It Turns Out Honesty Actually is the Best Policy: What it Means for the Workplace

The old adage, ‘Honesty is the best policy’, seems like an obvious and hackneyed platitude; of course honesty is better than dishonesty! Telling the truth is better than telling lies and anyone with a moral compass would agree. But it turns out that this is not merely a pithy aphorism from elementary moral philosophy. It’s actually backed up by the science. That’s right, there is scientific research all but proving the importance of employing honesty in the workplace.

Why is honesty important in the workplace?

          When it comes to human behavior in the workplace, there is a phenomenon known as counterproductive work behaviors (CWBs). If it is not obvious from the name, a CWB is any purposeful behavior intended to harm the organization or people in the organization. It can include anything from stealing to purposely withholding effort to intentionally sabotaging a work project to outright violence, and everything in between. Clearly, these aren’t behaviors that we like to see, but the reality is that CWBs cost organizations billions of dollars annually. And aside from the monetary cost, they also create an unsafe working environment for employees and damage employee morale. They are a big problem.

On the surface, it is not difficult to imagine why honesty would prevent people from engaging in these destructive behaviors. An honest person would be extremely uncomfortable stealing because stealing is a dishonest thing to do! An honest person would be extremely uncomfortable withholding effort because that involves dishonestly putting forth a level of competence that is incongruent with reality. Without even diving into the minutiae of scientific research, we can already draw a very clear line between honesty and, well, not engaging in CWBs.

There is scientific research all but proving the importance of employing honesty in the workplace.

Of course, there are other reasons people engage in CWBs and we would never claim that dishonesty is the only one. Situational factors are also important! For example, employees may lash out in response to high stress situations, employees may seek ill-advised vengeance in response to social injustice, and employees may simply be adhering to cultural norms of the workplace that do not discourage CWBs. However, one thing that should be obvious is that when you add dishonesty to the equations of any of the aforementioned situations, CWBs become even more likely!

What is Honesty-Humility?

Within the last twenty years, a new personality model has gained substantial traction in the psychological community. Two Canadian scholars were able to uncover a six-dimensional personality structure, called the HEXACO model of personality structure. This model expands upon the widely supported Big 5 model (which we covered in a previous post) of personality to include a brand new trait called “Honesty-Humility”.

 Much of what makes up Honesty-Humility is right there in its name! High scorers on this trait are honest and they are humble. To get a better sense of what this trait actually looks like, it is broken down into four subcomponents: sincerity, fairness, greed avoidance, and modesty. Thus, high scorers are sincere and genuine in their interactions with others, they are lenient when evaluating others. They are not materialistic or driven by superficial achievement markers like social status, and they are modest, rather than arrogant.

All boxed together, we have a person who is uncomfortable taking advantage of and deceiving others and is most comfortable telling the truth and treating people with fairness. Is it any surprise that such a person is unlikely to steal from their office or purposely waste time at work?

What does the science actually say?

Recent research indicates that Honesty-Humility, is among the strongest psychological predictors of counterproductive work behaviors that we know of! Not just one, but fifteen studies have demonstrated a clear and strong negative relationship between Honesty-Humility and CWBs. That means that the more honest and humble you are, the less likely you are to engage in these harmful behaviors.

Taken a step further, this means that just by administering a specific personality assessment, we can obtain invaluable insights into the likelihood of any given prospective employee to commit CWBs. It is a very powerful finding.

The problem is that organizations are not doing this. The best way to implement this knowledge is to administer personality assessments during the selection process. It is true that organizations already do use personality assessments in this way, but the vast majority of them unfortunately use less valid personality assessments, including the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. This is unfortunate because the MBTI is a well-known work of pseudoscience that offers little more insight than astrology.

Fifteen studies have demonstrated a clear and strong negative relationship between Honesty-Humility and CWBs.

But this is not a Myers-Briggs hit piece. This is a call to action for organizations everywhere that value informed decision-making in their hiring processes to consider the utility of validated personality measures in said processes.

Why should Honesty-Humility matter to your business?

Sure, this is interesting to learn about, but what are we supposed to do about it? Well, if you ask me, or any industrial/organizational psychologist for that matter, we would say that we need to utilize this information to make better use of personality assessments in the hiring process.

Although our selection processes are extremely ‘experience’-oriented, employers are quickly moving towards the use of personality assessments in an attempt to glean vital information about an applicant’s candidacy and potential for success. Unfortunately, it is still rare for companies to use scientifically validated instruments to assess applicants’ personalities. Too often, organizations use inconsistent measures of personality such as Myers-Briggs quizzes. Inconsistent, or unreliable measurement of personality leads to inconsistent decisions regarding your hiring practices. Therefore, we highly recommend to any HR professional that they thoroughly vet and require their assessment provider to produce evidence of reliability and validity for their personality assessment.

Honesty in hiring photo
Some of the most important indicators of employee quality like Honesty-Humility aren’t listed on resumes.

Furthermore, with effective personality measurement, you can help guide your workforce towards reducing CWBs. Counterproductive work behaviors cost organizations billions of dollars every year. You can contribute to thwarting the far-reaching effects of this toxic phenomenon. All you have to do is hire honest employees.

If you want to prevent theft, hire honest employees. If you want to prevent workplace violence, hire honest employees. If you want to prevent intentional time-wasting, hire honest employees. If you want to prevent absenteeism, hire honest employees. Honesty, after all, is the best policy.

Key Takeaways

  • Common counterproductive work behaviors (CWBs) include intentional time-wasting, purposefully withholding effort, theft, violence, and absenteeism.
  • CWBs cost organizations billions of dollars annually.
  • Honesty-Humility is the strongest personality predictor of CWBs modern psychology has to offer.
  • Honesty-Humility can be measured with a simple personality assessment.
  • If you want to save money, create a safer work environment, and overall prevent CWBs, hire honest employees.

Article by

-Pasquale Tosto, Talent Analyst Research Intern, Workforce Lifecycle Analytics

Ability and Motivation on Employee Performance: Implications for Hiring

Van Iddekinge, C. H., Aguinis, H., Mackey, J. D., & DeOrtentiis, P. S. (2017). A meta-analysis of the interactive, additive, and relative effects of cognitive ability and motivation on performance. Journal of Management, 44(1), 249–279. https://doi.org/10.1177/0149206317702220

Employee performance, the thing all organizations wish to maximize. But what are the key things that influence employee performance? Specifically, what attributes do individuals possess that determine their performance on the job? According to Organizational Psychologists and researchers Iddekinge et al., it was indicated that there are two things that interact together to influence performance: cognitive ability and motivation. 

