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Attracting and Retaining Talent

Attracting and Retaining Talent

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Published by: Simranjit Singh on May 11, 2011
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Scott-Ladd, B., Travaglione, A., Perryer, C. & Pick, D. (2010). Attracting and Retaining Talent: Social Organisational Support as An Emergent Concept, Research and Practice in Human Resource Management, 18(2), 1-14.

Attracting and Retaining Talent: Social Organisational Support as An Emergent Concept
Brenda Scott-Ladd, Antonio Travaglione, Chris Perryer & David Pick ABSTRACT

Similar to other developed nations the cultural and social demographic profile of Australia has changed considerably in the past three decades. This is likely to accelerate into the twenty first century. Employee expectations and social needs have changed and these changes impinge on organisations, which is resulting in an increasingly complex and demanding workplace environment that has implications for the attraction and retention of talent. This paper discusses an exploratory focus group study involving 35 managers from varying backgrounds. The paper identifies practical issues that concern managers and identifies they feel ill equipped to manage the social issues arising from changes in the workforce, with argument for a reevaluation of the role human resource practitioners and managers need to adopt to assist organisations in providing social support to employees. Implementing social organisational support will help define the more employee friendly workplaces and aid attraction and retention to assist organisations become employers of choice.

The 2010 Intergenerational Report, commissioned by the Australian Government, highlights that Australia faces real challenges for maintaining its work force into the future (Australian Government 2010) and halting declining productivity (Tanner 2010). An ageing population and increased diversity through migration will constrain living standards unless ways are found to keep older workers in the workforce longer and manage diversity (Australian Government 2010). So far researchers have failed to fully investigate what is needed (Bardoel, De Cieri & Santos 2008), but Burgess, Strachan and French (2010: 271) warn that “… more extensive and sophisticated …” responses are needed.

This paper has two purposes. The first is to report on the findings of a study conducted (OECD 2009) into the key social issues within organisations and the community that are likely to affect employee attraction and retention in the coming decade. The second purpose is to explore whether managers believed they were effective in supporting their organisation as an employer of choice. Australia, similar to other developed countries in needing to deal with more culturally diverse workforces, employs migration to fill both skilled and unskilled gaps in labour forces (OECD 2009). There is also the added stress of flexible labour markets, where some workers have good prospects and others, especially the poorly educated, have limited prospects (Australian Psychological Society 2009, WHO 2010). For other institutions and community groups, improved education and technology exposure has led to changing values, particularly among different generational cohorts (Twenge 2010). These employment related issues raise concerns regarding workforce diversity. In addition, there are serious questions about work and family balance (Pocock 2005, Sheehan, Holland & DeCieri 2006) and how these can be managed in countries that are experiencing low birthrates and increasingly aging populations (OECD 2005, Verworn, Schwarz & Herstatt 2009). Early research into meeting diversity needs have taken a limited focus, and found considerable variation in terms of equity and implementation (Hall & Atkinson 2006). These and other relevant studies, into work and family balance, and gender, for example, have led to a call for improved communication in organisations and better training of managers based on an understanding of what employees need and value. Within the new world order the changing environments poses challenges for organisations and human resource management practitioners in attracting and retaining employees of choice. An Australian Human Resources Institute survey reported in 2006 that 76 per cent of over 1300 human resource managers saw the need for improved attraction and retention strategies (Sheehan, et al. 2006). The evidence was many companies were already working on improving recruitment processes and practice, however, retention strategies such as job design, employee engagement, diversity management and work life balance were receiving less attention, despite being considered important (Sheehan, et al. 2006). In addition, a recent benchmarking study commissioned by the Australian Government found many companies lacked “… people management skills …” (Green 2009: 12) and that “…effective people management is paramount, and is achieved when companies follow a structured and focused approach to the attraction, retention and development of talent …” (Green 2009: 12). This paper reports on a focus group study where 35 practicing managers discussed and rated the issues and challenges they believe will accelerate in the coming decades. The paper starts by reviewing the importance of attracting and retaining quality employees and then discusses the theoretical frameworks that currently underpin the employer employee relationship. How the makeup of the workforce is changing, and the affects of changing values and expectations, as

