How job demands and resources predict burnout, engagement and intention to quit in call centres

Langenhoven, Anja (2015-12)

Thesis (MCom)--Stellenbosch University, 2015

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT : The industrial psychology literature related to call centres highlights the negative aspects of call centre work environments and the resultant adverse impact on workers’ well-being. Call centres have been labelled the “coal mines of the 21st century”, “assembly lines in the head” and “satanic mills” (Janse van Rensburg, Boonzaier, & Boonzaier, 2013, p. 2). High levels of stress, high staff turnover and burnout are all factors that are often experienced by call centre agents (Banks & Roodt, 2011). However, Van der Colff and Rothman (2009) report that some call centre agents, regardless of the high job demands, do not develop burnout. These agents cope better than others under highly demanding and stressful work conditions. To build on these findings, the present study took a detailed look at factors affecting the well-being of employees working in call centres. Specifically, the question was asked, “Why is there variance in work engagement, job burnout and intention to quit amongst the employees in call centres?” The job demands-resources (JD-R) model (Bakker & Demerouti, 2014) was used as a framework to investigate the well-being of call centre agents employed in the outbound departments of two branches of a Cape Town call centre. The primary objective of this study was to develop and empirically test a structural model, derived from theory, explaining the antecedents of variance in work engagement, job burnout and intention to quit amongst call centre employees. The antecedents comprise transformational leadership (as a job resource), emotional intelligence and psychological capital (as employees’ personal resources), and emotional labour (as job demands) present in a call centre environment. An ex post facto correlational design was used to test the formulated hypotheses in this research study. Quantitative data was collected from 223 call centre agents by means of non-probability convenience sampling. A self-administered hard-copy survey was distributed to the two call centre branches, given that call centre agents agreed to participate in the research study. Measuring instruments consisted of (1) the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES-17) questionnaire (Schaufeli et al., 2002), (2) the Maslach Burnout Inventory General Survey (MBI-GS) (Maslach, Schaufeli & Leiter, 2001), (3) the Turnover Intention Scale (TIS) (Ding & Lin, 2006; Lee, 2000), (4) the Emotional Demands and Emotion-rule Dissonance scales (Xanthopoulou, Bakker, & Fischbach, 2013), (5) the adapted Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ 5x short) (Van Aswegen & Engelbrecht, 2009), (6) the Genos Emotional Intelligence Inventory (Gignac, 2010) and (7) the Psychological Capital Questionnaire (Luthans, Avolio, Avey, & Norman, 2007). The data was analysed using item analyses and structural equation modelling (SEM). A PLS path analysis was conducted to determine the model fit. From the 21 hypotheses formulated in the study, six were found to be significant. It is noteworthy, however, that 12 of the non-significant paths were related to the moderating effects. Hypotheses 1, 3 and 8 were also found to be not significant. However, hypotheses 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9 were all found to be statistically significant and therefore supported the JD-R theory (Bakker & Demerouti, 2014), which postulates that job demands are generally the most important predictors of job burnout, whereas job resources and personal resources are generally the most important predictors of work engagement. Also, it was found that call centre agents experiencing a high level of work engagement were less inclined to leave the organisation. The study’s findings shed light on the importance of developing interventions that can foster job and personal resources in the pursuit of optimising work engagement. In addition, the call centre agents can be bolstered in coping with existing job demands and cumulatively this also results in a decrease in the employees’ level of burnout and in their intention to leave the company.