Influences on Employee Empowerment, Commitment and Well-Being in a Gambling Industry
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To maintain a competitive edge in the tourism and hospitality industries, considerable emphasis has been placed on providing quality services for customers. While the work attitudes and behaviours of staff who deliver these services can influence the experiences of service by customers, little is known how internal and external aspects of the environment of an organisation with a controversial service affect the empowerment, work attitudes and well-being of its employees. The aim of the present program of research was to identify employees' perceptions of the salient aspects of the internal and external environment of an organisation delivering a controversial service, gambling, and to examine the impact of these environmental aspects on the empowerment, commitment and well-being of its employees. Working in any service organisation can be demanding for employees, exacerbated when employees deliver a controversial service such as gambling, and work in close proximity to people who gamble. Research indicates that delivery of a gambling service differs from the delivery of other recreational pursuits due to the negative personal, social, and financial impacts of gambling on problem gamblers and others. These negative costs of gambling have generated long standing ethical or moral objections within the community, and, because of the range of community views about gambling, employees who deliver gambling services are likely to be confronted with opposing community views. By interacting with patrons, employees may also question their values and attitudes to gambling, and feel concerned about those patrons who they consider may have a problem with gambling. Organisational resources that facilitate the empowerment, work attitudes and well-being of employees may exist, however, and reduce the negative effects of any gambling-related influences on employees. A mixed methods research design, consisting of two sequential phases, was used. The methods complemented each other, and minimised the disadvantages of using only one approach. A qualitative method was used in the first phase of the program to collect rich descriptions of the experiences of twenty staff working in seven Queensland clubs with gambling services in South East Queensland. The in-depth interviews helped to identify gambling-related challenges and climate-based resources of the internal and external work environments of the service organisation. The gambling-related challenges included community and media attitudes to gambling, peoples' demands on clubs, and staff beliefs about patrons who gamble. The climate-based resources included the organisational welfare of employees, expressed as meeting employees' needs for respect, developing supportive relationships with staff, encouraging open and clear communication, and the provision of social support. Organisational emphasis on quality service and meeting the needs of patrons also served as a climate-based resource for employees. The qualitative process additionally examined the impact of these factors on the empowerment, commitment and well-being of the employees, allowing the development of a conceptual model of the environmental factors of a gambling industry predicting employees' empowerment, commitment, and well-being. In the second phase of the research program, the conceptual model was tested using a cross-sectional survey. A complex, stratified, random sampling technique allowed access to a sample of clubs and participants that best represented registered and licensed clubs in Queensland. A self-administered mail questionnaire was sent to 468 employees over 41 Queensland clubs with 25 to 280 poker machines. After firstly establishing the soundness of the measurement properties of the model using confirmatory factor analysis, structural equation modelling was used to test the utility of the conceptual model developed in Study 1. Overall, Study 2 supported several of the proposed links, suggesting that the conceptual model developed in Study 1 was useful for examining the salient aspects of the external and internal environments of a club that influence staff empowerment, commitment, and well-being. The study showed the role of climate-based resources in a gambling industry by indicating that those employees who had positive perceptions about employee relations, positive beliefs about patron welfare, and felt supported by their supervisors, felt more empowered, and reported higher commitment and reduced emotional exhaustion. Employee relations was the most influential construct in predicting empowerment, and indirectly affected commitment and well-being (mediated by the empowerment dimensions). Study 2 also confirmed that gambling-based challenges of the external and internal environments impacted on the empowerment and well-being of employees. Those employees who believed that the community supported gambling reported an increased sense of influence over their work environment. The employees who held positive beliefs about patrons who gamble, reinforced gambling in clubs, and attributed the causes of problems in gambling onto sources outside themselves (mostly to the patrons), reported more positive well-being. Employees who perceived that people were demanding, and were not appreciative of what clubs did for the community reported reduced meaningfulness, a reduced sense of influence over their duties and work environment, and reduced well-being. Findings also illustrated the key role of influence, and, in particular, the meaningfulness dimension, in the empowerment, commitment, and well-being of employees in an industry delivering a gambling service. The findings of this research have implications for managerial interventions designed to promote the empowerment, commitment and well-being of employees who deliver a gambling service. By developing and strengthening the organisational resources that facilitate the empowerment, work attitudes and well-being of employees, managers are also likely to reduce the negative effects of the demands and conflicting influences of the external and internal gambling-related challenges on employees. This research program is distinctive in that research has not previously examined the impact of internal and external challenges and resources of a gambling industry on the empowerment, work attitudes, and well-being of its employees. There has, also, been no prior research focused on the work attitudes of employees in the Queensland club industry. Future research needs to replicate the findings of the present research program. The challenges and resources that were found to affect employees in the club industry, however, may be organisation specific. There is, therefore, a need for further research that compares the impact of factors related to the delivery of a gambling service in the club industry with different gambling industries, such as the hotel and casino industries. To provide further insight into the effects of empowerment on employees' work outcomes, a performance measure, such as patron satisfaction could be included. Future studies could also examine group differences in perceptions of climate-based and gambling-related influences on the empowerment, work attitudes and well-being of employees, as a function of their occupational level. The interviews of the present research program implied that employees in different organisational positions might respond differently to both the external and internal environmental factors of the organisation.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Applied Psychology (Health)
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