Employee Satisfaction with Organizational by warwar123

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									 The Relationship Between Employee Satisfaction with
Organizational Communication and Customer Orientation

         Matt Wagenheim, Ph.D. – Ferris State University
          A. Scott Rood, – Grand Valley State University

                     “A customer oriented organizational culture is critical
                                 for a service firms success.”

                                                                 Parasuraman (1987)

The purpose of this study was to replicate the research of Wagenheim (2006) which
studied the relationship between front-line employee satisfaction with organizational
communication and front-line employee customer orientation.

                     • INTRODUCTION

For decades the American business model focused on increasing market share as the key
to maximizing profits. To this end, many organizations concentrated on attracting new
customers instead of retaining existing ones (Griffin, 2002). The business environment
changed drastically throughout the 1990s and continues to change. Organizations face a
variety of challenges: increased competition, recession, downsizing, a more demanding
consumer, and increased government regulation and intervention (Burke, 1999). A variety
of research within the service industry has suggested that long-term relationships with
customers are necessary in order to gain a competitive advantage (Berry, 1983, 1995;
Gronroos, 1981, 1990).

                         • COMMUNICATION SATISFACTION

Thus communication to front line employees from their superiors is critical. Communication
satisfaction is impacted by communication that provides information and work tasks, and by
communication interactions with co-workers and superiors (Anderson and Martin, 1995).
“…Companies need to articulate the values inherent at the heart of the organization and to ensure
the mechanisms are in place to translate these values into action” (Wilson 1994:51). In a survey of a
United Kingdom consultant business, Barnes et al. (2004) found that management tended to
withhold information from employees because the organization in the past had rewarded and
promoted staff based on specialized knowledge. In addition, they found that horizontal
communication within and between departments was weak. Finally, there appeared to have been
an “us v. them” feeling between employees and management. Employees had stopped making
recommendations to superiors regarding improved service because they felt that they were not
being rewarded for their efforts, and they typically never saw recommendations put into action.

All dimensions of communication satisfaction were measured using the Communication Satisfaction
Questionnaire (CSQ) developed by Downs and Hazen (1977). The CSQ identifies eight dimensions of
communication satisfaction: satisfaction with the organization's communication climate,
satisfaction with supervisory communication, satisfaction with communication concerning
organizational integration, satisfaction with the organization's media quality, satisfaction with co-
worker communication, satisfaction with corporate information, satisfaction with personal
feedback, and satisfaction with subordinate communication (satisfaction with subordinate
communication was not considered in this study because it only applies to those employees holding
supervisory positions). The CSQ asks respondents to indicate how satisfied they are with the
amount or kind of communications received. Respondents indicate satisfaction on a seven point
Likert scale anchored by the terms Very Dissatisfied and Very Satisfied.

                      • CUSTOMER ORIENTATION

The dependent variable in this study was customer orientation. It was measured using a
shortened version of the Selling-Orientation Customer-Orientation (SOCO) scale developed
by Saxe and Weitz (1982). Respondents were asked to respond to five statements designed
to measure a customer orientation and five questions designed to measure a selling
orientation. Respondents were asked to indicate how typically they interact with
customers in a variety of situations. Each question was on a nine point Likert scale,
anchored from Never to Always.

The scale used to measure customer orientation was a shortened version of the 24 item
Selling Orientation – Customer Orientation (SOCO) scale (developed by Saxe and Weitz
(1982)) proposed by Thomas et al. (2001). The SOCO instrument is a self-assessment scale
designed to evaluate a salesperson’s desire to: help customers, assess customer needs,
offer satisfactory products or services, adequately describe products or services and, the
use of deception or manipulation in selling (Thomas et al (2001). The SOCO instrument has
been used in a variety of settings (real estate, advertising, industrial salespeople,
insurance) and from a multiple views (buyers, consumers of retail products). It has been
determined to be a generally reliable and valid as a measure of the customer orientation of
salespeople (either from the salesperson perspective, or the customer perspective); (see:
Dunlap et al. 1988; Michaels and Day, 1985; O'Hara et al. 1991).

