The Role Of HR Practices In Customer Facing Employees’ Engagement And Organizational Citizenship Behaviour
A recent study in Malaysia sought to identify which HR practices led to customer facing employees in the hotel sector displaying greater service-oriented organizational citizenship behavior, and whether work engagement acts as a mediator. Specifically, the study looked at the HR practices of service training, service rewards, performance appraisal, and information sharing. The results found that training and performance appraisals had the greatest effect on service-oriented organizational citizenship behaviour, with work engagement having a mediating role.
Key Topics: Work engagement; Organizational citizenship behavior; Training; Reward
Title of Reviewed Article: A Study of the Role of Work Engagement in Promoting Service-Oriented Organizational Citizenship Behavior in the Malaysian Hotel Sector
Researchers: Ling Suan Choo (University Utara Malaysia)
Publication: Global Business and Organizational Excellence, 2016, Vol. 35 No. 4, pp. 28–43.
Setting the Scene
In the hospitality sector customer facing employees are a particularly important resource in the success of companies. In the hotel industry their interactions with customers are often distinguishing factors of a hotel’s quality and a source of differentiation from competitors (Karatepe & Uludag, 2008; Yeh, 2013). Given this, it is particularly important that these employees have high work engagement (Kusluvan et al., 2010). Work engagement relates to a having a positive work related mentality, and is linked to various positive work outcomes such as work commitment and performance (Karatepe, 2013).
HR practices have been shown to be important in developing engagement, although the specific influence remains somewhat unclear (Arrowsmith & Parker, 2013). A number of HR practices have been linked consistently to employee behaviour, and these include training, rewards, employee performance appraisal, and information sharing by management (Tang & Tang, 2012; Yang, 2012). Training is an important element of developing task-related and behavioral competencies (Bharwani & Butt, 2012), while employees often tie their value to their company to received rewards (Hayes & Ninemeier, 2009). Performance reviews facilitate the discussion of performance, strategies and goals, while sharing information within companies gives an impression to employees that they are trusted and valued (Browning, Edgar, Gray, & Garrett, 2009).
Organizational citizenship behaviour (OCB) is another concept of particular importance in relation to these employees, and can be defined as discretionary behaviors which are not recognized by formal company rewards (Bettencourt, Gwinner, & Meuter, 2001), and encompasses company loyalty and employees’ service delivery.
To examine these concepts and interactions further, the researcher outlined a number of research hypotheses:
Service training (Hypothesis 1a) Service rewards (Hypothesis 1b) Performance appraisal (Hypothesis 1c) Information sharing (Hypothesis 1d) has a positive and significant influence on work engagement.
Hypothesis 2 - “Customer-contact employees’ work engagement has a significant positive relationship with their service-oriented OCB.”
Customer-contact employees’ work engagement mediates the relationship between service training (Hypothesis 3a) service rewards (Hypothesis 3b) performance appraisal (Hypothesis 3c) information sharing (Hypothesis 3d) and service-oriented OCB.
How the research was conducted
This study was conducted using 438 customer-contact employees from 34 four and five star Malaysian hotels.
In order to collect information on service training, service rewards, performance appraisal, and information sharing, the researcher developed a scale for HRM practices which contained 21 items. These items were adapted from various sources.
Work engagement was measured using a 9 item scale adapted from Schaufeli, Bakker, and Salanova (2006) and organizational citizenship behavior was measured using a 16 item scale adapted from Bettencourt et al. (2001).
Key Research Findings
Two of the four HR practices were found to be related to work engagement; these were training and performance appraisals, thus supporting Hypothesis 1a and 1c. No relationship was found between work engagement and reward or information sharing, therefore Hypothesis 1b and 1d were not supported.
Hypothesis 2 was supported, as a relationship was found between work engagement and OCB.
Results supported Hypothesis 3a and 3c, with analysis finding that work engagement mediated the relationship between training and OCB, as well as performance appraisals and OCB. No such support was found for Hypothesis 3b and 3d.
The findings that there is a positive relationship training and engagement, as well as between performance appraisals and engagement, are consistent with previous research (Karatepe, 2013; Kuvaas, 2011). Similarly, the finding that engaged employees are likely to display organizational citizenship behaviour is consistent with prior research (Karatepe, 2013).
Conversely, the absence of a positive relationship between reward and engagement is inconsistent with previous research (Karatepe, 2013). The researcher contended that this may be due to the timing of the data collection in this study, which was done during peak holiday season when employees may have been overloaded and more likely to see an imbalance between their effort and reward.
The finding that information sharing was not related to engagement is also surprising. It could be possible, the researcher contends, that the employees may not have found the information shared was relatable to their performance and therefore did not impact on their engagement. De Ridder (2004) found in a study of service employees that employee commitment was unaffected by non-task related information sharing.
Organizational and Reward Implications
The findings suggest that the engagement of customer facing employees can be heightened through refinement of a company’s training and performance appraisal practices, which in turn increases employees’ likelihood of displaying greater OCB. With regards to training, ideally this would include a structured training framework and could include the likes of development of interpersonal skills, information acquisition skills, and technological literacy. Similarly, the development of performance appraisal practices should be designed so as to ensure a structured, objective and fair approach which involves the constructive discussion of performance and development of performance, as well as clearly tying employee goals to the goals and mission of the company.
This study provides some interesting findings on the importance of training and performance appraisals in engagement and organizational citizenship behaviour, and similarly interesting finding on the lack of positive relationship with reward and information sharing as prior research suggests the existence of a relationship. Further research would benefit from similar studies across a broader geographical group and also other service settings such as banking and retail, to further validate the generalizability of this study’s findings.
Source Article: Choo, L. S. (2016). A Study of the Role of Work Engagement in Promoting Service-Oriented Organizational Citizenship Behavior in the Malaysian Hotel Sector. Global Business and Organizational Excellence, 35(4), 28-43.
Published by: Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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