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Testing Organizational Communication Satisfaction

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Published: Wed, 21 Feb 2018

ABSTRACT

Communication Satisfaction plays a very critical role in achieving employee engagement in organizations. It becomes even more significant and relevant in the context of the recent global crisis wherein organization’s focus on employee engagement was high and was aimed towards employee retention and motivation. While several researchers have studied the relationship between communication and employee involvement, very few studies have established a relationship between Communication Satisfaction and Employee Engagement. Using the second-generation analytical technique Structural Equation Modeling, the present study examines the relationship between various components of Organization Communication Satisfaction (Organization Integration, Supervisory Communication, Personal Feedback, Communication Climate and Media Quality) and various components of Employee Engagement (Organizational Commitment, Job Satisfaction and Withdrawal Cognition). A modified version of the Downs & Hazen’s Communication Satisfaction Questionnaire was administered on 235 personnel in the Information Technology/Information Technology Enabled Services industry in India. The scale was tested for reliability and validity using Confirmatory Factor Analysis. The results indicate that Organization Communication Satisfaction has a positive impact on Employee Engagement. The study findings have strategic implications for organizations with regard to laying a greater emphasis on increasing communication satisfaction through various human resource interventions, both at macro and micro levels in the organization.

Introduction

Employee engagement has been drawing a lot of importance in various organizations in recent times. A global workforce study conducted by Tower’s Perrin in 2007-2008 revealed that only 21% of the employees were engaged. A more disturbing finding of the study was that 38% of the employees were partly to fully disengaged. The study also concluded that companies with the higher levels of employee engagement are able to retain their valued employees as also achieve better financial results. Similarly, Gallup has also conducted a study on employee engagement and found that 29% of employees are actively engaged in their jobs, 54% are not engaged, and 17% are actively disengaged. Many researchers have studied employee engagement and have found that employee engagement predicts employee outcomes, organizational success and financial performance (Bates, 2004; Harter et al., 2002,). Similarly, Hewitt Associates (LLC, 2005, p.1) have also established a strong relationship between employee engagement and profitability through higher productivity, sales, customer satisfaction and employee retention. Unfortunately though, a lot of literature available is only those from Consulting firms and there is very little theoretical or empirical research available on employee engagement.

Today, as a result of continuous organizational restructuring (mergers, acquisitions, downturn imperatives), it is commonly observed that organizations are resorting to right sizing strategies. It certainly becomes the most critical priority of CEO’s around the world to ensure that the employees who survive the layoffs are fully engaged. Research indicates that there is a decline in engagement levels and that there is deepening disengagement among employees today (Saks, 2006; Richman, 2006; Bates, 2004). It has also been reported that the majority of workers today, roughly half of all Americans in the workforce are not fully engaged or they are dis engaged leading to what has been referred to as an “engagement gap” that is costing US business $300 billion a year in lost productivity (Saks, 2006, Bates 2004, Johnson, 2004 Kowalski, 2003). Further, with the world becoming a global market place, where every thing is becoming a commodity, people and management of people’s talent are becoming very critical components of an organization’s ability to service its customer. Managing dis-engaged employees or non-engaged employees in a customer facing role is therefore that much more critical to the success and profitability of the business. Lockwood explains, “As organizations move forward into a boundaryless environment, the ability to attract, engage, develop and retain talent will hence, become increasingly important”

In addition to the various literatures available from consultants, there have been a few researches conducted on the antecedents and consequences of employee engagement and also “What is employee engagement”. A very exhaustive analysis of employee engagement has bee done by Macey and Schneider (2008). In the study employee engagement has been explained as 3 facests viz., Psychological state engagement (Satisfaction, involvement, commitment, empowerment), Trait engagement (personality, conscientiousness) and Behavioural engagement (Organizational Citizenship Behaviour, Personal initiative, role expansion). Another research indicates that employee engagement constitutes two aspects viz., job engagement and organization engagement (Saks, 2006). Saks (2006 further found that employee engagement was significantly positively related to job satisfaction, organizational commitment and organizational citizenship behaviour and negatively related to intention to quit.

