded above, but I think this is a good point to remember too. When I lived in an area with a lot of Spanish-speaking residents who were often immigrants or 1st generation Americans, most people did not get mortgages – they either rented, or saved their money (often in cash) until they could afford a home, and many of them did not even have a bank account. So the new employee may have to be doing some very basic education on what a mortgage is, why the bank charges interest, what a closing cost is, etc – and may be dealing with a lot of people who feel she is “ripping them off” or spending a lot of time educating the customer. If the employee is entry level, they may not even understand all of these things fully themselves, let alone understand how to explain them to someone else, and having to do it in Spanish may make it even more confusing.

    2. OP*

      I’ve thought this myself, too.

      This is very much a call center position, not a mortgage position. While we “well” mortgages, the CSR’s job is just to transfer the candidates that want to speak with a loan officer over. Sweet and simple. There is no overwhelming workload for the Spanish speaker. I have wondered if it is a cultural thing.

      BTW…absolutely NO derogatory language is allowed with regard to race or ethnics. I’ve been crystal clear that even though I allow joking around, those comments are not tolerated.

        1. bkanon*

          I really, really, really hope that was an autocorrect error for ethnicity, because otherwise … wow.

          1. soitgoes*

            um, yeah… :/

            If you type “ethnic” into your phone, it doesn’t autocorrect either way. The letters S and I are not near enough to each other on a keyboard for it to be a presumed typo. I still hope it’s a type though, because otherwise, Hoooooly freudian slip.

            Now I really want to know how the training material addresses the Spanish-speaking demographic of their customer base.

            1. De (Germany)*

              “If you type “ethnic” into your phone, it doesn’t autocorrect either way”

              Different phones have different systems.

              1. soitgoes*

                True, but “ethnic” is a finished word. It’s not going to autocorrect any which way at all.

                Have you tried it on your phone or are we just trying to give the OP the benefit of the doubt?

                1. soitgoes*

                  I honestly think it’s incredibly relevant if the OP is having trouble holding onto Spanish-speaking employees due to her use of antiquated racist slips of the tongue, but your call.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  It’s been pointed out, we have no way of knowing if it was a typo or not, and debating whether or not a phone might auto-correct to that is a level of nitpickiness and piling-on that I don’t find useful here.

          1. OP*

            Thank you, Allison. It was not my intention to use the word “ethnic”, it should have been “ethnicity”. I apologize if that did offend anyone. It was an oversight on my part not to catch that before I posted.

            Regarding an earlier comment…I did not call PERSONAL references, I did call business references.

            That said…I feel like this topic has gotten way out of hand. Several people are assuming a lot based on the little information I have given. I feel like I am being attacked, and therefore I am choosing not to reply any further. I thank you all for your feedback.

            1. Andrea*

              I’m sorry OP, I asked the question that derailed things here and that was not something I anticipated. I work in a place with very casual racism against aboriginal people so I tend to notice words – but I do understand type-os and didn’t mean for you to feel bad. I’m sorry.

              1. OP*

                Thank you, Andrea. It’s not the typo and reply to that which I feel has gotten out of hand, it is the bombardment of “Something must be wrong with You” that has. I appreciate your thoughtful reply, however.
                I am not a new manager, I have over 20 years of management experience. This just happens to be a newer company and therefore a newer team (less than 6 months old). I have never had this happen before. My original query was what kind of person just quits without any contact? I don’t understand that mentality and I’m wondering how to screen for people like that.
                Training is not relevant here. I have spoken with everyone else here and the consensus is to learn as you go with the help of everyone. I do the primary training with everyone. I have six happy agents who continue the learn as you go atmosphere and welcome others with open arms. We all work together to help the newest person feel at home.
                Some people in this thread seem to think I’m oblivious to something. I am not. I work right along side of my team and the morale is excellent. That may be hard to believe, but it is true. I was just trying to bring everyone back to my original question, but as I said, it has gotten so far out of hand that leaving this discussion is probably the best solution.

                1. Andrea*

                  What I took from Alison’s article that is helpful for me in my job, is that it’s possible to screen for this in a few different stages in the process. For example, I act as a reference for a lot of young staff after they leave our program and I find that a lot of employers ask reference questions about how they handled conflict/mistakes and how/why they left the job. I think these sorts of questions in the interview as well as with the references might start to show a pattern of behaviour before you hire and train the person. Basically it shifts the focus from “what kind of people” to “what kind of previous behaviour could predict what happens next”. What do you think?

