Employee Development, Recruitment, Retention, & Productivity
Human Resource Management (HRM) and Human Resource Development (HRD) are fields that have significantly changed over the course of the last few decades. The expansion of technology has allowed these fields to expand beyond administrative functions and given rise to strategic human resource management (SHRM) as well as more effective means of resource development. The fields of HRM and HRD continue to evolve and research in these areas continues to provide new information and approaches for developing robust workforces that are motivated adequately. The cornerstone for HRM and HRD has become employee development which underpins all activities including recruitment and retention, productivity, and organizational development. These key concepts are prevalent in the literature and provide the framework for modern HRM and HRD strategies.
Recruitment and retention is a major issue for HRM and HRD. The heart of employee development is rooted in recruitment because hiring the essential personnel is key to building an effective workforce. Recruitment is complicated further by the fact that as globalization continues to expand, the human resource marketplace, competition for the best and brightest also continues to expand. Within the scope of this competitive market, recruitment becomes the basis for employee development since it will dictate how employees will be trained and evaluated within the organization.
The necessity to obtain the most creative resources has been a catalyst for the growth of recruitment- specifically college recruitment. The logic is clear in this method- by recruiting individuals straight out of college, recruiters are able to increase their chances of obtaining the most talented human resources early in their careers. However, strictly recruiting from college lacks a critical view of human resource theory. According to McGunnigle, (2000), recruitment is largely a function of organizational culture in which recruiters tend to recruit persons with the most desirable behavior that conforms to the corporate culture. This element of culture provides for the need to have more robust systems of recruitment which rely on multiple elements of qualification.
HRM recruitment is a complex practice that begins with job analysis and design. Job analysis begins with defining the needs of the job and producing a model for what skills, traits, and attitudes are needed to perform the job. According to Kummamuru and Murthy (2014), the necessity for measuring required education and task-oriented skills is further complicated by the need to measure soft skills, attitudes, and other traits that can impact the performance of a job. This need to measure non-task-oriented skills requires a more person-centric approach to resource management (Kummamuru & Murthy, 2014). This approach is not without its issues. The complexity of determining which traits or skills are necessary can be highly subjective. This is especially true in terms of measuring traits or characteristic such as being outgoing or friendly. In studies performed by Earnest Stodgill, it was found that when measuring the potential leadership for organizations that leaders possessed traits including, “being adaptable to situations, ambitious, cooperative, assertive, decisive, dependable, energetic, self-confident, tolerant of stress, and willing to assume responsibilities” (Stodgill R. M., 1950). However, Stodgill was also able to conclude that no combination of traits will allow a person to become a leader (Stodgill & Coons, 1957). There is no research that provides any universal patterns for characteristic which distinguish which workers or managers would work best within specific fields (Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart, & Wright, 2007). Despite lack of evidence in the literature, job analysis is often inclusive of personality tests which are designed to discover compatibility with the culture of the organization. This is also a problematic area of recruitment due to the fallibility of these tests.
One of the major flaws in personality testing is that they have proven to be too broad in their results and conclusions. The literature provides considerable debate concerning the effectiveness of these tests with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) causing much criticism for more than thirty years due mainly to the issue of “test-retest reliability” which means that if a person retakes the test in five weeks they have a fifty percent chance of scoring as a different personality category (Krznaric, 2013).
Personality is a complex nature of the individual and it is not easily measured and to categorize individuals by this measure could bypass potentially valuable personnel or hire in adequate personnel on the basis of categories which may be too limited for use in this manner: people are not exclusively extroverts or introverts (Krznaric, 2013).
Beyond issues with defining traits in recruitment, performance-based methods for recruitment have a large success rate in the ability to determine in the applicant has the skills and knowledge to perform the job. The analysis of a job takes the form of a comprehensive methodology of deeming the needs for the positions including:
These methods have a great deal of evidence to support their use in creating skill tests for recruitment. Dr. Ernest J. McCormick of Purdue University created the position analysis questionnaire (PAQ) which has become the standard framework for areas of competency. This is also the framework used in the Department of Labor’s job analysis formula:
(Ziering & Raju, 1988)
The PAQ has been the standard in this field for the past 30 years and continues to be used to measure qualification for job candidates. While the literature supports job skill qualification methods, defining culture and traits for recruitment remains an difficult task. The literature points to the fact that culture and traits play a significant part in the HRM recruitment process but the extent of these factors and how to define them remains unknown. The problem with recruitment may be rooted in the complexity of the human traits and the lack of metrics for them. Attempts to measure performance rely on time measures or other measures that are not a complete measure of person’s traits ignoring traits such as creativity (Sturman, Cheramie, & Cashen, 2005).