but social capital theory is focused on the bonds linking individuals (Adler & Kwon 2002). Alternatively. if the organisation has not acted positively . This analogy can be applied to a wider societal or communal setting. Carroll & Buchholtz 2008). The methodology details the qualitative approach before the results are explained. it seems likely that employees. Applying this to the workplace. employees also have expectations of organisations as the relationship is one of mutual obligation. LITERATURE REVIEW Organisations need to attract and retain effective employees for the good of the organisation (Cascio 2006).However. Cooperation and trust underpin and are fundamental for a reciprocal relationship and social exchange (Putnam 2000).well as the challenges this creates for managers are discussed. the paper proposes that organisations need to redefine the way they manage their social obligations to employees. more recent literature has focused on the importance of talent management. especially in a booming economy. 2005: 2). who feel the organisation has acted positively towards them. Ensel and Vaughan (1981) claim it is related to relationships with shared content. are more likely to be committed and remain with the organisation (Van Knippenberg 2006). Bennett & Liden 1996). Preece & Chuai 2010). talent management is the“… strategic management of the flow of talent through an organisation. This section of the paper is followed by a discussion of the findings and the implications of these for practitioners and theoreticians. While this notion fits within the human resource management (HRM) role. Finally. Granovetter (1973) focuses more on the strength of the ties in the relationship. options and discretion over whether they stay with an organisation. Conversely.” (Duttagupta. people seek to respond positively to those who bring benefit to them (Bateman & Organ 1983). On the one hand. have more power. but they need to do so in a way that recognises the very strong ties that are part of the employee employer relationship. Given that employees. The belief that building and maintaining relationships benefits both the organisation and individual is the essence of social capital theory (Andriessen & Gubbins 2009). For example. In its simplest form. It is about ensuring the organisation not only attracts quality employees but their potential is developed and these high performing employees are retained for the organisation‟s benefit (Iles. an organisation that acts in a positive way towards employees creates reciprocity so employees generally respond in positive ways that are beneficial to the organisation (Eder 2008) thus. Social exchange theory (Blau 1964) predicts that. organisations need to address the conflicting expectations of various stakeholders (Donaldson & Preston 1995. Lin. There is some debate about how this social relationship is defined. given certain conditions. with greater social capital being associated with stronger ties. activities or resources member‟s value. establishing an exchange relationship (Settoon.

this can only thrive if employees believe their needs are understood and met. 1996. It could also extend to more complex issues. This employee attitude is deemed by many organisations as valuable. This aspect of an organisational environment can have a strong influence on an employee‟s organisational commitment and trust (Perryer & Jordan 2005). which underpin the employer and employee social relationship. et al.towards an employee. 1986). et al. such as loyalty. The Changing workforce Managers at all levels have to deal with changing organisational structures. HRM practitioners clearly have a role in facilitating SOS. Rhoades & Eisenberger 2002). and the benefits desired. 2007). which underpins provision of social organisational support (SOS). Edmondson & Hansen 2009). reciprocal relationship. 2005. It may be as simple as knowing that a single parent may need to start work at 9:15 am and finish at 3:15 pm every day. the authors define SOS as the organisation‟s ability to support managers in responding appropriately to the multiple demands of an employee‟s social needs and obligations to foster a beneficial. Even if current strategies. While they do highlight the importance of developing a relationship of mutual respect. but it seems imperative for good on the job relationships that these phenomena are fostered between managers and the staff they supervise. so that the parent can transport the children to and from school. The concepts of social exchange and the norm of reciprocity are often used by researchers to describe the motivation for employees to display positive behaviours. et al. One aspect of a positive and supportive organisational environment is an employee‟s perceived organisational support (POS). such as child are and . POS can be defined as the overall extent to which employees believe that their organisation values their contribution and cares about their wellbeing (Eisenberger. organisations need to understand the needs of. To do this effectively managers also need the skills to be able to handle the more complex issues. by an individual employee. which are not formally rewarded or contractually required by the organisation (Settoon. such as. as is evidenced by the many programmes they invest in to develop the POS of their employees (Riggle. Maertz. work patterns and diversity management strategies if they are to retain „top talent‟and become employers of choice. the employee is less likely to want to remain (Chiu. The listed theories. understanding a particular employees performance has declined because of a depressive episode or a personal struggle with drug abuse. Clearly. et al. tend to focus on what happens within the organisation and fail to recognise that employee satisfaction and commitment can be eroded by events external to the organisation. The authors of this paper suggest these theories do not go far enough. Therefore. A recent study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity in the US identified that line managers play the most critical role in facilitating and developing employees (Pace 2010).

