May Get Fired for Performance, Unemployment Benefits?

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georgewilson
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Location: Dubuque, IA

25 Jul 2017, 9:14 pm

Hi. Just looking for some advice here on whether I've got firing ahead of me, and how unemployment compensation hoops work in the U.S. for firing over general quota performance rather than violations like sexual harrassment, stealing, etc.

I've been working for four years since starting training, three and a half years in the current role, as a representative for a customer retention subcontractor of a telecom firm offering Internet and phone and setup options for TV. I am expected to do what I can to keep accounts active and customers satisfied, and to offer and if possible sell Internet or TV to whoever doesn't have it but can.

For the first three years, the main lecture points on extremely rare occasions where I was performance coached by management was on sales technique, where I usually lagged behind. I've caught up somewhat recently, but for the last year I've received occasional coaching sessions (I'm not the only one) and even statements to sign acknowledging the possibility of corrective action up to and including termination if I fail to correct a problem I can never seem to resolve: my average call handling time is too far above the expectations of the company, a blistering 700 seconds goal, equivalent to eleven and a half minutes or so, including the required verification steps and order confirmation readout FCC law requires of me, with good reason IMO.

I'm not alone in this, and swelling the time further are requirements to get permission from supervisors/coaches, of whom during much of my 10:30-7:00 shift there are often fewer than four on site for 50+ reps, to request credits to past bills (they bill forward) or disconnect any Internet or proprietary TV (some areas have TV options other than the client directly through the DSL bandwidth). Also, on about a monthly to weekly basis there will be some sort of computer error logging me out making me reload orders, or occasionally even a server crash, which might save time with calls after it hits but not before. Nobody complained to me about explicitly before the last year, but now the client appears to be leaning on my employers to crack down and threatens potential "corrective action" next week (I don't know if there's some sort of probation or intermediate step along the way, and a site lead wasn't that clear on it today). When I have coaching sessions, the assistant director of the center and my direct supervisor, the latter almost always acting frazzled and impatient with me the last few weeks, claim that I could help save time disclosing less ancillary details on the account on my order recaps, and I have trouble figuring out what to omit in some cases in gray areas like autoebill requirements, modem return advice, etc. I think sometimes they want us telling half truths to take advantage of people, what they don't know can't hurt them, and suspect many of the reps who meet the handle time targets are omitting even required things and getting written up let alone best practices. I have great difficulty both noting everything on call time and the account detail and getting things done beginning to end, and in general usually average about 1100-1300 seconds, far above what they want, but the goal posts seem to move, and I feel I'm too deep in the machine to have much power to negotiate.

Long story short, I expect to eventually either be terminated or laid off by the very nature of call center jobs, but if it's imminent, I need to consider how unemployment compensation would work. As my handle indicates, I live in the U.S., so I've got their means tests and stinginess to deal with, and I dread even more than I mildly dislike the attitude of the job the interviews I need to keep seeking out weekly and the requirement to take whatever I get offered post-interview since I'm not sure I've got the instincts to find something that works for me. I don't trust my physical coordination with anything where I could get injured, get sick, or get other people injured or sick with mistakes or poor handwashing, which is surprisingly common when you think of all the food service, industry, retail, etc. jobs out there that make up most of what I can get with a Spanish major and history minor B.A. and no local connections beyond my advisors from the local college I talk to irregularly. Other call centers have stricter dress codes and likely the same or worse expectations I would guess.

My mother's 40 years older than me, retired, and hasn't been able to count on my Dad since he was forced into retirement for his divorce decree payments, so all she gets is social security, and cost-sharing on utilities at our current rental and a college friend of hers loaning money has helped, but we're still hanging by our fingernails and I don't think food stamps and unemployment would quite replace our storage unit, gas, all groceries, etc. that my salary mostly goes to these days, let alone cell phone time (no land line now), license renewals, etc. The U.S. government machinery seems hellbent on destroying most of the benefits anyway, so I'm concerned me and her (nobody will hire her, she's a truth-teller too, for the education jobs she's qualified in, and publishing projects for both of us grind along slowly) will be at the mercy of civilization crumbling from boorish leaders and climate change. I'm usually copacetic day-to-day, but I wonder what people with experience with unemployment while seeking work have as experience with performance firing, especially if I'm one of several and/or have ADA considerations. I might see if I can work in the front reception office, to help show I tried to stay.



BarnabeRiche
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28 Jul 2017, 10:50 pm

This is a wall of text you've posted so I've just skimmed. Sorry if I missed something.

I used to work for a state unemployment division and I've been unemployed many times so I have some experience with this. I'm sure there is some variance between states so this is just rule of thumb.

If you get fired, you will get unemployment benefits unless you were terminated for misconduct. That's something like coming in late all the time, showing up drunk, discolsing confidential information, etc. Making a good-faith effort and still underperforming at your job would not count against you. Even if you did commit misconduct, the employer would have to challenge your claim, and most won't, and even if they did you can and should appeal. It does not sound like you will have any trouble getting benefits.

