Employee Motivation Theories

Employee Motivation

Employee motivation and motivation in general can be defined as a psychosomatic process that directs a person to behave and react in a way that helps them to satiate certain unfulfilled needs (Latham G., 2011). Motivation is what provides the stimuli and direction towards which employees can execute their duties (Lauby S., (2005). Motivation can be broken into three distinct categories that depend on each other for success. First of all, individual choices are driven by persistence, which reminds them of their unfulfilled needs. The choice taken will make an employee change their behavior in order to be in the right direction that would allow them to achieve those needs. Thirdly, there is the upholding of that behavior, which will go on until those needs and desires are achieved. Motivation however occurs differently in varying situations. Achieving a specific goal requires a particular motivational strategy and that same strategy cannot be used to achieve another goal.

Employee Motivation Theories

Need-Based Theories

According to Gary Latham (2011), employees draw their motivation from unfulfilled needs that they need to satisfy. Were it not for those deficiencies, then people would never have enjoyed work. The motivation to work therefore is directly equated to human needs. Once those needs are fulfilled, then the morale to work goes down. These theories were however opposed and criticized strongly by many researchers (Latham, 2011). They argued that individuals did not receive motivation to work due to fulfilling certain needs. Research conducted by these groups reveals that apart from just fulfilling their needs, many people engage themselves in jobs for enjoyment. An artist will not just draw a beautiful portrait of Zeus just to sell it and make money, but also to practice and enjoy what they do best (Latham, 2011). Examples of need-based theories include Maslow’s theory of needs, McClelland’s theory, ERG theory and Herzberg’s two factor theory. This review will only discuss the Maslow’s theory of needs and Herzberg’s two factor theory.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

This theory views motivation as a desire that changes over time and these shifts are governed by different levels of needs. These needs are the actual drivers of employees to work hard in order to achieve their goals by all means. According to Hiam Alexander (2003), these needs are organized into a certain hierarchical order that one must follow in order to reach the highest levels. While coming up with this theory, Maslow suggested that needs already satisfied can no longer motivate someone to work hard. Once they achieve their purposed needs, employees begin to drift towards fulfilling needs that are situated at a higher level in the hierarchy. This theory was however criticized strongly because one does not have to follow the order as put by Maslow in satisfying their needs. The order that Maslow proposed starts with biological and physiological needs at the base, followed by safety needs, belongingness and love needs, esteem needs and self-actualization needs.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

As much as Maslow tied employee motivation to hierarchical needs, Hiam believes that recognition, involvement and participation are among some of the factors that motivate a worker at the workplace.

Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory

According to Crouse Norm (2005), factors such as involvement, achievement, autonomy, participation, delegation and recognition are what increases the motivation of employees towards achieving a certain goal. Apart from that, hygienic factors such as working conditions, salary, and policies also influence the motivation of employees. As Crouse (2005) further states, poor hygienic conditions and poorly managed administrative policies lowers the morale of workers in an organization.

This theory suggests that employers should play the role of motivating their employees and is key to employee motivation. They should strive to ensure that all the factors involving working conditions go in favor of the employees – considering these factors will improve performance and bring better results for any organization. Both the two factors proposed in this theory work alongside each other.

No factor is independent on its own. Once the hygienic factors are fulfilled, the motivational factors can also be satisfied. Trying to satisfy only one set may lead to the lowering of work morale among workers, though. After doing away with the dissatisfaction in hygienic factors, employers should look forward to involving their employees in participating and developing programs. This will influence how they will perceive themselves as a part of the organization, with their due respect and recognition. This will make them improve their performance in the workplace, for they will not only increase the returns but they will also make the working environment appear more healthy and active. The model below demonstrates how Herzberg’s two factor theory is carried out.

Employee Motivation and Motivators

Ego/EsteemJob Enrichment
Self ActualizationJob Enrichment
Hygiene FactorsJob Enrichment
SocialJob Enrichment
SafetyJob Security
PhysiologicalSalary
Employee Motivators

This theory was also criticized severely by Bruce Anne (2006), who argued that it did not serve the motivational needs of employees universally. Employees experience socioeconomic conditions differently and this makes them behave in variance. Herzberg’s theories assumed that the socioeconomic experiences of all employees are the same.

Process-Based Theories

Unlike need-based theories, these theories focus mainly on job aspects that motivate employees and change their behavior towards achieving their needs. According to Bruce (2006), these theories look at how employees fulfill their needs, while at the same time bargaining between behavioral choices that will suit their motivational patterns.

Cognitive Evaluation Theory

It is believed that extrinsic factors are independent from intrinsic factors in employee motivation. However, this belief does not work in contemporary organizations, because such intrinsic factors like participation and involvement are closely linked to extrinsic factors like financial incentives in the motivation of employees. This is where this theory comes handy, for it provides dependence between the external and internal factors and merges them also in the realization of an employee’s needs. Cognitive evaluation theory argues that satisfying internal factors first before proceeding to satisfy the external factors does not work. Both these factors are supposed to be satisfied at the same time for any improvement to occur in an organization.

Giving employees financial incentives and denying them an opportunity to participate and involve themselves in organizational matters such as decision-making will not motivate them fully towards achieving the goals and objectives of that organization (Latham, 2011). Some of the internal factors to be considered in employee motivation include appreciation of self-worth, employee autonomy and rewards for the achievements made. Organizations should consider such factors before coming up with job designs. The model below demonstrates various reward aspects.

Importance of Aspects of Reward

 ControllingInformational
Proposition 1Locus Of CausalityFeelings Of Competence
Proposition 2External/InternalSelf Determination
Intrinsically Motivated Task Behavior

Model adapted from Latham, 2011

Cognitive evaluation theory can help organizations to attract talented employees because of the commendable pay and the participation of employees in decision-making.

Goal Setting Theory

This theory was proposed by Edwin Locke and Latham in 1968. They viewed goal setting as a major basis and foundation of employee’s motivation. According to Latham (2011), the intention and objectives of an employee in a workplace is innate and that is what drives motivation. The more complex the goals become, the harder the employees work, thus improving performance. Organizations are therefore supposed to set more challenging goals for their employees in order to improve productivity. Motivation is the process that controls a person’s behavior in realizing and achieving certain goals and objectives.

As Latham further states, this theory only looks at the increasing complexity of goals with other factors remaining constant. In case there is an interruption in other contributory factors, then the challenge to achieve those goals becomes void. Apart from that, employees are supposed to accept the challenge of achieving their needs as presented to them by the goals set. Failure to accept those challenges will instead reduce the motivation towards performance.

Leaving the employees to set their own goals and objectives will result in better performance than when they are set for them by their organizations. According to Purcell John (2003), that autonomy makes employees believe in themselves and set goals that will be achieved more readily than if the goals had been set for them by others. Purcell (2003) further suggests that an employee who is restricted too much is less likely to get motivated than one that is left to participate in goal setting and decision-making processes. Contemporary organizations are supposed to therefore understand the needs of their employees before setting goals.

