Undercover boss: what Australian employees think about their managers.INTRODUCTION
The discovery of large differences in the experience of and attitudes to work between workers and managers and owners, and the economic and social implications of this is a topic currently receiving policy, academic and even media attention. Understanding factors that may shape employee attitudes to their managers has long been a subject of interest to practitioners in the fields of human resource management, industrial relations, labour economics and organisational psychology. From a human resource management perspective, attitudes to managers impact on key HR activities including performance management, attraction and retention, reward and compensation systems and diversity strategies (Whitener, 1997). From an industrial relations perspective, employee attitudes to managers have been found to influence employee decisions to join trade unions, participation in consultative mechanisms as well as affect grievance handling and dispute resolution processes. The impact of management behaviour on the employee's psychological contract has also been the subject of interest among organisational psychologists. And finally labour economists have found that despite the seeming 'softness' of attitudinal surveys, employee attitudes are related to some important economic effects (such as likelihood of future quits, employee engagement at work, conflict at work and how it is managed, and ultimately, productivity and profitability) (see for instance Ichniowski, Shaw & Prennuish, 1997 and Becker, Huselid, Pincus & Spratt, 1997).
Management behaviour has also been found to impact on employee work behaviours, where good managers can positively influence work performance through generating high levels of trust in their supervisors. Positive attitudes to managers have been found to enhance behaviours such as doing favours, organisational citizenship behaviour and having affective commitment to the organisation. Conversely, negative attitudes can lead to reduced commitment, poor performance, absenteeism and turnover (Sashkin & Williams, 1990; Whitener, 1997; Wayne, Shore & Liden, 1997; Huang, Iun, Liu & Gong, 2010).
Huang et al (2010) note that previous research testing a motivational model of participative leadership has found that providing employees with opportunities to participate in decision-making generates greater intrinsic rewards from work, higher levels of psychological empowerment and in turn, may lead to improved work performance. Further, advocates of the exchange based model of participative leadership assert that since participative leadership sends a message that the supervisor has confidence in, and concern and respect for, employees, such leadership is likely to foster higher levels of trust in supervisors (Dirks & Ferrin, 2002 in Huang et al 2010). As a result, employees are likely to reciprocate their supervisors as well as their organisations by exhibiting a higher level of work performance (Cohen, 1992 and Zallars & Tepper, 2003 in Huang et al, 2010).
This paper utilises data from a longitudinal study of Australian workers to analyse findings on employee attitudes to three aspects of management behaviour: workplace consultation, trust in managers and perceptions of fair treatment. Much of the existing research in this area reports findings from studies undertaken in single organisations, at a point in time and/or which were reported to managers. One of the strengths of this analysis is that it aggregates employee responses from across the entire Australian workforce across a number of demographic, occupational, industry and industrial relations attributes of the worker and the work. A further strength of the data lies in the longitudinal nature of the study. This enables a comparison to be undertaken between responses from the same group of employees at four different points in time. Thirdly, the confidential nature of the survey means that participants do not have to fear retribution for their disclosure, as neither their managers nor the employing organisation is involved in the study and aggregated results only are reported. In this sense, the Australia at Work data is akin to a nation-wide undercover boss.
The remainder of the paper is organised as follows. The first section of this paper reviews the literature on employee voice, workplace consultation, trust in managers and fair treatment. The second section of the paper outlines the methodology used to undertake our analysis. In the third section of the paper employees' perceptions around workplace consultation, trust in managers and fair treatment are presented. A comparison between managerial and nonmanagerial employees is first undertaken. Subsequent analysis then concentrates on differences in attitudes to managers among non-managerial employees. Differences in attitudes between employees with different individual and job characteristics are reviewed. The fourth section of the paper reports changes in attitudes to managers over the four year period from 2007 to 2010. The conclusion then suggests a number of areas for further research and discusses the implications of the findings for organisations, employees, trade unions and policy makers.
The Australia at Work study is an Australia-wide longitudinal survey conducted by the Workplace Research Centre (WRC) at the University of Sydney. The survey will run for a period of five years from 2007 until 2011 and tracks the experiences of the Australian workforce. The objective of the survey is to examine the key characteristics as well as changes in Australian working life.
The survey is conducted by telephone by a fieldwork company based in Sydney. Eligibility in the survey is based on the respondent's circumstances in 2006 and was defined as being in paid work or looking for paid work in March 2006 (1), not planning to leave the workforce permanently within the next three years and not planning to leave the country for a period of more than two years within the next three years. Respondents were also required to be between the ages of 16 and 59 (inclusive) at the time of the interview.
