Ying Zhou

Dr Ying Zhou

Reader in Human Resource Management
MPhil (Oxon), DPhil (Oxon)
+44 (0)1483 686344
50 MS 03
Tuesday (11-12.30); Wednesday (11-12.30)



Dr Ying Zhou is a Reader in Human Resource Management at Surrey Business School. Her research focuses on occupation, job quality and employee well-being. Ying has won multiple research grants from the Economic and Social Research Council, the UK government and the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (with a total of £1.3 million) to examine job quality, employee performance and well-being in UK and Europe. Ying’s research has been presented to the UK Cabinet Office, OECD and the European Commission and cited in UK, French and EU policy documents. She received Surrey Business School’s Research Impact Award in 2018 and Mid-Career Researcher of the Year Award in 2019.

Ying’s research has been published in leading journals such as the Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Vocational Behaviour, the British Journal of Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management Journal. Her two recent papers were nominated as the finalists for the 2017 and 2018 Academy of Management Overall Best Paper Awards (Careers Division) and successfully won the Award in 2018.  She was invited to serve on the Best Paper Award Committee for Careers Division in the 2019 Academy of Management Conference in Boston. Prior to joining Surrey University, Ying worked as a human resource consultant at Towers Watson where she advised a wide range of clients on employee engagement and organizational performance. Ying received her master and doctoral degrees in economic sociology from the University of Oxford.

Research interests

Dr Ying Zhou's research focuses on employees' quality of working life. Specifically she is interested in job involvement, skill development, work engagement, career change and subjective well-being. She is a specialist in quantitative research methods.


Employee Relations; Performance, Engagement and Well-being


Member of the Academy of Management (AoM)

