Dignified work, dignified workers and dignified workplaces: exploring dignity at work as promising practice

Bolton, Sharon (2005) Dignified work, dignified workers and dignified workplaces: exploring dignity at work as promising practice. Working Paper. The Department of Organisation, Work and Technology, Lancaster University.

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Dignity at work is a complex phenomenon that is related to various important organisational issues such as mismanagement, over-long hours, bullying and harassment or poor working environments (Hodson, 2001; Rayman, 2001; TUC, 2003). Contributors to over a century of social and organisational analysis have variously talked loosely about dignity at work under headings such as citizenship, job satisfaction, mutuality, pride in work, responsible autonomy and ontological security. Essentially, dignity is universally accepted as a fundamental human right which is enshrined in international constitution (United Nations, 1948). This has been recognised, to a certain degree, by businesses and policy makers who have introduced initiatives such as work-life balance, the management of diversity and schemes to ensure workers are employable. However, though valuable initiatives in themselves, the focus on management practice has moved the concentration away from dignity at work as a fundamental human right and to one of best practice people management (BPPM) and its link with performance. Due to the emphasis on performativity, dignity at work remains an under-researched area and, despite the obvious need to engage with this important topic, there is, as yet, no available conceptual understanding of what dignity might mean to managers and workers in their day-to-day working lives and how this impacts upon their experiences of work and how an organisation may carry itself with dignity in the local community and the global marketplace. An understanding of these experiences is fundamental to the health and well-being of workers, managers and companies and the consumers of their goods and services and yet dignity at work is not viewed as a desirable end in itself and is not the focus of attention, unlike BPPM, which as a means to the desirable end of increased company performance, receives excessive, and often unjustifiable, interest from many different quarters. This paper seeks to invigorate the debate on dignity at work

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11 Jul 2011 21:14
Last Modified:
12 Sep 2023 04:17