Engagement in call centres : exploring eliciting factors

Janse van Rensburg, Yolandi-Eloise (2010-12)

Thesis (MComm (Industrial Psychology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Researchers have labelled call centres as the modern equivalent of the ‘factory sweatshops’ of the industrial era, and refer to them as the ‘satanic mills of the 21st century’. A review of the literature revealed the lack of employee engagement amongst call centre representatives (CCRs) to be a central concern in this fast-emerging global industry. Consequently, the current study was undertaken to identify and investigate various antecedents of employee engagement. The objective of the study was, firstly, to gauge the level of employee engagement amongst a sample of CCRs in South Africa and, secondly, to track the paths through which salient antecedents affect this engagement. More specifically, the relationships between sense of coherence (SOC), leadership effectiveness (LE), team effectiveness (TE) and employee engagement (E) were investigated. A quantitative research approach was followed whereby a positive psychology paradigm underpinned the examination of specific personal and job resources that could enhance engagement within the call centre environment. A cross-sectional survey design was used and a non-probability convenient sample of 215 CCRs was selected. The measuring instruments comprised the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale of Schaufeli and Bakker (2003) to measure engagement, the Team Diagnostic Survey of Wageman, Hackman and Lehman (2005) to measure team effectiveness, the Leadership Practices Inventory of Kouzes and Posner (2001) to gauge leadership effectiveness, and the Orientation to Life Questionnaire of Antonovsky (1987) to measure sense of coherence. A series of structural equation modelling analyses were performed. Contrary to the ‘electronic sweatshop’ image and its attendant symptoms of depression, emotional exhaustion, anxiety, demotivation and dissatisfaction attached to call centre jobs (depicted in the literature), the results show a high level of employee engagement for the CCRs in the sample. Also, personal resources, such as SOC, and job resources, such as TE, related significantly to E. A non-significant relationship was found to exist between LE and E. The implications of the results for the practice of human resource management in call centres are elaborated upon.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Oproepsentrums is al deur navorsers bestempel as die moderne ekwivalent van die ‘hongerfabrieke’ van die industriële tydvak, en as die ‘sataniese meule van die 21ste eeu’. ‘n Oorsig van die literatuur toon dat die gebrek aan werknemerverbintenis onder oproepsentrumverteenwoordigers (call centre representatives (CCRs)) ‘n sentrale kommer is in hierdie vinnig ontluikende globale bedryf. Gevolglik is hierdie studie onderneem om die verskillende antesedente van werknemerverbintenis te ondersoek. Die doelwit van hierdie studie was eerstens om die vlak van werknemerverbintenis in ‘n steekproef van oproepsentrumverteenwoordigers in Suid-Afrika te meet, en tweedens om die weë waardeur die pertinente antesedente hierdie verbintenis beïnvloed, op te spoor. Meer spesifiek is die verhoudings tussen samehangsin (sense of coherence (SOC)), leierskapdoeltreffendheid (leadership effectiveness (LE)), spandoeltreffendheid (team effectiveness (TE)) en die werknemer se verbintenis (engagement (E)) ondersoek. ‘n Kwantitatiewe navorsingsbenadering is gebruik in terme waarvan ‘n positiewe sielkundige paradigma die ondersoek van spesifieke persoonlike en werkhulpbronne onderstut het wat verbintenis in die oproepsentrum-omgewing kon verhoog. ‘n Deursnee- opname-ontwerp is gebruik en ‘n nie-waarskynlikheidsgerieflikheidsteekproef van 215 oproepsentrumverteenwoordigers is geselekteer. Die meetinstrumente het die volgende behels: die Utrecht Work Engagement Scale van Schaufeli en Bakker (2003) om verbintenis te meet; die Team Diagnostic Survey van Wageman, Hackman en Lehman (2005) om spandoeltreffendheid te meet; die Leadership Practices Inventory van Kouzes en Posner (2001) om leierskapdoeltreffendheid te meet; en die Orientation to Life Questionnaire van Antonovsky (1987) om samehangsin te meet. ‘n Reeks ontledings van struktuurvergelykingsmodellering is uitgevoer. In teenstelling met die beeld van ‘n ‘elektroniese hongerfabriek’ en die gepaardgaande simptome van neerslagtigheid, emosionele uitputting, angstigheid, demotivering en ontevredenheid wat met werk in oproepsentrums gepaard gaan (soos in die literatuur uitgebeeld), toon die resultate ‘n hoë vlak van werknemerverbintenis vir die oproepsentrumverteenwoordigers in hierdie steekproef. Persoonlike hulpbronne soos samehangsin, en werkhulpbronne soos spandoeltreffendheid, het ‘n noemenswaardige verband met verbintenis getoon. ‘n Nie-betekenisvolle verhouding is gevind tussen leierskapdoeltreffendheid en verbintenis. Die implikasies van die uitslae vir die menslike hulpbronnepraktyk in oproepsentrums word ook bespreek.

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