Employment After Retirement?

We’re pleased to welcome authors Sherry E. Sullivan of Bowling Green State University and Akram Al Ariss of Toulouse Business School. They  recently published an article in the Journal of Management entitled “Employment After Retirement: A Review and Framework for Future Research,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they briefly discuss their findings and possible future directions.]


There are many myths about retirement and aging and one of the biggest of these myths is that retirement is a permanent state. Instead, the boundaries between retirement and work have become more permeable, with a growing number of individuals repeatedly moving in and out retirement.

While conducting our review on work after retirement, we came to two important realizations. First, retirement should not be seen as a permanent exit from the labor force. Instead, we recommend that retirement be viewed as a career transition that includes individuals routinely moving across the boundaries between work and retirement. Just as many women, for example, opt in and out of the workforce while having children, many retirees opt in and out of the labor force based upon their evolving needs for authenticity, balance, and challenge. Second, the prior conceptualization of employability as the ability to obtain employment within and between the boundaries of an organization based upon proactive adaptability is still appropriate, but we recommend that its application be broader. The concept of employability has been very useful in studying individuals in the early and mid career stages; it has great potential utility for studying retirees in late career as they navigate transitions in and out of the labor force.

As demonstrated by our review, although the number of studies on work after retirement has increased, especially over the past decade, the field is still in a relatively nascent stage of development. Much of the research on postretirement employment is atheoretical or fails to examine the complex interaction of agency (e.g., social and human capital, family considerations) and context (e.g., societal, political, and market conditions) upon the decision making process. The continued study of postretirement work engagement is an area ripe for high quality, theory-driven research.

We hope scholars will consider taking a multi-disciplinary approach, such as integrating theory from the career domain (boundaryless, protean or kaleidoscope career) with theories from other domains (e.g., entrepreneurship, human resource management, diversity) to provide a better understanding of work after retirement within today’s global work environment. For example, while prior studies have tended to focus on the yes or no decision whether to re-enter the labor force, the decision to re-enter the labor is more complex. Retirees contemplating re-entering the labor force must consider the type of work they wish to pursue (i.e., same field or new occupation), the hours they wish to work (full or part-time, year round or seasonal), the extent to which their personal work-life balance is affected, as well as whether these types of opportunities for employment are available given the labor market and government policies. Future studies could also explore why some retirees continue their pre-retirement career path while others change occupations, become self-initiated expatriates or move into entrepreneurship and what factors influence whether these different transitions are successful or not.

There are many interesting questions yet to be examined about postretirement employment. We look forward to reading your research on work after retirement.

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How Can Positive Practices in the Workplace Impact Teams?

men-1979261_960_720Dr. Perry Geue recently published an article in  The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, which is entitled “Positive Practices in the Workplace: Impact on Team Climate, Work Engagement, and Task Performance.” We are pleased to welcome Dr. Geue as a contributor and excited to announce that the findings will be free to access on our site for a limited time. Below Dr. Geue provides his insights regarding inspiration behind the research.

JABS_72ppiRGB_powerpointThe research study “Positive Practices in the Workplace: Impact on Team Climate, Work Engagement, and Task Performance” was inspired by an interest in positive work environments, both how they form and their effect in motivating employees toward exceptional performance. Many work environments, such as settings with intense service climates, like the rapidly-paced, routinized food preparation teams in this study, do not readily facilitate employee experiences of freedom, autonomy, and self-expression, which are key factors in employees finding meaning in their work and experiencing well-being in the workplace. A positive work environment, or PWE, is a social climate where employees are treated as positively as possible, one characterized by positive emotions, social inclusion, and quality connections between employees. How do such environments induce employee purpose and  performance in climates that are often hurried and highly structured?

A primary thrust of this study was to delineate how virtuous behaviors in the workplace, termed “positive practices” in the study, could potentially engender a PWE in a demanding service setting, and the effect of this climate on the engagement and performance of employees in work teams. Virtuous behaviors reflect employee actions that are inherently good, apart from instrumental purposes, and they represent the highest aspirations of the human condition. Do workplace behaviors that reflect employees doing good also lead to employees doing well? Can employee behaviors that are respectful, caring, compassionate, forgiving, inspiring, and meaningful in their intent toward others create a climate that is positive and elevating, as well as productive?

Intriguing significant relationships in the study suggest that employees feel more dedicated to and engaged in their work when they sense that work has purpose, significance, and meaning, and that a key to work meaningfulness is mutual interaction that promotes trust, respect, and confidence, where employees believe in each other, communicate the good they see in each other, and forgive each other’s mistakes. In an intensive team service climate, prosocial actions between employees that demonstrate appreciation, affirmation, and respect, could enhance work meaningfulness and lead to greater performance.