                2. Helka*

                  Translation: people aren’t telling you what you want to hear, so you’re going to cut and run.

                  I’m sorry, there’s really no other way to read this. You’re slapping your hands over your ears and going LALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU OUR TRAINING IS FINE NOTHING IS WRONG HERE.

                  We can’t read your employees’ minds. We can’t tell you why these precise people left with a NCNS. What we can do is look at what you’re telling us about the job (and what you’re not telling us) and use what we see, and our own experiences as CSRs and especially bilingual CSRs (which several of us here are or have been) and give you the best feedback we can.

                  That feedback has included both ways to screen better for your new hires and ways to make sure your corporate culture is welcoming to them. But you’ve shown yourself to be absolutely, completely, utterly resistant to any suggestion that your training procedures, corporate culture, or anything at all relating to the business itself might be any kind of a factor. If you’re like that with us, I wonder how open you are to actually getting feedback from your employees. You’re telling us that everything is fine, morale is great, people are telling you it all works — but you’re also telling us, by your responses, that you’re really not good at all to listening when someone tells you it doesn’t work. That’s going to factor into our feedback, because it’s information you’re giving us about the environment.

                3. Bunny*

                  Your response keeps changing, and they aren’t making the situation sound any better.

                  First the training was “quick and simple” and took 3 days… now you’re saying the job is “learn as you go”. Which is it? It can’t actually be both.

                  You want to know how to screen for the sort of people who will quit without notice or even notification, and you also want to know what sort of people would even do that to begin with. Well, you’ve had a wealth of answers.

                  The answer to “what sort of person just stops turning up” is complex… and includes a variety of people. Some who stop turning up because they don’t care, some because they don’t know any different and some because the have been actively driven to that choice. We cannot tell you which of those things is going on in your case. Chances are neither can you. So all you CAN do is work on the stuff that is within your control.

                  I honestly don’t know what other help you expect people to be able to offer you. There just ISN’T going to be an answer to your question that won’t involve at least some efforts on your part to revisit aspects of your end of the matter.

                4. Bunny*

                  Another thing to consider – what sort of contract are these new hires on? Because an entry level job with almost no training (which may be 3 days of “easy” training or basically nothing as people “learn as they go”) on an entry-level wage, in a new and small company…

                  Are these people on temp, rolling temp or zero hours contracts? Or contracted through an agency?

                  Because if they are, that changes things a lot. My other half is on a rolling temp zero-hour contract right now. He could literally come in Monday morning, and then be told he no longer had a job and to leave THAT DAY and never come back, for literally no reason. And the company has done as much plenty of times – firing a stack of people en-masse by ticking names off a flip-chart at random. In that situation, when the job has no loyalty to you, you have no loyalty to the company. If a better job comes along, you owe the employer nothing and in fact are probably better off NOT giving notice, as they will likely fire you that day and leave you out of pocket until the new job starts.

                  If you are hiring people on permanent contracts, or temp-to-perm, then while it is very slightly possible that you have just had a horrendous stream of bad luck with your hires, the evidence would suggest it is something in YOUR end of things that is either attracting flaky people, failing to screen them out, or failing to support and retain otherwise good ones.

      1. Marcia*

        My experience is that “sweet and simple” is indeed cultural. I would be surprised if it is really that simple. To the customers, “sweet and simple” can be incredibly rude. They expect a dialogue and will tell their stories (about mortgages, or what troubles they have with their apartment, or what happened with their last landlord), and will listen to stories. Ten minutes later, you can transfer them to the appropriate person. This might just take thirty seconds with an English speaker. (Obviously, this won’t be true for all Spanish speakers. It was for the sub-population of Spanish speakers I worked with though, which was initially baffling for me).

        1. the gold digger*

          Ha. I am of German/Norwegian ancestry and I want to tell my stories! I have to remind myself before I call Blue Cross that it is not their fault that my employer has a long waiting period and that the most significant medical expense and the only ER expense I have had in 30 years happened two weeks before I was on the new plan and that my old plan had a $2,500 deductible and that it would have cost me only $150 on the new plan. (See? I can’t even keep it short here.)