                         • SAMPLE

The population for this study was front line employees of a regional family entertainment center
(go carts, mini golf, arcade, etc) in the Midwest United States. “Front line employee” was defined in
this study as hourly paid employees who spend some percentage of their work time in direct
customer contact and are in non-management positions. The company under study employed 130
front line employees during the month of data collection. A total of 97 usable responses were
collected equaling a 75% response rate. Trained students visited the subject facility at ten pre-
arranged dates and times that were determined by center management. A total of 14 student
interviewers were employed. Interviewers explained to potential participants the purpose of the
research, obtained informed consent, and presented the survey instrument for the participants to
complete. Employee (participant) participation in this study was encouraged by center
management but ultimately participation was voluntary. Each survey instrument was marked with
an identification number to allow the researchers to track which front line employees had
completed the survey ensuring that a single employee didn’t complete multiple surveys.
  The average age of respondents was 18.5 years with 80% of respondents 19.0 years old or less.
Respondents were 55% male and 45% female. They spent an average of 82% of their work time in
direct customer contact. This study measured the overall satisfaction front line employees had with
organizational communication. A total response equal to 245 indicates complete satisfaction with
organizational communication. Respondents overall were fairly dissatisfied with organizational
communication (Mean = 157.94, SD = 36.99). Even analyzing the results in the most favorable light,
front line employees in the organization under study were dissatisfied with overall organizational
communication (Median = 164.00, SD = 36.99). Scores ranged from lows of 61.0 (n = 1) and 62.0 (n
= 1) to highs of 236 (n = 1) and 243 (n = 1). This study measured the customer orientation of front
line employees using the Selling Orientation Customer Orientation (SOCO) scale. A total response
equal to 45 indicates complete customer orientation. Respondents overall reported a relatively high
customer orientation (Mean = 38.84, SD = 5.18). Scores ranged from lows of 21.00 (n = 1) and 26.00
(n = 1) to highs of 44 (n = 10) and 45 (n = 13).

                       • METHODS

Simple linear regression is a general linear model designed to explain the relationship
between a single continuous independent variable and a single continuous dependent
variable. In this study, the method of least squares was used to fit the regression line (the
simple linear regression equation is also known as the least squares regression equation)
(Dallal, 2000). The method of least squares minimizes the sum of the squares of the
residuals of the points of the data (difference between the observed values and fitted
values in the equation).

 The following null hypothesis was tested in this study using simple linear regression
  H1:N1 Satisfaction with corporate information is not related to customer orientation.

                        • RESULTS

Due to the statistical insignificance of the regression coefficient, the authors failed to reject
hypothesis H1:N1. The authors did not find a significant linear relationship between overall
satisfaction with organizational communication (IV) and customer orientation (DV). Results
indicated that higher overall communication satisfaction (B < .01, p = .260) did not result in
higher customer orientation [F (1,95) = 1.28, p = .260].
All comments made on the Front line employee questionnaire:
The management has serious communication issues. For example, one manager will have
us leave kiddie karts out overnight chained to the fence, while another likes them brought
out to the garage. Also, many employees feel like out bosses have little respect for us and
our only motivation for working hard is to not be fired, even on holidays or when you work
over 40 hours. There is no overtime pay. The excuse is that this is a seasonal job.
Overall good place to work, but would like to hear more feedback on performance,
achievements, etc.
This is a fun place to work, but sometimes it is a pain. There are too many rules to go by.
We are used to the old ones – there’s nothing wrong with that, but it is an example of how
they don’t trust us.
Sometimes it is hard here, and sometimes it is easy. I just wish I was appreciated more,
and could get at least one raise.
Managers have a tough time communication with each other and sharing their views with
us. It’s the biggest problem here, for the fact that it confuses their subordinates on what is
the correct action to take.
You’re required to stand and smile at the buffet entrance even if you have no customers.
You can’t leave the spot – even if you want to help out another employee. Sometimes the
supervisors don’t know things, so when you ask they say, “I don’t know and I don’t
care…even if you’re asking them for help.”                                                          8
                       • MANAGERIAL IMPLICATIONS

The results of this study also suggest that it is of no consequence to effectiveness in which
form organizational communication takes place. Because the results of this study showed
no relationship between organizational communication and customer orientation;
organizations can simply present important information to front line employees in the
most cost effective manner possible. Glossy annual reports, professionally developed
DVD’s and the like are an unnecessary organizational expense. Information presented to
front line employees using standard business documents will be equally as effective. The
results of this study further suggest that it doesn’t matter to front line employee’s
customer orientation who within the organization presents the information. Special
meetings hosted by organizational executive management or ownership will be no more
effective than information presented by immediate supervisors.

 Matt Wagenheim, Ph.D.

      A. Scott Rood


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