The analysis for this paper uses data gathered during the first four waves of the survey. The data was collected between March and July in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. While the sample includes people who may not have been working in one or more wave of the study as well as those who are self-employed, only those respondents who were engaged as employees for all four waves of the study were included in this analysis. This enables a longitudinal comparison of attitudes among the same group of employees. This reduced the sample size to a total of 3,852 employees, with an equal proportion of males and females (1,926 male and 1,926 female employees respectively). When weighted to the March 2006 labour force data, the sample is representative of close to 6 million employees. Further demographic details and workforce characteristics for the sample is set out in Table A.1 in the Appendices.
Of particular importance to this research are three items around workplace consultation, trust in managers and fair treatment. Attitudes to managers were measured by using three 5-point Likert items about three aspects of their relationship with their workplace managers: consultation, trust and fairness. These attitudes are gauged by 'disagree' or 'agree' responses to the following statements:
* 'Managers at my workplace consult employees about issues affecting staff'
* 'Managers at my workplace can be trusted to tell things the way they are'; and
* 'I feel that employees are treated fairly in my workplace'.
Those who respond with either 'agreed' or 'strongly agreed' would be characterised as workers who perceive themselves as holding positive views about management. The questions were drawn from the 1995 Australian Workplace Industrial Relations Survey (AWIRS).
The single-item attitudinal questions on workplace consultation, trust and fair treatment in the Australia at Work survey allow employees to assign their own meanings to workplace consultation, trust and fair treatment.
It is worth considering employee perceptions of management as this enables us to develop a better understanding of the factors that influence employees' attitudes to their managers. In this regard, exchange theory suggests that employees interpret management behaviours and then alter their own commitment to their organisation (Whitener, 1997). In a similar vein, Stinglhamber and Vandenberghe (2003) state that employees develop general views concerning the degree to which supervisors value their contributions and care about their well-being.
The single-item attitudinal question around workplace consultation in the Australia at Work survey allows employees to interpret for themselves what they consider to be workplace consultation. Workplace consultation has been linked to the broader concepts of employee voice and participation in decision-making, where employees are provided with the ability to articulate concerns and to influence the actions of management (Dundon ,, 2004 in Huang et al, 2010; Six & Skinner, 2010; Korsgaard & Roberson, 1995). Marchington, Wilkinson, Ackers and Dundon (2001) define employee voice as a two-way process of communication, characterised by an exchange of information. Benson and Brown (2010) identify three dimensions of employee voice: the provision of information by management to employees, the willingness of management to listen to employees and management's preparedness to discuss work-related problems and issues.
Perceptions of managerial actions trigger varying degrees of trust or lack of trust from employees (Morgan & Zeffane, 2003). Rosseau and Tijoriwala (1998) define trust as "a psychological state comprising of intention to accept vulnerability based upon positive expectations of the intentions or behaviour of another". Further, Lewicki, Wiethoff and Tomlinson (2005) proposed that trust is about 'confident positive expectations regarding another's conduct, while distrust is confident negative expectations regarding another's conduct.
Sashkin and Williams (1990) note that the perception and feeling of trust lies in the mind of each person. Trust may also be viewed as an attitude held by one individual--the trustor--toward another--the trustee (Robinson, 1996 in Zhang, Tsui, Song, Li & Jia, 2008). In this instance, managers' actions and behaviours, which are essential in determining subordinates' attitudes, provide the key foundation of trust (Whitener, Brodt, Korsgaard & Werner, 1998). That is, all trust relations are reciprocal in nature, including at work (Fox, 1974 in Morgan & Zeffane 2003).
Wayne et al (1997) suggest that employees often generalise their experiences with their supervisors to the organisation; where trust in supervisors is associated with trust in the organisation (Wong, Ngo & Wong, 2003 in Zhang et al, 2008). Hutchinson, Kinnie and Purcell (2003) found that within the same organisation there were marked differences in performance and identified site and section manager discretion in managing employees as the critical factor.
Within organisational settings, trust has been demonstrated to be an important predictor of outcomes such as cooperative behaviour, organisational citizenship behaviour, organisational commitment and employee loyalty. It has also been found to be positively related to employees' task performance (Coyle-Shapiro, Morrow, Richardson & Dunn, 2002; Dirks & Ferrin, 2002; Shockley-Zalabak, Ellis & Winograd, 2000; Zhang et al, 2008). Whitener et al (1998) suggest that organisational factors such as structure, human resource policies and procedures and organisational culture affect employees' perceptions of trust.
As trust in supervisors increases, employees' perceptions of the success, accuracy and fairness of the work system also increases (Whitener, 1997).
