Call center turnover: A study of the relationships between leadership style, burnout, engagement and intention to quit

by Ballard, James K., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2012, 127 pages; 3549435


Turnover rates in the call center industry range from 30% to an astounding 500% depending on industry, location, and a number of other factors. Even by conservative estimates, call centers in the United States are spending billions of dollars in lost productivity, training, and other costs associated with lost employees. Research has shown that call center work is "emotional labor" and can lead to high levels of stress, burnout, disengagement, and other psychological problems leading employees to a state of "intention to quit" in which they shut down and decrease performance before actually quitting, or being fired. Call center supervisors can have a direct influence over how employees deal with the daily stressors on the job and research has shown that certain leadership styles can promote or hinder performance, goal attainment, burnout, engagement, and intention to quit. This quantitative study explored the relationship among the variables of leadership style, burnout, engagement, and intention to quit among a sample of call center representatives across various industries and organizations within the United States. The study used the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire to evaluate how the participants perceived their leader's style (transformational, transactional, or laissez faire), the Maslach Burnout Inventory to measure self-reported burnout, the Utrecht Work Engagement Survey to measure engagement, and a final Likert scale to measure intention to quit. Using correlational analysis, 2x2 contingency tables, and logistic regression analysis, the study affirmed that there is a statistically strong relationship between leadership and the variables of burnout, engagement, and intention to quit, demonstrating that levels of engagement and leadership style are strong predictors of an employee's intention to quit. Call center executives may be able to use the findings from this study to chart a course of action to address attrition and other performance problems in their own sites.

AdviserPetti Van Rekom
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsManagement; Organizational behavior
Publication Number3549435

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