High Involvement Management Helps Employee Satisfaction

Various strategies are used in the management of employees in an organization. In the high-involvement type of management, employees are free to execute their plans and can communicate with the management easily. They are actively involved in the financial matters of the organization they work for. In a high-performance work system, there is high involvement and participation of the workers in the organization’s affairs, along with provisions for their further training and giving of higher incentives. Many studies have shown that a high-performance work system improves the overall performance of an organization. A study was conducted using data from British workplaces to assess the level of well-being of the employees who were managed by one or more strategies of the high-performance work system. This study showed that a high-performance work system enhanced the well-being of the employees.

Employee management strategies, like high-performance work systems, are known to increase the productivity of an organization; yet, their effect on the well-being of employees is seldom studied. Some studies have shown that these strategies increase the stress levels in employees, leading to ill health and work-family conflicts. The well-being of employees is assessed by measuring their contentment, job satisfaction, and enthusiasm. Jobs in a high-performance work system may be called “enriched jobs,” as they provide greater autonomy to the workers and offer better opportunities to upgrade their skills and encourage their involvement in the management. The purpose of this study was to identify distinct elements in a high-performance work system, which would increase or decrease the well-being of employees.

* The data for the study was obtained from a previously conducted survey of workplaces in Britain, the 2004 Workplace Employment Relations Survey (WERS2004). In this survey, data was collected from the managers of 2,295 workplaces for management analysis, and from 22,451 employees for employee analysis.
* Job satisfaction in the employees was measured by analyzing their answers to an eight-page questionnaire. This questionnaire included questions regarding the employees’ feelings about various factors of their present job, such as pay, feeling of achievement, autonomy in work, job security, and participation in decision making. To measure the stress, an anxiety-contentment scale was used. Apart from these, the employees’ educational level, sex and tenure in the organization were also noted.
* Various elements of a high-performance work system were identified in the workplace by analyzing the data. This was done to find out whether the jobs are enriched, whether employees are involved in decision making, whether they can communicate with the management though unions or other ways, whether the management communicates with its employees, whether there is profit sharing or employee share ownership, etc.

Data/Results/Key findings
* Enriched jobs and informative management were found to be positively associated with job satisfaction and employee well-being. Job demands, education levels, short tenure, and temporary contracts were negatively associated with job satisfaction.
* Employees in high-performance work systems were more content with their jobs.
* These findings were almost the same in both private and public establishments.

Shortcomings/Next steps
Data for the study was collected only once from the employees. A follow-up collection of data in a high-performance work system may yield different results, as employees slowly adjust to the system. Moreover, the study has not taken into account the innate nature of employees. People suffering from depression are unhappy most of the time, and an assessment of their well-being would provide spurious results.

This study has proved that various elements of high-performance work systems, such as high involvement management, enriched jobs, and economic involvement are positively associated with the well-being of employees. These findings are noteworthy, especially for policy makers in organizations. To enhance the well-being of their employees, they must encourage their involvement in management and provide further training, job security, and increased incentives. The incentives must be in the form of profit sharing or grant of ownership of the company’s shares. These measures would reduce psychological strain in the employees, enabling them to cope with the increasing demands at work. This would enhance the productivity of the concerned organization and contribute to its success.

For More Information:
High Involvement Management, High-Performance Work Systems and Well-Being
Publication Journal: The International Journal of Human Resource Management, April 2011
By Stephen Wood; Lilian de Menezes; University of Leicester, England; City University London, England

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.

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