To combat the high turnover rates of customer service and systems personnel, which can run as high as 25 percent a year, Putnam Investments of Boston will hire 200 people to fill these jobs remotely from their homes in Maine, said Karnig Durgarian, senior managing director and chief of operations at Putnam. Studies have shown that the turnover rates of people working from home are only six percent, Durgarian said.

Putnam decided to hire Maine residents after studying the demographics of people in states surrounding Massachusetts, Durgarian said.

"We found a high percentage of underemployment in Maine - people with significant credentials and college degrees waiting on tables or working in ski resorts," said Durgarian. "And we also found a good number of people who had been in the greater Boston area who had moved to Maine or Vermont for a better standard of living."

The 200 positions, which are new jobs and reflect expanded business at Putnam, will cover a wide spectrum of duties, ranging from shareholder processing to customer telephone service to computer systems development, Durgarian said.

For the past nine years, Putnam has employed 330 people working from their homes in customer service, systems and management positions throughout Massachusetts, Durgarian said. Of Putnam's total 6,000 employees, 4,000 work in these areas, Durgarian said. With the addition of 200 remote workers in Maine, roughly 12 percent of Putnam's customer service, systems and management employees will be working from home, Durgarian said.

Putnam's at-home programs in both Massachusetts and Maine are centered around college campuses, which Putnam uses as training facilities and where the fund complex employs many workers, Durgarian said. Putnam has a partnership with Dean College of Franklin, Mass., where roughly 90 students at any given time are on the Putnam payroll, Durgarian said. In Maine, Putnam has made arrangements with Husson College of Bangor, where Putnam plans to hire 50 to 90 students, Durgarian said. All of these students are required to work a minimum of 12 hours per week, Durgarian said.

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