skilled migrants and short term visa holders (Australian Government 2010). is a common policy response in many developed countries (OECD 2009). Migration to fill labour shortages. Work forms a large part of this identity. For instance. Beck and Beck-Gernsheim (2009) argue that globalisation has seen the breakdown of individuals‟lives into functional components. Pocock 2005). which compounds other disadvantages such as limited language skills or support networks. There are generational differences. relationships.Twenge 2010) affect motivation. the VietnamWar. language and communication barriers. and particularly high skilled shortages. optimistic and inner directed (Kupperschmidt 2000. such as being a worker. taxpayer and parent. Travaglione & Firns 2001). these cohorts have attitudes and values that were shaped by such events as the assassinations of John F. . Another social dimension is increased total diversity. Australia already relies heavily on overseas workers. and these functions then become part of our social identity. et al. Other issues that need to be considered are the changes that are emerging in the workforce. Generation X people (born between the mid 1960s and the early 1980s) are described as adaptable. Quite apart from the cultural differences. economic and social change. contemptuous. particularly as evidence already shows that work life balance initiatives boost an employee reputation as an employer of choice (Lansbury & Baird 2004. voter. authority. baby boomers (born from 1945 to the 1965) are portrayed as being idealistic. all of which are expected to grow. et al. sullen. will these strategies remain adequate for the future? Burgess. the ColdWar. but at the same time. the first lunar landing and the availability of the contraceptive pill. but insufficient attention is being paid to this need. this later born group were scarred by the restructuring and downsizing that occurred as they entered the workforce in the 1990s. informal and view work as less central to their lives than previous generations. migrants are often also economically disadvantaged and so become socially disadvantaged by being located in poorer areas. While exposed to extraordinary technological. Contexts have been advanced.for this and hence. as cynical. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. increasing diversity through migration and labour market differences. Loomis 2000).family friendly work practices apply to a significant number of employees. Similar to other OECD countries Australia faces an ageing population and increasing migration (Australian Government 2010). Ferres. (2010) argue that “… more extensive and sophisticated …” (Burgess. social identity allows individuals to categorise themselves into many different „in groups‟ as distinct from „out groups‟ to help create a positive sense of belonging (George & Chattopadhyay 2002). naïve and arrogant (Jurkiewicz 2000. team oriented. Their diverse cultural heritages mean different values. such as backpackers. technologically competent and entrepreneurial. 2010: 271) responses are required. An example of this is how intergenerational differences in attitudes towards such factors as work. In this sense. and behavioural standards (Loomis 2000. interests and reward expectations. GenerationY (born after the early 1980s) are generally described as smart.

