News : Smoking Costing the Welsh Contact Centre Industry £1.6m
Cardiff, Wales, Sept 29, 2015 -- Ahead of the start of the 28 day national stop smoking challenge, Stopober, the Welsh Contact Centre Forum estimated employee sickness absences related to smoking costs contact centres in Wales £1.6m per annum.
The contact centre industry now employs 30,000 people in over 100 centres across Wales - pumping £650m into the Welsh economy each year.
It is estimated around 9,000 of the contact centre workforce are smokers at rate of around 30% – higher than the 20% of the general Welsh population who smoke.
With a smoker spending on average £1,752 per year on the habit, the cost of the habit to the smokers in Welsh contact centres stands at well over £15m collaboratively.
Furthermore, according to Total Jobs, the average across all salaries in contact centres, from front-line staff to first line management, is £19,000 - meaning almost 10% of a smoking call centre worker’s wage is spent on cigarettes.
As well as the financial impact smoking has on contact centre staff, the Welsh Contact Centre Forum has also warned of the health effects that can impair employees’ ability to perform their job.
Sandra Busby, managing director of the Welsh Contact Centre Forum, said: "In the contact centre industry, an employees’ voice is a crucial tool, used throughout the day to perform key tasks.
"Habits such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are recognised to affect vocal performance, while smoking can also increase the risk of developing illnesses such as chest infections and sore throats which all impair vocal sound and can result in sickness absence.
"We’re very understanding that smoking is a terrible addiction, and quitting can be on your own hard. That’s why we’re behind ‘Stoptober’ as quitting as part of a group provides much-needed support."
The forum s calling on future ex-smokers across Wales’ contact centres to join forces to take part in the collective Stopober quit attempt, which gets under way on Thursday.
The national stop smoking challenge is based on research that shows people who manage to kick the habit for 28 days are five times more likely to quit smoking for good.
Allison McCarthy, senior operations manager at EE, Merthyr Tydfil, said: "We’re getting behind our employees who are taking on the ‘Stoptober’ challenge this month, by working with local health authorities to drive awareness of the support that is available to our staff throughout the month and beyond.
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"The health and wellbeing of our employees is our priority, that’s why we’re arranging flexible working for all of those attending stop smoking sessions offsite over the next six weeks."
Dr Julie Bishop, director of health improvement at Public Health Wales, said: "Support from others goes a long way to helping people quit the habit which is why we’re encouraged that contact centres like EE and other businesses are getting behind Stoptober to create a healthy culture in the workplace.
"Research shows people who manage to kick the habit for 28 days are five times more likely to quit smoking for good so we’re urging smokers to give their bodies and their bank balances a boost by signing-up to the Stoptober challenge."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Monday, October 5, 2015