PERCEPTIONS OF FAIRNESS
The single-item attitudinal question around fairness in the Australia at Work survey allows employees to make their own interpretation of fairness. Thibault and Walker (in Greenberg and Tyler, 1987) define procedural justice as the perceived fairness of the means used to make decisions and distributive justice as the perceived fairness of the decisions themselves. Moorman (1991) contends that procedural justice might measure fairness of an organisation while interactional justice might measure the fairness of a supervisor. Greenberg and Tyler (1987) observe that the realm of what constitutes fairness to workers appears to go beyond that suggested within dispute resolution contexts and reward-allocation situations. Nevertheless, they contend that procedural and distributive justice are both of important concern for workers.
Research on organisational justice indicates that individuals' perceptions of fairness are influenced not only by equity in the distribution of rewards but also by the quality of interpersonal respect for one's status as a member of the work group (Lind & Taylor, 1988 in Kane & Montgomery, 1998). These perceptions facilitate the development of positive attitudes, including trust, emotional involvement and commitment (Kane & Montgomery, 1998). Research also suggests that the interpersonal treatment employees receive from their managers strongly affects their perceptions of fairness (Tyler & Bies, 1990; Whitener et al, 1998). In practice, it is often hard to separate out perceptions of procedural and distributive fairness. The question on fairness in the Australia at Work survey attempts to measure a combined notion of procedural and distributive justice.
A basic premise of procedural justice theory is that fair treatment is a major determinant of attitudes and behaviours (Greenberg, 1993; Korsgaard, Schweiger & Sapienza, 1995; Tyler & Bies, 1990; Kane & Montgomery, 1998). Perceptions of fairness can lead to perceptions of job satisfaction and in turn, decreased turnover and increased productivity (Greenberg 1990; Ruiz-Quintanilla & Blancero, 1996).
Of course, consultation, trust and fairness are not the same thing, but they are usually inter-related. Regular and good quality feedback and communication from supervisors has been found to increase employee trust. Deluga (1994) found that employees who feel treated fairly by their manager exhibit higher levels of trust in their managers. Similarly, trust in supervisors also tends to increase employee perceptions of fairness. As managers communicate clearly and make fair decisions, employees trust them more. Organisations that have managers who treat their employees fairly as they enact procedures will increase their employees' trust in their supervisors (Whitener et al, 1998). Further, a number of studies have found that trust and perception of fairness are directly related to effectiveness and innovation (Sashkin & Williams, 1990; Alexander & Ruderman, 1987, Bies & Moag, 1986, Korsgaard et al, 1995; Greenberg, 1993 and O'Leary-Kelly et al, 1996 both cited in Kane & Montgomery, 1998). For this reason, it would be useful to undertake further research to explore the construct of what could be termed 'perceived manager support' by checking the internal consistency of the three attitudinal measures reported separately in this paper.
AUSTRALIAN EMPLOYEES' ATTITUDES TO THEIR MANAGERS
There is a significant and impressive body of research on the changing forms of employment, the changing conditions of work, and on skills and training in the Australian setting. Research on the experience of and attitudes to work is however much less extensive. Two recent projects (AWALI and Australia at Work) are addressing aspects of this gap. This paper represents one of the first attempts to report on the results of the Australia at Work research to an academic audience.
Managerial and Non-Managerial Employees' Attitudes
The analysis in this section compares the attitude levels among employees in managerial roles with those in non-managerial roles. Within the Australia at Work data the occupations for all employed respondents were coded using the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO). The industries of employment for all employed respondents were coded using the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC). Coding to the one-digit level for both occupation and industry was used in this analysis. From this coding, in 2010 a total of 525 people (or 14.2 per cent) were classified as working in managerial roles and 3,327 people (85.8 per cent) were in non-managerial roles.
The vast majority of employees hold quite positive views about these aspects of workplace management, Table 1. However we can also see from Table 1 that employees in managerial roles generally hold more positive views than nonmanagerial employees.
This finding is consistent with Sashkin and Williams (1990) who found that managerial employees held more positive views about trust and justice than did their non-managerial colleagues. They found managerial employees tended to focus judgements about fairness on transactional psychological-contract type obligations (e.g. pay and career advancement) while non-managerial employees tended to focus judgements on relational type aspects of the psychological contract (e.g. job security when loyal to the organisation).
Huang et al (2010) posit that managerial and non-managerial employees are likely to see leadership in different lights because they have different causal-schemas when assessing and interpreting cues pertaining to participative leadership. Further, studies on job satisfaction have found differentials between managerial and non-managerial employees. For example, Ronen and Sadan (1984) found that differences in the structure of the organisation, the reward system and associated prestige experienced by managerial and nonmanagerial employees to be different.
