As modern contemporary society draws its attention to labor-intensive approach to production, business analyst has become interested in determining what could constitute to increasing workforce efficiency. This was when the concept of motivation came into place, and intellectual leaders in the likes of Frederick Winslow Taylor began formulating a model or framework that would suffice for economic efficiency alongside work productivity. It is not a surprise that economic institutions began extending its resources to help power the thriving and yet promising business economy. Frederick Winslow Taylor initiated the application of blending in the principles of science to the engineering of process and the principle of management. Having said this, this paper would like to discuss scientific management being a model and framework capable of addressing the needs and demands of the Call Center industry.
A Primer to Taylorism and its Application to the Call Center Industry
There are certain pre-requisites for excellent leadership and successful management which include conventional as well as modern principles of management. In order to be a good manager, conceptual grip on management theories is strongly recommended. Comprehensive knowledge of theories of management is considered as an essential component for prosperous management and good leadership. There are numbers of challenges being faced by the organizations of the modern era. Universities, colleges and the schools are also facing the same situations as they are organizations. The main challenges faced by the organizations are effective and economical usage of available resources, competition in the market and getting maximum output from the deficient resources. In order to cope up with these challenges, the perfect knowledge of theories of management are considered basic requirement. As for as importance of theories of management are concerned, the classical theories of management have significant importance. Classical theories provide a basis for all the theories related to management. Apart from classical theory, a scientific management theory was developed by a scholar known as Freiderick Winslow Taylor in the year 1911.
The main focus of the theory is to maximize the productivity. As per viewpoint of Taylor, solutions of labor problems have been provided by the scientific management. He conducted various experiments to enhance the productivity of a product by reducing significant amount of laborers. However, in this pursuit he always went back to the premise that it is not the quantity of the workers to assume maximum productivity but it is in the quality. He emphasized on training of the labor in their related fields. He further suggested that there should be a classification between the workers who are involved in management and labor work. He suggested different groups of people are to be made as per performance, management. By this, every group will perform best (Mahmood, et al., 2012).
With this having been said, Taylor’s scientific management theory paved the way for the principles of efficiency and motivation as key elements to the attainment of productivity. Relating to this to the Call Center industry, one could assert that companies within the industry should not rely heavily on acquiring quantity but geared towards securing the quality of workers because aggrandizing more on generating workers who are competent and fully capable to handle the demands of their job with provide more output that having a building full of mediocre employees.
The Call Center industry is perhaps one more fast rising industry in terms of both the size and demand. In lieu with this call center companies are always open to hire new employees to address the growing demand in the market. However, nothing seemed to be making progress despite the increase in the number of employees. Productivity seemed to have reached a plateau while the demand keeps getting bigger. Hence, Taylor’s Scientific Management Theory can offer substantial solution to this growing predicament.
Taylor’s framework is rooted on two major principles—motivation and efficiency. At present, this principles have been eloquently analyzed by business analyst to ensure productivity. Several studies had been rooted in developing a unique package that would drive employees towards maximum productivity. While the most common approach and the most frequently used as well, is through financial remuneration, companies thrive to find other means to squeeze out motivation and efficiency among their employees because it is believed to be the only way get people working without necessarily having to take a toll in their performance and the quality of their output.
It is intriguing how call center companies are always hiring new employees. While it is understandable that the demand for their services offered by this business is increasing, the movement of employees is also one of the biggest hurdles yet to address by organizations operating within the industry. Call center agents are widely known to practice the “call center hopping” behavior. This behavior is when an agent transfers from one call center to another within a very short period of time. In addition, there seemed to be a practice that agents immediately stop reporting to work after the training or nesting period is over, which is over a span of two to three months. Given this trend, companies in the call center industry are trying to understand what triggers this behavior and constitute for the trend to prevail in the market.
Taylor offers an interpretation that could address the issue. He explained that agents working in the call center industry are less motivated to work therefore compromising their work efficiency and productivity. Taylor believed on motivation of the employees in the organization and termed as economics needs of motivation. He was of the view that if the management wants to be profitable than it should have to believe on motivation theory. There are various ways to get the workers motivated. The most recognized way of motivation is offering an inviting financial remuneration. The effective rise in salary or wages of employees would be an excellent motivating factor and can enhance production. In addition to the basic concept of motivation and workers behavior, Taylor was interested to find out other efficient procedures and methods for control and coordination of work. In this context, he has formulated a number of guidelines in his studies regarding management. Following are the main principles: (a) development of an exact science for work of each person; (b) scientiﬁc selection, development and training of workers; (c) assist workers to make sure work are done in a prescribed way; and finally, (d) division of the work between workers and the management.
If Taylor’s view and principles would necessarily have to be applied in an industry similar to the Call Center industry, it would be the same practice that major of the call centers today are practicing. For one, it is not unknown to many that the movement of agents from one company to another is considered a strategic move for them personally. Majority of call centers offer competitive salaries and compensation. In addition, rates are being offered according to one’s experience and training. If an agent had previously worked among the top call centers in the area, naturally when they decide to downgrade it is not exactly downgrading but more of an upgrade if they choose a less popular call center. This is because they have already gained the advantage of receiving training from the top call centers, and that is considered an advantage. Hence, they will be offered a reasonable compensation package base on their records and their performance. This would motivate other workers from big centers to move out thereby strengthening the capacity of the lesser call center for having strong agents on the floor.
