Human Resource Challenges

Human resource management is a comprehensive support paradigm for both the employer (and his or her agents) and the employee. Most of the discussion regarding human resources revolves around problem employees and how human resources management can be used to deal with them. This week, however, we get to appreciate how human resources management can be effective at mediating employee concerns. Presented with two scenarios involving employee concerns, we will choose one and explore the fundamentals of human resources management as it relates to the challenges presented.

Throughout the past two weeks, Paul, a physical therapist, has been receiving in his work e-mail inbox some disturbing messages from an unknown sender. Many of the messages are sexual in nature and some even refer to Paul’s coworkers. Paul has reluctantly confided in the head of the organization’s HR department to help him with the issue. He is very embarrassed about the situation and is concerned that an investigation might jeopardize his relationships with coworkers and even his position with the organization.

As internet technology and systems management is a forte or mine, it is difficult for me not to take the easy path by selecting scenario 1. For this scenario, Paul would only have to enlist his manager in engaging the IT department to track the emails, which is a very simple process (most people do not understand how much information is generated in server logs and attached to email messages). The sender of the offensive emails would be found out and dealt with, and/or future messages of this type would be blocked by the email server, and Paul would no longer be distracted by these offensive emails.

However, as I stated previously, I prefer a challenge and will review the problems and some potential solutions regarding scenario 2.

For the past year, the nurses’ union at Good Health Hospital has been meeting to discuss grievances against Good Health’s management. In particular, the nurses are concerned with the way managers treat them; many feel overworked, undercompensated, and underappreciated. They have recently submitted a proposal to Good Health’s executives asking for better management practices, an increase in nurse staffing, and better compensation and benefits for nurses. The executives have enlisted the help of Good Health’s HR department in addressing the concerns in the proposal; they are concerned about budget constraints as well as the possibility of a nurses’ union strike.

Scenario 2 involves organized employees threatening a work stoppage if, at least, some of their concerns are not mitigated. Work stoppages, or strikes, are detrimental to any organization. The nurses’ union at Good Health Hospital have presented grievances that are typical in health care (Fallon & McConnell, 2007). It is a wonder why these concerns were not identified early. As Fallon and McConnell (2007) point out, “the best time to address a problem is before it becomes a problem” (p. 281). In this case, effective management would have identified these concerns early and developed a plan, perhaps integrating potential solutions through the organizations strategic plan, and prevented the growing acrimonious and bitter discontent amongst the rank and file employees. Though Fallon and McConnell discuss various types of organizational leadership, I prefer to lead with libertarian values in mind; ergo, both respect and responsibility must be virtues of both employee and employer, and both must work hard for the other. Fallon and McConnell discuss how trust and mutual respect lends to an effective, efficient, and rewarding work environment. Unfortunately, in scenario 2, it seems that we are beyond mitigation and prevention and, legally and contractually, they must be addressed.

Good Health Hospital administrators should take heed to the complaints noted in the nurses’ grievances. Although many managers and adminstrators dislike unions, ignoring them is not the answer. In this case, the concerns are probably real. Fallon and McConnell (2007) tell how information pertinent to employer-employee relations does not typically transcend the ranks, and this set of grievances may be the first indication to upper management that there is an issue. Still, the hospital adminstration, depending on the organizational schema (for-profit, not-for-profit, public, private, et al.), has a responsibility to its stakeholders and must ensure both operational feasibility and cost containment. Answering to these grievances could jeopardize one or both of these. A work stoppage would be detrimental to the operation and prove costly while meeting the demands in full would unrealistically obliterate the profit margin (note: the demands are not listed within the scenario; however, we can infer that they are significant).

If I were in the position of dealing with these grievances, I would, first, separate the demands by genre: safety and ethics, emotion, and economics. First and foremost, any ethical or safety concerns should be dealt with immediately, anyway. By identifying and dealing with these issues first, the perception of a receptive and action-oriented administration is gained. The solutions for these issues can also be highly visible and can be made to work for the organization by way of press releases outlining improvements in safety if not mere visible changes in the work environment and culture. Second, addressing emotional issues, such as poor treatment by managers and the perception of a lack of appreciation, can be solved by the employees, themselves. For instance, a “grade your manager” program might be cost neutral and provide some insight for future coaching. This would also give a sense of the prevailing attitude of the employees in the way comment cards give businesses a sense of the clientele. Another way of addressing emotion is to direct each manager to inquire of their staff periodically about any minor concerns they might have. This would give a sense of open communications, something that appears to be lacking. Finally, it is time to address the economical concerns.

