The term ‘employee voice’ refers to the say employees have in matters of concern to them in their organization. It describes a forum of two-way dialogue that allows employees to influence events at work and includes the processes of involvement, participation, upward problem solving and upward communication.
Wilkinson et al (2010: 9) commented that research has shown (Dundon and Gollan, 2007; Gibbons and Woock, 2007) that ‘an integrated approach to employee participation in which such participation is accompanied by related initiatives in employment security, selective employee hiring, variable compensation, extensive training and information sharing with employees is most likely to lead to higher levels of performance’.
The employee relations strategy has to determine what voice arrangements should be made, if any. These can take the form of representative participation (collective representation through trade unions or staff associations or joint consultation) and/or upward communication through established channels (consultative committees, grievance procedures, ‘speak-up’ programmes etc) or informally.
The employee voice strategy appropriate for an organization depends upon the values and attitudes of management and, if they exist, trade unions, and the current climate of employee relations. Strategic planning should be based on a review of the existing forms of voice, which would include discussions with stakeholders (line managers, employees and trade union representatives) on the effectiveness of existing arrangements and any improvements required. In the light of these discussions, new or revised approaches can be developed but it is necessary to brief and train those involved in the part they should play.