Salary and benefits have always been the main motivational factors for employees. However, an inviting salary package may not always cut a deal. A highly competitive salary may only work well in attracting the right applicants. However, the issue is how to keep these people continuously working for a company without burning them up or losing them to the competition. Thus, motivation is not always related to tangible rewards. Maslow perfectly describes this in his Hierarchy of Needs. True enough, self-actualization is rather more effective than financial rewards as far as motivation is concerned in the workforce.
The call center industry has been working through this premise. Thus, they sent their people to trainings, development programs and encouraged them to pursue higher learning by offering scholarship grants to employees who like to pursue higher education. This motivational campaign addresses that highest level in Maslow’s ladder of motivation that is self-actualization. This is the point when employees feel good about themselves and finds their purpose and place in the organization. In addition, this also marks the stage where employees feel that they have achieved satisfaction and establish their worth.
When organizations make their employees feel important it creates a boost in the morale of the employee and that in return triggers the drive to further excel. People do not just thrive over the tangible rewards but equally as important is the verbal acknowledgment of their contribution. Studies have showed how significant praise could keep an employee motivated. A good working environment, one that encourages people, contributes to their growth and development and at the same time encourages them is a great motivational factor.
Various ideas having great influences on job design have been proposed in the scientific management. One of the famous ideas is to select the appropriate method for an employee to perform an activity. This appropriate methodology will ensure maximize the efficiency and minimize wastage. Another importance idea which has a tremendous effect on organization’s production is the job specialization. In scientific management, Job specialization plays a significant role and refers to breaking down the activities into smaller and simplest form. By this breaking down each activity can be performed by few individual repeatedly with greater accuracy (Boltanski & Chiapello, 2005).
Taylor offers several concepts in the discussion of pursuing the economies of efficiency. Among these included the division of labor which is supported by the resultant of de-skilling the worker and dehumanization of the workers and the workplace. In evaluating the structure and framework of many call centers it works on a very unique organizational structure which is referred to as the vertical functional organizational structure. What is unique about this model is that every department is arranged as a distinct business unit managed by a manager or a team leader. Figure 1 will give a good visual of the system.
Figure 1: A typical organizational structure of call centers
While this framework is badly criticized for the delay in decision making, it is still the most efficient for a very large organization. This system in fact, allows for every employee to focus only on their respective tasks thereby allowing or more focus in the delivery of the required task. Similarly, this model also allowed the human resource to concentrate on hiring only the best applicant for the job. As mentioned earlier, Taylor’s scientific management theory relies more on quality than quantity. If this principle were to apply in the call center, it would mean that instead of hiring 100 workers to address the work load, Taylor proposed to hire 60 or less who have the exact skills and technical knowledge of the job being required. This way companies can have call-one resolution. Call-one resolution is ensuring that the issue raised by the client in his or her first call is resolved during the first call. This would mean that the same client will not be calling again for the same issue allowing the agents to address more issues because they do not have to re-address an issue that had already been addressed.
Apart from the advantages of the Taylorism, it has also been critically evaluated. Various criticisms have been made. In this regard, it is considered that Taylorism has raised economies of scales, production, and cost effectiveness. However, the narrow concentration on the job and greater importance to the technology had formed mere mechanical life and machines where only the materialism succeeded. It is the fact that the working conditions were terrible within the organization due to the lack of rigidity, inflexibility, and imagination. It has been revealed that the Taylorism flourished the bureaucracy and generated gap between the employees owing to the separation of the two groups. Subsequently, these two groups were unable to provide any feedback to one another. The imagination of the workers was confined just to work in the boundaries. It is also considered that the human being have significantly been deteriorated by the Taylorism through the greed, extensive race, materialism, tangible benefits, status consciousness and competition (Koumparoulis & Vlachopoulioti, 2012).
Taylor made promise to use the science to enhance the profits through increased productivity. He got rid of the unions in the organization that is the main threat for its growth. He raised the thrift of the labor and quality of working classes. He raised the productivity of the organization up to the point. He used various tools for this production (Anon., 2005).
It has been hugely acknowledged that the Taylorism was a success as far as the economic point of view is concerned. It has been evolved through number of studies that productivity has been enormously improved by using Taylorism techniques (Olum, 2004). Urwick considered the organizational management as social philosophy and a discipline by which the economy can be boosted up through power-driven mechanism taken from the physical sciences. For him, this is one of the best solutions for effective society management by economic control, technical leadership and social direction (Parker, n.d.).
There are three famous productive factors including land, labor, and capital that are the primary assets of every firm. Marshall at the first time considered the industrial organization as 4th productive factor together with land, work, and capital. The industrial organization was introduced in “Principal of Economics” but developed deeply in Trade and Industry with the passage of time. The basic aim of Marshall was to know the reasons of lagging behind the Britain economy in the world. In his Book 1, he described comparison of various times and places. The ways by which development was made in other countries. He described political and geographical characteristics necessary for economic development (Caldari, 2007).
Kanigel described the concern of the Taylor regarding productivity and the efficiency of the worker in the factory. He stated that this can easily be viewed in workers of the present day. Taylor’s fascinations are based upon efficiency, productivity and work processes standardizations. These are based upon scientific study, training of workers, tying compensation on worker's output and direction of work for the workers by the seniors or supervisors. The direction based upon principles and guided standards to the workers played a vital role in productivity.
On the overall, Taylor’s Scientific Management Theory has the best solutions to address the commonly encountered issues in the Call Center industry. By proposing the principles of motivation and efficiency, call centers will be able to assure productivity which could significantly improve its performance and assume profitability which is the ultimate goal of majority of profit-oriented industry.
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