      2. Meg Murry*

        “I have wondered if its a cultural thing” ???

        Am I being overly sensitive, or is this a jab at people who are Spanish speakers/of Latino heritage, implying that they don’t have the same work ethic? If so, wow, just wow – I think you found your problem right there.

        And I’m misunderstanding (and I really hope I am) than you need to consider one of two possibilities:
        1) you are expecting white collar office professional norms (such as 2 weeks notice) out if people who have never been taught them. Ignoring the bilingual portion of this job – this is common for many entry level employees – they have to be taught these professional norms, they aren’t just common sense (I’ll link to a post that discussed this in my next comment)
        2) You need to get past the “why are these new people all doing a no call no show? What us wrong with them??” and really listen to Allison and other commenters suggestions as to how to improve your hiring and/or training processes to try to weed out people likely to just quit without notice or to get so fed up with the job they just leave.

        And one last red flag no one has mentioned – are you pressuring your new employees to abruptly quit their current job to come work for you immediately? If you ask a currently employed person when they can start and they say “Monday” or “immediately” – isn’t that a red flag that if they quit that fast on their current employer they will do the sane yo you? Or you could even ask a question in the interview like “have you ever just walked out of a job or quit with less than 2 weeks notice?” and see how they respond.

        Last, I highly suspect that if you change this position from entry-level to 2-3 years related experience you can probably eliminate some of the “teaching professionalism” and “is Custom Service/phone work a good fit for this person” without having to increase the amount you pay too much – and after all, how much is it costing you to constantly re-hure and re-train?

        1. soitgoes*

          I’m getting the feeling that the office maybe isn’t full of hugely progressive people and that the business might be approaching Spanish-speaking customers in a way that is very off-putting. I’m not suggesting that anyone’s acting out of any direct malice, but I think it’s very likely that some sensitivity/sociology/political-correctness-in-the-year-2014 training needs to happen immediately. The bilingual employees are getting grossed out and quitting.

    3. Marcia*

      My experience with Spanish-speaking customers is that they were much, much easier to deal with, compared to English speakers (despite that English speakers are a broad group of people). That was the only reason I did it, because it truly is more work when you’re the only one that speaks a given language. You’re the only one that can deal with certain people, regardless of the situation. Culturally, it can be more difficult–not because the people are more difficult, but because they might not understand why you are asking certain types of questions or what types of answers you need. I also had to translate things for them that they had received from us in English, sometimes. It’s truly a lot more work.

  34. EvilQueenRegina*

    If it wasn’t for the fact that there are aspects such as the Spanish speaking that mean I know it’s not, I’d be wondering right now if my manager wrote this, because we have a similar situation right now.

    I’d posted on the open threads over the summer about “Zelena” who had no showed a few times, saying she was sick but was then seen staggering out of the pub while she supposedly couldn’t keep anything down, then when she tried to take more annual leave than she was entitled to and was refused, she didn’t come in. In the end, she quit. More recently, her replacement, Elsa, started, did two days then quit, apparently having another job lined up.

    (Yes, the Defence Against the Dark Arts job comparison has been made).

    I don’t think they did get a clear picture of the job when they started. Basically, we’re a new team, formed earlier this year as a result of a restructure. Emma, our manager, was new to that role and spent some time with everyone trying to understand what everyone did. She must have spent some time with Zelena’s predecessor Anna, but Anna didn’t give the full picture of what she did. Anna trained me when I first started, but I didn’t find out until after she’d quit quite how much she hadn’t shown me. Since she’d gone before Zelena started, I had gaps myself, Kathryn had done the job at one time but also had gaps for the same reason, and Ruby, Belle and Mary Margaret hadn’t done it at all, it made it difficult for Zelena to learn the role.

    It’s also possible that there was an issue with the team dynamics. We only started working together as a team at the beginning of the year, and some had known each other for years while others didn’t know each other at all. It got to the point where we sort of formed two sub teams – Belle and Mary Margaret (and Anna while she was there), then Ruby, Kathryn and me. I think this initially started because of seating arrangements, but once we were all sat together after a move, it sort of stuck. Nobody deliberately excluded Zelena, but I wonder whether over time she ever felt that way.

