How Arvato reduced employee turnover by 63%


Arvato Bertelsmann, a global provider of customer support services – faced high turnover rates in many locations. As this started taking its toll, the organization set out to challenge the belief that these high turnover rates are a necessary evil of the customer service industry.

After analyzing exit interviews, the team at Arvato learned that a misalignment in what candidates thought the job was all about vs. the real deal, was the main cause for employees leaving early.

Arvato decided to implement Harver as a means of preselection and to focus heavily on providing a realistic job preview to candidates. Simultaneously, scientifically validated assessments ensured qualified hires that matched in terms of skills, personality and culture.

The results were clear: unwanted employee turnover decreased by 63%.

The Challenge

At Arvato Bertelsmann, over half of new hires left within the first three months. Exit questionnaires revealed the core of the problem: candidates didn’t know what to expect from the job. Customer Support agents often have to deal with unsatisfied customers and work unpredictable hours under pressure. Not something everybody is cut out for.

Most contact centers accept these turnover rates as part of their reality, but the continuous cycle of finding and retaining qualified workforce was not only impacting productivity – but also the business’ overall bottomline. The team at Arvato set out to seek a solution.


Before deciding how to tackle the issue of employee turnover, Arvato dissected the challenge using data from the exit questionnaires. The team defined two major fields on which to improve.

1) Job Expectations
A mismanagement of expectations was a large part of the problem. Arvato decided that providing a realistic job preview during the hiring process was a major objective. After all, this is the moment where expectations should be managed.

2) Candidate Matching
The other big issue was a mismatch between a candidate and the job. Working in a stressful environment like a contact center requires a certain type of DNA. The team decided to focus on a data-driven solution that would help to find employees that matched the company culture.

“Thanks to these tools we have reduced unwanted turnover significantly and now save a lot time and money.”

Marceline Beijer – CEO – Arvato

The solution

With the application process being the main stage for improvements, Arvato started looking for ways to implement traditional online assessments first.

Tom Custers, Business Unit Manger Customer Service at Arvato, explains: “The issue here was that traditional online assessments – such as a typing or multitasking test – is that it would just cover the candidate matching part of our objectives. We were really adamant about implementing a Realistic Job Preview to manage candidate expectations. We wanted all of this, in a seamless, blended way. One system for recruiters. One journey for our candidates. That’s why we shifted our focus towards pre-employment assessment platforms.”

After carefully considering a variety of vendors in this space, Arvato chose Harver because of its capability to implement a realistic job preview alongside scientifically validated assessments.

“We really liked the fact that we can upload Arvato-specific videos and implement situational judgment tests (SJTs). We can now give candidates an idea of what working at a contact center is like.”, says Tom Custers.

Together with the implementation team from Harver, Arvato decided on a variety of situational judgment games and videos for their hiring process.

“When candidates now apply at Arvato, they get to see a first-person video of life at Arvato. They get to see our culture and have the first ‘meeting’ with their manager right away. They experience incoming calls that illustrate both the good and the bad. As a result, the candidates that we interview are much more motivated and they know us a lot better.”

The results

Within the first three months the number of agents leaving decreased with 63%.

Next to better managed expectations on the candidates side, Arvato experienced a significant increase in quality as well. Instead of hiring 45% of interviewed candidates, they now hire 85%.

“Compared to the use of temp agencies and traditional assessments, the average time taken to consider one applicant was cut from 75 to 20 minutes. My recruiters have become far more efficient and I am more in control of the recruitment process.” – Ralph Smeets, HR Manager

“Candidates are much more likely to align with our values and way of working. I can see that my team leaders are hiring better qualified people.”

Tom Custers Manager Customer Service – Arvato​

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