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The Impact of Organizational Communication Climate on Employee Engagement in Airports; Case of Guangzhou Baiyun Airpot

Nyamweya is a global researcher with many years of experience on practical research on a diversity of topics

Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport

Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport

1.0 Introduction

The purpose of this research is to explore the impact of organizational communication climate on employee engagement in airports. According to Harbour (2017), every organization strives to improve the levels of their employees' performance for maximal achievement of their goals. However, the ability of an employee to perform well depends on numerous factors. As argued by Hassan (2016), employee performance is a multifactor product that depends mainly on their job satisfaction which consequently enhances their commitment to their organizations. On the other hand, employee performance is enhanced by their perceived belonging and usefulness to the organization. As stated by Lantara (2019), employees’ enthusiasm and engagement levels in an organization determine how well they feel significant. The more they are engaged, the more they feel they belong and desire to achieve more.

A study by Mohammed & Hussein (2013) explored the various ways communication in an organization affects employee engagement. The results indicated that the presence of communication opportunities for employees across all dimensions positively impacts their engagement in an organization. The perceived implication is the significance of their input towards the successful running of an organization’s operations. For organizations operating in the service industry where employees have high interaction with customers, high-performance levels and passion for work is expected (Balakrishnan & Masthan, 2013). According to Popli & Rizvi (2015), employees of firms offering services directly to customers require pleasure towards their roles when dealing with clients for enhanced customer experience. However, while such satisfaction implies organizational performance, maintaining high levels of employee satisfaction is also imperative.

Analyzing the influence of internal communication on employee engagement at Delhi International Airport, Balakrishnan & Masthan (2013) claimed that it is a significant driver to employees’ engagement. Airport business is oriented to service provision and thus, employee performance is crucial for effective operations and higher customer satisfaction. To enable this, high levels of employee enthusiasm should be maintained through improved engagement (Popli & Rizvi, 2015). Airport operations require maximal commitment and motivation towards the organization’s values and goals amongst their workers. Consequently, such achievement demands the provision of a positive working environment. There is, therefore, the need to determine how facilitation of a positive working environment through the provision of supportive communication climate would influence the performance of employees herein evaluated as to their levels of commitment.


2.0 Literature Review 2.1 Introduction

2.2 Organisational communication climate and employee engagement

The provision of significant amenities and work environment structures to enhance employee engagement enables them to give their best in work and be extra commitment. However, Lantara (2019) claims that since employee engagement revolves about their feeling towards their work, it depends more on their passion for the job than satisfaction. Therefore, increased engagement develops a sense of belonging where employees relate to increased productivity. Balakrishnan & Masthan (2013) considered employee engagement as the degree in which workers put extra effort in conducting their duties which could be in the form of additional energy, brainpower, and time. Mohammed & Hussein (2013) argues that organisations that aim at boosting the performance of their workforce are extremely sensitive of their established platforms to promote employee engagement. According to a study by Balakrishnan & Masthan (2013) on the key drivers to employee engagement, internal communication was found to be a significant contributing factor.

Internal communication is the sharing of information whether formal or informal within an organisation for the successful running of its operations (Balakrishnan & Masthan, 2013). Such exchange can happen between seniors and subordinates, among subordinates, or senior. Either way, the presence of such communication is vital for the achievement of an organisation's goals. Organisational communication climate, on the other hand, is the information sharing atmosphere in a company which dictates how free members are to communicate at work (Jiang & Men, 2017). Researchers in the communication field argues that a communication climate develops immediately a conversation commences (Mohammed & Hussein, 2013). Consequently, communication develops a platform for building relationship besides the conveyance of information. The nature of the interaction experienced in communication and thus the relationship built significantly affects engagement build-up of an employee.

Analysing the influence of organisational communication climate on employee engagement Balakrishnan & Masthan (2013) used the reliability of communication, upward communication opportunities, superior openness, quality of information, and superior-subordinate communication as the measures for internal communication. The current study seeks to identify how superior-subordinate communication, upward communication opportunities, and reliability of the information, as measures of organisational communication climate, influence employee engagement in airports. In this regard, relevant literature will be reviewed on how employee engagement is influenced by each of the three organisational communication climate factors listed above.

