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Forms of Employee Negetive Word of Mouth

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Submitted By purple4m
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The purpose of this article is to explain and provide the understandings within the forms of negative word of mouth (WOM) by the front line workers toward the employees and customers in any organizations. The word of mouth in this article is about the negative verbal communication or spoken meanings of a person towards the customer and other employees that work in the same organization or department. According to this article there has been a research interest into (WOM) from several organizational disciplines and there is a notable lack of studies on employee negative WOM behaviours. Besides that the author of the article has found some studies that contribute and also relate on employee behaviours that can be viewed as linked to word of mouth such as sabotage (Ackroyd and Thompson, 1999; Harris and Ogbonna, 2002;Wang et al.,2011), workplace incivility (Van Jaarsveld et al., 2010) and retaliation (Skarlicki et al., 1999).
Although they are some research aids have tended to avoid the forms of WOM by employees, especially front-line, customer contact employees who are the direct interface between organizations and their customers. This article also mention that the authors have stated that the findings of the word of mouth phenomenon in the organization will provide the important information to the literature on the changing aspects of negative employee behaviour in the workplace, mostly in relation to front-line service work where there remains a continuing absence of related studies of service encounters by (Korczynski, 2009) especially in relation to face-to-face customer contact work (Ogbonna, 2010). The purpose of this article is to supply grounded empirical insights into the forms of front-line, customer contact employee negative WOM.
According to the author, to gain information about the form of behaviour, the findings require the target audiences, focuses, motives and employee belief in the truthfulness of each form of word of mouth that is identified, all of which are explored in the article. The article findings are combined into a series of suggestions which future researchers may find useful in advancing research in the area. The article begins with the review of the relevant studies that help in explaining the theoretical framework for the study of word of mouth communication. Then the author mention that it is followed by a discussion of the methods through which data for the study were gathered and analysed, leading to the presentation of the findings and the final part of the article presents a discussion of the contributions and limitations of the work regarding to the forms of employee negative word of mouth.
According to the article, the word of mouth is derived from Harrison-Walker (2001, p. 63) who defines WOM communication as “informal, person-to-person communication between a perceived non-commercial communicator and a receiver regarding a brand, a product, an organization, or a service”. In this case, the word of mouth can be negative or positive, with the purpose of the article is the negative word of mouth refer to the purpose of negative communication. The article, review the studies of employee word of mouth that focused on (HRM) human resource management or organizational studies which, whereas not being directly focused on WOM, which also may contribute to employee responses that can be associated with WOM.
During the research of word of mouth in the organization they have found that a domination of studies by organizational psychologists and marketing scholars. Researchers working from organizational psychology perspectives have explored the role of WOM as a source of recruitment-related information and concluded that WOM can impact positively on the attractiveness of potential organizational recruits. Besides that there has been an argued that applicants commonly rely on WOM information which is normally communicated through their informal networks to determine whether they should seek employment in particular organizations.

