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The “good workplace”: The role of joint consultative committees, unions and HR policies in employee ratings of workplaces in Britain

Rafael Gomez (Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada)
Michael Barry (Department of Employment Relations and Human Resources, Griffith University – Gold Coast Campus, Gold Coast, Australia)
Alex Bryson (Department of Social Science, University College London, London, UK)
Bruce E. Kaufman (Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
Guenther Lomas (Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada)
Adrian Wilkinson (Center for Work Organization and Wellbeing, Griffith University, Nathan, Australia)

Journal of Participation and Employee Ownership

ISSN: 2514-7641

Article publication date: 13 May 2019

Issue publication date: 20 June 2019

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to take a serious look at the relationship between joint consultation systems at the workplace and employee satisfaction, while at the same time accounting for the (possible) interactions with similar union and management-led high commitment strategies.

Design/methodology/approach

Using new, rich data on a representative sample of British workers, the authors identify workplace institutions that are positively associated with employee perceptions of work and relations with management, what in combination the authors call a measure of the “good workplace.” In particular, the authors focus on non-union employee representation at the workplace, in the form of joint consultative committees (JCCs), and the potential moderating effects of union representation and high-involvement human resource (HIHR) practices.

Findings

The authors’ findings suggest a re-evaluation of the role that JCCs play in the subjective well-being of workers even after controlling for unions and progressive HR policies. There is no evidence in the authors’ estimates of negative interaction effects (i.e. that unions or HIHR negatively influence the functioning of JCCs with respect to employee satisfaction) or substitution (i.e. that unions or HIHR are substitutes for JCCs when it comes to improving self-reported worker well-being). If anything, there is a significant and positive three-way moderating effect when JCCs are interacted with union representation and high-involvement management.

Originality/value

This is the first time – to the authors’ knowledge – that comprehensive measures of subjective employee well-being are being estimated with respect to the presence of a JCC at the workplace, while controlling for workplace institutions (e.g. union representation and human resource policies) that are themselves designed to involve and communicate with workers.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors thank participants at the BJIR Workshop on Corporate Governance Reform and Worker Representation, LSE, December 2018 for their helpful suggestions. The authors also wish to acknowledge the financial support for the research, authorship and publication of this paper from Australian Research Council (DP140100194), Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canada (435-2015-0801) and Innovation Resource Center for Human Resources (IRC4HR), New York City (formerly Industrial Relations Counselors, IRC).

Citation

Gomez, R., Barry, M., Bryson, A., Kaufman, B.E., Lomas, G. and Wilkinson, A. (2019), "The “good workplace”: The role of joint consultative committees, unions and HR policies in employee ratings of workplaces in Britain", Journal of Participation and Employee Ownership, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 60-90. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPEO-09-2018-0024

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited