Why Employees Often Don’t Speak Up
— September 4, 2014
NYU Stern professors show that one of the root causes of employee silence is a feeling of powerlessness and suggest solutions for managers
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.
To speak with the authors, please contact them directly: Professor Elizabeth Morrison, firstname.lastname@example.org, 212-998-0230; and Professor Kelly See, email@example.com, 212-998-0245; or contact Carolyn Ritter in NYU Stern’s Office of Public Affairs at 212-998-0624 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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