According to (Shinnar et al,2004) he observe that employees generally engage in such behaviours either as a result of intrinsic motivation or as a consequence of the inducement that may be offered by their organization. Thus, employees who are satisfied with their organizations are more likely to participate in positive support which could help the organization in recruitment and selection. The interest in the links between word of mouth and recruitment, marketing studies of word of mouth are generally focused on the perceived association between customer word of mouth and organizational success.
The research also mentions that the organization attempts to stimulate the demand through media that commonly link to the “buzz marketing” (Carl, 2006). According to the author this kind of area is refer to the traditional word of mouth practices by the customer. The article stated that, from the earlier research finding that consumers whose complaints were not determined to their satisfaction told twice as many people about their negative experiences when compared with consumers who were satisfied with the product or service, yet a vast proportion of the marketing literature on this issue is dedicated to positive WOM by loyal customers according to the (Mayzlin, 2009).
From the employee responses perspective, the role word of mouth, from the customer word of mouth has influence the impact towards the performance of the organization. This article mention that the author has begun by exploring behaviours that are commonly described as the “dark side” of organizational life, including employee misbehaviours such as sabotage, incivility and retaliation. And also followed by a review of employee voice and silence as well as other forms of resistance by front-line employees to organizational rules designed to control their subjectivity. Other than that there is a growing literature which finds various evidence of sabotage behaviour amongst front-line customer service employees. Referring from the article, it is confirm that many researchers view that misbehaviour as employee comes from the excesses of customers. For example according to the (Wang et al, 2011) note that employee sabotage is commonly the result of customer mistreatment of service staff.
From the studies, it shows that from the context of service work, the customer has been viewed as the primary factor of the ethical assault on front-line workers. However, from the previous discussion, it has contributed to a line of reasoning that workplace misbehaviour (such as deliberate negative WOM) is an attempt to resist the excessive power and controlling desire of management. According to the article, the researcher has argued that the desire to explain employee actions in relation to management control may cover wider motives for employee misbehaviour especially those that are legally and morally questionable. Supported with the studies by (Fearfull and Kamenou, 2007) they have reported systematic discrimination and prejudice by front-line employees even in the context of care provision. Therefore, the misbehaviour of service staff resulted in harm and even the death of service recipients. Most of the issues are about the importance of further understandings into the behaviours of front-line service employers.
From the research, the author stated four different forms of negative word of mouth behaviours which are labelled customer-oriented, anti-management, employee-oriented and anti-competitor word-of-mouth. The paper shows how each of these behaviours varied in terms of the target audience (the intended listener), the focus of attention, the motivation (the perceived rationale for the behaviour) and the extent to which employees perceived their own comments to be truthful.
The first form of employee negative WOM is labelled “customer-oriented”. Its target audience are the current customers of the organizations. Meanwhile, their focus attentions are the undesirable customer or specific ethnic in the community. The motive of this type of employee negative WOM is to exclude the difficult customer and at the same time reduce their work intensification. The second form of employee negative WOM refers to sustained derogatory comments made by employees regarding the company management or employing firm. It also known as anti-management WOM. The targeted audiences are wide not only co-workers but also friends, family, neighbours and general public with a view to harm the reputation of the firm or its management. The focus of the employee negative WOM were the perceived injustices focused on either financial loss by the employee or unfair treatment from the manager. This type of WOM only occurred when employees believed that an injustice had taken place was design to bring about support or sympathy for the victim. The third form of employee negative WOM is called employee oriented. This form of negative WOM is deliberately targeted at individuals who seem to be unwanted potential future work colleagues. For example are current employees who currently worked for the firm in a separate department or outlet and also individuals outside the firm who were perceived to be potential applicants for job vacancies in the organization. The author also stated that this type of WOM is motivated by a desire to protect current working conditions, maintain social identity or to protect income or personal associates where the front line employees perceived poor management practices and this will led them to use negative WOM in their communications with current or potential employees. The final form of employee negative WOM is labelled anti-competitor WOM. It refers to comments designed to denigrate or malign competitor organizations. The target audience are the current and potential customers where the focus of attention is about management quality, employment policies, and also product and service quality. Meanwhile the motive of this type of WOM is to increase sales during economic downturn and to protect jobs and incomes.
The speed of everything has become one of the features of this era. Spread of knowledge and information, communications, e-management, e-marketing and selling and even everything, the whole practice became faster and more useful through the means of various communications. Companies of all types have to be aware that word of mouth is an important part of the marketing strategy. Companies must build good relations with its customers to earn their loyalty, and ensure their commitment to talk about the virtues of the company and its products. Managers must understand that the satisfied customer can attract new customers through word of mouth. However, the negative WOM of employee has become an issue because employees also play big role in influencing customers. A more practical implication of this study lies with the potential for employee negative WOM to damage management performance. A number of the instances of employee negative WOM appear potentially extremely damaging to both financial and non-financial performance measures. Employees were found intentionally reducing sales volume through discouraging certain types of customers, potentially harming productivity through excluding potential employees and harming the reputation of the organization via negative or derogatory comments. Therefore, company or firm must take serious in this issue to ensure that the habit of employee negative WOM is in controlled state and practices just for the good image of the company.


Harris, Llyod C., Ogbonna, Emmanuel (2012) “Forms of employee negative word of mouth :a study of front-line workers”, Employee Relations, Vol. 35 Iss:1, p. 39-60.…...

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