Timing: 30 seconds Gruman and Saks: ‘relatively little attention has been given to the relationship between voice and engagement’ (2014, p. 459) Reissner & Pagan: ‘few studies have examined organizational actors’ lived experiences of engagement activities delivered through management communication’ (2013 p. 2741)
Timing: 60 seconds
Timing: 60 seconds
Timing: 90 seconds
Timing: 90 seconds
Five organisations were involved in the research.
One was in the private sector, one was a government department, two were local authorities and one was a housing association.
A total of 2066 employees completed the questionnaire.
We were interested in exploring satisfaction with the opportunities to express voice and satisfaction with the way that managers respond to suggestions.
But we were particularly interested in addressing the Gruman and Saks observation that ‘little attention has been given to the relationship between voice and engagement’.
The key finding for satisfaction with ‘opportunities to feed my views upwards’ is that the differences in satisfaction vary between the five organisations and these differences are statistically significant.
As the slide shows, levels range from 28% to 59%.
This suggests that employee voice practice might be patchy.
Figures on this slide are percentages for satisfaction.
It is notable that in four out of five organisations, satisfaction for senior managers responding to suggestions is below 50%.
Satisfaction with allowing employees to influence decisions in these four organisations is below 30%.
This slide shows correlations between voice and three different dimensions for organisational engagement: cognitive engagement, emotional engagement and behavioural engagement.
Employee voice is positively and statistically significantly associated with all three dimensions of organisational engagement, across all five organisations.
However, what is most notable is that the strongest correlations are for emotional engagement and this is consistent across all five organisations.
This data provides us with a deeper understanding of the relationship between employee voice and organisational engagement and helps to fill the gap in theory highlighted by Gruman and Saks. It suggests that employee voice may have a greater impact on what employees feel about the organisation than what they think about it or what they do to help it succeed.
So, the data in our study provides some new insights into the relationship between employee voice and organisational engagement.
It enables us to postulate that voice is a possible antecedent to engagement.
This has implications for theory and practice as employee engagement has been found in other studies to be associated with improved performance and better employee well-being.
However, it is possible of course that the relationship is the other way round and this is something that we’ll be exploring more in the next couple of months. Thank you.
Employee voice: An antecedent to organisational engagement?
Employee voice: An antecedent
to organisational engagement?
Dr Kevin Ruck
Dr Mary Welch
University of Central Lancashire, UK
• Practical inspiration for the study:
– How can internal communication managers contribute to
• Theoretical underpinnings:
– By influencing employee engagement?
– By enabling employee voice?
• Scholarly contributions needed?
– Gruman and Saks (2014) note that little attention has been
given to the relationship between voice and engagement
– Reissner& Pagan (2013) highlight the need for research
into relationships between communication and
• Employee voice and silence
• Voice concept history stretches back centuries
• However, often depicted as starting with:
– Hirschman's 1970s consumer behaviour work on exit,
voice and loyalty
– Through Farrel's (1983) application of the concept to
employees and addition of neglect
– To Van Dyne, Ang and Botero's (2003) work on employee
silence and voice:
• Employee voice: intentionally expressing work related ideas,
information and opinions
• Employee silence: intentionally withholding work related ideas,
information and opinions
– Team peer, project
and senior manager
• Internal corporate
• Employee engagement
Kahn (1990), Schaufeli and
Saks (2006) engagement
- Job engagement
• Confidential, anonymous survey strategy
• Self-administrated, cross-sectional questionnaire designed for the study
• The Internal Communication and Organisational Engagement Questionnaire
– Employee information needs gauged
– Internal corporate communication method preferences assessed
– Internal corporate communication satisfaction measured
• Including three questions exploring employee voice, satisfaction with opportunities for
• Views of internal communication at three levels drawn from Welch and Jackson's (2007)
internal communication matrix: senior management; line management; and, peer
– Engagement indicated via adaptation of Saks (2006) organisation engagement
approach and synthesis with Kahn's (1990) view of engagement
– One item captured employee views of the organisation as a good place to work
– A qualitative section explored views on communication strengths and weaknesses
– Demographic information
Data collection: five organisations
Government department in
1200 276 23 percent
Local authority in England (1) 420 167 39 percent
Local authority in England (2) 900 159 16 percent
Housing Association in
800 205 26 percent
Financial services department
2400 1259 52 percent
1. How satisfied are employees with opportunities to
exercise their voice?
2. How good are line managers and senior managers
at responding to suggestions from employees?
3. To what extent might employee voice be positively
associated with organisational engagement?
Satisfaction with employee voice
The study found a lower level of satisfaction with ‘seeking
views’ by senior managers compared to line managers.
Organisation n Mean* SD Satisfaction**
GovOff 276 3.15 0.78 35%
CouncilA 167 3.28 0.55 39%
FinSvces 1259 3.63 0.72 59%
HousAssoc 205 3.50 0.69 59%
CouncilB 159 2.81 0.80 28%
*Opportunities to feed my views upwards: 1, very dissatisfied, 5 very satisfied.
**Percentages are 4 and 5 scores combined.
Responding to suggestions and allowing
Responding to suggestions
from employees and
37 50 15 67 63 74 38 66 10 52
Allowing employees and
28 45 7 58 56 68 29 56 6 39
n 276 167 1259 205 159
Notes: 1, very dissatisfied, 5 very satisfied; % is combined 4 and 5 results.
SM, Senior Manager.
LM, Line Manager.
The study found very low levels of satisfaction with senior
managers responding and allowing employees to influence
decisions in two organisations.
Correlation comparison of employee voice
and organisational engagement
GovOff CouncA FinSvcs HousAssoc CouncB Average
r r r r r r
Cognitive .24** .21** .39** .24** .21** .35**
Emotional .56** .44** .52** .48** .50** .53**
Behavioural .30** .27** .40** .37** .26** .37**
n 276 167 1259 205 159 2066
**Correlation is significant at 0.01 level (2-tailed).
The average is the combined data set for all five organisations
The study consistently found stronger correlations with ‘emotional organisational
engagement’ than with cognitive and behavioural engagement.
Employee voice: a
Or is it the
Farrell, D., 1983. Exit, voice, loyalty, and neglect as responses to job dissatisfaction: A multidimensional scaling study. Academy of
management journal, 26(4), pp.596-607.
Gruman, J.A., Saks, A. 2014. Being psychologically present when speaking up: employee voice engagement. In Wilkinson et al. (Eds)
Handbook of Research on Employee Voice, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.
Hirschman, A.O., 1974. " Exit, voice, and loyalty": Further reflections and a survey of recent contributions. Social Science Information,
Kahn, W.A. 1990. Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work. Academy of Management Journal.
Reissner, S. and Pagan, V., 2013. Generating employee engagement in a public–private partnership: management communication
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Schaufeli, W.B. and Bakker, A.B., 2004. Job demands, job resources, and their relationship with burnout and engagement: A
multi‐sample study. Journal of organizational Behavior, 25(3), pp.293-315.
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of Management Studies. 40(6), pp.1359-1392.
Welch, M. 2011 The evolution of the employee engagement concept: Communication implications, Corporate Communications: An
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