Organizational Communication plays a very critical part in ensuring employee engagement. It has been established that clear, consise and honest communication is an important tool for employee engagement (Lockwood). It is further established that lack of communication or poorly communicated information can lead to distrust, dissatisfaction, skepticism and unwanted employee turnover. Studies demonstrate that there is a significant influence of Interpersonal trust on individual, group and organizational achievements (Earley, 1986; Robinson, 1996), Job Satisfaction (Driscoll, 1978; Muchinsky, 1977), Job Involvement (Saks, 2006) and Organizational Citizenship Behaviour (Konovsky & Pugh, 1994; McAllister, 1995). Studies have also underlined the central role of communication in developing and maintaining Trust (Gail, Zolin, Hartman, 2009; Becerra & Gupta, 2003; Muchinsky, 1977).

With particular reerence to recession, downsizing has become a harsh reality over the past 2 decades. These downsizing strategies come with other negative consequences of “attrition of employees who are not impacted by downsizing”. The problem is more profound when the attriting employees are top performers or employees with skills critical to future growth plans of the organization. Various studies have proved that downsizing negatively affects attitudes of employees surviving the downsizing by reducing organizational commitment, morale, job satisfaction and also increasing intention to quit and job stress (Arnold and Feldman, 1982; Greenhalge, 1982; Kozlowski et. al, 1993).

It is therefore, very important for organizations to find ways to retain the attriting employees afer downsizing. Managerial communication and Organizational support can be looked at as possible avenues to reduce the negative effects of downsizing. Communication becomes very critical because employees believe that their organization holds them in low regard and ignores their interest (Anderson, 1996; Mclean Parks and Kidder, 1994). They also suspect that management communication is not credible for tat information is being withheld (Noer 1993, O’Neill and Lenn, 1995). Employees need to understand how they fit into the overall plans of the organization in terms of their roles and contribution to the growth plans of the organizations. Various surveys in this regard indicate that employees want more communication with their managers (Argenti, 1998). There are various studies that have established a positive relationship between communication satisfaction and job satisfaction (Petit, Goris and Vaught, 1997; Pincus 1996) and organization commitment (Varona, 1996). A communication ROI study by Watson Wyatt (2007-2008) revealed that “firms that communicate effectively are 4 times as likely to report high levels of employee engagement as firms that communicate less effectively.

This study therefore, attempts to establish the impact of Organizational communication on mediating role of Trust in the relationship between Organizational Communication Satisfaction on Employee Engagement in the Information Technology / Information Technology Enabled Services (IT/ITES) industry in India. We have selected the IT/ITES) industry because of the significance of the impact during the recent recessionary period.

Literature Review and Research Hypothesis

Organizational Communication

Organisation communication constitutes many dimensions spanning from formal and informal means of internal communication and external communications. A review of literature in this area reveals that Organizational communication can be classified into four different levels (SHRM Magazine)

(i) Overall Organizational communication

(ii) Inter-organizational communication

(iii) Group-level communication

(iv) Interpersonal communication

Further, review of the research in this area underlines the importance of organizational communication towards building commitment, satisfaction and retention of employees in an organization. A number of studies (Burhans 1971, Downs 1971, Jain 1970) studied the relevance and importance of satisfaction with organizational communication. Such examinations of the communication-satisfaction relationship have produced, a construct called “communication satisfaction,” which is becoming a common reference in organizational literature (Downs and Hazen, 1977). Downs and Hazen, introduced the Communications Satisfaction Questionnaire (CSQ) and conducted a factor analytic study of communication satisfaction. This study established eight stable definitions of communication satisfaction, which has also been enumerated as follows in another study by Clampitt & Downs, 1993:

Communication Climate reflects communication on both the organizational and personal level. On one hand, it includes items such as the extent to which communication in the organization motivates and stimulates workers to meet organizational goals and the extent to which it makes them identify with the organization. On the other, it includes estimates of whether or not people’s attitudes toward communicating are healthy in the organization.

Supervisory Communication includes both upward and downward aspects of communicating with superiors. Three of the principal items include the extent to which a superior is open to ideas, the extent to which the supervisor listens and pays attention, and the extent to which guidance is offered in solving job-related problems.

