Organizations recognize the importance of continuous innovation to grow revenues, and often turn to human resources programs to ensure that employees produce their most creative work.
As a result, many organizations have experimented with “high-commitment work systems (HCWS)” described by Harvard’s Richard E. Walton, as a “lever” to exert greater control over employee productivity, retention, and innovation.
Typically, high-commitment employee benefits are intended to demonstrate the organization’s commitment to the employee to elicit reciprocal commitment and intrinsic motivation to support the organization’s objectives.
These programs may include:
- Employee participation programs
- Team rewards
- Profit sharing
- Extensive training
- Opportunities to transfer and advance to higher organizational levels in preference to external candidates
- Employment ”security.”
Organizations with “high-commitment” employee programs, measured by High Commitment Work System Scale, had highly innovative and creative employees when they worked with cohesive teams on complex tasks in a study of more than 50 technology firms in China by Song Chang of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, with Nanjing University’s Liangding Jia and Yahua Cai, and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology’s Riki Takeuchi.
“High-commitment work systems (HCWS)” can occur in organizations with very different approaches to human capital management, described by China Europe International Business School’s Zhixing Xiao and Anne S. Tsui of Arizona State University:
Mutual-investment (or organization-focused) strategies combine:
-Specified, closed economic exchanges with
-Unspecified, open-ended social exchanges that include implied trust and reciprocity leading to expectations of employment security
- Quasi spot-contract (or job-focused) philosophies are based on an economic-exchange model with market-like flexibility that enables employers to easily hire and discharge employees.
In the United States, “at-will employment” is this type of approach to organizational commitment, and permits employers to terminate any employee at any time for any reason without warning, noted Miami University’s David Walsh and Joshua Schwartz.
Although this job-focused approach to human capital management does not imply trust or reciprocity, many quasi spot-contract employers offer extensive employee benefits similar to those in “high-commitment” workplaces.
This contrast between the employer’s implied commitment to employees with “high-commitment” benefits but low commitment in “at-will employment” policies may appear incongruous to employees.
The result may be confusion, cynicism or disengagement.
Despite these contrasting theories of employee relations, “high-commitment” benefit programs can enable “creative situations,” described by Harvard’s Teresa Amabile, in which individual motivation can contribute to commercial innovation.
She noted that organizations that establish productive “creative work situations” typically offer some, but not all of the “high-commitment” employee programs:
- Job rotation
- Extensive training to increase subject matter expertise
- Job autonomy
- Working in teams to solve problems and produce work products
- Participative management.
Despite not guaranteeing employment tenure, these programs were associated with:
- Egalitarian culture
- High trust
- Support for disrupting status quo.
However, organizations that adhere to both at-will employment practices and offer “high-commitment” benefits can benefit from clearly communicating the limits of their commitments to avoid adverse employee reactions.
-*What are most effective ways to balance and integrate coexisting at-will employment policies with “high-commitment work systems”?
- Working toward Goals with “Implementation Intentions”
- Five Steps and Exercises to Drive Breakthrough Creativity
- Crash Course on Innovation, Creativity
- Walking Linked to More Creative Solutions than Sitting
- Paradoxical Bias against Innovative Ideas in the Workplace
- Innovators’s Personality Characteristics and Shibumi Principles Drive Innovation
- STEAM-powered Innovation: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics
- Does Workplace Co-Location Increase Collaboration and Innovation?
- Effective Questions as Change and Innovation Catalyst
- How and Who of Innovation
Blog – Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary
LinkedIn Open Group Psychology in Human Resources (Organisational Psychology)