Many times, the pay and benefits that are offered to unionized workers are stipulated in the collective bargaining agreement. These, fortunately (or, unfortunately) cannot be changed until the contract is renegotiated. Ethically and respectfully, the compensation package should hover near market levels. Fortunately for Good Health Hospital, we have already addressed a few concerns, so we have latitude in addressing the economic issues. As Fallon and McConnell (2007) state, working conditions are just as important as financial incentives, and employees may sacrifice pay and benefits for a decent working environment.

Regardless of the hospital’s ability to meet the nurses’ demands, I would insist on meeting with them, out of respect, to hear their concerns; however, the meeting would be official and the labor relations attorneys would be present to ensure compliance to the National Labor Relations Board regulations.


Fallon, L. F. & McConnell, C. R. (2007). Human resources management in health care: principles and practice. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.

Establishing S.M.A.R.T. Goals

“Employees learn better when they actually become involved in the process” (Fallon & MCConnell, 2007, p. 192), so what better way to grow than to define the process?!

Meyer (2006) outlines a methodology, referred to as S.M.A.R.T., of developing goals and a plan to attain them. The S.M.A.R.T. goal methodology that Meyer describes is reflected in the acronym of the name: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. However, as Rubin (2002) points out, the acronym is dynamic and variable to include any number of variations: simple, specific, sensible, significant; meaningful, motivating; acceptable, achievable, action-oriented, accountable, agreed, actionable, assignable; realistic, reviewable, relative, rewarding, reasonable, results-oriented, relevant; timelines, time-frame, time-stamped, tangible, timely, time-based, time-specific, time-sensitive, timed, time-scaled, time-constrained, time-phased, time-limited, time-driven, time-related, time-line, toward what you want, and truthful. Even more dynamic, as Rubin points out, some add “efficacy” and “rewarding” making S.M.A.R.T. goals S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals!

Regardless, however, of the actual mnemonic, the methodology represents the continuum of goal-analysis, goal-setting, and goal-attainment in a systematic manner that is tangible and results-oriented. The philosophy remains true and valid.

Setting a Goal

In the past, one of my goals was to obtain a college degree. I knew that I was intelligent and should have no problem, otherwise, attaining this goal, but life always seemed to place obstacles in my path. One day, not so long ago and with chiding from my father, I decided to put a date to this goal: December, 2012. I was lacking this one important motivational step for so long, but because I finally made my goal time-sensitive, I was finally able to measure my progress in a specific manner. I feel that because I developed a realistic time-line to attain this goal, I will obtain my bachelors degree this year.

Now that I am close to completing one goal, it makes sense to reflect and determine my next set of goals, but how can I apply the S.M.A.R.T. methodology of setting one? Reviewing Meyer (2006) and Rubin (2002), I find that, first, I need to conceptually understand that goals should be simple and realistic. Next, my goal needs to somehow be constrained by time so that it is measurable and my progress is quantifiable. Further, my goal, itself, needs to be motivating and rewarding.

My goal cannot be something as simple as make more money or be a better person. These goals are broader, I feel, than the methodology is designed for. However, breaking one of these goals down to measurable steps seems to be preferred. Instead of make more money, a more specific goal might be to earn a six-figure income by a set date.


According to Meyer (2006), the first question is if this goal is specific. Yes. If I continue to earn any less than $100,000 in a single year, I have not met my goal.


The next question: Is it measurable? For the same reasons that it is specific, it is measurable. Additionally, my progress is measurable by the year-to-date column of my paycheck, which should increase towards my ultimate goal amount.


Is this goal attainable? As I take stock of my current income and skill set with the addition of my bachelors degree and other certifications and licenses, I do feel that a six-figure income is attainable.


In order to be a realistic goal, others in my profession must have attained this goal, or I must be willing to change professions. I am hard-pressed to leave the emergency medical services, and there are a number of positions available within the emergency medical services that earn six-figures. These positions are mostly administrative in nature, but I feel that I have the experience to start considering these positions as realistic.


