The Effects of New Work Practices on Workers



The study of work and employment in the 1970s was shaped by a widely-cited report taking stock of the current workplace and proposing broad changes (Work in America [HEW 1973]). In this chapter we review research on how employee involvement practices affect job quality and assess the extent to which they have delivered on their promise. Overall, we find that new workplace practices increase employee satisfaction and (on average) increase wages a small amount. Effects on employee injury rates are less clear. It is unclear if the small and inconsistent findings across many studies reflect variation in the seriousness of implementation (with many workplaces making few real changes), variation in the quality of the studies and measures, or true variation in effects. We conclude with some considerations of policy options.