Human Resources Dissertation Topics

Human Resources (HR) is an exciting topic that combines theories from both Business and Psychology. This is such a broad field of study, so there are literally thousands of titles you could choose from when formulating your dissertation.

This article will introduce you to some of the key topics in HR such as Training and Development, Performance Management, Diversity and Inclusion, or Strategic Human Resources Management. We’ll acquaint you with the key debates and hopefully inspire you to come up with an interesting topic of your own!


Strategic Human Resources Management Dissertations

The field of HR has evolved significantly over the past forty years; whereas staff were once seen as a resource that needed controlling, staff are now generally perceived as one of the primary assets of the company. Moreover, most companies now subscribe to the idea that HRM should be ‘strategic’. What is strategic HRM?

Well, it essentially means that the HR policies and practices should help drive the business forward and help it to achieve its corporate goals.

As a student of HRM, you may wish to focus on Strategic Human Resources Management for your dissertation since it is a highly topical area of study. If it appeals, here are some sample topics:

  • Should Human Resources Managers lead the interviewing process for Banking recruitment? A critical analysis.
  • What is the link between employee satisfaction of pay and benefits and organisational performance?
  • Does offering employees paid charity days increase their organisational citizenship behaviour?
  • Keeping employees informed about corporate goals and achievements: Risks and Benefits.
  • Strategic HRM in SMEs: a worthwhile investment?
  • Defining the HRM strategy – How is it achieved in practice?
  • Mismatches between corporate and HRM strategy: A case-study approach.
  • Strategising for success – designing effective recruitment and selection campaigns for Teacher Training programmes.
  • What are the benefits of outsourcing SHRM?
  • Does HR sit and fit on the board?
  • Strategising and monitoring the employee lifecycle in a high-turnover environment.

Training and Development of Human Resources Dissertation Topics

Recognition of the importance of Human Resources has increased in recent years; this is a result of competition from overseas economies. In Japan, Germany and Sweden, for example, investment in employee development is higher than in the UK. This has led to some organisations reviewing their policies on training, introducing continuous investment in their employees.

Below are some suggestions as to how to narrow your human resources dissertation topics on training and development down to a specific topic.

  • The efficacy of digital vs face-to-face training: Insights for a post-COVID world.
  • Unconscious bias training: Helpful or harmful?
  • Exploring the link between training and development, employee engagement and employee retention.
  • Examining the important role of feedback in training.
  • Are training and development linked to employee engagement in temporary or casual positions?
  • How do organisations survive economic crisis (from the training and development perspective)?
  • Does training and development really impact the bottom line?
  • What skills are needed for today’s turbulent climate?
  • Who trains the trainers?
  • Soft skills, who needs them? A case-study of IT professional services industry.
  • Training and development in the Gig Economy – a worthwhile investment?

HRM as Competitive Advantage Dissertation Topics

The resource-based view argues that a strong HRM strategy can become a firm’s competitive advantage. In order for the HRM strategy to become a competitive advantage, it should be difficult for other firms to imitate. That said, your dissertation could focus on whether and how contemporary organisations are achieving a competitive advantage through their HRM strategies.

  • How to implement knowledge transfer in IT professional services environments.
  • Retaining high-value staff to ensure a competitive advantage: a case study approach.
  • Exploring Google’s Human Resources advantage – what lessons can be learned?
  • Fast, cheap labour – Are Gig Economy employees obtaining a competitive advantage through exploitation?
  • Implementing digital solutions to enhance HRM and organisational performance.
  • Patagonia’s HRM strategy – why is it so difficult to imitate?

Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Rewards HRM Dissertation Topics

According to common sense, pay is the primary motivator for employees; pay is referred to as an ‘extrinsic’ reward. However, there is a lot of research to suggest that ‘intrinsic factors’ motivate employees, too (e.g., flexible working, respect, autonomy, a good relationship with their manager, and a sense of purpose through their work). Some might even say that intrinsic motivators are more salient for employee motivation than ‘extrinsic factors’ (pay and traditional benefits). This is one of the broad debates in contemporary HRM research. If you are interested in this debate, here are some titles you might consider for your dissertation:

  • Motivating millennials – how important is pay and benefits?
  • Does spirituality moderate the link between reward preference (intrinsic vs extrinsic) and employee motivation?
  • What is the link between employee autonomy and employee motivation? A case study of administrative offices in the UK.
  • Does performance-related pay undermine teamwork?
  • Why do some people carry on working after a significant windfall whilst others do not? A qualitative, interview-based approach.
  • How important is flexible working for employee motivation? A comparison between pre-and-post COVID-19 attitudes.
  • How to help employees create meaning through their work: A case-study approach of the healthcare sector.
  • Are extrinsic rewards an effective motivator in the caring sectors?
  • Do any of the ‘Big 5’ personality traits moderate the link between reward preference (intrinsic vs extrinsic) and employee motivation?
  • Extrinsic rewards fit for the 21st Century – Exploring UK workers’ attitudes and expectations towards extrinsic rewards.
  • Are there differences in motivation between (intrinsic vs extrinsic) between British and Chinese workers?

Employee Retention Dissertation Topics

Retaining the best talent is a challenge for many organisations, especially those operating in an industry with a skills-shortage, like the technology sector. That said, exploring how to engage and retain the best talent is vital. Here are some topics to consider:

  • What is the link between staff training, employee engagement and employee retention?
  • Can mindfulness-based employee welfare programmes enhance employee retention in high-stress industries?
  • The link between employee learning and development and employee retention.
  • The challenge of talent retention in the UK technology sector – an exploratory approach.
  • Is employee retention always desirable? A critical approach.
  • Exploring HRMs’ attitudes towards employee retention strategies in the banking sector.

Appraisals and Feedback Dissertation Topics

Appraisals have been a common way of tracking performance and setting goals for improvement, especially in the public sector. However, more recently, theorists are starting to doubt the efficacy of formal appraisals as these can cause unnecessary stress. Moreover, they can feel a bit robotic and impersonal. CIPD now recommends that managers provide regular and consistent feedback to employees in an informal basis (but in a respectful way). In cases where meetings and appraisals are still taking place, these tend to be more forward-focused than backward-looking. That said, you might be inspired by one of the following titles:

  • Exploring public sector employees’ (dis)satisfaction with formal appraisals.
  • Exploring the link between regular, informal feedback and employee performance in the Food and Beverage sector.
  • Are there gender differences in feedback style at managerial level? A qualitative approach.
  • What can social psychology teach us about the dynamics of effective workplace feedback? A theoretical approach.
  • Does conscientiousness moderate the link between appraisal type (formal and informal) and employee performance?

Performance Management HRM Dissertation Topics

Performance management systems have become increasingly popular in recent years – especially since the rise of New Public Management – yet many people claim that performance management systems are ineffective. If you are interested in this debate, you might consider one of the following HRM dissertation topics.

  • Analysing the effectiveness of performance management systems in call centres.
  • What are Indian employees’ attitudes towards performance management systems in the banking sector?
  • Exploring the counterproductive aspect of performance management systems.
  • Can performance management systems facilitate employee motivation?
  • Are performance management systems merely a new form of Taylorism?
  • A case-study of effective performance management systems: Balancing control with encouragement.
  • Analysis the effectiveness of performance management systems for remote teams during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Diversity and Inclusion Dissertation Topics

Diversity management is defined as an organisation’s active investment in the integration, development, and advancement of individuals who collectively represent the workforce. When developing an organisational strategy, diversity is placed in the culture, policies, and practices which support respect and communication, as well as individual, team and organisational performance in a diverse environment. Possible human resources dissertation topics on diversity and inclusion are:

  • Differences between diversity and discrimination in the workplace.
  • Analysing the effectiveness of perspective-taking in diversity training.
  • What are vegans’ lived-experiences of workplace discrimination?
  • Can flexible working schemes help to foster greater diversity in teams?
  • What is the link between diversity and organisational performance in Chinese SMEs?
  • Is ‘inclusion’ always positive?



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