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The Hidden Link Between Customer Mistreatment and Employee Attrition

Introduction


In the complex landscape of Workforce Management, understanding the factors that contribute to employee turnover is more crucial than ever. One often overlooked aspect is the role of customer mistreatment. In this post, I'll share insights from a study that explores this relationship and offers actionable solutions for reducing turnover, with a particular focus on the role of supervisors.


Supervisors can help service employees replenish the resources customer demands consume demonstrating the important role that supervisors have in helping service workplaces retain service employees.

The Problem: Customer Mistreatment


Customer mistreatment is an unfortunate reality in many service organizations. According to a study published in the Journal of Service Research, employees who experience interpersonal injustice from customers are more likely to have negative emotions, leading to emotional exhaustion. While the problem statement may seem obvious, establishing a base understanding of the role customers play in employee attrition is essential.


The Role of Supervisors: Mitigating Effects

Figure 1. Proposed indirect and conditional indirect effect models.
Figure 1. Proposed indirect and conditional indirect effect models.

The study goes on to establish and test supervisor justice, as illustrated in Figure 1. "Fair interpersonal treatment from supervisors reduces the tendency for employees to generally perceive negative emotions in response to customer unfairness, thereby reducing subsequent employee emotional exhaustion and voluntary turnover." This quote from the study highlights the importance of fair treatment from supervisors in mitigating negative emotions and turnover.


"Supervisors can help service employees replenish the resources customer demands consume, demonstrating the important role that supervisors have in helping service workplaces retain service employees." This further emphasizes how supervisors can actively help employees deal with customer mistreatment.


Practical Applications for Supervisors


"Employees who perceive they are being fairly treated by supervisors experience fewer negative emotions related to customer interpersonal injustice because fair treatment from supervisors provides socioemotional resources to employees." Based on this, supervisors should:

  • Implement Regular Check-ins: Have regular one-on-one meetings with employees to discuss any issues.

  • Provide Emotional Support Resources: Consider offering mental health resources or workshops.

"Supervisors should be aware that fair treatment of employees can lessen negative outcomes, including voluntary turnover, associated with customer interpersonal injustice." This quote underlines the financial benefits of fair treatment, backed by study findings.


Conclusion


The relationship between customer mistreatment and employee turnover is complex but solvable. By focusing on fair supervisor treatment, organizations can significantly reduce turnover and improve employee well-being.


Pro-Tip


Implement a "Fair Treatment" training program for supervisors to ensure they are equipped to provide the emotional support that employees need.


FAQ


Q: How significant is the impact of customer mistreatment on turnover?

A: According to the study, it's a significant contributing factor to emotional exhaustion, leading to higher turnover rates.

Q: What are some other ways to reduce turnover?

A: Besides fair supervisor treatment, other strategies include competitive compensation, flexible work arrangements, and employee recognition programs.


Reference


Danielle D. van Jaarsveld, David D. Walker, Simon Lloyd D. Restubog et al. (2019). Unpacking the Relationship Between Customer (In)Justice and Employee Turnover Outcomes: Can Fair Supervisor Treatment Reduce Employees' Emotional Turmoil?

DOI: 10.1177/1094670519883949

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