Post-doc research continues to break down employee voice

After wrapping up her PhD dissertation on the management of employee voice, the Centre for Work, Organisation and Wellbeing welcomes Dr Paula Mowbray as Griffith University’s newest Postdoctoral Research Fellow.

“It’s fantastic. It’s the ideal opportunity!” said Mowbray.

“It’s brilliant to continue with the flow of what I have been doing [as a PhD candidate] and really delve deeper and move it to the next level.”

Mowbray’sPhD research looked to identify ways of improving the management of employee voice in order to improve employee productivity, performance and wellbeing through the design andmanagement of employee voice mechanisms and channels.

Dr Paula Mowbray
Dr Paula Mowbray

“It was a really interesting thing to look at in terms of both an organisational behaviour and human resource management perspective because they look at employee voice in two very different ways,” said Paula.

“A big part of what my thesis was about was integrating the two perspectives trying to look at where they look at employee voice differently and basically coming up with a model to show that hey we shouldn’t be looking at it differently; we should actually draw from each other and consider how employee voice behaviour can also be applied to formal voice systems.”

Mowbray found that despite voice systems being in place, employee voice may not be that easy to implement.

“Even though you might have mechanisms and channels for employees to speak up, new managers, in particular, found it difficult to get their employees to use these channels to raise issues, ideas or concerns, especially if there was a previous manager that hasn’t been open to hearing voice. Then it’s really hard for the new manager to create this trusting climate in their own team, where employees feel that they can speak up” said Paula.

One of eight recipients of the Griffith University Postdoctoral Research Fellowship scheme in 2016, Mowbraywill continue her work on the management of employee voice; this time looking at the issue at both the employee and supervisor level:

“[This new postdoctoral] research [will]…look at some of the specific behaviours related to voice and how both the employee and manager behaviours then interact with the systems, to see what the outcomes for voice might be:

  • How does the supervisor’s behaviours influence how employees use the voice systems?…For example, looking at what does a line manager who really encourages their employees to speak out on more personal work issues and enables them to complain, perhaps mean for employees being able to speak up on those improvements that will benefit the team or the organisation?
  • Are they more likely to use a formal voice system or informal voice channel?
  • Are they more likely to consider that voicing those improvements are an expected part of their job?”

She hopes to begin her research in early 2017.

Dr Paula Mowbray has been a Lecturer and Research Assistant at Griffith University and a Higher Degree Research (HDR) student member of the Centre for Work, Organisation and Wellbeing since 2012. Mowbray specialises in employee voice, and employee involvement and participation.

WOW’s Centre Director, Professor Adrian Wilkinson, shares a little more on just what Employee Voice is in this short YouTube clip: