First Advisor

Donald M. Truxillo

Date of Publication

Fall 11-22-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Applied Psychology






Employees -- Recruiting, Business enterprises -- Public opinion, Corporate image, Work-life balance, Employee health promotion



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 151 pages)


A global talent shortage is motivating employers to change the way they approach recruitment. To stay competitive, business leaders are strategizing new ways to attract employees and market their organizations to prospective employees. This research examined the impact of work-life and wellness programs on employer image perceptions (instrumental, symbolic, and experiential) and recruitment outcomes (organizational attraction and job pursuit intentions). It integrated these literatures to inform evidence-based organizational decision-making.

Study materials were developed with pilot testing conducted using Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk). Pilot 1 (N = 40) assessed the value of 32 types of benefits across traditional (e.g., health insurance, retirement plans), work-life (e.g., remote work options, paid parental leave), and wellness (e.g., gym memberships, stress management resources) benefit categories to guide creation of recruitment advertisements for the three experimental conditions. In Pilot 2, instrumental (2a: N = 193) and symbolic (2b: N = 225) measures were analyzed and reduced from 33 instrumental and 42 symbolic items to 14 instrumental and 16 symbolic items. A newly developed wellness-salient identity scale was also piloted for use in the main study.

Participants in the main study were 404 undergraduate students (300- and 400-level) from Portland State University randomly assigned to one of the three experimental conditions (traditional job ad, n = 142; work-life job ad, n = 130; wellness job ad, n = 132). Regression analyses revealed that work-life and wellness benefits were significantly and positively related to recruitment outcomes, and that some, but not all, employer image attributes mediated these effects. Participants who read the work-life or wellness benefits perceived the employer as having more useful benefits (instrumental), being more sophisticated and exciting (symbolic), and as treating their employees better (experiential), and consequently reported higher attraction and job pursuit intentions compared to participants who were assigned the traditional benefits advertisement. Age, gender, and perceived health were significant moderators of some relationships, suggesting that individual differences are important considerations for the design of recruitment materials.

This research enhances understanding of the effects of work-life benefits and introduces wellness benefits as important signals impacting recruitment outcomes. Further, the link between these benefits and employer image is a unique contribution to the literature and useful for practitioners wanting to compete in the current talent wars. These results provide significant guidance for organizational best practices and future research on the role of work-life and wellness programs on employer branding and recruitment strategies.


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