DP10066 Employee Satisfaction, Labor Market Flexibility, and Stock Returns Around The World

Author(s): Alex Edmans, Lucius Li, Chendi Zhang
Publication Date: July 2014
Keyword(s): corporate social responsibility, employee satisfaction, labor market flexibility, socially responsible investing
JEL(s): G12, G23, G38, J53, J81, J83, J88, K31
Programme Areas: Financial Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=10066

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.