In theory, recruitment is intended to measure traits that would enhance performance for a specific job, but if performance itself cannot be measured than how can tests that are intended to define traits to enhance performance supposed to provide these metrics? They cannot as of yet and more research is needed to provide more effective metrics and elements for HRM for recruitment.
Although recruitment methods and determination of recruits may lack adequate metrics, retention can be enhanced and improved through a variety of methods that have proven effective. A balance of monetary and nonmonetary benefits has proven to increase retention rates. Typically, 401k plans, healthcare, performance pay, comp time, vacation, sick leave, and the opportunity for advancement provide the backbone for competitive retention strategies (Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart, & Wright, 2007).
Research in this area has shown that healthcare benefits are some of the most valuable factors for retention. Kaiser Permanente studied this problem and found that providing a competitive and equitable benefits package is one of the largest issues in employee retention. Small and midsize corporations have this problem and according to Keiser’s 2010 survey of employee providers:
One of the major issues in HRM is the fact that small and midsize corporations spend enormous amounts of money benefits administration. The answer to this problem may reside in the outsourcing of benefits administration to reduce administrative costs as well as compliance issues occurring from complexity of benefits regulation (ADP, 2018).
For many companies, this increase cost was too difficult to maintain and as a result of this problem, employees were forced to seek more cost effective benefits. While retention is also based on other factors such as employee satisfaction, healthcare coverage has proven to be one of the largest concerns in the modern workplace and is impacting turnover and retention (Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart, & Wright, 2007).
There is a wealth of literature pertaining to the topic of productivity. From the HRM perspective, productivity is a metric which is of constant concern because over time productivity tends to change (Noe R. , 2013). Employee development is intrinsically tied with productivity because it is ultimately the result of training and motivation strategies. To fully develop productivity improvement strategies HRM leaders must decide which theories of motivation are compatible with job types and the organization.
There are numerous motivation theories that are utilized by HRM to create strategies for improved productivity. One of the more common theories discussed in the literature is the Equity Theory of motivation. Equity Theory posits that workers are motivated by “perceived unfairness and inequity” and these perceptions cause them to act in ways that attempt to balance in the workplace (Schermerhorn, 2011). While this theory has merit and can be seen when workers slow their productivity or resist change in the workplace, it also assumes that all worker behave in accordance with the idea of fairness (Schermerhorn, 2015). Equity theory provides argument for the idea that productivity needs to be developed in employees through the provision of fair policies and rules (Schermerhorn, 2015).
A broad concept in the literature is that motivation is produced through extrinsic and intrinsic motivation tools. Within classical management theory, workers were assumed to be motivated by extrinsic external factors including: rewards, bonuses, or other incentives. Within this framework job performance and productivity was thought to be increased through more extrinsic rewards. Research provides that this form of motivation was extremely limited such as in the case of merit pay which showed only limited level of success (Eskew, 2012).
According to Artley and Stroh (2001), productivity and motivation are not significantly impacted by extrinsic or pay for performance motivational incentives. Surveys of employees show that extrinsic motivational tools provide little long-term motivation for employees (Artley, 2001). Studies of merit pay and bonuses reflect this issue. Research into 217 manufacturers found that intrinsic motivations were more significant as a factor for productivity and performance such as “regular expressions of appreciation by managers/ leaders to employees” and “formal suggestion system” being some of the most effective rewards (Özutku, 2012).
Employee development has thus expanded to include intrinsic motivation tools. Intrinsic motivation is thought to be more effective than extrinsic motivation tools because it is an internalized form of motivation that is founded on job satisfaction, pride, or feeling (Özutku, 2012). This area of HRM has expanded tremendously in recent years with employee development programs that include setting goals and personal rewards for job completion. Research provides that employee development can be enhanced tremendously using intrinsic rewards since these rewards increase interest and build employee value (Schermerhorn, 2011).
Other theories of motivation need to be considered by HRM when devising employee development programs. For example, McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y. This theory posits that motivation is created through management practices and the treatment of employees. McGregor states that the X in his theory defines employees as, “lazy, hate work, lack ambition, have no initiative, and avoid all responsibility” (Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart, & Wright, 2007). Within this framework, it is thought that employees work due to their need for the security that the job creates. HRM managers are able to use this part of the theory to create motivation strategies based on, “rewards, coercion, intimidation, and punishment” (Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart, & Wright, 2007). McGregor defines the Y section of his theory in terms of employees liking and enjoying work due to the challenge (Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart, & Wright, 2007). As such, employees must be motivated through professional development and continued training (Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart, & Wright, 2007).
While X and Y theory may appear to be an oversimplification, research has provided that utilizing both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation methods enhance motivation more effectively than using one alone (Özutku, 2012). Theory X and Y shows how different theories of motivation may be applied in different situations or with job types. For example, some jobs are repetitive and do not offer tremendous development opportunities. In these situations, motivation strategies may need to be based more on performance rather than developing the employee.