Motivation is defined by researchers Diefendorff & Chandler as “an unobservable force the directs, energizes, and sustains behavior”. It is the central force that influences performance by directing an employee’s attention, resources, and energy towards a task; and it dictates the amount of effort they may expend in order to achieve that goal. Motivation is present in many aspects of our lives. The force that makes you want to go to the gym (or insert something you actually enjoy doing), is the same force that drives you to complete a long-term project at work.

Cognitive ability, defined by researchers Hunter & Schmidt as “the capacity to mentally process, understand, and learn information”, is another critical element to employee performance at work. Cognitive ability allows employees to acquire, process, and use knowledge specific to the job in order to effectively perform job tasks. For example, if an employee is asked to learn a new computer program for their organization, they must be able to read, research, train and understand how this new program works so they can use it appropriately and potentially train other employees to use it as well. In other words, cognitive ability is how good employees can learn fast, to become better and better at more and more. 


In a meta-analysis by workplace scientists Van Iddekinge et al. they tested the common belief that employee performance is a result of the interactive combination of cognitive ability and motivation. Meaning, that these two elements combined improve performance in a multiplicative way to impact employee performance more than they do by themselves independently.  Meta-analyses are an examination of several independent studies over the same subject, and it attempts to determine what the overall trend is amongst those studies. In this meta-analysis the authors collected research studies (published and unpublished) that included measures of cognitive ability, motivation, and performance. Once they collected all the data output, they also requested the original data from the authors. That data was then used to calculate the multiplicative effects of cognitive ability and motivation on performance for each of the studies used. 

The authors used 56 independent studies (in this case the samples are articles from previous studies looking at cognitive ability, motivation, and performance) to test the proposed relationships. Additionally, all the studies that were included were either conducted in field settings that reflected job or training performance or laboratory settings that were designed to simulate job or training performance. Only studies that used objective measures of cognitive ability (such as: quantitative, verbal, or spatial ability) were included. Finally, they used the meta-analysis to dive into explaining the differences in cognitive ability and motivation in what magnitude they influence performance. 

Cognitive ability and motivation are good predictors of performance, this is true, but what Van Iddekinge et al., highlights is that both do not necessarily have to be present for one to influence performance. It is like saying that two people have to be present to change a lightbulb. One person can effectively change a lightbulb, right? So, motivation can influence performance on its own and cognitive ability can influence performance on its own. To say it a different way, an individual who is highly motivated but didn’t perform well on a cognitive ability assessment is not necessarily going to be a lower performer than someone who did well on the cognitive ability assessment and is not very motivated. In short, cognitive ability and motivation are separate indicators of employee performance. Iddekinge et al., (2018) discusses this longstanding belief in detail. The authors wanted to test the relationship between cognitive ability and motivation to see if the variables exerted additive or multiplicative effects on performance. Those words have very specific meaning in the context of managerial science, so we broke them down a little more. 

Additive effects: the effects of cognitive ability and motivation on performance are independent of each other, both do not have to be present for one to influence performance. 

  • Cognitive ability 🡪 Performance
  • Motivation 🡪 Performance 

This relationship holds that cognitive ability and motivation can separately impact performance. Meaning, an individual can display lower levels of motivation but could still be a good performer if they display high levels of cognitive ability. The same goes for those lower in cognitive ability. Maybe an individual scores average on cognitive ability, but they display high levels of motivation, so they are still meeting organizational standards. This means that cognitive ability can influence performance on its own and motivation can influence performance on its own. 

Multiplicative: When one is low in cognitive ability, they will demonstrate low levels of performance regardless of the level of motivation and vice versa. Maybe this looks like a brilliant employee who is extremely lazy or a really motivated person who struggles to catch on to new tasks. It makes sense in either of these situations that performance might be lower.

  • Cognitive ability x Motivation 🡪 Performance

Basically, this hypothesis asserts that performance levels will likely be lower if an individual does not possess high levels of BOTH cognitive ability and motivation. Or that performance levels will be the best when individuals are both brilliant and very motivated. 


So, which is better, cognitive ability or motivation? The short answer is both are important, and one is not necessarily better than the other. They both influence performance in different ways. This is important because if one were to assume that an individual can only be a good performer if they are both highly intelligent and motivated then you may underestimate that extremely motivated and hardworking individual who isn’t a math genius or that leisurely, slow working individual who is an excel wizard. It might be possible, in some cases, that being high in one of these things can compensate for lower levels in another. 

If your organization wants to hire candidates who are likely to perform well, should you hire individuals who are highly motivated and perform well on cognitive ability assessments? Having both would definitely be a bonus but could also consider hiring an individual who may have scored low in cognitive ability but shows high levels of motivation. Now, let’s say that you hired a bunch of employees because they had high scores on a cognitive ability assessment, but they are still performing below your organization’s performance standards. This might mean you have a motivation problem. These are just a few examples of how the two might trade off in certain circumstances. 

To break it down further, think of it this way. 

  1. Being high in both cognitive ability and motivation is good. In fact, in some cases there is incremental validity, meaning there is a slight increase in your high performing employee who possess both high levels of cognitive ability and high level of motivation.
  2. Being high in one can still be good as they can compensate for each other (i.e. they predict performance independent of each other).
  3. Being low in both cognitive ability and motivation might present some problems.

You see the dilemma? We can’t begin to influence performance accurately unless we know the how and why behind the relationship of the things that we believe are predicting performance. Iddekinge et al., (2018) point out some other reasons why it is important to consider how motivation and cognitive ability are influencing performance. Here are some implications for talent management practices… 

  • Since the evidence in the study indicates cognitive ability and motivation are more additive in nature (and influencing performance independently) organizations should measure both to identify top performers. 
  • Evaluating both cognitive ability and motivation independently before hiring can inform if a candidate will be a good performer. They can potentially score lower in one domain and still be a good performer. 
  • Perhaps setting a minimum or average score cutoff across both of these dimensions to identify who may be a potential good hire. 
  • Ability is a better predictor of objective performance measures like sales output and productivity.
  • Motivation is a better predictor of supervisor rated performance. 
  • Interventions aimed at improving motivation, increasing employee engagement for example, should focus on employees of all ability levels.

