At the time of the study, organizations were missing opportunities for innovation and bottom-line growth by failing to align performance management systems with basic human needs and dignity needs. Employees were missing opportunities for accessing their potential, and were failing to thrive. Organizational leaders needed to understand the importance of integrating basic human needs and the essentials of dignity as attributes of organizational systems design in order to maximize employee engagement, attract and retain top talent, increase innovation, and optimize bottom-line growth.

This research explored the role of dignity in organizational systems design. A qualitative research approach, specifically case study methodology, was implemented to examine the impact of how organizations create a workplace culture that perpetuates dignity. Data collection was conducted with employees of a nonprofit that focused on access and equity in education. The study included fourteen participants, which represented 100 percent of the organization’s employees.

Results of this study indicate that a core requirement of experiencing dignity in the workplace is having one’s voice heard and the experience of having one’s authentic self embraced and honored. Having one’s voice heard cultivates the trust to develop and sustain employee engagement. In order to show up authentically and amplify one’s voice, there must be psychological safety in the workplace and employees, especially people of color and LGBTQAI employees, must experience their identity being fully embraced. This empowers employees to act independently and autonomously. When this behavior is acknowledged and affirmed, employees experience motivation, and engagement is self-perpetuating.

Degree Date

Spring 5-16-2020

Document Type


Degree Name



Graduate Liberal Studies


David Deggs, PhD

Second Advisor

Jennifer Parvin, PhD

Third Advisor

Robert Hunt, PhD

Number of Pages




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License