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News : Centrelink Plan to Put Calls on the Clock
July 17, 2014 -- A Centrelink office in Western Australia had planned to time its employees’ work calls using stopwatches, in a move a union has described as taking "micromanagement to a new level".
The bizarre rollout had been due to start last week and would have affected 200 staff at a Bunbury call centre, but has been scrapped after staff and the Community and Public Sector Union intervened.
"This was an insult to staff who are already under increasing pressure from heavy workloads," CPSU deputy president Lisa Neman said.
"They are under constant pressure to cut the times and number of calls they take.
"The last thing they need is the added pressure of a supervisor clicking a stopwatch and taking notes. This takes micromanagement to a new level."
In an email sent to staff notifying them of the plan on July 2, the Department of Human Services said the stopwatches would be used as an efficiency measure.
"As of today, all team leaders will be utilising a stopwatch during quality call listening to be able to accurately reflect the length of your talk time and work time during a call," it says.
"This will allow us to link our observations to all other available information to get a better understanding of what constitutes efficient and effective service delivery."
A manager said the move was not meant to intimidate staff but provide valuable feedback. "The knowledge that the use of this tool has upset staff is concerning," the manager said.
"We do listen and we do consider feedback. We have had feedback from staff that they are OK with the stopwatches but understand now that this may not be reflective of everyone."
Staff already have the start and finish times of their calls recorded on their computer.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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More Editorial From Centrelink
Centrelink is a government agency delivering a range of Commonwealth services to the Australian community. Centrelink is a statutory authority responsible, through its Board, to the Minister for Family and Community Services. The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, has responsibility for Centrelink’’s day-to-day operations. Centrelink operates under the Commonwealth Services Delivery Agency Act 1997 which formally came into effect on 1 July 1997.
Published: Monday, July 21, 2014