Organizational Integration revolves around the degree to which individuals receive information about the immediate work environment. Items include the degree of satisfaction with information about departmental plans, the requirements of their jobs, and some personnel news.

Media Quality deals with the extent to which meetings are well organized, written directives are short and clear, and the degree to which the amount of communication is about right.

Co-worker Communication concerns the extent to which horizontal and informal communication is accurate and free flowing. This factor also includes satisfaction with the activeness of the grapevine.

Corporate Information deals with broadest kind of information about the organization as a whole. It includes items on notification about changes, information about the organization’s financial standing, and information about the overall policies and goals of the organization.

Personal Feedback is concerned with the workers’ need to know how they are being judged and how their performance is being appraised.

Subordinate Communication focuses on upward and downward communication with subordinates. Only workers in a supervisory capacity respond to these items, which include subordinate responsiveness to downward communication and the extent to which subordinates initiate upward communication.

Crino & White (1981) investigated Communication Satisfaction with 137 supervisors from textile mills. Similarly, Pincus (1986) used the CSQ in a study of nurses and their supervisors to investigate the relationship between communication and job satisfaction and job performance. These findings had resulted in the CSQ being the most widely used scale when measuring communication satisfaction. The notable aspect though is, that the studies by Downs & Hazens (1977) and Crino & White (1981) exploratory factor analysis rather than confirmator factor analysis for assessing the validity of the CSQ. Theerefore, the convergent and discriminant validity of the CSQ was under question.

Further, until the introduction of CSQ, Communication was considered as an unidimensional construct. The underlying belief was that employees are either satisfied or dis-satisfied with communication. However, with the introduction of the CSQ changed it communication satisfaction to be viewed as a multi-dimensional construct wherein, employees could be satisfied or dis-sastisfied with one or more aspects of communication and be dis-satisfied.

Gary and Laidlaw (2004) assessed the CSQ using Confirmatory Factor Analysis. Their study used a series of congeneric measurement models to study the validity and reliability of the CSQ. Based on the study, Gary & Laidlaw concluded, “the results substantiate CSQ as a valid instrument for measuring communication satisfaction and supports the multi-dimensional aspects of the communication satisfacation construct.

This study therefore, proposes to establish the convergent and discriminant validity and reliability of the CSQ for the purpose of IT/ITES sector in India. The study also proposes to establish the relationships between the individual dimensions of Organizational Communication Satisfaction using First order and Second order Confirmatory Factor Analysis.

H1 : Dimensions of Organisation Communication Satisfaction are inter-related

H2 : Organisational Communication Satisfaction is explained by Organisational Integration, Supervisory communication, Personal Feedback, Corporate Information, Communication Climate and Media Quality.

Employee Engagement

Employee engagement has been drawing a lot of importance in various organizations in recent times. There have been few research works on employee engagement (Robinson et al, 200) and most of understanding comes from Consulting firms and Independent Research agencies. There have been various definitions of employee engagement. Employee engagement is the level of commitment and involvement an employee has towards their organization and its values (Vazirani, 2007). Engagement is the willingness

and ability to contribute to company success, the extent to which employees put discretionary effort into their work, in the form of extra time, brainpower and energy (Towers Perrin, 2007). Often used as a synonym for motivation or motivation and retention; engagement is really more fundamental. Engagement is an employee’s decision to apply his discretionary effort to the goals of the enterprise, to accept those goals as his own and wholeheartedly commit himself to achieving them. (Fineman & Carter 2007)

Though employee engagement as a concept has been drawing a lot of importance, it is still a term widely referred among consulting firms and independent research agencies. There have been very few empirical research initiatives in the academic world to establish the definition of the construct “employee engagement”.

Mickey and Schneider (2008) have done a detailed study on “the meaning of employee engagement” and have established a series of propositions covering 3 facets :

a) Psychological stage engagement

b) Behavioural engagement

c) Trait engagement.

