Impact of Employee Engagement on Organizational Citizenship Behavior: Evidence from Indian Retail Industry.

AuthorJnaneswar., K.


Employee engagement is a positive, fulfilling, work- related state of mind that is characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption (Schaufeli et al., 2002). It is a positive psychological condition that encourage employees to devote themselves actively in their job and organization. Employee engagement is a relatively new concept in human resource management field with its origin traced back to two to three decades only. There is an exponential growth in the field of employee engagement as more and more organizations started realizing the importance of having an engaged workforce. These organizations consider employee engagement as one of the ways to develop sustained competitive advantage. A number of studies linking employee engagement and positive organizational outcomes such as workplace productivity and performance were reported in the literature (Harter et al., 2002; Shuck & Wollard, 2010).

Organizational citizenship behavior is a new but broadly researched area in human resource management and organizational psychology literature that established relationship with various concepts in business and management domain. According to Organ et al. (2006) organizational citizenship behavior is the pro-social behavior of an individual which is discretionary and not part of the organization that affect other employees and the organization. Relationship between organizational citizenship behavior and organizational effectiveness can be evidenced from various studies in the literature (Bamel et al., 2013; Kataria et al., 2013). This has led many organizations to consider the construct as a source of competitive advantage.

Indian retail industry is witnessing dynamic changes these days with the entry of several new players both domestic and international. This industry is making vital contribution to the Indian economy by generating 8% of employment and accounting for 10% of GDP. India is anticipating more investments in this industry and want to be the largest global destination. This is possible if we can overcome some of the problems like lack of employee commitment, job hopping, lack of ownership from the employees and customer dissatisfaction. Discretionary extra role behavior from employees is the need of the hour for maintaining sustained competitive advantage which may reduce the above mentioned problems. In this context the present study explores the predictive power of employee engagement on organizational citizenship behavior. Study also attempts to find out the difference in the two variables with respect to various demographic factors.

Employee Engagement (EE)

According to Kahn (1990) EE is a multidimensional concept since it encompasses emotional, physical and cognitive engagement of employees. Concern for peer's feelings, empathy, caring and sharing in the workplace are embodiments of emotional engagement whereas responsibility at workplace and cognizance about mission indicate the cognitive engagement of employees. Kahn (1990) defined engagement as the ability to harness an employees' personal enthusiasm in their work roles. He was one of the pioneers in the field of EE who applied it at the workplace. Various studies conducted in EE defined it as the emotional and intellectual commitment to the organization (Baumruk, 2004; Richman, 2006; Shaw, 2005).

There are evidences of two different streams of research in EE in the literature. Kahn (1990) during his study about the psychological conditions of personal engagement and disengagement at work found meaningfulness, safety and availability as the important domains of engagement. He opined that engagement/ disengagement of employees occurs depending on the degree of attainment or favorableness of these three constructs. May et al (2004) replicated the same study and found that the three dimensions were significantly related to engagement. The other stream of research in EE evolved from the burnout literature. Researchers who did extensive studies on burnout defines engagement as the antithesis of burnout. Notable among them were (Maslach et al., 2001) and (Gonzalez-Roma et al., 2006). According to Maslach et al. (2001) the dimensions of engagement such as energy, involvement and efficacy can be considered as the contrasting dimensions of burnout such as exhaustion, cynicism and inefficiency. They prescribed six areas of work life such as workload, control, rewards and recognition, community and social support, perceived fairness and values which could lead to burnout and engagement.

The two streams of research in EE explains about the antecedents and psychological conditions of engagement thoroughly. Despite this there were only scant evidences about why individuals will respond to these conditions with varying degrees of engagement. This lacunae was addressed by social exchange theory. According to social exchange theory, commitments are developed after a series of interactions between the parties who accept certain rules of exchange. This mandates action and elicitation of reaction by the parties. In the organizational setting this means the obligation towards the organization for the receipt of monetary and non-monetary resources by the employees from the organization. So, there is a two-way relationship between employer and employee as per social exchange theory. This viewpoint is in consonance with Robinson et al.'s (2004) description of engagement as a two-way relationship between the employer and employee. Employees exhibit different levels of engagement to reciprocate the varying levels of resources they receive from the organization. Thus, social exchange theory provides a rationale for employees showing engagement/disengagement in their job.

EE is related to but different from other important constructs in organizational behavior such as organizational commitment and job involvement. Organizational commitment denotes the strength of an employee's involvement in and identification with the organization whereas engagement is about the attentiveness and absorption in the performance of their roles by employees. Job involvement happens when employees have a positive attitude about the need satisfying abilities of the job. Engagement on the other hand reflects how employees employ themselves in the performance of their job. The relatedness between the three constructs is that engagement can be considered as an antecedent to job involvement and organizational commitment. This was established by May et al. (2004) in their study.

Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB)

OCB became popular after Organ (1988) first coined the term and defined it an individual's voluntary behavior which cumulatively helps in the organizational functioning, but is not explicitly or directly acknowledged by the formal reward system. This is not at all part of the formal job description. This voluntary behavior ranges from caring and helping other employees, taking care of the organization's possessions, arriving early and leaving late to spreading positivity in the organization. According to Borman & Motowidlo (1993) OCB was contextual and they coined the term citizenship performance. They opined that even though citizenship performance is not directly linked to the main job tasks, they can serve as a catalyst for the attainment of job tasks. In the same vein scholars used different terms for OCB, for instance Dyne et al. (1995) used the term extra role behavior; Brief & Motowidlo (1986) used pro social behavior; George& Brief (1992) phrased the word organizational spontaneity; Morisson (1994) viewed it as in-role and opined that employees who thought it to be in-role exhibited more of it. Motowildo (1997) used the term contextual performance. Among these different terms, OCB is highly popular and comprehensive for explaining the voluntary, non-obligatory and discretionary extra role activities in the organization.

The important dimensions of OCB highlighted in literature are courtesy, sportsmanship, civic virtue, altruism and generalized compliance (Bateman & Organ, 1983; Podsakoff et al. 2000). Employees showing courtesy always consider one's personal actions on colleagues. This entails acting proactively to avoid causing hardships to others. Employees displaying sportsmanship abstain from actions that negatively affect co-workers and the organization. Such persons are resistant to gossiping and can tolerate inconveniences to certain degree. The dimension civic virtue is concerned with organizational policies and involvement in significant issues of organization. This involvement in governance and activities offers many benefits to the organization. Those who help co-workers selflessly without any expected return are engaging in altruistic behavior. Fifth dimension is general compliance or conscientiousness which...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT