Abstract for: Burnout and Floating Goals in High-Contact Service Operations

This paper explores behavioral issues associated to the management of high- contact service operations. In this type of operations there is a tension between managerial target setting and the well-being of service agents. Target setting and monitoring to maintain overall efficiency, resource utilization, and output rate often leads to burnout and high attrition rates. This paper looks at how workloads and target performance metrics are adjusted in a service operation and explores the interaction of the mechanisms associated to the management of these goals with burnout and attrition. The paper finds that a simple linear relationship between resource utilization, burnout, and attrition is insufficient to explain observed data. The paper proposes that a feedback non- linear structure is better suited to explore those issues. The proposed feedback structure takes into account agent learning, resource utilization, human agent expectations, and target workload and performance goals. The article explores these issues in the context of a case study of a large high contact service operation.