A Sustainable Place to Work : An exploratory study of Sustainable HRM’s contribution to Employer Attractiveness
Abstract: Although sustainability within human resource management has increasingly received attention amongst scholars and practitioners, not enough has been done to demonstrate how the concept of Sustainable HRM translates into practice. In the light of digitalization and globalization, knowledge-based actors within the modern business environment are facing rapid changes whereby the retainment of valuable skills and competencies has become crucial for ensuring competitive advantage. On the individual level, knowledge- based workers encounter challenges such as work intensification, extensive availability and work-life-balance when conforming with the changing nature of work. In addition, since employees’ loyalty and demands are continuously shifting, the concept of EmployerAttractiveness is becoming a larger strategic concern for knowledge-based firms. Employer Attractiveness also serves as one of the primary reasons for linking Sustainability with HRM. From the overlapping problem backgrounds of Sustainable HRM and Employer Attractiveness this study found a research gap which formulated the research question of this study: “How can Sustainable HRM contribute to Employer Attractiveness?” The purpose of this study serves to create an understanding of how Sustainable HRM is practiced and how it in turn contributes to Employer Attractiveness in terms of employee retainment. A qualitative inductive approach was undertaken to fulfil this purpose, in which nine semi-structured interviews with consultants and HR-workers belonging to small-and medium sized firms acknowledged as attractive employers was conducted. The interviews and empirical findings were structured accordingly with the core components of Sustainable HRM. The key findings retrieved highlights the interconnectedness between the four Sustainable HRM dimensions; long-term, impact, substance and partnership orientations, and the five values; application, development, economic, interest, social, used for assessing Employer Attractiveness. Based upon the analysis, a conceptual model was established to demonstrate how Sustainable HRM, influenced by its context, can contribute to employee-perceived Employer Attractiveness. This study theoretically contributes a further understanding of the concepts of Sustainable HRM and Employer Attractiveness respectively and combined, by introducing new figures and models valuable for the existing field of research. In practical terms, this study offers valuable managerial insights of how leaders and firms should view Sustainable HRM an integrative part of the entire firm alongside with recognizing the strategic potential of sustainability within HRM in terms of Employer Attractiveness. On a societal level, this study addresses the importance of raising more attention to the employees as key stakeholders within the social dimension of sustainability.
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