1. Informal Networks
Atkinson & Moffat (2005) describes informal networks as a relationship between colleagues that develops after the realization of the gains derivable from such a network. Informal networks keep employees connected in a context that is only well understood among them (members of the same network). As opposed to formal networks which are regulative, informative-instructive, or integrative or innovative, informal networks are inherently are known to change with time (Anderson, Ones, Sinangil, & Viswesvaran, 2001). Research has shown that these networks are less innovative and are by all means not regulative.
Conventionally, the presence of informal networks has always been justified in virtually all organizations. This has always called for managers to restructure their organizations in a bid to curb the negative influences of this kind of networks. According to Krackhard & Handson (1993), the ideology behind such restructuring activities acknowledge the sabotaging potential of informal networks to block communication and fuel oppositeness to an organization’s goals. On the other hand, it is unquestionable that informal networks are potential promoters of the completion of employee tasks that would have been otherwise not completed through formal reporting procedures (Farmer, 2008). This article, although not meant to promote informal networks, acknowledges that many organizations have reportedly failed to curb the development in this kind of network. The article call upon employees who are already part any given type of informal network to help in tapping the positive aspects of informal networks in aiding the attainment of an organization’s goals.
Assertively, employees are always incognizant of being part of an informal network, let alone the type of informal network. Empirical researches point to the existence of three types of informal networks; trust network, communication network and advice network (Krackhard & Handson, 2005). A trust network is a type of informal network formed by employees whose main characteristic is the unveiling of the causation of organizational problems such as poor performance. Trust networks are overly useful in moments of crisis as well as when an organization is considering the implementation of structural changes. Communication networks, in the other hand, are networks that form as a result of employees being ready to share information with members of the network more easily than non-member. The most advanced type of informal network is the advice network as it concentrates more on the salient features in an organization as the basic resources to technical information.
Characteristics of healthy informal networks
There are several characteristics that are typical of a healthy informal network. As Deckman (n.d) upholds, one of the main reasons why employees should form informal networks is to help get tasks done in a quick an efficient manner. Besides, the networks should be self selecting hence one should not be forced into joining any of such kinds of networks. Most importantly, leaders of such groups (though are not easily recognizable) should appreciate the essence of serving the group as opposed to commanding the group.
Negative effects of informal networks
Expectedly, informal networks oft make some employees feel insecure while interacting with employees belonging to opposite informal networks, specifically employees with the similar job description (Slack & Parent, 2005). The feeling of insecurity is even more articulated in the event that the informal network in to which another colleague is affiliated to openly defies formal structures.
Again, employees in the same informal group tend to treat one another better than their counterpart in other informal groups. As Slack & Parent (2005) affirms, unfair treatment of other employees on the grounds of informal network to which some belongs in one of the major causation of job dissatisfactions. Informal networks integrally apportion power and leadership roles to people who deserve them as viewed by the members of the network. Powers and leadership roles assigned through the observation of employees’ roles in the informal networks is yet another cause of unfair treatment of other employees; such leaders have an inclination of favoritism to members with whom they share common ideologies, member of the same informal network.
Notwithstanding, as Nemiro, Beyerlein, Bradley & Beyerlein (2008) purport upon analyzing the works of multiple researchers, it has always been suggested that organizations must accommodate informal structures owing to the fact that positive effects of informal structures outweigh the negative effects. However, to employees, this should not be seen as a call to form informal networks; informal network burgeon naturally and should not be forced into existence.
2. Employee Discrimination
Increasing diversity in an organization is one of the major ways of enhancing the productivity of employees in a company by bringing talents from other ethnical backgrounds. Though intended to increase the productiveness of employees in an organization, diversification of employees in a company is usually accompanied with a numerous challenges. As Ensher, Grant-Vallone & Donaldson (2001) contend, increasing the diversity of workforce in an organization though has a number of advantages, presents innumerable challenges. This, therefore, warrants that, organizations that manage workforce diversification effectively stand a chance of gleaning a plethora of benefits that a diverse workforce offers. The main challenge the diversification of workforce presents is discrimination. From an outward look, it is easy to perceive that the management of discrimination should be left to the hand of the management of an organization. Employees are a better position of ameliorating discrimination considering that they are the ones who fuel discrimination. However, this is largely dependent on the employees’ understanding of the effects of discrimination.
