The job demands-resources model of work engagement in South African call centres

Janse van Rensburg, Yolandi ; Boonzaier, Billy ; Boonzaier, Michele (2013-09)

CITATION: Janse van Rensburg, Y., Boonzaier, B. & Boonzaier, M. 2013. The job demands-resources model of work engagement in South African call centres. SA Journal of Human Resource Management / SA Tydskrif van Menslikehulpbronbestuur, 11(1): 1-13, doi: 10.4102/sajhrm.v11i1.484.

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Orientation: A ‘sacrificial human resource strategy’ is practised in call centres, resulting in poor employee occupational health. Consequently, questions are posed in terms of the consequences of call centre work and which salient antecedent variables impact the engagement and wellbeing of call centre representatives. Research purpose: Firstly, to gauge the level of employee engagement amongst a sample of call centre representatives in South Africa and, secondly, to track the paths through which salient personal and job resources affect this engagement. More specifically, the relationships between sense of coherence, leadership effectiveness, team effectiveness and engagement were investigated, thus testing the Job Demands-Resources model of work engagement. Motivation for the study: To present an application of the Job Demands-Resources model of work engagement in a call centre environment in order to diagnose current ills and consequently propose remedies. Research design: A cross-sectional survey design was used and a non-probability convenient sample of 217 call centre representatives was selected. The measuring instruments comprise the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale to measure engagement, the Team Diagnostic Survey to measure team effectiveness, the leadership practices inventory to gauge leadership effectiveness, and the Orientation to Life Questionnaire to measure sense of coherence. A series of structural equation modelling analyses were performed. Main findings: Contrary to the ‘electronic sweatshop’ image attached to call centre jobs depicted in the literature, results show a high level of employee engagement for call centre representatives in the sample. Also, personal resources such as sense of coherence and job resources such as team effectiveness related significantly to engagement. A non-significant relationship exists between leadership effectiveness and engagement. Practical/managerial implications: Both the content and context of jobs need to be addressed to increase the personal and job resources of call centre representatives. Contribution/value-add: The Job Demands-Resources model of work engagement can be used to improve the occupational health and performance of employees in call centres.

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