Trading Voice for Service: The Impact of Perceived Voice on Organizational Commitment During Periods of Change

Topic: Change Management, Organizational Commitment, Potential, Trust
Publication: Human Resource Management (JAN 2011)
Article: The influence of perceived employee voice on organizational commitment: An exchange perspective
Authors: E. Farndale, J. Van Ruiten, C. Kelliher, and V. Hope-Hailey
Reviewed By: Allison B. Siminovsky

Everyone likes to feel important on occasion, whether through achieving a major goal or being recognized for an accomplishment.  The workplace is no exception to this rule, as employees like to feel as though their decisions impact the actions their organizations take.  During major corporate change, leadership and culture can be shaken up dramatically and as a result, previous levels of perceived employee impact (“I make a difference”) might not remain intact.  What benefits does an organization reap if employees feel they have a voice, and how is this impacted through the change process?  This article attempts to answer these questions.

The researchers found that when employees perceive themselves as having impact on organizational decisions, they show higher levels of organizational commitment.  This sense of voice is inferred through relationships with line managers and, to an even stronger extent, with senior management.  Employees were found to react positively to organizational change when their perception of having voice was not compromised during this often tumultuous period. 

As such, employees should be made to feel as though their inputs to the organization are valued, as are their thoughts and feelings.  Organizations can gain more dedicated workers in this way, at seemingly little cost.

It is clear from this study that not only do managers need to hear out the opinions of their employees, but senior leadership should ensure that lower-level employees are given a chance to express their concerns and opinions in such a way that garners results.  This can be accomplished via a number of means, such as having line managers serve as ambassadors, as the authors suggest, or by holding “town hall” style meetings, allowing employees to provide suggestions with immediate response from leadership.  By giving employees the opportunity to have their voices heard, an organization can gain a workforce that is trustworthy, committed, and hard-working.

Farndale, E., Van Ruiten, J., Kelliher, C., & Hope-Hailey, V. (2011). The influence of perceived employee voice on organizational commitment: An exchange perspective. Human Resource Management, 50(1), 113-129. doi:10.1002/hrm.20404.