Having established that managers and workers have different perceptions about work, the following sections focus on non-managerial employees only, by excluding the ANZSCO category of 'manager'. from the sample under analysis.
Individual Worker and Job Characteristics
While the aggregate results provide an overall picture of the levels of employees who hold positive views about workplace consultation, trust in managers and perception of fair treatment, there are some important differences in agreement levels among non-managerial employees who hold different individual and job characteristics. Some of the key differences are discussed below. Table A2 in the Appendices sets out the 2010 agreement levels for the three attitudinal statements regarding workplace managers by gender, age, job tenure, workplace size, form of employment, full-time and part-time hours status, sector of employment and trade union membership status.
We find that more positive views about management are held by nonmanagerial employees who are young, with shorter job tenure, in casual employment and small workplaces. While there is no notable difference in employee attitudes between the private and public sectors, a slightly higher proportion of employees working in the not-for-profit sector hold positive attitudes to their managers. Surprisingly, very little difference in the overall agreement levels is found between female and male non-managerial employees' attitudes to their managers. However, given women are more likely to work part-time hours, be employed as casuals and work in certain occupations, this is an area that requires further investigation. What we can say from the differences in perceptions around management is that it is a complex issue. Some of the results make sense, such as younger workers and those with lower job tenure holding more positive attitudes to their managers. However, other results, such as the higher agreement levels among casual workers despite lower agreement levels existing for those employees who feel insecure in their jobs, are more curious.
Given that both tenure and union membership have been found to influence perceptions of trust, justice and outcomes such as job satisfaction and turnover, these two factors have been explored in further detail. Table 2 further explores the relationship between employee attitudes towards management, job tenure and union membership in 2010. Regardless of job tenure, union members are less likely to feel consulted, trust managers or feel employees are treated fairly. However, this difference is more pronounced among employees with longer job tenure. For example, among employees with more than 10 years of service, there is a 13 percentage point difference between the proportion of unionised employees (63 per cent) and non-unionised employees (76 per cent) who say that managers at their workplace consult about issues affecting staff. Whereas 74 per cent of union members who have been in the job less than a year trust managers compared to 79 per cent of their non-union counterparts.
The proportion of union members with favourable attitudes towards management decreases as job tenure lengthens. Employee feelings about consultation and fair treatment remained similar across all tenure groups among non-union members; but the levels of trust deteriorated among this group the longer they had been in the job. Nevertheless, the lowest level of worker trust in managers was found among union members with job tenure of more than 10 years (50 per cent); it being considerably lower than among both union members with less tenure and non-union members with similar job tenure.
These findings are consistent with Freeman and Medoff's (1984) theory of exit-voice at work, whereby employees who have more experience with management become more cynical, particularly regarding trust. If non-unionist employees become jaded, and it is possible and worthwhile to join a union, they are much more likely to do so. If they are unable or do not want to join a union, they are likely to leave the organisation and get another job. Further, Guest and Conway (2004) found that union membership was negatively related to both voice on personal issues and voice on workplace issues, although these relationships were only found to be statistically significant for public sector employees (cited in Benson and Brown 2010). Similarly, Bryson and Freeman (2007) found unionised workers reported more problems with management than non-union workers (cited in Benson and Brown 2010). Benson and Brown (2010) therefore suggest that union members have higher expectations concerning voice. However, it may also be possible that in the period under study in this and other recent studies, union presence or voice in the workplace, and/or collectively bargained conditions were under greater challenge.
Job Security and Workplace Safety
Both job security and workplace safety are two aspects of the work environment that impact on employee attitudes to their managers.
Figure 1 charts the relationship between reported attitudes of non-managerial employees to management depending on perception of job security. It shows that perceptions of job security materially affect attitudes to management across all three dimensions. Huang et al (2010) contend that when employees have to deal with uncertain environments, a variety of meanings can be attached to situational stimuli, making their interpretation of situations more discretionary. Perhaps then it is not surprising that there appears to be a link between employee perceptions about job security and their attitudes to their managers. The response levels around workplace consultation, trust in managers and fair treatment are lower for employees who feel insecure in their jobs compared to the overall response levels of each of the three variables. For example, while 77.2 per cent of all non-managerial employees either agreed or strongly agreed that employees are treated fairly at the workplace, the level of agreement level among employees who felt insecure about having a job in the next 12 months was much lower, at 58.6 per cent, Figure 1.
