This study explores the positive effects of effective communication on employee motivation and performance. Specifically, in intends to compare the results between service employees and manufacturing employees in terms of communication as a motivating factor. The theories used in this study to create a conceptual framework are Herzberg Two factor theory, Goal Theory, and the circular theory of communication. The concept is that when hygiene and motivator factors are high, goals can be developed, but can only be effective only if the message was disseminated effectively. The study uses quantitative research on service and manufacturing employees.
They were surveyed using a semi-structured questionnaire with ranking questions and some open-ended questions. The study found that there were only slight differences in the motivator factors for both set of respondents but there service employees are higher in hygiene. Both industries, however, see communication as an important factor in motivation. However, they only experience high hygiene, but less motivator, which means that they are not fully motivated. It has been suggested that the companies of the employees surveyed should invest on improving the motivator factors within the working environment and improve communication flows.
THE PROBLEM AND ITS BACKGROUND
This study examines the importance of communication on the performance and motivation of employees. The target samples of the study are employees from service and manufacturing companies. This allows seeing the importance of organizational communication in two different angles – that is the difference between the views of service and manufacturing companies regarding the matter. Comparison of these views may lead to the development of new hypotheses or theories that may contribute to human resource management research. In this chapter, the nature of problem is presented and discussed. The backgrounds of different variables related to the study were also featured. Here, the aims, objectives, problem statements and significance of the study were also explained.
BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Employees basically refer to people who work for another in return for wages or salary (Gillis, 2004). Legally, an employee is referred to a person hired to provide services to a company on a regular basis in exchange for compensation, and who does not provide these services as part of an independent business (Gillis, 2004). However, Gillis (2004) stated that employees are more than any of those definitions. Employees are the lifeblood of the organization because they are the ones who provide products and services that define corporations, organizations and government entities (Gillis, 2004). They are referred to as the most precious assets of the organization because without them, the organization is crippled and cannot function effectively.
Because of the important role of employees, organizations have the responsibility to motivate them so as they can function more effectively. Theories of motivation such as Maslow’s theory, Alfelder’s theory, McClelland’s theory, and Herzberg’s theory (Mullins, 1999) explain why employees should be motivated and why organizations should take this concept into consideration. But what really constitutes effective employee motivation? Several research and organizational reports point positive communication as one of the most important factors that build effective employee motivation. For instance, Riccomini (2005) cited a couple of organizational research by General Electric and Hewlett-Packard in the eighties that concludes: “The better the managers’ communication, the more satisfied the employees were with all aspects of their work life”. Building a positive communication with employees is important because they are the organization’s best ambassadors or loudest critics, depending on how fast they get relevant information and the context in which it is received (Howard, 1998).
Information consistency affects the success of the company and if it fails to communicate information internally and externally, the reputation of the company may fall. Communication basically uplifts the morale of an employee as it makes them feel that they are valued by the organization. This also builds employee loyalty and satisfaction. As Goldfarb (1990) stated: “ Employers are becoming more aware that employee loyalty, commitment, and concern for quality depend on effective employee communication.
Communication is not just important to an organization, but is an important component in everyday human life. Gamble and Gamble (1999) stated: “Communication is the core of our humanness”, and that “how we communicate with each other shapes our lives and our world” (p.4). Communicative skills help humans to reach out to one another or to confront events that challenge our flexibility, integrity, expressiveness and critical thinking skills (Gamble and Gamble, 1999).
Communication is rather complex to define in a single sentence. In a glimpse, however, it has many types which include: interpersonal communication; intrapersonal; group communication; public communication; mass communication; and online or machine-assisted communication (Gamble and Gamble, 1999). Interpersonal communication means to interact with another person, while intrapersonal means to interact with oneself, or to reason with or evaluate self (Gamble and Gamble, 1999).
Group communication, on the other hand, is defined as the process of interacting with a limited number of others, work to share information, develop ideas, make decisions, solve problems, offer support, or have fun (Gamble and Gamble, 1999). Mass communication, is communicating to a large number of people using media (television, newspaper, internet, radio), and finally, online or machine assisted communication deals with communicating through the use of online software that are programmed to interact with browsers or users (Gamble and Gamble, 1999).
Communication is also categorized into two: verbal and non-verbal. Verbal communication means the use of the spoken word when communicating, while non-verbal communication means using other medium such as body signals, writing etc. (Gamble and Gamble, 1999).