Setting a time-frame for completion of my last major goal underscores the importance of this step, but it is my weakness, and I acknowledge that. However, as I expect to obtain my bachelors degree later this year, realistically, I would have to give myself another year or two to find a position for which I could apply. I would, then, need another year in order to actually earn the income. The 2015 tax year seems appropriate, though unrealistic, perhaps. Still, I will set this time-line and reconsider each objective of my goal as 2015 draws closer.


Setting a goal is a difficult task. It is sometimes difficult to look to the future, and often times, we are haunted by our failings in the past. Using a methodology, such as S.M.A.R.T., can help us to reflect on realistic and meaningful goals that can ultimately help us work toward the more obscure long-term goals, like being affluent or saving the world.


Fallon, L. F. & McConnell, C. R. (2007). Human resource management in health care: principles and practice. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

Meyer, P. J. (2006). Attitude is everything. Retrieved from smartgoals.pdf

Rubin, R. S. (2002). Will the real SMART goals please stand up? The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, 39(4), 26-27.

Burnout: “What a Star—What a Jerk”

The character, Andy Zimmerman, in Cliffe’s (2001) fictitious hypothetical is obviously intelligent and hard-working; however, he appears to be suffering from “burnout”. Korczak, Huber, and Kister (2010) describe the contemporary definition of burnout as essentially equated to work-related syndrome, which is characterized by “emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation [sic] or cynicism and reduced professional efficacy” (p. 3); however, the authors acknowledge a plethora of symptoms, definitions, and theories in the literature and call for standardization for improved diagnosis and research. Maslach and Leiter (2010) describe burnout as “[reflecting] an uneasy relationship between people

and their work” (p. 44). In the case of Andy Zimmerman, it appears that he has depersonalized his work, evidenced by his egoism and rage towards his co-workers. Also, from reading the fictitious account, assumptions can be made: 1) Andy Zimmerman did not start his job by acting in such manner; therefore, this is a change that Jane Epstein would not be privy, and 2) Andy Zimmerman may feel that his work is falling from his own personal standard and finds blame in others, which goes towards his egoism. In all, these might account for some level of reduced professional efficacy. However, as Korczak et al. discuss, there is no valid diagnostic criteria of burnout and application is difficult as burnout has strong correlation with depression and alexithymia (see footnote 1), each of which could contribute to Andy Zimmerman’s attitudes and outbursts.

Employees who are suffering burnout or other psychosocial maladies have a negative and detrimental effect on other co-workers (Maslach and Leiter, 2010; Korczak, Huber, & Kister, 2010). In the case of Andy Zimmerman, his relationship with his work environment is certainly reducing the efficacy of others. Is it possible that Andy Zimmerman’s tirades are the only reason that he is the top performer? Could it be that culling inappropriate behavior would more than make up for the loss of one man’s productivity?

According to Fallon and McConnell (2007), many employees that are suffering personal problems to the degree that they interfere with work are able to benefit from managers pointing out how their work has been suffering, but employees that are identified as possibly suffering from burnout syndrome (or, any major personal problem that adversely effects work) should be referred to the employee assistance program, if at all possible. Fallon and McConnell go further to state, and rightly so, that managers should not give advice on personal matters but only provide a means of rectifying professional performance. Managers are poorly equipped to handle counseling of a personal nature. Instead, Fallon and McConnell demonstrate the utility of the progressive discipline model to both educate an employee about his or her responsibilities and allow him or her to rectify the situation. Unfortunately, however, behavior problems sometime end with termination, though “experts note that when an employee is released for a serious infraction, the problem has been corrected by removing its cause” (Fallon & McConnell, 2007, p. 260).

In regards to Jane Epstein’s troubles with Andy Zimmerman, double standards of employee conduct cannot exist (Fallon & McConnell, 2007). Jane must do something to quell the growing rift within her department. First, Jane must document everything in regards to Andy (Fallon & McConnell, 2007). This, most of all, will support the premise that Jane used all possible solutions before considering termination. Next, Jane should ensure that Andy understands that the behavior will not be tolerated any longer. This could, perhaps, be coupled with a statement referencing the employee assistance program or other route of anger management counseling. Finally, Jane might consider that the work being performed is not well matched for Andy. Mismatched work is a significant cause of burnout, and if this is suspected, Jane could discuss the potential for professional growth with Andy, which might alleviate the outbursts (“Don’t take your people for granted,” 2010; Maslach & Leiter, 2010). Finally, if Andy continues to fail to conform to the department policies, he must be terminated. Jane needs to view her responsibilities to the department over any she might feel towards a single employee (Fallon & McConnell, 2007).