This research though will focus on the psychological state engagement facet since this has received maximum attention and is central to the engagement issue. Further, the scope of the research is focussed towards examining the impact of Organizational Communication Satisfaction on Employee Engagement. Past researches on similar subjects have all focussed on studying the relationship between Organizational Communication Satisfaction on individual aspects of State Engagement viz., Satisfaction, Commitment and Involvement.

Mickey and Schneider (2008), while explaining the psychological state engagement have studied 4 different aspects viz., Job satisfaction, Organizational commitment, Psychological empowerment and Job involvement. They have further referred to various related research in each of the above aspects and thereby analyse each of the aboe aspects as a facet or antecedent or consequence of employee engagement. Their study and analysis is as follows :
Engagement as Job Satisfaction

In defining Job Satisfaction as a facet of employee engagement, the views of Erickson (2005) are noteworthy;

“Engagement is above or beyond simple satisfaction with the employment arrangement or basic loyalty to the employer. Engagement in contrast is about passion and commitment, the willingness to invest oneself and expand ones discretionary effort to help the employer succeed”

Therefore, it is beyond basic loyalty and is about the emotional aspect of Job satisfaction that triggers emotions and feelings of energy, enthusiasm and thereby constitutes a very important aspect of Engagement.

Engagement as Organization Commitment

In defining Organizational commitment as an important facet of employee engagement, the views from various contributions are noteworthy (Wellins and Concelman, 2005; O’Reilly & Chatman, 1986; Mowday, Porter & Steers, 1982; Meyer and Allen’s, 1997; Meyer, Becker & Vanderberghe, 2004). These significant contributions lead to definitions; employees exert extra energy in support of the organization, feel proud as a key contrinbutor to the organization and its success and enjoy a personal identity with the organization. This leads to organization commitment being defined as a key facet of engagement (Mickey & Schneider, 2008).

While analysing organization commitment, there is also an analysis around organization / job withdrawal thereby suggesting that commitment as a state of engagement also relates to how long an employee stays as a result of commitment (The Corporate Executive Board, 2006)

Engagement as Job Involvement

The next aspect analysed by Mickey and Schneider (2008) is Job Involvement. Job Involvement has been defined “as the degree to which an employee psychologically relates to his or her job and the work performed therein and specifically equated job involvement and job commitment (Cooper-Hakim and Visweswaran, 2005). Brown (1996), Mathieu and Zajacs (1990) have also come up the conclusion that job involvement is an antecedent to organizational commitment. Brown further concluded that organizational withdrawal decisions are less related to job involvement than to organizational commitment. Erickson (2005) described job involvement as a key antecedent of the state of engagement. Based on the analysis and significant well researched contributions, we identify Job Satisfaction, Organizational commitment and withdrawal as key facets of employee engagement.

Further, Saks (2006) has conducted a good study on the antecedents and consequences of employee engagement. The research conceptualized engagement as being reflective of the extent to which an individual is psychologically present in a particular organizational role (Kahn, 1990; Rothbard, 2001). It was further conceptualized that there are two dominant roles attributable to most organizational members viz., their work role and their role as a member of the organization. These two roles led to the two components of employee engagement: Job and Organization engagement. Saks (2006) further found that that Job and Organization engagement were significantly positively related to Job satisfaction, organizational commitment and Organizational Citizenship Behavior, and negatively related to intention to quit.

In summary, employee engagement is about one’s emotional commitment towards the organization, being psychologically involved and willingness & ability to walk that extra mile in achieving the Organizational goals and objectives. Based on the above review, it is understood that employee engagement mainly constitutes three aspects viz., Organizational commitment, job satisfaction and intention to stay.

