Essay Title - Call Centres Business
As the name suggests, call centres are offices assigned to telephonic contact with customers. An official definition says: Call centres are ‘‘tools for organising communication with customers . . . with the help of telecommunication’’ (Henn, Kruse, & Strawe, 1996, p. 14). It constitutes of a set of resources – typically personnel, computers, and telecommunication equipment which enable the delivery of services via the telephone. They are typically assisted by information about organizations products, services and customer information from databases and intranets. The ways call centres get in contact with customers may differ. Whereas inbound call centres are restricted to a passive role (i.e., being called up exclusively by customers having any questions or complaints concerning a product), outbound call centres actively engage in phoning people up, e.g., telemarketing call centres. However, there are also call centres with both inbound and outbound activities. Basically, with the help of call centres companies aim to demonstrate their customer orientation, and try to ensure their clients’ satisfaction and commitment (Ricarhdson et al., 2000; pg 357). From the companies’ point of view, the advantages are manifold: lower costs in the area of field work because even sophisticated services may be rendered by phone; more satisfied customers because, ideally, the call centre can be contacted 7 days a week, 24 hours a day (Holman, 2003).
Call centre is an organizational unit whose job is to enable a service-oriented telephone dialogue with customers and interested callers through the use of modern information technologies. A basic distinction can be made between inbound and outbound calls. Whereas inbound calls are all dialogues initiated by the customer, outbound calls represent an active telephone service i.e calls placed to potential customers by employees (sales calls selling financial products in the case of HBOS call centre). Most call centers (including HBOS) handle both outbound and inbound calls, hence it is regarded as an interface with the customer. The aim of the call center is to provide end-to-end service without having to connect the customer to other units within the company.
An overview of the call centre industry
Even with the increasing use of internet and mobile communications, majority of customers still persist in using call centers for most of their services. Call centers are
still preferable over other information gathering mechanisms such as internet or mobile communications (sms). This has led call centers and organizations to improve their quality and some call centers have launched a crusade to boost staff effectiveness. This has made organizations and call centers embark on training, coaching and incentives to improve key staff performance. Worldwide, telephone-based services have been expanding dramatically in both volume and scope. This has given rise to a huge growth industry—the call center industry. Indeed, some assess (Call Center Statistics 2006) that 70% of all customer-business interactions in the U.K. occur in call centers, which employ about 2.3% of the U.K. workforce (several million agents). Marketing managers refer to call centers as the modern business frontier, being the focus of Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Call centers typify an emerging business environment in which the traditional quality-efficiency trade-off paradigm could collapse: Extremely high levels of both service quality and efficiency can coexist.
People have always been important to the success of call centre industry. The salary and compensation related costs of call centre agents contribute to about 70% of the cost of running a call centre (Thompson et al., 2001; pg 929). This is particularly true as call centre agents, despite being in the ‘back office’, are ‘front line’ employees in direct contact with the customer, and are often expected to act as ambassadors of the company (Cappelli, 2007; pg 20). Their job is complicated by the fact that they are normally expected to provide ‘personalised’ services, without having an opportunity to interact with a customer in a ‘normal’ face to face context. Hence, call centre agent performance is critical for the company to maintain customer satisfaction, and high operational efficiency. Call centre agents with high levels of skills and professionalism are key to achieving high levels of customer service and low operational costs. Hence, hiring, training and retaining a workforce that is skilled and professional is key to the success of call centre quality.
