Unformatted text preview: ow can employers increase the job
satisfaction of their call centre employees? This was
the question faced by RAC Motoring Services, the RAC’s Call Centres UK’s second largest automotive membership organization.
In 1996, RAC, which is similar to AAA (American
Automobile Association) in the United States or
CAA (Canadian Automobile Association) in Canada,
lost three quarters of a million customers to competitors or through non-renewals. Given the nature
of their services (car buying guides, travel planning,
roadside assistance), managers at RAC recognized
that keeping customers happy was the best way to
compete in this tough market. As such, they decided
to focus on their call centre operations to improve
service quality for existing and potential customers.
In the company’s review of its two call centres in
England, serious problems were uncovered,
including a lack of one-stop shopping for customers, inflexible working practices, an inability to
attract and retain staff, low employee morale, and
poor training and development.
In response to this review, a customer service
director was appointed to initiate a number of
important changes in how the call centres operate.
Imagine you have just been appointed to this new
position and consider the following two questions: Questions
1. What are some of the reasons underlying the fact
that so many practices commonly used in call centres lead to poor employee satisfaction?
2. Given the nature of the work, what are some concrete steps or programs that you could put in
place to improve job satisfaction for RAC’s call
To find out what RAC did, see The Manager’s
Notebook at the end of the chapter.
Sources: Barnes, P. C. (2001, July). People problems in call centres,
Management Services, 7, 30–31; Holman, D. (2002). Employee
well being in call centres. Human Resource Management Journal,
12, 35–50; Hutchinson, S., Purcell, J., & Kinnie, N. (2000). Evolving
high commitment management and the experience of the RAC
call centre. Human Resource Management Journal, 10, 63–78. Chapter 4 119 Values, Attitudes, and Work Behaviour Consequences of Job Satisfaction
Xerox, Levi Strauss & Co., Sears, and Michigan office equipment maker Steelcase
are firms that have maintained a competitive advantage by paying particular attention to employee satisfaction. Why is this so? Let’s look at some consequences of job
satisfaction. Absence from Work
At Husky Injection Molding Systems, the rate of absenteeism is much lower than at
other organizations. This is no small feat, as absenteeism is an expensive behaviour
in North America. One estimate pegs the annual American cost at up to $46 billion
and the Canadian cost at up to $10 billion and on the rise.39 Such costs are attributable to “sick pay,” lost productivity, and chronic overstaffing to compensate for
absentees. Many more days are lost to absenteeism than to strikes and other industrial disputes. Is some of this absenteeism the product of job dissatisfaction?
Research shows that less satisfied employees are indeed more likely to be absent,
and that satisfaction with the content of the work is the best predictor of absenteeism.40 However, the absence–satisfaction connection is not very strong. Why is
the relationship between absenteeism and job satisfaction not stronger? Several factors probably constrain the ability of many people to convert their like or dislike of
work into corresponding attendance patterns:
■ ■ ■ ■ Some absence is simply unavoidable because of illness, weather conditions, or
daycare problems. Thus, some very happy employees will occasionally be
absent owing to circumstances beyond their control.
Opportunities for off-the-job satisfaction on a missed day may vary. Thus, you
might love your job but love skiing or sailing even more. In this case, you
might skip work while a dissatisfied person who has nothing better to do
Some organizations have attendance control policies that can influence absence
more than satisfaction does. In a company that doesn’t pay workers for missed
days (typical of many hourly paid situations), absence may be more related to
economic needs than to dissatisfaction. The unhappy worker who absolutely
needs money will probably show up for work. By the same token, dissatisfied
and satisfied workers might be equally responsive to threats of dismissal if they
On many jobs, it might be unclear to employees how much absenteeism is reasonable or sensible. With a lack of company guidelines, workers might look to
the behaviour of their peers for a norm to guide their behaviour. This norm
and its corresponding “absence culture” (see Chapter 7) might have a stronger
effect than the individual employee’s satisfaction with his or her job.41 The connection between job satisfaction and good attendance probably stems in
part from the tendency for job satisfaction to facilitate mental health and satisfaction with life in general.42 Content pe...
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