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Impact of Feedback Environment on Employee Commitment

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Published: Wed, 07 Mar 2018

This research paper examines the effect of feedback environment on employee commitment, with role clarity being the mediating variable in the public and private sectors organizations of Islamabad & Rawalpindi city. From the previous researches a link was found between feedback environment and employee commitment at workplace, this study attempts to explore this link in the context of Islamabad. To create employee commitment amongst organizational members has become increasingly important in today’s dynamic business environment, because this factor leads to employee retention and a low degree of turnover. For this study a sample size of 200 was taken and different private and public sector organizations were covered in the research work. The research was of hypothesis-testing in nature and responses were collected using standardized questionnaires for each variable. All three variables supervisory and coworker feedback and role clarity proved to be positively associated with employee commitment; with the feedback from coworker source being the strongest in creating employee commitment followed by role clarity and feedback from supervisor source. The mediating effect of role clarity was not found to be significant and there is still an opportunity for further research in this area to explore this link. However the positive association of role clarity with employee commitment represents its importance in creating employee commitment, though its contribution is small, but this very dimension must not be ignored by the managers of the 21st century.

Chapter 1

INTRODUCTION

It has become necessary for business firms to satisfy all of their major stakeholders (consumers, employees, clients etc) to remain competitive in today’s dynamic business environment. The satisfaction and commitment level of a firm’s employees is of key importance in determining its human resource strength, which in turn leads to their retention and make an organization able to satisfy the needs of its customers, consumers and clients in both the production and service sectors. Many variables have an impact on the level of commitment of a firm’s employees, some of which are job satisfaction level (with intrinsic and extrinsic factors), the quality of leader-member exchange and the overall feedback environment that an employee works in.

Many researchers put emphasis on providing feedback to employees in order to satisfy them and consider providing feedback to employees to be essential for maintaining and increasing employee motivation and satisfaction. Traditionally the yearly formal performance appraisal/review in private sector organizations and Annual Confidential Report (ACR) in public sector organizations have been considered as the ideal platform for higher authorities (departmental/organizational heads, supervisors, immediate bosses) to provide feedback to employees about how they view their performance. But employees generally report problems and shortfalls regarding the current methodologies used to asses their performance and characterize the overall process as being too much restricted to a performance appraisal period and involving only one feedback source (departmental/organizational heads, supervisors, and immediate bosses).

A qualitative case study by Longenecker and Nykodym (1996) in the public sector illustrated some of the problems associated with traditional performance appraisal method. Employees noted that feedback in performance appraisal was problematic for improving employee motivation and performance, and as a communications tool to improve the manager/subordinate relationship and suggested that managers should:

make more time available for providing performance feedback,

increase their knowledge of actual performance,

better clarify performance expectations,

put greater emphasis on employee development,

not dwell on negatives,

provide more ongoing feedback, and

increase two-way communication

These suggestions indicate that supervisors/immediate bosses might adopt a number of specific behaviors to support feedback processes in the organization, which in turn might lead to an enhanced manager/subordinate relationship and increased employee satisfaction and hence employee commitment. Here we can see that feedback only after some specified interval and through formal sessions is not sufficient to improve work outcomes (job satisfaction, productivity, employee commitment, organizational citizenship behavior etc). Considering this very fact; Steelman, Levy and Snell (2004) proposed a scale, known as Feedback Environment Scale (FES) with a validation study to demonstrate how different facets of feedback sources (supervisor and coworkers) constitute the overall feedback environment within an organization. This new instrument measures a much more comprehensive view of the feedback environment and is more relevant to the organizations of today and the responsibilities of 21st-century managers. FES may also be defined as a multifaceted construct with two major factors (Supervisor and Coworker) manifested in seven facets. Together, these seven facets reflect the contextual aspects surrounding the transmission of job performance feedback on a recurrent or daily basis (Steelman et al, 2004).

In general; Employee commitment is one’s psychological attachment to his or her organizations. The higher the level of Employee Commitment of an individual, the lower are the chances of his/her psychological and physical job withdrawal. Moreover; committed employees are generally productive and go beyond their job descriptions in improving their organization’s products and services.

