Development and Validation of the Workplace Dignity Scale

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Dr. Benjamin Thomas of the University of Nebraska Omaha and Kristen Lucas of the University of Louisville. They recently published an article in Group and Organization Management entitled “Development and Validation of the Workplace Dignity Scale” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they recount the story of how this research came about:]

Although our research and the result—a working measure of workplace dignity—merit discussion, Kristen (my coauthor) and I both tell the story of this project by describing how it started: As a graduate student studying employee motivation, I came across and grew fascinated by the concept of workplace dignity, only to find no real scale existed to measure it! On a bit of a whim and a wish, I sent an introductory email to Kristen—she has written pretty extensively on workplace dignity—asking if she would be interested in collaborating on a project to make that scale. After she agreed, we carried out our entire 4-study research project, data collection through manuscript writing and submission, remotely, exchanging insights completely through email and telephone. When we finally met in person at a conference, the paper had already been accepted!

Technology played a big part in how we collected our data too. Because we wanted to make a scale applicable to multiple work settings, we looked to Amazon Mechanical Turk, or MTurk, to gather responses for our scale validation. In each study using MTurk, we collected more than 450 responses in a number of hours, and were able to retain about 89% of responses after cleaning the data. Many times, I remarked how different this research process would look to an organizational scientist from a few decades ago. I think this kind of research study—authors with a strong, shared interest who meet and work remotely and use innovative data collection methods—will become more normal in coming years, and I would certainly encourage new scholars and researchers to explore digital connections and tools in their own research, especially if they connect with someone with a shared passion.
For us, the passion to advance our understanding of workplace dignity really sustained our research. Dignity is such an essential experience for humans, and work remains a major influence in people’s lives. A lot of previous work has looked at ways dignity can suffer as a result of work, because dignity is often only recognized in its absence, but we also know dignity can be enriched or affirmed by work. In developing a valid way to measure dignity, the good and the bad, we wanted to standardize, inform, and expand the conversations researchers are having on dignity, but also to give specific language to employees and leaders on how work impacts their dignity. The scale offers value to research and applied settings, by offering a standard for workplace dignity and a means of quantifying it, which will not only reveal what experiences harm dignity, but how work fosters and builds dignity for workers.

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