Here’s the main take away, organizations might be missing out on valuable candidates by trying to hire those that are high in both of these areas. This research shows that while being high on both is better, these dimensions can compensate for each other. 

Employees high in motivation and low in cognitive ability may just need a little more training and time to learn while those employees that are very smart and not very motivated may need more encouragement or a more supportive environment to drive their performance. Keep both in mind when assessing performance and remember not to disregard applicants who may have lower levels of one (i.e., cognitive ability or motivation) compared to the other, they may still be a good performer!

Actionable Steps

If you read all that and you are wondering what to do if you encounter these problems, here are some suggestions. 

  1. Use both cognitive ability and personality measure of conscientiousness (detail orientation, dependability, need for achievement, etc.) when hiring new employees. 
  2. Evaluate your organization levels of motivation and employee engagement to help shape the organizational environment to support your employees with lower levels of motivation. 
  3. Make sure you are using a good cognitive ability measure. Consult and IO psychologist for help! Or do some google scholar searches and see what current research is supporting and go from there. 
  4. Know what your organization needs. Your current needs will determine if it is more important to focus on improving motivation or cognitive ability.  
  5. Know what your employees need. Those who have higher levels of cognitive ability may learn faster than those who score lower. Know what employees might need additional training. 
  6. Try a needs analysis. Evaluate employee performance and then create an intervention based on those findings. 

Authors: Cassidy Jordan, Thomas Ayres & Brandon Jordan

Role Breadth: Are Two Roles Better Than One?

Morgeson, F. P., Delaney-Klinger, K., & Hemingway, M. A. (2005). The importance of job autonomy, cognitive ability, and job-related skill for predicting role breadth and job performance. Journal of applied psychology, 90(2), 399.

What is role breadth?

When I was younger, I worked at a fast-food restaurant. I noticed that while most of my peer coworkers and I each held the job title of “restaurant team member”, we performed very different jobs and all had very different responsibilities. I mostly worked at the cash register and interacted with customers over the drive-thru intercom. Other employees were trusted with cooking, baking and preparing orders, and a couple of employees were trusted with being slotted into any sort of role. Often, this last group had been with the restaurant longer and had accumulated a variety of job-related skills during their tenure. These were the employees who were given priority for overtime shifts and were flagged for promotion into management positions at other store locations. In other words, the employees who performed the greatest variety of job tasks were also considered the “best” employees.

The term role breadth is used to describe how many different tasks or projects a person performs in their job.

Similar to my coworkers at the fast-food restaurant, it is often assumed that people with the same job will perform slightly different sets of tasks and different numbers of tasks. In other words, it is easy to notice that people with the same job within the same organization have differing amounts of role breadth. This is often apparent across job levels as responsibility increases. Organizations desire employees who are motivated to seek out more responsibilities and wish to broaden their roles and who are capable of doing so. Because of this, it is not a surprise that both practitioners and researchers are interested in finding out why some people are more likely to broaden their roles than others. More role breadth among employees certainly sounds like it is a positive thing for their organization, but what is a specific, tangible benefit to employees broadening their roles?

What leads to more role breadth and what is an associated benefit of it?

Organizational psychologists and researchers Morgeson, Delaney-Klinger, & Hemingway looked at the relationship between employee role breadth and several job and worker characteristics among a sample of over 800 administrative employees. One factor associated with someone broadening their role is having the freedom and discretion to choose how and when to complete various job tasks. Understandably, more job autonomy gives people more opportunities to expand their roles by attempting new tasks and exploring ways to perform familiar ones.

Additionally, having a high level of job-related skill will likely lead to role expansion because if someone performs well on the job tasks they are initially assigned, then their supervisors will be more likely to trust them in handling more job responsibilities.

On a similar note, those with high cognitive ability are more likely to broaden their roles on the job. The term “cognitive ability” gets thrown around frequently within the employee testing domain and it can sometimes be used vaguely and leave some confusion around what exactly it is. Educational psychologist Linda Gottfredson defined cognitive ability as a general mental capacity that among other things, involves the ability to reason, solve problems, and comprehend complex ideas. It reflects more of a broader and deeper capability for “making sense” of our surroundings rather than academic skill.” It makes sense that having a higher level of cognitive ability supports role expansion because being able to quickly “make sense” of one’s surroundings by effectively solving problems is conducive to performing most job tasks. Being able to handle most job tasks will lend to someone’s ability to quickly get a grasp of any task they are assigned and take on incorporating more things into his or her job sooner than an employee with lower levels of cognitive ability. Additionally, if a supervisor sees someone quickly get the hang of a job task, then they will likely expedite the role broadening process for that employee themselves. Essentially, employees with greater than average cognitive ability and job-related skill will be more likely to self-promote themselves into role expansion and receive promotion into role expansion from their supervisor.

What, then, is a specific benefit of role breadth? The sample of administrative employees provided evidence that those with more role breadth had better job performance. This finding suggests that employees can strive for better performance ratings and career advancement through role expansion by demonstrating their competency in tasks they are initially assigned so they can be trusted with handling more job tasks. Essentially, an employee who competently performs several job tasks will likely be seen as a more valuable employee than one who performs a fewer number of job tasks. 

What are some key takeaways and how can employees be given more opportunities to broaden their roles?