Inbound and outbound call centres
The ways in which call centres get in contact with customers may differ. Whereas inbound call centres are restricted to a passive role (i.e., being called up exclusively by customers having any questions or complaints concerning a product), outbound call centres actively engage in phoning people up, e.g., telemarketing call centres. However, there are also call centres with both inbound and outbound activities. Basically, with the help of call centres companies aim to demonstrate their customer orientation, and try to ensure their clients’ satisfaction and commitment (Ricarhdson et al., 2000; pg 357). From the companies’ point of view, the advantages are manifold: lower costs in the area of field work because even sophisticated services may be rendered by phone; more satisfied customers because, ideally, the call centre can be contacted 7 days a week, 24 hours a day (Holman, 2003). Batt (2002) and Holman (2003) have defined and differentiated between two call centre models: the ‘‘mass service’’ and the ‘‘high commitment service’’ model. The mass service model aims at a high market volume and low added value. Cost minimization is the primary goal here. The jobs are characterized by routine work (low complexity) and low control. Employees are often required to follow a scripted dialogue when interacting with customers and follow highly detailed instructions (Deery et al., 2002). Frenkel, Tam, Korczynski, and Shire (1998) argued that despite the rhetoric of service quality, management appears to place a greater emphasis on the quantity of calls, thus showing preference for the mass.
It’s surprising that even though organizations recognize call centers to play an important role in process efficiency, the work environment remains much to be desired. Moore (2006) describes call centers as '21st century sweat shops' and modern-day 'dark satanic mills', while their workers have been called 'battery hens' and 'galley slaves'. A barrage of endless calls, never ending flow of customer complaints and constantly being at the receiving end of customer abuse leaves call centre staff with high levels of emotional and psychological stress and anxiety.
Individual productivity of employees in call centers is judged on set Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) which normally includes variables such as call handling time (average time taken to resolve a customer query), quality (qualitative factor which judges employees mannerisms over the phone) and number of sales made in a particular time frame( day/week). The unit’s productivity is judged by the amount of calls taken per day (minute or hour) and the amount of waiting time (time customer spends on hold before actually speaking to an advisor). Call centre targets are normally very stringent and staff have to follow a set script under excessive monitoring. Any diversion from the script is penalized (has an effect on quality). Tough targets, constant flow of calls, regular monitoring, fear of falling short of target leaves call employees extremely stressed which has an adverse impact on their and the units productivity. Research conducted by TUC reveled that 8.5 % of employees were extremely stressed and looked to seek professional help while research conducted by UNSION on call centers in Scotland in 2005 found that 75% of call centre employees felt stressed just by being in the work environment which eventually led to physical ailments. The survey also reported 82% suffered headaches, 78% respiratory problems, 61% pains in hands, arms or back and 32% other work-associated health problems.
Stress levels adversely impact on employee performance and attrition rates. Research conducted by (Cox and Griffiths) in 2005 revealed that average annual turnover of staff in call centers is 18% a year. However, one in 10 call centers have rates over 40%, while in some places turnover runs as high as 180%, meaning almost a complete change of staff twice in 12 months. This obviously has a huge impact on the cost and productivity of the unit. Recruiting involves hiring and training costs and it takes time for new recruits to reach the level of efficiency and productivity same as their experienced counterparts. Also, stress may lead to loss of man hours by employee taking short and long term sick leaves. It is worth pointing out that there is no evidence that all this is directly related to stress. Authors like Grimshaw (2002) and Payne (2004) have also argued that stress is a myth and an excuse which helps employees cover up their below par performance. The theory might some relevance on other industry sectors but in a call center environment where a person has absolutely no control over what is coming through, stress is bound to creep in at some point of time. People are more or less treated as a machine conditioned to perform a particular set of task, to speak in a particular set of way and to do behave in a particular way with customers. This is similar to motivation theorist Frederic Taylor’s, (1856-1915) thinking who analyzed human behavior scientifically with his machine model by making individuals into the equivalent of machine parts.
