Putting employees at the centre of sustainable HRM: a review, map and research agenda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
905 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: Currently, sustainable HRM is largely an employer-driven exercise based on raising employee productivity. The purpose of the article is to expand this position by fully mapping out sustainable HRM and placing employees at the centre of such practices. A further purpose is to provide a research agenda suited to a wider take on sustainable HRM.

Design/methodology/approach: The article centres on an analytical review of extant sustainable HRM literature, plus an analytical review of wider literature considering further ways to sustain employment.

Findings: Employee-centred sustainable HRM goes far beyond what is accounted for in the extant HRM literature. The new map accounts for wider parties to sustainable HRM, including trade unions and self-organised employees. An extensive research agenda is a further key output from the study.

Research limitations/implications: The article is based on a literature review. Follow-up empirical research is required to test out aspects of the new map, as well as address research gaps identified by the review.

Practical implications: The findings have practical implications for HRM and occupational health practitioners, line managers, built environment and ergonomics specialists, governments, trade unions and workplace activists. A key practical implication is the potential to create micro-forms of corporatism, where wider political structures are absent, to foster employee-centred forms of sustainable HRM.

Originality/value: The article is novel in terms of drawing on a wide range of incongruous literature and synthesising the literature into a new map and an extensive research agenda.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-554
Number of pages22
JournalEmployee Relations
Issue number3
Early online date1 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2022


  • Built environment
  • HRM
  • Industrial relations
  • Labour process
  • Map
  • Research agenda
  • Sustainability
  • Sustainable HRM
  • Sustainable working lives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial relations
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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