  • Give employees more discretion in how their work is performed
    • It is apparent that some jobs inherently give their incumbents more autonomy than others (Ex: web designers have more autonomy than fast-food workers or administrative employees). So, it is worth keeping in mind that simply giving workers more job autonomy may not be feasible or even desirable in a lot of cases. For example, if fast-food workers deviate from how a particular meal is made, whether that be the process of making it or its recipe, then it will be more likely that customers will be dissatisfied. That is, meal preparation might take too long if a fast-food worker deviates from the standardized process or a customer might be unpleasantly surprised if they receive a meal that differs from their expectation of what is standard. 
  • Employee development and stretch goals
    • Self-efficacy is often a component of increased role breadth. In other words, the more confidence someone has in their abilities, the more likely they will be to perform a job task well and take on additional tasks. Creating stretch goals and aligning employee develop is key for improving ability to take on more. 
  • Employee training and coaching
    • Low self-efficacy in a particular area could align with specific training needs. In other words, if employees lack confidence in their ability to perform a specific task, then they may need more or better training to do so. 
  • Employers can measure cognitive ability when hiring
    • As found in this study and others using a cognitive ability measurement tool for employee hiring is one of the best in terms of predicting employee performance. Especially at higher levels as inferred by the strong relationship between role breadth and cognitive ability. 
  • Self-generated feedback to build self-efficacy (rather than unsolicited advice/feedback)
    • Another route to take in boosting employee self-efficacy is encouraging the use of self-generated feedback. Self-generated feedback could be collected from employees by having them complete some sort of goal accomplishment report prompting them to describe how the work they completed differs from their assigned work. Essentially, having workers identify the gaps between the work they were assigned and work they completed will allow them to evaluate how well they have met work assignments. Researchers John Ivancevich and Timothy McMahon found that self-generated feedback was more effective at improving performance over time than feedback provided by a supervisor among a group of engineers. 

Authors: Michael Trease, Thomas Ayres, & Brandon Jordan

How to Maintain Employee Engagement Levels High Once Your Company Starts Growing

Employee engagement is the critical aspect of workplace happiness, regardless of internal and external circumstances. It’s not a fading trend or a buzzword; employee engagement is a critical part of a comprehensive business strategy.

High engagement levels indicate a great employee experience and result in profitability boost, increased productivity, higher customer satisfaction, and better retention. Because of that, business leaders and HR professionals should continuously strive to create an environment and employee experience that motivates workers to focus. To really immerse themselves in their assignments. 

This especially applies to startups and companies in industries that have been particularly affected by the economic downturn caused by Covid that are scaling up operations and hiring again. Yet, there is some evidence that a very low percentage of employees are engaged.

Fifteen percent are actively disengaged, an increase compared to June 2020. Companies that are rapidly growing must avoid turnover at all costs. They can’t scale up successfully without efficient and productive workers ready to help new coworkers integrate into the workplace. 

Here’s what you should know about how to maintain employee engagement levels high if you’re scaling up your company.

What challenges do companies encounter when rapidly growing?

Scaling up requires a thorough strategy and preparedness to react to unexpected circumstances fast. When a company undergoes fast growth, its structure typically changes.

That often means new control mechanisms and hierarchies, resulting in decreased flexibility and agility. Thus, introducing new departments, teams, employees, and stakeholders can cause reporting and chain of command to become messy and inefficient.

..employee engagement is a critical part of a comprehensive business strategy.

That tends to affect overall motivation and performance in the workplace. Because of that, it’s crucial to be mindful about scaling up and identify strategies to engage the staff and make them feel comfortable with the scope of ongoing changes.

But despite how much you plan, issues will inevitably happen. 

1. Recognition – A Low Risk High Reward Investment

People will probably be proud to work for a growing company because that also means additional possibilities for them. But with time, they may start showing dissatisfaction because they can’t keep up with the change, new coworkers disrupt the team dynamic, or they feel you forget their needs. 

Moreover, company culture will likely transform (adapting to business growth,) making it difficult for your longest-standing hires to fit in. 

2. You Might Recruit and Hire Too Fast

Budget approval for team expansion is exciting, but you should avoid rushing the process. You may hire new employees too fast. Instead of increasing in team size, ensure you’re recruiting and hiring the most compatible workers that fit the role. 

If you overlook details, you risk hiring people who aren’t the right culture fit or lack critical skills. As a result, team cohesion could suffer, affecting the overall productivity and engagement levels. 

3. Communication Could Become Messy

Companies are like children. They grow up too fast!

Before scaling up, your meetings likely meant that all departments and team members would sit together and discuss projects, plans, and announcements. But when a company grows, most units have their own meetings, creating data silos and affecting collaboration.

If employees are unaware of what the other departments are doing and have no access to information they need for their assignments, they could become demotivated and unproductive. 

5 Tips on How to Maintain Employee Engagement Levels High When Scaling Up

1. Set Clear Objectives and Expectations

It’s crucial to have a sense of direction while scaling and determine what has changed with business goals in the future. Be transparent about new expectations. Discuss how new departments, team members, and stakeholders will affect the job roles and responsibilities. 

Ensure that nobody feels confused about their position in the workplace and knows what to expect. Otherwise, your earliest employees could start losing motivation, questioning how much will the scope of their work change. Questioning if their jobs are becoming redundant. 

Because of that, you should track their daily needs and potential. Set SMART objectives for your staff as that helps them strive towards achievable results and understand their assignments. 

2. Provide Regular Feedback

Everyone likes to know that their effort contributes to something bigger and isn’t pointless. Because of that, employees need regular and constructive feedback. It gives them insights into how they can improve and how much they have accomplished. 

If that doesn’t happen, they will start doubting that their work is meaningless and that it makes no difference how much effort they put into their tasks. Feedback inspires employees to work harder because it reassures them that their input matters.

For example, 69 percent of workers say they would put in an extra effort if they felt their achievements get sufficient recognition. Thus, highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week

Know the signs to look for.

3. Ensure Continuous, Transparent, and Open Communication

Foster transparent communications across all departments and levels to ensure everyone has access to the information they need to perform their work well and collaborate. Discourage gatekeeping information because that prevents employees from completing their assignments and getting the necessary resources.

Regular meetings and data sharing are essential, especially in rapidly growing companies. For instance, 86 percent of employees cite a lack of collaboration and communication for workplace failures. 

Invest in stable collaborative platforms and ensure that your teams work efficiently regardless of their location. Establish the necessary tech infrastructure and encourage employees to share ideas with their team members and other departments.

4. Reinforce Company Culture and Values

In a growing business, it’s crucial to reinforce the company culture and remind your staff that there might be some changes, but the essence remains the same. That will reassure employees that the core workplace values, objectives, and conditions will stay the way they were from the beginning. 

Company culture was one of the principal reasons employees chose and stay with your organization. Because of that, you must nurture its identity and continue striving towards the original mission. 

..despite how much you plan (when scaling,) issues will inevitably happen. 