Communication undergoes a process, which involves the information source, the transmitter, noise source, receiver and destination. This is based on the communication theory (see figure 1) that was developed by Shannon and Weaver (1949). The information source is the communicator of the information, which then uses a specific type of transmitter or medium (e.g. verbal, written, telephone, etc). The receiver receives the information, but the information can be affected by a specific noise source, which can be a distraction from anyone or anywhere. The receiver then interprets the message and finally puts the communicated message in its destination (Bryant and Heath, 2000).
Figure 1: Shannon and Weaver Theory of Communication
The theory of communication evolved over the years, but the model of Shannon and Weaver (1949) is one of the firsts that explains the process of communication. Today, communication is being regarded as an important factor in business, and that the ability of the company to communicate can determine its success.
Communication is important in business because a business environment is a place where many interactions are needed, and much information should be acquired (Eckhaus, 1999). It always involves openly competitive activity, in which working professionals debate issues, defend positions, and evaluate the arguments of others (Eckhaus, 1999). Most working professionals, particularly those in middle and upper management, routinely produce a variety of messages, many of which are in the written form of memoranda, electronic mail, letters, reports, performance reviews, instructions, procedures, and proposals (Eckhaus, 1999). It is also argued that a fuller understanding of organizations is a vital ingredient at every forward step of the career process, and that communication is a primary element for understanding how organizations function and how members of the organization should, even must, behave in organizations if they are to advance their careers (Harris, 1993).
The practice of effective communication within the organization is also linked with the development of a healthy corporate culture, job satisfaction of employees, and the happiness and productivity of employees (Harris, 1993). Communication skills are also important to organization leaders because it helps them manage the company more effectively (Harris, 1993).
Companies recognize the importance of communication that is why it is a barometer in hiring or measuring employee performance. Waner (1995) found that companies want their employees to maintain confidentiality, write persuasively, write routine letters, use proper placement and format, compose at the keyboard, and write special types of letters. Furthermore, interpersonal and oral skills were rated as very important. Also, basic English as well as abilities dealing with ethics, morals, values, and sensitivity were rated either important or very important (Waner, 1995).
Although there were proven studies that communication promotes positive improvement in organizations, specifically motivation and performance improvements of employees, studies often fail to compare the level of importance of communication in terms of firm industry types. Firms of today can either belong to the manufacturing or service industry. Each industry has different traits and characteristic from the other. Service industries sell and produce intangible services, while manufacturing companies sell tangible manufactured products. The management of the service firm is basically different the manufacturing firm because they have different organizational structures, services and products being provided, and working systems.
STATEMENT OF THE ISSUE AND RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
While many organizations believe that positive employee communication promotes employee motivation, this belief can still be considered as a complex issue because of the changing nature of organizations and the differences of their structure. For instance, the old employee communication paradigm relied on top-down approaches to reach their employees (Edelman, 2004). Today, this has already been replaced by new communication paradigms where employees “ping” sources both inside and outside their organization for information (Edelman, 2004). Employees are now basically treated as consumers.
The Workplace Communication Consultancy (2005) even reported that statistics show “90% of those who are kept fully informed are motivated to deliver added value; while those who are kept in the dark almost 80% are not”. However, such results are not industry specific. Industries vary in terms of culture – for instance, service versus manufacturing industry. Thus, this study will confirm the effects of positive communication on employee motivation in two specific industries – service and manufacturing.
The following are the research objectives of the study: 1. To confirm the effectiveness of positive communication on employee motivation. 2. To determine the effects of positive communication on employee motivation in service companies. 3. To determine the effects of positive communication on employee motivation in manufacturing companies. 4. To find out if the relationship between positive communication and employee motivation depends on which industry the organization is into.
Needless to say, two groups of companies will be surveyed in this study –from the service industry; and from the manufacturing industry. The results from the two groups will be compared and evaluated to determine if the relationship between positive communication and employee motivation depends on a specific type of industry.
The study aims to test the hypothesis that: “managers in manufacturing companies give importance to motivation but their employees are less motivated compared with service companies”.
The reason why that hypothesis is developed is because of the difference between service and manufacturing company operations and process. For instance, since the service companies already dominated the market and most of their employees have higher salaries compared to manufacturing workers, there are great differences in terms of motivational factors.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study is significant to both service and manufacturing companies because it offers insights on which industry gives higher importance to communication. Through this study, the importance of communication in organization is once again emphasized. However, the comparison between the two business industries gives new insights and may develop new hypotheses for future studies. This study may help develop theories for service and manufacturing companies on how communication can be used as a tool to motivate employees to improve their performance or work.
