The quality of work life is a traditionally under-researched area where call centres (CC) are concerned. Similarly, much of the existing call centre research is based on the private sector despite the public sector emerging as a large user of CC operations. This paper is based on empirical research conducted in two Australian CC’s to explore whether and how the quality of work life varies between the two sectors. Findings relating to three quality of work life elements are reported: job content, working hours & work-life balance, and managerial/supervisory style and strategies. Public sector call centre Govtcall emerges as being inferior in terms of all three measures of QWL despite stronger union presence, and the work being more complex and skill intensive. Salesplus on the other hand features a management model that is more akin to what would be expected in a call centre operating under a professional service model, despite the work content in being relatively simple, low skill and more routine to that of Govtcall. Findings challenge the assumptions that firstly, public sector status ensures better working conditions, and secondly, that employee-focussed managerial styles are incompatible with efficient and productive call centre operations.
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