Electronic performance monitoring in a call centre environment: Psychological need satisfaction, work role fit, absenteeism and work engagement
Government organisations differentiate themselves from other organisations by the unique services they render to the citizens of South Africa, and with the current political and economic instability in the country, everyone’s attention is focused on them. They are not only responsible for the oversight and administration of specific functions but also need to set the example in respect of cost saving processes while performing these duties. Call centres were therefore introduced to reduce cost and improve customer service. Various studies done in the past proved that strict electronic performance monitoring in call centres creates a stressful, physically and psychologically unhealthy work environment for employees. This intrusive performance monitoring system might result in absenteeism; low levels of work role fit and work engagement. It may also have a negative impact on the psychological need satisfaction of employees. Realising the importance of all the above-mentioned factors, the researcher set out to examine the relationships between them and also the mediating effect of psychological need satisfaction on the relationship between electronic performance monitoring and work engagement levels as well as the mediating effect of work role fit on the relationship between psychological need satisfaction and absenteeism. A cross-sectional design was used and the study population (N=690) included employees in a South African government organisation rendering an exclusive service mandated to them by South African law. To test the hypotheses, a quantitative survey research approach was followed. The results revealed that there was a definite correlation between electronic performance monitoring and work engagement levels in the call centre of this particular South African organisation with autonomy, a subscale of psychological need satisfaction, having a mediating effect in this relationship. The results also found that low work role fit levels influence the autonomy need and could therefore lead to increased absenteeism in the call centre of this particular South African organisation. Recommendations were made for application and future research.