My publications


Zhou Y, Zou M, Woods SA and Wu CH (2018). ‘The Restorative Effect of Work after Unemployment: An Intra-individual Analysis of Subjective Well-being Recovery through Re-employment’. Best Paper Proceedings of the 78th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, Chicago, Illinois (Winner of AoM Careers Division’s “Overall Best Paper” award).
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A substantial body of research shows that unemployment has detrimental effects on individuals’ subjective well-being, which is consistent with the prediction of the theory of latent functions of employment. However, empirical research also shows that individuals generally fail to return to their baseline well-being even after exiting unemployment, a puzzle that runs counter to latent functions theory. This study argues that the ‘scarring effect’ uncovered by the previous literature is largely a statistical artefact resulting from the use of inadequate measures of baseline well-being and failure to distinguish those who follow different routes to exit unemployment. Applying fixed effect modelling to a UK longitudinal survey that followed approximately 10,000 individuals annually for eighteen years, this study shows that recovery of subjective well-being upon re-employment is fast, complete and enduring. By contrast, transitions into economic inactivity are accompanied by persistent scars on subsequent well-being trajectory. This study contributes to the literature by closing a hitherto unresolved gap in the explanatory power of latent functions theory on the temporal effects of unemployment on subjective well-being.
Zhou Y, Zou M, Williams M and Tabvuma V (2017). ‘Is the Grass Greener on the Other Side? A Longitudinal Study of the Impact of Employer Change and Occupational Change on Job Satisfaction’, Journal of Vocational Behavior, 99: 66–78.
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Research shows that individuals experience a honeymoon-hangover pattern when they change employers. This study provides further insight into this pattern by comparing the experience of those who change employers within and across occupations. Drawing on the longitudinal data from the British House Panel Survey 1991–2008, we find that the honeymoon effect was primarily driven by the experience of those who change employers across occupations. Patterns of post-transition adaptation also differ between the two categories of job changers. While there is evidence of adaptation of job satisfaction to employer change within occupation, those who change employers across occupations experience a steady decline of intrinsic job satisfaction which continues for at least six years after the transition.
Zhou Y, Wu CH, Zou M, Williams M (2017). 'A Longitudinal Study of the Impact of Occupational Mobility on Job Satisfaction Trajectory: Individual Differences in Neuroticism'. Best Paper Proceedings of the 77th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, Atlanta, Georgia (Finalist for AoM Careers Division’s “Overall Best Paper” award).
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Previous research on job change has identified a common pattern of job satisfaction trajectory during the turnover process. Individuals often experience a sharp increase in job satisfaction upon initial entry into the new job which gradually returns to baseline levels over time. This study examines how this ‘honeymoon-hanger’ pattern is affected by the nature of the job change and the individual’s personality.  Drawing on the British Household Panel Survey, this study shows that only those who successfully move up the occupational ladder experience significant ‘honeymoon’ effects. By contrast, individuals who make lateral or downward career transitions experience no significant honeymoon effect but a lasting scar on their job satisfaction for several years after the transition. However, the pattern varies depending on the individual’s level of neuroticism. Compared to emotionally stable individuals, those high in neuroticism react more strongly to both upward and downward occupational mobility, with the job satisfaction gap between the two groups growing wider over time. These findings highlight the importance of taking into account both situational and dispositional factors for understanding individuals’ reactions to job change. 
Gallie D, Zhou Y, Felstead A, Green F, Henseke G (2017). 'The Implications of Direct Participation for Organizational Commitment, Job Satisfaction and Affective Psychological Well-Being: A Longitudinal Analysis'. Industrial Relations Journal, 48 (2): 174-191.
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The article examines the implications of direct participation for employees’ organisational commitment, job satisfaction and affective psychological well-being. It focuses on both task discretion and organisational participation. Applying fixed effect models to nationally representative longitudinal data, the study provides a more rigorous assessment of the conflicting claims for the effects of participation that have hitherto been based primarily on cross-sectional evidence. Further, it tests a range of mechanisms by which direct participation leads to improved employee outcomes. Contrary to the critical literature, it shows that even after controlling for unobserved individual heterogeneity, both forms of direct participation have positive effects for employees’ organisational commitment and well-being. The effects of task discretion are primarily direct, reflecting the intrinsic importance of personal control over the job task; in contrast, those of organisational participation derive to a greater extent from its indirect effect on the quality of working conditions.
Williams M and Zhou Y (2017). ‘Paying for Performance in Britain: Does the Type of Job Matter?’ Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development Applied Research Conference (Featured in People Management 26 April 2017).
Inanc H, Zhou Y, Gallie D, Felstead A, Green F (2015). 'Direct Participation and Employee Learning at Work'. Work and Occupations, 42 (4): 447-475.
