Author(s), Title and Publication
Kang, M., & Sung, M. (2017). How symmetrical employee communication leads to employee engagement and positive employee communication behaviors. Journal of Communication Management, 21(1), 82-102. DOI:10.1108/JCOM-04-2016-0026
For their insider perspective, employees are considered unique and authentic ambassadors for organizations. Whether the message is favorable or not, the employee experience, and the information employees share about their organization is perceived as highly credible. Despite their significance, employees are relatively understudied in the public relations context. More recently however, the connections between internal communication, organizational outcomes, employee engagement and quality employee-organization relationships (EOR) have come into focus in the broader spectrum of communication and public relations research. Yet still with this focus, channeling EOR to yield positive and consistent communication behaviors that are strategically aligned with the organization’s mission, remains a relatively unexplored research area. To address this research gap, specifically the positive associations between symmetrical communication, good EOR, employee engagement, and positive employee communication behaviors such as megaphoning, or speaking out on behalf of the organization, this study’s authors conducted a survey of 438 employees at a leading personal care and cosmetics organization in South Korea. Participants indicated on a seven-point Likert scale the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with statements about their work relationships, communication, engagement, and their intention to engage in positive or negative megaphoning.
Results reflected overall connectivity between good organizational relationships, good employee communication, and a willingness for employees to speak positively on behalf of the organization. More specifically indications for a strong positive association between symmetrical communication and EOR as well as a strong positive relationship between symmetrical communication and employee engagement were present. While the study showed a positive relationship between EOR, employee engagement, and positive employee communication behaviors, negative employee communication behaviors were insignificantly impacted by EOR and employee engagement. Ultimately, good relationships and high engagement are likely to result in positive employee communication behaviors such as megaphoning and championing.
Implications for Practice
Organizations should (1) practice a two-way, employee-centered symmetrical communication system in everyday communication management, invite employees’ participation, pay close attention to listen to their contributions, and provide complete and fair information to employees, (2) capitalize on the inherent authenticity of employees as ambassadors for the organization by allowing employees to champion their own informal information searches, shares, and strategies, and (3) adopt, and actively engage in various relationship- and communication-management strategies to increase positive employee communication behaviors.
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