Asking for it? Practices and structures that perpetuate employee silence in pursuing customised work arrangements

Cathcart, Abby, McDonald, Paula K., Townsend, Keith J., & Pocock, Barbara (2013) Asking for it? Practices and structures that perpetuate employee silence in pursuing customised work arrangements. In States of Work : Visions and Interpretations of Work, Employment, Society and the State, BSA Publications Ltd, University of Warwick, United Kingdom.

Abstract

A component of broader scholarship addressing the social context in which individuals work, has focused on the role of ‘employee voice’ in determining flexible-work outcomes (Donnelly et al., 2012). Employee voice incorporates a spectrum of practices designed to give employees a say in organisational decisions (Dundon et al., 2004). This paper extends work on voice and workplace flexibility in two ways. First, it focuses not simply on ‘voice’ but on its antithesis, employee silence, which is defined (following Van Dyne et al., 2003) as the intentional withholding of ideas and opinions. We utilise an alternative reading of silence to the majority of literature which interprets it as a product of employee motivation, by focusing on the role of management and by adopting a framework which considers silence as a control dialectic (Donaghey et al., 2011). Second, the study examines silence with respect to preferences for customising the terms/conditions of employment beyond narrowly defined notions of ‘flexible work’ (e.g., reduced hours; home-working). The study utilises 30 telephone interviews with employees who had been previously identified as ‘discontent non-requesters’ (Skinner and Pocock, 2011: 75), that is they had expressed a desire to request flexible working provisions, but had not done so. Interviewees were asked to articulate the reasons for, and consequences of, their silence. The findings reveal nuanced workplace practices and structures that close down possibilities for employee voice and perpetuate silence on matters relating to customising work. They also illustrate a disjuncture between espoused organizational goals and everyday practices and norms encountered in workplaces.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 66200
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: No
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Practices and Structures, Employee Silence , Customised Work Arrangements
ISBN: 9780904569414
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300) > Human Resources Management (150305)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300) > Industrial Relations (150306)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Management
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 [please consult the author]
Deposited On: 16 Jan 2014 23:15
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2014 22:43

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