Figure 2 reports the relationship of non-managerial employees to management depending on perception of workplace safety. It shows that employees who feel at risk of experiencing a work-related injury or illness have much lower agreement levels around workplace consultation, trust in managers and fair treatment. For example, while just over two-thirds (67.2 per cent) of employees who agreed with the statement "I feel confident that I'm not going to be injured or ill as a result of my job' also agreed with the statement around trust in their manager. This compared to slightly fewer than half (48.0 per cent) of those who feel at risk of suffering a work-related injury or illness also said they trusted their manager.
The above findings suggest that employees believe that creating and maintaining a safe work environment is an important responsibility of management. The significance of the link between perceptions of safety and attitude to management suggest that it is a very important part of the modern employment contract.
Opportunity to Negotiate Pay and Conditions
One aspect of consultation, fairness and trust is the opportunities and ways negotiation of pay and conditions occur. This is in many ways the industrial relations aspect of working life. The introduction of sweeping industrial relations legislative change in Australia by both political parties was articulated around issues of choice and fairness in bargaining. Table 3 reports how employee attitudes to management vary considerably between those employees who feel they have the opportunity to negotiate their pay with their employer and those who do not; employees who report the opportunity to negotiate have more positive views about management. For example, four-fifths (79.0 per cent) of employees who report the opportunity to negotiate feel that managers can be trusted to tell things the way they are, compared to three-fifths (59.1 per cent) of those who don't report the same opportunity.
The group of employees who report conducting their own negotiations with their employer and those who report that a group of employees negotiate with their employers, hold more positive attitudes towards managers than those employees who report that either a union or no-one negotiates on their behalf, Table 3. For example, four-fifths (79.3 per cent) of employees who report that a group of employees negotiates on their behalf feel they are consulted by managers, compared to just under three-fifths (58.4 per cent) of employees who report that no-one negotiates for them.
During the Howard government Work Choices industrial legislation, there was a strong intent to encourage much more individual bargaining around pay and conditions. Even its short history, what we saw however, was the use of a few pro forma contracts, and that most negotiation was on a take it or leave it basis. Moreover, the opposition ran a successful campaign that such bargaining tilted the balance of power in workplace bargaining excessively toward employers, and was unfair. This suggests that there is an important but complex relationship between forms of bargaining, and perceptions of consultation as well as fairness.
CHANGE IN ATTITUDES OVER TIME
In the previous section, non-managerial employee responses to each of the three statements were reported for the most recent year of the study (2010) only. As the sample contains participants who have been engaged as employees at the time of all four of the annual interviews, it is possible to track whether agreement levels have remained stable, increased or decreased over time.
Given the economic downturn in Australia that was associated with Global Financial Crisis, it would have been reasonable to expect a downward spike in attitudes to managers. This was not evident in the responses, with agreement levels of the three measures remaining relatively stable across all four years of the study, Table 4. The only real noticeable change was around trust in management, where there has been a gradual linear decline in trust levels among both managerial and non-managerial employees with employees less likely to report trust in their managers in 2010 (68.0 per cent overall) compared to 2007 (73.0 per cent). Despite this decline, in 2010 there remains a higher level of trust among managerial employees (73.2 per cent) than non-managerial employees (67.2 per cent).
The area of most satisfaction among employees is on the issue of fair treatment of employees, where between 78.0 and 80.0 per cent of all employees feel that their workplace managers treat employees fairly, Table 4. This has remained quite stable among non-managerial employees over the four years of the study. While among managerial employees, the agreement level has fallen slightly, down from 85.2 in 2007 to 82.5 per cent in 2010, which is not likely to be statistically significant.
While the data in Table 4 reports aggregate agreement levels for the three measures among the same group of employees over the four year period, it does not tell us whether individual employees held the same attitude over time. To get an indication of stability of employee attitudes to managers, Table 5 provides a summary of the proportion of employees who agreed with the statements around consultation, trust and fair treatment in three of the four and all four waves of the study. We can see that across all three measures, a higher proportion of managerial employees agreed with the statements in either three or four waves of the study than their employees in non-managerial roles. For example, four-fifths (80.3 per cent) of managers agreed with the statement about fairness in either three or more waves of the study compared to just over two thirds (65.6 per cent) of non-managerial employees.