Researchers have found a positive link between Feedback Environment Scale and Employee commitment. This link is mediated by a third variable called Role Clarity, which is defined as the subjective feeling of having as much or not as much role relevant information as the person would like to have Lyons (1971). This study is aimed to explore this link in a Pakistani context and more specifically in the context of Islamabad, After the confirmation of such a link, mangers can adopt a number of measures to improve employees’ satisfaction, their level of productivity and employee commitment.

Research Objectives

To measure the level of performance feedback (from supervisors and coworkers) received by the employees of different organizations, both of public and private sector operating in Islamabad city.

To Measure the level of employee commitment of employees working in different organizations

To explore the link between feedback environment and employee commitment

To suggest specific measures to be adopted in order to increase the overall feedback environment and employee commitment in organizations

Chapter 2

LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1 Feedback Environment

In the past, the feedback environment has been defined as the type of job performance information that employees perceive as being available to them (Herold & Parsons, 1985).but according to the refined and most up-to-date definition; the feedback environment refers to the contextual aspects of day-to-day supervisor-subordinate and coworker-coworker feedback processes rather than to the formal performance appraisal feedback session (Steelman et al, 2004). Consequently, up to now, an organization’s feedback environment has been defined as the amount and availability of positive and negative feedback from different sources (Steelman et al, 2004).

2.2 Measurement of Feedback Environment

Feedback environment in an organization is measured through a new multifaceted instrument, the Feedback Environment Scale (FES), which helps inform the feedback process in organizations. This new instrument measures a much more comprehensive view of the feedback environment and is more relevant to the organizations of today and the responsibilities of 21st-century managers. FES may also be defined as a multifaceted construct with two major factors (Supervisor and Coworker) manifested in seven facets. Together, these seven facets reflect the contextual aspects surrounding the transmission of job performance feedback on a recurrent or daily basis (Steelman et al, 2004).

It is clear that employees receive feedback information from various sources (Greller, 1980; Morrison, 1993) but some authors suggest that supervisor and coworker feedback sources are the most practical and relevant from the feedback recipient’s point of view (Ashford, 1989). Thus, the FES postulates two factors called Supervisor Source and Coworker Source and the following seven specific facets within each of those source factors: source credibility, feedback quality, feedback delivery, frequency of favorable feedback, frequency of unfavorable feedback, source availability, and promoting feedback seeking (Steelman et al, 2004).

Source Credibility is conceptualized as the feedback source’s expertise and trustworthiness (Giffin, 1967). Consistency and usefulness have been demonstrated to be important aspects of feedback quality (Greller, 1980; Hanser & Muchinsky, 1978; Herold, Liden,& Leatherwood, 1987). A feedback recipient’s perceptions of the source’s intentions in giving feedback will affect reactions and responses to the feedback (Fedor, Eder, & Buckley, 1989). Favorable feedback is conceptualized as the perceived frequency of positive feedback such as compliments from supervisors and/or coworkers when from the feedback recipient’s view, his or her performance does in fact warrant positive feedback. Correspondingly, unfavorable feedback is conceptualized as the perceived frequency of negative feedback such as expressions of dissatisfaction and criticism from supervisors and/or coworkers when from the feedback recipient’s view, his or her performance warrants such feedback (Steelman et al, 2004). Supervisor and/or coworker source availability is operationalized as the perceived amount of contact an employee has with his or her supervisor and/or coworkers and the ease with which feedback can be obtained (Steelman et al, 2004). Feedback seeking is defined as the extent to which the environment is supportive or unsupportive of feedback seeking. It is the extent to which employees are encouraged or rewarded for seeking feedback and the degree to which employees feel comfortable asking for performance feedback (Williams et al, 1999).

2.3 Role Clarity

Lyons (1971) defines role clarity as the subjective feeling of having as much or not as much role relevant information as the person would like to have. The importance of having role clarity (knowing the tasks and expectations of a job) has been shown in previous research that used both emotional and performance-related measures (Abramis, 1994; Jackson & Schuler, 1985; Tubre & Collins, 2000). Role clarity is a prerequisite for harmonious interactions with others in the role set (Mcgrath, 1976). The absence of role clarity leads to stress, intrapersonal tension and lowered job satisfaction (Cooper, Sloan & Williams, 1988; Hall, 2004).

