How Has HR Become More Strategic and Integral to Businesses?

12669067945_e017b825c8_zIn today’s competitive and complex business environment, the role of human resources (HR) is constantly changing. With its increasing alignment to core business and integration to the bottom line, HR is a reflection of the constant changing nature of its functions. Being responsive to globalization, demographic and technological changes, as well as the turbulent, competitive and complex environment of business, HR itself has been changing dramatically. From the conventional role of “administrative expert,” HR has evolved to become more tactical and integral to business strategies.

A recent major change in the function of HR the strengthening partnership with line managers. By providing line managers better understanding of their responsibility in specific HR issues, such as absence control, team development, discipline, induction, health and safety, recruitment policy and performance management, HR aims to enhance Current Issue Coveremployee engagement and open communication between line managers and employees. These in turn lead to low turnover and high morale—keys to organizational performance and competitive success. In this regard, by replacing the traditional supervisory role of line managers and empowering them to act as leader, enabler and facilitator, HR is playing the strategic role of an “objective adviser”.

This change has made HR more strategic and more business integrated. This reorientation helps HR to not only play a critical role in the overall strategic planning of the business, but also to act as a messenger to clarify and direct employees about the desired goal of the organization. A recent article from the journal Vision entitled “Strategic Value Contribution Role of HR,” from authors Humaira Naznin and Md. Ashfaq Hussain,  delves into the evolution of HR.

 The abstract for the article:

This article aims to challenge the perceived lack of a strategic value of human resource (HR) function and seeks to focus on the devolution of HR from its transactional role to strategic effectiveness. Utilizing a range of secondary resources, this article aims to critically analyze the shift of HR from transactional to a strategic role and its value contribution role in business. HR needs to overcome conventional resistance and act as the driver of an organizational strategy through aligning the HR strategy to the business strategy, adopting workforce planning and measuring an organization’s competencies. The paper contributes to the evaluation of HR management from viewpoint perspective and offers help to HR practitioners in understanding the changing role of HR.

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*Image attributed to woodleywonderworks (CC)

How Organizational Fit Impacts Workplace Stress

5283034437_d17754cefd_z[We’re pleased to welcome Jeremy Mackey. Jeremy recently published an article entitled “Do I Fit In? Perceptions of Organizational Fit as a Resource in the Workplace Stress Process” in Group & Organization Management with  co-authors Pamela L. Perrewé and Charn P. McAllister.]

Pam Perrewé, Charn McAllister, and I began working on our paper entitled “Do I Fit in? Perceptions of Organizational Fit as a Resource in the Workplace Stress Process” because we were interested in whether or not perceptions of organizational fit could fundamentally alter employees’ workplace stress processes. We were able to collect three samples of data from diverse groups of U.S. employees across a variety of occupations and industries, including a sample of data comprised of respondents who were veterans of the U.S. military. Ultimately, we found evidence that perceptions of organizational fit can serve as a resource that reduces perceptions of job strain and increases motivation across a variety of organizational contexts as employees experience the workplace stress process.

We were surprised that some of the average reports (i.e., means) of the study variables we examined differed across Current Issue Coverthe three samples of data, but that the stress process and the relationships in our hypothesized model generally demonstrated similar effect sizes across samples. We concluded that although ratings of the individual components of the workplace stress process varied, the overall workplace stress process we examined appeared to stay mostly intact.

Many research studies examine perceptions of organizational fit as an outcome of workplace perceptions and behaviors, but we conceptualized it as a resource that could be an antecedent to workplace perceptions and behaviors. We hope our conceptualization of organizational fit as a resource will inform and encourage future research and organizational efforts to understand and manage employees’ levels of stress.

