Over the past four decades, scholars from employment relations, human resource management, organisational behaviour and labour economics have published a vast body of literature concerning employee voice (Wilkinson & Fay, 2011). Employee voice is thereby understood as the opportunity to participate in organisational decision-making and to have a say to influence the own work and the interests of managers and owners (Barry &Wilkinson, 2016) or – in the case of employee silence – to withhold these views and concerns (Morrison & Milliken, 2003).
Employee voice and silence have been linked to organisational performance and the development of competitive advantage (Barry & Wilkinson, 2016) and are a key ingredient for the positive relationship between strategic human resource management and organisational performance (Wood & Wall, 2007) which also implies a link between employee voice and innovation. Employees with the opportunity to communicate individual ideas to management and to participate in decision-making give them the possibility to express ‘creative ideas and new perspectives, increasing the likelihood of innovation’ (Grant, 2013, p. 1703; Zhou & George, 2001).
Recently, scholars are paying more attention to current topics and relate them to employee voice. One stream of research is addressing the advancing technologies and consider the digital revolution and its impact on employee voice. There is no doubt that digital technology is fundamentality changing the way we do business (Mennie, 2015) and in consequence forms, tools and channels ‘voice’. The few studies on employee voice and digitalisation are mainly dealing with social media at work and its opportunities for management to get in dialog with employees. Holland, Cooper, and Hecker (2019), for instance, discuss conceptually issues and opportunities social media provides in the development of employee voice. In a similar vein, Barnes, Balnave, Thornthwaite, and Manning (2019) show how a union’s use of social media might facilitate greater member participation and engagement. However, more empirical evidence and conceptual considerations are needed to better understand and explain digitalisation and employee voice (or: ‘e-voice’).