Effects of Cyber Incivility on Stress and Work Life Balance in the BPO Industry

Research Paper (undergraduate), 2018

42 Pages, Grade: 88.16





2.1 Theoretical Framework
2.2 Literature Review
2.2.1 Cyber Incivility
2.2.2 Stress
2.2.3 Turnover Intent
2.2.4 Work-life Balance
2.3 The Hypothesized Model

3.1 Design
3.2 Sample and Study Site
3.3 Instrumentation
3.4 Data Gathering Procedure and Ethical Consideration
3.5 Data/Mode of Analysis.




Appendix 1: Letter of Request to Conduct a Survey.

Appendix 2: Sample Survey Questionnaire.

Appendix 3: Computer Generated Output

Appendix 4: Turnitin Results.



The study aims to determine the effects of cyber incivility on employee work stress and turnover intent in the company. A total of 385 rank-and-file employees in the BPO industry, aged 18-55 years old, were requested to answer a 4-part questionnaire covering 4 constructs. Data gathered were processed through SPSS for Windows version 20 and AMOS version 24. SEM surprisingly resulted to an emerging model which deviated from the hypothesized model and particular influences of some constructs to the underlying dimensions of the other constructs. The results of the study raises awareness among the Human Resource practitioners regarding how cyber incivility affects BPO employees’ level of work stress and how committed they are to their organizations. Recommendations were made by the researchers, which may help the management to develop projects and programs that will lessen turnover intent.

Keywords: cyber incivility; work stress; turnover intent; work life balance


In the advent of a new century, rapid advances and increased technological reliance changed the manner we interact and commune in the organization. The increase in communications and virtual connectedness lead to the discovery of new management practices (Golson, 1977), changing the way of work and the overall work culture (Digital workplace and culture How digital technologies are changing the workforce and how enterprises can adapt and evolve, Buchanan, Kelley, Hatch, Deloitte). Furthermore, Online communications are utilized in the 21st century working world (Madden & Jones, 2008; Purcell & Rainie, 2014) and electronic communication systems has been a popular medium today due to its ease, speed, and efficiency (Kahai & Cooper, 2003).

The increasing reliance and dependency on these systems however, provided new avenues to infiltrate incivility in the workplace (Chin & Lim, 2006). Its convenient nature made it a popular medium for incivility (Francis, Holmvall,& O’Brien, 2015). For the purpose of this study, Cyber Incivility is determined as communicative behaviors manifested in the context of computer mediated formats which violate workplace norms for mutual respect---harmonious with the previous definition provided in cyber incivility research (Lim & Teo, 2009). This study investigated how communication platforms used by BPO companies such as applications like Viber, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts and iMessage, to name a few be used as medium to infiltrate incivility. 91% of financial employees from Singapore experienced cyber incivility in the last year (Lim & Teo, 2009). Supervisor cyber incivility results to burnout, absenteeism, and turnover intention (Giumetti; Mckibbenet.al., 2012). More so, a study by Evans (2003) explored the detrimental effects of cyber incivility in the workplace where victims of rude emails experience stress-related illnesses, incurring large health costs. Primordially because in negative online interactions mainly in eCommunications, individuals doesn’t have the chance to seek immediate clarification as the recipients may be apart from the senders “physically, geographically and possibly, temporally” (Sipior and Ward, 1999). Furthermore, Madden & Jones (2008) stressed that increase time afforded to technological connectivity leads to longer work hours, making it difficult to disconnect from work.

Workplace interaction is an essential part of an employee’s work life, but this interaction is not always favorable (Cortina, Magley, Williams, and Langout, 2001). Employees treated in an uncivil manner results to lower job satisfaction, managers and colleagues dissatisfaction, a sense of unfairness and a work and family conflict, absenteeism, increased turnover intentions, and actual turnover (Laschinger, Leiter, Day, &Gilin, 2009; Lim & Lee, 2011; Johnson & Indvik, 2001; Porath & Pearson, 2012). Incivility in organizations incurs large costs (Pearson &Porath, 2009) yet most organizations don’t recognize or address it.

