Why Employees Often Don’t Speak Up
— September 4, 2014
By Elizabeth Morrison and Kelly See
The authors conducted three studies – a laboratory experiment, a survey study of healthcare workers and a survey study of employees working across a wide range of industries. Key findings and conclusions include:
- Employees often choose to withhold information about important issues or concerns at work, which can cause problems to persist and escalate.
- A key factor contributing to silence is an employee’s perception that he or she has little power in relation to others at work.
- This effect of feeling powerless is significantly reduced, however, when the employee regards his or her supervisor as open to input.
- Supervisors can foster a work environment that reduces feelings of powerlessness among employees, and convey genuine openness to input, thereby encouraging more upward communication.
The article, “An Approach-Inhibition Model of Employee Silence: The Joint Effects of Personal Sense of Power and Target Openness,” is forthcoming in Personnel Psychology.