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Bedryfsielkundige literatuur met betrekking tot inbelsentrums beklemtoon die negatiewe aspekte van die werkomgewing van inbelsentrums en die gevolglike nadelige effek op werkers se welsyn. Inbelsentrums is reeds beskryf as die “steenkoolmyne van die 21ste eeu”, ‘”monteerbande in die kop” en “sataniese meule” (Janse van Rensburg, Boonzaier, & Boonzaier, 2013, p. 2). Hoë vlakke van stres, hoë personeelomset en uitbranding is faktore wat gereeld deur inbelsentrum-agente ervaar word (Banks & Roodt, 2011). Van der Colff en Rothman (2009) rapporteer egter dat ten spyte van hulle hoë werkvereistes, sommige inbelsentrumagente nie uitbranding ervaar nie. Hierdie agente vaar beter as ander onder hoogs veeleisende en stresvolle werkomstandighede. Om verder te bou op die navorsing wat reeds onderneem is, kyk die huidige studie na die faktore wat moontlik die welsyn van werknemers in inbelsentrums affekteer. Met ander woorde, dit soek na die antwoord op die navorsingsinisiërende vraag: “Hoekom is daar verskille in die werksbegeestering, werksuitbranding en intensie om die organisasie te verlaat onder werknemers in inbelsentrums?” Om op hierdie navorsingsinisiërende vraag te kan reageer, is die job demands-resources (JD-R) model (Bakker & Demerouti, 2014) gebruik as raamwerk spesifiek om die welsyn van inbelsentrumagente wat in die uitbel-departemente binne twee takke van ‘n bekende uitbelsentrum, geleë in Kaapstad, te ondersoek. Die hoofdoelwit van hierdie studie was om ’n strukturele model te ontwikkel en te toets wat die antesedente van variansie in werksbegeestering, werksuitbranding en die intensie om die organisaie te verlaat, onder inbelsentrumwerknemers verklaar. Die spesifieke antesedente wat in hierdie studie getoets is, was transformasie-leierskap (as ’n werkshulpbron), emosionele intelligensie en sielkundige kapitaal (psychological capital) (as werknemers se persoonlike hulpbronne), en emosionele arbeid (as werkseise) wat in ‘n inbelsentrum-omgewing teenwoordig is. ʼn Ex post facto korrelasie-ontwerp is gebruik om die geformuleerde hipoteses in hierdie studie te toets. Kwantitatiewe data is by 223 inbelsentrumagente deur middel van nie-waarskynlikheids gerieflikheidsteekproeftrekking ingesamel. ’n Selfgeadministreerde hardekopie-opname is in die twee takke van die inbelsentrum versprei, aangesien hulle ingestem het om aan die studie deel te neem. Die opname het spesifieke latente veranderlikes gemeet wat op die studie van toepassing is deur gebruik te maak van betroubare en geldige meetinstrumente. Hierdie instrumente sluit in (1) die Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES-17) vraelys (Schaufeli et al., 2002), (2) die Maslach Burnout Inventory General Survey (MBI-GS) (Maslach, Schaufeli & Leiter, 2001), (3) die Turnover Intention Scale (TIS) (Ding & Lin, 2006; Lee, 2000), (4) die Emotional Demands en Emotion-rule Dissonance skale (Xanthopoulou, Bakker, & Fischbach, 2013), (5) die aangepaste Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ 5x kort) (Van Aswegen & Engelbrecht, 2009), (6) die Genos Emotional Intelligence Inventory (Gignac, 2010) en (7) die Psychological Capital Questionnaire (Luthans, Avolio, Avey, & Norman, 2007). Die versamelde data is deur middel van item-analise en strukturele vergelykingsmodellering geanaliseer. ’n PLS pad-ontleding is onderneem om modelpassing te bepaal. Vanuit die 21 hipoteses wat vir hierdie studie geformuleer is, is ses bevind om betekenisvol te wees. Dit is egter merkwaardig dat 12 van die nie-betekenisvolle bane verband gehou het met modererende effekte. Hipoteses 1, 3 en 8 is ook bevind om nie-betekenisvol te wees. Hierdie nie-betekenisvolle bane kan op grond van verskeie redes ontstaan. Hipoteses 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 en 9 is egter almal bevind om statisties betekenisvol te wees en ondersteun dus die JD-R teorie (Bakker & Demerouti, 2014). Hierdie teorie hou voor dat werksvereistes oor die algemeen die belangrikste voorspellers van werksuitbranding is, terwyl werkshulpbronne en persoonlike hulpbronne oor die algemeen die vernaamste voorspellers van werksbegeestering is. Dit is ook bevind dat inbelsentrumagente wat ’n hoë vlak van werksbegeestering ervaar, minder geneig is om die organisasie te verlaat. Die studie se bevindings werp lig op die belangrikheid daarvan om ingrypings te ontwikkel wat werks- en persoonlike hulpbronne kan kweek in die nastrewing van die optimering van begeestering en om inbelsentrumagente te help om die bestaande werkseise te hanteer. Gevolglik sal hierdie uitkoms lei tot ’n vermindering in die werknemers se vlakke van uitbranding en in hulle intensies om die organisasie te verlaat.

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