The call center as a revolving door: a Philippine perspective

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Purpose – This study sought to explain the high turnover rates in Philippine call centers using a cultural lens. Specifically, the study looks at the phenomenon of work-life conflict and its impact on turnover intent. It also examined the moderating role of perceived organization support on the relationship between work-life conflict and turnover intent.

Design/methodology/approach – The study utilized a two-phased, mixed-method approach. In the first phase, qualitative data from 30 interviews were obtained to validate the existence of the constructs among Filipino call center agents. In the second phase, 991 surveys were administered to quantitatively test the hypothesized relationships between the study variables.

Findings – Results show that work-life conflict predicts intent to leave over and beyond that explained by job satisfaction. Findings also show that organizational support moderates the relationship between work-life conflict and intent to leave. The results also reveal the context-specific sources of work-life conflict: physical and psychological impact of work schedule, social isolation and lack of social support. Research limitations/implications – The study focused on work-life conflict and perceived organizational support. However, there are other variables that may be examined in future research such as personality, family, and organizational variables.

Practical implications – Beyond the traditional responses to the issue of work-life conflict, the results suggest the importance of cultural nuanced responses to address work-life conflict.

Social implications – Although outsourcing is a boon to the economy of developing countries, policies encouraging call centers need to be coupled with an understanding of the personal and social costs of call center work.

Originality/value – This study highlights the importance of considering culture in viewing management practices and their impact on workers’ behavior and wellbeing. It calls attention to the unique experience of call centers in developing countries and the importance of developing work-life interventions that are contextualized to local culture