    In Elsa’s case, she was only there two days, so I don’t know what it was with her.

  35. Amy*

    People can be “nice” yet be bigoted or seem to be. I was put into a position for my Spanish skills, but I’m Anglo. The black staff really resented it when I practiced my Spanish with a native Spanish-Speaker on staff. I really needed to learn the particular vocabulary of the job and get used to the flow of the language. Also, she was from the same country as the community and she has their accent. It was invaluable practice. I talked as much in English as in Spanish over the course of the day but speaking a foreign language is suspicious behavior to some people.

    Another question, have the other staff members been given the opportunity (with support) to learn Spanish? If Spanish is not that big of a deal why not train them? At least give them that opportunity so they don’t feel left behind and unable to earn more (assuming bilingual staff get extra pay)

    1. Helka*

      Another question, have the other staff members been given the opportunity (with support) to learn Spanish? If Spanish is not that big of a deal why not train them?

      That isn’t likely to be a valuable use of the company’s time/money. It takes quite a lot of time and practice to become comfortable and fluent in a foreign language, and comfortable and fluent over the phone (ie, when you’re missing expression and body language cues, plus you can’t see the person’s mouth moving to help you distinguish enunciation) is even more difficult.

  36. AUB*

    I looked back at this as I read comments…I think the problem is that your position is both entry level and bilingual. Speaking as a person trained in more than one language with a degree, with the need for Spanish-English speakers only growing, you just can’t get away with an entry level salary. Why? Because you’ve got hospitals, court systems, law offices, and schools possibly out-pricing you. For part-time work even. This is an extremely desired skill that most people do not have. This is a person that will appeal to all industries. I think you should nix that entry-level title asap.

    1. Cassie*

      Except that the OP replied above that the employee basically just has to transfer the calls to a loan officer who gets into all the nitty-gritty stuff. I assume there are loan officers who speak Spanish, because that would just be confusing otherwise.

      So labelling the job entry-level is probably okay – it’s like having a bilingual receptionist (if the job really is that basic).

      I’d echo suggestions about calling up references and getting their feedback. You can call people outside the list provided by the candidate (I’d especially do this if the person didn’t list former supervisors). Also, maybe ask some scenario-based questions in the interview to see how they would handle different calls (and *if* they can handle more difficult callers).

      1. soitgoes*

        I think the issue isn’t with the framing of the job titles. It’s about the fact that someone who is both bilingual and qualified for office work will always have better options than what the OP is offering. Yes, you’re right that the job seems like a simple intermediary role, but why would a qualified person bother with that if the pay wasn’t good and if the work was drudgery? The OP might have to choose between ponying up for a bigger starting salary or restructuring his/her team so this particular role can be eliminated.

        It would be like saying, “admin position, $20k starting salary, occasionally has to answer questions about quantum physics, so a PhD is required.” The bilingual requirement is out of sync with the rest of the job duties.

        1. Christian Troy*

          Yes, this is exactly it.

          She needs to drop the bilingual aspect of the job and ask for working knowledge of Spanish if she isn’t going to pay for the level of skill that being bilingual is.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      There could be a selection effect as well, which means the OP isn’t getting applications from good candidates in the first place.

      Suppose bilingual employees are in high demand in this region, and are compensated accordingly – they are highly sought after for positions with good benefits that pay more than the OP is offering. Someone who is bilingual and has good references may look at the salary, reject it as below market value, and not apply. Then the people applying are the ones who aren’t able to get those better jobs – like people with poor references, or who were fired from their previous jobs for cause, or walked off without warning.

      If this is the problem, the solution would be to increase the salary to be competitive, and to check references carefully before hiring.

  37. LawBee*

    OP: why are people leaving?
    AAM READERS: because there’s something wrong with your process.
    OP: there’s nothing wrong with our process. What’s wrong with the people?
    AAM READERS: who knows, but there’s something wrong with your process.
    OP: no, no, no there is not.

    OP, you’re new at this position in a new division of a new company. There’s probably something wrong with your process.

    1. Bunny*


      OP, there is no such thing as a perfect process. EVERY process has problems. New companies, new positions, new departments are all stress points where NEW problems can arise. There is no way that, even in an ideal situation, your process has no problems. Given the issues you’re having keeping new hires, and given your responses in this thread re: training etc, the problems that DO exist in your process – because as I said, no process is perfect – are almost definitely contributing significantly to, if not directly causing, your staff retention issues.