The present study impacts the way that managers perceive their role in the workplace. Rather than a posture of correction and control, managers should adopt affirming management practices that contribute to a more positive work environment. Such practices could include managers encouraging team members to exercise optimistic thinking and reinterpret challenges as opportunities, thus granting greater autonomy in creative problem solving, leading to meaningfulness in work. Managers could cultivate a culture of gratitude and appreciation in their work teams, leading team members in mutual respect and acknowledgment of their contributions, expressing thankfulness for accomplishments, and engendering virtuous cycles of honor. Managers could encourage and model forgiveness for miss-steps, engendering a safe psychological climate, viewing mistakes as opportunities for learning, and thus thwarting the blame game that is so demoralizing in the work context. Such positive practices could transform and energize the workplace as employees discover greater value in each other and their work. The potentiality of such a positive work environment is inestimable.

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Workplace Photo attributed to Free-Photos (CC)

HRM and Small-Firm Employee Motivation – Before and After the Great Recession

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Dr. Alex Bryson of the University College London and Dr. Michael White Emeritus Fellow at Universty of Westminster.  They recently published an article in the ILR Review entitledHRM and small-firm employee motivation – before and after the Great Recession,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Bryson reflects on the inspiration for conducting this research:]

ILR_72ppiRGB_powerpointWhat motivated you to pursue this research?

Controversy surrounds the role of high-performance, or high-involvement, management practices in small firms. Many believe these practices only ‘deliver’ in larger firms. So we wanted to see whether this was the case by looking at links between the intensity of what we term ‘human resource management practices’ and job attitudes among employees in small firms.

Were there any specific external events—political, social, or economic—that influenced your decision to pursue this research?

The additional motivation was to establish whether hypothesised links between HRM in small firms and employee job attitudes would differ pre- and post-recession, as some have suggested. So we produce estimates pre- and post-recession.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?

The most challenging aspect was replicating similar data sets for 2004 and 2011 given changes in the design of the survey we were using. The surprising result is that findings generally replicate those for larger firms.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

It is innovative because nobody has examined the links between HRM intensity and job attitudes among employees in small firms using large-scale linked employer-employee data.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?

Think hard about motivating your analyses based on sound theory and then search or construct good empirical data to test your hypotheses.


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Individuals’ Personal Resistance to Change

overcoming-2127669_1920[We’re pleased to welcome author Shaul Oreg of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He recently published an article in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science entitled “Resistance to Change and Performance: Toward a More Even-Handed View of Dispositional Resistance,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Oreg reflect on the inspiration for conducting this research:]

JABS_72ppiRGB_powerpointMy interest in this project derived from my desire to counter the negative view of the resistance to change concept in general, and the notion of individuals’ personal resistance to change more specifically. As a rule, resistance to change is considered to be bad, irrational, and harmful. Accordingly, individuals who are predisposed to resist change are typically viewed in a negative light. They are seen as inferior to those individuals who seek out change and thrive in dynamic environments. This is unfortunate given that there are many situations in our lives in which it is the routine and stable environment that dominates and that requires our attention. We are often required to maintain high levels of motivation and performance in environments that are routine and often monotonous. As such, individuals who shy away from change and prefer routines may actually have an advantage over change-seekers in such stable environments. This is what I set out to demonstrate in this project.

One of the challenges in the project was to devise routine and dynamic environments in the lab that would capture the essence of these environments in real life. Another challenge was obtaining evidence from both laboratory and field settings.

The findings nicely demonstrate both the advantages and disadvantages of dispositional resistance to change in the context of task performance. Whereas high-resistors perform more poorly on dynamic tasks, they outperform their change-loving counterparts when performing routine tasks. Of the four dimensions of the dispositional resistance to change trait, it is the routine-seeking dimension that yields this pattern most consistently.

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Resistance tag photo attributed to NeuPaddy. (CC)

Understanding the Differential Effects of Anxiety and Anger

depression-2912404_1280[We’re pleased to welcome authors, Laurie J. Barclay of Wilfrid Laurier University, and Tina Kiefer of the University of Warwick. They recently published an article in the Journal of Management entitled “In the Aftermath of Unfair Events: Understanding the Differential Effects of Anxiety and Anger,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, the motivation for their research:]

JOM_42_5_Covers.inddWhat motivated you to pursue this research?
We were interested in how employees experience unfair events on a day-to-day basis and how they “live through” and actively navigate these experiences. We wanted to move away from the dominant perspective in the literature that examines how unfairness impacts employees through the “eyes” and interests of managers and organizations. Instead, we wanted to ground our investigation in employees’ experiences to understand how employees process and respond to these events and how this impacts their relationship with the organization.

Within the fairness literature, it is often assumed that negative emotions are detrimental. However, negative emotions can be functional for employees and hence organizations. One of our study’s most compelling findings is that employees who experience anxiety in reaction to the unfair event are motivated to engage in problem prevention behaviors, which are aimed at “fixing” the situation. Interestingly, employees who engage in these behaviors experienced a “rebound” in their fairness perceptions, such that the drop in perceived fairness due to the unfair event was corrected. By contrast, anger was functional by showing that the unfairness would not be tolerated but did not have the same positive impact on subsequent fairness perceptions. This raises important questions about how employees’ behaviors impact the aftermath of the unfair event and the importance of understanding how employees are experiencing these events to effectively manage these situations.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?
After decades of research, the fairness literature has become a mature and well-established domain of inquiry, with thousands of studies and dozens of theories. Although this wealth of empirical evidence and theoretical diversity has provided much richness, incoming researchers and doctoral students can find it a bit intimidating to dive into. Further, some scholars have also questioned whether the maturity of this literature will lead to stagnation. However, there are many opportunities to make significant, novel, and important discoveries in this domain by taking different and novel perspectives.