The Relationship between Managers and Employees

According to Ritter Joseph and Anker Richard (2002), the relationship between managers and their employees greatly affects motivation. Managers are supposed to come up with strategies that will ensure that employees remain motivated all the time. One related strategy is formulating a plan where the employee can have live forums with their supervisors and managers on a regular basis. Through those forums, managers are also supposed to recognize the behavioral patterns of their employees. Every employee has their own distinct behavior that cannot be compared to another. By understanding and appreciating the behavioral patterns of their employees, managers will be able to know which incentives and techniques to use to increase employee motivation.

Better communication between managers and their employees is also another factor that strengthens the relationship between them. Managers who rarely communicate with their employees suffer a blow when it comes to the overall outcomes of the organization. Ritter & Anker (2002) further point out that the closer the managers are to their employees, the more motivated the latter become. Regular communication between the two also makes managers understand the needs of each personal employee, thus knowing which technique to use to motivate them. According to Bruce (2006), most managers generalize the needs of their employees. This generalization is what leads to dismal performances in most organizations.

A study carried out by Sdrolias Maria, Terzidis Konstantinos and Vounatsou Maria (2005) shows that active, friendly and less strict managers are more inclined to motivate their employees towards achieving the organization’s goals and objectives. The study was conducted on eight employees of the Tech Organization in Canada. All the eight employees admitted that their manager was close to them and that he understood the individual needs of each of them.

Three employees said that they were more motivated by intrinsic factors than extrinsic ones, while the remaining five revealed that extrinsic factors carried the weight in their motivation. However, both extrinsic and intrinsic factors mattered in motivating these employees. If asked whether their manager understood them completely, all of them responded that he was a man who understood all their individual needs without generalizing.

Training as a Motivational Factor

Employee training is also another component that keeps employees motivated. According to Latham (2011), employees are supposed be trained on a more regular basis concerning the new technologies introduced in an organization. Most organizations introduce fresh changes in order to remain relevant in the market. Although such steps are taken to improve the performance of the organization, a issue arises when the employees fail to incorporate those technologies in their working systems. Many organizations will carry out a short-term internal training for their employees. According to Bruce (2006), this training technique discourages most employees because they are not given enough time to master new technologies. Instead, both internal and external training are supposed to be done. Employees should be sent out to a plethora of seminars and conferences that deal with the technology particular to the company.

This will not only give them exposure, but they will also see themselves as important players in the organization. The criteria used by some organizations to only send out only their supervisors and managers for further studies is never taken well by the employees. They see themselves as less important and this lowers their morale towards job performance thus reducing employee motivation.

Apart from technological training, organizations are also supposed to train their employees in special skills that will help them overcome difficulties and stress at the workplace. According to Bruce (2006), stress and other psychological issues like depression reduce the motivation of an employee drastically. Specialists are supposed to be brought and teach employees how they can reduce and manage their stress levels. It is difficult to realize the obstacles employees are going through unless managers develop a closer relationship with them.

A study conducted by Salmela Katariina & Numi Jari-Erik (2004) at Stanford University revealed that the non-teaching staff is motivated to work by the regular training they receive in their areas of expertise. One of the employees in the kitchen said that she strove to make the best food and serve her customers jovially. This, she said, was attributed to the program introduced by their manager to carry out a training that ran for 4 days for all the employees every month. She revealed that this not only helped her to improve her cooking styles, but it also encouraged her to be friendly and courteous to the people she served.

Teamwork as a Motivating Factor

According to Hiam (2003), teamwork is also one of the major components that determine the degree of motivation. In most companies and organizations, sales are achieved through teamwork. What determines motivation in a team is the type of task assigned and its expected outcomes. Once members gather together to fulfill a certain task, the bond and relationship among them heavily determines how that task will be accomplished. Team members are supposed to encourage one another and act as an example to others. Managers and supervisors on the other hand are supposed to evaluate and understand each team separately.

According to Latham (2011), every team in an organization has its own motivational factors which might be different from those of another team. To achieve their desired goals, managers should break down the assigned tasks into smaller and measurable units that will enable team members to easily assess the information on how they have performed. This will greatly help them in determining the amount of effort they are supposed to exert in order to complete remaining tasks. The selection and formation of teams should be done on the basis of compatibility. This step requires managers and supervisors to understand their employees well and how they can perform and react in certain situations. Even though it is useful to understand an employee on an individual basis, some employees are understood best in their various teams (Hiam, 2003).

The empirical research conducted by Latham (2011) shows that teamwork is actually one of the factors that contribute towards employee motivation. The study was conducted on employees of a bank in India. According to Latham (2011), banks are among the institutions that are generally believed to be dependent on individual efforts. This study, however, shows that bank employees feel more motivated when they work as a team and not on an individual basis. Ten bankers were interviewed and all of them agreed that consulting each other while on the job encourages one to work harder in order to achieve the set goals and objectives.

One of the respondents admitted that a career in banking is full of challenges and difficult moments. He cited some of the challenges which included serving fraudulent customers, attending to customers who had not fully complied with all the rules and even attending to clients whose money had been withdrawn by conmen. Due to these challenges, he argued that they should be given freedom to consult their workmates in order to be successful on the job. All the respondents said that their bank manager was strict and he rarely allowed them to communicate to each other, but they found themselves breaking that rule in order to seek help from their team members. All the respondents agreed that they would be more motivated to perform better if their manager allowed them to freely consult with each other while in the course of duty.

Employee-Motivation-Theories
Employee-Motivation-Theories

Employee Motivation – A Summary Showing the Relationship between Motivation and Job Satisfaction

Purcell (2003) points out that motivation is the key factor in determining the success of a worker. As observed from the above cases, motivated employees are more likely to meet the demands of a job than those who are not. Motivation is an innate aspect that drives one’s behavior towards achieving certain goals and objectives. Managers are supposed to understand the psychological needs of their employees before drawing work plans. Such psychological disturbances like stress and depression are likely to reduce the motivation of an employee in carrying out their duties. Employers are supposed to understand the behavior of their employees before delegating duties to them. Both the need-based and process-based theories discussed above reveal that intrinsic and extrinsic factors are supposed to be satisfied concurrently for better performance. Motivating an employee by financial incentives alone is not enough, for they will need to be recognized and appreciated as an important person in that organization.

Appreciating an employee can be done through many acts, including training and educating them on the rising issues in the organization. Employee motivation should therefore be considered as a key aspect of job satisfaction.

References

Bruce, A. (2006). How to Motivate Employees: 24 Proven Tactics to Spark Productivity in the Workplace. NY, McGraw Hill Professional.

Crouse, N. (2005). Motivation is an Inside Job: How to Really Get Your Employees to Deliver the Results You Need. Oxford, iUniverse.

Hiam, A. (2003). Motivational Management: Inspiring Your People for Maximum Performance. NY, AMACOM.

Latham, G. (2011).Work Motivation: History, Theory, Research and Practice. NJ, SAGE.

Lauby, S. (2005). Motivating Employees: Career Planning & Talent Management. Washington DC, American Society for Training and Development.

Purcell, J. (2003). Understanding the People and Performance Link: Unlocking the Black Box. NY, CIPD Publishers – Employee Motivation.

Ritter, J. & Anker, R. (2002). Good Jobs, Bad Jobs: Workers’ Evaluations in Five Countries. International Labor Review, 141(4), 331 – 358.

Salmela-Aro, K., Nurmi, J. (2004). Employees’ Motivational Orientation and Well-Being at Work. Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 17 No 5, pp. 471-489.

