Employees’ reactions to customer mistreatment: the moderating role of human resource management practices

Xiaoxiao Hu, Yujie Zhan, Rebecca Garden, Mo Wang, Junqi Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


This study examined the moderating roles of human resource management (HRM) practices in employees’ reactions to customer mistreatment. Drawing upon the job demands-resources (JD-R) model and stress appraisal theories, this study hypothesised that training and participation could buffer the negative effect of customer mistreatment on service employees’ work outcomes (i.e. emotional exhaustion and job performance). Data were collected from 730 service representatives and their team leaders at two time points. Results showed that customer mistreatment was less positively related to emotional exhaustion in teams where employees were provided with more participation opportunities, and customer mistreatment was less negatively related to performance in teams where employees received more training. The results suggest that different types of HRM practices could effectively buffer the negative impact of customer mistreatment on different work outcomes for service employees. Theoretically, this study extends the customer mistreatment literature by demonstrating the importance of studying HRM practices in the customer mistreatment context, and supports the integration of JD-R model as an overarching framework and stress appraisal theories as an explanatory theory to understand the role of HRM practices. Practically, the findings provide implications to managers in protecting employees from customer-related interpersonal stressors and maintaining a healthy and productive workforce.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-67
Number of pages19
JournalWork and Stress
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Customer mistreatment
  • human resource management
  • participation
  • training

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