5. Gather Feedback on the Employee Experience and Employee Engagement

Finally, you should track and measure employee engagement levels, regardless of your company size and scaling up ambitions. Otherwise, you won’t know what you’re doing well and what requires tweaks. Making decisions about your strategy, policies, and practices without employee feedback is like a doctor trying to make some heart or lung diagnosis without a stethoscope.  

The first place to begin in creating an engaged workforce is to listen to your employees’ needs. Moreover, these insights allow you to engage workers using strategies that work best for your company and staff.

Implement the right metrics and KPIs to track how you are improving the employee experience through your organization development efforts based on this needs analysis. Use engagement, entry, and exit surveys to identify what drives engagement and retention in your workplace and how you can enhance your efforts. 

Key Takeaways

Employee Engagement is of paramount importance for high-performing workplaces with happy employees who feel an intrinsic motivation to go the extra mile. Because of that, business leaders and HR professionals should continuously create initiatives and motivate their staff.

However, it’s also necessary to track and measure the efficacy of your strategies. That requires data-driven approach and relevant analytics that tap into employee engagement. 

Article by

-Brandon Jordan, Workforce Lifecycle Analytics

Closing the Scientist-Practitioner Gap: Can Personality Defeat a Pandemic?

Yi-Feng Chen, N., Crant, J. M., Wang, N., Kou, Y., Qin, Y., Yu, J., & Sun, R. (2021). When there is a will there is a way: The role of proactive personality in combating COVID-19. Journal of Applied Psychology, 106(2), 199-213.

Synopsis By: Caroline Deal & Brandon Jordan

Introduction on Personality

Personality clearly plays a substantial role in our lives. It impacts everything, such as how an individual interacts with new people, chooses a partner, organizes their living space, and fulfills their job responsibilities.

In light of the pandemic, research by Chen et al. delves into what role a proactive personality may play in combating crises – specifically COVID-19. Their study sampled healthcare professionals in Wuhan, China shortly after the crisis began and found evidence that having a proactive personality can have advantages that significantly increase an individual’s ability to persevere and thrive in challenging times. These advantages are relevant to other obstacles in different spheres of work as well.

First, some important definitions:

  • Proactive Personality – the dispositional tendency to create environmental change; proactive people scan for and create opportunities, demonstrate initiative, and persevere when facing obstacles.
  • Strengths – personal characteristics and abilities that enable greater performance and higher energy levels.
  • Strengths Use – the ability to make use of one’s personal strengths in a way that energizes the individual and empowers them to achieve peak performance.
  • Well-being – this refers to the state of one’s physical and mental health. It was measured in terms of resilience (can recover and bounce back from difficulties) and the ability to thrive (can prosper and succeed).
  • Routine Disruption – this refers to an individual’s schedule changing from a typical schedule to an unpredictable one as a result of an event.
  • Perceived Organizational Support – the extent to which an employee feels that the company they work for supports and cares for them.

“having a proactive personality can have advantages.. to persevere and thrive in challenging times.”

The researchers hypothesized that proactive personality would play a role in improving job performance and well-being in times of crisis. These benefits have applicability in any workplace and help to uncover the roles of several factors that affect routine disruption, perceived organizational support, and physical exposure to the virus.

Key Findings

  1. People with higher levels of proactive personality were more likely to engage in behaviors that utilized their strengths
  2. When employees utilized their strengths, job performance increased
  3. Resilience and thriving, the two components of well-being, were both benefitted when employees utilized strengths
  4. When employees felt supported by their organization, they were still able to utilize their strengths even in the face of routine disruptions
  5. Physical exposure to the virus impacted the relationship between strengths use and job performance such that higher exposure was linked to a greater performance bonus, meaning when employees were exposed to the virus, utilizing their strengths was more important for effective performance
A flowchart illustrating how personality affects resiliance.

To break down these findings a bit, this essentially means that proactive personalities lead to the creation of more opportunities to utilize one’s strengths. These individuals draw on their own unique characteristics in a way that contributes to getting work done better than before. By expressing their strengths, they re-energize themselves and can capitalize on what they are good at to tailor an experience to their values. Naturally, this leads to greater performance in the workplace as these individuals are more invested in what they are doing and can adapt and change their environment to overcome new obstacles successfully.

To give an example of this in action, consider a nurse treating patients in a rapidly filling hospital. Perhaps she is exceptionally skilled at consoling patients who are about to undergo treatment. When COVID hits, she sees it as an opportunity to use her ability to console others during a time when little was known about the effects of COVID or the method of spreading it. She then capitalizes on her ability to help people feel less stressed and may even use it to help her coworkers become more effective by consoling their worries about this new virus.

By using her ability to ease patients’ fears and comfort coworkers during an unexpected crisis, patients feel less stressed and are more likely to go through necessary procedures without hesitation, and coworkers are less likely to make errors as a result of feeling stressed. Therefore, she has altered the environment in a way that increases the rate at which patients are in and out of the hospital and has improved the performance of coworkers.

The ability to shape an environment in a way that allows individuals to better meet their needs by using their abilities contributes to increased resilience and ability to thrive. These two measures of well-being are especially important in overcoming crises such as an unexpected pandemic, the death of a staff member, or even tensions created by war.

By expressing their strengths, they re-energize themselves and can capitalize on what they are good at..”

Proactive individuals shine especially in times of stress and uncertainty, as shown by the positive relationship between proactive personality and strengths use during times of routine disruption. High levels of perceived organizational support are an important ingredient in this combination, meaning that if a proactive individual believes their company cares for and supports them, they will be able to better capitalize on their proactive personality and the benefits it brings in times of chaos.

Recognizing Proactive Individuals

Proactive individuals play a crucial role in the workplace during times of crisis. So, the question arises: How do you recognize an individual with a proactive personality? Here are some characteristics that proactive individuals typically possess:

  • High levels of initiative
  • Ability to bounce back after a setback
  • Energized by opportunities to utilize their abilities
  • Unafraid of change
  • Seeks out opportunities for growth
  • Able to motivate themselves
  • Always looking for new and better ways of doing work

Both are relatively equal in terms of consistency and linking to the desired outcomes, so it all depends on what you want to assess your applicants for!