From Table 5 we can also see that while almost three-quarters (73.3 per cent) of managerial employees held the same attitude around consultation in three or more waves, just over half (52.0 per cent) of non-managerial employees did so. Further, the lowest level of stability in attitudes appears to be in relation to trust, where only two-thirds (68.0 per cent) of managerial and three-fifths (59.0 per cent) of non-managerial employees held the same attitude in three or more waves. This preliminary longitudinal analysis is a simple indicator of stability. It would be useful to conduct longitudinal modelling to see what factors, if any, appear to influence change in attitudes to managers. For example, job change, change in form of employment, change in hours, internal promotion or completion of study.
Our analysis explored employee attitudes to the aspects of management behaviour: workplace consultation, trust in managers and perception of fair treatment.
The article reports that while generally managerial and non-managerial employees share quite high perceptions of trust, fairness and consultation, managerial employees have higher perceptions than non-managerial employees. While employees as a whole reported generally high perceptions of management, looking more closely at non-managerial employees, we found that a range of factors affected employee attitudes to management. These include the length of job tenure, age, size of establishment, form of employment, industry sector, union membership, opportunities to negotiate pay and conditions, as well as perceptions of job security and workplace safety risk. This diversity of opinion between workers with different attributes and working in different situations and under different conditions shows just how complex modern workplaces are.
Our findings have a number of important implications for human resource management and industrial relations. In terms of human resource management for instance, it suggests that monitoring of line management (by such mechanisms as 360 degree appraisal) and the design of employee involvement schemes are both critical as they have the capacity to affect employee perceptions of the whole organisation and foster higher levels of commitment and performance. In addition, the findings suggest that organisations should provide training to managers in a range of communication skills. The link between these activities and firm performance is now a matter supported by research in HRM circles and beyond for more than a decade.
There are also implications for unions in terms of who is, and currently likely to be, open to becoming and staying a union member and why that is the case. But again, the way unions communicate with and involve members and potential members is critical. Unions are experimenting with a number of novel approaches to winning better conditions for workers, communicating with them and ways of member participation in union governance. This research reinforces the need for this sort of thinking to continue.
Similarly, policy makers can see, for instance, that perceptions of choice, fairness and consultation are all important issues for workers. The legislative framework governing work, including the safety of work, carries both practical and symbolic implications for employee perceptions. Given the link between such perceptions and economic and social outcomes, it is an issue that goes well beyond mere industrial relations and/or occupational safety.
This research has produced some very important findings about employee attitudes to management. But this is definitely not the final word on the topic, and much more can usefully be done. In this sense the analysis here should be seen modestly as preliminary in nature. Combining the human resource management, industrial relations and organisational psychology literature with the findings from our research suggests, however, several important implications for future research.
First, results for each attitudinal variable have been analysed separately. It would be useful to undertake further research that explores the relationship between the three attitudinal measures. For example, undertaking factor analysis may reveal a single construct which would allow a more integrated analysis of the linkages between the three measures.
Employees build relationships with both their direct supervisors and their organisations. The way the statements are currently phrased in the Australia at Work study leave employees to interpret what level of management to which they are responding. The literature suggests that employees may respond differently in respect to different levels of management, i.e. their immediate supervisor, senior management or the organisation more broadly (Dirks, 2000 and Langred, 2004 in Zhang, 2008; Whitener, 1997; Wayne et al, 1997; Mayer, Davis & Schoorman, 1995, Masterton, Lewis, Goldman & Taylor, 2000; Stinglhamber & Vandenberghe, 2003). This being so, it would be useful to conduct further research around how employee attitudes vary according to their different levels of management to which they are asked to respond.
Finally, in order to get a better understanding of the antecedents of change in employees' attitudes to their managers and how these may impact on outcomes such as organisational commitment, job satisfaction, turnover intentions and actual turnover, it is suggested that rigorous longitudinal analysis of the panel data be undertaken.
