The Importance of Employee Voice for Organisational Performance

Employee voice is an opportunity for employees to provide input into decision-making that would once have been limited to top managers only. Organisations are becoming increasingly complex and it is due to this complexity that managers cannot be left to detect and interpret all organisational functioning issues on their own. A shift from centralised decision-making power and a focus on direct communications between employers and employees is increasingly becoming the norm in Employee Relations and Human Resource Management, and with this change in decision making processes it is possible for the power of employee voice to gain momentum. Employee involvement and engagement is rapidly becoming a tool used by senior management in order to keep a competitive edge in demanding financial and market conditions as HRM strategy continues to realise the importance in employee engagement and commitment to organisational goals in the overall success of the organisation. It has been found that the Majority of employees would like the opportunity to contribute to the work issues that matter to them (Bryson, Charlwood and Forth, 2006) and with continual research into the area of employee engagement in relation to organisational commitment, there has been growing support for the benefits of engaging employees with their work through increased employee involvement in important factors relating to their role; including decision-making processes vital to that work. Salanova and Schaufeli (2008) have found that employees who are more engaged with their work are more likely to behave in positive and cooperative ways in order to benefit both the firm and themselves. Furthermore, Employee Voice allows employees the opportunity to communicate their opinions and promotes a belief that their ideas and contributions are valued, which in turn engenders a positive disposition within the worker towards their employer and organisation. Joint Consultation is a managerial strategy in order to promote Employee Voice, involving constructing a committee that includes representatives of management and workers that provides a forum for employees to voice their opinions (Cregan and Brown, 2010). This strategy of opening communication channels would ensure employee culture and opinions are in line with organisational goals to ensure the growth of the company as a whole, and would also ensure that any rising issues or miscommunication between employer and employee could be repaired through the open communication channels, quashing the need for any Industrial Relations action or misrepresentation of the organisation by its employees. The importance of Employee Voice can be seen through the effect it has in the Employee Relations structure. Open communication channels and strong Employee Voice have continually been linked to high performance and high commitment (Bryson, Gomez Kretschmer & Willman, 2007), which in turn would lead to increased productivity and commitment to organisational goals.

In contrast to these benefits, there has also been the identification of a number of detrimental factors associated with Employee Voice. Employee Voice is not a singular and independent feature of an organisation, but rather is dependent on a number of factors existing in a certain way. The continued sustainability of open communication channels between employer and employee is reliant on a number of external factors to the employment relationship. These include the perceived profitable benefits of the open communication channel decided by management, time associated with the hearing and consideration of employee opinion and also external financial pressures not controlled by management. These factors combined with the already present corporate culture regarding conflict management converge to have a direct impact on the survival of Employee Voice. Industrial Relations also comes into play in the success of employee voice, with the regulation of conflict and cooperation within a workplace having direct influence on the degree to which communication is possible.

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