Workplace Communication Modes And Employee Engagement In The Fast Food Restaurant Sector In Bayelsa

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CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION

Globalization and International representation requires more dynamic workplace communication for employee performance(Quirke 2012; Gibson et al. 2012).Consequently, competition, competitive advantage and strategic communication steps should be taken by organisations to ensure organizational guiding principles, goals or objectives are well communicated to enhance healthy work place (Argenti 2007). The utmost importance therefore is recognising how communication improves organizational performance and international effectiveness (Thompson 2011; Kaufmann, Englezou and Garcia-Gallego 2014). There is no limit to the importance of workplace communication when well harnessed, yet there are challenging factors to its potency, such as, but not limited to prejudgement, organizational culture, stereotypes, hierarchy and control (Morgan, Gregory and Roach 1997;Wheatley and Keller-Rogers 1996).

Arguably, limited existing literatures on the subject topic demands attentionand the HR manager can harness its possible potency to the extent of delivering effective communication (Turner 2003; Wadman 2006). To this end, the researcher attempts an exploration study on the impact of effective workplace communication and feedbackas a major influence to business success(Donaldson and Eyre 2000;Turner 2003;Holtz 2004). Although, as an ongoing scholarly debate,communication becomes susceptible to usual generalizations that come to mind when it is discussed (Mumby 1997; Bailey 2015). In spite of international recognition, one may still not be able to ignore the fact that there is the possibility of subject topic subtleness (Levin 2012). Therefore, forthe research focus and dissertation word limit, this study does not intend to focus majorly on the I.T /virtual aspect of communication like the e-mail, voice-mail and social media angles (Turner 2003; Hatch and Cunliffe 2006). Although their 21st century representation may not be easily ignored in the discourse of workplace communication (Gibson et al. 2012).

The focus is neither on the linguistic aspect of communication where foundational but old ‘complex’ and multifaceted issues like the written communication comes to mind with  emphasis on clarity, credibility, content, context, continuity, capability and channels as postulated by (Shannon and Weaver 1949). Instead, the study will consider communication,essentially based on the exchange of messages through verbal or non-verbal languages (French 2010). Also, since an important aspect of workplace communication is negotiation (Guirdham 2011; Koen and Mason 2005; French 2010); if Nigeria’s workplace needs to succeed; it must understand communication as a formidable tool (Harris and Moran 2007).In addition to that, ccommunication is important to how lives are coordinated within an organization (Thompson 2011). Therefore, organizational strategies and HR strategies and policies should perhaps be termed incomplete without the incorporation of effective communication because the majority of organizational functions are communication oriented(Bailey 2015; Sparrow and Farnham 2012; Akkirman and Harris 2005).

Although, not all workplace issues may be communication based  and no matter how skilled the communicator, if the content is poor, communication may still not be effective (Guirdham 2005; Tange 2005).As initially cited in the proposal to this dissertation, the example of a failed campaign may not be blamed on communication alone; because in all sincerity, it could be as a result of ineptitude, weakness, lack of fund and no proper strategy as a politician rather than a communicator (Windahl, Signitzer and Olson 2008).Therefore, effective workplace communication must incorporate feedback as performance management indicator, aligning with organizational strategy and goals to cover every aspect of employee performance from the job design (Hellqvist 2011).

 

1.1 BACKGROUND STUDY

HISTORICAL NARRATIVE TRANSITION BEHIND WORKPLACE COMMUNICATION

Historically, workplace communication otherwise known as internal communication (Hayase 2009; Whittaker, Frohlich and Daly-Jones 1994)may be said to have experienced two major epochs. The pre-behavioural era recognises Carnegie who pointed the light on communication as relevant to business in the 1920’s(Hay 1974). The Hawthorne studies of 1927 on human relations make the second era which opened up industrial communication concern and gave information on employee struggles, employee communication model and interactions. The link between communication and human relations (employee relations) was led by the Harvard Graduate School of Business Elton Mayo (Redding and Sanborn 1964). As a result, theyargue that executive’s first duty is developing and maintaining communication systems through Barnard’s book ‘The functions of the Executive’(Bernard 1938). He did not only saddle management with communication duty, he also says the message must be understandable, aligned with organizational goal, incorporate employee interest and fit for employee comprehension psychologically and physically in order to be able to act upon it.

The historical transition of internal communication is perhaps incomplete without mentioning the military’s adoption in 1940’s of the trending potency of communication.  This may also serve as proof that effective communication is not limited to organizations alone. In order to prepare themselves for strategic positioning on war efforts which characterised the era; communication scholars intervened, who through evaluative studies successfully came up with newer theories on communication (DeFleur 1998). In the same vein, a new world of organizational communication between employees and management existed concurrently which defined communication as a two way line of function for information and persuasion (Heron 1942). By the late 40’s, a research that proved the importance of the major players of workplace (internal) communication as employees and management was published titled Effective Communication in Industry(Pigors 1949). Unfortunately, the internal communication model failed in the 70’s because of the changing and complex work environment which left employees behind (Holtz 2004).

By the 80’s, the modern research on internal communication had experienced changes in structure and function because it came through an approach that would tag employees along in an adaptive and competitive way to the dynamic workplace environment in-spite of its pressures (Argenti 1986-1998). These recent study concentrated on communication as an act together with transmission model and how that impactson employees; the result revealed there was a significant link between workplace communication and job satisfaction (Hunt and Ebeling 1983).In order to prove the modern theory came up with theDiscrepancy Theory which also corroborated and reiterated the initial assumption that a relationship existed between internal communication and employee satisfaction(King, Plosser and Rebelo 1988). Furthermore, the millennium studies ushered in the post modernist view of internal communication and one of such attempted a near perfect definition to effective workplace communication incorporating feedback by exploring with two High Street Banks; the result from the research included 6 outcomes corporate vision, job satisfaction, service focus, development, commitment and loyalty(Asif and Sargeant 2000).

1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

In qualitative research, the study is exploratory without generalizations; on the contrary, quantitative researches usually have already studied problem so there is an existing body of literature, theory and known variables in quantitative research (Creswell 2013).The purpose of this qualitative research however, explores the level of effective workplace communication and examines the role of feedback from line managers or HR managers to employees and the factors that affects their performance in the long run within Nigerian banks. The study design also accommodates the relationship between effective communication, organizational culture, job-satisfaction, engagement, psychological contract, employee empowerment, employee motivation, appraisals, rewards and performance management by analyzing the significance of feedback on communication together with its proposed impact on employee engagement. For the purpose of this research, workplace communication and internal communication are used interchangeably to mean communication that occurs within the organization (Hayase 2009; Whittaker, Frohlich and Daly-Jones 1994).

Previous studies relevant to research field have focused on effective change & interpersonal communication which considered intercultural differences as gender inclusive communication style (Rucker and Gendrin 2007), performance management that refers to  organizations as strategic which manages cultural diversity effectively (Aghazadeh 2004), organizational communication that attempts to guard against communication overload(Goris, Pettit Jr and Vaught 2002) , workplace feedback where a conducive organizational  environment may enhance employee performance (Eklof and Hagberg 2006); Communication and sustainability, advocating the need to widen awareness on sustainability issues(Burgress, Harrison and Filius 1998), gender communication differences in the workplace that argues dichotomies between male and female managers(Wilkins and Andersen 1991), internal communication and employee engagement possible link investigation(Hayase 2009).

Also, the researcher supports the argument that recent studies on subject area are at least five-ten years old as confirmed by(Thompson 2011), whose later work on effective communication was eight years from the previous; with the exception of John Brattonwho re-introduces communication in his latest edition of Organization Behaviour,although within a chapter(Bratton 2015). Similarly, lack of sufficient scholarly consideration, reveals the need to fill the gap by attempting to propose solutions through the investigative study(Bailey 2015). Furthermore, the issue of effective communication to the research location (Bayelsa) is very important ranging from, but not limited to its usefulness for public accountability and transparency as one of the major corporate communication challenges(Makinde 2005; DiStaso 2010; Thoger Christensen 2002), to crisis communication and management (Fearn-Banks 2010).

1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

Research purpose is to explore Workplace Communication Modes And Employee Engagement In The Fast Food Restaurant Sector In Bayelsa

The specific objectives:

  1. To explore what constitutes effective communication
  2. To investigate the role of feedback in relation to effective workforce communication within fast food restaurant in
  3. To research possible challenges to effective communication within fast food restaurant in Bayelsa
  4. To look into the impact of effective communication on employee performance in fast food restaurant in Bayelsa

1.4 RESEARCH QUESTION:

What constitutes effective communication in the workplace?