Table A.1 Sample demographics and job characteristics, 2010 n N Weighted % Gender Male 1,926 3,002,612 50.5 Female 1,926 2,943,689 49.5 Age group 16 to 19 yrs 22 36,651 0.6 20 to 24 yrs 235 530,076 8.9 25 to 34 yrs 539 1,019,971 17.2 35 to 44 yrs 1130 1,698,878 28.6 45 to 54 yrs 1308 1,824,683 30.7 55 yrs or older 617 834,941 14.0 Job tenure One year or less 741 1,278,260 21.5 Two to four years 768 1,296,920 21.8 Five to ten years 1,115 1,766,724 29.7 More than ten years 1,228 1,604,397 27.0 Form of employment Permanent 3,209 4,879,689 82.1 Fixed term contract 247 393,319 6.6 Casual 396 673,294 11.3 Sector of employment Private 2,021 3,418,156 57.5 Public 1,419 1,905,402 32.0 Not for Profit 409 616,243 10.4 Workplace Size Less than 20 employees 1050 1,698,386 28.6 Between 20 and 100 1321 2,018,203 33.9 employees More than 100 employees 1477 2,223,249 37.5 Occupational group Managers 525 843,983 14.2 Professionals 1,245 1,829,189 30.8 Technicians and Trades 426 653,618 11.0 workers Community and Personal 382 552,042 9.3 Service Workers Clerical and Administrative 650 1,057,043 17.8 workers Sales workers 246 447,122 7.5 Machinery operators and 188 269,713 4.5 drivers Labourers 190 293,592 4.9 Union membership status Not a union member 2,438 4,325,147 72.7 Union member 1,414 1,621,155 27.3 Total 3,852 5,946,302 100.0 Note: Refused, Missing or Don't Know responses excluded from breakdowns but included in total Population: Employees in Waves 1 to 4 inclusive only Source: Australia at Work Wave 4 Table A2 Non-managerial employees' attitudes to management, 2010, per cent Agree: Agree: Agree: Managers Managers can Employees are consult be trusted to treated employees tell things fairly at my about issues the way they workplace' affecting are' staff' % n % n % n Gender Male 70.7 1,102 65.7 1,005 77.8 1,223 Female 71.7 1,227 68.5 1,137 76.7 1,307 Age group 16 to 19 yrs 91.5 20 * 83.2 * 19 93.8 20 20 to 24 yrs 81.2 186 81.1 179 83.4 187 25 to 34 yrs 69.2 343 68.5 331 75.0 372 35 to 44 yrs 73.8 685 67.6 624 79.6 749 45 to 54 yrs 68.8 756 63.9 683 76.4 818 55 yrs or older 65.8 339 60.9 306 72.1 384 Hours status Full-time hours 70.1 1,626 65.7 1,485 76.6 1,785 Part-time hours 73.7 703 70.6 657 78.8 745 Job tenure One year or less 74.6 490 74.7 488 82.0 541 2 to 4 years 71.2 473 67.6 444 73.1 485 5 to 10 years 72.0 674 67.2 610 77.4 728 More than 10 years 67.5 692 60.4 600 76.3 776 Form of employment Permanent 70.5 1,884 65.5 1704 76.6 2,058 Fixed term contract 70.7 154 71.4 146 80.0 169 Casual 76.0 291 75.7 292 80.1 303 Sector of employment Private 71.4 1,229 68.7 1,162 77.2 1,340 Public 69.4 856 63.2 751 76.8 931 Not for profit 76.5 244 71.8 229 78.8 257 Workplace size Less than20 74.4 679 75.1 674 81.9 739 employees Between 20 and 100 72.6 831 67.0 757 76.4 878 employees More than 100 67.4 819 61.2 712 74.4 913 employees Union membership status Not a union member 73.4 1,485 72.0 1,443 79.5 1,599 Union member 65.9 844 55.7 699 71.8 931 Total 71.2 2,329 67.2 2,142 77.2 2,530 * data not reliable as cell size less than 20 Population: Non-managerial employees in Waves 1 to 4 inclusive only Source: Australia at Work Wave 4
The author would like to acknowledge the ARC and Unions NSW for providing funding for the Australia at Work study. Thanks also Dr. John Buchanan, the Chief Investigator of the Australia at Work project as well as Dr. Mike Rafferty and Sharni Chan, colleagues at the Workplace Research Centre, for reviewing the article.
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The University of Sydney
(1) The date coincides with the introduction of the Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Act 2005 that took effect on 27 March 2006. People who were Not in the Labour Force (NILF) at March 2006 were not 'in-scope' for the study.