Cliffe, S. (2001). What a star — what a jerk. Harvard Business Review, 79(8), 37–48.

Don’t take your people for granted. (2010). Healthcare Executive, 25(4), 40.

Fallon, L. F. & McConnell, C. R. (2007). Human resource management in health care: principles and practice. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.

Hosoi, M., Molton, I. R., Jensen, M. P., Ehde, D. M., Amtmann, S., O’Brien, S., … Kubo, C. (2010). Relationships among alexithymia and pain intensity, pain interference, and vitality in persons with neuromuscular disease: Considering the effect of negative affectivity. Pain, 149(2): 273–277. doi:10.1016/j.pain.2010.02.012

Korczak, D., Huber, B., & Kister, C. (2010). Differential diagnostic of the burnout syndrome. GMS Health Technology Assessment, 6, 1-9. doi:10.3205/hta000087

Maslach, C. & Leiter, M. P. (2010). Reversing burnout: How to rekindle your passion for work. IEEE Engineering Management Review, 38(4), 91-96. doi:10.1109/EMR.2010.5645760


1. Alexithymia is defined as a lack of emotional awareness and the inability to identify or label emotions, which is demonstrated by difficulty identifying and describing feelings and difficulty with externally-oriented thinking (Hosoi et al., 2010).

2. In response to Cliffe’s (2001) “What a Star—What a Jerk”:

  • Mary Rowe calls on Jane to show laissez-faire leadership in which she does nothing directly but tries to “work with Andy” to come to a workable solution, relying on upper management to provide discipline. In the writing, Jane has already approached Andy and discussed his attitudes towards his co-workers; however, the positive result of this conversation was short-lived, and Andy reverted to his tactics of ill-temperment and hostility. In my opinion, these attitudes have no place in the workplace, and Jane should be adamant about this point before Andy directs his rage towards her, further undermining her authority.
  • Chuck McKenzie, however, makes some good points on how to work with Andy (so long as there is actual value in Andy remaining employed with TechiCo). Mr. McKenzie calls for some innovative changes in the organizational structure to separate Andy from the rest of the team, capitalizing on increased productivity all around. Additionally, creating a specialized team of high performers might alleviate burnout (if, in fact, that is what Andy is suffering) and demonstrate to Jane’s superiors that there are ways to isolate and reward top performers while tolerating average performers. Before doing anything, as Mr. McKenzie points out, Jane needs to become a leader and stop acting like a manager.
  • While Kathy Jordan elucidates more of the same philosophy as Chuck McKenzie in regards to leadership, she advocates trust and positivity between Jane and Andy. I feel that trust and positivity are a product of a viable working relationship and are more goals than standards. Ms. Jordan is right, however, that Jane must prove her mettle in a very short time.
  • Finally, James Waldroop provides some real insight into how Jane might best lead and mold Andy into a star employee. Either that, or Jane has started the time table for Andy’s departure. All in all, leaders need followers, and leaders cultivate followers; however, if a subordinate does not wish to follow, then the leader cannot lead or cultivate. In this case, the relationship has failed.

Pay and Perks: Google Versus Health Care

A Comparison of Compensation Packages

According to Cable News Network’s (2012a, 2012b) annual Fortune Magazine 100 Best Companies to Work For, Google sets the standard for employer-provided compensation and fringe benefits. This paper will discuss, compare, and contrast the differences between some of the more interesting and innovative employee benefits offered by Fortune Magazine’s best company to work for, Google, and Southern Ohio Medical Center, Fortune Magazine’s leading health care organization, according to the same list.

The Importance of Investing in the Employee

Fallon and McConnell (2007) clearly demonstrate that employers must be current and competitive with respect to compensation in order to attract and maintain a competent and able workforce. The need for each level of competency and ability differs from employer to employer, and even between industries, which provides employers the flexibility to match compensation levels with the level of talent required. Employers merely requiring entry-level, unskilled talent will more than likely provide less total compensation than those employers who wish to be cutting-edge and innovative, requiring a pool of innovating and proven leaders in their field.

