Mood and Worker Productivity

Faculty Findings Inspire Classroom Discussion

Everyone has heard customer service horror stories of irate customers taking out their frustration on a call center agent. However, research conducted in a large call center in the Midwest by a Fisher professor came to a surprising conclusion about the effects of customer interplay on worker mood and performance.

“We don’t find that customers who are terribly negative will spill over to the employee. What we do find is the positive customer experiences do,” said Steffanie Wilk, associate professor of management and human resources, who conducted the study with Nancy Rothbard of The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

The research, published in the Academy of Management Journal, also
found that employees who start the work day in a good mood tended to see customers more positively throughout the day, which can lead to positive mood spirals and improved performance, said Wilk, explaining that the research has important implications for effectively engaging workers.

The findings suggest that employees are more likely to see their bad moods improve than their good moods diminish as a result of interactions with customers.

In 17 percent of cases, employees who started the day with a higher positive mood than normal moved to a below-average mood after a negative service call.

In 40 percent of the cases, the opposite occurred: employees in a below-average mood would experience a spirit lift after a positive customer call.

Wilk has involved four PhD students in her research, including former student Erin Makarius (’10), who is currently an assistant professor of management and marketing at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York.

In the classroom

Wilk has used her findings to engage graduate students, noting that MBA students have managed staff or will manage teams one day. She emphasizes their role in facilitating positive mood.

“They have an opportunity every single day to improve the performance of the employees they manage,” Wilk said.

Research Discussion

Steffanie Wilk video preview - click image to watch video

No comments

Show View and Add Comments