The effect of employee attitude on brand value in a selected agricultural business
Van Jaarsveld, C.J.
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Substantial research had already been undertaken in terms of the effect of employee attitude or behaviour on things like brand identity, customer satisfaction, customer perceptions et cetera. Past research on the effect of employee attitude on brand perception and customer spending has concentrated on the principles in general. Although very much related, no specific research could be found on the exact topic concerning the effect of employee attitude on brand value, especially not amongst South African agricultural companies. All organisations are under continuous pressure to do more with less as shareholders want more and better financial performance. In order to achieve the latter, income needs to be increased while expenses must be pushed down. One of the most important answers to this dilemma lies in the effective management of human capital. It is of cardinal importance for an employee to disclose an appropriate attitude towards the customer as this might determine the customer's overall impression of his / her buying experience and eventually the level of recurring business. This research aims to focus on the effect of employee attitude on the perception of brand value in a particular South African agricultural business in order for management to gain insight and to develop strategies in order to leverage brand perceptions of customers through the effective management of employee attitude and behaviour. Quantitative empirical research was performed by using a set of self-completion questionnaires. The unit of analysis (or study population) for this study was the customers and employees (as external and internal customers) of a selected South African agricultural business (Senwes Ltd). The questionnaire was divided into three categories, namely demographic (personal factual) questions, questions about the respondent's perceptions of the company's brand and lastly questions about the respondent's experience of attitudes of the employees of the company. The questionnaires were distributed to the selected sample of respondents by e-mail. The data gathered through the survey was processed and analysed by the Statistical Consultation Services Department of the North-West University. The results of the empirical study indicated that firstly the respondents currently have a very high brand perception of Senwes and secondly it was found that the respondents also agreed that the employees of Senwes have a very positive attitude towards customers. There was statistically also no significant evidence that any of the different respondent groups (based on customer types, gender, age and geographic location) felt differently about the two research constructs, namely brand value and employee attitude. A correlation analysis further revealed that firstly there is a positive linear relationship between employee attitude and brand value and, secondly, it was argued that employee attitude causes the change in brand value. This is found to be in line with previous research confirming this relationship in other sectors of the market. The recommendations include that employee branding should be made a key priority. A second recommendation was to focus on the needs of employees. When employees feel looked after, they tend to much easier go the extra mile in return. Thirdly it was recommended to build employee loyalty and commitment through care, concern, fairness, honest communication and trust. In the fourth place the recommendation is made to incorporate measurement and reward criteria into the existing performance management system in order to motivate employees to live the brand measures. Finally a positive company culture needs to be created or maintained and lived by.