These skills centre on understanding the drivers of social engagement for employees in the modern workplace. shows that one in four Australians are employed on a casual basis and 56 per cent of casual employees are women. exposure to aggressive clients. Basu and Sappey (2010) point out. An additional compounding factor is the increased labour force flexibility. phobias. such as sick leave and annual leave. complaints. Organisations are being challenged to respond to these by instituting HRM policies and processes that allow managers to confidently deal with these complex issues that can negatively affect contemporary work settings. supplemented by a peripheral casual or contract labour market that makes up 27 per cent of the Australian workforce (ABS 2009a). SOS needs to capture the basic concept that managers must manage. which can range from stress. There is merit in developing a role and definition for how managers can provide SOS. approximately six per cent of all workers hold more than one job (ABS 2009a). reciprocal . and Hicks. POS refers to employees‟perceptions of the support that their organisation provides. This survey identified that some actively want the flexibility provided by part-time or casual work. By contrast. or reduced. As Burgess. greater acceptance is needed for the differing social drivers that facilitate employee engagement. Australia has a core workforce. such as performance investigations. high workloads. Another issue of increasing concern relates to psychological issues in the workplace. Currently. whereas others would prefer more hours or certainty of work. et al. Work related factors. based on them understanding that generic problems can form the foundation for understanding the workplace they confront. An Australian Psychological Society (2009) survey into the impact of the global economic downturn on the currently employed revealed that 37 per cent reported being under financial strain. these workers have reduced job security and limited. SOS refers to the organisation‟s ability to support managers in responding appropriately to the multiple demands of employee social needs and obligations to foster a beneficial.lack of social and community support. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (2007b) estimated that one in five Australians suffer from some form of mental disorder. Therefore. and in general. to drug and alcohol abuse. career opportunities. Retirement and Superannuation (ABS 2007a). 20 per cent reported an increase to their workload and 27 per cent indicated moderate to extreme concern about job security. obsessive compulsive disorder and depression. What is needed is a construct that clearly focuses on the key skills a manager must develop to be considered relevant for an ever changing workforce. and the possible increase in workplace discrimination and prejudice are more challenges for managers. conflict with colleagues. (2010). transfers and poor person-job fit all place psychological wellbeing at risk (Jackson & Clements 2006). The Survey of Employment Arrangements. The downside for casual employees is reduced benefits and entitlements. poor management/supervisory skills.

The participants were from a range of backgrounds. Therefore.There are many ways an organisation can display positive actions toward an employee to facilitate a positive reciprocation (Eisenberger. This in turn provides a rich foundation for building understanding (Cavana. a constructivist approach was best as it allows knowledge to be drawn from the multiple realities of the various respondents (Denzin & Lincoln 2005). 14 were departmental or line managers. . Hicks. three were supervisors. and whether managers felt they. experiences and the challenges they believe they face.relationship. eight were professionals or consultants and three were waged employees. METHODOLOGY The first step was to identify the key internal and external social issues that are likely to affect attraction and retention levers in the coming decade. One way of starting to unravel how managers can respond to these challenges is to explore the extent of these issues with practicing managers. Participants Data were gathered from a focus group interview with 35 participants in an MBA programme in November 2009. 2001). The second was to explore where managers believe they lacked skills to deal with these. particularly in relation to work life balance. or indeed their organisations. researchers have yet to substantiate the veracity of many of the responses being implemented (OECD 2005. understanding is developed based on the subjects‟ understanding of reality (Ticehurst & Veal 2000) and can then be linked to the understanding drawn from the literature (Hesse-Biber & Leavy 2006). Therefore. which forms a preliminary step to a larger study. Delahaye & Sekaran 2001. were equipped to deal with these in ways that maximised attraction and retention levers. organisations will need to develop an understanding of what drives social engagement if they really do want to retain their talent. So what do we mean when we say managers must manage? This means that managers must be sufficiently self aware to recognise and understand how to manage the critical issues in an employee‟s life that can impact their performance at work. et al. The aim was not to test understanding. the purpose of this preliminary study was to identify some of the changes taking place. What skills and development will human resource practitioners enable in managers to develop to meet these competing needs and expectations and better operationalise retention strategies? Accepting that social drivers differ. but to allow the respondents to surface issues of concern to them based on their understanding. Sobh & Perry 2006). et al. 24 were male and 11 were female. By utilising an interpretist ontology. 2010). Burgess. et al. seven were general managers. 2010. The group had a mixed ethnic background (Japan 1. The problem is that although there is anecdotal evidence and theoretical arguments surrounding these challenges and the changes being made.

