This summary is provided by the IPR Organizational Communication Research Center.

Exhausted employees who feel they lack work-life balance are both less likely to feel engaged, and less likely to express their voice at work. As a result, organizations miss out on key suggestions, ideas, questions, and concerns that are essential to alleviating job stress and improving employee wellbeing. The authors of this study argued that the amount of control or influence employees feel they can exert over their circumstances at work can be an important resource in feeling a sense of work-family balance. Openly expressing dissatisfaction to managers (i.e. articulated dissent), and peers (i.e., latent dissent) was considered a form of control that provides employees opportunities to improve upon work demands, minimize stress, and ultimately prevent job burnout (i.e., emotional fatigue, reduced fulfillment, and depersonalization). The study further explored the relationship between dissent and burnout in organizations that support work-family balance, comprised of managerial support (i.e., support and the attitude shown by managers to employees’ family responsibilities), career consequences (the extent to which negative career consequences linked with utilizing work-family benefits), and organizational time demand (i.e., extent to which employees experienced work expectations that might interfere with nonwork responsibilities).

The authors conducted two online surveys to explore the proposed relationships. One survey was comprised of 203 Chinese participants, and another included 112 Finnish participants, for a total of 315 working adults. Of the final respondents, 39% were male and 61% were female. The average age of respondents was 36 for the Chinese sample, and 29 for the Finnish sample. The average organizational tenure was four years across both the Chinese and Finnish respondent groups.

Key Findings
1.) Articulated dissent (expressed to managers) is positively linked with managerial support.
2.) Latent dissent (expressed to peers) is positively linked with emotional fatigue.
3.) Articulated dissent is positively associated with an organization’s work-family balance (supportive managers, employees’ use of work-family benefits, limited interference between work, and nonwork expectations).

Implications for practice
Organizations should 1) train new leaders on how to communicate support for work-family balance, and to be receptive to employees’ articulated dissent, 2) foster a supportive and participative work environment where employee burnout is closely monitored and handled, and 3) seek regular feedback from employees on their overall job satisfaction, to establish quality employee-organizational relationships and mitigate latent dissent which may turn to rumor gossip.

Zeng, C., & Chen, H. (2020). An exploration of the relationships between organizational dissent, employee burnout, and work-family balance: A cross-cultural comparison between China and Finland. Communication Studies, 1-16.

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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