The UK call centre industry
According to a report by analyst ContactBabel (2007), despite the lure of cheaper business abroad, the UK call centre industry is continuing to boom. The State of the Industry Report shows that the UK Contact Centres in 2007 has grown at a healthy rate. This is supported by a number of high-profile companies relocating their call centers back to the UK in the past year. The UK contact centre industry continues to grow at a healthy and sustainable rate and is worth £20,6bn to the UK economy (Steve Morrell, 2007). The boom in off shoring to India and other destinations, such as South Africa and Eastern Europe, has not had the negative effect that some experts expected. The UK call centre industry grew by 6 per cent last year and 960,000 workers are employed in 5,040 contact centers across the UK (Industry Report, 2007). The North-east is most reliant on the industry as it employs almost 5 per cent of workers in the region. Predictably, finance is the largest sector, operating 14 per cent of centers across the UK. There was a decline in cold-calling telesales and telemarketing activity, outbound calling activity dropped from 32.9 per cent in 2005 to 29.1 per cent. This is mainly because cold calling is increasingly seen as old-fashioned, expensive and potentially damaging to a company's reputation. Also, National and European legislation has reduced the number of unwanted sales calls that UK customers receive. This is in contrast to the number of outbound warm relationship-building calls which have shown an increase. Customer satisfaction surveys, cross- and up-selling to existing customers have also increased significantly. Analysts expect contact centre industry to grow steadily over the next five years and is predicted to employ a further 195,000 workers by 2010. By 2010, the UK contact centre industry will be worth almost £30bn to the UK economy, employing more than 1.1 million people (Morrell, 2007).
Several factors have led to this increase in the use of the telephone for customer contact. First, telephony has been transformed by the development of digital exchanges, intelligent telephone networks and their integration with computer data bases. Second, telephony costs have fallen, and new customer services such as toll free and local call services have been introduced. Third, telephone penetration has increased and individuals are familiar and comfortable using it. Fourth, complex and rich information can be communicated over the telephone in real time, and follow up instructions can be sent by fax or e-mail (Richardson, 2007). Teleservices provide services such as marketing, selling, technical support, customer enquiries and reservations over the phone, and are an example of the 'industrialization' of service production referred to by Begg (2002) in the above quote. Teleservices are provided in a range of industries including financial services, hotels, travel and transport and government services. They are usually produced in a call centre, concentrated at a single site, or a limited number of locations. By reducing the need for face-to-face contact between the producer and consumer of a service, through the integration of advanced telecommunications and computer technology, call centers extend the number of service activities that are geographically mobile [Richardson, 1994]. This offers an opportunity for peripheral towns, cities and some rural areas, many of which traditionally have had a narrow service base, to attract some of these new forms of exportable services.
Working in call centres
Call centres are a growing part of the service industry in UK. Three percent of the US
working population and 2.3% of the European working population are employed in call centres in 2006 (Deery, Iverson, & Walsh, 2006). The main task of call centre agents is to communicate with customers via integrated telephone and computer solutions. Communication between agents and customers serves various purposes, e.g., taking orders, giving information about products, providing highly skilled IT services or legal advice, conducting consumer research, advertising, and hard selling. Inbound agents receive calls from customers whereas outbound agents dial up customers themselves. The research deals with the outbound section of HBOS (Halifax bank of Scotland) call centre which is responsible for selling financial products such as Card protection and other forms of insurance.
A common stereotype regarding call centre work is that managing phone-based customer interactions all the day is neither complicated nor demanding as most interactions are basic, simple, and scripted. This stereotype, however, is not corroborated by recent researches done by Holman in 2006. The study showed that the work of call centre agents is very demanding with respect to various aspects. In order to do the job correctly, call centre agents have to perform several attention consuming, simultaneous subtasks such as controlling the call via the deployment of sophisticated listening and questioning skills, operating a keyboard to input data into computers, reading often detailed information from a visual display unit, and speaking to customers. Furthermore, as many customers are subjected to long waiting times their satisfaction is negatively affected and thus these tasks are often conducted under high time pressure. Moreover, a call centre agent often communicates with many different customers each day; keeping a track of customers and frequent readjustment to new customers is a further, non-trivial attention requirement. More significantly, call centre agents are usually instructed to be friendly, enthusiastic, polite, and helpful to customers even if customers are rude (which is not a rare event) (Grandey, Dickter, & Sin, 2004). Many call centres also use monitoring procedures such as test calls and recording of calls (Holman, 2002; Holman, Chissick, & Totterdell, 2002) which makes the working condition even more stressful for the employees. Recent researches have shown that the control of one’s own emotions (e.g., by suppression, hiding, or overplaying emotions) can have serious consequences as this form of emotion regulation consumes volitional energies (Baumeister, Bratslavsky, Muraven, & Tice, 1998) and often leads to the development of emotional exhaustion, a component of the burnout syndrome (Dormann & Zapf, 2004). Continuous attention to high volumes of differing customer demands, the regulation of emotions, and conforming to organizational norms with respect to the display of positive emotions can easily exceed the available resources of call centre agents.