Sdrolias, M., Terzidis, K. and Vounatsou, M. (2005), Significance, Defining Factors and Consequences of Mental Alienation of Enterprises Personnel from their Work Environment in Organizational Culture, Corporate Governance and Competitiveness. Selected Proceedings of the First International Conference on Business, Management and Economics, 16-19 June, Izmir, Turkey,Vol.2, pp.27-41.

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Strategic People Management

Strategic people management is a key function in every organization. This article seeks to discuss the three strategic people management areas in England’s National Health Service (NHS). Specifically, the paper will analyze leadership and management, talent management, and training and development in the NHS. Finally, the paper will recommend ways forward for the NHS in keeping best practice and improving areas which are more problematic.

The competitive advantage of an organization is based on several things like investing in new technologies, financial management, and effective human resource management. The style in which people are managed in an organization has a critical role in achieving the goals of an organization. Poor management of people can lead to poor performance or to the collapse of the whole organization. To avoid the demerits associated with poor people management, three areas referred to as areas of strategic people management have been devised.

The three areas are leadership and management, talent management, and training and development (Bailey, Mankin, Kelliher, & Garavan 2018). This article seeks to compile a report on England’s National Health Service (NHS) department and highlight the importance of strategic people management.

In 1948, the NHS was established to manage and regulate health services in the United Kingdom. The objectives of establishing the trust were to offer comprehensive health services, free at point delivery, and to centralize the health services. 70 years after its establishment, the trust is yet to achieve some of its objectives. It has been accused of poor health care delivery, failure to cater to the ageing population, long waiting times, over management, and insufficient staff training. The junior staff of the trust have complained of high workloads while the senior management complains of poor funding. A report by King’s fund supported the claim that the trust is poorly funded and refurbished the allegations by the critics that the trust is over-managed (Ham et al., 2011).

Strategic People Management and Leadership

Great Man Theory of leadership suggests that everyone is born with certain leadership traits (Spector 2016). This theory means that if you put together several people to work together in different leadership positions, a great result can be obtained. The NHS in England has tried to employ this theory by having many leaders in each department. Over the last two decades, the trust has increased its number of leaders significantly. In England, there has been an increase of 37% in the number of leaders in the last 19 years. However, many leaders can lead to leadership bureaucracy because no single person can be held responsible for a failure. Managerial positions are entitled to managerial remuneration, therefore, increasing the number of leaders increases the administrative costs for the trust which is already under-funded.

The NHS has been attacked by political parties and other critics of being over managed.  Currently, the trust has over 6000 board member and 700 doctors practicing as directors. The critics accuse the doctors of working as directors in contrary to their calling of treating people. However, positioning doctors as directors only cater for distributed leadership. Experienced doctors should the nurses and other doctors to address the issue of poor care and in implementing clinical processes. It is also easy for doctors to hold clinical officers accountable than other professionals. Health care is a complex service and should have many leaders. The NHS should not be accused of being over-managed due to the complex nature of health care.

The Audit Commission and the national audit office have accused the trust of poor leadership styles. Collectively, the two critics have accused the trust of spectacular managerial failures which has led to poor care, hospital acquired infections, surgery deaths, and long waiting times for the patients. Due to the increase in the aging population and the situations at hand such as long waiting times, the leaders have to change their leadership styles. The leaders seem to stick to their styles regardless of the increasing challenges in the trust.  The contingency leadership theory suggests that leadership style should be changed to cater for certain situations for there is no single way of leadership. It is the high time that the leaders in the trust changes their style of leadership to address the current issues of long waiting times, poor care, and caring for the ageing population.

Exchange leadership theory urges that leadership is only effective when the leader gives a motivational value or a reward, either motivation or punishment to his follower (Zhang et al., 218). This theory means that a leader should be given sufficient time to reward and motivate the juniors. Demotivating the followers will lead to poor results. However, the current managerial culture in the NHS betrays the Exchange Theory of Leadership.

Leaders are given a short tenure of two years. Two years are insufficient to reward and motivate the juniors. In addition, the short leadership terms cannot enable the leaders to handle the problems in the trust. The external pressure from critics and political parties demotivates the managers. The leaders should be given room to lead the trust and managers should have longer tenure for them to address the current issues in the trust (Jiang, Hu & Wang 2018). Blame games demotivate the employees. The trust has a culture of blaming the employees or a manager in case there is a failure. The managers and medical directors have blamed the nurses and clinical officers for the failures in the hospitals. The blame games demotivate the nurses and the clinical officers rather than motivating them.

Training and Development

Service delivery is depended on the level of training staff gets before and on the job (Larsen, 2017). Job training gives one chance to learn through experiment (Saks 2015). Experimental learning theory suggests that one can best learn through experimentation, reflective observation, and abstract conceptualization.

Organizations should, therefore, have training sessions for their staff. Training also gives a chance to incorporate new staff into the current organizational culture. The NHS staff should be trained in managing people and on business finance. So far the NHS has shown a willingness on training its staff by coming up with business finance course aimed at training all their staff regardless of their positions. Changes in technology and continuous research by health professionals call for regular training to equip the staff with the new skills being invented in the health sector all of which can be deployed using strategic people management.

To train the employees, the NHS has established several courses. The employees can access short-term courses, bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees. It gives a chance for nurses and clinical officers to subscribe to different courses and enhance their skills. This shows that the NHS is committed to improving the quality of health care it offers. The trust faces negative issues of caring for the ageing population and long waiting times. In contrast, none of the courses offered by the trust is concerned with the two issues.

Strategic People Management and Culture

It seems to be part of the NHS staff beliefs that long waiting times are normal and nothing should be done on that. A staff training should be carried out to change the attitude and beliefs on long waiting times. Theory of planned behavior purports that training changes the attitude and belief in certain behavior (Montano & Kasprzyk, 2015). The NHS, therefore, should organize training aimed at changing the attitude on long waiting times. 

Strategic People Management Dissertation
Strategic People Management Dissertation

It is commendable that the NHS organize in-house induction with updates in statutory areas on annual basis. The NHS managers hold meetings with staff on a regular basis where training and development opportunities are discussed. The staff are also allowed to apply for funding in case of a professional development course. However, the course must fulfil a professional need and support of the manager is required. 

The training offered by the NHS is only concerned with health care and not human resource management. Good health care can only be delivered under the effective leadership of people. The trust should come up with training programs aimed at equipping the staff with leadership skills. The trust participated in the South Central Leadership Program. The program was aimed at enhancing the leadership program for the senior staff. Skills development in health care is essential in health care and not a mere luxury. South Central Leadership Program should, therefore, involve all health staff regardless of the positions they hold.  The NHS continues to call for applications of their courses which open to anyone who wished to work in the health care department.

Talent Management

The first step of managing talent is on recruitment (Davis, Cutt, Flynn, & Mowl 2016). The human resources department should come up with a rigorous recruitment process aimed at selecting the best staff to work for the trust. However, talent management is not a function purely on the human resources department. The top management has to manage talents once the employees have been selected.