The abstract for the paper:

A large number of research studies in the stress literature over the previous 20 years have examined how organizational demands influence experienced stress; however, little research has examined how perceptions of organizational fit influence experienced stress and the stress process. In the present study, we use the conservation of resources (COR) theory to examine how perceptions of hindrance stressors, challenge stressors, and organizational fit (i.e., a resource) affect employees’ intrapersonal (i.e., job satisfaction and work intensity) and interpersonal (i.e., interpersonal workplace deviance and work-to-family conflict) outcomes through job strain (i.e., job tension) and motivational (i.e., vigor) cognitive stress processes. Results from three samples of data (nSample 1 = 268, nSample 2 = 259, nSample 3 = 168) largely supported the hypothesized model and suggested that perceptions of organizational fit can be a resource associated with favorable effects on employees’ stress processes. Thus, we contribute to the stress and fit literatures by proposing and demonstrating empirical support for a COR theoretical explanation of why perceptions of organizational fit are a resource for employees. The results are important because they help provide a broader view of the effects of perceptions of organizational fit on employees’ stress processes than offered by prior research and suggest that organizational leaders have the opportunity to help employees manage workplace stress by fostering perceptions of organizational fit. Implications of results for theory and practice, strengths, limitations, and directions for future research are presented.

You can read “Do I Fit In? Perceptions of Organizational Fit as a Resource in the Workplace Stress Process” from Group & Organization Management free for the next two weeks here. Want to know all about the latest research from Group & Organization ManagementClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Coworkers image attributed to ryan harvey (CC)

Jeremy D. Mackey is an Assistant Professor of Management in the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business at Auburn University. His current research interests include abusive supervision, interpersonal mistreatment, stress, and meta-analysis.

Pamela L. Perrewé is the Haywood and Betty Taylor Eminent Scholar of Business Administration and Distinguished Research Professor at Florida State University. She has focused her research interests in the areas of job stress, coping, organizational politics, emotion, and personality.

Charn P. McAllister is a PhD student in Management at Florida State University. His research interests include social influence, self-regulation, and stress.

Book Review: Pedigree: How Elite Students Get Elite Jobs

Pedigree BookLauren A. Rivera : Pedigree: How Elite Students Get Elite Jobs. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015. 375 pp. $35.00, hardcover.

Jennifer Merluzzi recently reviewed this book in Administrative Science QuarterlyFrom the review:

The book is a very detailed read on hiring and elite firms and is thus best suited for individuals interested in these topics, such as scholars studying early professional careers, elite labor markets, inequality, or hiring specifically. With this said, many insights in the book could be beneficial to scholars interested in these topics more broadly. For instance, Rivera makes a strong case for rethinking core assumptions underlying empirical studies by management and sociology scholars, such as the importance of human resources personnel (who are often cordoned into roles providing administrative rather than strategic support that offer little oversight to assure meritocratic hiring) or the importance of résumés or grades in getting hired (because extracurricular activities that can serve as fodder for interview conversation trump any hard data presented on a résumé). So although the book is clearly situated as a study of class and elites, it does have broader insights into hiring that a wider set of scholars could benefit from reading.

The book’s strength is its rich qualitative descriptions of what goes on behind the curtain of hiring within a firm, particularly the ethnographic portions in which Rivera uses her keen skills as an observer to carefully document, often with sharp wit, what is occurring around her. As Rivera contends, this area has been a black box for empirical research in sociology and management, as information is known about the candidate and then ASQ Coverabout the hiring outcome for that candidate, but less is known about what happens in between. The book’s limitation is in offering concrete conclusions around solutions to the problems identified (more on this below). Nonetheless, it is an interesting read, and readers will be impressed with Rivera’s complete immersion in this elite world.

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Does Employer Branding Influence a Candidate’s Job Application Decisions?


Employer branding is mainly concerned with creating and improving the image of an organization as an employer or as a great place to work. The employer brand influences how current and potential employees interact with a company’s brand, and more specifically, the company’s brand image as an employer.

Both firm-level and job-related variables significantly influence a candidate’s job application decisions, such as intention to apply and consideration of the best companies to work for. Firms hoping to attract top candidates should carefully examine the factors that motivate top candidates to apply for positions with a company, and make an effort to improve on those variables.

Interlinked with the concept of employer branding for prospective employees is employment branding, employer knowledge, employment image and employer attractiveness. All of these factors can impact a candidate’s job choices, but improving upon these factors alone may not be adequate to attract top candidates.

