Original Research

Call centre agents’ emotional intelligence as predicators of their exhaustion and professional efficacy: The moderating effect of meaningfulness

Nisha Harry
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 47 | a1819 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v47i0.1819 | © 2021 Nisha Harry | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 June 2020 | Published: 16 March 2021

About the author(s)

Nisha Harry, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


Orientation: Call centres in a digital work environment in Africa typically require high levels of sustained interpersonal contact with customers, which lead to exhaustion and call centre agent withdrawal.

Research purpose: This study investigates the interaction effects between call centre agents’ emotional intelligence and their sense of meaningfulness (as moderating mechanism) in predicting their exhaustion and professional efficacy.

Motivation for the study: Human resource practitioners need deeper understanding/insight of meaningfulness as a moderating mechanism in the link between call centre agents’ emotional intelligence, levels of exhaustion and sense of professional efficacy. Such knowledge is important for informing wellness programmes for call centre agents.

Research approach/design and method: A quantitative cross-sectional survey approach was followed. A non-probability sample of (N = 409) of permanently employed call centre employees in Lagos, Nigeria, and Johannesburg and Durban, South Africa participated in this study.

Main findings: Moderated regression analysis showed that call centre agents’ sense of meaningfulness and the ability to perceive and manage others’ emotions significantly moderates exhaustion and professional efficacy.

Practical/managerial implications: Overall the results provide evidence of the importance of considering call centre agents’ sense of meaningfulness, perceptions of emotions and managing others’ emotions as a resource for supporting their exhaustion levels as well as professional efficacy in dealing with stress.

Contribution/value-add: The research will add to the interventions needed to be developed to strengthen the relationship between sense of meaningfulness, perceptions of emotions and managing others’ emotions and exhaustion and professional efficacy in the call centre industry within Lagos, Nigeria, and Johannesburg and Durban, South Africa.


exhaustion; sense of meaningfulness; professional efficacy; emotional intelligence; call centre agents.


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Crossref Citations

1. Beyond occupational exhaustion: exploring the influence of positive meaningful work on teachers’ psychoemotional well-being in the digital age
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