Employees who are more comfortable and accepted in the workplace tend to be more productive, especially when assured that outside influences, such as illnesses, childcare issues, and, according to Google’s Executive Chairman, laundry, are mitigated (Fallon & McConnell, 2007; Google, n.d. a). Employees, however, have different needs, and employers need to stay mindful as these needs change by offering a comprehensive array of flexible benefits at a cost conducive to use (Fallon & McConnell, 2007). Many organizations fail to consider this and end up wasting valuable resources on less than attractive benefits.


Google, a relatively young company that was incorporated in 1998, has pushed the boundaries of technology, but the company has always maintained the philosophy of focusing on a single thing and doing it well (Google, n.d. b, n.d. c). Striving for technological excellence, to Google, means striving to attract the most innovative workforce (Google, n.d. a). To this end, Google offers a compensation package that no other can rival.

According to their website, Google (n.d. a) provides a host of benefits, including the typical health, dental, and vision insurance plans, sick days, vacation days, and a very attractive commitment towards each employees retirement, but they also offer atypical fringe benefits, such as gift matching employee donations, adoption assistance, financial planning, and an on-site physician, among others. Free gourmet meals and snacks as well as on-site oil change and car wash services, bike repair, fitness classes, gym, massage therapy, hair stylist, and dry cleaning top off the total compensation package offered to Google employees.

It is no wonder that Google heads the list of best employers, but how can a typical health care organization stack up against the world’s leading search engine provider (Cable News Network, 2012a, 2012b)?

Southern Ohio Medical Center

Southern Ohio Medical Center (2010a) is a 222-bed hospital located in Portsmouth, Ohio, and employs 2,200 people in addition to 140 physicians and specialists. Southern Ohio Medical Center is a more typical example of a large employer, and it might even be unfair to compare and contrast benefit packages with such an atypical company as Google, but I will do so, anyway.

According to Fortune Magazine (Cable New Network, 2012c), Southern Ohio Medical Center has cultivated a culture of teamwork and compassion that permeate the ranks, and this intangible characteristic helps to make this hospital one of the leading employers in the country.

Working for Southern Ohio Medical Center entitles employees to a comprehensive array of benefits. Though not as comprehensive as Google, Southern Ohio Medical Center employees to enjoy the typical health, dental, and vision insurance plans, sick days, vacation days, and an attractive retirement plan (Southern Ohio Medical Center, 2010b). Southern Ohio Medical Center (2010b) also offers atypical fringe benefits, such as sick child care, pet health insurance, a wellness program, and a number of discount programs for employees to enjoy.

According to Fortune Magazine (Cable News Network, 2012c), Southern Ohio Medical Center enjoys excellent growth with controlled turnover. The compensation package offered to this hospital’s employees reflects the simply stated cardinal value of the hospital: “We honor the dignity and worth of each person” (Southern Ohio Medical Center, 2010a, para. 7). It would seem that this could be the reason that Southern Ohio Medical Center maintains the #36 spot on Fortune Magazine’s (Cable News Network, 2012a) list of best employers of 2012.


As stated above, it is almost unfair to compare and contrast these two very different organizations; however, both organizations seem to share some core values that promote the integrity and innovation within their cultures necessary to succeed in their vision. This is emphatically apparent as both organizations hold respectable rankings as Fortune Magazine’s (Cable News Network, 2012a) best employers.

As a prospective employee, I certainly realize the importance of most of the benefits offered by both organizations, especially health and retirement programs, and the atypical fringe benefits offered by both seem to convey a sense of investment in the employee, which helps to shape each organization’s culture. By investing in each employee and cultivating the organizational culture, the financial implication, it would seem, would benefit the organization as a whole, allowing for positive growth and innovation, especially within a health care organization.

This paper should clearly demonstrate the sometimes not-so-obvious link between an organization’s value statement, the actual values of the organization, the leverage of these values on the employee, and the result towards achieving the organization’s goals. Compensation packages appear to have direct correlation between organizational values and the organizational value placed on the individual employee. As such, human resource managers, when preparing or analyzing compensation packages, should first look to the organization’s value statement to guide and inspire them to continue to promote the value of the employee.