South Africa 2. cultural diversity (nine per cent). was the need to improve flexibility (20 per cent). RESULTS Participants expressed a range of concerns. being time poor affected the time spent with . This was achieved by each respondent voting for the three items they considered most important using a technology based audience response system called „clickers‟. rather than seek consensus or downplay the importance of individual concerns. India 1. This technique required each person to write down their thoughts before these were discussed among the group. and Australia 17) and worked in a range of different industries. Procedure Respondents were asked to consider the social issues they were aware of. For example. family. from mining to health and the public and service sectors. Next. China 6. A total of 40 per cent of the respondents identified the need to address the balance between work and family as most important. the Middle East 2. 16 from generation X. This group was particularly suited to the study because of their diverse ages. The highest number of votes within each theme were counted to return a percentage allocation for each theme. or anticipated in the workforce and then list these using a nominal group technique. The aim was to identify and explore commonalities across the group and encourage further discussion. Caribbean 2. dealing with stress and health problems (both at seven per cent) and responding to an ageing workforce was rated lowest. the findings go well beyond provisions for flexibility in the Work Care Act of 2010 (Fair Work Ombudsman 2010). There was considerable crossover between the themes and many of these are broadly related to work life balance. The next phase included collating all the items and inviting discussion among the group to allocate and condense all the issues into themes. work experiences and cultural backgrounds and because the majority worked full time and needed to juggle work. followed by being time poor (17 per cent). many of which are interrelated and these are shown in Table 1. This was surprising given concerns about the aging workforce. however. This finding may well reflect the age cohort of respondents and an expectation that people will continue working as they grow older. Central Africa 1. Clearly. Once the themes were identified. and 13 from generation Y. The themes viewed as the most important challenges needing addressing were ranked as follows. with only three per cent viewing it as most important. An approach was taken to ensure that all individuals contributed from their own perspective in the initial stage and their views would not be contaminated or withheld because of other viewpoints. social and study commitments. The age range included six from the baby boomer generation. the group anonymously ranked the themes to identify which was considered of most concern. which is admittedly a less severe problem than in other developed countries. Europe 3.

to maintaining family and social obligations of visiting parents.family. A total of 64 per cent indicated that changing cultural values was the most significant driver. As one Generation X male said. lifestyle and ageing The retirement age likely to increase further – with many older workers and associated health and flexibility needs Increased need for Elder Care support Increased desire for part time work by older workers. diet. 20 Increased demand the flexibility (to meet juggle work.e. W. meeting friends and having time for a „social life‟. Table 1 Social challenges facing managers in the coming decade Themes . and increased the pressure and need for greater flexibility. It became very clear that the respondents believed employees expectations were changing. Diversity and globalisation 9 Increasing stress Health problems Ageing workforce 7 7 3 The respondents were then asked to consider the themes and identify and rank what they perceived as the primary drivers for changing employee expectations. added to stress. family and leisure and meet customer needs – also related to globalisation) Work-life balance Need for increased flexibility Time poor Time Poor – the “rat race” carries into our personal life 17 Time Poor means a reduction in healthy eating Dual careers (more demands on time) Increased cultural diversity / languages / culture /expectations The need for greater indigenous integration and acceptance Increasing pressure to retain skill as competition increases Increased decentralisation as the population grows Dual economy – haves & have-nots – (i. I can‟t imagine my father asking for time off during the day to go and see a school play.. and that this was leading to associated changes in . Health problems related to stress. reduced opportunities for eating healthily.Rated by importance (%) Comments related to each theme Work can go on for 24/7 hours and interferes with personal life. Dual careers makes it difficult to manage work life balance There is conflict between work and personal commitments Work means you have to give up personal time (family or leisure balance) Dual careers makes it difficult to manage work and leisure Dealing with short term or changing careers creates stress on the family 40 Continuing with fly in and fly out arrangements interferes with work life balance Perceived importance of spending time with family has increased Increasing telecommuting – reduces interaction with colleagues and interferes with home life – so affects both. resources versus services sector) Competition raises safety issues – particularly for small work environments Lack of daylight saving still interferes with national businesses Stress related to lifestyle (European lifestyle not so stressed) Health problems related to stress. The examples cited ranged from being able to attend school functions and afterschool activities with children.A. The need for increased domestic support to help balance work life Working at a high pace 24/7 can be challenging and stimulating if you love the job (comment from a Gen X female participant).