Breaugh & Colihan (1994) defined role ambiguity to be job ambiguity and indicated that job ambiguity possesses three distinct aspects: work methods, scheduling, and performance criteria.

2.4 Employee Commitment

It is recognized that an employee’s commitment to an organization can be expressed in three particular ways: affective, continuance, and normative. Affective commitment is focused on an emotional attachment to the organization (Herscovitch, 2002). On the other hand, continuance commitment is when an employee stays with an organization based on a perceived cost of leaving (Herscovitch, 2002). In this case, the employee is staying because he/she thinks it will cost more to go find work elsewhere. Lastly, normative commitment refers to an employee’s moral obligation to stay with the organization (Herscovitch, 2002). This can arise due to the employee feeling that the organization has treated him/her well and therefore, he/she owes the organization a continued period of employment. In one sense, each type of commitment somewhat ties the individual to the organization; however, each impacts differently on the manner in which the employee conducts him/herself in the workplace. For example, an employee with an affective commitment will often go above and beyond what is required of his/her position in order to assist the organization in meeting its goals. Employees with high affective commitment tend to be absent from work less frequently and display a higher work motivation and organizational citizenship (McShane, 2001). Continuance commitment, however, is negatively related to performance whereby employees tend to do simply what is required, have higher rates of absenteeism, and low motivation (Johns and Saks, 1996).

2.5 Feedback Environment, Role Clarity/Ambiguity and Employee Commitment

Over recent years, there has been a surge of interest in the effects of the feedback environment on work-related outcomes (e.g. Norris-Watts & Levy, 2004; Rosen et al., 2006). A favorable feedback environment is positively related to supervisory reported organizational citizenship behavior and that this relationship is partially mediated by affective commitment (Norris-Watts & Levy, 2004). Another study tested a mediated model suggesting that the effects of the feedback environment on job satisfaction, and supervisory rated in-role and extra-role performance are mediated by perceptions of organizational politics. In general, this model was supported, again demonstrating the relationship between the feedback environment and several work-related outcomes (Rosen et al., 2006). A field experiment conducted by Tziner and Latham (1989) revealed increased work satisfaction and employee commitment when a goal-setting and feedback program was introduced, but it is not possible to draw the conclusion that this effect emanates from feedback only.

Researchers have found a relationship between feedback and role ambiguity (Herold et al, 1987, Peiro et al, 1994, Sawyer, 1992, Teas, 1983, Vredenburgh, 1983). So, even though previous studies lend support to the hypothesis that feedback affects attitudes towards work, there is also a possibility that the uncertainty reducing effect of feedback is the link between feedback and work attitudes, through the intervening influence of role ambiguity. Resultantly, there is also support to hypothesize that feedback only indirectly affects attitude towards work with role ambiguity as a mediating variable (Anders et al, 1999).

Mathieu & Zajac (1990) conducted a meta-analysis of 48 studies and found that overall employee commitment was low when employees were unsure about what was expected of them (Role Ambiguity). In nine studies, Dunham, Grube, & Castaneda (1994) found that employees understanding about the significance of their tasks were somewhat positively related to affective commitment, but not related to normative or continuance commitment.

Workers need role clarity to be able to navigate on their own. To improve the opportunity for self feedback there appears a need to strengthen the connection between the individual’s work and the organizational goals (Anders et al, 1999).

Chapter 3

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

On the basis of literature review, a relationship between feedback environment and employee commitment was found, being mediated by a third variable, Role Clarity. The following hypothetical link between the variables was drawn and tested.

3.1 Operational Definitions

3.1.1 Feedback Environment (Independent Variable)

Feedback Environment has been taken as the independent variable for this study which is defined by Steelman et al (2004) as the amount and availability of positive and negative feedback from different sources.