The human resources departments should offer assessment tests before recruitment and give a probation period before an employee is confirmed. This will make sure that the best employees are employed by the trust. Once an employee secures the job, a room should be given to express self-initiative. However, the current situation at the NHS does not give room for self-initiative. The blame game from the managers and pressure on the employees due to high workloads impairs their self-initiative. The external pressure on managers by critics also scares the managers from expressing their self-initiative.

For performance appraisal, the NHS has come up with a policy to identify the poor performing employees. Employees performance will be assessed according to complains received from visitors, fellow employees, and the observation of the manager. In case of a poor performance the employee will be asked to give feedback to the manager. The managers are supposed to fill a performance form for each employee in their department.

However, the NHS does not propose differentiated workforce in its policy and only proposes penalties for the employees who perform poorly. In the differentiated workforce, the best performing employees are rewarded better than others (Collings 2017). The differentiated workforce is to recognize the best employees and to avoid losing the key and the experienced employees to other organizations.

The NHS also lacks a wide pool of talents since people from other organizations are reluctant to work for the trust due to undue pressure on its employees and high workloads compared to the people working in private hospitals and those working for NGOs. The trust also has a culture of appointing people who have worked for it before which keeps away candidates from the private sector and other government institution.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Strategic people management is very important for every organization and should never be undermined. Poor management of people results in poor performance of the whole organization. The NHC has many managers. However, due to the complex nature of the health department, it can be concluded that the trust is not over-managed. There should be clear roles for every manager to avoid leadership bureaucracy. The trust faces a lot of pressure from external bodies and within itself. The trust has a culture of blaming employees of any fault during the line of duty. The trust also has a culture of having short tenures for its managers.

The trust offers training for its staff but the training given is a drop in the ocean since it is not concerned with managing people. The training given is only concerned with increasing treatment knowledge to the staff. The trust lacks a wide pool of talents due to its recruitment policy which selects people who have worked for the trust before. The performance appraisal policy of the trust only forces the staff to perform better but it does not recognize the best performing employees through differentiated workforce.  I wish to recommend the following to the NHS;

  • The South Central Leadership Program should involve both junior and senior staff. This will increase the chances of creating future leaders for the trust.
  • The public and critics should avoid giving undue pressure to the leaders of the trust and give them room to lead.
  • The trust should increase the tenure of its leaders. A longer tenure will give them time to fix the current problems facing the trust.
  • The NHS should recruit managers from the private sector and other government organizations. This will help in increasing its pool of talents.
  • On top of South Central Leadership Program, the trust should establish a leadership center for mentoring future leaders, offering training, and to support innovative programs.
  • Adopt a more robust approach in relation to strategic people management.

Bibliography

 Bailey, C., Mankin, D., Kelliher, C. and Garavan, T., 2018. Strategic human resource management. Oxford University Press.

Collings, D.G., 2017. Workforce differentiation. Oxford handbook of talent management, pp.301-17.

Davis, T., Cutt, M., Flynn, N. and Mowl, P., 2016. Talent assessment: A new strategy for talent management. Routledge.

Ham, C., Baker, G.R., Docherty, J., Hockey, P., Lobley, K., Tugendhat, L. and Walshe, K., 2011. The future of leadership and management in the NHS: no more heroes. Report by The King’s Fund.

Jiang, Z., Hu, X. and Wang, Z., 2018. Career adaptability and plateaus: The moderating effects of tenure and job self-efficacy. Journal of Vocational Behavior104, pp.59-71.

Larsen, H.H., 2017. Key issues in training and development. In Policy and practice in European human resource management (pp. 107-121). Routledge.

Montano, D.E. and Kasprzyk, D., 2015. Theory of reasoned action, theory of planned behavior, and the integrated behavioral model. Health behavior: Theory, research and practice, pp.95-124.

Saks, A., 2015. Managing Performance through Training & Development, (Canadian ed.). Nelson Education.

Spector, B.A., 2016. Carlyle, Freud, and the great man theory more fully considered. Strategic People Management12(2), pp.250-260.

Zhang, X., Zhang, Y., Sun, Y., Lytras, M., Ordonez de Pablos, P. and He, W., 2018. Exploring the effect of transformational leadership on individual creativity in e-learning: a perspective of social exchange theory. Studies in Higher Education43(11), pp.1964-1978.

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I do hope you enjoyed reading this post strategic people management and how it impacts the NHS]. There are many other titles available in the HRM Dissertation Collection that should be of interest to human resource management students and CIPD professionals. There are many dissertation titles that relate to other aspects of HRM such as employee engagement, HRM Theory, absenteeism, training and development to name a few. It took a lot of effort to write this post and I would be grateful if you could share this post via Facebook and Twitter. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section. Thank you.

Human Resource Planning Management

Human Resource Planning

Human Resource Planning and Management. The firm’s position in the particular industry that it operates determines whether the profitability of the firm can be defined to be above or below the average profitability in the entire industry. Making the profit level of any particular company be above the industry average is a long-term goal of any particular company regardless of the industry in which it operates. To gain long-term above-average profitability level, two types of competitive advantages can help the company rise to such levels.

The first one is either cost management or differentiation. When any firm can keep the cost as low as possible, it will be in a position to charge less and have a broad market base, a factor which is important in improving the long-term profitability levels. The course that is taken by any particular company depends on the leadership focus on either of the two kinds of competitive advantage. The two kinds of competitive advantages lead to four generic strategies that are aimed at ensuring the profitability of the organization rises above average in the long-term. Such includes the broad cost leadership, focused cost leadership, broad differentiation, and focused differentiation. The four Porter’s generic business strategies regarding the business focus affect the human resource planning management of any particular organization in some factors, including in the selection process, screening, training, and compensation among many other factors affecting human resource planning in any specific organization.

Leadership of any organization can decide to focus on any of the two factors of competitiveness depending on the environment in which they are operating as well as their goals. As noted by Pfeffer (2007), any of the generic competitive generic styles that are adopted in any particular organization have and influence on the staffing models adopted by the organization. A choice of one particular style will best fit one staff modeling, which may not be suitable for a different strategy. For example, a choice of one style can result in what Pfeffer (2007) describes as “…disengagement and diminished productivity is the pervasive and growing conflict between work and family…” (117). The style adopted, therefore, influences all the stages of the human resource planning from the selection to retention. The reason is that each style of leadership requires a different pool of employees regarding their qualifications, motivations as well as focus as described by Heneman, Judge, and Kammeyer-Mueller (2015).

Humphrey, Morgeson, and Mannor (2009) describe an organization to comprise of physical, financial and human capital. The three compositions are affected by the leadership choices and focus that are made by any particular organization. Mainly, the generic competitive strategy adopted by different organizations depend and what can be described as “workforce quality” as well as the “workforce quantity” (Heneman, Judge, and Kammeyer-Mueller, 2015). The staffing strategy of an organization focuses on HR planning, recruitment, and selection, employment as well as retention of the employees. An organization that mainly focuses on the reduction of the cost will first of all look at the staffing strategy that will cost the organization the least amount of resources. Therefore, apart from just focusing on the operational cost of the organization, broad cost leadership strategy will include in cost of hiring and retention in the costs of the organization. Given that the staff pool of the organization has a major impact on the total cost of the organization, a broad cost leadership will pay attention to the total cost that goes to its human resource department.