Flexibility means individuals can work from many locations. there were often associated negative impacts. DISCUSSION Some of the changing issues confronting workforces are being addressed with varying degrees of success. This is consistent with OECD findings from 30 countries that suggests many working parents are not satisfied with the work and care balance. virtual connections and teamwork. As an example. This meant that flexibility had many different impacts. The respondents rated balancing work and life as their highest concern. in Australia where fly in. Their part time studies no doubt add to these as was evident in their concern with being time poor and stressed. Also. either because they financially cannot afford more children. fly out (FIFO) arrangements also include time away from the family. have limited career prospects or have less flexibility than they would like (OECD 2007). All respondents agreed that the current work environment was dynamic and societal expectations were changing and that managers would continue to face dealing with an escalation in complex and difficult issues. However. even if they were unable to achieve this outcome. Lee.expectations. Increasing flexibility was suggested as a strategy that would address being time poor. the OECD research identifies considerable variation exists when in addressing the many factors that influence work family conflict and that overall substantial progress still needs to be made. affect many more people and a number in this group. et al. Shift work. On the one hand. the compressed workweek. within and across national boundaries (Sarkar & Singh 2006. increasing flexibility was about giving individual employees more control over when and how they worked. and even when flexibility was positive. What was of more concern was the expansion of working hours well beyond the traditional five days. or working in remote regions. Hicks. 32 per cent believed change was driven by the need for greater flexibility by organisations and individuals. Telecommuting was not an issue for the group in this study. Although flexibility has increased. Greater flexibility for employees can be seen in the increasing reliance on new forms of employment. most likely because of their management roles and the work pressures placed on them. 2010). although there were two sides to this argument. the efficacy of the solutions being implemented have not been tested. even though. such as telecommuting. which substantiates previous findings in the literature (OECD 2005. as mentioned previously. Chu & Tseng 2009). for example. one general manager cited needing to deal with an employee who was suffering psychotic episodes in the workplace at the same time as being subjected to abuse and denigration on Facebook by a former employer who had an unfair dismissal claim rejected by the courts. the downside of this was that increased flexibility for the employer often limited flexibility for the employee as working hours expanded. and five per cent believed it was because employees expected a better balance between work and family needs. This work .