An active approach to work ultimately results in higher levels of job performance and well-being during times of crisis. By using their strengths to alter the workplace environment in a way that improves how work is done, proactive individuals create opportunities to bring out the best of their abilities. Through doing this, they align their work with their values and become more invested in it, leading to greater performance.

They excel especially in times of chaos and disruption and are more equipped to handle the mental toll if they feel that their organization supports them. They strive to make the process of doing work better and are constantly searching for ways to improve. To them, obstacles are chances to become more efficient and improve the process of work.

Workforce Lifecycle Analytics specializes in identifying personality traits. Our assessments are scientifically driven and specially developed to recognize characteristics in employees – because proactive individuals just might make the difference between success and failure, especially during times of crisis.

Improving Diversity Through the Hiring Process

Finding diverse talent has never been easier, but how do you set new hires up for success? It starts with fair and objective recruitment and selection. Hiring candidates without an inclusive and valid selection process is like grocery shopping for a new recipe without looking at the ingredient list. Unfortunately, you’ll most likely forget some ingredients and the entire flavor of your dish may be a little off. Hiring, much like cooking, requires a diversity of different parts. Employee screening can take multiple forms, such as structured interviews, cognitive ability, and personality assessments. In this post, you will learn more about improving the hiring process through pre-hire assessments and adverse impact analyses.

When should you use a pre-hire assessment?

Hiring teams must first carefully identify and consider the problem before purchasing or building an assessment. HR practitioners in coordination with hiring managers must first isolate (through job analysis and competency modeling) which skills, knowledge, and observable abilities and other characteristics new hires must have on Day 1 and which are the most important for success. Hiring teams may go even further to define requirements as related to the organization’s values and purpose.

After defining and reviewing requirements, carefully consider the outcomes that are in need of improvement. Many teams do not give enough critical thought to why they want to assess candidates. Is the assessment used to help drive better employee performance? Is the objective to reduce turnover? Perhaps to increase the sales revenue new representatives generate within the first 6 months of joining? Assessments alone do not improve diversity; however, they can help teams target improvements around a specified objective. Personality assessments are indeed one of the most unbiased tools with regard to diversity. There are dozens of assessments on the market and each assessment has its strength for improving certain outcomes. So, focus on defining those outcomes first before looking into assessments.

Hiring candidates without an inclusive and valid selection process is like grocery shopping for a new recipe without looking at the ingredient list.

What makes a hiring assessment fair?

Fairness is largely related to a candidate’s perception of the assessment. Perceptions aside, if you’re using assessments for hiring/selection, they should be job-related (valid) and reliably predict job performance. Generally, an assessment is considered valid if it truly measures what it is intended (a proxy for desired behavior on the job) and scores on the assessment are correlated with the job-related outcomes you wish to improve. Test vendors will usually provide and technical manual or validation studies to show validity and job relatedness. They’ll also describe any sort of lie detection or impression management measures included in the assessment. The more validity evidence a vendor can produce and the larger the number of individuals included in the studies, the more confidence you can have in that assessment.

people riding carousel in park
Not the type of “fair” we’re talking about.

At the same time, pre-hire tests vendors should be able to show they have internal consistency and test-retest reliability. Internal consistency and reliability means the items are intercorrelated and are measuring the same general intended construct. To check test-retest reliability, scores on the assessment should be fairly consistent if given to the same person each time they are assessed.

Validity and reliability are the very basic things to consider when developing or selecting an assessment, however there are several other factors to consider as well.

What is adverse impact and why should you measure it?

Adverse impact is the unintended negative effect a biased selection procedure/assessment/tool has on a protected class. When protected groups are discriminated against unknowingly during a selection process, like a hiring or promotion decision, it creates adverse impact. In the US, protected classes include race, national origin, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation) age (40 and over), religion, disability status, and veteran status.

It is important to investigate and document if your selection tools and processes show any evidence of unfair treatment. If you have a biased process or assessment in place, you can be open to legal risk. Employers in the public and private sectors, employment agencies, unions and joint labor-management committees controlling apprentice programs are subject to nondiscrimination laws. Conversely, government contractors and subcontractors are subject to non-discrimination executive orders. Measuring and mitigating adverse impact ensures compliance with applicable laws and executive orders. But most importantly, it broadens the pool of applicants and is just plain good business.

It is important to investigate and document if your selection tools and processes show any evidence of unfair treatment. If you have a biased process or assessment in place, you can be open to legal risk.

Measuring Adverse Impact

In hiring, adverse impact can be measured across the entire hiring process (percent of applicants who are ultimately hired) or segmented by each step that screens out candidates (resume screen, pre-hire assessment, interview). The SHRM recommends first finding if adverse impact exists for the overall selection process for each job.

If the overall selection process has an adverse impact, the adverse impact of the individual steps should be analyzed. In its most basic form, measuring adverse impact involves checking the ratio of hires to applicants for each protected class. Then, you must look for differences within each of these classes to see if one subgroup is disproportionately screened out. This is known as the Four Fifths Rule.

 Other methods of affirming adverse impact such as the z-test and Fisher’s Exact test (which measures the impact seen as statistically significant along with a check of ratios) are standard procedures. They’re great methods used to find adverse impact. Organizations should utilize these as part of their evaluation of hiring procedures.

asian lawyer working with laptop near scales of justice
H should lead to interviews in the office, not in here!

What is the relevant legislation affecting diversity in hiring methods?

            In regards to diversity, there are several decades of case law surrounding employment decisions. Case in point, all criteria used in decisions must be valid (job related) whether it is objective or subjective via Watson v. Fort Worth Bank & Trust, 487 U.S. 977 (1988). This is a build on the Albermarle Paper Company v. Moody, 422 U.S. 405 (1975) case where the job-relatedness concept was highly reinforced. The Supreme Court found that even though the employer had employed a professional psychologist to demonstrate a correlation between the job performance rating and test scores, correlations were only illustrated in 3 out of 8 job groupings where the assessment was applied. In this instance, the employer did not conduct any job analysis.


First, define your objectives when screening out applicants. Next, use appropriate pre-hire screening steps combined with impact analysis. If you do this successfully, you’ll have a winning recipe which results in the reduction of bias in hiring. Diversity is built into the culture and hires are prepared for the job when you have a processes guided by clear objectives tracked over time. Finally, if you have any questions feel free to reach out to the experts at Workforce Lifecycle Analytics. Happy hiring!