Beyond this initial research, however, no research have tackled through which cyber incivility may be linked to the disruption of work-life balance to which it may be more affecting. Hence, the purpose of this study is to analyze the impact of cyber incivility on work stress, and then to examine the mediating role of work stress in the relation between cyber incivility and work-life balance. Through this study, managers and HR practitioners can then design efficient management practices and implement effective programs to limit, if not eradicate the occurrence of cyber incivility at work.


2.1 Theoretical Framework

Theoretically, the current study is anchored on three theories, namely: the Affective Events Theory (AET) Conservation of Resources Theory and the Spillover-Crossover Model.

This study adopts the Affective Events Theory (AET) to examine how cyber incivility (a stressful workplace event) impacts work-life balance and turnover intention (Lim & Teo, 2009). Affective Events Theory explains how emotions impact on how employees handle workplace situations. It also explores how workplace events (cyber incivility) influence work behaviors over time (work-related stress; turnover intent). Negative work interaction (cyber incivility) can lead to negative work attitudes (work-related stress). The presence of a high level of cyber incivility (workday incident) in the workplace indicates that employees experience more work-related stress (internal influences) that may result to work-life imbalance and lead to turnover intent (reaction).

The theory explains that there are two occurrences during the workday: the positive occurrence and the negative occurrence which may affect an employee's emotion and job satisfaction. For instance, being rewarded for an exceptional work performance or receiving a condescending remark via email. Every aspect of the job has an effect on emotions, including employee to co-workers interaction, task assignments, and job pressures. Positive and negative situations at work create long-term emotional responses that can impact job satisfaction, development, and commitment.

In connection with the theories above, Conservation of Resources (COR) theory (Hobfoll, 1989) model states that work-family conflict (Greenhaus & Beuttel, 1985) leads to stress because resources (e.g., time, energy) "are lost in the process of juggling both work and family roles" (p. 352), which in turn leads to thoughts about quitting one's job.It was utilized as the leading framework because an experience of cyber incivility leads to loss of energetic resources, leading to negative outcomes like turnover intent.

This study also adopts the Spillover-Crossover Model, specifically the negative spillover effects (situations where there is a form of inter-role conflict) which leads to work to family conflict. Work-family conflict(WFC) applies to instances where the work-role pressures make it difficult to co-exist with the family role (Greenhaus & Beuttel, 1985). An example would be when an employee experiencing cyber incivility needs to sacrifice his/herleisuretime (i.e. private domain) due to his/her work overload (i.e. work domain). Employees experiencing work-role pressures may put strains on his/her family role, or vice versa (Aryee, Luk, Leung, & Lo, 1999; Netemeyer et al., 1996; Greenhaus & Beuttel, 1985). Plus, the effort to balance both family and work roles leads to absenteeism and intent to change job (Allen et al., 2000; Boyar, Maertz, Pearson, & Keough, 2003).

2.2 Literature Review

2.2.1 Cyber Incivility

As identified by Andersson & Pearson (1999), Incivility is a “low intensity deviant behavior with ambiguous intent to harm the target in violation of workplace norms for mutual respect” (P. 457). Lower satisfaction with managers and colleagues, a sense of unfairness and problems between work and family (Lim & Lee,2011), lower job satisfaction and increased turnover intentions are results of employees being treated in an uncivil manner (Laschinger, Leiter, Day, & Gilin,2009). Moreover, Pearson & Porath (2009) found that fear and sadness from experiences of incivility lead to behaviors that could be detrimental to individuals and organizations. Incivility is prevalent in organizations today and it incurs large costs(Pearson & Porath,2009)

While most of incivility researches focused in a face-to-face context occurrences of incivility, scant research have tackled the prevalence of workplace incivility experienced online (Giumetti et al., 2012, 2013; Lim & Teo, 2009). Online communications are utilized in the 21st century working world (Madden & Jones, 2008; Purcell & Rainie, 2014) and Computer Mediated Communication (eg. Email, network communication, instant messaging, text messaging, video communications such as skype), through electronic systems, has become a popular medium in organizations today due to its ease, speed, and efficiency (Kahai & Cooper, 2003). While CMCs or eCommunication has increased the reliability and responsiveness at work, the increased dependency on these technologies have provided new avenues for individuals to engage in incivility at the workplace.