This study aims at establishing a relationship between the facets / components of Employee Engagement using 2nd order Confirmatory Factor Analysis. This study further proposes to establish the convergent and discriminant validity and reliability of the various facets of employee engagement using First and Second order Confirmatory Factor Analysis

H3 : Dimensions of Employee Engagement are interrelated

H4 : Employee engagement is explained by Organisational Commitment, Job Satisfaction and Withdrawl Cognition Organization Communication Satisfaction and Employee Engagement

The next dimension studied was the relationship between Organizational Communication and Employee Engagement in organizations. Employees see managers as trustworthy when their communication is accurate and forthcoming. In addition, adequate explanations and timely feedback on decisions lead to higher levels of trust (Folger & Konovsky, 1989; Konovsky & Cropanzano, 1991; Sapienza & Korsgaard, 1996). Evidently, managers who take the time to explain their decisions thoroughly are likely to be perceived as trustworthy. Finally, open communication, in which managers exchange thoughts and ideas freely with employees, enhances perceptions of trust (Butler, 1991; Farris, Senner, & Butterfield, 1973; Gabarro, 1978; Hart, Capps, Cangemi, & Caillouet, 1986). Lockwood states that “lack of communication or poorly communicated information can lead to distrust, dissatisfaction, skepticism, cynicism and unwanted turnover. This is even more relevant in times of crisis as observed by Meyers in 1986 ; “When a crisis occurs, employees are affected on a personal level, in ways and to an extent unlike in any other audience. Their immediate reaction is often to be “stunned and lose a sense of common purpose and cohesiveness” Gripped by fear, employees may stray from their sense of reality and turn inward, focusing exclusively on their personal needs and ignoring the organization’s needs”. Pincus & Acharya, 1998 observed that “Employees who are uncertain about their jobs, health, or safety may deny, misinterpret, selectively perceive, or tune out information from management about the crisis situation because they may be blinded by their own sense of a “personal” crisis.”

These studies lead us the understanding that “clear, consice, timely and honest communication is a very important management tool towards building employee engagement in Organizations (Lockwood). As discussed earlier, there have been many consultants and independent research organizations, which have established communication as a very critical component in enabling employee engagement in organizations. Further, there have been individual studies relating organizational communication and the individual facets and antecedents of employee engagement. This study proposes to study the relationship of Organization Communication Satisfaction on Employee Engagement using second-generation analysis tecnique, Structural Equation Modelling.

H5 : Organisation Communication Satisfaction has a positive impact on Employee Engagement..

Research Methodology
Questionnaire Design

The Communication Satisfaction Questionnaire (Downs and Hazens, 1977) was selected for the Organization Communication construct of the study. We have used on seven factors of the CSQ beause the eighth factor, subordinate communication since this study was not aimed at personnel in their role as employees and not supervisors. For the Employee Engagement construct, each of the individual facets was measured on borrowed scales. Job Satisfaction was measured on 5 items taken from the scale developed by Price and Muellar (1986). Organization Commitment was measured on 6 items taken from the scale developed by Meyer, Allen and Smith (1997) while Withdrawal Cognition was measured on 3-item scale developed by De Conninck and Bachmann (2005).

Since we are using borrowed scales for each of the constructs, it is important to first establish the validity and reliability of the scale. In other words, the items must reflect what they are intended to measure (face validity) and represent a proper sample of the domain of each construct (content valididty), and pass other tests of validity (discriminant, convergent and predictive validity) in order for a measure to have construct validity (Hardesty and Bearden, 2003). As a first step, we carried out a face validity of the constructs of the study. Based on the approaches discussed by Hardesty and Bearden, we identified a panel of 7 judges to assess the face validity. The judges were exposed to the definition of each construct, overall scope and objective of the study and the individual items under each construct (Total number of items was 49). Each judge was requested to rate the importance and relevance of the item to the construct’s conceptual definition on a scale of 1-10 (1-Least important to 10-Most Important). (eg. How would items like “I find real enjoyment in my job” or “I am seldom bored with my job”). Additional remarks were also sought from the judges on whether multiple items under a construct mean the same and also which among the items was a better representative of the construct’s conceptual definition. These results were summarized by Judge for each item and the items which were given a weightage of “less than 8” were considered for reduction. During the content validity stage, the judges unanimously felt that co-worker communication, as a dimension was not too relevant from an engagement perspective since a lot of it was not largely under the control of the organization. However, one item in the co-worker communication was felt necessary to be included viz., “Extent to which communication practices are adaptable to emergencies” and hence, the same was retained and included in the dimension “Communication climate”. Similarly, the item viz., “Information about changes in our organization” and “Information about company goals and policies” were the only 2 items left under the dimenstion “Corporate Information”. Since it is required to have atleast 3 items under each dimension / factor for Structured Equation Modelling, these 2 items were grouped under the dimension “Organizational Integration”. Therefore, in the final questionnaire (total number of items 29), Organizational Communication Satisfaction was reduced to 5 factors viz., Organizational Integration, Supervisory Communication, Personal Feedback, Communication Climate and Media Quality. The factors under Employee Engagement were all retained viz., Organization commitment, Job satisfaction and Withdrawl cognition.

