For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Development and Validation of the Workplace Dignity Scale"

by Thomas, Benjamin; Lucas, Kristen (2019)


As organizational scholars have become critically attuned to human flourishing in the workplace, interest in workplace dignity has grown rapidly. Yet, a valid scale to measure employees? perceptions of dignity in the workplace has yet to be developed, thereby limiting potential empirical insights. To fill this need, we conducted a systematic, multi-study scale development project. Using data generated from focus groups (N = 62), an expert panel (N = 11), and two surveys (N = 401 and N = 542), we developed and validated an 18-item Workplace Dignity Scale (WDS). Our studies reveal evidence in support of the WDS? psychometric properties, as well as its content, construct, and criterion-related validity. Our structural models support predictive relationships between workplace characteristics (e.g., dirty work, income insufficiency) and dignity. Moreover, we observed the incremental validity of workplace dignity to account for variance in employee engagement, burnout, and turnover intentions above and beyond the explanatory effects of organizational respect and meaningful work. These results demonstrate the promise of the WDS for organizational research.

Key Passage

[O]ur findings show that workplace dignity (inclusive of both dignity and indignity factors) is a critical organizational construct in that it is a cause and a consequence of important organizational phenomena. Positioned as a cause, positive experiences of dignity predict higher levels of engagement; negative experiences of indignity predict burnout and turnover intentions above and beyond variance driven by organizational respect and meaningful work. Positioned as a consequence, workplace dignity and indignity are predicted by factors including dirty work and income insufficiency. In addition to empirically validating that there are connections between dignity and its theorized antecendents and outcomes, this broad-based net of influence underscores that dignity plays a pivotal role in employees’ organizational experiences. Therefore, in addition to researchers specifically interested in workplace dignity, other researchers broadly interested in humanistic management, positive organizational scholarship, civility, employee engagement, organizational performance, stigmatized work, and inequality should find this scale useful as well. (p.99)


Empirical Study, Dignity, Organisations, Empirical Research


Organisation and Management Studies

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