Bad Hygiene and Junk Food Cause Heart Failure in Contact Centers


Share on LinkedIn

The link between poor oral health and increased risk of cardiovascular disease should make the reduction of sugars such as those contained in junk food, particularly fizzy drinks, an important health policy target, say experts writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

Our society is struggling to come to grips about our long standing health issues and how it can possibly provide quality healthcare for its growing and aging population. Contact centers too, have had a long standing problem. With other kinds of Hygiene and Junk Food problems.

Motivation-Hygiene Theory

Throughout the course of my career in contact centers I have heard dozens of people try to explain their agent turnover and morale problems. In most all of those conversations they site pay rates as one of the main reasons why people are unhappy.

But what do people really want from a job? Is a higher salary so important that it will overshadow and drown out the other factors that cause employee dissatisfaction?

Or do people want security, good relationships with co-workers, opportunities for growth and advancement, or to just get off the phones?

The Two-Factor theory of motivation

In 1959 Frederick Herzberg developed the Two-Factor theory of motivation. As a result of findings from his research, Herzberg showed that certain factors were the true motivators or satisfiers for employees. They find their root within the job itself.

Image courtesy of Oliver GearingHygiene factors, on the other hand, created dissatisfaction if they were missing or inadequate. Dissatisfaction could be prevented by improvements in hygiene factors but these improvements would not alone provide motivation. These factors are extrinsic to the work itself.

Herzberg showed that to truly motivate an employee a company needs to create conditions that make him or her feel fulfilled in the workplace. While motivation can be unique to the individual, it is an important responsibility for supervisors to learn how to create an environment where employees can become motivated.

Motivational Junk Food

In her book, Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work and What Does author and long-time consultant with the Ken Blanchard Company, Susan Fowler introduces the concept of motivational junk food.

This is not about your contact center having a pot luck or pizza party. Although Susan talks about the intoxicating effect of going to the drive-through and ordering French fries and not being able to stop yourself before emptying the entire bag on your way home.

She asks us to consider the effect that junk food has on our physical and mental energy. Even if we are able to justify the splurge, we must be wiser and consider our alternative choices.

Carrots and sticks aren’t healthy

Companies and managers promise more money, award prizes for contests, offer rewards, threaten punishment, apply pressure, and use gilt, shame, or emotional blackmail to encourage specific behaviors from employees.

When people give in to one of these tactics, they end up with a suboptimal motivational outlook. They become disinterested, focus internally, and feel imposed upon. But these punishments and rewards are hard to resist.

These types of motivational junk food run amok in contact centers. They plague the industry and have been passed down over the years from center to center and leader to leader, throughout the world.

Try Serving Motivational Health Food

The goal is to generate optimal motivation. It means having the positive energy, vitality, and sense of well-being required to sustain the pursuit and achievement of meaningful goals while thriving and flourishing. Susan states that optimal motivation is a skill that can be learned.

Susan shares that there are three optimal motivational outlooks, aligned, integrated, and inherent. They require more thought and preparation than whipping out the junk food, but they generate high-quality energy, vitality, and positive well-being that leads to sustainable results.

Motivating People Doesn’t Work

Susan states that trying to motivate people doesn’t work. They are already motivated. They are always motivated. The dilemma is that senior leaders hold supervisors accountable for motivating people.

This leads to a push for results, pressure, tension, damage on morale and burnout. And the motivational junk food that is used to pressure short-term results destroys the health of long-term possibilities.

Heart Failure in Contact Centers

When I talk to contact center leaders about the types of personalities, competencies, and behaviors they look for in their agents they often site the same characteristics. They want kind, courteous, and helpful problem solvers. And they hire them.

So what happens to these people after they’re hired? They become faced with bad hygiene and motivational junk food issues. Then a transformation takes place within them. They become unhealthy. We call it burnout.

While there are exceptions, the common practices of the industry provide a similar result. We eventually remove the passion out of our people. Heart failure.

Healthy Prognosis

A change is afoot. Each month I hear about organizations that are breaking the low-morale high-turnover traditions of the contact center industry.

As the millennial generation grows in contact centers they bring a mindset that enforces the optimal motivation outlook. Purpose, well-being, making a difference are what this generation seeks. And the millennial generation supervisor possess the power bring about the change.

I’m motivated to help support their path to success. Join me.

Originally posted at

Jim Rembach
Jim Rembach is recognized as a Top 50 Thought Leader and CX Influencer. He's a certified Emotional Intelligence practitioner and host of the Fast Leader Show podcast and president of Call Center Coach, the world's only virtual blended learning academy for contact center supervisors and emerging supervisors. He’s a founding member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association’s CX Expert Panel, Advisory Board Member for Customer Value Creation International (CVCI), and Advisory Board Member for CX University.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here