Top candidates are also attracted to positions by MLS Covercompetitive salary and a firm’s media presence. Within the means of the company, HR professionals can decide how these two features can be leveraged to increase an organization’s image as an employer. HR professionals should also consider whether adjustments need to be made to recruitment strategies in response to shifts in demographic patterns, shortages of skilled workers in knowledge-based organizations, and rising costs of recruitment, selection, and training due to attrition.

Overall, employer branding is likely to generate several benefits, such as, low employee attrition, high job satisfaction, employee engagement and customer loyalty. Moreover, firms with better employer brand can afford to pay lower wage rates than the industry average. As a result, employer branding proves to be as a useful strategy for companies to maintain a positive reputation and appeal to top talent.

One example of how positive employer branding benefits companies would be a Best Employer Surveys (BES) list like the Great Place to Work Survey, which positively influences candidates’ job-related decisions. Hence, firms should attempt to increase and retain their positions in the BES ranks which will ultimately improve the organization’s image as a brand.

The abstract:

Communication of employer brand to external stakeholders has, in the recent past, seen new developments in the form of best employer surveys (BESs) and a potent form of employer branding lies in the BESs. In this article, we examine the impact of firm-related and job-related attributes on a candidate’s job application decisions by selecting firms from the BES lists. The study is based on the secondary and primary data of 139 companies which have appeared in four major BES lists from 2001 to 2012 (the longest time period for which data is available in an emerging economy—India) and primary data collected from 2,854 respondents.

Click here to read Employer Brand and Job Application Decisions: Insights from the Best Employers for free from the Management and Labour Studies.

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*Featured Career Fair image is credited to University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment (CC).

Is Skills Training on the Decline in the US?

Ladies Working Laptop

Employer-sponsored training plays an important part at all levels of business. On the individual scale, employee-sponsored training can improve productivity and expand employee skills. In turn, a well-trained workforce can improve the performance and efficiency of a business. Broadly speaking, if a majority of businesses adopt employer-sponsored training, the economy as a whole becomes more competitive. In his paper published in the March 2016 issue of ILR Review, Did Employers in the United States Back Away from Skills Training During the Early 2000s? C. Jeffrey Waddoups discusses the decline of employer-paid training in the United States during the 2000s, and what implications this holds for employees and businesses.

Dr. Waddoups offered this quick insight into his research and findings:

Employers’ investments in training are an important source of human capital, which enhances the productivity of workers and firms, and increases the competitiveness of our economy. My research finds a troubling decline in such ILR_72ppiRGB_powerpointtraining between 2001 and 2009. Although workers are more trainable than ever, as evidenced by their increased educational attainment, firms — especially large firms —  have nevertheless reduced their commitment to training over the period.

The abstract from his paper:

A number of recent studies suggest that employer-paid training is on the decline in the United States. The present study provides empirical evidence on the issue by analyzing data on employer-paid training from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, a nationally representative data set. The findings reveal a 28% decline in the incidence of training between 2001 and 2009. Very few industries were immune from the decline, and the pattern was evident across occupation, education, age, job-tenure, and demographic groups. A decomposition of the difference in training incidence reveals a diminishing large-firm training effect. In addition, the workforce appears to have had the educational credentials by 2009 that, had they occurred in 2001, would have led to substantially more training.

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Jeff WaddoupsJeff Waddoups is a professor in the Economics Department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where is currently serving as department chair and teaches courses in labor economics, macroeconomics, health economics, and statistics. He has published articles on several topics in labor economics and industrial relations, including collective bargaining in the hospitality and gaming industries, the incidence and determinants of job training, the impact of responsible contracting policies on construction costs, and public subsidies to low-wage employers through uncompensated medical care costs. Waddoups graduated in 1989 with a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Utah.

How Important is Self-Managing Leadership for Crisis Management?

