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How symmetrical employee communication leads to employee engagement and positive employee communication behaviors: The mediation of employee-organization relationships

Minjeong Kang (Department of Journalism, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA)
Minjung Sung (Department of Advertising and Public Relations, Chung-Ang University, Seoul, South Korea)

Journal of Communication Management

ISSN: 1363-254X

Article publication date: 6 February 2017




The purpose of this paper is to examine how a company’s symmetrical internal communication efforts could influence its employees’ perception of relationship outcomes with the company and the subsequent employee communication behaviors about the company to others and their turnover intention. Additionally, the mediation effects of employee-organization relationship (EOR) quality between symmetrical internal communication and employee engagement were tested.


The study collected the data from a survey of randomly selected 438 individuals who work as sales representatives of the case organization. Respondents were randomly selected through stratified sampling. For the overall statistical procedure, this study adopted the two-step structural equation modeling: on the basis of the final measurement model analysis from confirmatory factor analysis, the proposed structural model was tested using latent variables.


The findings of this research clearly demonstrate: employee/internal communication management is linked with employee engagement; employee engagement enhances supportive employee communication behaviors and reduces turnover intention. Also, the mediation results show strong mediation of EORs on the effects of symmetrical internal communication on employee engagement.

Research limitations/implications

Employees’ communication behaviors such as megaphoning and scouting have special strategic values to organizations. With information seeking, selecting, forwarding, and sharing behaviors of employees, organizations may obtain more valuable information than through formal procedures and channels. Professional literature has long been supporting the importance of fostering positive employee communication behaviors (ECBs), suggesting that WOM and information from the employees deemed as most trustworthy by the external publics. ECBs about their organizations may be viewed as a testament of the quality of EOR. This study results show that employee engagement plays a key role in creating positive ECBs.

Practical implications

Pragmatically, as noted in the findings, symmetrical communication is an important factor that leads to positive ECB. To facilitate employees’ favorable communication regarding an organization, therefore, the organization needs to practice a two-way, employee-centered symmetrical communication system in its everyday communication management. Communication managers are advised to nurture internal communication practices that listen to the employees and invite their participation in addition to providing complete and fair information to employees. Second, by showing the significant positive influence of EOR on employee engagement and ECB, the finding of the study suggests that strategic relationship management with internal publics affect overall management effectiveness. Hence, organizational managers need to adopt various relationship cultivation strategies in their communication with employees, which have been previously proposed by several studies.


The findings of the study demonstrated that the effects of employee relationship management and symmetrical internal communication indeed exist beyond ECBs to the actual managerial outcomes. The findings also suggest a three-stage model of employee communication management: employee/internal communication management antecedents; employee engagement; and supportive outcomes of effective employee communication programs, such as supportive/extra ECBs.



Kang, M. and Sung, M. (2017), "How symmetrical employee communication leads to employee engagement and positive employee communication behaviors: The mediation of employee-organization relationships", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 82-102.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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