Work relationships in telephone call centres: Understanding emotional exhaustion and employee withdrawal

Stephen Deery, Roderick Iverson, Janet Walsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

401 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper examines the nature of employment and the conditions of work in five telephone call centres in the telecommunications industry in Australia. Call Centre work typically requires high levels of sustained interpersonal interaction with customers which can lead to burnout and employee withdrawal. Customer service staff can also become targets of customer hostility and abuse. In addition, this form of work tends to involve extensive employee monitoring and surveillance with little ob discretion or variety of tasks. The paper draws upon survey data from 480 telephone service operators to identify the factors that are associated with emotional exhaustion and the frequency of absence amongst the employees. A modelling of the data using LISREL VIII revealed that a number of job and work-setting variables affected the level of emotional exhaustion of employees. These included interactions with the customer, a high workload and a lack of variety of work tasks. Moreover, higher rates of absence were associated with emotional exhaustion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)471 - 496
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Management Studies
Volume39
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2002

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