Complementing psychological approaches to employee well-being with a socio-structural perspective on violence in the workplace: An alternative research agenda

Thomas Calvard, Katherine J C Sang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Social, political, and economic changes affecting labour markets and human resource management (HRM) practices continue to shape employee well-being into the twenty-first century. In this paper we argue that much influential work on employee well-being has focused on individualistic, psychological conceptualizations at the expense of a more interdisciplinary approach that takes wider social and contextual realities more fully into account. In particular, we critique the neoliberal emphasis on individual responsibility underpinning work on positive psychology, the psychology of happiness, and resilience in relation to employee well-being. We next draw upon inclusive socio-structural conceptualizations of violence – defined here in terms of the use of power in the employment relationship to implement workplace practices that cause harm – to provide a more contextualized, politicized, and interdisciplinary conceptualization of employee well-being in relation to HRM. Finally, we outline an alternative well-being agenda for research and practice, based on investigating socio-structural types of employee violence transmitted through various HRM practices, types of harm and manifestations of resistance and nonviolence. We argue that such an approach to well-being can, through its greater acknowledgement of types of violence, indignity, and inequality in social systems, complement prevailing psychological approaches and compensate for some of their limitations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2256-2274
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
Volume28
Issue number16
Early online date16 Apr 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • employee well-being
  • violence
  • positive psychology
  • resilience
  • neoliberalism

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