Personnel economics is the application of economic and mathematical approaches to traditional topics in the study of human resource management like compensation, hiring practices, pay and incentive structures, teamwork, as well as worker empowerment and motivation.
Workers are mostly paid a fixed wage in exchange for their services; they may also receive incentive pay based on their performance. But, why and by how much should pay vary across employees within firms? Should workers be involved in setting their own working hours and wages? Are bonuses or penalties better tools for worker motivation? Do people work harder when their values are more closely aligned with those of the business? Is having a good boss important for worker performance? Is multiple job-holding, or “moonlighting,” the sign of a failing society or are there more positive career outcomes?
The study of personnel economics can provide policymakers and managers with the guidance that enables them to make the best choices for their firms. Articles on these topics and more are available in our behavioral and personnel economics subject area while a selection of articles is listed below.
Eliminating discrimination in hiring isn’t enough
Firms interested in workplace diversity should consider the post-hiring stage and why some minority employees choose to leaveMackenzie Alston, May 2023While many firms have recognized the importance of recruiting and hiring diverse job applicants, they should also pay attention to the challenges newly hired diverse candidates may face after entering the company. It is possible that they are being assessed by unequal or unequitable standards compared to their colleagues, and they may not have sufficient access to opportunities and resources that would benefit them. These disparities could affect the career trajectory, performance, satisfaction, and retention of minority employees. Potential solutions include randomizing task assignments and creating inclusive networking and support opportunities.MoreLess
Does working from home work in developing countries?
Infrastructure constraints are major obstacles for working from home in developing countriesMariana Viollaz, December 2022Work-from-home possibilities are lower in developing than in developed countries. Within countries, not all workers have equal chances of transitioning from the usual workplace to work-from-home. Moreover, infrastructure limitations and lack of access to certain services can limit the chances of effectively working from home. Having a home-based job can affect, positively or negatively, work–life balance, levels of job satisfaction and stress, and productivity. The differential chances of working from home may end up increasing the levels of income inequality between workers who can and those who cannot work from home.MoreLess
Insufficient sleep affects employment and productivityJoan Costa-Font, November 2022Spending time sleeping not only improves individuals’ well-being, but it can influence employment outcomes and productivity. Sleep can be disrupted by company schedules and deadlines, extended working times, and several individual and household decisions. Labor market regulation and corporate strategies should factor in the immediate effect of insufficient sleep on employee fatigue and cognitive performance, and the associated effects on employment disruption and productivity loss. Sleep can be influenced by “sleep friendly” employment regulations, technology nudges, monetary incentives, and subsidies for sleeping.MoreLess
Does employee ownership improve performance? Updated
Employee ownership generally increases firm performance and worker outcomesDouglas Kruse, May 2022Employee ownership has attracted growing attention for its potential to improve economic outcomes for companies, workers, and the economy in general, and help reduce inequality. Over 100 studies across many countries indicate that employee ownership is generally linked to better productivity, pay, job stability, and firm survival—though the effects are dispersed and causation is difficult to firmly establish. Free-riding often appears to be overcome by worker co-monitoring and reciprocity. Financial risk is an important concern but is generally minimized by higher pay and job stability among employee owners.MoreLess
Presenteeism at the workplace
Working when sick is a widespread phenomenon with serious consequences for workers, firms, and societyClaus Schnabel, May 2022Many workers admit that at times they show up for work even though they feel sick. This behavior, termed “presenteeism,” is puzzling since most workers do not incur financial losses when staying home sick. The various reasons behind presenteeism are person-related (e.g. individuals’ health or job attitude) or work-related (e.g. job demands and constraints on absence from work). Working when sick can have positive and negative consequences for workers’ performance and health, but it also affects co-workers’ well-being and firms’ productivity. There are various strategies as to how firms can address presenteeism.MoreLess
Performance-related pay and productivity Updated
Do performance-related pay and financial participation schemes have an effect on firms’ performance?Claudio LuciforaFederica Origo, January 2022A growing number of firms offer compensation packages that link pay to performance. The aim is to motivate workers to be more efficient while also increasing their attachment to the company, thereby reducing turnover and absenteeism. The effects of performance-related pay on productivity depend on the scheme type and design, with individual incentives showing the largest effect. Governments often offer tax breaks and financial incentives to promote performance-related pay, though their desirability has been questioned due to large deadweight losses involved. The diffusion of remote work will increase the relevance of performance-related pay.MoreLess