Studying Organizational Behavior in call and service centers


Organizational Behavior (OB) is a distinct form of study that determines how groups and individuals behave in order to improve the effectiveness of an organization (Robbins & Judge, 2007). Customer service representatives who work in call centers have high volume calls, high turnover rate, and employee dissatisfaction. Companies can be more responsible by listening to employee needs and foster behavior change, employee motivation, workplace ethics, and good communication.

In a previous position, executives established a strategy to increase job satisfaction for a diverse workforce by utilizing their ability to influence behavior through positive change (Robbins & Judge, 2007). The company increased employee accountability and compliance of business goals by releasing employees that showed continual unethical behavior, and hired additional employees from agencies that had prior knowledge and skills. They increased the effectiveness of management by re-training managers in traditional activities to increase people skills, better decision making techniques, and controlling of employees. The company offered advice on how to improve team- work to expediently process information through multiple departments, and how to manage conflict and disciplinary actions. By showing employees that that they were willing to make positive changes, the company temporarily decreased employee turnover, and increased job satisfaction (Robbins & Judge, 2007).

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The Organizational Behavior book summarizes motivation as the process in which individuals attain goals through intensity, persistence, and direction. The book states that the re-enforcement theory is the process of shaping desired behavior through punishment and or rewards (Robbins & Judge, 2007). According to the motivational hierarchy theory of Abraham Maslow, physiological, social, esteem, safety, and self-actualization are five needs that dominate all humans who strive for job satisfaction (Robbins & Judge, 2007). If these needs are met, employers are able to meet employees' perceived expectations of fairness, increase performance, and job satisfaction.

In a previous customer service position, management tried to modify employee behavior and negative attitude by offering incentives in order to improve job performance and productivity (Robbins & Judge, 2007). The company temporarily achieved motivation intensity, persistence, and direction when they identified employee needs. The employee physiological and self-actualization improved when mangers offered additional training, promotions, and monetary benefits for ethical sales. They increased employee self-esteem by giving quarterly luncheons, and paid time off when organizational goals were met. The company improved employee social needs when they offered gift cards for expensive retail items, and the feeling of job safety when management was trained to increase people skills and knowledge of employee rights. By implementing Abraham Maslow's motivational hierarchy theory, the company was able to focus on employees' perception of fairness, increase job performance and satisfaction, re-shape desired work behavior, and reduce stress (Robbins & Judge, 2007).

Dr. Hans Selye, a pioneer in stress research, defines stress "as a body's' nonspecific response to a demand" (Drafke, 2006, p. 397). Emotions, summarized by the Organizational Behavior book, are reactions to events or individuals. The book also summarizes emotional labor as how employees express personal interactions towards company policies, but if negative feelings are untreated; individuals can attain health issues from emotional exhaustion (Robbins & Judge, 2007).

Employment as an Accounts Payable Clerk for a telecommunications business is a stressful position, and can cause emotional labor. Customer service orientated companies require employees to display cheerful and friendly emotions that are often not felt by personnel (Robbins & Judge, 2007). This particular company, expected employees to increase sales in all departments, increase quota of calls, and lower credit offers. Management also expected employees to know and follow revolving company policies that changed daily. The constant procedure changes, and unexpected consequences, caused emotional dissonance from anger and frustration (Robbins & Judge, 2007).

Typically, stress is beneficial to human survival, but can cause harmful physical distress to individuals (Drafke, 2006). Dr. Jere Yates states that humans go through three stages before they reach their stress threshold. In a call center environment, the first stage, or the yield point, is when an employee realizes the position they hold is not a good fit for diverse personalities. The second stage, or elastic stage, is when an individual feels emotional side effects like heartburn or headaches because of unreleased stress. The third stage, or rupture point, is when physical medical symptoms require hospitalization or time away from work due to stress related issues (Drafke, 2006). Other coping strategies that employees can display for work related stress are unprofessional reactions towards customers, absenteeism, and physical or verbal abuse towards coworkers.

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A firm's survival depends on the ability to be socially responsible towards employees and consumers. Good ethical behavior is a common social custom of how individuals treat and act towards others. This behavior should be utilized by all human beings, and is a basic requirement used by most businesses (Drafke, 2006). Some establishments use codes as a catalyst to assist management to make socially responsible decisions. Recent polls show that the development of codes can be an effective way to encourage ethical behavior. 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies, and half of the other firms, share this concept (Haynes, T, 2010).

Service centers utilize a downward communication process when passing information to managers and employees. Miscommunication of information can cause harsh repercussions for a business or employee. Therefore, the process of conveying and understanding information is essential for a business to run effectively (Robbins & Judge, 2007). Corporations occasionally employ management that is non-compliant with policies or procedures, and act unethically towards consumers and employees. Managers allow and encourage unethical sale practices, and discourage complaints regarding customer refunds in order to meet company goals. The unfavorable behavior can hinder an employee's ability to work productively, reduce consumer trust, and embarrass the company (Drafke, 2006).

The Accounting Standard Board, laws, and SEC regulations are continually working to correct unethical activities. If management fails to conform to company policy, employees may feel justified in unethical actions. The lack of conformity can create chaos, and reduce an institutions ability to provide beneficial information to consumers and employees (Drafke, 2006). Corporations need to take responsibility and implement procedures and policies that foster positive change. They can offer training that would help management understand ethical behavior, and proceed with training in a downward flow to other employees. The company can motivate employees and offer incentives for proper workplace ethics. If an organization properly communicates, and makes sure issues are understood by all employees, the company may see less unethical behavior, and more compliance to company policy and procedure.