Job Satisfaction in Call Centers: An Empirical Study in Canada

Article excerpt

This study examines the relationship between aspects of job satisfaction and employee characteristics in call centers in Canada using a shortened version of the Minnesota questionnaire. This study included the participation of 108 employees from a major call center in New Brunswick. The results of this research show that there are four facets to job satisfaction, and they demonstrate that job satisfaction does not vary by age group but that some of the aspects of satisfaction are influenced by gender, educational level and the status of employees. Finally, all aspects of job satisfaction vary according to the origin, Canada or immigrated, of the call center employees.

Introduction

As they have in developed countries, call centers in Canada have grown significantly in recent years. According to the Statistics Canada report, the growth rate of call centers from 2001 to 2006 was 27.7%. This growth was accompanied by growth in the demand for labor and growth in income that exceeded that of many other service sectors. However, labor represents 75% of the operational expenditure for a call center. Strong management skills are crucial for the managers of call centers in Canada.

Employee job satisfaction is one of the most studied subjects in the management literature. The importance of job satisfaction can be explained by three factors. First, job satisfaction is an important determinant of the quality of service delivered by employees (Zeithaml et al., 1990). High employee satisfaction brings improved customer interaction, and this interaction creates high customer satisfaction (Reichheld and Sasser, 1990). Therefore, call centers base their competitiveness on providing the quality of service that leads to customer satisfaction. In this regard, Southwood (2008) notes that the quality of service employees is one of the key success factors for a call center. Second, job satisfaction is recognized by several authors as one of the determinants in the rate of employee turnover (Steel and Ovalle, 1984; Horn and Griffeth, 1991). In a call center, turnover is a concern of most managers. According to a report from 'The Canadian Contact Centre Industry',1 the average employee turnover in a call center is 29.9%. This report also states that up to 70%> of the customers lost can be explained by turnover. Third, the job satisfaction of employees has a significant impact on their performance. According to Judge et al. (2001), the higher the employee's satisfaction, the greater the potential to improve his or her performance.

Numerous articles on job satisfaction implicitly assume that the determinants of job satisfaction are essentially the same for all countries; these articles simply add a 'country effect' to the explanatory variables. We believe, however, that the determinants of job satisfaction differ from one country to another. Given the virtual absence of research on job satisfaction in call centers in relation to employee characteristics, this study aims to fill this gap. Specifically, this study focuses on aspects of job satisfaction in call centers in relation to the gender, age, educational level, employment status and the origin, Canada or immigrated, of employees.

The results of this study will be important for the managers of call centers for at least two reasons. First, the management of employee satisfaction in a call center is a powerful method for developing a positive working environment, supporting agent performance and improving customer satisfaction. Second, determining the relationship between employee characteristics and facets of job satisfaction can help managers in the following ways: 1) to better recruit agents in call centers, 2) to better motivate agents to be more productive and 3) to reduce turnover.

First, a literature review on job satisfaction and its relationship to employee characteristics will be presented. This literature review will then be followed by the research methodology and the results. …