Staffing strategies and staffing models of an organization have impacts on market share, environmental sustainability, deployment, customers’ satisfaction among many other determinants of profitability. Specifically, in the development of the organization’s staffing strategy and models, the leadership pays attention to the effects of these factors on the two kinds of competitiveness which are cost as well as differentiation (Terpstra and Rozell, 1997). For example, broad differentiation business strategy won’t pay much attention to compensation of the employees. This strategy will mainly focus on the quality that the employees bring to the organization without paying much attention to their pay demands. However, the broad cost leadership strategy will focus more on the pay demands of the employees and therefore go for the cheapest means through which they can achieve their objectives. The similarity between the two strategies is that the focus on a wide area as opposed to the focus strategy.

The focused cost leadership and the focused differentiation leadership have some unique characteristics that affect the human resource planning strategies that are adopted by an organization. Rather than focusing on the entire industry, this two generic business strategies pays attention to specific segments of the industry and then pay attention to either cost or differentiation in these particular segments. The main idea as noted by Humphrey, Morgeson, and Mannor (2009) is therefore that these two styles of leadership focus on a narrow competitive scope as compared to the “broad-based” leadership styles. Whether the leadership style in the particular segment focuses on cost or differentiation affects the staffing strategies and models just the same way the broad-based leadership affects this factors, but in a narrow scope for this case.

The cost focus strategy seeks to gains cost advantage in a particular segment of the industry. Therefore, in its staffing strategy, the management and the human resource department will look at the cheapest means to compose its employee’s pool. The screening and the selection process will mainly focus on employees that can help the organization reach its cost limits. Also, the training process of the employees will mainly focus on methods of reducing the cost of operations in the organization. Under this strategy, the organization will be willing to retain a small number of employees that will help in the reduction of the total cost that is incurred by the organization.

Human Resource Planning
Human Resource Planning

On the other hand, differentiation focus will seek to achieve differentiation in a particular segment of the industry. The differentiation focus, therefore, tries to make the products of the company look different from those of the competitors and therefore gain market advantage. Differentiation is an important factor in profitability, and therefore any particular organization must pay attention to it. According to Cole et al. (2004), the level at which the organization achieves product differentiation depends on the pool of employees that they have. Therefore, just as it is with the cost focus, the differentiation focus will also influence the staffing strategies and staffing models that are adopted by an organization. The organization will pay much attention to the “quality” of the employees that will help it in achieving the differentiation target rather cost. Since product differentiation can help an organization keep the prices higher but maintain the customers base, the organization using this strategy will therefore not pay much attention to the cost of establishing this strategy.

Human Resource Planning Strategy

The strategy that any business chooses to adopt has far-reaching effects the entire planning process of the organization. More specifically, the cost focus or differentiation focus of any organization will determine the steps and the processes that will be adopted in the human resource planning process. Human resources planning is defined by Clardy (2008) as the process of adjusting the flow of workers in any organization, both in and out of the firm. The goals of the organization will specifically affect the process of human resource planning as well as the aspects that the planning process pays attention to. The role of the human resources planning for this case will ensure that the organization has a workers pool that will help it achieve the kind of competitive advantage that it has chosen to focus on. The planning process will pay attention to the skills that it requires the employees to have, both today and in the future to achieve the competitive advantage that it requires.

The role of human resource planning is ensuring that the organization has the right number of employees as well as employees that have the right skills to drive the agenda of the organization. As defined by Heneman, Judge, and Kammeyer-Mueller (2015), human resource planning aims at ensuring that the right number of employees are at the right place, at the right time and capable of effectively and efficiently delivering the needs of the organization. It ensures that the organization achieves its objectives through having the right composition of employees. Therefore, human resources planning is essential for any particular organization. The process is greatly affected by the strategy that the organization decides to pursue. This includes all the processes of human resource planning ranging from the screening and selection to the retention stage. Whether an organization chooses to focus on cost or differentiation will affect the whole process of human resource planning, staffing planning, and diversity planning.

When an organization decides to pursue the low-cost strategy, the human resource planning will mainly focus or ensure the organization has the right pool of employees that will help the organization keep its costs as low as possible. Under the low-cost strategy, the firm is trying to take advantage of the prices and therefore have to focus on reducing the prices since this will help them in keeping the prices as low as possible. The main objective of this case is to earn a larger market share through specializing in reducing the prices of the goods and services that the organization offers. This is only possible is the human resource planning will be effective in ensuring that the organization a pool of workers that first understands the goal of the organization and secondly have the right skills to pursue this goal. For the cases of the organizations that focus on differentiation, the human resource planning process must understand that the employees in the organization are a key part of achieving the competitive advantage and differentiation that requires. Therefore, the human resources planning for the case of a firm that chooses to specialize in differentiation will focus on accessing the organization with the right pool of employees that will make the products and the services of the organization look different as compared to other competitors in the market.

Succession Planning

Succession management is important as the workers in the organization need to have certain competencies and skills that will help an organization in achieving its objectives. The human resource planning focuses on the succession management by ensuring that the organization gets the right pull of workers depending on whether the organization focuses on lowing the cost or making its products and services look different when compared to the services that are offered by their competitors. The human resources management for this particular case focuses on training and job security as well as employees’ loyalty, depending on their focus (Clardy, 2008).

The staff planning process of any particular organization is also affected by the strategy that is adopted by the organization. What the organization decides to pay attention to will affect all stages of the planning process. Heneman, Judge, and Kammeyer-Mueller (2015) define staff planning as the process of ensuring that the organization has the right skills at its disposal. Just as human resources planning, staff planning seeks to ensure that the organization has the right number of employees and at the right time and employees possess the required skills to fulfill the objectives of the organization. The staff planning takes into consideration both the internal and external factors and therefore is important in ensuring that the organization achieves its objectives. The recruitment and selection process in staffing and human resources planning deals with discovering the manpower requirement of the organization depending on what the organization wants to achieve. For this case, the selection and recruitment stage in the human resources and staffing process will pay much focus on cost for the low-cost strategy and differentiation abilities focus on the differentiation focus. The staffing planning will focus on attracting a large pool of workers so that it can have the liberty to select the best from the pool.

As explained by MacKenzie, Klaas, and McClendon (2012), the organizations that focus on low cost will focus less on the selection and recruitment process. The organization will try as much as possible to keep the recruitment budget as low as possible. The recruitment processes will mainly use the mouth to mouth and online application to try and reduce the cost of recruitment and selection. However, when the organization decides to focus on differentiation as its tool of differentiation, the recruitment and the selection process will pay attention to different factors. The process will focus on employees that have a large pool of skills and competencies, a factor that is essential in ensuring that the products and services of the organization are slightly different from those of the competitors.

Diversity planning is also important in an organization. The diversity planning focuses on ensuring that the organization has the right mix employees. The process is vital in ensuring that the organization achieves its current and future objectives. Diversity planning will pay attention to the composition of the workforces on numerous factors including the skills mix, sustainability as well as flexibility of the workforce. The diversity palling process is directly affected by the focus of the organization. Whether the firm decides to either focus on cost or differentiation will affect the mix of the employees that the organization would like to have (Highhouse, 1997). For example, for an organization that chooses to focus on differentiation, it would wish to have a more diversified workforce as compared to an organization that pays attention to cost. The low-cost strategy will focus on a mix that that lowers the cost while the differentiation strategy will focus on developing a diverse workforce that will ensure that the organization achieves either perceived or real differentiation.

