|Date:||Monday, October 3rd, 2016|
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|Increasingly, organisations are focusing on proactive occupational health and safety (OHS) practices, labelled ‘leading indicators’, to protect workers from injury or illness. Drawing upon Conservation of Resources theory (COR), we examine the role of leading indicators of OHS practices in reducing negative outcomes such as burnout (work-related psychological fatigue and exhaustion) and employee silence. We focus on acquiescent silence, defined as the passive withholding of relevant ideas due to submission and resignation. According to COR theory, acquiescent silence is associated with burnout. Currently, little is known about the mechanisms by which OHS leading indicators mitigate negative outcomes. We hypothesise that OHS leading indicators would be negatively related to employee silence. In addition, we hypothesise that burnout would mediate this relationship.
We surveyed 4,750 teachers in Australia using a self-report online questionnaire. Pre-validated, multi-item measures of OHS leading indicators, burnout, and employee silence were utilised. Data were analysed using mediated regression and bias-corrected bootstrapping of the indirect effect.
The results of confirmatory factor analysis indicated that the study measures demonstrated construct validity. As hypothesised, OHS leading indicators were negatively related to employee silence. Also, consistent with expectations, bias-corrected bootstrapping showed that burnout partially mediated the negative effects of OHS leading indicators on employee silence.
Our study shows that OHS leading indicators ameliorate negative employee outcomes such as burnout and silence. We also identify a mechanism through which OHS leading indicators encourage employees to speak up and voice their health and safety concerns. Our findings are consistent with the key tenet of COR theory that, when employees are under stress, they will conserve resources by withholding OHS-relevant ideas, concerns, and information. In terms of practical implications, our findings highlight the benefits of organisations investing in OHS leading indicators to mitigate burnout and, in turn, discourage employee silence.
|Helen De Cieri (PhD) is a Professor at Monash Business School, Monash University, Australia. Over the past thirty years, Helen has researched and published on topics related to strategic and international HRM, employee health, safety and well being, and organisational performance. She has taught and researched in China, USA, Malaysia and Europe, as well as Australia. Helen is an associate editor for Human Resource Management and has served on several editorial boards including Academy of Management Journal, HRM Review, Journal of International Business Studies, and Journal of Management. In addition to her academic work, Helen is an ambassador for the 100% Project, a non-profit organization that works for the advancement of women in Australian workplaces.|