For the purpose of this study, the researchers determine Cyber Incivility as communicative behaviors manifested in the context of computer mediated formats which violate workplace norms for mutual respect---harmonious with the previous definition provided in cyber incivility research (Lim & Teo, 2009). The perpetrator’s intent to harm may or may not be clear (Cortina, Magley, Williams & Langhout, 2001; Pearson & Porath, 2005). Previous studies support that a higher position plays an integral role in incivility and those who hold higher organizational positions than their targets (Pearson & Porath, 2004 & 2005) and the perpetrator’s power moderates the relationship between incivility and embarrassment. (Hershcovis et al.,2017). Moreover, the supervisor’s gender has a role in the way cyber incivility is exhibited at the workplace (Chin & Lim, 2006) where the supervisor cyber incivility is positively related to burnout and absenteeism (Giumetti et al., 2012)

Cyber Incivility remains to be an unaddressed issue in the organization even when studies support its detrimental effects to the organization (Lim & Teo, 2009; Francis, Holmvall, and O’Brien, 2015). For example, Park, Fritz, and Jex (2015) found that employees who experienced cyber incivility reported higher emotional and physical distress at the end of the day, linking to a higher distress the next morning. Thus, it is hypothesized that:

H1: The higher the level of cyber incivility, the more employees feel stressed at work.

2.2.2 Stress

According to Agboola and Olasanmi (2016), stress is the “response of the body to any demand or pressure placed upon it, whether that demand (or pressure) produces pleasure or pain. It is a state of anxiety produced when responsibilities do not match expected knowledge, and hence challenges one’s coping abilities”(p. 248). Previous studies have shown that stress has an impact on the well-being and job performance of employees (Ahmad, Hussain, Saleem, Qureshi & Mufti, 2015)

Ahmad, et. Al. (2015) furthers the effects of stress which may be in the frame of a multiplier and harm associated people/substances in kind of systems administration. Example of this is that workplace stress isn't just destructive to the individual experiencing it yet additionally to the colleagues, people in his/her environment and the relatives and this can result in chain of stress as others might also be vulnerable against stress. Further organizational commitment may be emphatically corresponded with the segments of work related stress such as organizational factors, job design, management practices, career improvement and social stressors (Velnampy & Aravinthan, 2013). Moreover, stress at the work place may bring about hostile results analogous to low level of execution and acquiescent from the activity. In this manner, distinguishing the job stress' elements in an association will altogether enhance job satisfaction, which thusly fortifies staff's dedication to the association (Hashemi, Jusoh, Kiumarsi & Mohammadi, 2015).

Previous researches by Murray and Rostis (2007), Major et al. (2002), and Boswell and Olson-Buchanan (2007) have found a connection between work-related stress and technology. E-mail, pagers, and mobile devices perpetratestress (Murray and Rostis 2007) and are furthered by empowering work to spill into different areas of life, in this manner expanding work hours and making it more hard to separate work and satisfy family commitments (Boswell and Olson-Buchanan, 2007; Major et al., 2002). While steady network through new innovations may have benefits for a few, it comes at the cost of obscuring work-home limits by giving expanded access to work and to people. Steady network given by information communication technologies attacks on the individual space of people and makes the test of dealing with work life balance. Therefore, this led people to feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with the stress (Walz, 2012). Thus, it is hypothesized that:

H2: The lesser the employees feel stressed at work, the more balanced their work and life concerns will be.

2.2.3 Turnover Intent

Turnover intention is defined as conscious willfulness to decrease in performance (Tett & Meyer, 1993), and the intention to leave the job (Applebaum, Fowler, Fiedler, Osinubi, & Robson, 2010). Many researchers found that the higher the level of stress, the higher turnover intention of employees (Chen et al., 2010; Applebaum et al., 2010). It is also found that work-life conflict, stress, and turnover intentions all have a positive relationship (Noor and Maad, 2008). Turnover intentions can greatly affect the commitment level of other employees (Armizi, 2008).