Under Porter’s generic business strategies, the firm chooses either to focus on cost or focus on differentiation. Also, the firm chooses whether to focus on the entire market or a specific section of the market. The focus of the organization has major influences on the human resource planning management and staffing policies that are adopted by the organization. More specifically, whether an organization decides to focus on a particular segment of the market or the entire market affects that assessment processes as well as the reliability and validity of the assessment process.

Broad differentiation leadership target a large market area and aims at gaining market advantage through differentiation across the entire industry. The strategy concentrates on one or more criteria in the market, and the strategy is always related to creating a premium price in the market. The differentiation strategy is about creating a premium price and then convincing the customers on why they should prefer such products as compared to the products of the other producers, through their prices may be low. This focus will affect the selections process as well as the reliability and validity of the selection assessment processes (Heneman, Judge, and Kammeyer-Mueller, 2015). The selection assessment process for this case will focus on creating differentiation in a large area, and therefore the selection process will mainly focus on skills and competencies that will enable the organization achieves this objective. The differentiation criteria that can be used include superior products, branding, wide distribution channels as well as constant promotion, specifically focusing on a larger area for the case of broad differentiation leadership.

HRM Dissertation Topics
HRM Dissertation Topics

Under the differentiation focus, the organization divides the market into segments and decides to focus on one segment of the market. Therefore, for this case, the organization would both pick a small area in the market or a single product and then decide to focus on that area or product. The choice of the company will influence the selection assessment methods that will be applied by the firm. The organization will focus on the segment since they have seen an opportunity in the provision of goods and services in such an area and believes focusing on differentiation on the region will help the organization achieve competitive advantage. The difference between the broad differentiation and focus differentiation leadership is the target market, with the broad differentiation focusing on a large market while the focus differentiation pays attention to a segment of the market. Such specialization will have an impact on the employees’ assessments methods in the selection process (Clardy, 2008). The methods are mainly affected by what the methods decide to concentrate on. The concentration of the particular selection assessment methods will dictate how valid or reliable the methods used are.

As noted by Highhouse (1997), the organization is in fierce wars of getting the most talented workers from the labor market. They invest large sums of money with the aim of getting the best employees from the available pool of employees in the labor market. The strategies used include job advertisements and recruiting strategies. This is due to managers understanding that the pool of employees is essential to achieving the objectives of the organization. On this note, depending on the strategy of the organization, the organization will select a selection assessment that they feel is best for identifying employees that best fit what they are looking for. Numerous selection methods can be used by an organization depending on whether the organization has decided to focus on a larger market or specialize in a single segment of the industry. For organizations that mainly focus on differentiation, formal assessment methods are used. This is because the firms are keen on getting the right pool of employees that will push the agenda of the firm forward.

The specialization that the firm chooses to focus on regarding differentiation affects the job analysis in the selection process. There are procedures as noted by MacKenzie, Klaas, and McClendon (2012) that are used in the development of the selection criteria. The procedures are affected by the size of the market that the organization decides to focus on. The competencies and skill that each strategy looks for are different, a factor that affects the selection assessment procedures. One of the most used assessment methods is the Cognitive Ability Tests. The methods mainly focus on measuring the mental ability of the prospective employees.

Other criteria measured under the test includes the reasoning ability, reading comprehension as well as mathematical abilities. The cognitive selection assessment criteria have been used as a predictor of the job performance of the employees. For the case of this test, the broad differentiation leadership will focus on employees with higher mental abilities that can help the organization achieve competitiveness through differentiation in a larger segment of the market. On the other hand, as observed by Heneman, Judge, and Kammeyer-Mueller (2015), the focus differentiation leadership style will focus on abilities that will help the organization focus on a particular segment of the market. Whether the organization focuses on the larger area or a segment of the market will also affect the applicability of this selection assessment method. The broad differentiation strategy mainly relies on this selection criteria since it focuses on the ability of the employees to deliver the competitive criteria of the organization. The reasoning, mathematical and verbal abilities of the employee are essential for this strategy.

Other selection test Personality Tests, Biographical Data test, Integrity Tests, Structured Interviews, and Job Knowledge Tests. The job knowledge test is another selection test that is influenced by the strategy that is used by any particular firm. This selection assessment method measures the knowledge area that is required for a person to perform a certain job effectively. For this case, the broad differentiation technique will be paying attention to employees that can deliver differentiated products focusing on a large area.

For the case of focus selection assessment methods, it will pay much focus on the ability of the employees to focus on a given section of the market. The reliability and validity of this selection criteria are also affected by the strategy that the organization seeks to pursue. This criterion is mainly used by firms that seek to focus on a given region (Kulik, Roberson, and Perry, 2007). The firms under this test look for the best employees that know the particular segment. Therefore, this method is more valid and reliable under the focus differentiation leadership as opposed to broad differentiation leadership. When used under the broad differentiation leadership, the test focuses on employees who know a bigger segment of the market, which the firms seek to sell the differentiated products and services. Therefore, as shown by the analysis of the cognitive selection assessment and the job knowledge test, the focus of the organization regarding differentiation significantly influences the selection assessment methods as well as the reliability and validity of the methods.

References

Clardy, A. (2008). The strategic role of human resource development in managing core competencies. Human Resource Planning Development International, 11(2), 183-197.

Cole, M., Field, H., Giles, W., & Harris, S. (2004). Job type and recruiters’ inferences of applicant personality drawn from resume biodata: Their relationships with hiring recommendations. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 12(4), 363-367.

Heneman III, H., Judge, T., & Kammeyer-Mueller, J. (2015). Staffing Organizations (8th Edition). Middleton, WI: Mendota House/McGraw-Hill.

Highhouse, S. (1997). Understanding and improving job-finalist choice: The relevance of behavioral decision research. Human Resource Planning Management Review, 7(4), 449-470.

Humphrey, S., Morgeson, F., & Mannor, M. (2009). Developing a theory of the strategic core of teams: A role composition model of team performance. Journal of Applied Psychology,   94(1), 48-61.

Kulik, C., Roberson, L., & Perry, E. (2007). The multiple-category problem: Category activation and inhibition in the hiring process. Academy of Management Review, 32(2), 529-548.

MacKenzie, Jr., W., Klaas, B., & McClendon, J. (2012). Information use in counter-offer decisions: An examination of factors that influence management counter-offer decisions. Journal of Labor Research, 33, 370-387.

Pfeffer, J. (2007). Human Resource Planning from an organizational behavior perspective: Some paradoxes explained. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 21(4), 115-134.

Terpstra, D., & Rozell, E. (1997). Why some potentially effective staffing practices are seldom used. Public Personnel Management, 26(4), 483-495.

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Best HRM Dissertation Topics For University Students

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HRM Dissertation Titles

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Best HRM Dissertation Topics For University Students

HRM Dissertation Topics

Your HRM dissertation is an extended piece of work on a topic of your own choosing. Working on a dissertation often involves searching for more specialized subject information beyond your University library catalog. You may like to look at the HRM Dissertation Topics we have on offer.