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The creation of a learning environment at work has been seen as an essential concomitant of the growth of an advanced economy. This article explores the implications of direct participation for different types of employee learning, drawing upon the British Skills and Employment Surveys of 2006 and 2012. It confirms that direct participation is strongly associated with enhanced learning opportunities at work but finds important differences in the benefits of specific forms of direct participation. Moreover, direct participation was found to be particularly important for those in less favorable work contexts with respect to technological level and skill.
Zhou Y (2013). 'The State of Precarious Work in China'. American Behavioural Scientist, 57 (3): 354-372.
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Precarious work, which is characterized by the uncertainty and unpredictability of employment, can be found in the labor market of most industrialized countries. Although precarious work was relatively rare in China until the 1980s, it has experienced a rapid growth over the past two decades. The factors underlying the diffusion of precarious work are varied and interrelated, notably reflecting the impact of changes in the structure of industry, occupations, urbanization, state policies, and labor market institutions, as well as employers’ manpower strategies. Although the spread of precarious work is sometimes advocated as an effective means of generating employment and increasing labor market flexibility, substantial evidence shows that such work is plagued by a series of problems, including low pay, low skill, high work intensity, poor working conditions, and lack of employment protection. This article reviews research on the trends and quality of precarious work in China in the past two decades and offers insights for policy makers with respect to the ways to integrate precarious workers into the primary labor market.
Gallie D and Zhou Y (2013). Work Organisation and Employee Involvement in Europe. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.
Gallie D and Zhou Y (2013). ‘Job Control, Work Intensity and Work Stress. In Gallie D (ed.) Economic Crisis and the Quality of Work. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Gallie D, Zhou Y, Felstead A, Green F (2012). 'Teamwork, Skill Development and Employee Welfare'. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 50 (1): 23-46.
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There has been a sharp divergence in the literature about the benefits of teamwork. Some have claimed that it is solely in the interests of management, others that it is beneficial for employees and yet others that it makes little difference to either productivity or well-being. This article draws upon the British Skills Survey Series. It shows that while teamwork did expand between the early 1990s and 2006, this was due primarily to the growth of the type of teamwork that allowed employees little in the way of decision-making power. Indeed, there was a decrease in the prevalence of self-directive teamwork. At the same time, our evidence shows that the benefits of teamwork, in terms of both enhancing work motivation and employee welfare, are confined to self-directive teams, while non-self-directive teams suppress the use of personal initiative and discretion at work.
Halldén K, Gallie D, Zhou Y (2012). 'The Skills and Autonomy of Female Part-Time Work in Britain and Sweden'. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 30 (2): 187-201.
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Most OECD countries have experienced an increase of female part-time employment in the last decades. It has been argued that part-time work may give greater employment flexibility, enabling mothers to reconcile conflicting demands of family and work and thereby facilitating their integration into the wage economy. At the same time, it has been suggested that female part-time work implies segmentation of the labour force into a core and a periphery, with marginalized, low qualified jobs for part-time employees. However, little attention has been given to the possible mediating effect of the institutional context on potential job quality disadvantages of part-timers. We examine this question by comparing the skills and autonomy of female part-time workers in two countries, Britain and Sweden, often considered as representing quite distinct forms of institutional regime. The results show that female part-time employees in Sweden hold positions of higher skill and have more autonomy compared to their equivalents in Britain. Even so, both British and Swedish part-time employees face relative disadvantage when compared to female full-time workers. We conclude that differences in the institutional systems of Sweden and Britain do have a significant effect on the absolute skill level of part-time work. However, the relative disadvantage of part-timers persists despite Swedish policies giving greater salience to improvements in the quality of work.  
Gallie D, Zhou Y. (2011). 'The Changing Job Skills of Female Part-time Workers in Britain 1992–2006'. Human Resource Management Journal, 21 (1): 28-44.
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The work situation of female part-time workers has been a central focus of diverse interpretations of labour market disadvantage. While providing rather different accounts of why this should be the case, these share a view that part-timers are largely confined to jobs with lower levels of skill than full-timers. This article, drawing on nationally representative surveys, shows that the skill requirements of female part-time jobs have improved significantly since the early 1990s relative to male full-timers. While some sectors of part-time work have benefited more than others, there is evidence of polarisation only with respect to part-timers with different working hours. The overall rise in the relative skills of part-timers poses significant issues about employer practice with respect to the wider involvement of part-timers in the organisations for which they work.
Felstead A, Gallie D, Green F, Zhou Y (2010). 'Employee Involvement, the Quality of Training and the Learning Environment: an Individual Level Analysis'. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 21 (10): 1667-1688.
