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Title: Influence of workers' councils on employee engagement : an action-research approach to influence employee engagement through workers' council initiatives
Author: Augustin, Marc
ISNI:       0000 0004 9359 074X
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2020
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An organisation is a complex entity, being made of its employees, the management, and the overall structure. The German principle of co-determination adds another complex structure that influences the way how employees experience the whole entity. This principle includes the details how workers' councils may influence the organisations’ decisions. Thinking more about employee binding and engagement as well as the overall satisfaction at the job created the question about how the co-determination system adds to the employees’ satisfaction and engagement level during work. In general, while observing the organisation, I encountered many different layers being present that might endanger the overall job-level satisfaction of employees. While observing those layers, it seemed obvious that, if a workers' council is present, employees might relate to their presence and actions within an organisation. Based on the observations, my objective within the research was to examine whether workers' councils may influence the employees’ engagement within their daily work. Furthermore, my goal was to examine how this engagement, as well as the overall satisfaction, can be positively altered through different initiatives and actions related to the council’s presence within the organisation. By using an action research approach, I started thinking about the way workers' councils can influence the overall satisfaction of the workforce present within an organisation. This led me to the main questions if the satisfaction engagement of employees is linked to and influenced by actions as well as the presence of a workers' council and how employees experience the availability of a council within the organisation. Having my organisation as the total target population, I started with a qualitative approach by conducting interviews with different employees from within the company. Within a learning set approach, by using the council members as learning set members, I introduced an agile working method, using principles and methodical approaches common in agile software development. Based on this approach, actions were defined with the set members and different first ones introduced within the organisation during a first sprint, while still holding further actions in the backlog. After a certain amount of time, those actions were reviewed in interviews again with the participants of the study and the results were discussed within the learning set. Together with the learning set, the different steps within action research cycles were introduced and followed. The learning set, while adding the agile framework, constructed different actions that should be introduced within the organisation. My first objective within the study was to examine if workers' councils can directly take influence on the organisation’s culture, its environment as well as how employees experience both, the organisation in general as well as the council’s presence. Following the research, the satisfaction and engagement level of the employees is strongly tied to how the council acts within the organisation. The research did show, that introducing simple actions like regular newspapers, enhancing communications and using different channels to communicate and by introducing round table talks as well as regular employees’ meetings, especially in a more familiar way without inviting the CEO of the company, sharply increases the overall satisfaction of employees. Besides those positive outcomes and findings, the research did also reveal that the general benefit an organisation could draw from the actions is strongly tied to the overall organisational culture and openness to change. Concluding, I can say that if the organisation, in this case, represented by the employees and the council, is open to adopting this approach, a benefit can be experienced. However, this fact can also be a drawback within an organisation if it lacks the openness required to introduce the approach. As with agile methodology within software development, a willingness for organisational change is mandatory within the organisation. Adaption has to occur if the results are transferred to other organisations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.B.A.) Qualification Level: Doctoral