Employee Satisfaction, Labor Market Flexibility, and Stock Returns Around The World
We study the relationship between employee satisfaction and abnormal stock returns around the world, using lists of the "Best Companies to Work For" in 14 countries. We show that employee satisfaction is associated with positive abnormal returns in countries with high labor market flexibility, such as the U.S. and U.K., but not in countries with low labor market flexibility, such as Germany. These results are consistent with high employee satisfaction being a valuable tool for recruitment, retention, and motivation in flexible labor markets, where firms face fewer constraints on hiring and firing. In contrast, in regulated labor markets, legislation already provides minimum standards for worker welfare and so additional expenditure may exhibit diminishing returns. The results have implications for the differential profitability of socially responsible investing ("SRI") strategies around the world. In particular, they emphasize the importance of taking institutional features into account when forming such strategies.
We thank Seong Byun, Paul Edwards, Norbert Häring, Jong Min Oh, Andrew Oswald, Marco Pagano, Paolo Volpin, and Bin Wang for helpful comments. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.