Although many service organizations have adopted a productivity orientation to respond to increasing market challenges, the unanticipated downside effect of such an orientation is not well understood. For managers, it is interesting to know if this strategic initiative is working and how to implement it more successfully.
The theoretical model used in this paper is tested with a survey of 879 frontline employees from five different health-care organizations.
The authors find evidence of a trade-off when a productivity orientation is adopted. A productivity orientation improves frontline service employee productivity performance but indirectly harms quality performance and job satisfaction. The authors find further evidence that trust in management helps to mitigate these negative effects.
This paper suggests that a productivity orientation must be managed carefully. Efficiency improvements may be overshadowed by reduced quality and job satisfaction. Limitations arise from the self-reported survey data.
The results suggest that employees who trust their managers are better able to cope with the stressors arising from increased productivity demands.
To the authors’ best knowledge, no research has systematically examined the process and potential hazards of implementing a productivity orientation from a frontline employee perspective. The current paper reveals the mechanisms by which a productivity orientation influences frontline employees’ change perceptions and performance and shows that employee trust in management may buffer the downside effects of a productivity orientation.
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