Despite an increase in the number of blacks entering the workforce, many remain dissatisfied with workplace conditions and more can be done in human resource management to address this, researchers say.

“Many traditional human resource management practices do not take into account the changing workforce demographics,” said Business School Prof. Lynn Wooten. “I truly believe when firms treat employees as strategic assets, they will have higher performance.”

Along with her colleague Joycelyn Finley-Hervey of Florida A&M University, Wooten studied data collected on more than 3,500 employed adults, including minorities and whites.

“Organizations must begin to perceive their employees as a source of competitive advantage by investing in their needs and creating a work environment that is inclusive of all groups,” Wooten said.

The study found that blacks, compared to whites and other minorities, are less satisfied and committed in the workplace and are seeking more learning opportunities, work-life balance and supportive interpersonal relationships.

Wooten said she and her colleague chose to study blacks because “they are a neglected population in the human resource management research and their concerns differ from the general population. In general as a group, they are less satisfied with their jobs. Furthermore, understanding their concerns in the workplace can benefit all employees.”

Although Wooten stated the results were expected, she said she found it interesting that blacks place a high value on learning opportunities at work. “We believe this is true for African Americans and other ethnic minorities because training is a source of upward mobility in corporate America,” she said.

The study is to appear in a future issue of African American Research Perspectives.

Wooten noted there are no quick remedies to improve current human resource management practices. Change in corporate culture “cannot be accomplished overnight,” she said. “It takes a fundamental shift in how a firm conducts its business and learns from its environment. This may demand moving from a bureaucratic culture to one more humanistic and socially responsible.”

While companies still have room to improve, Al Cotrone, director of the Business School Office of Career Development, noted that many positive changes have been made in the past two decades.

“Everyone’s doing a better job,” he said, in regard to minority recruitment.

“People are more accommodating. Companies are always looking for top talent and they seem to be very conscientious about making their work environment open and inviting to anyone.”

Wooten said she plans to conduct further studies in the future regarding this subject, including one on strategic implications of human resource management.

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