What is the role of feedback on employee performance within the organization?

What are the possible challenges of work place effective communication?

What is the impact of effective communication on employee performance in the fast food restaurant sector?

1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

Arguably, organizational communication may be a popular topic, there seems to be limited study on workplace effective communication and feedback (Drafke 2009).Therefore this study intends to draw attention to effective communication by ascertaining to what extent feedback from line managers or HR managers make workplace communication effective on employee performance. Also, with this study, an attempt is made to promote the feedback culture. Furthermore,shiftingthe research attention to fast food restaurant sector as a possible new area of study thereby, emphasising timely  and constructive feedbacks particularly Bayelsa where workplace communication maybe majorly top-down instead of upwardor even horizontal (Quirke 1995) .This may foster  a better communication process and indirectly boost employee performance(Drafke 2009).In addition, this helps to gain a better understanding of prevalent styles and types of communication that entails within the Nigerian banks, not limiting individual perception of what workplace effective communication should be

1.6 DELIMITATIONS

The Workplace Communication Modes And Employee Engagement In The Fast Food Restaurant Sector In Bayelsa is the researcher’s focus for this study. Attempts to investigate the extent to which employee engagement is enhanced or boosted by communication are major areas of investigation. As earlier stated, studies have shown a link between workplace communication and research themes. Data collected will help the researcher reiterate on this through an explorative study.

1.7 Research methods

Methodology has been considered by various scholars to be among the remarkable determinants of a credible research (Maylor and Blackmon 2005; Bell 1999; Saunders and Lewis 2012)although, mixed method might be justifiable, because of discovery validity drawn upon merits and diminishing limitations of the qualitative and quantitative techniques (Marshall and Rossman 2014). However, given, qualitative research as a less structured format connected to an in-depth exploratory study, where the opportunities for ‘quality’ responses exists; as against the quantitative method which is an experimental social science, quantity oriented statistics in nature through testing for hypothesis (Braun and Clarke 2006;Biggman 2012; Flick 2013) , only qualitative method shall be used to analyse both primary and secondary data for themes, codes and patterns.

 

Arguably, methodological approach that deals independently with researches in organizational behaviour might have little consideration in the management literature (Edmondson and McManus 2007); yet, the study and research on organizational behaviour is a broad field with contestations and contentions (Edmondson and McManus 2007). It is ostensibly supported by authors who challenge it as viable, but the flip side of the argument is either that it is seemingly ‘too complicated and vast’ or that theories on it are quite young and as a result, the expected mix that characterises newness can still be actualized; nevertheless, developing areas on genuine organizational and workplace issues like effective communication to improve employee performance and boost motivation or employee job satisfaction may not be overlooked  (Hatch and Cunliffe 2013). The conceivable synthesis of this scholarly world views could essentially mean organizational behavioural theories are too broad to be stream-lined into a single narrative (Tsoukas and Knudsen 2005).

The qualitative approach chosen suits the semi-structured narrative interview which will be conducted so as to get an insight into the theme.  The theoretical framework applied to this study was grounded theory because the theory supports the themes elucidated upon in the study. Even when survey can be a useful way to conduct research on the impact of communication within the workplace (Creswell 2013).Interviews are descriptive, detailed and not regimented (Pickard 2012).Although, scholars have also identified the human consideration of the data to be a problem of emotions (Silverman 2010). Its analysis can be very procedural, time consuming and tiring, however, a semi-structured interview gives a freer enablement (Yin 2003; William 2011; Pickard 2012). As a result, interview questions were constructed in line with research objectives, questions and literatures(Bryman 2006;Patton 2002). Banking professionals were interviewed as authorities in the subject area.

One interview session served as pilot study to test the data instrument and check with secondary data. This also helped to see need for adjustments to be made on some of the questions and time of interview (See Appendix A for pilot interview and adjustments). The subject topic constituted major aspect of the question asked, whilst, researcher looked out for the frequencies and continuous occurrence of proposed themes as they resurfaced in the responses. Although the research method has its demerits, the advantages of research method outweighed its demerits (Pickard, 2012; Bryman, 2006).

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