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Employee Experiences of Effort, Reward and Change: Themes from a Regional Australian Energy Company

  • Year: 2007
  • Author: Murphy, Fiona; Patrick, Kent
  • Journal Name: Rural Society
  • Journal Number: Vol. 17, No. 2
  • Country: Australia

This qualitative study explored the experiences of employees exposed to extensive change within a regionally-based, state-owned corporation in relation to the Effort-Reward Imbalance at Work (ERI) model, a major theory for explaining organisational characteristics and employee health and wellbeing. With its focus on status control, the ERI model is particularly relevant for global economies characterised by rapid change, reduced job security, increased competition, mergers and technological advances. Five themes emerged from the data: the experience of change; the contractual relationship; community and connection; aspirations and achievement; and recognition and respect. Experiences not fully explained by the ERI model were internal versus external equity, social support, and loyalty and commitment. The participants' discourse extended beyond the interpersonal and organisational domain to take into account the rural and regional communities in which they live. This finding reinforced the importance of understanding the context and meaning assigned by a sample before applying the conventional assumptions of work - health models.

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