Employers’ Use of Labor Market Intermediaries (LMIs) in Filling Lower-Level Jobs and Implications for Lower-Skilled LMI Clients

By Timothy P. Hilton

News Type
Advocates' Forum

CHAIR: Susan Lambert, Ph.D., Associate Professor

The goal of this research is to examine roles labor market intermediaries (LMIs)

serving lower-skilled workers play within firms’ HR systems and implications for LMI clients. Focusing on hotels in downtown Chicago, this study explores three sets of factors thought to be related to firms’ LMI-use: those pertaining to business strategy; those related to normative aspects of HR management; and those that reflect other general organizational characteristics. Data indicate that where HR managers are more educated, more aware of innovations in professional HR management, more involved in strategic planning initiatives within their firms, and have sufficient flexibility to design and adjust HR practices, they tend to develop similar HR systems aimed at attracting and retaining skilled employees by creating higher quality job opportunities and using targeted attraction practices, regardless of whether their firms employ a cost leadership or differentiation business strategy. HR leaders at these firms tend to use LMIs in a targeted manner, selecting only those that refer retainable and productive workers. While these firms are not necessarily more likely to use LMIs than other firms, lower-level jobs filled through LMI referrals tend to be of higher overall quality than those of other firms. Firms with less educated HR leaders who are less aware of and responsive to innovations in HR management and lack the flexibility to design and adjust HR practices tend to use LMIs in an indiscriminant manner as a means of coping with high turnover.

About the Author

TIMOTHY P. HILTON is an Assistant Professor and Program Director of the Bachelor of Social Work Program at Northern Michigan University. His research interests include labor market intermediaries serving low-income job seekers, welfare and work, and human resource management. In addition to his ongoing research related to his dissertation, Dr. Hilton is currently developing two new research projects, one focusing on employment prospects of individuals living in poverty within a rural area facing rapid job loss and the second identifying coping mechanisms of rural homeless populations.