The troubled minority

It is a good bet that unreasonable treatment of the troubled minority will not have the same correlates as unreasonable treatment within the wider sample. People who have experienced three or more types of unreasonable treatment are more likely to be in a troubled workplace to begin with, so the factors that distinguish troubled workplaces from untroubled ones will not show up strongly, or at all, in an analysis of the ill-treatment received. In the multivariate analysis of the troubled minority, we are not looking at the things that distinguished a troubled from an untroubled workplace – we have already distinguished them – but are looking at the things that explain who had the worst experience inside troubled workplaces. An example may make this clearer. If we imagine that Welsh people, or people with degrees, avoid working in troubled workplaces, and quit if they find themselves in one, these people will show up as less likely to be ill-treated in a national survey like ours. This does not mean, however, that Welsh people, or people with degrees, have an easier time when they do find themselves in a troubled workplace. They may actually suffer more ill-treatment – indeed, this may be why they avoid and leave such workplaces – but this difference would not show up until we looked at the troubled minority on its own.

First, what kind of employees experienced the most unreasonable treatment within the troubled minority? We know that the unreasonable treatment of employees with disabilities was far more marked within three particular types of unreasonable treatment. Even if an employee with disabilities had experienced all three, they would be no worse off than any other member of the troubled minority because experiencing three forms of ill-treatment was the qualification for entry to the minority. In short, it is not so surprising that employees with disabilities were no more likely to be unreasonably treated than other members of the troubled minority. Women, however, were more likely to be but only in respect of unfair treatment. This looks fairly straightforward: women were no more likely to work in troubled workplaces, but once this is out of the way, they were more likely to be unreasonably treated in this one respect. We do not know, however, whether women employees were complaining of unfairness in comparison with men, or to other employees in general. We can come back to this question in the second half of the book, however. What we cannot even attempt to explain (beyond saying their numbers in the sample were very small) was why LGB employees were more likely to experience unreasonable workloads than the rest of the troubled minority. Similarly, white employees were more likely than non-whites in the troubled minority to experience improper procedures, but we have no idea why. This does, of course, shed a little doubt on the earlier suggestion that Asians experienced less unreasonable treatment because they were less likely to work in troubled workplaces.

In what kinds of jobs did members of the troubled minority experience the most unreasonable treatment? Managerial responsibilities no longer mattered here but income did (although only for workload – which seems fairly straightforward). And there were two new significant factors: having a university degree went with pressure not to claim something; being a trade union member went with being checked upon unnecessarily. In which type of workplace could members of the troubled minority expect to experience the most unreasonable treatment? Since most, or perhaps all, of them were already in a troubled workplace, we would not expect the factors that separate out troubled workplaces from the rest to matter, and, for the most part, they did not. There were, however, a few surprises in store. Most of our measures of organisational change were irrelevant. Employees who reported an increased pace of work were more likely than other members of the troubled minority to experience an unmanageable workload, or someone checking up on them, but we would expect these responses to overlap anyway. This was certainly the case for super-intense work, which retained the correlation with an unmanageable workload, but here we had our first surprise.

Amongst the troubled minority, employees who reported super-intense work were less likely to say their views were ignored or that someone was continually checking on their work. Perhaps this is not that hard to explain because the troubled minority who reported super-intense work were also more likely to say they were not asked to do work below their level of competence and more likely not to be subject to pressure not to claim entitlements. This suggests to us that these workers were managing their own workloads with a considerable degree of autonomy. It might be too much to say they were choosing to work too hard, but the white-collar works convenor from Strand gives a better indication of what we meant when he explained why his members voluntarily worked longer hours for no extra pay: there is 'a bit of self-pressure as well, because you just can't walk off and leave all your jobs that are waiting'.

As expected, the region where the workplace was sited was not relevant to predicting the worst experiences of unreasonable treatment amongst the troubled minority, and this supports our suggestion that region was significant for the sample as a whole because troubled workplaces are more common in particular regions, perhaps for the reasons of work design discussed earlier. Nor, for the most part, were the FARE questions relevant to predicting variations within the troubled minority. We were again surprised, however, because some of the correlations for the feeling that people were treated as individuals appeared to stand on their heads once more. Inside a troubled workplace, thinking that individuals mattered made employees more likely to experience being ignored, someone checking up on them, unmanageable workload and improper procedures. It is hardly likely that this has anything to do with 'self-pressure', especially when pressure not to claim retained the same relationships as in the sample as a whole (employees were more likely to experience this if they felt people were not treated as individuals). We can rule out the possibility that a minority were interpreting the question about individuals to refer to favouritism because there was no suggestion of a positive correlation with unfair treatment here. It is possible, however, that they had in mind clients or customers being treated as individuals rather than employees. We shall return to this possibility much later in the book.

Add comment

Security code

2018 © Copyright | Finance and Investment