Perceptions of employee volunteering: Is it "credited" or "stigmatized" by colleagues?by J. B. Rodell, J. Lynch

Academy of Management Journal

Text

Perceptions of employee volunteering: Is it "credited" or "stigmatized" by colleagues?

Journal: Academy of Management Journal

Manuscript ID: AMJ-2013-0566.R3

Manuscript Type: Revision

Keywords:

Organizational citizenship behavior < Behavior < Organizational Behavior < Topic Areas, Corporate social responsibility < Social Issues in

Management < Topic Areas, Structural equation modeling < Analysis <

Research Methods

Abstract:

As research begins to accumulate on employee volunteering, it appears that this behavior is largely beneficial to employee performance and commitment. It is less clear, however, how employee volunteering is perceived by others in the workplace. Do colleagues award volunteering “credit”– for example, associating it with being concerned about others – or do they “stigmatize” it – for example, associating it with being distracted from work? Moreover, do those evaluations go on to predict how colleagues actually treat employees who volunteer more often? Adopting a reputation perspective, we draw from theories of person perception and attribution to explore these research questions. The results of a field study revealed that colleagues gave credit to employee volunteering when they attributed it to intrinsic reasons and stigmatized employee volunteering when they attributed it to impression management reasons. Ultimately, through the awarded credits, volunteering was rewarded by supervisors (with the allocation of more resources) and coworkers (with the provision of more helping behavior) when it was attributed to intrinsic motives – a relationship that was amplified when stigmas were low and mitigated when stigmas were high. The results of a laboratory experiment further confirmed that volunteering was both credited and stigmatized, distinguishing it from citizenship behavior, which was credited but not stigmatized.

Academy of Management Journal

Perceptions of Employee Volunteering: Is It “Credited” or “Stigmatized” by Colleagues?

Jessica B. Rodell

University of Georgia jrodell@uga.edu

John W. Lynch

University of Georgia jwlynch@uga.edu

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PERCEPTIONS OF EMPLOYEE VOLUNTEERING: IS IT “CREDITED” OR “STIGMATIZED” BY COLLEAGUES?

As research begins to accumulate on employee volunteering, it appears that this behavior is largely beneficial to employee performance and commitment. It is less clear, however, how employee volunteering is perceived by others in the workplace. Do colleagues award volunteering “credit”– for example, associating it with being concerned about others – or do they “stigmatize” it – for example, associating it with being distracted from work? Moreover, do those evaluations go on to predict how colleagues actually treat employees who volunteer more often?

Adopting a reputation perspective, we draw from theories of person perception and attribution to explore these research questions. The results of a field study revealed that colleagues gave credit to employee volunteering when they attributed it to intrinsic reasons and stigmatized employee volunteering when they attributed it to impression management reasons. Ultimately, through the awarded credits, volunteering was rewarded by supervisors (with the allocation of more resources) and coworkers (with the provision of more helping behavior) when it was attributed to intrinsic motives – a relationship that was amplified when stigmas were low and mitigated when stigmas were high. The results of a laboratory experiment further confirmed that volunteering was both credited and stigmatized, distinguishing it from citizenship behavior, which was credited but not stigmatized.

Page 2 of 65Academy of Management Journal 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 3 “They are more organized in order to fit those extra activities in their lives.” “They are looking for activities that allow them to get out of work time…” - Colleagues when asked what they think of employees who engage in volunteering

Volunteering – giving time during a planned activity for a volunteer group or organization (Clary & Snyder, 1999; Rodell, 2013; Wilson, 2000) – is becoming an increasingly popular activity, particularly among employed adults (Brudney & Gazley, 2006; Bureau of Labor

Statistics, 2011). Thus far, there is every indication that employee volunteering is beneficial for companies, in terms of harder working employees (Rodell, 2013), positive employee attitudes (Bartel, 2001), and retention of employees (Jones, 2010). What remains less clear, however, is how other people at work – supervisors and coworkers – evaluate and react to employee volunteering.

At first glance, there are reasons to expect that colleagues would simply ignore an employee’s volunteering completely. After all, employee volunteering represents effort that is directed toward some charitable organization and not one’s employer or colleagues. Thus, it may be easy for scholars and practitioners alike to overlook the relevance and importance of volunteering in regard to how an employee is viewed and treated at work. However, a more indepth look at the current corporate environment may suggest otherwise. In today’s business world, employees’ personal lives are becoming increasingly intertwined with their work (Umphress, Tihanyi, Bierman, Gogus, 2013). In part this trend may be due to the growing visibility of people’s personal lives – for example, through social media (Conner, 2012). In part, this trend may also be the result of changing perspectives and habits of employees, who blur the lines between work and home with the help of electronic devices (Golden & Geisler, 2007).