For example. This concern. the respondents acknowledged this impinges on work life balance and creates added stress. The ABS (2009b) reported that Australia‟s population grew by 439. Another group that is vulnerable to these risks are migrant workers because they have the added complexity of cultural and language differences. the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (2005b) is concerned that changed work arrangements have blurred the boundaries between work and non work. and is in line with concerns about stress and other psychosocial being a major. becoming the employer‟s responsibility. Similarly.11 billion of that is borne by employers in direct costs and productivity losses. Managers in the study expressed concern that they lacked the repertoire of specific skills and knowledge to accommodate increasing numbers of staff who were struggling with acculturation. Concerns about cultural differences were a concern for a small number of the group.100 over the previous year.81 billion annually and $10. The findings also identified concern about stress and the impact of stress on psychological wellbeing. were positive mitigating factors (Noblett & Rodwell 2009).arrangement increases diversity in the workforce. However. which has seen more of these type of occupational health and safety. which is the highest influx of migrants since after the Second World War. Adding to the cultural mix was the generally acknowledgement among respondents that workplace attitudes are also changing as workplace diversity. stress. This pattern is similar in other developed nations and a WHO (2010) report claims that 90 per cent of respondents across the European Union member states consider stress and its associated problems and causes is a major cause of disease and more appropriate responses need to be instituted to manage the associated occupational health risks. as was evident in population participating in the study. with over half (63 per cent) of this increase resulting from overseas migration. and inadequately addressed. depression. in part. matches the ABS evidence presented earlier regarding the extent of psychological ill health prevalent in Australia. sickness and other health problems (Noblett & Rodwell 2009). Medibank Private (2008) research identified that stress related illness costs $14. concern for organisations and societies in general (WHO 2010). isolation and skill deficits (WHO 2010). generational differences and cultural differences make the workplace more complex. To foster this type of support organisations must support changes in the skill levels and competence of managers so they can better manage the associated issues of bullying. like perceptions of fairness and peer support. Providing social support is one strategy that does assist employees. Globalisation has lead to increased diversity in workforces in all developed countries and Australia is no exception. a recent Australian study into stress among police and public sector workers found that social exchange variables. Evidence from the past decade involving high profile cases of corporations flagrantly ignoring their clear legal obligations demonstrate that . The extent to which employees engage in „ethical‟behaviour does not simply depend on the values of the employees or the norms of the organisation.

skill enhancement and empowerment (Subramony 2009). just as those who demonstrate other initiatives to balance work and family demands (Lansbury & Baird 2004) will become employers of choice. is clearly an exception to the usual benefits offered. Arguably. Currently. fatigue. Respondents generally agreed that few organisations had effective policies for responding to the changing needs of an ageing workforce. and surfaces in the Chamber of Commerce‟s comments. it seems reasonable that these benefits to employers should provide some return to employees. although admittedly not always easy to attribute these proportionally. as has been identified as increasing risk factors by the ACCI (2005b). If the community as . (2010). One argument that could be advanced. This link between effective human resources strategies and performance was borne out in a meta analysis of 65 studies that examined the relationships between motivation. a significant proportion of social organisational support expenditure is„built in‟to managerial wages and payments. is that responses may increase costs to employers. disability benefits. Redefining what this means in a multicultural environment should be fundamental to considerations of SOS. work overload. In addition. particularly older workers who may not need to work for financial reasons. entertainment and fitness. which backs up the claim by Burgess.this is also about values and culture (Howard 2010). working hours and the associated risks these bring. Concern was expressed among the respondents about substance abuse in association with other workplace and community issues. Australian laws are based on the British „Roben‟s Model‟(ACCI 2005a) and employers are required to take all reasonable or practicable steps to ensure the health and safety of workers affected by the employers undertakings. gratuities and sickness and accident premiums. However. one respondent provided the example of working in an organisation that had negotiated an agreement that allowed long term employees to access up to two years of fully paid sick leave for serious illnesses. Drug and alcohol problems are already built into the duty of care (DICH 2009) and while these were not of concern to the group. This surprised many others in the group and while it was deemed a positive response to maintaining older workers. These examples indicate new forms of management that are more socially responsive are needed. financial benefits are likely to accrue from productivity improvements and other benefits such as allowable tax deductions associated with labour costs (Millitzer 2007) or training (Flamholtz 1999). On the other hand. it was mentioned that the use of stringent measures and enforceable policies had reduced their use and improved safety on mine sites. et al. which are deductible. Respondents posed the question of why someone would choose to work. Another rationale for attracting and retaining the best talent is the financial imperatives. such as perceived high stress levels. unless specific strategies were implemented to make the work environment more conducive to retention. Deductible SOS oriented expenses include leave entitlements. and the more responsive employers who adopt strategies to manage the broad range of issues. Nonetheless. being able to better meet employees needs would enhance all of these.

