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Active Employee Communication Roles in Organizations: A Framework for Understanding and Discussing Communication Role Expectations

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Abstract

Several scholars have pointed out the importance of employees' strategic communication behaviors for organizational performance and employee wellbeing. Employees contribute to organizations by acting as brand ambassadors , boundary spanners and crisis communicators. Employees play such roles on top of assigned job tasks, which can lead to role overload, role conflicts and job stress. The analysis of employees' communication role enactment is hampered by the lack of a framework describing the complete range of active communication roles that employees are expected to play in the workplace. This article introduces the Active Employee Communication Roles Framework (AECR Framework), develops the conceptualization of eight communication roles, and discusses implications for strategic communication. The first four roles-the embodier, promotor, defender, and relationship builder role-describe ambassador roles. In addition, employees play the roles of scout, sensemaker, innovator, and critic to contribute to organizational development. The AECR framework provides a new lens which aids our understanding of the relationship between communication, and employee performance and wellbeing, and provides employees and employers a tool to analyze and calibrate mutual expectations regarding communication behaviors. The framework can also help employees to more strategically allocate resources when executing the various communication roles. This may help to alleviate employee role stress, and create healthier workplaces.

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