Daily hassles, resilience, and burnout of call centre staff
Visser, Willem Alfonzo
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Internationally, as well as locally, the trend is for companies to use call centres as their preferred method of service delivery. The increase in the use of call centres as a service delivery mechanism thus provides many more employment opportunities. Within call centres, service is primarily delivered by frontline employees referred to as customer service representatives (CSRs). While nothing seems to stop the growth of call centres and the increase of employment opportunities within them, working in call centres is not necessarily experienced as pleasant. Working in a call centre is frequently seen as stressful and the work in such a centre can foster burnout. Burnout is considered to be a pathogenic construct. The first purpose of this study was to describe and investigate the contribution of six central characteristics (antecedents) of call centre work environments and their influence on burnout, affective commitment and turnover intentions. These characteristics were work overload; electronic performance monitoring; lack of career and promotion opportunities, lack of skill variety and emotional labour. An incidental sample of customer service representatives (N=146) was obtained from the inbound service call centre of a large financial company. AU six independent variables were found to be significantly related to the experience of burnout, affective commitment and turnover intentions. Multiple regression analysis made it possible to establish that work overload, lack of career and promotion opportunities and skill variety, and emotional labour were the most important predictors of burnout, whereas lack of career and promotion opportunities was the most significant predictors of both affective commitment and turnover intentions. Burnout had a direct effect on turnover intentions and was not mediated by affective commitment. One antecedent that is often associated with the development of burnout is daily hassles, but daily hassles as an antecedent of burnout in call centres has not been studied before. The second purpose of this study was to develop a short Call Centre Daily Hassle Diagnostic Questionnaire that could be used to identify the most common daily hassles that call centre agents experience in their working lives, both within the work environment and within their day-to-day personal lives, and to determine the relationship between it and burnout. A cross-sectional survey research design was used with an accidental sample (N=394) taken from a service and sales call centre. An exploratory factor analysis of the data resulted in a six-factor model of daily hassles within call centres that significantly predicted exhaustion. The factors were daily demands, continuous change, co-worker hassles, demotivating work environment, transportation hassles and inner concerns. In the third part of this research thesis there is a shift away from the pathogenic paradigm towards a more salutogenic/fortigenic paradigm. Very little previous research has been done on adult resilience. The purpose of the third study was to explore the concept of adult resilience and to identify and describe the protective and vulnerability factors that play a role in adult resilience. Through the use of an exploratory factor analysis, eight factors were identified that played a role in adult resilience. They were Confidence and Optimism, Positive Reinterpretation, Facing Adversity, Support, Determination, Negative Rumination, Religion and Helplessness. Based on the findings of this research, some practical recommendations were made for the management of call centres to reduce the development of burnout and turnover intentions, on how to utilise the Hassle-based Diagnostic Scale and on how to apply the Adult Resilience Indicator in the training and development of resilience.