Previous researches explored the relationship of turnover intent with work stress. Job satisfaction and organizational commitment partly mediated the relationship between work stress and intent to leave (Villanueva & Djurkovic, 2009). Firth et al., (2004), found that the intentions to quit were greatly affected by job dissatisfaction, lack of commitment to the organization, and feeling of stress. Lastly, Moore (2002), found that social support from supervisors reduced the employees’ burnout levels, and as a result, indirectly diminished their turnover intentions.

Concerns on turnover intention as the outcome of stress have received considerable attention in the past decade (Rashid, et. Al., 2011). Stress affects organizations by increasing absenteeism, decreasing commitment to work andincreasing staff-turnover (Leka and Cox, 2008). Nevertheless, managers should clearly determine the exact threshold between inadequate workloads and optimal workloads, and between optimal workloads and work overloads, to ensure productivity and at the same time without having the employees to feel stressed (Rashid, et. Al., 2011). Thus, it is hypothesized that:

H3: The more the employees feel stressed in the workplace, the higher the level of turnover intent there will be.

2.2.4 Work-life Balance

Work-life balance “symbolize the extent to which an employee experiences feeling fulfilled and having his or her needs met in both work and non-work facets of life” (Rife & Hall, 2015). Employees with balanced work and life feel their lives are fulfilled both inside and outside of work (Byrne, 2005), and they experience less conflict between their work and non-work roles (Rife & Hall, 2015). According to Evans and Young (2017), work-life balance may be an indicator of the health of individuals and organizations. Subsequently, Hill, Hawkins, Ferris, and Weitzman (2001) defined, work-life balance as the extent to which a person can concurrently balance the emotional, behavioral and time demands of both paid work, personal and family responsibilities. While definitions and explanations differ, work-life balance can be generally associated with equilibrium, or maintaining an overall sense of harmony in life (Clarke, Koch, and Hill, 2004).

Several studies have identified the relationship of work-life balance with turnover intention. For example, Hobson, et. al. (2001), recommended that the continuous imbalance of employee work and life roles may affect performance in the organization in terms of increase in absenteeism and turnover, reduced productivity and decreased job satisfaction. Organizational outcomes for visible work–life balance support of employees include reduced leaving intentions through higher job satisfaction and reduction of work pressures (Forsyth & Debruyne, 2007). Apart from that, employees feel pressure to continuously work, which can be perpetuated by mobile devices and constant accessibility of the internet that allows employees to transport a workstation wherever they go (Rife & Hall, 2015).

A study by Noor (2011) among the academia in Malaysian public higher education institutions identified the relationship between perceived work-life balance and the intentions to leave. The results found that perceived satisfaction with work life balance was negatively correlated to intention to leave the organization, partly mediated by job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Another study by Noor and Maad (2008) among marketing executives found that work-life conflicts have a positive relationship with turnover intentions. Related reviews by Deery and Jago (2009) show that work-life balance had an important role to pacify high level of intention to leave, which brings to a low level of turnover rates. In spite of this, research about the relationship of work-life balance and turnover intent remain limited. Thus, it is hypothesized that:

H4: A negative work-life balance results to a higher level of turnover intent in a workplace.

2.3 The Hypothesized Model

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3.1 Design

The study utilized a Quantitative approach to research to be able to determine the relationship of cyber incivility to work stress, work-life balance, and turnover intent of employees. Acceptance and rejection of the hypotheses were subjected to 96% confidence level, proposing a 4% margin of error. The Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) was also applied for the analysis of collected data. “SEM can be described as a form of directed factor analysis of the relationship between observed items and their associated factors and the relationships between latent variables” (Mayfield & Mayfield, 2009). In addition, the aim ofthe structural equation modeling(SEM) is to outline the theoretical causal model to dwell on a set of concluded co-variances between variables and then test whether it is plausible when compared to the observed data (Joreskog, 1970; Wright, 1934). Four latent variables and four hypotheses were used for testing and analysis for the purpose of this study. Specifically, the latent variables consist of cyber incivility, work stress, work-life balance, and turnover intent.