As the feedback environment in organizations is generally measured using the Feedback environment Scale (FES) proposed by Steelman et al (2004), the same will be employed to measure the quality of feedback environment that takes into account two major feedback sources which are:

Supervisor source

Coworker source

Feedback from each source has seven dimensions which are:

3.1.1.1- Source credibility

Giffin (1967) defined source credibility as the feedback source’s expertise and trustworthiness. Perception of trustworthiness an individual imparts to other people. Factors that influence source credibility are expertise and reputation for honesty.

3.1.1.2- Feedback quality

Feedback quality refers to its consistency and usefulness which are important aspects of feedback (Greller, 1980; Hanser & Muchinsky, 1978; Herold, Liden, & Leatherwood, 1987).

3.1.1.3- Feedback delivery

It refers to the feedback environment in terms of source’s consideration and intentions in his or her delivery of the feedback (Steelman et al 2004). In simple words this dimension is related to the extent of empathy of the feedback source.

3.1.1.4- Favorable feedback

Steelman et al (2004) defined favorable feedback as the perceived frequency of positive feedback such as compliments from supervisors and/or coworkers when from the feedback recipient’s view, his or her performance does in fact warrant positive feedback

3.1.1.5- Unfavorable feedback

Unfavorable feedback is conceptualized as the perceived frequency of negative feedback such as expressions of dissatisfaction and criticism from supervisors and/or coworkers when from the feedback recipient’s view, his or her performance warrants such feedback (Steelman et al, 2004).

3.1.1.6- Source availability

Supervisor and/or coworker source availability is defined as the perceived amount of contact an employee has with his or her supervisor and/or coworkers and the ease with which feedback can be obtained (Steelman et al, 2004).

3.1.1.7- Promoting feedback seeking

Williams et al (1999) defined Feedback seeking is defined as the extent to which the environment is supportive or unsupportive of feedback seeking. It is the extent to which employees are encouraged or rewarded for seeking feedback and the degree to which employees feel comfortable asking for performance feedback

Responses about each dimension relating to both the sources will be gathered using the FES Questionnaire, proposed by Steelman et al (2004) in their validation study of the FES.

3.2 Employee Commitment (Dependent Variable)

For the purpose of this study employee commitment has been defined as an employee’s psychological attachment to his/her organization. Mainly the three component model of employee commitment by Herscovitch (2002) is used, which says that the commitment level itself consists of three parts; affective, continuance and normative commitment. Somers (1995) defined Affective commitment as an employee’s emotional attachment to an organizational goals and values. Normative commitment is a perceived duty to support the organization and its activities, whereas; continuance commitment is however interacted with affective commitment in predicting job withdrawal intentions and absenteeism.

The level of employee commitment was measured using the employee commitment questionnaire by John Meyer & Natalie Allen (1991).

Figure 3.1: The Theoretical Relationship between Feedback Environment and Employee Commitment with the Mediating Effect of Role Clarity/Ambiguity

3.3 Role Clarity/Ambiguity (Mediating Variable)

Role clarity is defined as the subjective feeling of having as much or not as much role relevant information as the person would like to have Lyons (1971). Or simply knowing the tasks and expectations of one’s job is known as Role Clarity.

From the previous studies there appeared a relationship between feedback and employee commitment with the mediating effect of role clarity/ambiguity, and it was conceived in this study that the quality of feedback environment leads to role clarity or ambiguity as feedback serves the purpose of clarifying an employee’s role which leads to employee commitment (Mathieu & Zajac 1990, Dunham, Grube, & Castaneda 1994).

Role Clarity was measured using the standardized questionnaire proposed by Rizzo et al (1970).

