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In-work progression toolkit: High involvement management practices

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What are they and what do they aim to do?

High Involvement Management Practices (HIMPs) are policies and procedures that seek to increase employee involvement in management decision making, and to equip employees with the skills and autonomy to identify improvements in firm processes.

The aim of encouraging such involvement is to increase employee job satisfaction and effort, encourage employee investment in their own productivity and improve commitment. If successful, HIMPs could increase productivity and wages, and reduce turnover, building further firm specific human capital. This increased job stability may allow employees to build further firm specific knowledge and make employers more willing to invest in training and internal promotion, thus increasing progression.

HIMPs also typically involve providing employees with management information and implementing procedures to improve information flows from workers to management. It is hoped that this will increase innovation within the firm, encourage job autonomy and increase the likelihood of workers being ‘noticed’ for potential career progression.

This toolkit focuses specifically on the effect of HIMPs on in work progression. We found nine OECD studies that looked at their effectiveness, two of which are from the UK.

Things to consider

Can policy encourage the adoption of HIMPs?

The evidence we found looks at the impact of HIMPs, not of policy to encourage firms to adopt HIMPs. Such policies are likely to be challenging to devise and implement as they involve influencing the way firms are run. Possible options include information provision (e.g. marketing campaigns, best practice policies), training for managers, public procurement requirements (e.g. making HIMP a mandatory or scored requirement) and accreditation. Encouragement of HIMPs could also be integrated with other business support or through inclusion in employment charters. Any approach should be piloted and tested, to understand both the impact on firm take-up and whether policy-induced introduction of HIMP had the same effect on in-work progression.

Which type of HIMP practices should be encouraged?

Given the challenges of encouraging firms to implement HIMPs, it would be helpful if we knew which particular types of HIMP practices should be encouraged. Unfortunately, we still know relatively little about different practices, and some studies even suggest that a combination of practices might be needed for HIMP to be effective.

What other organisations might have an interest in aiding the encouragement of HIMPs?

Encouraging firms to implement HIMPs may be aided by other organisations that have an interest in this area. For example, Trade Unions may be able to assist with information provision and firm level engagement. Management training providers may also help by marketing HIMPs and by co-ordinating their provision with the objectives of policy.

What types of firms are most likely to benefit from HIMPs?

The available evidence suggests that not all firms are likely to benefit from implementing, so the targeting of any policy on HIMPs should be an important part of piloting and testing innovative approaches.

How effective are they?

HIMPs are likely to have a positive effect on wages and other job-related outcomes

Five out of six studies that look at the impact on wages find a positive effect, while one finds no effect (although only one of the positive studies properly accounts for the fact that firms that practice HIMPs are also more likely to attract more productive workers).

A smaller number of studies consider other outcomes. One of the wage studies also finds positive effects on job satisfaction and security. Another study finds HIMPs reduce employee turnover in jobs with very adverse working conditions. Finally, one study suggests a positive effect on worker productivity.

The impact on wages may be greater when firms implement a set of HIMP practices, although one study suggests effects may differ for small firms.

Four studies break HIMPs down into individual practices or groups of practices. Two of these find positive and significant effects on wages for individual practices and that the effect is increasing in the number of practices. A third study only finds wage effects in firms that combine practices from three different groups. A fourth study finds the opposite – the most ‘intensive’ combinations have a negative effect, at least for small firms.

Are they cost effective?

None of the studies reviewed consider the direct costs to firms of implementing HIMPs. These firm-specific costs may be small if they only involve changing work practices, but larger if increased wages come at the expense of reduced profits (rather than from productivity gains). Potential policy options to encourage the use of HIMPs would have a range of costs, but it is not possible to present credible estimates of what they might be. 


In-work progression toolkit: High involvement management practices