Agents also have very little autonomy or control over their work because they are not allowed to deviate from a predetermined message in order to meet customer demands. Having to use the same communication script about hundred times a day leads to feelings of monotony and boredom (Wieland & Timm, 2004) that might accumulate over the course of the week (Richter, 2004). Boredom is sometimes also induced by unnecessary waiting times that result from mismanaged call distribution or unexpected low call volumes. Moreover, requirements for agents to be innovative, proactive, or forward thinking are often low for these types of tasks and this typically also yields lower work motivation and health problems. As several other common stressors (e.g.,working in shifts, inconvenient postures due to computer work, high noise levels in large offices) are also present in call centre work, it can be said that the work of agents is neither simple nor undemanding. This is supported by high turnover rates in call centres. In a study of 14 call centres in UK, for example, Baumgartner et al. (2007) report an average turnover rate of 21% per annum.
The research will look into factors that might reduce strain and turnover in HBOS call centres. It looks into various motivational aspects and how employees can be motivated to work. It will look into the traditional approaches to job design focusing on the tasks of employees in HBOS outbound call centre. It will also look into designing core task features that might be successful in improving well-being in an emotionally loaded call centre environments? The purpose of the present study is to address the issue of motivation and performance management within call centres.
The HR aspect of call centers
Many research studies have revealed effective management of human resources to be a good predictor of call centre survival and growth. Good HRM practices can influence productivity directly by changing employee competencies and levels of motivation which result in a quicker/better execution of the business process (Bartel, 2004). There is a strong correlation between happy employees and satisfied customers. When people feel good about their jobs, their happiness is reflected in the quality of their work and in positive feedback from their customers. (Quality Digest, June 1998). Research conducted by Sears (2006, found out that outbound call centre employees attitudes impacted on the bottom line of sales and profitability. Their research revealed that when employee attitudes improved by 5% in outbound call centres, customer satisfaction jumped by1.3%, consequently increasing revenue by one-half a percentage point. Seeking ways to motivate and build worker morale pays dividends to any business or organization because a motivated workforce is more committed to the job and to the customer and call centre are no exception to the rule. Research conducted by D’Arcimoles et al. (2003) have also showed that managerial incompetence, especially in the field of HRM, is the main cause of high employee turnover because relatively little is understood regarding the HR related needs and practices in call centres.
Happy and successful employees make much more valued contribution to any organization and affect the organization’s culture by bringing in positive energy and enthusiasm. This results in a drive for continuous improvement and an even greater success. Employees feel good when they can use their knowledge and concern to help solve problems in call centres (Wijewardena, 1999) If call centres in question gives them a good work environment, employees find ways to satisfy their own preferences and aspirations while meeting the firm’s need to come up with creative and productive solutions to issues and problems (Delery et al., 2001). Their commitment has a lasting impact on other workers and also infects customers and prospective employees. Indeed, engaged employees are the antithesis of hired guns rotating in and out of critical roles – they’re productive for the long term (Hunter, 2004). Because happy and satisfied employees are the key to organization’s success, it is imperative for call centres to find out ways in which they can make and keep their employees happy and satisfied.