Cable News Network. (2012a, February 6). 100 best companies to work for. Fortune Magazine. Retrieved from

Cable News Network. (2012b, February 6). Google – best companies to work for 2012. Fortune Magazine. Retrieved from fortune/best-companies/2012/snapshots/36.html

Cable News Network. (2012c, February 6). Southern Ohio Medical Center – best companies to work for 2012. Fortune Magazine. Retrieved from fortune/best-companies/2012/snapshots/36.html

Fallon, L. F. & McConnell, C. R. (2007). Human resource management in health care: principles and practice. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

Google. (n.d. a). Benefits. Retrieved from

Google. (n.d. b). Google history. Retrieved from history.html

Google (n.d. c). Our philosophy. Retrieved from tenthings.html

Southern Ohio Medical Center. (2010a). About SOMC. Retrieved from about/

Southern Ohio Medical Center. (2010b). Employee benefits. Retrieved from

Employee Retention

I am familiar with a local EMS organization where the perception of the employee-base is that middle management sacrifices requisite supplies in order to regain budget losses, losses that were incurred due to their overall mismanagement. Sacrificing supplies in the emergency medical service arena equates to negligence and could, indeed, prove harmful to patients. This, coupled with the notion of incompetence, has a negative effect on morale, especially as this is one of the only divisions within the larger company that experiences these types of problems. Many have considered leaving (in fact, I have been told that most consider it quite often); however, the compensation package that they receive cannot be met by any other provider in the area. This leaves the employee in an ethical quandary. This issue is not isolated to this particular company, though. Although many private ambulance companies in the region face the same mismanagement, they do not offer comparable compensation packages and are much easier to leave.

Fallon and McConnell (2007) discuss how pay and benefits are vitally linked to overall job satisfaction, and I agree with their determination. However, there are other components, such as conscience. Duffy (2010) explains, in the light of pharmacists refusing to dispense abortion pills as a right of conscience, how “medical professions are among those where ethics and morality are of paramount concern” (p. 509). Consider Duffy’s explanation in reverse as this particular company is forcing their employees not to care for patients who they would otherwise be able to treat. The result is a significant emotional and psychological toll, I can imagine, but the employees cannot just walk away from their paycheck. This company, I feel, has learned to balance some of the positive working conditions with some of the negative working conditions, and the company relies heavily on wages and benefits to do so. According to Fallon and McConnell (2007), this tactic helps to relieve employee turnover rates; however, if the company would mitigate the negative aspects of the job, the wages and benefits offered could be used to attract employees with higher skill levels. Instead of leveraging ambition and affecting positive psychology within the workforce, as Amabile and Kramer (2011) recommend, the typical leverage is financial at a cost of ambition and morale.

In contrast, I have worked for agencies that paid far less in compensation than their competition, but the appreciation on the part of management was evident and allowed me to overlook the compensation gap with the other companies where the employees were always complaining and just seemed unhappy. Unfortunately, the gap grew to a point that was unbearable and I had to ultimately leave, but it was quite a while before I found another agency that commended professional evolution and progress, such as described by Amabile and Kramer (2011) — the company discussed above, however, is not.

Amabile and Kramer (2011) describe the withholding of resources to be a “toxin” that negatively effects morale. By improving supply requisition, a “catalyst” to improve morale, and improving recognition and supporting a free exchange of ideas, this company could improve morale significantly and focus on hiring skilled and experienced providers rather than those that will merely acquiesce to their ambiguous demands.


Amabile, T. M. & Kramer, S. J. (2011). The power of small wins. Harvard Business Review, 89(5), 70-80.

Duffy, M. E. (2010). Good medicine: Why pharmacists should be prescribed a right of conscience. Valparaiso University Law Review, 44(2), 509-564.

Fallon, L. F. & McConnell, C. R. (2007). Compensation and benefits. In Human resource management in health care: principles and practice (pp. 201-218). Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

Hiring by Organizational Fit

The Prevailing Organizational Culture

Recruiting new employees involves being mindful to the predominant organizational culture and how the applicant will relate and interact with the current employees (Cable & Judge, 1997; Fallon & McConnell, 2007). For instance, in a highly team-structured, or cooperative, environment, a highly competitive applicant may find difficulty in overall acceptance by the team, and both the applicant’s job performance and that of the team may suffer (Chatman, 1989). However, when the organizational values match that of the applicant’s, then a prediction can be made that job satisfaction and organizational commitment will be higher (Cable & Judge, 1997; Tsai, Chi, & Huang, 2011; Vandenberghe, 1999).

