Olean, NY, USA, Dec 30, 2016 -- Only 15 percent of the approximately 140 call center employees warned their jobs were in jeopardy will actually be laid off come Jan. 8, corporate officials from The Connection said Thursday.
The Minnesota-based customer service company in October issued Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) notices to 142 of its Olean call center employees, notifying them their jobs may be terminated Jan. 8. Roughly 20 employees will be terminated, while an additional 10 percent — about 14 employees — had their WARN notices extended until the end of the 2017 first quarter.
Cyndi McDurmott, The Connection’s vice president of human resources, called it a success to only terminate 15 percent of the employees given WARN notices. She said the Olean center secured two new clients and expanded services for another client over the last 80 days since the warnings were issued.
"That is a large part of why we’re not seeing as many exit the building," she said.
She added the center is still attempting to find more permanent positions and extend more employees’ WARN notices rather than lay them off.
A majority of the employees to be terminated are call center representatives, or agents, while the rest are support staff. All are full-time. The Connection did not issue WARN notices to any seasonal employees, as their contracts were set to end before Jan. 8 regardless, McDurmott said.
Officials could not give the exact number of employees that work in the Olean call center, which is located on Wayne Street. They said the number fluctuates due to seasonal employees coming and going. They did, however, add that the center has 331 workstations and the capability to fill them all.
Despite the loss of staff, McDurmott said business at the Olean center will continue as normal, although perhaps on a smaller scale.
Director of Marketing Karen Danielson said Olean employees have been willing to accommodate shift changes to make sure clients don’t see a drop in service despite changes at the center.
The reasons for the staff reduction were economic factors and "the nature of the call center business," Danielson said. She added that clients have different busy seasons so demand changes throughout the year.
The call center has been no stranger to layoffs and WARN notices since opening in 2008. The company issued notices to 164 of its 326 Olean employees in 2011, and a year later had reduced down to just 150 employees, according Buffalo Business First. Another Connection center in Penn Yan shut down in early 2011, less than a year after it opened.
As for the future of the Olean center, which is one of The Connection’s most-tenured sites, McDurmott said the company wants the center to be around for another nine years and beyond.
"We have brought two new clients into that facility, so our commitment is to maintain a facility in the Olean area and continue to employ these employees and continue to grow back up to where we used to be," she said.
McDurmott said if new positions open at the center, terminated employees will be contacted first.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Date Posted: Monday, January 2, 2017
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