Call centres


1. Introduction

In the recent years call centres are growing rapidly and almost every sector is relying and investing in call centre as part of the business. Hence this, call centres have now received considerable academic attention (Taylor, P,. Mulvey, G., Hyman, J,. Bain, P. 2000). In UK, call centres employ 2-3 percent of the working population in approximately 6,900 call centres (Datamoniter, 1998,Mitial research 2002), which explains the current role of call centre in the present economic market.

But the call centres are considered to be one of the most pressurised working environment as they have many compelling measures such as, targets on call handling time, length of talk time and cost of lost call, etc Armistead, Kiely, Hole and Prescott (2002), and also Arkin (2002) state that call centre environment is similar to a battery-farming condition.

The aim and objectives of the research are;

Ø To understand what are the common factors which motivates employees in M&S money call centre

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Ø Identify if there is any difference between permanent and temporary staff in terms of job motivation

Ø Make recommendation based on the finding in aim 2 in relation to improving job motivation for all employees

Malcolm (2003, p3) argue that in contact centres where morale is high, employees approach their work with energy, enthusiasm, and willingness. They want to come to work, or at least are enthusiastic about work once they get there. On the other hand, when morale is low in a contact centre, employees can become bored, discouraged, and lethargic. This in comparison to motivation, he argues that

“Highly motivated employees tend to be high producers, but that doesn't necessarily mean their morale is high. In fact, contact center employees are often motivated by “negative incentives” such as a fear of losing their job, an excessive need for rewards, or an overly competitive need to outperform a colleague.”

The research will be studying four major motivational theories. They are:- Maslow's need-hierarchy theory, Herzberg's two- factor theory, Adams' equity theory and Vroom's expectancy theory. And will be testing the theories in the call centre environment of Marks and Spencer Money (M&S).

Even though M&S call centre is comprise permanent staffs (perm), the organisation is recruiting employee through recruitment agency on temporary contract (temps). Both staffs are been trained and given the same target to meet all the duties. It will be interesting to study the motivational factors of both groups of employees in the call centre.

2. Literature review

To achieve the objectives of the research it is important to understand what motivation is and also to define what job motivation is. The literature review will explore the four selected motivational theories and establish what job motivation is and what are the factors motivates employees in a working environment.

2.1 What is motivation?

Motivation is a behaviour which can be intrinsic or extrinsic. Adair (1990) argue that motivation;

“covers both what happens inside an individual in terms of wanting to do something and also what happens outside them as they are influenced by others or by circumstance” Adair (1990) most of the motivational theories can be categorised as contents theories and cognitive theories. Content theories tend to identify and explain the factors which energise or motivate people and cognitive theories focus on how a variety of personal factors interact and influence human behaviour (Brooks, 1999).

The literature review will look at four major motivational theories. They are Maslow's need-hierarchy theory, and Herzberg's two- factor theory are needs based motivational theories known as content theories. And Adams' equity theory and Vroom's expectancy theory are collectively known as cognitive theories.

Content theories will work towards especially in achieving the objective of “To understand what are the common factors which motivates employees in M&S money call centre” and cognitive theories will work toward the next objective of the research, “Identify if there is any difference between permanent and temporary staff in terms of job motivation”

Maslow's need-hierarchy theory

Maslow's theory is most widely known theory relating individual needs to motivation. According to Maslow;

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“A need influences a person's activities until it has been satisfied... and the needs are arranged in hierarchical fashion”. (Porter, L. W., Bigley, G.A., & Steers R, M. (1975)

Maslow states that these five stages can be categorised into deficiency needs and growth needs.

Deficiency needs.


The most basic need for survival breathing, food and etc. For an employee such needs are reflected in the individual's concern or basic working conditions such as moderate temperature and clean air (Porter et al 1975). Safety and security: The next level is associates with the safety in terms of physical and emotional environment. Porter (1975) comparing this level to employee job security, protection against work and safe working condition. Belongingness: Belonging provides a feeling of comfort and security. For an employee this will be the interaction between colleagues, managers and supervisors.

Growth needs.

Esteem and ego:

needs for self-respect, self esteem, and respect for others. Porter explains this level of needs in terms of an employee as concern for jobs with higher status, desire for recognition for the successful accomplishment of a particular work. Self-actualization: the final level of the hierarchy pyramid, in an organisation, these needs are reflects to challenge the abilities of challenges, skills creativeness Porter (1975).

Herzberg's two- factor theory

The two factor theory argues that that job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction operate independently. The theory states that there are certain factors in the workplace that cause job satisfaction, and a separate set of factors cause dissatisfaction within work place.