3.4 Hypotheses:

The following seven hypotheses were tested to explore the link between the following:

Supervisory Feedback and Subordinate’s Role Clarity

Coworker Feedback and Incumbent’s Role Clarity

Feedback Environment and Employee commitment

Role Clarity and Employee commitment

3.5 Hypotheses Statements

Hypothesis 1: Ho:

There is no relationship between supervisory feedback and subordinate’s role clarity

Hypothesis 1: H1:

There is a relationship between supervisory feedback and subordinate’s role clarity

Hypothesis 2: Ho:

There is no relationship between coworker feedback and employee role clarity

Hypothesis 2: H1:

There is a relationship between coworker feedback and employee role clarity

Hypothesis 3: Ho:

There is no relationship between feedback environment and employee role clarity

Hypothesis 3: H1:

There is a relationship between feedback environment and employee role clarity

Hypothesis 4: Ho:

There is no relationship between supervisory feedback and employee commitment

Hypothesis 4: H1:

There is a relationship between supervisory feedback and employee commitment

Hypothesis 5: Ho:

There is no relationship between coworker feedback and employee commitment

Hypothesis 5: H1:

There is a relationship between coworker feedback and employee commitment

Hypothesis 6: Ho:

There is no relationship between feedback environment and employee commitment

Hypothesis 6: H1:

There is a relationship between feedback environment and employee commitment

Hypothesis 7: Ho:

There is no relationship between employee role clarity and employee commitment

Hypothesis 7: H1:

There is a relationship between employee role clarity and employee commitment

Chapter 4

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

Research Design is a master plan specifying the methods and procedures for collecting and analyzing needed information.

Having identified the variables of the study and developing the theoretical framework, the next step was to design the research in a way that the required data could be gathered and analyzed to arrive at a solution.

A Survey was conducted, based on a questionnaire. The term questionnaire refers to a list of questions, usually printed, and submitted for replies that can be analyzed for usable information.

4.1 Purpose of the Study

The research was of hypothesis-testing in nature. The characteristics of variables and their relationship were defined in the previous section. Hypotheses were formulated on the basis of relationships between the two main variables (feedback environment and employee commitment). Researches have shown that there is positive relationship between feedback environment and employee commitment. Those studies were conducted in different parts of the world and the current research is based on the hypotheses which are to be tested to find if there is a positive relationship between the said variables.

4.2 Type of Investigation

The purpose of our research was to find out if there is relation between variables, the type of investigation chosen was correlation.

4.3 Extent of Researcher Interference with the Study

The primary data was collected through the questionnaire. The data was collected in natural environment and the researcher’s interference was minimal.

4.4 Study Settings

The research was conducted in natural environment where work proceeds normally, i.e. in non-contrived settings. The study was based on Field Experiment where all activities were occurring in natural work environment.

4.5 Unit of Analysis

In this study, individuals were studied separately. Research team studied the feedback received from the two sources (supervisor and coworker) and through the questionnaire investigated the relevant variables and their relationship.

4.6 Sampling

A sample is a subset of a larger population that contains its major characteristics. In this step the following decisions were taken:

Who is to be sampled (sampling unit)

How large a sample should be (sample size)

How will sample units be selected (sampling technique)

4.7 Sampling Unit

To get the representation from all levels of management and all types of organizations, employees form each layer of management were selected as sample from different organizations ranging from manufacturing to service, both from public and private sectors. Responses were gathered from the employees of the following organizations:

Askari Bank, Balochistan Teachers’ Training Academy, Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering & Management Sciences (BUITEMS), Cantonment Hospital, Chiltan Ghee Mills, Civil Secretariat, Concern Worldwide, Habib Bank Ltd, Mercy Crops, National Bank, PTCL, Islamabad Electric Supply Company (QESCO), SME Bank, Sui Southern Gas Company Ltd (SSGC), Telecard, Telenor, UNDP and Warid Telecom

4.8 Sample Size

The sample size for the study was 200. Employees from each of the above-mentioned organization were asked to respond the questionnaires.

4.9 Sampling Technique

Probability sampling was used for the research; in such type of sampling each member of population has an equal chance of becoming a sample.

4.10 The Questionnaire

The Questionnaire had the following sections:

4.10.1 Section-1 (Demographics)

The first section investigated about the respondent’s demographical characteristics including:

Age

Gender

Marital Status

Qualification

Managerial level

Nature of work

Experience in years

The respondents were not asked to mention their names or disclose their identity and it was ensured to keep the information confidential.