2.3 Impact of superior-subordinate communication on employee engagement

Superior-subordinate communication refers to the exchange of information between junior employees and their supervisors and/or managers (Lybarger, Rancer, & Lin, 2017). According to Tanner & Otto (2016), for the maximal achievement of both organisational and personal goals, members require efficient sharing of influence and information regardless of their rankings. However, Bakar & Mustaffa (2008) argues that superior-subordinate communication is capable of both influencing and destroying internal innovation, employee engagement, and organisational culture. Presence of superior-subordinate communication develops relationships between the members of an organisation (Tanner & Otto, 2016). Consequently, each member understands the significance of other members irrespective of their role and rank in the organisation resulting in a positive culture. Additionally, every member feels important in the running of the organisation, boosting their belonging perception and thus enhancing their engagement.

However, the presence of superior-subordinate communication does not guarantee improved relationships among employees and enhanced engagement. As argued by Lybarger, Rancer, & Lin (2017), the quality of superior-subordinate communication present in an organisation dictates whether it will impact employee engagement positively or negatively. This is because junior workers recognize those immediately in a higher rank as the primary information source about activities in the organisation. Additionally, subordinates recognize them as the channel of receiving communication of the top management team. When the superiors convey important information to their subordinates, they get updated on organisation operations Presence of quality communication between superiors and subordinates help bridge the ranking gap between them and heightens their relationship as well (Steele & Plenty, 2015). As a result, employees feel more engagement to their organisation leading to improved development.

2.4 Impact of perceived upward communication opportunities on employee engagement

While communication is prevalent in every organisation, the quality and channels diversifications in each firm constitute to the impacts felt. Upward communication is a channel of exchanging information from junior workers to their superiors. As argued by Ramadanty & Martinus (2016), employees develop passion and commitment to work in environments where their needs are addressed justly and promptly. However, it is sometimes difficult for the superiors to identify the presence of such employees’ needs and/or challenges without their reporting. Presence of upward communication opportunities, therefore, facilitates such information reaching to the relevant authorities. With an open communication climate, employees freely interact with their seniors fostering their working relations as well as the quality of the working environment (Barnlund, 2017). Consequently, they develop enthusiasm and engagement to their organisations and also improve their performance.

The effective running of an organisation's activities depends on how well each stakeholder contribute their resources to the firm's operations. While brainstorming meetings may not accommodate every member, the presence of an efficient communication structure enhances the sharing of ideas on company performance improvement (Mohammed & Hussein, 2013). Subordinate employees also contribute effectively towards the improvement of an organisation's operations and the presence of upward communication opportunities is one avenue that enhances their participation. Consequently, when subordinate contribute significantly to the operations of their organisations, they develop a sense of belonging and engagement to their work. As stated by Osborne & Hammoud (2017), there are lower turnover rates and increased engagement in organisations with effective communication structures such as upward communication opportunities.

2.5 Impact of perceived reliability of information on employee engagement

As earlier mentioned, the quality of communication is more effective in initiating change in an organisation and not the mere presence of communication. Irrespective of the direction of communication, the reliability of the information conveyed affects the trust on the communication channel and the informer. In the case of subordinate employees, relationship with their superiors is significantly affected by how reliable the seniors are in relaying important information to them. This could be in the sense of information quality, completeness, and timeliness among others. As argues by Kang & Sung (2017), communication quality, completeness, and timeliness are the primary factors to employee's perceived reliability of the information. According to Lantara (2019), information reliability is one of the key determinants of communication quality and thus a significant element on how well an organisation's communication climate will enhance employee engagement.B alakrishnan & Masthan (2013) states that employees feel significant to the operations of their organisations when they are well notified about critical matters on time. Studies on organisational communication climate on employee enthusiasm, performance, and engagement indicate that each of the three components is influenced positively in organisations with reliable communication strategies and structures.

2.6 Summary

From this literature review, it is evident that the creation of a friendly organizational communication climate plays a key role in influencing employee engagement in the workplace. This owes to the fact that, communication develops a platform for building relationship between the seniors and juniors besides the conveyance of information. The nature of the interaction experienced in communication and thus the relationship built significantly affects engagement build-up of an employee. Consequently, highly engaged employees are more productive compared to disengaged ones. In addition, the presence of superior-subordinate communication develops relationships between the members of an organization. This makes the members to feel important in the running of the organisation, boosting their belonging perception and thus enhancing their engagement. It is also noted that with an open communication climate, employees freely interact with their seniors fostering their working relations as well as the quality of the working environment. Consequently, they develop enthusiasm and engagement to their organisations and also improve their performance. Lastly, the reliability of the information conveyed affects the trust on the communication channel and the informer. In the case of subordinate employees, relationship with their superiors is significantly affected by how reliable the seniors are in relaying important information to them. This could be in the sense of information quality, completeness, and timeliness among others.

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