Employee and Organizational Development
One of the most effective means for increasing productivity can be found in employee development. The literature provides a wealth of research in this area and one of the recurring themes is the use of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. As the basis for motivation theory, employee development programs have been developed using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which posits that people are motivated by different needs characterized by importance (Noe R. , 2013). The fundamental basis for using Maslow’s Theory in conjunction with employee development is based on the idea that people are consistently trying to actualize themselves. Within this framework of thought, employee development can be seen as a means of actualization in which employers lead employees to self-actualizing goals (Greenberg & Baron, 2003) (Jerome, 2013).
This research provides for the reason that work appraisals and reviews have proven to be some of the most significant motivators for employee development (Jerome, 2013). The strategy outlined in the research provides that companies need to act as actors or catalysts for actualization which is founded in development of the employees. As such methods such as continuous training, education opportunities, cross-training, and mentoring are methods that provide this actualization (Jerome, 2013).
There is also an added benefit to employee development beyond increased productivity. Employee development provides a direct method of organizational improvement and development. Employee development is intrinsically linked with organizational development because trained and competent employees add value to the organization through increased skills and problem-solving methods (DeCenzo & Robbins, 2013). This adds to the value of the organization by increasing the overall effectiveness of the company. As such employee development is a vital method for achieving successful organizational development. This fact is most noticeable in studies of employee turnover, “…where manager provide help to their employees to develop professionally, turnover is almost 40–50 percentage fewer than those stores where association with the managers does not available” (Jehanzeb & Bashir, 2013).
The benefit of employee development is shared by the organization (Jehanzeb & Bashir, 2013). Although employee development provides a means of actualization and is perhaps the most effective means for productivity increase; it is limited by job types, size of companies, and other factors which may restrict employee development programs.
Perhaps the largest factor, or ultimate endgame for HRM is achieving job satisfaction and creating organizational commitment. While its important to retain and attract talented, dedicated employees, it is equally important to retain them. Research shows that job satisfaction is vital to the effectiveness and success of an organization. According to Jex and Britt (2008), human resources are tasked with the overarching goal of developing job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Consistently, research provides that job satisfaction is elevated through employee development and proper motivation strategies (Jex, 2008). In studies of missionaries in some of the harshest conditions in the world, job satisfaction was high because the workers felt they were making a difference and that the organization was providing them with opportunities to grow (Trimble, 2006).
The value of work attitude has been documented in many areas of work were the attitude of the workers was one of satisfaction and feeling that the organization was on their side (Weiss, 2002). According to Weiss (2002) researchers should clearly distinguish the objects of cognitive evaluation which affects (emotion), beliefs and behaviors. Further, this research suggests that one forms attitudes towards his or her jobs by taking into account feelings, beliefs, and behaviors of the workers that surrounds them (Weiss, 2002). Within this framework job satisfaction is comprised of feelings, thoughts, and behaviors individuals maintain in relation to their jobs reflect satisfaction or dissatisfaction (Jex, 2008). The workers feeling is a direct correlation of job satisfaction. The employee development process needs to be directed in a manner that is aimed at job satisfaction- which from the literature suggests building a system of actualization for employees.
The culture of the organization is formed out of this socialization process. The process occurs when employees learn norms and required behaviors of an organization, organizational socialization becomes vital to job satisfaction. In studies of workplaces surveys provided that job satisfaction was learned or adopted from peers (Feldman, 1976). In other studies, lack of cooperation impacted the job satisfaction in a negative manner (Levine & Moreland, 1990). Results from these studies “revealed that coworkers and organizational peers represent an important source of information regarding job knowledge, the norms, and nuances of the work group, culture of the organization, and role expectations” (Levine & Moreland, 1990). The peers and coworkers contributed to new members learning of the job equally with the training process. Employees who had low job satisfaction correlatively scored low on the test when measuring areas of assimilation into the group culture. Many of the new members when interviewed stated that they felt they did not fit in with the company and were not satisfied with the job (Levine & Moreland, 1990). From these results, it can be seen that employee development is connected with culture and training but more importantly with the process of socialization in the workforce. In order to develop an effective workforce, HRM must utilize the socialization process to communicate the value of development programs and ongoing training.
The literature provides that HRM must develop systems of recruitment and retention, productivity, and employee development programs that are designed to enhance and promote a culture of job satisfaction. Using different motivational tools or theories as needed may be required to accomplish this task but more importantly some form of employee development should be considered even if it is in the form of benefits that actualize the work in a more personal rather than professional manner.
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Vincent Triola. Mon, Feb 01, 2021. Human Resource Development to Strategic Human Resource Development Retrieved from https://vincenttriola.com/blogs/ten-years-of-academic-writing/human-resource-development-to-strategic-human-resource-development