Forms of Workplace Discrimination
Workplace discrimination can be broadly categorized into; racial discrimination, age discriminations, sexual discrimination, and discrimination based on disability. Racial discrimination, just like the name suggests, is a race based form of discrimination in which other people assume a discriminatory behavior towards members of another race. Discriminatory in this context refers to the use of abusive language and judgment while disparage another person’s race. In most case, racist people perceive their race to be much more superior to other races.
Age based discrimination occurs when people take a discriminatory stance based on their ages. A good example of age discrimination occurs when one is driven into thinking that he or she can complete a given task more satisfactorily than another person because of his or her age. Sexual discrimination is yet another preponderant form of discrimination, perhaps only second to racial discrimination, that is based on one gender. In an organization, there is always a stereotype that women are best suited for some job positions than men, and, likewise, men can complete certain job tasks than more adeptly than women. Disability-based discrimination is also similar to sex discrimination only that disability based discrimination pertains to discrimination on the grounds of one’s physical and mental disability.
Effects of discrimination
Job commitment and satisfaction have for a long time been considered pertinent components are some of the most prone to discrimination. Locke (1976) defines job satisfaction as a positive emotional state the emanates from the appraisal of one job or job experiences. Though little research has been done on the underlying relationship between job satisfaction and discrimination, very little is cognized about the effects of discrimination, specifically perceived discrimination on job satisfaction. However, it is indubitable that job satisfaction is greatly hampered if discrimination is eminent in an organization.
Just like job satisfaction, organizational commitment is yet another facet that is commonly affected by discrimination. As Mowday, Porter, and Steers, 1982, asseverate, organizational commitment is the bond that an employee develops an organization and greatly determines the chances of an employee remaining in an organization for long. Apparently, it has been observed that sustaining organizational commitment particularly in light of women and minority groups in an organization is a tremendous challenge in most organizations. This has often translated into very many women and people belonging to minority groups exiting organizations also most as soon as they join the organization.
What employee should do
Now that you understand some for the effect of discrimination, it is a call on you as an employee to refrain for any act of discrimination. MacKenzie, Podsakoff, and Fetter (1993) uphold that employees should embrace interpersonal, work relations as opposed to discrimination. Interpersonal job relation delineates work relation in which employees voluntarily help one other to complete various tasks, provide helpful tips for completing assigned tasks while offering positive feedback to other employees.
3. Employee Commitment
The role that employees play in ensuring the competitiveness of a company is one that cannot be overlooked. As Michael Porter once stated, competiveness of a business organization is the extent to which a business is able to sustain future growth. This in essence pertains to a business’ sustainable growth rate relative to other competing business. According to Toh, competitiveness has a lot to do with a business’s policies. However, a company’s competitiveness is substantially influenced by the employees’ commitment. As Robert (2006) notes, employees who are committed to their organizations provide companies with a much needful competitive vantage. This assertion underscores the fact that committed employees exhibit higher productivities compared to their uncommitted counterparts. Moreover, committed employees have a higher propensity to stay with one organization for a longer time and are less like to leave an organization voluntarily (Ramsay & Finney, 2006). Since most companies appreciate the role that committed employees play in warranting them competitiveness, several companies formulates policies intended to foster employee commitment. However, with or without policies to foster commitment, employees should understand that just like their commitment is beneficial to the company, employees themselves have a lot more to gain from being committed in an organization.