Meeting this challenge will help them present as an employer of choice. personalised social care services” (SCIE 2009) and this program extends to offering support and training for managers in the broader workforce. Nonetheless.a whole will benefit from improved management practices it seems reasonable to argue that other expenses. employee assistance programme providers are available and used in Australia. the approaches currently being taken are grounded in the past. CONCLUSION The study has some boundary conditions. The Institute has a„people management website‟(SCIE 2009) which includes links to a comprehensive database of resources to inform managers of good practice. it also raises the very pertinent issue that a reevaluation of the role of organisations in providing social support to employees is long overdue. The respondents in this study agreed that demographic changes to the workforce mean that benefits desired by employees are changing over time and a better understanding of the social needs and the benefits desired by individual employees will improve talent attraction and retention. The Institute‟s brief is to“… identify and spread knowledge about good practice to the large and diverse social care workforce and support the delivery of transformed. In the United Kingdom. (1986). Organisations need to think beyond their boundaries and recognise the value of understanding the needs of the society and communities they operate within. Managers believe . another question is how well current strategies will apply into the future. such as child care and family friendly work practices do apply to a significant number of employees. the Department of Health and devolved administrations in Wales and Northern Ireland have funded the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE). like sanctioned employee assistance programsme. as well as what this means for managers. This goes beyond the concept of POS proposed by Eisenberger. et al. Even if the strategies being applied. they fail to go beyond providing external counselling support to individual workers away from the workplace and do not extend to providing SOS. Although. to deal with what they refer to as„social care‟(SCIE 2009). could be allowable deductions. Based on the evidence more needs to be done to address the impact of personal and social issues in the workplace. This finding clearly aligns with the OECD 2005 report. This raises the question: what skills do managers require to meet these competing needs and expectations? In line with the evidence. Human resources practitioners and theorists need to be ahead of the game and start thinking more seriously about how they will deal with the challenges posed by workforce diversity and work and family balance. Further research into the international arena has demonstrated that some countries have developed initiatives that partially address social support in the workplace. The managers in this study generally agreed that this was a neglected area of the managers‟role and an area where they felt vulnerable. as elsewhere.

emotional intelligence. perceived organisational support.edu. and examining . and generational cohorts. His research interests include teaching and learning. ethics. the role of managers and the practical strategies they can implement to facilitate retention of talent. organisational commitment.curtin. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT The valuable comments from the Editors of RPHRM and constructive feedback from the anonymous reviewers on earlier drafts of this paper are gratefully acknowledged.au David Pick is an Associate Professor in the School of Management. She has published in the areas of change management. the managers also believed that in many instances there is an inadequate balance between work and family needs and more needs to be done to redress the impact that this is having on communities and society as a whole. This study has important implications. Arguably. Email: b. His current research on values driven leadership is funded by the Australian Research Council. employees and the community. it offers new directions for future research that will help fill some of the gaps in the diversity and talent management literature. AUTHORS Brenda Scott-Ladd is an Associate Professor at the School of Management. Academically. gender issues and organisational learning.au Chris Perryer is an Assistant Professor at the University of Western Australia. He is recognised internationally as an expert in the area of leadership research. Implementing practices that smooth the way for employees to be more effective at work can only be good for employers. Firstly. contemporary managers have significant workplace pressures placed on them and extensive complexities with which to deal. Email: chris.edu.they will need to confront an increasing range of challenges in the coming decade. Secondly. It also serves as a wake up call for human resource managers and organisation‟s to reconsider the aims of management training. a number of the respondents indicated they were ill equipped to deal with the changing expectations of employees and the blurring of boundaries between work and non work stresses.perryer@uwa.edu.travaglione@cbs.scott-ladd@curtin. These findings have implications for attraction and retention of employees as resolving this conflict can help to make an organisation an employer of choice as skill shortages reemerge in the coming decade.au Antonio Travaglione holds the position of Professor and Head of the School of Management at Curtin University. He has published in the areas of leadership. participation in decision making. Curtin University. Curtin University. Email: t.

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