What Happens When Workers Speak Out?

antigone78 (CC BY 2.0)

Research has shown that employees dissatisfied with working conditions inevitably will communicate their dissent–whether to a superior or only to a coworker–despite the risks of such behavior. A new study in the Journal of Business Communication (JBC) finds that this dissent expression can benefit the employees themselves, as well as the health of the organizations they work for.

Jeffrey W. Kassing and Curtis A. Mitchell, both of Arizona State University; Nicole M. Piemonte of The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Texas; and Carmen C. Goman of the University of Georgia, Athens published “Dissent Expression as an Indicator of Work Engagement and Intention to Leave” in the July 2012 issue of JBC. To see other articles in this issue, please click here.

The abstract:

This study examined how dissent expression related to employees’ self reports of work engagement and intention to leave. A sample of full-time employees completed a multi-instrument questionnaire. Findings indicated that dissent expression related to both employees’ work engagement and their intention to leave. In particular, dissent expressed to management and coworkers associated with work engagement, whereas dissent expressed to nonmanagement audiences associated with intention to leave. Additional analysis revealed that for managers, work engagement was primarily a function of refraining from expressing dissent.

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