The number of call centers has increased rapidly over the last decade as technological advancements have increased the geographical reach and the applicability of call centre operations to a wide variety of industries and business functions. This has increased the research on various aspects of call centre operations. Issues associated with job quality have arisen from various call centre studies. However, there is yet to be a study that deliberately and systematically examines job quality and its factors, linking them based on their effects on each other and on job quality. This study highlights the major issues associated with the quality of call centre work in Touchstone Communications, and key gaps in the research related to call centers are revealed. Some suggestions are given to improve job quality and the impact of key job quality factors on employees and organizations.
THE QUALITY OF WORK LIFE
The concept of quality of work life was initiated in the 1960’s and 1970’s which focused on the ways of making the working environment a more humane situation for workers (Davis and Cherns, 1975; Levine, 1983; Considine and Callus, 2001; Huzzard, 2003). Rapid advancements in technology triggered the concerns about working conditions such as de-skilling, dehumanization, alienation and objectification of labour, which has led to an increase in the research on the quality of work life. There are different perspectives about how to define the concept of “quality of working life” and what constitutes a high quality job: Fundamentally, job quality and "the quality of work life" is comprised by the set of work characteristics which promote the well-being of the worker (Green, 2005). This concept is employee-centered and focuses exclusively on what is beneficial for the worker. This review will therefore gather and report on findings relating to job quality from the Touchstone Communications as derived through employee accounts and experiences. The concept of quality of work life is seen to be concerned with employees job satisfaction, and employees subjective well being. This notion would consider issues such as how much access is available to tangible aspects of work such as income, and employment benefits (Juuti, 1991; Lau and Bruce 1999) as well as how secure the employee feels in their job, and how safe they feel in terms of occupational health and safety This approach accepts that the quality of work life involves both the tangible and intangible aspects of individuals’ working-life experiences; and acknowledges that the quality of work life extends beyond organizational boundaries. (Zapf, 1984, Sirgy, Efraty, Siegel, and Lee, 2001; Considine and Callus, 2001). The terms job quality and quality of work life are often used interchangeably in the literature given that both are concerned with the attributes comprising a job, and the well-being of employees in relation to these job characteristics. The approaches used to examine job quality and the quality of work life are also often the same. The terms will therefore be used interchangeably for the purposes of this review. Literature Review
While the call centre literature has drawn attention to issues relating to job quality, this is has often been incidental, and a result of investigation of various other aspects of call centres, in particular, the application of the labour processes perspective. For instance, Knights and McCabe (1998) provide an account of the employment experiences of workers employed in a British call centre undergoing a business process re-engineering (BPR) regime, and Russell (2002) uses a labour process perspective to investigate employee responses to the culture of employee management in an Australian call centre. Taylor and Bain (1999) and Russell (2004) on the other hand use a Foucauldian electronic panopticon perspective to analyse the labour process...