In addition to the 2 sections representing the main constructs of the study, the questionnaire also covered a brief write up covering the purpose of the study as well as explicit statements of assurance to the respondents about the confidentiality of their responses and that the responses would be used for academic purposes only.

Data Collection and Sampling :

For this study, primary data was collected through structured undisguised questionnaires adminstered to the respondents. Questionnaires were administered through personal contacts / meetings and through mail as per the convenience of the respondent at home or in office. The respondents were requested to spare few minutes to provide categorical responses to items in the questionnaire

The respondents for the study were selected from the personnel of organizations in Information Technology (IT) / Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES) industry in India. A total of 275 questionnaires were administered to the respondents. 264 questionnaires were found to be complete in all respects, giving a response rate of 96.%. A further 29 invalid questionnaires were eliminated (those questionnaires where too many items were left unanswered or the same response was given to all the questions) and thereby 235 valid questionnaires were taken for further analysis.

Measurements

The study hypothesis covers 2 Constructs – Organization Communication Satisfaction (OCS) and Employee Engagement (EE). OCS is measured for 5 key dimensions / Factors viz., Organization Integration, Supervisory Communication, Personal Feedback, Communication Climate and Media Quality while EE is measured on 3 key dimensions / factors viz., Organization commitment, Job satisfaction and Withdrawal Cognition. The 8 categorical dimensions were measured on the following items / variables:

Factor / Dimenstion

Items / Variables of measurement

Organization Communication Satisfaction (OCS)

Organization Integration

Information about the requirements of my job
Information about my progress in my job
Information about company policies and goals
Information about changes in our organization

Supervisory Communication

 

Extent to which my supervisor listens and pays attention to me
Extent to which my supervisor offers guidance for solving job related problems
Extent to which my supervisor trusts me
Extent to which my supervisor is open to ideas

Personal Feedback

 

Information about how I am being assessed
Information about how my efforts are recognized and rewarded
Extent to which superiors know and understand the problems faced by subordinates

Communication Climate

 

Extent to which the organization’s communication motivates and stimulates an enthusiasm for meeting its goals
Extent to which the organization’s communication makes me identify with it or feel a vital part of it
Extent to which communication practices are adaptable to emergencies
Extent to which I receive in time the information need to do my job

Media Quality

 

Extent to which written directives and reports are clear and concise
Extent to which the attitudes toward communication in the organization are basically healthy
Extent to which the amount of communication in the organization is about right

Employee Engagement

Organization Commitment

 

I really feel as if this organization’s problems are my own
I do not feel like “part of the family” at my organization (R)
I do not feel “emotionally attached” to this organization (R)
This organization has a great deal of personal meaning for me
I do not feel strong sense of belonging to my organization (R)

Job Satisfaction

 

I find real enjoyment in my job
Most days I am enthusiastic about my job
I feel fairly well satisfied with my job

Withdrawal Cognition

 

I would be very happy to spend the rest of my career in this Company
Within the next six months, I would rate the likelihood of leaving my present job as high

All the variables are categorical in nature and were measured on a categorical scale (5 point Likert).

Data Analysis

We have applied Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) as the tool of analysis for maximum likelihood estimation for examining the proposed hypotheses. As suggested by many researchers (e.g. Anderson & Gerbing, 1998), we have chosen the Two-step analysis method wherein in the first step, we conduct the Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) based on the correlation coefficient matrix of each measurement item (i.e. dimenstions / factors of OCS and dimensions / factors of EE). In the second step, after confirming the fitness of the cons


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