Towards an integrated people management approach? An exploratory study into the relationships between Corporate Social Responsibility, Employer Branding and Human Resource Management in the New Zealand and Australian financial sectors
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This research expands on the current literature surrounding employee-focused Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Employer Branding (EB) and Human Resource Management (HRM). It explores whether practical connections exist between these concepts within the New Zealand and Australian financial sectors following the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). Increased emphasis on employees has resulted in an enhanced focus on HRM in the literature. However, with limited empirical support, this literature lacks practical instruction as to how HRM can achieve these often ‘superman-like’ theoretical suggestions. Focused specifically on employees and the overlap of CSR, EB and HRM, this research aims to address this gap. A qualitatively-dominant mixed method approach was employed, including secondary data gathering and questionnaires and interviews with HR managers. The findings provide some valuable insights into how participants felt CSR, EB and HRM impact each other. Participants agreed that all three concepts were important strategic functions. However, their alignment and practical application were inconsistent, indicating there was more ‘talk’ than ‘action’. Only one organisation has officially adopted an integrated people management strategy and interviewed managers relayed consistently its benefits. With such variations, when compared, these organisations could be seen to be progressing along a continuum. Whether they all will reach an integrated approach remains to be seen. This study is significant because it contributes to the existing overly normative and segmented literature on strategic people management. It explores and addresses the practical benefits and challenges associated with a more competitively-orientated and integrated people management approach. This research also provides an alternative means for HRM to legitimise itself strategically by modelling a specific and practically viable development path. This valuable empirical data consequently drives the potential of a holistic and strategic HRM approach for academics to build on and industry practitioners to leverage.