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LINK Research Institute

Managing under pressure: Optimising work outcomes for employees and managers during difficult economic times

Project overview

This research project explores how public sector organisations can optimise the work experiences of their employees when faced with increasingly challenging staffing and other resourcing constraints. The study compares and contrasts approaches to managing employees among comparable public sector organisations in Ireland and the UK.

Project aims

The project aims to carry out an examination of how employees’ perceptions about their work and management practices influence their attitudes and behaviours. In particular, it examines whether jobs are optimally designed, how employees view the employment relationship, as well as the role of line managers in managing issues relevant to employee performance. The types of issues that are examined include:

  • Employee engagement and commitment to change
  • Perceptions of leadership
  • Trust, job satisfaction, wellbeing

These issues are regarded as particularly crucial when organisations are facing increased pressure to provide greater efficiencies through strategic change initiatives, while at the same time striving to ensure that employee experiences of their work remain positive.

Why is the study important?

The public sector has experienced significant pressures in recent years to deliver efficiencies linked to employee resourcing, pay and performance. In light of these pressures, organisations require staff to be engaged in their jobs, perhaps through greater empowerment. There is growing evidence that high levels of employee engagement and empowerment are linked to:

  • High levels of performance
  • Low levels of absenteeism
  • High levels of job satisfaction
  • Improved employee wellbeing

The study is important because it assesses the impact of a changing work environment on these outcomes. It will assess the impact of mounting pressures faced by managers and employees within the sector and will identify ways to ensure that work experiences remain positive.

The project is being led by Dr Edel Conway (Link, Dublin City University) and Professor Katie Truss (University of Sussex). The other team members are Dr Na Fu and Professor Kathy Monks (Link) and Dr Kerstin Alfes (Tilburg University). The project is funded by the office of Research Innovation and Support at DCU.