Themes in Module 2 of the Level 5 CIPD Qualification

A summary of everything you need to know about the second module

By Les Jones

Les is Oakwood's Head of Associates and works in our Associate Team
More from Les >>

If there were to be one key word carried into Module 2 from Module 1 that word would be ‘alignment.’ 


It seems everything we do as HR professionals is focused on ensuring alignment of effort to support organisational objectives – ultimately the organisational strategy. Without alignment, we would waste our time – at worst, we could create disaster.


Module 2 of CIPD Level 5 focuses on the key HR functional areas of ‘Resourcing and talent planning’ and ‘Employee engagement.’ But we also spend two days exploring the theory and practice of conducting research – an area that seems to be misunderstood and badly managed by many HR professionals who hold senior level titles. And this is surprising because the ability to conduct research is an essential skill for someone operating at or near strategic positions within organisations. 

It might be a cliché to state that change is a constant in the organisational context. By the time you have progressed to Module 2 the significance of the VUCA world in which our organisations sometimes struggle to survive will be familiar. As a significant feature of the HR professional’s role is always to have focus on seeking ways to ‘future-proof’ their organisations (CIPD Next Generation and Insight-driven HR), the ability to identify areas for research, and then follow what Valerie Anderson (Research Method in HR 2010) calls a ‘roadmap’ which ensures the project stays on track must be finely tuned competence. 

So many projects seem to be set up for failure. Why? The reason is simple: the researcher fails to establish what he is trying to achieve through research right from the outset. Having a clearly defined research ‘aim’ and objectives – sometimes called ‘research questions’ is essential. Thinking things through before launching into the project is, according to Anderson, a worthwhile investment of time. 

Time taken to plan the research methodology will save the researcher time and, no doubt, wasted effort. The trouble is, so many researchers, including Level 7 students tackling their ‘management research report’, rush in too quickly. Oakwood is fully in tune with Valerie Anderson: take your time – think it through – and don’t gallop into the analysis phase of research in the vain hope that clarity and structure will follow.

Resourcing and Talent Planning

‘Resourcing and talent planning’ provides familiar territory for some of our Level 5 students who have recruitment and selection experience. But we learn there is more to resourcing than simply managing the recruitment and selection process, even with the challenges the evolving theory suggests in this area. The key message from this unit is for organisations to plan their resourcing effort with a strategic perspective. 

For some students the concept of ‘employer brand’ is new. What becomes apparent is the lack of thought given to how organisations should position as employers is a potentially ‘tight’ labour market where competition for talent is fierce. It might be argued an organisation has an ‘employer brand’ even if no thought is given to how this should look. 

The problem is the perception of your organisation from the perspective of the talent you wish to attract may not be one you would want your organisation to project. And it is not a simple matter of aiming to be an ‘employer of choice.’ To be an employer of choice, your organisation should not only be seen to treat its employees well, it should also reward better than the competition. 

What if your organisation cannot afford to pay in the upper quartile? Given the economic crisis currently being experienced by many of our students, thought should be given more to ways of attracting talent through features other than monetary reward. This is why we spend time on the programme exploring contemporary approaches to succession planning and the related theme of career planning. 

Employee Engagement

‘Employee engagement’ is one of those terms that creates clear visual imagery and yet is so hard to define. We all know what it is through the images we see in our minds – we can identify key pre-requisites of employee engagement – but we find it hard to describe what it is in words. However, when we explore key terms like ‘discretionary behaviour’ and ‘corporate citizenship’ and definition becomes a little clearer. 

One of the key points we should remember about employee engagement Is the fact high levels of employee engagement correlate with higher levels of organisational performance. Research has shown that effort to create a high engagement culture where one did not exist before can lead to an increase in productivity (and profit if appropriate) of about 28%. It is an irrefutable fact: engaged employees are more productive – and they are more likely to be retained. At the same time, your organisation’s employer brand – there’s that term again – is likely to be enhanced. This means you will attract the talent that you need.

The subjects covered in Module 2 clearly have common themes, and they echo some of the key messages of Module 1. Many of our students say they find Module 2 easier in terms of assignments than Module 1. This is probably due to the subject matter of Module 2 being more familiar. We would agree with this – but we encourage you to think of ways of applying the theory into practice. There are opportunities here: perhaps to engage in some research focusing on organisational improvement, or giving thought to creating an employer brand – or maybe creating a ‘high engagement’ strategy. 

Les Jones
Director of Development