New worker voice must be heard

Head and shoulders of Adrian Wilkson, with people sitting in background.
Professor Adrian Wilkinson has co-edited a new book on the voice of the employee.

The voice of the employee remains a key dynamic of any workplace, but how has its influence and appreciation changed with time?

That question and most other queries on the expression of the views of the worker are addressed in a new book co-edited by Professor Adrian Wilkinson, Director of Griffith University’s Centre for Work, Organisation and Wellbeing.

Handbook of Research on Employee Voice examines not only the role of employee voice in work organisations but also its impact in society through the research of 50 academics around the world.

“Employee voice is often considered valuable by managers as workers are on the front line and have access to critical information. Management think they need that information,” Professor Wilkinson says.

“But employee voice is more fundamental than that. Employees need to be able to voice their views as part of human dignity and to have a say in the determination of working conditions.”

Handbook of Research on Employee Voice charts the evolution of the worker’s voice from the height of the union movement which focused the articulation of concerns to more recent workplace scenarios where it is primarily about how workers communicate with managers and how managers engage with staff.

Professor Wilkinson is one of four editors who have combined energy and expertise on the breakthrough publication, the others being Jimmy Donaghey, Tony Dundon and leading Harvard University academic Richard Freeman.

Handbook of Research on Employee Voice explores the different dimensions of public voice, its underappreciated historical pedigree and the different contexts and levels where its influence plays out or fails to impact.

Its connection to workplace involvement, participation, empowerment and engagement is also analysed, as the authors seek to establish how labour has expressed its voice in the past compared with today and whether the landscape has changed for the better or otherwise.