Crises are common in the modern world and the value system of leaders plays a crucial role in effectively managing a crisis. The article “Role of Self-managing Leadership in Crisis Management: An Empirical Study on the Effectiveness of Rajayoga” explores the role of self-managing leadership in crisis management. The topic is particularly pertinent because many crisis management blunders can be attributed to leadership failures, and in the context of business, lack of effective crisis management has led to downfall of many businesses.

IIM Journal CoverCrises can be generalized along a spectrum—on one end, you have individual crises, and on the other end, you have global crises. However, in all cases, it is individuals who have to provide leadership, whether it be for individual crises, organizational crises, or global crises.

In rapidly changing times, the challenge to an organization is to provide a framework for people to understand their journey through change so they can contribute their best work to the organization. In order to act as a leader or an agent of change within an organization, employees must be able to bring about significant change within their organization. The rate of external environmental change is inexplicably linked to self-management—as changes increase, self-management becomes more important. Because it is hardly possible to control the external environment, emphasis has shifted towards managing the inner environment and harnessing resources within an organization. The future of an organization rests on the autonomy, maturity and confidence of the people. Many employees are trained with particular technical and functional-oriented skills, and later promoted on the basis of those skills. However,sign-success-and-failure-1133804-m those skills primarily prepare employees to work in a relatively stable environment, not in a rapidly changing and at times chaotic environment. Thus, the skills necessary for employees now are those that help employees lead through a never-ending process of change.

The abstract:

Crises are common in the modern world and the value system of leaders plays a crucial role in effectively managing the crises. The role of self-managing leadership in crisis management is explored in this article. An empirical study is conducted to understand the effectiveness of the ancient self-management technique called Rajayoga. It is based on a sample survey among two groups—one group not practicing Rajayoga and the other group practicing Rajayoga. It is found that the inner powers and innate values have a positive correlation with crises management capabilities. Further, these capabilities and correlations are found to be stronger in a group of people practicing Rajayoga for self-empowerment. The relationship between inner powers and innate values, the interactivity and proactivity among the inner powers, the relationship between the ‘doing’ powers and the ‘being’ powers are also confirmed through the study.

You can read “Role of Self-managing Leadership in Crisis Management: An Empirical Study on the Effectiveness of Rajayoga” from IIM Kozhikode Society & Management Review free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know about all the latest research from IIM Kozhikode Society & Management Review? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

Book Review: Voice and Involvement at Work: Experience with Non-Union Representation

Voice and Involvement at Work Book Cover

Voice and Involvement at Work: Experience with Non-Union Representation. Edited by Paul J. Gollan, Bruce E. Kaufman, Daphne Taras, Adrian Wilkinson . New York and Oxford: Routledge, 2015. 420 pp. ISBN 978-0-415-53721-6, $135 (Cloth).

Rafael Gomez of University of Toronto recently took the time to review the book in the October Issue of ILR Review, which you can find here. From the review:

The editors spend a considerable amount of time in the introductory chapter not just laying out the structure of the book and offering a redacted synopsis for the time-constrained reviewer, but in really fleshing out where NER [non-union employee representation] sits in relation to the human resource management (HRM), economics, and industrial relations literatures. This chapter also offers arguably one of the strongest defenses of why we should be interested in NER and for abandoning many preconceived notions of what NER does. For too long, as the editors note, employee representation schemes that were either mandated (much work has existed on the rise of statutory works councils, for example) or set up by an employer were deemed to be of second order significance and/or lacked legitimacy in some quarters of the IR discipline. Likewise in the HRM literature, an ILR_72ppiRGB_powerpointoverriding concern was on the bottom-line impact of such schemes and how they linked up to the broader high-performance paradigm. The editors quite rightly point to the real intrinsic value of providing voice to workers (free from any associated efficiency benefits) and how workplaces should still be viewed, by implication, as the crucibles of industrial democracy. The other perspective of course that is given short shrift by the editors is the view held among many traditional labor studies scholars that NER is everywhere and always a trade union substitute. This is indeed one of the motives behind some employer NER designs—the editors acknowledge as much—but equal precedence can be found for seeing NER systems as platforms for employee engagement and eventual trade union representation.

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