Overview

Employee voice can be defined as “the ways and means through which employees attempt to have a say and potentially influence organisational affairs about issues that affect their work and the interests of managers and owners” (Wilkinson, Donaghey, Dundon and Freeman 2014). This definition combines a variety of voice mechanisms that analysts often group in separate boxes (e.g. involvement or bargaining; union and non–union). It allows for employer implemented Non–Union Employee Representative (NER) systems as a collective form of voice, be it chosen to marginalise a union presence or to provide an alternative to union influence as well as union forms of voice.

There is scope to analyse what specific ‘voice’ practice means to the those involved, and whether various schemes can improve organisational effectiveness and employee wellbeing or allow workers to have a genuine say in organisational decisions. Related debates include the idea of employee whistleblowing as voice, especially given the growth in corporate and government scandals surrounding unethical business conduct.

Voice also has to be re-evaluated in relation to time and space so as to capture its relevance and substance surrounding types of work, occupations, and industries. Future issues in this regard include the changing role of government institutions and legislative regimes for voice, corporate governance and business ethics which affect both individual and collective rights for voice.

Research areas

  • Employee involvement and participation
  • Employee representation and voice
  • Enterprise bargaining
  • Management of union relations and partnerships
  • Whistleblowing at work

Voice at Work

Professor Adrian Wilkinson explains what Employee Voice is and it's important role in the employment relationship.

Members undertaking research in this area

  • Professor Adrian Wilkinson
  • Professor Fang Lee Cooke (Adjunct)
  • Professor Pauline Dibben (Adjunct)
  • Professor Bruce Kaufman (Adjunct)
  • Professor Geoff Wood (Adjunct)
  • Professor Peter Ackers (Adjunct)

Recent research outputs

  • Barry, M. & Wilkinson, A. 2015, ‘Pro-Social or Pro-Management? A Critique of the conception of employee voice as a pro-social behaviour within Organizational Behaviour’, British Journal of Industrial Relations, doi: 10.1111/bjir.12114.
  • Brown, A.J. and Lawrence, S.A. 2017, Strength of organisational whistleblowing processes - analysis from Australia. Further results of the Whistling While They Work 2 project, Griffith University, Brisbane, May.
  • Gollan, P., Kaufman, B.E., Taras, D. & Wilkinson, A. (eds) 2014, Voice and Involvement at Work: Experience with  Non-Union Representation, Routledge.
  • Mowbray, P., Wilkinson, A. & Tse, H. 2014, ‘An integrative review of employee voice: Identifying the common conceptualisation and research agenda’, International Journal of Management Reviews, 17(3), pp. 382–400, doi: 10.1111/ijmr.12045.
  • Townsend, K. & Loudoun, R. 2015, ‘The front-line manager’s role in informal voice pathways’, Employee Relations, 37(4), pp. 475–486.
  • Wilkinson, A. & Barry, M. 2016, ‘Voices from across the divide: An industrial relations perspective on employee voice‘, German Journal of Industrial Relations, 30(3–), pp. 338–344.
  • Wilkinson, A., Donaghey, J., Dundon, T. & Freeman, R. (eds) 2014, Handbook of Research on Employee Voice, Edward Elgar.
  • Wilkinson, A., Townsend, K., & Burgess, J. 2013, ‘Reassessing employee involvement and participation: Atrophy, reinvigoration and patchwork in Australian workplaces’, Journal of Industrial Relations, 55(4), pp. 583-600.

More information

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