Employee Abuse

Clients are usually surprised to discover the level of employee abuse of their telecommunications systems. Even in companies whose telecommunications are otherwise well managed, employee abuse can reach 30% of telecommunications expense. In companies where telecommunications expense has not been well managed, we have seen situations where employee abuse accounted for as much as 50% of telecommunications expense.

The problem occurs because many carriers vary their prices based on the volume of traffic that they are asked to carry. The quid pro quo is that the client has to guarantee the traffic volume in order to get the lower per unit pricing. So the client is lulled into a sense that it doesn’t matter what the traffic is used for as long as the overall volume does not exceed the guaranteed commitment. The client fails to consider that the volume that would need to be guaranteed would be considerably lower if traffic related to employee abuse was eliminated.

Our consultants have had considerable experience in analysing call spending patterns to identify and quantify historical employee abuse, and in designing call expense management programmes to eliminate it going forward. For example, a refinery of one of the largest oil companies in the world, with more than 1,000 employees, was located in a remote area which was poorly served by modern telecommunications technology. The refinery’s PBX had no capability of providing call detail records by line. Our consultant created a file of the entire telephone bill, a file of all the telephone numbers of all the other locations of the oil company, and a file of the telephone numbers of all the suppliers that the refinery would normally use. We matched the files to eliminate duplicates. We then sorted the remaining called numbers by frequency and cost of calling, and performed reverse directory analysis to identify those most frequently called. The client did not publish the results but spoke to the ten worst offenders. The client fired a manager who had been using the refinery’s telephone system to run his own private taxi firm (and additionally for using a gasoline employee discount card for the same purpose), and another employee who was spending two hours a night on the phone to his girlfriend when he was supposed to be monitoring the controls at the refinery. When this news reached the staff, telephone calling dropped by 50%.

What the oil firm learned from this was the following:

  • If telecommunications expenses are not managed, they will grow out of control quickly.
  • Even the best paid employees will take advantage of opportunities if controls are lacking.
  • The true cost of employee abuse of telecommunications systems has to include the time that is wasted by non-business related calling. The time wasted costs at least ten times as much as the cost of the call, for even the lowest paid employee.
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