Casting about for ways to combat a tight labor market, call center executives are loading on employee perks in an attempt to reduce turnover among people who must endure the tedium of answering customer questions or making pesky telemarketing calls.

It used to be that being named employee of the week was the biggest plum for a customer service representative. But now call centers are putting in laundries and coffee bars. Some centers have mood lighting to create a more pleasant atmosphere. Among the more offbeat efforts to boost morale have been paper airplane competitions and chili cook-offs.

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