The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) recently released an analysis that reports an average, national telecommunicator turn-over rate of 19%. The turn-over rate has increased 3% since the initial study in 2004, said Loredana Elsberry, APCO’s communications center and 911 services manager.

The new study, Staffing and Retention in Public Safety Communications Centers: A Follow-up Study, examined small-, medium- and large-sized communications centers’ retention rates, employees’ organizational commitment and employees’ psychological distress. A random sampling of centers indicated that 83% experienced an increase in the number of dispatched calls over the previous three years while also seeing an increase in employee turn-over rates. Turn-over rates reflected those who quit, were fired or were promoted within an agency, Elsberry explained. The U.S. economic slowdown, which resulted in government agency budget cuts, also affected turn-over rate, she said.

At the same time, operation managers are struggling to find the right employees to staff the call centers, Elsberry said. She said the report noted job opportunities in the industry are not widely publicized, while at the same time it’s already a challenge to find an individual who can multitask in a stressful environment. Just “to put a body in the position” isn’t enough, she said.

“Do not hire maybes, more than likely you are going to lose them because they are not going to be an organizational fit,” she said.

A summary of the report is available at www.apcointl.com/new/commcenter911/retains_at_a_glance.php.