      Honestly, though, I’m concerned by the responses you’re giving here and they make me wonder if you might perhaps be feeling defensive of your company. The best managers I’ve worked under in the best companies I worked for, all had one significant similarity. They eagerly welcomed and sought out criticism and news about problems in their work. Because being told about those problems allowed them to put in fixes and make changes. And that was in established, long-running companies with highly experienced long-term management. In a new company, NOTHING about your process should be sacred or perfect or “without problems” to you, not at this early stage.

      If people in this thread are able to feel you being defensive, closed off to criticism and unwilling to listen… how do you think you’re coming across to these new hires who keep jumping ship?

      1. JB*

        To the extent the OP seemed unwilling to believe that there could be any problem with their hiring process, I agree with you.

        On the other hand, there were quite a few comments in the thread making negative assumptions about the OP personally based on very little data, so I can see how they’d be defensive. Generally speaking, I really like the commenters here, but sometimes we can get a little in-groupy and start making rather negative assumptions about the people who write in without any real basis for doing so. I’d probably never write in a question myself for that very reason. Heaven forbid you leave out some information in attempt to be brief–sometimes people fill in those blanks themselves with assumptions they then use to draw unfair criticisms of the OP.

        1. soitgoes*

          In general, I’m not a fan of people writing in with questions and then revealing more information in the comments when they don’t like the answers they’re starting to get. It smacks of wanting to be told what you already want to hear; it tells me that the person isn’t all that interested in hearing good advice or making any improvements. A lot of us also don’t read all 100+ comments before offering our own opinions, so we don’t necessarily get the full story before we throw our two cents in…though most of the time, reading the clarifications from the OP doesn’t change the answers anyway.

          As far as this particular question goes, if there’s a business that consistently has troubling attracting the right job candidates, the issue is always with the company, even if it’s an issue as small as how the job listing was phrased. The OP is trying to pull the comments in the direction of “but WHY do people walk out on jobs?” instead of working on attracting employees who won’t do that. Either the OP wants to solve the problem or s/he doesn’t. We’ve laid out the ways to do so, and the OP is denying all responsibility. I feel like I say this a lot: It’s not wrong of the commenters to call out OPs for contributing to the workplace problems that they’re blaming on other people.

          1. Jenna*

            Usually I love knowing all about why something happens, but, this is a very solution oriented site. Why only matters in this situation if it helps fix the problem.
            The problem is multiple people leaving a position with no notice by just not showing up.
            The solutions offered included:
            Extra screening. Choose for different qualities than you were, before(reliability over joviality, etc.). Call the references. Make sure the job description matches reality. Pay reasonably for the skills asked for. Train well. Trouble shoot by asking the people who left why they did. Give a phone number to the new employee and ask them to call if they are not coming in(illness, accident, misadventure, whatever) and let them know that you need to know if they can’t make it.
            These are things under the employer’s control. What is going on in someone’s head is not actually something we know, though there has been plenty of speculation, just nothing the LW wants to hear, apparently.
            I think it is something at that workplace, or having to do with that employer’s choices because it is a pattern. If I talk to a dude, and he says all his exes (insert particular unflattering thing or action), then my experience tells me that the problem is his, and that I should not ever date that dude. The common denominator in all those relationships is HIM.
            So. Changing the situation and choosing, training, and retaining employees in this position is in the employer’s control. Suggestions have been made.
            If all that is wanted is not a solution, but, the actual reason why those particular employees have been leaving without notice, the only ones with that actual information are the employees that left. All we can do, here, is say what circumstances we imagine would have us walking out.
            From what you, LW, have written here, my impression is that you don’t listen or take suggestions well. That may not be why they are leaving, but, it may be why you don’t know why.

  38. Bee*

    Maybe the customers themselves are the problem.

    I haven’t left my job, but I am looking for a new one because the customers are awful. My workplace itself is great. I like the people, I get along with everyone, management is good… The customers are just plain bad.

    1. Bee*

      Okay, I’ve read some of the comments now. My comment is clearly not helpful in screening employees, or understanding what might be happening in your workplace. Nothing to see here. :)

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