This paper will discuss organizational culture and the benefits and drawbacks of recruiting processes focused on maintaining or altering the status quo.

Recruiting Organizational Culture

The term organizational culture has been used since the early 1980’s to capture the perceptions, values, behavioral norms, and expectations inherent in an organization (Vandenberghe, 1999). This culture could be a result of certain pressure from the leadership or a natural environmental attainment; however, hiring practices certainly have an impact on the organizational culture by adding the influences of new personalities into the culture (Cable & Judge, 1997; Chatman, 1989; Tsai, Chi, & Huang, 2011; Vandenberghe, 1999). Recruiters and managers, by hiring based on organizational fit, are able to exert influence over the direction of the organizational culture as well as help to limit turnover and attrition (Cable & Judge, 1997; Chatman, 1989; Christensen & Wright, 2011; Tsai, Chi, & Huang, 2011; Vandenberghe, 1999).

One problem surrounding the use of organizational fit is the propensity of applicants to utilize influence tactics to alter the perceptions of the interviewer (Higgins & Judge, 2004). As Fallon and McConnell (2007) discuss, an inexperienced interviewer could be overly influenced by an applicant. “No one has yet devised a reliable way to separate the applicants who simply talk a good job from those who will later do a good job” (Fallon & McConnell, 2007, p. 179). A very charismatic applicant might benefit over a more qualified applicant.

The benefits, however, of considering organizational fit and value congruency between applicants and the organization are best appreciated after job fit, or the consideration of qualifications and experience, is determined. In a hiring process where applicant qualifications and experiences have already been vetted and references already checked, organizational fit can be used to further the success of both the organization and the applicant (Christensen & Wright, 2011; Tsai, Chi, & Huang, 2011).

Another benefit considering organizational fit is public service motivation. Christensen and Wright (2011) explore the relationship between applicants who have strong motivations towards public service and organizations, whether public or private, that share that motivation. Christensen and Wright show a result of increased job satisfaction when public service motivations are congruent between applicant and organization; however, this link appears fairly weak when compared to financial incentives.

Relying on Résumés and Portfolios

While most assessments of organizational fit are made in the interview environment, résumé contents offer useful information. Although Higgins and Judge (2004) regarded self-promotion tactics (résumés and portfolios) as “weak and nonsignificant” (p. 630), ergo, less powerful than personal influence tactics, Tsai, Chi, and Huang (2011) later show that specific pertinent résumé content improved perceptions of employability: “to select applicants with suitable attributes, recruiters would refer to specific résumé content as the basis for making inferences about applicants’ values or personality” (p. 236). Work experience and extracurricular activities, according to Tsai, Chi, and Huang, provide the most insight into an applicant’s values and personality, which would influence organizational fit.

One drawback to relying on a document, such as a résumé or a portfolio, to provide insight into an applicant’s values or personality is that often these documents are prepared by a third party whose personality and values might influence the choice of content, thereby influencing the reader.

Legal and Regulatory Implications

Fallon and McConnell (2007) readily discuss the legal requirements and implications of the hiring process and making judgments of the applicant that are not directly related to the job; however, if intangible traits can be related to improved job performance, it is recommended to probe for these after ensuring adequate qualification and experience. In order to show that these intangible traits (e.g. innovation, team orientation, stability, attention to detail) are relevant, the job description could be altered in effect to demonstrate this and limit legal implications of a subjective hiring process. Certain prohibitions will still stand, such as disability, race, color, creed, religion, et al.


By understanding the culture of their organization, managers and recruiters can, to a degree, help to shift the cultural paradigm by choosing applicants who share similar values and beliefs that would be believed to enhance the culture of the organization. Although each job requires an applicant with the requisite knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the job, certain intangibles, including congruence with the prevailing organizational culture, will help to ensure a healthy and lasting employment relationship.