Other relevant hiring diversity resources:

Diversity in the workplace is a hot topic right now. But how can your business ensure that hiring the best people coincides with building a diverse office?

Disclaimer: This post does not replace legal counsel.

Article by

Brandon Jordan
Brandon Jordan

As founder of WLA, Brandon leverages his experience in talent and organizational development to help businesses grow. Prior to WLA, Brandon worked for Willis Towers Watson, IBM, Kenexa, and Batrus Hollweg Intl. Brandon has a BA in Psychology from the University of North Texas and an MA in Industrial & Organizational Psychology from the University of Tulsa.

Closing the Scientist-Practitioner Gap: The Importance of Structured Interviews

Levashina, J., Hartwell, C. J., Morgeson, F. P., & Campion, M. A. (2014). The Structured Employment Interview: Narrative and Quantitative Review of the Research Literature. Personnel Psychology, 67(1), 241-293. doi:10.1111/peps.12052

Synopsis By: Juliette Lloyd, Brooke Ackerman & Brandon Jordan

Preparing your interview is the best way to get a prepared employee: the importance of structured interviews

The employment interview is the most widely used selection method used. It is rare, nearly impossible, to be hired without the use of an interview. But what makes some interviews effective, and others ineffective at choosing the right candidate? How can an organization create interviews to be a valuable selection tool to find the best possible new hires?

Numerous studies have consistently found that structured interviews are more successful overall than unstructured interviews in both identifying competencies & predicting other important outcomes (i.e. ethical behavior, job performance, etc.) An interview is defined as a personally interactive process of one or more people (i.e. interviewers) asking questions verbally to another person (i.e., candidate) and evaluating the answers to determine the qualifications of that person for employment decisions. They can be unstructured (i.e. the interviewer does not prepare questions in advance) or structured (i.e. the interviewer has preset questions to ask across each applicant.) “Probing” is a follow-up question that is intended to supplement an incomplete response from an applicant or seek to clarify information.

..studies have consistently found the structured interviews are overall better & more successful..

We review this article which organized a deep examination of the extant literature to see what an interview was, what constitutes a structured interview, why it’s important, what concepts an interview can assess, what types of questions are asked, how interviewers can evaluate candidates, and how interviewers can follow-up or probe on questions in a structured interview.

How can you avoid interview bias in personality assesments?

Structure in an interview reduces the impact of implicit biases against race, gender, disability, etc. Having a set structure for interviewers to follow reduces the impact of their own perceptions, as every candidate is asked the same questions.

Often, candidates engage in impression management, a process where people attempt to influence the perceptions & images others form of them during social interaction. Structure may have an impact on impression management as well. While research is a little mixed, a structured interview may reduce the amount of impression management tactics taken by the interviewee, the level of “faking” done by the interviewee, or allow more time for the interviewee to show their true self.

Structured interviews can assess more than just job-related knowledge, skills, and abilities. Research has shown that structured interviews are an excellent way to assess personality, especially when the questions are written to assess personality traits.

What are the components of “structure” in a structured interview?

Components are split between content structure (i.e. things that have to do with the content of the interview questions & answers) and evaluation structure (i.e. things that have to do with how the interviewer(s) rates the candidate).

The authors found 18 categories of structure used in interviews. Most successful interviews used at least six of these categories in structuring their interview. The most frequently used categories to structure an interview are:

  1. Basing questions on a job analysis
  2. Asking the same questions to each candidate
  3. Using better types of questions (i.e. situational or behavior-based)
  4. Using anchored rating scales
  5. Rating each question rather than the candidate as a whole
  6. Providing interviewer training

What types of questions are asked in a structured interview? (PBQ vs. SQ)

In general, there are two types of questions a structured interview can ask:

  • Past-Behavior Questions (PBQs): Based on the premise that past behavior predicts future behavior, these questions ask applicants to describe what they did in past job-related situations. Generally assesses experience and perhaps some personality facets.
  • Situational Questions (SQs): Based on goal-setting theory and the assumption that intentions predict future behavior, these questions asks applicants to describe what they would do in hypothetical job-related situations. Generally assesses job knowledge and cognitive ability.

Structured interviews can assess more than just job-related knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Both are relatively equal in terms of consistency and linking to the desired outcomes, so it all depends on what you want to assess your applicants for!

Can interviewers follow-up structured interview questions?

Yes! These researchers have proposed that planned probing (i.e. set out questions to follow up with in case of a deficient answer) will both lead to more informational answers overall & better user experience than unlimited probing or restricting probing. Having more difficult probing questions may also lead to a decrease in interviewers “faking” their answers.

What can interviewers use to evaluate their applicants? (rating scales)

Many structured interviews use anchored rating scales (ARs), which provide behavioral, descriptive, or evaluative examples to illustrate points on the rating scale. Through using ARs, the interviewer can compare the applicants’ responses to the different “anchors” for each question.

Using ARs (or BARs) makes interviews more consistent and more accurate by controlling for biases, encouraging consistent ranking across interviewers, and producing consistent information for interviewers. These need to be job-relevant, and these researchers have proposed that having all rating points anchored (i.e. a description for 1, a description for 2, etc.) will lead to an even more reliable and accurate interview process.

Below is an example of what a customer service worker would look like for an “Attention to Detail” competency:

• Did not provide answers
• Exhibits inability to communicate simple ideas to others
• Does not make sure if others understand the information that they communicate
• Shows some ability of breaking down information in an easily understandable format
• Follows up with others to make sure they understand
• Able to clearly break down information in to simplest formats for understanding of others
• Ensures others understand information during and after communication
An example of an anchored rating scale for an “Attention to Detail” competency.


Structured interviews are a reliable & accurate way to assess the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other competencies that predict job performance. Having structure in your interview process provides a framework for which interviewers can review an applicant in an unbiased & simple way.

Workforce Lifecycle Analytics works with a number of organizations to improve employee hiring and selection. We have a number of core structured interview templates for various job families and often customize structured interviews for clients from job analysis or competency models.