Your HRM dissertation aims to integrate your human resource management skills and knowledge with the published research in the area under study so that the project meets the high academic quality and high relevance to the HRM communities for which it has been written. While this blog post is designed to provide all the information that you need to write your own HRM Dissertation Proposal and formulate a handful of HRM Dissertation Topics.

We would advise you to visit our HRM Dissertations pages, where you can find additional information as well as guidance. Our website offers support for the HRM dissertation you will undertake. Students and HR Professional will be offered the opportunity to explore the HRM Dissertation Topics we have on offer.

Please note that your dissertation supervisor might not have the same research interest as you but he/she is the ultimate source for providing students with guidance on how to succeed in writing your own HRM Dissertation. The role of the supervisor is to oversee your academic and professional development and to assist you.

The aim of the team at study-aids is to help students develop their research skills, knowledge and understanding of the human resource management. This will give new insights into HRM research, which will enable you to commission, undertake and evaluate HRM research in your chosen area of management throughout your future career. We recognize that for many of you formulating HRM Dissertation Topics can be a daunting task. For this reason, we expect you to ask questions and clarify your understanding as and when necessary. Remember that effective and successful HRM Dissertation involves asking as many questions as possible from yourselves and from the people around you.

What Is A Dissertation?

Before you begin to think about possible HRM Dissertation Topics for investigation, make sure you are clear in your own mind about what a dissertation is. You will be familiar with the principles of HRM, but it is worth reviewing briefly what a HRM Dissertation is really designed to do, and looking at how a HRM dissertation may mirror but also differ from a standard dissertation in a different subject area.

Different subject disciplines may emphasize different features, but, broadly speaking, a dissertation is a continuous piece of writing, arranged in clearly demarcated paragraphs, in which an argument (a clear line of thought) is developed, in response to a central question or proposition (thesis). The line of argument is supported by evidence you have acquired through research, which you are required to analyse, and which supports or contradicts the various perspectives explored in the course of that argument. Your HRM Dissertation then reaches a conclusion in the final section which pulls together the threads of your argument, supporting, qualifying or rejecting the original dissertation.

HRM Dissertation Topics
HRM Dissertation Topics

It is worth bearing in mind that your HRM dissertation is not a piece of writing designed to reproduce information available elsewhere, but something new and expressive of your individual abilities to analyse and synthesize. In addition, the process of academic writing will, of itself, help you to learn, by enabling you to work with concepts and information relevant to your subject, and thereby developing your intellectual skills.

Your HRM Dissertation should follow the fundamental principles of academic writing, but bear in mind the following key points. It is an extended piece of writing, usually divided into chapters. Make sure that you know the lower and upper word limits acceptable for your HRM dissertation, and what that will look like in terms of word processed pages. Be sure to find out whether you should be following a particular sequence of chapter headings for example, introduction followed by literature search followed by an experiment or a survey and, or an analysis of your research and whether you are expected to devise your own sequence and structure.

Your HRM dissertation contains a detailed exploration of evidence. The evidence referred to may comprise evidence from published texts, for example if you are exploring the literary texts of a particular writer, or it may consist of primary data gathered by your own, first hand research, for example a sociological study of attitudes to gender roles based on research methods such as interviews and questionnaires.

You are required to be clear about the nature of the methodology you will use for gathering the evidence why are you collecting data or analyzing evidence in that way rather than in another way it must be underpinned throughout by awareness of theory your argument should be placed within the context of existing theory relevant to the human resource management subject. It has to be presented in a professionally finished manner. Your supervisor should give you precise details about the format, layout and stylistic requirements of your assignment. Make sure that you know exactly what these are.

The importance of having a dissertation and evaluating it critically remember that you are constructing an argument from the beginning to the end of your assignment. Think of this central idea, and the logical development of your argument (train of thought) around this, as being the central path of your HRM dissertation, and make sure that you do not have sections or paragraphs which are somewhere in the shrubbery out of sight of the main path. Every paragraph should further the central argument, by providing another angle on it, additional evidence, and evaluation of that evidence in relation to your HRM Dissertation.

HRM Dissertation Topics

Comparative Management Practices (Especially With Regard To China)

Co-Operative (And “Partnership”) Aspects of Employment Relations

Cross-Cultural Communication (And Mis-Communication) In Business

Enterprise Restructuring In Emerging and Formerly Socialist Economies

Equal Opportunities and Managing Diversity

Ethical Aspects of Organisational Activities

Gender Aspects of Work and Management

Government Vocational Education and Training Policy

HRM and Organisational Performance

HRM and Shareholder Value In Management

HRM in Buyouts

HRM in the SME Sector

Industrial/Employment Relations

Inter-Organisational Relationships (Mergers, Alliances, Acquisitions Etc)

Knowledge Management

Leadership

Managing Culture

Organisational Change

Performance Related Pay

Recruitment and Selection

Team Working

Technology Change in Organisations

Trade Unions

HRM Dissertation Samples

There is so much to explore within the field of human resource management. The following is a list of HRM dissertation topics that have been written by successful HRM graduates and are used by HRM professionals.

Strategic Role of Human Resource Management Policies and Practices in Organizational Change

The Relationship between Employee Benefits and Employee Satisfaction at Google

The Importance of Training Staff in the Modern Workplace Era

Managing Workforce Diversity

Can Flexible Working Act as Employee Recruitment and Retention Tool?

Formulating Your Own HRM Dissertation

A HRM dissertation is a good example of a scientific work which needs more than merely writing and research skills. It must be kept in mind that such writings as HRM dissertation have specific rules to follow and the special instructions to keep to.

  1. One must understand that a HRM dissertation requires that students could demonstrate specific skills. Thus, students are supposed to do the following, according to the HRM dissertation requirements.
  2. Students must demonstrate the ability to choose the methods for their research on their own, HRM dissertation rules say.
  3. A typical HRM dissertation would presuppose that a student can perform an appropriate inquiry without assistance.
  4. A HRM dissertation demands that students should take a critical approach to the issues which are being researched in their HRM dissertations, so that the students could conduct an independent research.
  5. Among the demands to those who are writing their HRM dissertation, there is the one concerning the so-called subject-specific skills. Narrowing the research of the dissertation, this demand concerns the bibliographical material. Such dissertations are supposed to be grounded on a profound aspect of specific literature, and the chosen area of HRM dissertation must embrace all possible literature, including the most modern one.
  6. There is also a demand to HRM dissertations which says that a good dissertation must make a good use of the research data to construct a well-built argument.
  7. The way in which the data in the HRM dissertation is going to be presented matters much as well. The data in your HRM dissertation must be arranged well represent a logical structure and suggest a problem which will further on be developed into an enticing argument. Such are the basic demands to a good HRM dissertation

Choosing Suitable HRM Dissertation Topics

This is often the hardest part of the dissertation. This is because you must choose the topic, your supervisor cannot do it for you (though she or he can help you refine ideas that you do have). There are no hard and fast rules about the topic for your dissertation, but the following guidelines may help. Think about the areas of HRM that you are most interested in or a topic that you yourself are particularly interested in to which a sociological angle can be discerned. Also consider which theories and concepts have interested you the most. Along these lines, consider the courses you’ve taken so far. Which lectures or courses most captured your imagination? You can go back and look at your notes and textbooks to jog your memory.

