New research finds employee involvement had beneficial effects on how workplaces fared in the recession

Posted by ap507 at Nov 10, 2014 10:25 AM |
Study findings to be presented on 12 November reveal that managements who involve their employees helped their organisation perform better in the recession

Issued by the University of Leicester Press Office on 10 November 2014

A leading management expert on work psychology has found that workplaces, private and public, where employees were given opportunities to participate and make decisions had happier workforces and fared better in the recession than those which did not.

Professor Stephen Wood, from the University of Leicester, has concluded from new research that organisations - whether private or public – which involved their workforce and share information actually performed better.

Professor Wood, from the College of Social Science, found:

  • Employee involvement had a beneficial effect on how organisations fared in the recession
  • People are happier when their jobs have variety and autonomy
  • Managements that readily share information and involve their employees in the wider organisation and business perform better
  • There are ways of treating people at work that can make them happier and improve performance that have little to do with money

Professor Wood is due to present his findings at a lecture in Leicester on Wednesday 12 November. 

He said: “The way jobs are designed has a huge impact on employees’ sense of happiness at work. This is in danger of being neglected, at a time when people are still worrying about unemployment, job security and the fairness of large salaries. But giving workers discretion, where it existed, did help us greatly in the recession.”

The research used data from the UK's Workplace Employment Relations Survey of 2011 which is a government-sponsored nationally-representative survey. It collects data from employers and employees. Interviews for the 2011 WERS were undertaken with managers in 2,680 workplace managers and 21,981 employees in these workplaces completed questionnaires.  The 2011 WERS is the sixth in the WERS series. Previous surveys were conducted in 1980, 1984, 1990, 1998 and 2004.

The research covered both types of direct involvement, the involvement of people through having discretion and challenge in their jobs – role involvement – and through wider involvement in the organisation – organisational involvement through management sharing financial information, team working, idea capturing schemes, specific training for involvement, performance feedback systems and job rotation.

Both types had beneficial effects on how workplaces got through the recession i.e. whether they avoided being weakened by it.

The research, as does Wood’s past research (e.g. using similar WERS surveys), also showed employee involvement has beneficial effects on the standard performance measures: productivity, quality and financial performance.

Professor Wood added:  “Role involvement is associated with higher levels of job satisfaction and this is a major explanation for its positive effects on recessional outcomes and performance more generally.  Role involvement enriches people’s jobs as individuals have greater responsibility and autonomy, possibly offering more choices and pleasurable experiences for employees that contrast with feelings evoked by a pressured environment.

“However organisational involvement is not associated with job satisfaction or better well-being. Its effects on performance would appear to be through better organisation of work and implementation of organisational plans.”

Organisational involvement is, Wood stressed, “an approach to management that encourages greater pro-activity, flexibility and collaboration amongst workers. It is thus concerned with the development of broader horizons amongst all workers, so that they can think of better ways of doing their jobs, connect what they do with what others do, and react effectively to novel problems”.

Professor Wood is due to present his findings in a talk at Leicester Business School, De Montfort University, on Wednesday 12 November.

Ends

NOTES TO EDITORS:

Please contact Professor Stephen Wood at: s.j.wood@le.ac.uk

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