When Do Human Resources Practices Lead to Employee Satisfaction?

The use of human resource management (HRM) practices has gained popularity within organizations due to their perceived success as a competitive advantage for attracting and retaining the most qualified individuals. Past research suggests that job satisfaction is a key outcome in this relationship. Specifically, favorable perceptions of the organization’s HRM practices tend to increase employee perceptions of job satisfaction.

However, this statement should not be used to blanket all employees—job satisfaction theories suggest that an employee’s perceptions of job satisfaction results from an appraisal of what others are receiving from the company versus what he or she is getting from the company. Here, an individual difference in equity sensitivity may come into play. Equity sensitivity concerns the degree to which people vary on their level of entitlement in the workplace (benevolent or having a lower need for rewards compared to coworkers, equity sensitive or desiring an equal amount of rewards, entitled or preferring more awards than coworkers). The authors of the current study suggest that the favorability of HRM practices—job satisfaction relationship will be moderated by each employee’s degree of entitlement.


The results revealed that employees’ perceived favorability with HRM practices (in particular, safe working conditions and recruitment and selection procedures) was related to their degree of job satisfaction. Additionally, this relationship was moderated by employees’ level of entitlement. For recruitment and selection HRM practices, this means that highly entitled employees who also had high favorability levels for the HRM practice reported higher job satisfaction levels compared to their lower entitled counterparts. Interesting, for HRM practices dealing with safety, the results are reversed with low entitled employees who favor the procedure reporting the highest job satisfaction.


So, what do these mixed results mean for organizations interested in designing and implementing HRM practices? First, it is too simplistic to think that a HRM practice will affect all employees in the same manner. Managers and HR professionals in charge of selection, should note what each potential new hire is expecting from the organization early on, and in this way, either insure that these expectations are met, or with a greater likelihood, instill more realistic expectancies. Additionally, entitlement measures may have a place in employee selection systems for screening or developmental purposes.   


Byrne, Z. S., Miller, B. K., & Pitts, V. E. (2011). Trait entitlement and perceived favorability of human resource management practices in the prediction of job satisfaction. Journal of Business and Psychology, 25, 451-464.