Call-centre work often gets a bad name. But for foreigners and Colombians looking to practice their language skills and move into a different career path, it could be a good option
The Bogota Post visited the offices of multinational company Sitel to see what working in a call centre is really like.
At first sight, we were impressed. The employees were mostly young high-school graduates or students and the office had a casual atmosphere, created by the relaxed dress policy and ping pong tables in the courtyard.
People who have worked in call centres often complain there is not enough time to socialize with colleagues, but at Sitel that didn’t seem to be a problem. The canteen was packed with employees chatting and eating, and in the courtyard three staff members wearing bright Sitel vests joked around in the sunshine.
The offices also make a change from your usual bleak rows of desks with identical computers and headsets. Instead, decorations strung from the ceiling reflect the current theme, whether it’s Valentine’s Day or St Patrick’s Day, and the walls are covered with posters praising employees’ achievements, from sales success to the victories of the staff football team.
According to HR Manager María Fernanda González, their ‘People First’ approach is one of the things that sets them apart – she speaks passionately about the ways that they create an atmosphere where the managers work for the agents and not the other way around.
Sitel knows call centre work can be demanding, and as such have introduced a host of incentives and fun activities to motivate their staff. And it’s working. The company showed 90 percent employee satisfaction on their last survey.
Incentives include a cupcake and a balloon on birthdays and ‘Fun Fridays’, with activities such as talent shows, visiting magicians, karaoke and the famous Colombian ‘rumba.’ Plus a wellness programme that includes dance therapy and an onsite health specialist.
The company also rewards top performers – offering the possibility to win lunch with management and a paid day off, as well as taking part in raffles for bigger prizes like all-inclusive trips away with a partner.
Speaking of rewards, María Fernanda tells us the pay is competitive, with the opportunity to earn more on commission if you work as part of the sales team. Other benefits include a healthcare plan and discounts in places like one of the city’s big-name gyms.
But the real benefit of working at Sitel isn’t the money. María Fernanda explains, “Some employees tell us they started for the money, but they like it so much they end up staying.” She adds that one of the things people constantly highlight in satisfaction surveys is “a great working environment.”
For the more ambitious job-seeker, María Fernanda also says that the company offers plenty of opportunity for advancement. Sitel has a strong career progression programme, with training in various areas and they fill 96 percent of vacancies internally.
María Fernanda says: “I love it when I see the change in people’s lives – my biggest satisfaction is seeing people grow.”
For those looking to take on a job alongside their studies or other work commitments, call centre work can be a good option as it’s very flexible. Sitel offers several different schedules, with extra pay for night shifts and holidays and free transport home for night shifts.
By the end of our chat, I’m beginning to think it might be time for a change of career. If you are too, Sitel is currently recruiting English speaking agents. A good level of English is a must, and if you’re a foreigner you must already have a work permit. No experience is necessary. To apply, contact Sitel directly (their recruiters all speak fluent English) or send a CV by email (email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org).