Richard Layard (2006) suggests that work plays a very important part in people’s happiness and that a lot of their happiness actually comes from the work we do. And the job that we do is affected by how we are allowed to do it. To be successful, call centres should provide employees with a good work place environment which gives them a greater sense of belonging making them feel a part of the organization and its success. It is all the more important that the call centre connects to different aspects of their core values. When a particular job taps into employees core values, they tend to regard their role in the organization as pivotal which ultimately leads to a feeling of re-assurance and self-fulfillment. (Addison et al.,2000) Higgins (2004) has come out with ten factors which make employees happy at workplace and bring out the best in them. These factors are: interesting work, good wages, full appreciation of work done, job security, good working conditions, promotions and growth in the organization, feeling of being in on things, personal loyalty to employees, tactful discipline, and sympathetic help with personal problems. It is also important that call centre managers ensure that the specific actions and policies improve employee happiness and organizational objectives in such a way that they are consistent with behaviors that contribute to employee happiness. When focusing on improving the workplace environment, it is very important for companies to remove the negative aspects of work from employees minds. Stress, is one negative aspect of call center work. It makes employees chronically unhappy and emotionally unstable which tends to have an effect on their performance. Because of stress and long work hours, the work-life balance suffers. According to Kovach (1997) ‘…work-life balance is about people having a measure of control over when, where and how they work. It is achieved when an individual's right to a fulfilled life inside and outside paid work is accepted and respected as the norm, to the mutual benefit of the individual, business and society.’ When this measure of control is missing, the equilibrium shifts more towards work due to which family life gets affected leading to improper work-life balance which is very relevant to the construction industry. A number of writers have suggested that employees should be treated as internal customers because by treating them as they want to be treated, good and efficient service will be more likely.
Job design in call centers
As work in call centers is often characterized by Tayloristic, restricted working conditions (low autonomy, low task variety, short task cycles), researchers like Zapf et al. (2003) have recommended the use of traditional strategies of job enrichment and job enlargement (Hackman & Oldham, 1980) to improve work motivation in call centers (e.g., Grebner, Semmer, Faso, Gut, Kalin, & Elfering, 2003; Richter, 2004; Wieland & Timm, 2004). The question, however, is whether it would be possible to increase the motivating potential of work (e.g., task variety, task significance, task completeness) given the strongly restricted nature of the work setting in which the basic nature of the task itself cannot be changed. Previous research has shown that call centre agents responsible for outbound calls report less time pressure, more autonomy, and lower strain than agents working only inbound (Isic et al., 1999). Moreover, it can be expected that employees also value getting access to training and development programs (Shah & Bandi, 2003). Having access to vocational training should be perceived as a real enrichment and benefit because many agents often receive little training before they start their job. In a similar vein, a third objective aspect of working conditions that should be linked with perceived motivating potentials of work is the type of employment contract. According to assumptions from social exchange theory and research on psychological contracts (e.g., Rousseau, 1998), employees with a full-time contract expect and often have more positive exchange relationships with an organization than employees with a part-time contract. Especially in organizations with a high turnover rate, having a full-time contract is also probably perceived as an indication of long-term job security and this should improve, for example, the organizational citizenship behavior of employees (Van Dyne & Ang, 1998). This is primarily because employees with full-time contracts might also be responsible for several subtasks (products), so that they experience higher task variety and task significance than employees with part time contracts.
Theories of job design and theories of organizational identification focus on rather different aspects of work that motivate people to invest more or less effort and persistence. The job design approach considers task characteristics like task variety and task feedback as more or less motivating whereas the social identity approach focuses on inter-group relations and self-categorization processes with respect to social categories. Employees can identify strongly with an organization but not like their boring tasks or how their work is organized (e.g., routine office work without any autonomy). Conceptualizing the motivational incentives linked to task design and social relations as rather independent from each other, however, does not imply that interactions between these factors are impossible Work in call centers has a much lower motivating potential than other office work (Isic et al., 1999).
