A study of the relationship between emotional intelligence and performance in UK call centres

Malcolm Higgs (Henley Management College, Henley‐on‐Thames, UK)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Publication date: 1 June 2004


Within business the organisational concept of call centres has developed rapidly. Within the UK the use and development of these centres has grown at a significant rate over the last decade. The economic benefits of this organisational concept have been threatened by the nature of the work and operating environment leading to high levels of attrition with associated recruitment, training and loss of productivity costs. As a result much effort has been focused on recruitment criteria and selection processes. In reviewing the criteria it is clear that many overlap with elements from within the concept of emotional intelligence (EI). This research note reports a study designed to explore the relationship between the EI of call centre agents (using the EIQ measure developed by Dulewicz and Higgs, and ratings of their performance. A sample of 289 agents from three organisations was studied. Results included a strong relationship between overall EI and individual performance, as well as between several EI elements from the model and performance. Furthermore, a relationship between age and performance was established along with a number of gender differences. The practical implications of these findings are discussed along with the study limitations. Further areas for research are identified including differences between agents in reaction and proactive roles and relationships to more direct measures of agent attrition.



Higgs, M. (2004), "A study of the relationship between emotional intelligence and performance in UK call centres", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 442-454. https://doi.org/10.1108/02683940410537972

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