Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Fostering Cultural Innovation Through Employee Satisfaction

Are satisfied employees more innovative? Research helps to show how fostering the right organization culture leads to both satisfaction and innovation. Such concepts are embedded in social dynamics of a company and create subtle expectations on employees. Those organizations that foster positive interaction and recognition also set the right tone within their populations to overcome market challenges.

Organizational culture can be envisioned as the totality of beliefs, values, knowledge, ideas, and habits that defines the very nature of an organization. Such culture impacts how employees make meaning of their environment and their chosen methods of needs attainment (Olivier, 2008). Through culture an organization can define how it is going to view, understand, approach, and overcome organizational challenges through innovative behavior.

When culture has encouraged beneficial premises that are focused on innovation and problem solving the entire organization can achieve rewards reinforcing additional employee commitment and the financial benefits to the organization. However, before such culture can be appropriately fostered employees should have a minimal level of satisfaction with both the organization and the social structures that exist within the workplace. It is this satisfaction that can lay the framework for expectation and innovation on an organizational socio-cultural scale.

Employee satisfaction can be defined in terms of commitment to the organizations values, the nature of the work, and to other employees. Through this satisfaction and commitment employee will begin to change their perceptions and behaviors to match the needs of their new social group (Adeyinka, Ayeni and Popoola, 2007). Positive social group interactions furthers a sense of unity and similarity in perception and expectations. This can be positive when the workplace fosters constructive ideas or it can be negative when such ideas draw away from self-efficacy.

Employee commitment is further defined through employees complaints, identification with the organization/social group, and overall employee values (Charles, 1986). It is this commitment of values that help employees define their expectations and understanding of the work environment. When commitment to the group entails the ability to produce solutions to problems then innovation becomes a social expectation.

Employee satisfaction also impacts the openness of employees to workplace innovation and its process. Those employees who were satisfied with their jobs also were adaptable, fulfilled and productive which further sets the framework for organizational innovation (Sexena & Vyas, 201). Such employee were open to new concepts as well as the changing roles needed for organizational adjustment. In today's world it is this level of satisfaction and flexibility that creates the commitment to organizational innovative needs and allows companies to adjust to environmental problems.

If one fits within the organization, accepts their social group, and has at least a minimum agreement with the organizational values the employee is likely to be socialized and integrated into the larger cultural network. It is this alignment of values, perceptions and beliefs that create lower organizational costs and can lead to higher levels of motivation and innovation. When signals coming from managers and the organizational structure are  not congruent and confusing the overall socialization process that leads to commitment and satisfaction breaks down.

Positive relationships with management as well as praise and recognition influences both motivation  and satisfaction. A study of 339 employees in ten different wire and cable companies on the Taiwan stock exchange indicated that employees who are innovative, have positive relationships, and receive recognition are more satisfied (Yuan-Duen & Huan-Ming, 2008). The concepts of innovation and satisfaction were based deeply in the environment and its motivational potentials.

The development of higher levels of organizational innovation requires the building of appropriate cultural expectations. Such cultural expectations are based within the social group and the satisfaction the employee feels with his coworkers and managers. By fostering higher levels of positive interaction with organizational members and management, employee satisfaction can raise the level of innovative expectations embedded within the culture. Through solving problems for the self, the social group, and the company an employee can find and make positive meaning out of his/her working life.

Adeyinka, T., Ayeni, C., &  Popoola, O. (2007). Work Motivation, Job Satisfaction, and Organizational Commitment of Library Personnel in Academic and Research Libraries in Oyo State, Nigeria, Library Philosophy and Practice.

Charles-O, R. (1986). Organizational commitment and psychological attachment: The effect of
compliance, identification and internalization on pro-social behavior. Journal of Applied
Psychology , 71 (3), 492-499

Olivier, S. (2008). Culture Theory. Knowledge Solutions, 22.

Saxena, N. & Vyas, J. (2011). Employees' job satisfaction in power back-up industry: an analytical approach. SIES Journal of Management, 7 (2). 

Yuan-Duen, L. & Huan-Ming, C. (2008). Relations between team work and innovation in organizations and job satisfaction of employees: a factor analytic study. International Journal of Management, 25 (4).

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