PhD Defense J.K. Verschoor MSc
Beyond organizational boundaries: HR policies and practices aiming to secure employment
- Location: Cobbenhagen building, Aula
- Supervisors: Prof. A.C.J.M. Wilthagen, Prof. I.W.C.M. Borghouts-van de Pas
Worldwide developments, including economic and health crises, global competition, technological developments, and demographic changes prompt a highly dynamic and hard-to-predict labour market. Over time, part of the workforce is thus expected, requested or forced to leave their current jobs. A catch-up in restructuring and bankruptcies, and additional job losses and unemployment, is expected in the Netherlands due to COVID-19 with the end of financial support package for jobs and economy. Keeping employees at work as much as possible becomes even more relevant in light of the current structural labour market shortages. The aim of this dissertation is to broaden the employer perspective towards a responsibility of keeping employees at risk of unemployment in employment as much as possible and to discover the various ways (how), contextual factors (when) and considerations (why) that underlie this. The research question is: What HR policies and practices aim to secure the employment of employees with risks to unemployment caused by organizational restructuring, and in what contexts and for what reasons are these policies and practices adopted (or not adopted) by employers?
Based on the literature, a schematic overview of HR practices is created that show how employers can contribute to the employment security in multiple ways. To explore how factors associated with the internal and external organizational context relate to the adoption of HR policies and practices, a large survey was designed and carried out among over 7000 employers in the North Brabant region. Organizations in which the formulation and adoption of HR practices and policies is most likely are large-sized, have a Social Plan, see the HR function as a ‘strategic partner’, operate in the (semi) public sector, and participate in regional cooperation with other organizations. In addition, interviews were conducted to deepen the understanding of the motives behind the adoption of HR policies and practices. The motives are often strongly economic-oriented and the goals of achieving employee well-being and social legitimacy are mainly considered when they are tied to the goal of achieving organizational performance. Separately, the goals of achieving individual- and societal-level outcomes do not play a significant role unless the organization has the time and resources for a longer-term strategy.
To help secure the employment of vulnerable employees, organizations can make smarter use of HR policies and practices by consciously incorporating them into a broader, more inclusive HRM policy. The schematic overview of HR practices in the course of the restructuring process can serve as a framework for the formulation or further elaboration of an inclusive HRM policy. In addition, policy makers can contribute to achieving higher employment security among the working population by focusing in particular on redundant employees, who are highly vulnerable to unemployment and by facilitating and outlining frameworks for smooth job-to-job (JTJ) transitions. Although employees and employers can be seen as primarily responsible for preventing unemployment and therewith for achieving employment security in times of organizational restructuring, policy makers can play a crucial role as facilitators of these transitions.