Do not try to be too ambitious about what you can achieve given your time and resource constraints – We are sure you will find a collection of outstanding HRM dissertation topics. The best dissertations are analyses of modest scope done well rather than broad ones done poorly. Think about the kind of research that you will actually do, and make sure that it is something that you yourself can feasibly do in the time available. A general word of advice is to choose quality HRM dissertation topics that are interesting to you. You will spend a great deal of time working on a relatively narrow issue, so choose one you will enjoy! Members of staff may be able to help you refine your thoughts, but the ideas and the motivation has to come from you.

Click Here For A Full List Of HRM Dissertations

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HRM Gender Influence Career Success

Gender Influence on Career Success

Melamed (1996) defines a career as someone’s progress in his occupation through his life. Within the scope of this essay, career success will be mainly defined as the opportunity for management positions and promotions. This is necessarily a restricted definition, but is a starting point to examine the influence of gender. There is a growing body of opinion that the so-called ‘glass ceiling’, where women’s prospects for career advancement are limited due to their gender, is a thing of the past. On the contrary, this essay will argue that gender continues to influence career success to quite a significant extent, first by examining the current situation of gender difference in management positions, then considering career aspirations and opportunities, attitudes towards the genders in terms of abilities, and finally touching on theories of gender difference in career success.

Women and Gender

First, women continue to be in a significant minority when it comes to occupying management positions. It is certainly true that women have gradually become a more and more important part of the global workforce since the middle of the last century. The new term “career woman” is getting popular. However, a large number of studies indicate that in the pursuit of career success, women have to overcome more difficulties than men, before they can reach the top of the hierarchy. A study by Glenice and Margaret (2001: 3) has shown evidence of ‘attitudinal, behavioural and structural barriers that are deterring women on their way to achieve career success. Such barriers seem to be more obvious in the senior management level. In spite of more and more women join the ‘paid workforce’ and taking up management roles, no more than 5 per cent of top management position is taken by women in the USA (Glenice and Margaret, 2001:1).

In UK the number is estimated to be 4 per cent or lower, while in Australia it is around 3 per cent. Early studies all prove that the phenomenon of the “glass ceiling” does exist in the top ‘management level’. In the past decade, evidence shows that women are beginning to break through the “glass ceiling” and managing to acquire their position in the top management group (Ryan and Haslam, 2005). On the other hand, Ryan and Haslam raise a concern that women’s ability to perform well in these positions is being undermined by the type of roles they are offered. They identify female executives being given roles in departments which are known to be in structural difficulties or failing financially: “women are particularly likely to be placed in positions of leadership in circumstances of general financial downturn and downturn in company performance”. This is just one study, however, and should not be used as a generalisation for the experience and career success of all women in management positions, or to prove that gender affects career success in recent times.

Gender Careers
Gender Careers

Although evidence shows that women are in a disadvantaged position in the labour market, it is a position that may actually be reinforced by women’s own perceptions. The career aspiration and expectation between different genders has been studied. Glenice and Margaret (2001) indicate that women are not very interested in pursuing a career. They found that women are more easily satisfied and therefore less likely to maximize their career aspirations. Hede and Ralston’s research (1993) also shows that female managers are less likely to pursuit a position in senior management level compared with male managers.

Their expectations of an executive position are also lower than men. Regarding equal opportunities, an interesting fact is that most women managers believe that they have fewer opportunities when there is a chance for promotion, and they are not actively encouraged to participate in career development activities (Glenice, & Margaret, 2001). In contrast, male managers believe the opposite. However, the research by Ryan and Haslam (2005) suggests there is a narrowing difference between men and women’s perceptions of their opportunities for promotion and therefore their aspirations are becoming more similar. However they found that both men and women believe that gender plays an important role in decisions in personnel selection regarding the type or area of a job. It seems that the barriers to promotion may exist partially in women’s attitudes or expectations.

Another possible barrier to female career advancement is the perception that men and women have different skills, with the former being more suited to senior roles. The possible difference in the types of jobs offered to women and men mentioned above requires further exploration. Researchers argue that men and women’s career progress are based not just on different attitudes but also on different attributes.

Tharenou et al (in Glenice and Margaret, 2001:3) argue that ‘women’s achievements are built on experience and performance while male employees are judged on their level of education’. This seems to be rather a controversial generalisation, but a more commonly argued point is that the different genders have different skills or qualities. Eagly (in Glenice, & Margaret, 2001:2) proposed that the expectation that ‘women will exhibit communal qualities and men agentic qualities’ has an effect. Glenice and Margaret (2001:3) describe communal tendencies as ‘interdependence and co-operation and enjoyment at working closely with others’, and agentic tendencies as ‘a desire for self-expansion and independent behaviour’ (Glenice and Margaret, 2001:3). Their study proved that these gender differences were commonly given as reasons for promotions. However, this research only proves that the belief that men and women have different skills is widespread. It does not prove that men and women have different abilities.

It could be argued that much of the evidence above for gender difference influencing career success is based on people’s (both men’s and women’s) perceptions and aspirations rather than a real difference between the genders in terms of ability. However, this does not negate the argument that gender is a major cause of difference in career success.

In fact, it seems clear that two factors are strong influences in career success: the relatively unproven issue of actual difference between the genders, and the more commonly agreed-upon issue of belief in this difference. This belief creates external barriers to promotion for women in the workplace, as well as internal barriers, which are that women do not aspire to greater success but may be satisfied with positions lower than their actual abilities.

In conclusion, gender has significant influence on employees’ career success. First of all, the disadvantaged position of women is clear, especially in the top management level. The “glass ceiling” does exist in most countries. Secondly, evidence shows that men and women employees have different experiences in their careers. It is generally believed that men have higher promotion opportunities and career expectations than women, although this is not true in all studies. Thirdly, the career success of men and women are influenced by different factors, because of the different social roles they are expected to play. Men are expected to be agentic in their beliefs and behaviors, while women are expected to be communal. In other words, the traditional view is that women’s internal attributes do not fit the requirement of top management. It will take some time to eliminate such bias before more women can have the chance to prove their ability and reduce the influence of gender on career success.

References

Hede, A., & Ralston, D. (1993) Managerial career progression and aspiration: evidence of a “glass ceiling”? International Journal of Employment Studies, 1: 2, 253-282.

Melamend, T. (1995) Career Success: the moderating effect of gender. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 47, 35-60.

Melamend, T. (1996). Career Success: An assessment of a gender-specific model. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 69, 217-242.

Ryan, M. K., and Haslam, S. A. (2005) The Glass Cliff: Evidence that women are over-represented in precarious leadership positions. British Journal of Management, 16, 81-90.

Wood, G. F., and Lindorff, M. (2001) Gender differences in explanations for career progress. Women in Management Review, 16(4), 152-162.

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I do hope you enjoyed reading this post on gender influence and how it affects career success. There are many other titles available in the HRM Dissertation Collection that should be of interest to human resource management students and CIPD professionals. There are many dissertation titles that relate to other aspects of HRM such as employee engagement, HRM Theory, absenteeism, training and development to name a few. It took a lot of effort to write this post and I would be grateful if you could share this post via Facebook and Twitter. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section. Thank you.