This study is also significant to communication and business students. For communication students, this study may benefit them because it may serve as a reference when it comes to communication theories or the role of communication in business. On the other hand, for business students, this paper may also serve them as a useful academic reference tool. Through this study, they will realize early the importance of communication and how this can help them become motivated or more active at work.
Because the aim of this study is to determine a possible motivational factor for employees (which is specifically “communication”), the theoretical frameworks that have been chosen for this study are motivational theories – a content motivation theory; and a process motivation theory. Theories of motivation can be divided into two: the content theories; and the process theories (Mullins, 1999). Content theories emphasize the factors that motivate individuals. Examples of content theories are Maslow’s theory, Alfelder’s theory, McClelland’s theory, and Herzberg’s theory (Mullins, 1999). On the other hand, the emphasis on process theories is on the actual process of motivation. Some examples of process theories are Expectancy theories, equity theory, goal theory, and social learning theory (Mullins, 1999). The content motivation theory that has been chosen as one of the frameworks for this study is Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory or Motivator-Hygiene Theory.
This theory basically extended Maslow’s hierarchy of need theory and is more directly applicable to the work situation (Steers, 1983; Kreitner and Kinicki, 1998). Herzberg’s research suggested that motivation is composed of two largely unrelated dimensions: job-related factors which can prevent dissatisfaction, but do not promote employees’ growth and development (hygiene); and job-related factors that encourage growth (motivators) (Steers, 1983; Kreitner and Kinicki, 1998). Herzberg’s theory is the first of its kind to emphasize the importance of non-monetary rewards in motivating employees (Gevity Institute, 2005). According to this theory, satisfying experiences are most often associated with the non-monetary, or intrinsic, content of the work. This includes variables such as achievement, recognition, personal growth, personal responsibility and the characteristics of the work (Gevity Institute, 2005).
These factors are called motivators. When people are satisfied, they attribute their satisfaction to the work itself and not on the environment in which they work (Manisera et al, 2005). On the other hand, dissatisfying experiences result from the extrinsic work environment (Gevity Institute, 2005). These factors include company policies, salary, co-worker relations, supervisor relationships, status, supervision, personal life and job security (Herzberg, 1966; Gevity Institute, 2005). Extrinsic factors cause a person who feels neutral about the job to feel dissatisfied and less motivated (Herzberg, 1966; Gevity Institute, 2005). The theory explains that workers basically attribute their dissatisfaction to the environment in which they work, or conditions that surround the doings of the job (Herzberg, 1966; Gevity Institute, 2005).
This is also known as the “Hygiene factor” (Herzberg, 1966). This should be continually maintained because employees never completely satisfied (Manisera et al, 2005). Manisera et al (2005) noted that when the hygiene factors are very low, workers are dissatisfied. However, when hygiene factors are met, workers are not dissatisfied but it does not necessarily mean that they are satisfied or motivated to work. The same goes for the motivator factors. When motivators are met, workers are satisfied leading to higher performance. However, when motivators are not met, workers are not satisfied but it does not necessarily mean they are dissatisfied with their work. For this study, the following are the motivators and hygiene that affects the employees:
1.Supervisor’s participation level
3.Supervisor’s communication approach to employees.
4.Supervisor’s willingness to help employees on problems concerning work information or directions.
5.Supervisor’s preferred medium when communicating with employees.
6.The level of noise where communication takes place.
7.How information about salaries or company policies are communicated to employees.
1.The employee receives appraisals or compliments when a job is well done.
2.The employee is being given awards for performance and this is broadcasted or made known throughout the company.
3.The responsibility of the employee is well-communicated or well-explained in terms of its contribution to the company.
4.Improvements are well-communicated to employees.
5.Employees receive briefing or information regarding changes in management or company policies.
6.Employees feel they are part of the company.
7.Employee mistake are corrected through strategic communication by the supervisor.
On the other hand, the process motivation theory adopted for this study is the goal theory of motivation. In the late 1960s, Edwin Locke proposed that intentions to work toward a goal are a major source of work motivation (Locke and Latham, 1990). That means the goal will tell the people what needs to be done and how much effort will need to be put in order to fulfill the goal and target of the organization (Locke and Latham, 1990). The key steps in applying goal setting are: (1) diagnosis for readiness; (2) preparing employees via increased interpersonal interaction, communication, training, and action plans for goal setting; (3) emphasizing the attributes of goals that should be understood by a manager and subordinates; (4) conducting intermediate reviews to make necessary adjustments in established goals; and (5) performing a final review to check the goals set, modified, and accomplished (Matteson, 1999).