Author(s), Title and Publication
Walden, J. A., & Westerman, C. Y. K. (2018). Strengthening the tie: Creating exchange relationships that encourage employee advocacy as an organizational citizenship behavior. Management Communication Quarterly.  doi: 10.1177/0893318918783612

Employees are often perceived as trustworthy and credible sources of information about organizations. Because employees communicate with external audiences about both positive and negative aspects of the company on social media and via face-to-face conversations, it is important for organizations to create relationships that encourage employees to feel positively and speak positively about their organization. This boundary-spanning work involves employee advocacy, which has been defined as the voluntary promotion and defense of a company by an employee. A survey of 223 employees in a United States-based health care organization investigated the communication elements within organizations that enhance social exchanges and influence an individual’s willingness to spread positive information about their employer. More specifically, the authors developed a model predicting that interaction supportiveness (the level of support that one party believes they have from another party in a relationship and involves interpersonal interactions with one’s supervisor), information flow (the open exchange of ideas within an organization), and information adequacy (the degree to which employees believe they are receiving information that is necessary to do their jobs and make long-term decisions about their employment), create a partnership with employees, who will feel more committed. Because commitment is a stabilizing force that directs employee behavior, their study also suggested that it should trigger an impulse to perform the extra (nonrole required) step of external employee advocacy.

The results indicate that organizational commitment mediates the relationship between employee-centered internal communication by organizations and employee advocacy. A contribution of this study is the consideration of both communication climate (i.e., information adequacy and information flow) and interactions with one’s supervisor (i.e., interaction supportiveness). When organizations meet employees’ information needs, they foster a supportive communication climate that enhances the exchange relationship. This study also found that supervisor support is important for fostering employee commitment. Ongoing interaction supportiveness from managers helps employees feel that they are valued. Employees with strong organizational commitment perceive that their organization values the exchange relationship, and employees, in turn, report that they are likely to take extra steps to support their organization.

Implications for Practice
To encourage organization-supportive employee advocacy behavior, organizations should (1) share adequate and relevant information with employees to help them understand the organization’s direction and perform their job; (2) engage in open and supportive communication with employees, and (3) cultivate lasting relationships with them.

Location of 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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