Despite stereotypical perceptions, the work of call centre agents is neither simple nor
undemanding. Therefore, researchers have analyzed the various factors that make call centre work stressful (Dormann & Zijlstra, 2003; Holman, 2003). The purpose of this study is to investigate whether traditional approaches of job design can also be applied to improve work motivation and well-being in call centres. Moreover, the research examines the impact of organizational identification on various indicators of work motivation and well-being. Providing greater variety and autonomy, for instance through work redesign, should thus have positive effects on agents’ attitudes and well-being. Also, according to Haslam (2004), strong psychological attachment of employees to their organization typically improves work motivation and well-being. A high organizational identification corresponds with high work motivation (high job satisfaction, OCB, personal accomplishment, and low turnover intentions) and better well-being (lower health complaints, lower emotional exhaustion and depersonalization).
Call centers need to evolve into more sophisticated, customer responsive business units in order to enable higher work motivation and organizational identification. At their origin in the 1980s, call centres were cost reduction, labor-saving inspired business units that facilitated for the first time both the centralisation of customer interactions and the employment of mass production methodologies within the service sector. Taylor and Bain (1999) have defined the call centre labor process as an ‘‘assembly line in the head.’’ The implication here is that call centre agents are not only under pressure to handle vast numbers of calls but also that the calls are unskilled, short-cycle, monotonous tasks. Taylor and Bain’s factories of the mind analysis clearly suggest that it would be impossible to give rise to greater work motivation and organizational identification. Set against such negative characterisations of the call centre workplace, however, are studies like the one conducted by Frenkel, Tam, Korczynski, and Shire (1998) that pays tribute to the high levels of skill that is sometimes required by frontline employees to perform challenging and interesting phone-based customer transactions. Recent research, however, suggests that while high quality phone-based professional services do exist they characterise only a minority of transactions generally reserved for high value clients (Batt & Moynihan, 2002).
The Performance management concept
Performance measurement has been touted as an improvement for organizations for decades. Managers and policymakers now have performance measurement tools to help carry out their responsibilities to deliver and improve services. Agencies have not, however, always built the capacity for measurement that can highlight both progress and the need for critical investments to a range of stakeholders—internal and external (Batt & Moynihan, 2002; pg 12). Researchers define performance management as a strategic and integrated approach of increasing the effectiveness of organizations by improving the performance of the people who work in them and by developing the capabilities of teams and individual contributors (Kreitner, 2005). It can provide the link between "what's" (objectives, targets and performance standards) and "how's" (behaviors, competencies and processes) of personnel performance (Deery et al., 2002; pg 471).
The performance management process
The performance management process involves setting of corporate, department, team and individual objectives. It includes performance appraisal systems within the call centre (inbound and outbound), reward strategies and schemes, training and development strategies and plans. Researchers have recommended that a performance management framework should start with an organizational analysis. A decision to implement the performance management system should be made according to the organizational principles and model of the organization following the identification of the existing structure and functioning of the organization and the evaluation of the structural problems. Job analysis should follow organizational analysis because it gives a deeper understanding of the behavioural requirements of the actual job. The term "job analysis" describes the information about the business purpose of the job, the tasks to be done on the job, as well as personnel characteristics (education, experience, specialized training) necessary to accomplish the job role.
The most innovative companies and organizations, do not simply execute one good program, rather, they integrate advanced management techniques into a comprehensive approach to productivity improvement. They use performance measurement and evaluation to help establish goals and measure results, estimate and justify resource requirements, reallocate resources, develop organization improvement strategies and motivate personnel to improve performance (Schaufeli & Buunk, 2003; pg 383).
