Service Marketing Equinox

Service Marketing Equinox Review

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Published: 23 February 2019

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Dec. 18, 2014, another formal complaint was filed with the Quebec Commission des normes du Travail (Labour Board) against a telemarketing company in Dorval, near Montreal. Victims allege psychological harassment, intimidation, and unpaid wages – commissions. One case has been under investigation since mid-November, 2014. Many employees work and live in fear during their shift, never knowing if they will be the next to be fired or put on an ‘Action Plan’ or other humiliating and degrading procedure. It is not uncommon for an agent to break down and cry or feel so much anxiety that an ambulance may be needed. One employee commented that: “The competition is so fierce that even the day and night shifts are turned against one another. One night, a young girl who was always better than the day shift employees was lectured for being the slowest on her team of four that night. She was working with two of the best on the floor, and her sales were still higher than day shift. You pick on the weakest to increase the fear of being fired, so the fear will get the sales up. The girl started to cry. Instead of backing off, the tears seem to make the boss want to dominate and control the situation. Any jerk who sells a lot thinks he has great people skills, whether or not he does or not.” Mental health in the workplace is an issue that impacts all workplaces and can no longer be ignored. Keeping the workforce healthy and productive is simply smart business and good for the bottom line. Many people working at a call center as a telemarketer for long hours, reading repetitive scripts over and over, and being pressured to sell, sell, sell, can attest to being completely drained mentally and complete exhaustion at the end of each shift. This traumatizing affect is compounded by ‘some’ supervisors and management with little or no people – interpersonal relationship skills. In fact, many supervisors and management are ‘graduates’ from being the same telemarketers they now oversee and discipline. In the corporate world of greed and the ‘bottom line buck’ humans are often discarded in exchange for the mighty dollar and profit. These ‘graduates’ are expert ‘spin-doctors’ when handling an employee’s concerns or complaint. Being trained as experts in rebuttals, management has an answer for every question – without ever answering the subject question and handling the real problem. This leaves the employee frustrated, belittled, and even feelings of worthlessness. Indeed, some work environments are unhealthy and even toxic to an employee’s health and well-being. “Nobody grows up saying, “I want to work in a call center.” Being a cowboy or ballerina are first career choices. Working in a call center is something you fall into, like falling into retail or working at some fast-food joint. You don’t plan for it to happen, it just does.” Stressful: “For some reason most call centre managers enjoy running a stressful call center; as if stress increases morale, productivity and retention. Great call center managers manage their call centers to be as stress free as possible.” There is no reason a call center should be a high stress environment. A small amount of stress can be good, however keep in mind the numerous negative results from stress (anxiety, high blood pressure, absenteeism) outweighs any benefits you may “think” you gain. The manager who takes a genuine interest in their employee’s career is rare. According to several workers, it appears the company is “purging” some of their veteran, higher paid workers through harassment and intimidation in an attempt to have them quit – allowing lower paid employees to replace them. Psychological harassment may occur at every level of the organizational hierarchy. It may manifest itself between colleagues, persons in a position of authority may harass subordinates and conversely, employees may harass their superiors. The witnesses of a psychological harassment situation play an important role in perpetuating or putting a stop to this behaviour. Indeed, as a group, they can contribute to removing or maintaining the climate of fear and silence associated with a harassment situation. By giving their versions of the events during interventions, witnesses can make a significant difference between aggravating and resolving the situation. Some employers try to sneak around the Labour Board’s regulations and ACT by only paying their employees once they have logged into their computer stations and the ‘Dialer-Timer’ begins to tick. However, this is strictly against the ACT: “All time worked or during which an employee is at his employer’s disposal must be paid. It is not the time when the enterprise’s doors open or close or the schedule that counts, but rather the length of time during which the employee is at his employer’s disposal.” Psychological harassment may occur at every level of the organizational hierarchy. It may manifest itself between colleagues, persons in a position of authority may harass subordinates and conversely, employees may harass their superiors. The witnesses of a psychological harassment situation play an important role in perpetuating or putting a stop to this behaviour. Indeed, as a group, they can contribute to removing or maintaining the climate of fear and silence associated with a harassment situation. By giving their versions of the events during interventions, witnesses can make a significant difference between aggravating and resolving the situation. Some employers try to sneak around the Labour Board’s regulations and ACT by only paying their employees once they have logged into their computer stations and the ‘Dialer-Timer’ begins to tick. However, this is strictly against the ACT: “All time worked or during which an employee is at his employer’s disposal must be paid. It is not the time when the enterprise’s doors open or close or the schedule that counts, but rather the length of time during which the employee is at his employer’s disposal.” Telemarketing scams and fraud is rampant in Montreal. A quick Google search of “Montreal telemarketing scams” with fill pages of search returns, that paint an ugly scene of fraud,RCMP arrests, and the Canada Competition Bureau involving criminal charges laid in a $172-million Montreal telemarketing case. Dealing with workplace psychological health and safety is a Leadership Framework for Advancing Workplace Mental Health was published in 2010 in partnership with the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace. It is an online resource for business leaders which lays out the business case for sustaining a mentally healthy workplace. Telemarketing scams and fraud is rampant in Montreal. A quick Google search of “Montreal telemarketing scams” with fill pages of search returns, that paint an ugly scene of fraud,RCMP arrests, and the Canada Competition Bureau involving criminal charges laid in a $172-million Montreal telemarketing case. Mental health problems related to the workplace include anxiety, depression and burnout. All of these take a significant toll on workers-and have a deep economic impact as well. Over the next 30 years, the cost of lost productivity due to absenteeism, presenteeism and turnover is estimated to reach $198 billion in current dollars. No person or company is above the law and Employers have a legal duty to develop and implement policies and programs that will ensure a psychologically safe workplace. In Quebec, Canada, the Commission des normes du Travail (Labour Board) has a website HERE for a psychological harassment complaint, andHERE for complaint related to wages – with a quick and easy online form to fill out and submit online in just a few minutes. A Commission Investigator/Inspector usually contacts the victim within 24 hours. A revealing video about: “Workplace Harassment, Violence, and Psychological Disability” can be seen here for reference.

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