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Review: The Employment Relationship – Key challenges for HR


Author: Paul R. Sparrow & Cary L. Cooper
Publisher: Butterworth-Heinemann
ISBN 0 7506 4941 0
Price: Not Stated

Review by:John Pope MBE TD MA FIMC CMC Management Consultant

This is an important book on the changes which are taking place in the world of work. The authors have reflected on the many changes taking place in business and society. Their theme is that factors such as technological change, fierce competition, rising expectations and changes in society, have led to instability in the world of work. They have identified what they term as nine key challenges for managers. These are closely related and concerned with understanding:









  • changes in the psychological contract – the attitudes which employers and employees have to each other which affect all aspects of employment
  • flexibility at work – the way in which the practical employment contract between employer and employee is changing
  • organizational climate and whether we can have a climate that makes it possible to manage the changes in employer/employee attitudes and employment
  • uncertainty – the ways in which the form, relatively stable patterns of progression and career development have changed and their likely effects
  • the effects of having a wide range of types of employment in an organization
  • new attitudes to employment – its effects of on the organization
  • individual and organizational health – what organizations can do to deal with the new problems now being created within organizations
  • different attitudes to the work in the different generations now at work and how these might change
  • changes in demography and social attitudes and what changes these may bring.

Their underlying message is that their challenges are serious and cannot be ignored. Their final chapter sets out some of the possible consequences and is probably the most important in the book.

This book will be of immense value to the serious student of organizational psychology. It summarises the work done by those who have been active in this field and quotes from their findings. It is excellently documented with very full references and acknowledgments to the researchers whose work it surveys and has two full indices. It is a pity that the language used and the long paragraphs will deter many practicing HR managers from reflecting on the important points about the changes taking place in attitudes to employment and the need to consider these in developing HR policies.


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