Importance of Motivation within the Performance Management Framework
Motivation has been defined as the psychological process that gives behaviour purpose and direction (Kreitner, 2005); an internal drive to satisfy an unsatisfied need (Grandey, 2000); and the will to achieve (Bedeian, 1993). In psychology, motivation refers to the initiation, direction, intensity and persistence of behavior (Green, 1995). Understanding what motivates employees and what can employers do to motivate their internal customers has been the focus of research by many researchers and the topic has gained special prominence in recent years due to the role motivation plays in the performance management framework. This is mainly because motivated employees can provide a firm with a distinctive advantage and a comptetitive edge and by being more productive they can help organisation thrive and survive. Many previous studies have documented that high motivating potentials have a positive impact upon indicators of work motivation and well-being such as job satisfaction, turnover intentions, absenteeism, and OCB (Fried & Ferris, 1987; Johns, 1997; Van Dick & Wagner 2001).
Frederic Taylor, (1856-1915) was the first to analyse human behaviour scientifically with his machine model by making individuals into the equivalent of machine parts. He broke down the tasks to its smallest unit to figure out the best approach. After careful analysis of the job, workers were trained to do only those motions essential to the task. Taylor attempted to make a science for each element of work and restrict behavioural alternatives facing worker and looked at interaction of human characteristics, social environment, task, and physical environment, capacity, speed, durability and cost. The overall goal was to remove human variability (Terpstra, 2005).
Unlike scientific approach behaviour approach places emphasis on what motivates people and seeks to identify and account for the specific influences that motivate people.Maslow (1943) put forward the ‘hierarchy of needs theory’ which saw human needs in the form of a hierarchy, ascending from lowest to the highest. He argued that lower level needs had to be satisfied before the next higher level need and once one set of needs is satisfied, this kind of need ceases to be a motivator.
The five needs are:
- Physiological needs – These are the most basic human needs which are important for sustenance like food, water, warmth, shelter, sleep etc. Maslow argued that unless physiological needs are satisfied to a degree, no other motivating factor can work.
- Safety or Security needs – These are needs to be free of physical danger and emotional harm like the fear of losing a job, property, food or shelter. It relates to security, protection and stability in the personal events of everyday life.
- Social Needs – These are needs for love, affection and belongingness and social acceptance. People are social beings and try to satisfy their needs for acceptance and friendship.
- Esteem – Once people’s social needs are satisfied, they look for esteem (reputation). This need produces such satisfaction as power, prestige status and self confidence. It includes both internal esteem factors like self-respect, autonomy, achievements and external esteem factors such as recognition and attention as well as personal sense of competence (Grebner et al., 2003)
- .Self actualization – This need is the drive to become what one is capable of becoming. It’s the need to grow and use abilities to the fullest potential. It includes growth and self-fulfillment by achieving one’s potential to accomplish something
Looking at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs triangle, as each needs are substantially satisfied, the next need becomes dominant. (eg. esteem needs become dominant after social needs are satisfied).Also, when a need gets substantially satisfied, it stops to be motivating. The crux of Maslow’s theory is to focus on finding out the level of hierarchy the person is in and focusing on satisfying his/her needs and the needs above it. Maslow’s theory of needs has been wider recognised and is being practiced by managers across the globe. The theory’s ease of understanding and intuitive logic makes it easy to implement, but there is no empirical evidence to validate the theory and there is no metric to measure the success of the theory after being implemented.
Frederick Herzberg’s (1959) famous quote says ““If you want people to do a good job, give them a good job to do.” Herzberg’s motivational theory has a two component approach and is known as the two-factor theory. His theory suggests that things which prevent dissatisfaction are not the same as things which create satisfaction. (Herzberg, 1959) When people are dissatisfied (de-motivated) with their work it is usually because of discontent with environmental factors which he terms as “Hygiene Factors". These hygiene factors include factors such as, security, status, relationship with subordinates, personal life, salary, work conditions, relationship with supervisor, company policy and administration (Bedeian, 2003). These are the factors whose presence in the organization is natural and does not lead to motivation, however its absence does lead to de-motivation. Hygiene factors include the work and the organizational environment. The second component of the theory involves factors whose absence causes no dissatisfaction but whose presence has huge motivational value. Herzberg terms these factors as ‘Motivational factors’ which are factors such as growth prospects, career progression and advancement, responsibility, challenges, recognition and achievements. The theory concentrates around the fact that the opposite to satisfaction is not dissatisfaction and merely removing dissatisfying characteristics from a job does not necessarily makes the job satisfying.