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Theories such as human capital theory, the metaphors of learning and the high-involvement work paradigm all suggest that the quality of training and learning varies along a number of axes. This article shows how these theoretical insights have been translated into questions used in a UK survey of 6,829 employees carried out in 2006. We find that the qualities of both the training experience and on-the-job learning are strongly associated with the extent and nature of employee involvement. This suggests that employee involvement is likely to play an important role in the process of upskilling the workforce, which has been accorded a central role in the economic strategies of many nation states as well as supra-national organizations such as the European Union.
Zhou Y (2009). British Employees' Organizational Participation. Germany: VDM Verlag.
Paugam S and Zhou Y (2007). 'Job Insecurity'. In Gallie D (ed.) Employment Regimes and the Quality of Work. Oxford University Press.
Felstead A, Gallie D, Green F, Zhou Y (2007). Skills at Work, 1986-2006. Oxford: ESRC Research Centre on Skills, Knowledge and Organizational Performance.
Green A, Felstead A, Gallie D, Zhou Y (2007). 'Computers and Pay'. National Institute Economic Review, 201 (1): 63-75.
Jones R J, Woods S A, Zhou Y (2018). 'Boundary Conditions of Workplace Coaching Outcomes', Journal of Managerial Psychology, 33, 7/8, 475-496.
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In order to address the need for greater understanding about the occupational and practice determinants of effective workplace coaching, the purpose of this paper is to examine the associations of two coaching practice factors (coaching format and external vs internal coaching provision), and coachees’ job complexity with perceived outcomes from coaching.
A survey of 161 individuals who had received workplace coaching was conducted. Participants provided data on two outcome criteria (self-reported work well-being and personal effectiveness at work).
Analysis indicated that external coaches and blended format coaching were most strongly associated with work well-being outcomes. The examination of interaction effects showed that coaching provided by external coaches was more strongly associated with outcomes for individuals working in the most complex job roles.
The original contribution of the authors’ findings is in terms of the implications for coaches, managers and HR practitioners by showing how coaching can be implemented differentially and most effectively based on desired outcome criteria and features of coachees’ job situations.
Zhou Y, Zou M, Woods SA, Wu CH (2019). 'The Restorative Effect of Work after Unemployment: An Intra-individual Analysis of Subjective Well-being Recovery through Reemployment', Journal of Applied Psychology. Forthcoming.
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Previous research shows that unemployment has lasting detrimental effects on individuals’ subjective well-being. However, the issue of how well-being evolves after individuals switch back into the labour force has received little theoretical and empirical attention. This study examines the extent to which reemployment restores individuals’ subjective well-being following a period of unemployment. Applying fixed effects models to the large-scale longitudinal data from the British Household Panel Survey, we find that recovery of subjective well-being upon reemployment is fast, complete and enduring, even when individuals take less favourable employment options to return to work. By contrast, transitions into economic inactivity following unemployment are accompanied by persistent scars on subsequent well-being trajectories. This study advances our understanding of well-being development over the entire employment-unemployment-reemployment cycle.
Williams MT, Zhou Y, Zou M (2019). 'The Rise in Pay for Performance Among Higher Managerial and Professional Occupations in Britain: Eroding or Enhancing the Service Relationship?' Work, Employment and Society. Forthcoming.
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Higher managerial and professional occupations are now the most incentivised occupational class in Britain. It is not yet known whether the rise in pay for performance (PFP) signifies an erosion or enhancement in the ‘service relationship’ that purportedly characterises these occupations. Taking an occupational class perspective, this paper investigates the implications of the rise in PFP for the employment relationship and conditions of work across the occupational structure using two nationally-representative datasets. In fixed-effects estimates, PFP is found to heavily substitute base earnings in non-service class occupations, but not in service class occupations. PFP jobs generally have no worse conditions relative to non-PFP jobs within occupational classes. The article concludes the rise in PFP should be conceptualised more as a form of ‘rent sharing’ for service class occupations, enhancing the service relationship, and as a form of ‘risk sharing’ for non-service class occupations.
Jones R J, Woods S A, Zhou Y (2019). The Effects of Coachee Personality and Goal Orientation on Performance Improvement Following Coaching: A Controlled Field Experiment. Applied Psychology: An International Review. Forthcoming.
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This study presents a field experiment to test the question: What are the individual characteristics that influence whether coaching is beneficial for people’s performance. We focus our attention on the Big Five personality traits, core self-evaluations and goal orientation. Using a control group for comparison, coaching was provided to a sample of working adults (N = 84) and both self-ratings and supervisor-ratings of performance (N = 74) were measured over three time points. Our analysis indicates that individuals high in Openness and avoid goal orientation and low in core self-evaluations benefit the most from coaching. We contribute to the literatures on coaching effectiveness and the wider learning and development literatures by providing an empirically robust examination of the interaction between individual differences and coaching and the subsequent impact on performance. Furthermore, our findings suggest that coaching may be an effective development technique for individuals who tend to perform less well in other forms of instructional learning due to their individual characteristics.