Topic: Employee Communication Competence

Authors, Title and Publication
McKinley, C., & Perino, C. (2013). Examining communication competence as a contributing factor in health care workers’ job satisfaction and tendency to report errors. Journal of Communication In Healthcare, 6(3), 158-165.

This study examined how health care workers’ communication competence predicted their job satisfaction and error reporting behavior. According to the researchers, two major factors that undermine the success of a health care organization are employee satisfaction and failure to report errors. Employee satisfaction is a critical indicator of the quality of relationship between the organization and its employees. In a health care organization, more satisfied employees provide better patient care, create more positive working environments, and are generally more effective in their roles. Health care professionals’ failure to report errors undermines patient safety and may result in significant financial losses for the facility. This study proposed that health care professionals’ communication competence, which referred to the ability to effectively and appropriately communicate to achieve a desired goal, would be positively associated with their job satisfaction and error reporting behavior. Health care workers’ role identity—the extent to which employees identifies with their professional roles—was examined as a moderator in the relationship between communication competence and error reporting.

A survey was conducted with 145 doctors, nurses, medical students, and other health care workers from both public and private hospitals across the United States. Results indicated that higher levels of communication competence directly contributed to increased employee satisfaction. Health care workers with greater self-perceived communication skills were more content with their profession. In addition, through job satisfaction, communication competence indirectly predicted error reporting. However, subsequent moderator analyses showed that at higher levels of role identity, job satisfaction was not associated with error reporting. This indicated that health care workers’ satisfaction was a more significant contributing factor in error reporting behavior when employees identified less with their position. Overall, the impact that competence had on job satisfaction and error reporting behavior highlighted how critical it is for health care organizations to strengthen efforts at improving workers’ communication skills.
Implications for Practice
Health care organizations must 1) place greater focus on effective communication skills training for doctors, physicians, and nurses; 2) educate employees to improve their professional role identification; and 3) strive to create a positive and satisfying work environment.

Location of Article
The article is available online at: (abstract free, purchase full article)


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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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