Table 1 Employee attitudes to management, 2010, per cent Agree: Agree: Agree: Fair Feel consulted Trust manager treatment of employees % n % n % n Managerial 81.4 420 73.2 379 77.2 430 Non-managerial 71.2 2,329 67.2 2,142 82.5 2,530 All employees 72.6 2,749 68.0 2,521 78.0 2,960 Note: Responses of agreed and strongly agreed with the statements were combined. Population: Employees in Waves 1 to 4 inclusive only Source: Australia at Work Wave 4 Table 2 Non-managerial employees' attitudes to managers by job tenure and union membership, 2010, per cent Agree with the One year 2 to 4 5 to 10 following ... or less years years % n % n % n Managers at my workplace consult employees about issues affecting staff Not a union member 75.3 446 74.8 418 74.3 559 Union member 71.4 104 67.1 146 67.9 236 Managers at my workplace can be trusted to tell things the way they are Not a union member 75.7 448 71.4 400 71.7 535 Union member 68.4 98 59.6 128 54.2 185 I feel that employees are treated fairly at my workplace Not a union member 82.0 428 74.1 342 79.9 492 Union member 82.0 113 70.6 143 69.2 236 Agree with the More than Total following ... 10 years % n % n Managers at my workplace consult employees about issues affecting staff Not a union member 75.3 405 74.9 1,828 Union member 64.4 435 66.7 921 Managers at my workplace can be trusted to tell things the way they are Not a union member 71.3 380 72.6 1,763 Union member 51.6 347 56.0 758 I feel that employees are treated fairly at my workplace Not a union member 81.6 337 79.5 1,599 Union member 70.6 439 71.8 931 Note: Responses of agreed and strongly agreed with the statements were combined. Population: Non-managerial employees in Waves 1 to 4 inclusive only Source: Australia at Work Wave 4 Table 3 Non-managerial employees' attitudes to management by opportunity to negotiate and negotiation behalf, 2010, per cent Agree: Fair Agree: Feel Agree: Trust treatment of consulted managers employees % n % n % n Opportunity to negotiate pay Yes 80.8 956 79.0 927 80.8 1,018 No 64.8 1,349 59.1 1,193 64.8 1,485 Negotiation behalf No-one 58.4 119 55.5 113 58.4 141 Myself 73.4 659 75.6 673 73.4 725 A group of 79.3 98 71.8 89 79.3 99 employees Union 68.6 956 58.9 799 68.6 1,040 A group of 67.5 71 49.1 53 67.5 79 employees and a union Don't know 67.1 174 66.9 172 67.1 199 My manager or 81.7 221 79.1 211 81.7 218 supervisor Total 71.2 67.2 82.5 Note: Responses of agreed and strongly agreed with the statements were combined. Total includes other categories not reported separately. Population: Non-managerial employees in Waves 1 to 4 inclusive only Source: Australia at Work Wave 4 Table 4 Employee attitudes to management, 2007-2010, per cent Agree: Feel Agree: Trust Agree: Fair consulted manager treatment of employees % n % n % n Managerial 2007 79.5 414 81.0 418 85.2 440 2008 81.2 417 74.8 392 87.0 452 2009 83.8 467 74.5 405 84.7 463 2010 81.4 420 73.2 379 82.5 430 Non-managerial 2007 72.6 2,352 71.7 2,271 79.2 2,562 2008 74.5 2,418 69.4 2,208 78.0 2,532 2009 73.3 2,356 68.7 2,174 78.1 2,555 2010 71.2 2,329 67.2 2,142 77.2 2,530 All employees 2007 73.5 2,766 73.0 2,689 80.0 3,002 2008 75.5 2,835 70.2 2,600 79.3 2,984 2009 74.9 2,823 69.6 2,579 79.1 3,018 2010 72.6 2,749 68.0 2,521 78.0 2,960 Note: Responses of agreed and strongly agreed with the statements were combined. Population: Employees in Waves 1 to 4 inclusive only Source: Australia at Work Waves 1 to 4 Table 5 Stability measure for employee attitudes to management, 2007-2010, per cent Feel Trust Fair treatment consulted manager of employees % % % Agreement 3 out of 4 waves Managerial 19.3 15.1 14.7 Non-managerial 13.7 16.2 12.0 Agreement all 4 waves Managerial 54.0 52.9 65.6 Non-managerial 38.2 43.0 53.6 Agreement 3 or 4 waves Managerial 73.3 68.0 80.3 Non-managerial 52.0 59.0 65.6 Note: Responses of agreed and strongly agreed with the statements were combined. Population: Employees in Waves 1 to 4 inclusive only Source: Australia at Work Waves 1 to 4 Figure 1, Non-managerial employees' attitudes to management by job security, 2010, per cent Feel insecure in job All Feel consulted 60.4 71.2 Trust managers 52.7 67.2 Fair treatment 58.6 77.2 Note: Responses of agreed and strongly agreed with the statements were combined. Population: Non-managerial employees in Waves 1 to 4 inclusive only Source: Australia at Work Wave 4 Note: Table made from bar graph. Figure 2, Non-managerial employees' attitudes to management by workplace safety risk perception, 2010, per cent Feel at risk of work-related All accident or illness Feel consulted 54.6 71.2 Trust managers 48 67.2 Fair treatment 59.3 77.2 Note: Responses of agreed and strongly agreed with the statements were combined. Population: Non-managerial employees in Waves 1 to 4 inclusive only Source: Australia at Work Wave 4 Note: Table made from bar graph.