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Despite the many benefits, there are various reasons not to implement voice and influence mechanisms perceived by employees and management. Voice and influence can benefit employees by helping them to protect their rights and most “employees want a voice in their workplace” (Peterson, 2005). However, employees may be hesitant to organize into employee associations or push for voice mechanisms for fear of retribution due to perceived opposition to influence by management (Peterson, 2005). Employers benefit from the increased trust that comes from sharing information and giving employees influence (Pfeffer&Viega, Putting People First for Organizational Success, 1998). However, managers who are used to having control often find it “disconcerting, difficult and even impossible” to share power in the form of influence in exchange for the many organizational benefits (Marken, 2004).

Voice and influence are different, but both are necessary to garner the benefits to the firm. Many managers recognize the importance of giving their employees a voice , but often this open communication does not result in authentic employee involvement or influence on the actual decision making process (Golan, 2003). Hearing employee voice is not the same as giving consideration to the received information; consideration is what gives employees influence in the organization (Garvin&Roberto, 2001). Visible action is as important to influence as consideration (Solnik, 2006). Action provides the follow up that allows management to make it apparent to employees that they have influence; it also allows management to see real change and benefit from the insight provided by employees. Voice without consideration and action creates little benefit for employees or the firm.

Many different participation systems can be implemented to authentically get employee input and to capitalize on the benefits associated with employee influence. Open book management empowers employees with the information they need to see the reality of the organizational situation and to give relevant and helpful input (Case, 1997). Similar to open book management are open-door policies , where management makes it clear that employees can informally raise issues or give input at any time. The open-door policy page on the Central Parking Corporation website provides an example of such a policy and the procedures employed by the company for submitting and receiving employee input (Central Parking Corporation, 2004). Feedback programs , sometimes implemented in the form of employee surveys or through direct employee-management interaction, can be a less expensive way to get feedback from employees concerning specific programs or policies (Solnik, 2006). Surveys are particularly economical, especially when done online using free survey programs such as SurveyMonkey.com (Survey Monkey, 2007). Team mechanisms such as quality circles, work teams, and total quality management teams provide employees with the ability to synthesize their individual input into a better solution to organizational problems.

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Source:  OpenStax, Business fundamentals. OpenStax CNX. Oct 08, 2010 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11227/1.4
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