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Employee Engagement: Exploring the Experiences of How Voice and Silence Relate to Public Sector Employees’ Feeling of Being Engaged Open Access

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Abstract of DissertationEmployee Engagement: Exploring the Experiences of How Voice and Silence Relate to Public Sector Employees’ Feeling of Being EngagedWithin the public sector there is a growing understanding of the importance of employee engagement as a medium for driving the various outcomes, such as performance and well-being (Macleod & Clarke, 2009). Understanding employee engagement helps to understand and improve the public servants’ work experience, ensuring that they have access to the opportunities needed to achieve success in their roles; which, in turn, supports agencies’ drive to deliver improved public services and better outcomes for citizens (Alfes & Leloglu, 2013). Additionally, over the past decade, researchers have begun to conceptualize and test employee engagement and its relationships to employee voice and employee silence. . Morrison (2011) suggested that employees expressing their voice can have positive organizational impacts.This qualitative content analysis explored how public sector employees experienced engaging in voice and engaging in silence; and, how those two experiences relate to the employees’ engagement state. The purpose of this study was to understand public sector employees’ experiences of exercising voice and exercising silence and how those experiences relate to being engaged. Based on in-depth data analysis of participant responses, the following five conclusions were drawn:1. Participants’ engagement state drives their decision to engage in voice or silence2. Participant decisions to engage in voice or silence were impacted by his/her relationship with his/her supervisor3. Upward communication is driven by factors other than the relationship between the employee and the supervisor.4. Participants’ decision to engage in voice is strengthened by performing due diligence on their ideas5. Participants will engage in silence if they feel insecure about their job function or lack general confidence in themselves.Regarding implications for theory, the study provides basis for a further discussion about the relationship between employee engagement with employee voice and employee silence as it relates to direct supervisors and other drivers. Regarding implications for practice, the results of this study make an argument that training and development for public sector supervisors and leaders should focus on fostering and developing upward communication. Additionally, training and development for public sector supervisors and leaders should focus on fostering and developing downward communication skills.

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