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LIMRA International study connects high agent morale to five key work culture components

April 2003

Call Center Magazine

Good agent morale in a call center can help reduce such common problems as agent absenteeism, tardiness and turnover, while increasing individual commitment to the job and to customers. Low morale is often a major contributor to poor call center results. A major new study by LIMRA International shows that five key components of work culture have the strongest influence on good morale.

The Contact Center Work Culture Benchmark Study of more than 200 centers in North America by LIMRA International identified and compared distinct work cultures across business sectors within the contact center industry. It assesses how core cultures influence call center success so that managers and executives can use this information to improve their operations.

Surprisingly, the study found that pay, center size, call volume and ratio of agents to supervisor - the span of control - had virtually no effect on morale. Agent pay was comparable at centers reporting high morale and those reporting low morale.

LIMRA studied centers employing from five to 450 agents and found no statistically significant differences in morale related to size. The average number of agents under an individual supervisor was virtually the same at centers with low or high morale. Also, centers that reported high success and high customer satisfaction also showed high morale.

LIMRA probed more than 50 elements of work culture. The centers with high agent morale have high levels of real teamwork, where each agent contributes to overall performance; a highly supportive management; "flexible" agents, who move easily among different tasks and projects; genuine interest in customers on the part of agents; and an environment that doesn't burn agents out.

Management can use this information to change morale. Some actions might involve re-engineering work operations to build a more team-oriented, less individualistic workflow, and to reduce stress. Other actions might include changes in management practices to foster a highly supportive culture for agents.

Review of hiring practices may improve selection of those "flexible" candidates associated with high morale and successful contact centers. The research strongly suggests that, compared with increasing pay or reducing span of control or call volume, these steps will produce better morale and business results.


LIMRA International is an applied research organization focusing on human resource issues in the contact center industry. Based on its extensive research and expertise, LIMRA has developed the ExSel selection system for job applicant assessment aimed at recruiting and retaining the best people for professional sales and service positions. For more information visit Authored by Malcolm McCulloch, Ph.D., Senior Research Consultant, LIMRA International.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2003
Location :: c_corporate/news