Cable, D. M. & Judge, T. A. (1997). Interviewers’ perceptions of person – Organization fit and organizational selection decisions. Journal of Applied Psychology, 82(4), 546-561. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.82.4.546

Chatman, J. A. (1989). Improving interactional organizational research: a model of person-organization fit. Academy of Management Review, 14(3), 333-349. doi:10.5465/AMR.1989.4279063

Christensen, R. K. & Wright, B. E. (2011). The effects of public service motivation on job choice decisions: Exploring the contributions of person-organization fit and person-job fit. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 60(2), 231–254. doi:10.1111/j.1464-0597.2010.00434.x

Fallon, L. F. & McConnell, C. R. (2007). Human resource management in health care: principles and practice. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

Higgins, C. A. & Judge, T. A. (2004). The effect of applicant influence tactics on recruiter perceptions of fit and hiring recommendations: a field study. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89(4), 622-632. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.89.4.622

Tsai, W., Chi, N., & Huang, T. (2011). The effects of applicant résumé contents on recruiters’ hiring recommendations: The mediating roles of recruiter fit perceptions. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 60(2), 231–254. doi:10.1111/j.1464-0597.2010.00434.x

Vandenberghe, C. (1999). Organizational culture, person-culture fit, and turnover: a replication in the health care industry. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 20(2), 175-184. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1099-1379(199903)20:2<175::AID-JOB882>3.0.CO;2-E

The Hiring Process & Social Media

Social media has blossomed in the past few years beyond what many could have imagined. Today, it seems that many people engage others on the internet and social media without regard to their own personal privacy. Additionally, according to Jones and Behling (2010), privacy settings within social media applications tend to be complex, which inhibits their effective use by privacy-minded users. The result is an open and rich source of personal data, the problem of which is context.

I view social media as personal advertising where, unless specifically stated in the terms of service, the information posted by others is considered to have entered the public domain; others may view social media in the light of property rights where, although many people might not lock their front door, the invitation to invade the space is not assumed (Rosen, 2009). Regardless of personal views, information seekers need to be mindful of three things: 1) the terms of service for using the application resources, 2) the privacy policy in effect for using the application resources, and 3) the context of entries and the audience each entry is meant to reach (Jones & Behling, 2010; Rosen, 2009). Considering that the personal data made available on social media applications is not typical of allowable employment interview scenarios, employers need to be mindful that searching out this information may lead to unethical and illegal hiring practices (Fallon & McConnell, 2007; Jones & Behling, 2010; Rosen, 2009). Still, employers use social media to further vet applicants (Jones & Behling, 2010). Another consideration along similar lines is the use of generic web-based searches that could uncover similar information (Rosen, 2009).

In the case study provided by Coutu (2007), Virginia performed an internet search on Mimi and know suffers the problem that one cannot unknow knowledge. Additionally, Virginia know feels ethically compelled to share this information with Fred, the CEO. While this information would not be pertinent in the hiring process of a line employee, staff employees require more scrutiny, especially those that are being vetted for significant leadership positions. Rosen (2009) states, “employers do have broader discretion if such behavior would damage a company, hurt business interests, or be inconsistent with business needs” (para. 15). With this in mind, I tend to consider the paradigm of privacy practices when confronted with public officials and celebrities. A public head of a company or division might not have the same expectations of privacy afforded to a typical job applicant, but this would be a question for lawyers, as Mimi alludes to in the case study.

Basing the decision to investigate Mimi via Google on the general welfare of the organization, I would recommend allowing Mimi to defend her position in order to minimize bias and assumption. Two questions could be asked of Mimi that may allow her to mitigate concerns stemming from the search: 1) Regardless of any past pretenses, do you feel that you can represent this company appropriately if faced with issues regarding international politics? 2) Do you have any concerns about operating effectively within a political environment, such as China? Asking these questions, however, assume that the legal ramifications have been assessed and that they have been deemed appropriate for these particular circumstances. Ultimately, however, the decision lies with Fred to formulate a team that he feels can further the goals of the organization. He may consider the search results inconsequential and hire Mimi regardless of these findings, which would also be appropriate.


Coutu, D. (2007). We Googled you. Harvard Business Review, 85(6), 37-41.

Fallon, L. F. & McConnell, C. R. (2007). Human resource management in health care: principles and practice. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

Jones, C. & Behling, S. (2010). Uncharted waters: Using social networks in hiring decisions. Issues in Information Systems, 11(1), 589-595.

Rosen, L. (2009, September 15). Caution! – Using search engines, MySpace or Facebook for hiring decisions may be hazardous to your business. Retrieved from