Academic journal article Management Revue

The Influence of Temporary Time Offs from Work on Employer Attractiveness - an Experimental Study **

Academic journal article Management Revue

The Influence of Temporary Time Offs from Work on Employer Attractiveness - an Experimental Study **

Article excerpt

Introduction

Globalization and the intensification of competition have increased the demand for skilled labour (Wilden, Gudergan, & Lings, 2010), while demographic changes and the related decrease in the working-age population have led to a labour shortage (Beechler & Woodward, 2009). As a consequence, companies are increasingly trying to position themselves as attractive employers on the labour market (Lievens, Decaesteker, Coetsier, & Geirnaert, 2001; Thompson & Aspinwall, 2009). Therefore, more attention has been devoted to the question how to improve the company's attractiveness to job applicants (Chapman, Uggerslev, Carroll, Piasentin, & Jones, 2005). Signaling theory (Spence, 1974), which has become prominent in management literature (e.g. Highhouse, Thornbury, & Litde, 2007; Connelly, Certo, Ireland, & Reutzel, 2011), points out that individuals and organizations have access to different information. By sending signals to prospective job seekers, companies can provide inferences about organizational characteristics that help applicants evaluate the degree to which the company can serve their personal needs (e.g. Highhouse et ak, 2007).

Previous studies have particularly focused on the influence of individuals' needs, interests, or personality on the attractiveness of employers (e.g. Turban, Lau, Ngo, Chow, & Si, 2001; Rentsch & McEwen, 2002). However, a recent shift has led to more detailed investigations of the role of human resource policies on applicants' attraction to potential employers (Cable & Judge, 1994; Chapman et al., 2005). In response to demographic and workplace changes and the competing demands of work and personal life, companies are increasingly pressured to implement policies that assist employees in coping with the multiple demands on their time (Carless & Wintle, 2007; Beauregard & Henry, 2009). Companies' offers of work-life balance programs can enhance their efforts to recruit, motivate, and retain employees (Nord et al., 2002). In this context, Casper and Buffardi (2004) showed that an employer's offer of scheduling flexibility and dependent care assistance encouraged applicants to pursue employment with that employer. Honeycutt and Rosen (1997) and Carless and Wintle (2007) found a positive relationship between career and policy flexibility and employer attractiveness.

Given the large proportion of dual-earning couples (Carless & Winde, 2007), the shortage of time and the pressure to work harder, faster, and at a higher level of quality (Carr & Tang, 2005), companies have found that supporting employees in balancing the demands of work and non-work activities is a key challenge (Cohen, 2002; Bovenberg, 2005; Thompson & Aspinwall, 2009). As individuals experience role conflicts (Rau & Hyland, 2002) between personal interests and work-related activities, the number of employees who request a temporary time off has increased. Temporary time offs represent a work-life balance program designed to help employees alleviate the competing demands of life, work, and family (Thompson & Aspinwall, 2009) by providing time away from work to meet personal needs (Cedfeldt, Bower, English, Grady-Weliky, Girard, & Choi, 2010). As individuals have become more concerned with reconciling their work and private lives, they have also come to value organizations that support them in achieving this balance. For instance, a survey conducted by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (2013) revealed that 57% of employees can imagine taking a time off during their working lives, although it remains unclear whether the availability of temporary time offs has a positive effect on employer attractiveness.

Although researchers have included various work-life balance policies and programs (e.g. flexible work schedules, teleworking, parental leaves, dependent care assistance) in their investigation of organizational attractiveness (Rau & Hyland, 2002; Casper & Buffardi, 2004; Bourhis & Mekkaoui, 2010), little is known about how temporary time off programs influence the attractiveness of an employer or which options in the design of temporary time off programs (e. …

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