UI benefits last 6 months. You have to make at least two weekly job search contacts and keep a record. You have to declare yourself ready and available for fulltime work and NOT in school or training.



Chronos
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30 Jul 2017, 2:55 am

georgewilson wrote:
Hi. Just looking for some advice here on whether I've got firing ahead of me, and how unemployment compensation hoops work in the U.S. for firing over general quota performance rather than violations like sexual harrassment, stealing, etc.

I've been working for four years since starting training, three and a half years in the current role, as a representative for a customer retention subcontractor of a telecom firm offering Internet and phone and setup options for TV. I am expected to do what I can to keep accounts active and customers satisfied, and to offer and if possible sell Internet or TV to whoever doesn't have it but can.

For the first three years, the main lecture points on extremely rare occasions where I was performance coached by management was on sales technique, where I usually lagged behind. I've caught up somewhat recently, but for the last year I've received occasional coaching sessions (I'm not the only one) and even statements to sign acknowledging the possibility of corrective action up to and including termination if I fail to correct a problem I can never seem to resolve: my average call handling time is too far above the expectations of the company, a blistering 700 seconds goal, equivalent to eleven and a half minutes or so, including the required verification steps and order confirmation readout FCC law requires of me, with good reason IMO.

I'm not alone in this, and swelling the time further are requirements to get permission from supervisors/coaches, of whom during much of my 10:30-7:00 shift there are often fewer than four on site for 50+ reps, to request credits to past bills (they bill forward) or disconnect any Internet or proprietary TV (some areas have TV options other than the client directly through the DSL bandwidth). Also, on about a monthly to weekly basis there will be some sort of computer error logging me out making me reload orders, or occasionally even a server crash, which might save time with calls after it hits but not before. Nobody complained to me about explicitly before the last year, but now the client appears to be leaning on my employers to crack down and threatens potential "corrective action" next week (I don't know if there's some sort of probation or intermediate step along the way, and a site lead wasn't that clear on it today). When I have coaching sessions, the assistant director of the center and my direct supervisor, the latter almost always acting frazzled and impatient with me the last few weeks, claim that I could help save time disclosing less ancillary details on the account on my order recaps, and I have trouble figuring out what to omit in some cases in gray areas like autoebill requirements, modem return advice, etc. I think sometimes they want us telling half truths to take advantage of people, what they don't know can't hurt them, and suspect many of the reps who meet the handle time targets are omitting even required things and getting written up let alone best practices. I have great difficulty both noting everything on call time and the account detail and getting things done beginning to end, and in general usually average about 1100-1300 seconds, far above what they want, but the goal posts seem to move, and I feel I'm too deep in the machine to have much power to negotiate.

Long story short, I expect to eventually either be terminated or laid off by the very nature of call center jobs, but if it's imminent, I need to consider how unemployment compensation would work. As my handle indicates, I live in the U.S., so I've got their means tests and stinginess to deal with, and I dread even more than I mildly dislike the attitude of the job the interviews I need to keep seeking out weekly and the requirement to take whatever I get offered post-interview since I'm not sure I've got the instincts to find something that works for me. I don't trust my physical coordination with anything where I could get injured, get sick, or get other people injured or sick with mistakes or poor handwashing, which is surprisingly common when you think of all the food service, industry, retail, etc. jobs out there that make up most of what I can get with a Spanish major and history minor B.A. and no local connections beyond my advisors from the local college I talk to irregularly. Other call centers have stricter dress codes and likely the same or worse expectations I would guess.

My mother's 40 years older than me, retired, and hasn't been able to count on my Dad since he was forced into retirement for his divorce decree payments, so all she gets is social security, and cost-sharing on utilities at our current rental and a college friend of hers loaning money has helped, but we're still hanging by our fingernails and I don't think food stamps and unemployment would quite replace our storage unit, gas, all groceries, etc. that my salary mostly goes to these days, let alone cell phone time (no land line now), license renewals, etc. The U.S. government machinery seems hellbent on destroying most of the benefits anyway, so I'm concerned me and her (nobody will hire her, she's a truth-teller too, for the education jobs she's qualified in, and publishing projects for both of us grind along slowly) will be at the mercy of civilization crumbling from boorish leaders and climate change. I'm usually copacetic day-to-day, but I wonder what people with experience with unemployment while seeking work have as experience with performance firing, especially if I'm one of several and/or have ADA considerations. I might see if I can work in the front reception office, to help show I tried to stay.


Your co-workers probably are cutting corners to meet time quotas, and this gives the company a convenient way to fire them if they desire to do so. Sometimes these situations arises out of poor leadership, which is probably the case with a big telecom company, and sometimes companies might do this intentionally to have a way to always fire someone if they wish.

In either case, it's unfair to you the worker and it sounds like it would actually be in your best interest to work elsewhere. If you are able bodied, you actually have a lot of job options because you can work not only at desk jobs, but in more technical and trade fields. You might have to get some training though.