Elton Mayo with his behavioural experiments known as “Hawthorne Experiments” was among the first few to analyse the human aspects of motivation He conclusions were that motivation was a very complex subject and was not only about pay, work condition and morale but also about psychological and social factors. He concluded that the need for recognition and a sense of belonging were very important motivational factors.
Motivation remains a challenge for call centers today. With the changing environment, the solutions to motivation problems are becoming even more complex. This is due, in part, to the fact that what motivates employees changes constantly (Bowen & Radhakrishna, 2001). Call centre managers need to understand what motivates employees within the context of the roles they perform (outbound / inbound) and understand the process, theories, and fundamental components of motivation. Regardless of which theory is followed, interesting work and employee pay are important links to higher motivation. Options such as job enlargement, job enrichment, promotions, monetary and non-monetary compensation should be considered. Research done by (Higgins, 2004) has come out with ten most motivating factors which are: interesting work, good wages, full appreciation of work done, job security, good working conditions, promotions and growth in the organization, feeling of being in on things, personal loyalty to employees, tactful discipline, and sympathetic help with personal problems. The key to motivating employees is to know what motivates them and designing a motivation program based on those needs.
The research will look into various ways in which outbound call centres employees can be motivated to perform their role. It will examine the ways in which motivation can be improved and establish a correlation between motivation and performance.
Rewards as a form of motivation
Rewards can go a long way in motivating employees, thereby increasing productivity. Finding out the most appropriate performance measurement tool to motivate employees has been a bane for organizations over the years. This is primarily because of the complexity of the human nature (Foot & Hook,2005). Every call centre rates its employees on Key Performance Indicators and rewards them on that basis. Arguments against reward and rating system suggest that they are not a fair system as they do not weigh qualitative factors. They only take a one dimensional view of the employee and do not take into consideration factors such as work conditions, responsibility, team-work etc. Also, rewards in the form of financial incentives, at times, can serve as a bribe and do not help to connect the employee to the organization. Rather than encouraging an emotional relationship, it encourages a transactional relationship based on financial incentives. This might motivate employees for a short term but can be more de-motivating when the reward offered is less then what is expected. Advocators of reward system argue that when ratings and reward system are based on a good mix of indicators, they do help in motivating employees and rewards are a fair way of recognizing employees for their efforts. Rating and reward systems do improve employee motivation if they serve to value the employees and are suited to employee conditions. When the rating system is more objective, rates employee fairly, is a good mix of qualitative and quantitative factors and when the rewards relate directly to employee achievements and performance, they will help to motivate employees. But, organizations have to understand that the rating and reward system should not be used as a sole motivator and are no substitute to good management and healthy working conditions.
The research will analyze HBOS call centre’s reward structure and assess whether the reward structure helps to motivate employees thereby increasing their effectiveness at work place.
This chapter dealt with the relevant theories and concepts that pertain to performance management in relation to call centres. It gave us an outline of the form and structure of call centres, their work and functionality. The chapter also highlighted the importance of motivation within the performance management framework and the role it plays in the employee work performance. A future outlook regarding the importance of call centres and the importance of motivating employees working in the call centres was also highlighted. The study now moves ahead into adoption of appropriate methodologies to find out the best possible ways of improving employee morale and getting them motivated to improve call centre effectiveness. The research methodology will also collect information dealing with other means of improving employee performance within outbound call centres. It will limit itself to HBOS sales (outbound) call centre based in Cardiff. The aim of the next chapter is to achieve the research objective by applying the appropriate research approach, strategy and methodology. The chapter also seeks to ensure that the data collected is valid and reliable, is not contaminated and bias is reduced to a minimum.
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