Academic journal article Journal of Management and Organization

The Relationship between Workplace Friendship and Perceived Job Significance

Academic journal article Journal of Management and Organization

The Relationship between Workplace Friendship and Perceived Job Significance

Article excerpt

Abstract

Existing research suggests that leaders/supervisors are the major persons in work organizations to promote employee perception of job significance, which is an intrinsic motivator for employee productivity. However, the literature remains unclear on the relationship between workplace friendship and perceived job significance. Results from a survey of 290 Taiwanese employees indicated that workplace friendship enhanced perceived job significance, and such enhancement did not vary across organizational levels. Our findings suggest intrinsically motivating employees through workplace friendship, which extends extant literature on work role of leaders/supervisors in employee motivation. Further, although lower organizational levels have a disadvantage of objectively less job significance in work organizations, our findings suggest workplace friendship is an effective factor in promoting employee perception of job significance. Thus, organizations can embed the mechanism of workplace friendship into the factors of job design to promote employees' intrinsic motivation and thus job and organizational productivity.

Keywords: workplace friendship, perceived job significance

Employee perception of job significance is an intrinsic factor, which has longer-lasting motivational effect and is effective in motivating employees to superior effort and performance (Hackman & Oldham, 1976). In the formation of employee perceptions at work, Salancik and Pfeffer (1978) focused on the influence of workplace social environment, which has to date emphasized the role of leaders/supervisors (e.g., Ferris, Fedor, Rowland, & Porac, 1985; Griffin, Bateman, Wayne, & Head, 1987; Herold & Parsons, 1985; Piccolo & Colquitt, 2006; Purvanova, Bono, & Dzieweczynski, 2006; Vigoda-Gadot & Angert, 2007). This study aims to examine the role of workplace friendship in employee perception of job significance. Specifically, organizations endeavor to motivate employees for their job and, in turn, for organizational performance. Such motivators may be classified as intrinsic or extrinsic in nature (Hackman & Oldham, 1976). Extrinsic motivators involve the use of factors extrinsic to the work (e.g., financial rewards, work environment) to motivate employees. Intrinsic motivators are designed into the work itself and include job variety, identity, autonomy, feedback and significance (Hackman & Oldham, 1975, 1976; Judge, Bono, & Locke, 2000). Because of the following reasons, this study focuses on the intrinsic motivator of job significance, i.e., one's job has an impact on others and/or the working organization (Hackman & Oldham, 1975; Hirschfeld, Schmitt, & Bedeian, 2002).

Intrinsic motivators have longer-lasting effect while extrinsic ones secure only temporary compliance (Lin, 2007). Also, they are more effective in motivating superior effort and performance (Hackman & Oldham, 1976). Except job significance, organizations need actual job design/ redesign to produce/enhance intrinsic motivators (i.e., variety, identity, autonomy, and feedback), as, for example, was shown by Griffin et al. (1987, cited in Piccolo, Greenbaum, Den Hartog, & Folger, 2010). Although job significance relates to actual work content (Griffin et al., 1987; Landeweerd & Boumans, 1994; Pratt & Ashforth, 2003), the employee's perception seems to more determine the enhancement or attenuation of job significance (Pratt & Ashforth, 2003, p. 311). For example, jobs at lower hierarchical levels have less impact within the organization than those at higher levels (Hollander & Offermann, 1990), giving lowerlevel employees lower objective job significance. However, a lower-level employee may perceive that the unsatisfactory performance of his/her job will bring trouble to a subsequent worker in the workflow sequence, or harm the performance of his/her work group and influence supervisors' decisions. …

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