One way to continue to stimulate this literature is to identify and question its underlying assumptions. For example, in our research, we grounded our investigation in the experiences of employees which challenges the dominant perspective in the field. This approach created a number of insights regarding how employees actively navigate unfair events, including how employees can impact their own fairness perceptions through their emotional and behavioral responses as well as the functional nature of negative emotions.

We would encourage new scholars and incoming researchers to challenge assumptions in the literature and also consider how applying theories from other domains and perspectives to fairness can enhance our insights. Doing so will create exciting new opportunities to expand our understanding and ability to manage this important phenomenon. Given the pervasiveness and impact of unfairness, it is critical to provide employees and organizations with evidence-based practices that can help prevent these experiences, where possible, and effectively navigate unfairness when it does occur.

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Stress photo attributed to whoismargot. (CC)


A Meta-Analysis of Gender Proportionality Effects on Job Performance

gender-equality-1977912_1920 (1)[We’re pleased to welcome authors Jeremy D. Mackey of Auburn University, Philip L. Roth of Clemson University, Chad H. Van Iddekinge of Florida State University, and Lynn A Mcfarland of the University of South Carolina. They recently published an article in Group & Organization Management entitled “A Meta-Analysis of Gender Proportionality Effects on Job Performance,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they discuss their motivations and findings:]

GOM_72ppiRGB_powerpointPhil Roth, Chad Van Iddekinge, Lynn McFarland, and I began working on our study entitled “A Meta-Analysis of Gender Proportionality Effects on Job Performance” because we wanted to examine whether gender proportionality (i.e., the percentage of females in an organization) affects females’ job performance relative to males’ job performance. Overall, we found weak effects of gender proportionality on job performance. Specifically, we found support for a no token effect perspective rather than a linear or curvilinear token effect perspective. Our findings are important because they challenge the prevailing wisdom of critical mass theory and the tokenism hypothesis. We hope our study stimulates additional research in this important area of inquiry.

The most challenging aspect of conducting our research was its scope. Research that examines gender effects on performance has affected numerous fields, including management, applied psychology, sociology, and criminal justice. Thus, it was a challenge to determine the appropriate scope for our study so our results could be generalizable. Ultimately, we included data from 158 independent studies that included a total of 101,071 respondents.

The most surprising finding from our study was the consistent lack of support for linear or curvilinear effects of gender proportionality on job performance across types of performance (i.e., overall subjective job performance, task performance, OCBs, and objective performance) and features of study designs. Overall, our findings were consistent for respondents from civilian or military organizations, whether single or multiple organizations were included in each sample, regardless of whether respondents had managerial or non-managerial jobs, whether there were traditional stereotypes of men’s work or women’s work for respondents’ jobs, regardless of administrative or research purposes for each study, despite whether each study was published or unpublished, and regardless of the year of publication of each study.

Despite our findings, we encourage future research to examine gender proportionality effects on job performance and other organizational outcomes because it is important to understand the conditions in which gender proportionality affects organizational outcomes and the types of outcomes that are affected by gender proportionality.

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Weighing photo attributed to Tumisu. (CC)

Leadership and Employee Work Passion: Propositions for Future Empirical Investigations

[We’re pleased to welcome author Dr. Richard Egan of the University of Canberra, Mark Turner and Deborah Blackman of the University of New South Wales. They recently published an article in the Human Resource Development Review, entitled “Leadership and Employee Work Passion: Propositions for Future Empirical Investigations,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Egan reflects on the inspiration for conducting this research:]

HRDR_72ppiRGB_powerpointIn what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

By measuring employee perceptions of their interpersonal experience with organizational leaders as well as employee affect and levels of intent, this study contributes to bridging the gap between the long-standing research base relating to organizational leadership and the emergent theory of employee work passion. Indeed, scholars such as Albrecht (2010) and Meyer, Gagné, and Parfyonova (2010) have called for research to integrate theories and evidence from adjacent fields. Such integration will allow Human Resource Development scholars and organizational practitioners to develop a deeper understanding of related psychological constructs that contribute to the development of work passion.

In terms of practical implications, by exploring theoretical links between leadership behavior, employee affect and work intentions, we develop and provide a relevant theoretical framework for future discussion, analysis and refinement. With a clearer understanding of how leadership impacts on employee affect and employee work intentions, HRD practitioners can measure the antecedents to and consequences of work passion accurately. Subsequently, appropriate behavioral interventions, such as training and coaching programs that aim to increase leader awareness and skills needed to build workplace environments where employees can choose to be passionate about their work, can be developed.

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