two people in conversationEmployees are often reluctant to speak up at work. But if they make efforts to research their ideas and ensure they benefit the organization, it benefits both workers and employers.

Helping workers find their voice benefits employees and employers, say researchers

Employee voice — speaking up with ideas, concerns, opinions, or information — is vital for organizational performance and innovation, but studies consistently show that employees are reluctant to speak up.

In an article published Thursday in the Conversation, Kyle Brykman, assistant professor of management at the Odette School of Business, and Jana Raver, professor of organizational behaviour at Queen’s University, explore why is this the case, and what can be done to help people voice their opinions at work more effectively.

The two conducted five studies involving nearly 1,500 participants to identify critical features of higher-quality messages from employees:

  1. They have a strong rationale. Their ideas and opinions are logical and based on evidence.
  2. They have a high feasibility. Their ideas are practical and have the potential to be implemented.
  3. They have a strong organizational focus. Their opinions are critical to the success of the organization or team, not just personally beneficial to the employee.
  4. They have a high novelty. They shouldn’t just repeat old ideas or approach the situation with the same frame of mind.

“Putting energy into developing higher-quality voice messages takes effort, but our research shows that it pays off. Employees who regularly presented higher-quality voice were regarded as more worthy of promotion and better all-round performers in their jobs,” they write.

Read the entire piece, “Why employees hesitate to speak up at work — and how to encourage them,” in the Conversation, which shares news and views from the academic and research community.

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