High Standards, Terrible Communication

, , , , , | Working | August 22, 2020

I was looking for work and saw that a local call center was hiring. The place had a reputation as a fairly good employer, so I applied and was quickly hired for a department that had just been created and thus was being staffed with all new people. During employee orientation, one of the things that I and the other people who were hired at the same time were told was that we were eligible for a fifty-cent raise twice a year.

Training went well for my department, which involved answering customer service emails — not phone calls — for a cellular service provider. It wasn’t the most exciting job, but it was decent enough.

Fast forward six months, and it was time for our first performance review. Oh, had we been promised the possibility of fifty-cent raises? Sorry, that wasn’t actually something they offered until you’d been at the company for at least three years. We were eligible for twenty-five-cent raises — if we got perfect scores on our reviews.

Part of the review was straightforward: number of emails we handled in a week, number of mistakes we made, things of that nature. But we were also evaluated on how many phone calls we answered. Not only was this not my department’s job, but our workstations didn’t even have phones.

Another was how well we followed the company dress code… except that on our first day we were told that there wasn’t a dress code as long as you were wearing clothes that were clean, fit well, and didn’t have obscene language or images. One of the managers for another department regularly showed up to work in an Adventure Time hoodie. Nevertheless, failing to wear full business attire — something not even the call center’s owner did on a regular basis — caused everyone to fail that section.

I ended up getting a twenty-cent raise, which was the best anyone in the department got. The lowest was a coworker who got a five-cent raise because she’d missed three days of work due to maternity leave while giving birth to her daughter and was told that if she’d missed any more than that she’d have failed the review altogether.

At that point, I reevaluated just how much I actually wanted to be working that job. Given that it was mostly being verbally abused by customers who were irate that we wouldn’t turn their service back on even though they hadn’t made a payment in over four months, the answer was “not much,” and I moved on to a different job that offered better pay and more honest management.

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