Issue 2
Monday, 01 April 2019
Charles Darwin University
Associate Professor of Economics Ram Vemuri
Associate Professor of Economics Ram Vemuri

Editors fine-tune new volume on silence

By Patrick Nelson

The manuscript for a new book that discusses how to maximise the benefits of silence in the workplace is in the hands of its editors and on course for a mid-year release.

Charles Darwin University Associate Professor of Economics Ram Vemuri said his book “Managing Silence in Workplaces” presented new trends and the latest thinking in organisational silence, based on research undertaken in the Northern Territory.

“Ultimately, the book contains a message of creating hope that will help improve workplaces,” Dr Vemuri said.

“Our findings will inform approaches that encourage employees to contribute positively to the success of their organisations.”

Dr Vemuri said the findings were partly based on an analysis of responses to confidential psychometric surveys involving employees from several public and private organisations.

“While there was little difference between the private and public sectors, the data was quite revealing about employer-employee relations. We found examples where the manager’s perception of silence contrasted with those of their staff. In some cases, the manager was adamant that everyone was free to speak, but staff indicated that they felt unable to express opinions freely.”

Dr Vemuri said there were parallels between the degree of an employee’s silence and what he described as five diminishing “zones of hope” (positivity, indifference, helplessness, hopelessness and departure) that some employees experience.

“It is good workforce management practice to prolong the period of positivity or to rekindle hope,” he said.

“This may be achieved by bringing to the fore aspects of life such as human aspiration and human willingness rather than by taking a homo economicus approach.”

Dr Vemuri said the first steps in managing organisational silence were to recognise that it existed, to accept that this was not necessarily a bad thing and then to decide whether something needed to be done about it.

“Organisations need a framework that accommodates a ‘common space’ where managers and employees can share knowledge, develop understandings of authority and expectations, and build trust and hope. Ideally, this common space needs to be created when an employee starts a new job, rather than some months or years later.”

Dr Vemuri said he expected to hear from Emerald Publishing about a launch date within the next few weeks.