Focus group exploration of firm-employee relationship strength
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Purpose - To present the results of exploratory research which analysed firm-employee relationship strength from the employee perspective. Three main research questions were explored: What indicators should be used to measure strong firm-employee relationships? How important do employees see relationships to be in the work environment? and how do employees define relationship strength? Design/methodology/approach - Qualitative research in the form of focus groups was utilised. Four focus groups of employees from medium to large regional and national Australian companies were held in a large Australian regional city. Findings - Employees view relationships as being very important in the work environment. The findings revealed a greater degree of consistency between employees' viewpoints about important relationship elements and non-marketing literature. Important elements found were co-operation, empowerment, communication, attachment, shared goals and values, trust and respect. The emphasis on commitment as a key relationship indicator was not supported by the findings. The findings are summarised in a proposed model of relationship strength, positing commitment as a relationship strength outcome. Employees defined relationship strength in terms of the identified elements. Research limitations/implications - This research enables commencement of examination of the value of internal relationships through empirical examination of the proposed model. Practical implications - Management is informed as to what makes the best work environment from the perspective of employees. Originality/value - Fulfills an identified gap in the literature in relation to the ability to measure internal firm relationships. It also clarifies the confusing literature on relationship elements, and it posits a model for the empirical assessment of firm-employee relationship strength.
Qualitative Market Research: an international journal
Copyright 2005 Emerald: Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the publisher version for access to the definitive, published version.