How employees can enhance their commitment to an organization
The first and foremost way in which employees can enhance their commitment to an organization is through developing a normative commitment that emanates from a feeling of obligation to remain in an organization. As Wiener (1982) affirms, the feeling of obligation to remain in a company is normally exhibited through loyalty and undertaking of duties according to the organization’s policies. In this sense, employees should feel that it is their moral duty to be committed to the organization in because he or she has to do so in what Wiener (1982) refer to as Normative pressure.
Closely related to affective commitment is continuance commitment that develops after an employee has stayed in an organization for a comparatively long duration. As a result, the employee can have personal investments in terms of nontransferable investments such as close healthy relations with colleagues and career investments. In this light is important for one to develop close working relationship with co-workers as well as career investments as some of the strategies of enhancing one’s commitment in an organization.
Veritably, employee or organizational commitment has a close relationship with job satisfaction. It follows, therefore, that committed employees have higher chances of experiencing job satisfaction compared uncommitted employees. Besides, such employees tend to be responsive and result oriented apart from being intrinsically motivated and exhibiting leadership skills.
4. Work-Life Balance
Work-Life balance is increasingly becoming a hot topic in the work place by the day. According to Lockwood (2003), Work-life balance is fast becoming a predominant issue in the work place (As cited in Torun, 2004). Torun (2004) defines Work-Life balance as “the establishment of a successful balance between working obligation and personal commitments.” In this definition, life is viewed as anything done by an employee outside his or her paid work duties.
Importance of a good Work-Life balance
There are a plethora of benefits accruable from a good work-life balance. Though, from an outward look, it can be easily assumed that organizations are more likely to benefit from a salutary work-life balance more than the employees. It is veritable that employees have more to gain from good work-life balance. As asserted in The SWAN Charter (n.d), employees with a good work-life balance have limited chances of suffering from stress-related health problems. Such employees are consecrated to their employers and are more likely to attain high productivity unlike their counterparts with poor work-life balance. Besides, a good Work-life balance ensures that employees are able to manage work and personal commitments.
Flexible Working Options
Uscher, in an article published in the WebMD, suggests some of the ways of achieving a work-life balance. In the article, Uscher suggests that an employee’s plan for the weeks should also include time to pass with the friends and family. Additionally, the author conjures that employees should refrain from activities, like gossiping with a colleague, which unnecessarily costs them time and energy. It also advisable that employees determine important house chores that they should complete by themselves.
It is worthwhile to note that the attainment of a splendid work-life balance depends on one’s ability to make proper arrangement with one’s employer. In this light, Albertas Human Resources and Employment suggests some of the methods through which an employee can attain a workable work-life balance. The department suggests that employees should flex their time through seeking alternative work schedules, bargaining for reduced working time as well as seeking compressed work schedules. Regarding alternative work schedules, the articles highlights that employees should vary their start and end of workday time in a manner that suites them best. The authors of the article contest that there is always a time in any give organization when all employees should be present. This, therefore, is an indication the any alternative work schedule should be devised in a way that the employee is found on shift in such times (when all employees should be at work). Similarly, the employee can embrace adopt a compressed working schedule in which the employee works extra hours on a daily basis (Government of Alberta Human Resource and Employment, 2004; Clutterbuck, 2003). This works well in organizations in which workers are expected to work for a given number of hours each week. Reduced working hours occurs when an employee decides to work for fewer hours than the number of hours required (Government of Alberta Human Resource and Employment, 2004; Clutterbuck, 2003). This provision is in most case temporary and provides the employee with time to complete personal commitments.
Besides flexing time, employees should strive to “flex the work place”. This is principally done through telecommuting in which an employee decides to finish some of the assigned tasks from home (Government of Alberta Human Resource and Employment, 2004; Clutterbuck, 2003). The downside of this strategy is that it relies heavily on communication technology hence might not be the best strategy in organization that have not embraced communication technology. Flexing the job is another strategy that one can embrace in order to achieve a balance between work and life. Flexing one’s job can be achieved through heedful selection of job responsibilities that can be completed without creating a conflict between one job and personal life (Government of Alberta Human Resource and Employment, 2004).
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