Zapf, D. and Isic, A., J. W. Goethe-University Frankfurt, Germany
Call centres have become an important means to manage customer relationships. Job requirements of call centre employees are characterised by interacting with customers mainly by telephone, typically supported by computer systems. The purpose of the present study was to analyse how stressful call centre work is in comparison to other work. A study was carried out collecting questionnaire data from 395 call centre employees in 9 call centres. This sample was compared with a representative randomly drawn sample of 405 employees (the control group). Measures included job stressors such as time pressure and organisational hassles, job resources such as job control, and measures of emotion work (emotional labour) including the frequency to express positive or negative emotions towards customers, the requirement to know how the customers feel (sensitivity requirements), and emotional dissonance which is the requirement to express emotions which are not felt at that moment. Moreover, to measure psychological strain, a psychosomatic complaints lists and a German translation of the Maslach Burnout Inventory MBI were administered. The main results were: In average, job stressors were somewhat lower in the call centres compared to the control group. Resources were substantially lower, however, there was also substantial variation between the call centres. In contrast, there was a higher level of emotional labour in the call centre group, and there was relatively little variation between the call centres. No effects occurred for psychological strain. The results of the study will be discussed.