4.10.2 Section-2 & 3 (Supervisory and Coworker Feedback Measurement)

These sections contained questions about the supervisory and coworker feedback received by the respondents focusing on the following dimensions:

Source credibility

Feedback quality

Feedback delivery

Favorable feedback

Unfavorable feedback

Source availability

Promoting feedback seeking

The items of this section were obtained from the validation study of feedback environment (Steelman et al, 2004).

4.10.3 Section-4 (Employee commitment Measurement)

This section contained questions about the level of employee commitment of the respondents.

4.10.4 Section-5 (Role Clarity Measurement)

This section contained questions measuring the Role Clarity of the respondents.

4.11 Data Collection

In this phase the research moved from papers to the field. Data was gathered in the form of responses from the respondents. Questionnaire was used as a tool to collect data and 100% of the respondents were surveyed through it.

As mentioned above different organizations from public and private sector were visited to collect the responses. Questionnaires were distributed and taken back from the respondents after two to three days. Total time taken to complete the data collection process was two weeks. The respondents were guided about filling the questionnaires and the queries were responded properly.

Chapter 5

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

5. Hypothesis Testing

All seven hypotheses of the study were tested on the following parameters:

Confidence level: (1-α) = 0.95 (95%)

Level of Significance: α = 0.05

Statistic used: t-statistic

Sample size: n = 200

Table 5.1: Results of Hypothesis Testing

Hypotheses

t-calculated

t-tabulated

Computation

Result

1

2.20

+1.96

tcal>ttab

Rejected Ho

2

1.97

+1.96

tcal>ttab

Rejected Ho

3

2.13

+1.96

tcal>ttab

Rejected Ho

4

3.74

+1.96

tcal>ttab

Rejected Ho

5

6.88

+1.96

tcal>ttab

Rejected Ho

6

6.18

+1.96

tcal>ttab

Rejected Ho

7

1.99

+1.96

tcal>ttab

Rejected Ho

Where:

tcal = the calculated value of t-statistic

ttab = the tabulated value of t-statistic

It is clear from the results of table 5.1, that all seven alternative hypotheses were accepted as the value of t-calculated found be higher than the value of t-tabulated regarding each hypothesis. This shows that there is a link between each of the independent variable (feedback from supervisor and coworker source, feedback environment and role clarity) with the dependent variable (employee commitment).

5.1 Correlation Analysis

The second analysis involved regressing each of the predictors on the outcome variable i.e. employee commitment. The results are presented in table 5.2

A correlation matrix was developed for Supervisory Feedback, Coworker feedback and Role clarity with Employee Commitment. According to the results, all the three variables were positively associated with Employee Commitment. The association represents a positive linear relationship between the dependent variable; Employee Commitment and each of the independent variables.

Table 5.2: Correlation Matrix for Employee Commitment

Variable

Supervisory Feedback

Coworker feedback

Role Clarity

Commitment

Supervisory Feedback

1.000

0.534**

0.123**

0.257**

Coworker feedback

0.534**

1.000

0.139**

0.439**

Role Clarity

0.123**

0.139**

1.000

0.097**

Commitment

0.257**

0.439**

0.097**

1.000

** p<.01

Coworker feedback was most strongly associated with Employee Commitment (0.439), followed by supervisory feedback (0.257) and role clarity (0.097). All relationships were statistically significant at p < 0.01.

The correlation analysis of employee commitment as shown in table 5.1 indicates that all the associations (between x and y variables) were positive. This signifies that a positive linear relationship exists between x and y variable. Coworker feedback was most strongly related with employee commitment, followed by role clarity and supervisory feedback. All relations were statistically significant at 0.01 levels.

5.3 Regression Analysis

The value of R2 was 0.195. The first independent variable, coworker feedback [0.419, P <0.05] made the highest contribution to the model, the findings suggest that the coworkers’ feedback matters most in creating employee commitment.

Table 5.3: Regression Analysis of Feedback Environment at workplace (Dependent Variable= Employee Commitment

Variable

Coefficient

Standard Error

Standardized Beta

Intercept

1.783**

0.262

—-

Supervisory Feedback

0.029**

0.077

0.029

Coworker feedback

0.388**

0.071

0.419

Role Clarity


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