3.2 Sample and Study Site

A total of three hundred eighty five (385) rank-and-file employees (n=385) who used email or other forms of eCommunication on a daily basis from seven (7) established Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) call center institutions in the National Capital Region, Philippines participated in the study. Invitation to participate, which includes a short discussion of the study and permit to conduct the survey were communicated to the Human Resource department who in turn agreed given the confidentiality assurance of the study. Out of 400 individuals who participated in the study, 385 completed the survey providing their demographics and personal information.

3.3 Instrumentation

The questionnaire was developed from the literature review which ties the relationship of cyber incivility with public and private employees among the BPO industry.

Cyber Incivility. Cyber Incivility was measured with ten questions adapted from Lim & Teo’s (2009) Cyber Incivility Scale. Using a 6-point Likert scale ranging from 6 (all the time) to 1 (not at all), participants were asked to identify the extent to which they experience each uncivil behavior manifested through emails or any other forms of electronic communication. Sample items include “The supervisor is sending inappropriate or rude emails/messages to others” and “The supervisor is not replying to your emails or any other forms of electronic communication at all”. A high reliability coefficient of 0.975 was obtained. (Cronbach’s α = .975)

Work-Related Stress. Work-related stress was measured with ten items adapted from the Workplace Stress Survey requested from www.stress.org. Participants indicated the extent to which they experience stress in the workplace through a 6-point Likert scale ranging from 6 (strongly agree) to 1 (strongly disagree). Sample items included “I can’t honestly say what I really think or get things off my chest at work” and “My workplace environment is not very pleasant or safe”. Cronbach’s alpha for this scale is 0.927. (Cronbach’s α = .927)

Work-Life Balance. Work-Life Balance was measured with ten items adapted from the Work life balance questionnaire requested from www.docsity.com. Participants were asked to indicate on how they spend their life after work. Using a 6-point Likert scale, they will answer it ranging from 6 (strongly agree) to 1 (strongly disagree). Sample items included are “Job demands keep me away from spending the amount of time I would like to spend at home” and “I do not have enough time to participate in leisure activities with my family/friends because of my job”. This scale yielded a Cronbach’s alpha of 0.977. (Cronbach’s α = .977)

Turnover Intention. Adapted from Lim and Teo (2009), the three item survey measured organization's employees plan to leave their positions.Turnover intention, liketurnoveritself, can be either voluntary or involuntary. This survey has three items which assessed the response of one’s intention to leave the organization. A Cronbach’s alpha of 0.961 is obtained, indicating high inter-item consistency. (Cronbach’s α = .961)

3.4 Data Gathering Procedure and Ethical Consideration

Letters of permission were sent to the authors of the adapted survey questionnaire in order to ask for their survey questionnaires to be used in the conduct of the study. Request letters were also sent to the Human Resource department of the Business Process Outsourcing companies that we chose as permission to conduct the survey. A total of 400 questionnaires were distributed and 385 were answered by the respondents to determine the effect of cyber incivility to work stress and turnover intent of employees. For ethical considerations, the identity of the respondents and their responses will be treated with utmost confidentiality and shall only be used for the purpose of this study. To ensure the validity and reliability of the survey questionnaires, the researchers performed a pilot test on twenty (20) rank-and-file employees outside the locus of the study.

3.5 Data/Mode of Analysis

A quantitative study was utilized in order to analyze the adverse effects of Cyber Incivility to work stress and turnover intent among employees in the Business Process Outsourcing Industry within the National Capital Region of the Philippines. A structural equation model (SEM) was used on SPSS for Windows version 20 and AMOS version 24.

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Excerpt out of 42 pages


Effects of Cyber Incivility on Stress and Work Life Balance in the BPO Industry
University of Santo Tomas
BS in Commerce and Business Administration major in Human Resource Development Management
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cyber incivility, work stress, turnover intent, work life balance
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Kathleen Ballon (Author)Jan Benedict Andres (Author)Danica Ashley Bautista (Author), 2018, Effects of Cyber Incivility on Stress and Work Life Balance in the BPO Industry, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/424865


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