Levashina, J., Hartwell, C. J., Morgeson, F. P., & Campion, M. A. (2014). The Structured Employment Interview: Narrative and Quantitative Review of the Research Literature. Personnel Psychology,67(1), 241-293. doi:10.1111/peps.12052

Article By Brooke Ackerman, Juliette Lloyd, and Brandon Jordan

Closing the Scientist-Practitioner Gap: Framework for Linking Safety Climate to Safety Performance

Griffin, M. A., & Neal, A. (2000). Perceptions of safety at work: A framework for linking safety climate to safety performance, knowledge, and motivation. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 5(3), 347-358.

Safety is a foundational element for many organizations. But how do organizations influence individuals to adhere to safe practices, raising safety performance? According to Griffin & Neal (2000), it’s all about organizational safety climate.

Overall, the safety climate of an organization affects the employees’ knowledge & motivation to behave in a safe manner, which directly affects performance.

Griffin & Neal proposed a framework in which overall safety is affected by the organizational safety climate through its relationship with safety knowledge & skill with safety practices and the employees’ motivation to participate in safety-related behaviors.

  • Important concepts to know
    • Safety climate: employees’ perceptions of the practices, procedures, and rewards in the organization related to safety
    • Safety performance: work behaviors relevant to increased safety
  • Their final model (shown below) was tested in two studies using surveys of large mining & manufacturing organizations. Here is what they found.
  • Safety performance is differentiated by three basic questions:
    • “What is safety performance?” (i.e., safety performance components)
      • Safety performance consists of
        • Safety compliance – Core safety activities that need to be done to be safe like wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and adhering to other safety related policies.
        • Safety participation – Behaviors that don’t directly contribute to safety, but help develop an environment in support of safety like participating in voluntary safety activities or attending safety training.
    •  What directly determines safety performance?Safety performance is directly determined by knowledge & motivation to complete safety activities.
    •  What indirectly determines safety performance? Safety performance is indirectly determined by safety climate, which influences knowledge and motivation.
  • Safety climate is hierarchical – This means that someone’s small, specific perceptions of safety (i.e., how they feel about trainings available or how they think managers value safety) contributes to their overall view about what safety climate is in their organization
  • Indicators of safety climate – Manager values, safety communication, safety practices, personnel training, and safety equipment.
  • Safety climate influences performance through employees feeling more motivated & more knowledgeable about safety. Meaning, that when employees feel a good safety climate in their organization they are more likely to feel motivated to follow safety norms & that they have retained important safety information.
  • Safety climate influences going the extra mile for safety – The relationship they found between safety compliance motivation & safety participation indicates that employees who feel motivated to complete only those core safety activities are less likely to go above and beyond in developing a supportive safety environment. Meaning, if your employees are only focused on what they have to do to be safe, they likely won’t try to go the extra mile to ensure a supportive safety environment.

When looking at ways to improve safety, it may be important for an organization to look at how it presents itself to employees regarding safety. Ask yourself these questions to identify safety climate in your organizations:

  • Are managers valuing safety?
  • Are trainings in place so employees know what to do to be safe?
  • Do employees feel like they are able to report safety issues without reprimand? 
  • Do you have a good idea of what your overall safety culture is for your workforce?

A blog post by Creative Safety Supply states that building a great safety climate takes time, commitment, and a whole lot of positivity from the entire organization (See the full post here). Workforce Lifecycle Analytics has expertise in measuring safety climate assessing the relationship between safety climate and safety outcomes to help create a positive safety environment for your workforce.


Safety Climate. (2018, May 24). Retrieved June 24, 2020, from https://blog.creativesafetysupply.com/safety-climate/

Article By Brooke Ackerman, Juliette Lloyd, and Brandon Jordan

Closing the Scientist-Practitioner Gap: How Do I Choose Between Job Analysis and Competency Modeling?

Shippmann, J., Ash, R., Battista, M., Carr, L., Eyde, L., Hesketh, B., et al. (2000). The practice of competency modeling. Personnel Psychology, 53, 703−740.

HR leaders are often tasked with developing job descriptions, performance appraisals, training programs, employee selection tools, career planning programs and much more. Often, the best practice first step is to systematically evaluate each relevant position within your organization as a basis for creating these programs. This evaluation is often done through performing job analysis or creating a competency model. While both of these methods are quite similar, each has its own strengths and limitations, as well as being better suited for different talent programs. In this article summary, we will outline practices tied to each approach and which have more scientific rigor behind them.

Job analysis has generally started from a position focused approach. Meaning that the core tasks, duties, and responsibilities make up the bulk of what job analysis is focused on. Competency modeling, on the other hand, has taken an employee/person-focused approach where the attributes, characteristics, and abilities of the employee that functions within the job are the core focus of the process. Job analysis looks at the “what” and competency modeling looks at the “how”. Both job analysis and competency modeling can include elements of the alternate approach. In job analysis, knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics, can be compared as similar to competencies describing the employee. In competency modeling, competencies can specify specific skills or tasks which is very much aligned with the approach to job analysis.

As HR leaders, you can leverage these KSAOs, task inventories, and competencies to inform selection, training, performance assessment, and much more. Job analysis or competency modeling often provides the core base of knowledge from which all employee related decisions and interventions can be developed.

So given that both of these approaches can be used to describe the work the employee does and the employees completing the work, how does one choose which approach to use?

Jeffrey Schippman and colleagues completed a research project focusing on just this question. They used experts to rate the scientific rigor behind each approach to evaluation jobs on 10 evaluative criteria and 7 non-evaluative criteria. Each criteria is presented below with a short description about the results of the comparison rating of scientific rigor between job analysis and competency modeling.

For your reference, when they say evaluative criteria it is referencing how the work of collecting job analysis or competency model information is carried out. In other words how you would collect, analyze and report information about the job/job family. When they discuss the non-evaluative criteria, it references the “other” comparable aspects of the two approaches not related to performing the work itself. This includes what the purpose of performing a job analysis or competency model (Ex: What talent programs will this inform?) and the focus of your research (Ex: Technical skills vs core competencies), and others.

Table 1 Level of Rigor: Job Analysis versus Competency Modeling

Evaluative Criteria                                                                                       More Rigor

  1. Method of Investigation & Data collection                                        Job Analysis
    1. Job Analysis provides more structure behind the development of methods aimed at collecting job-related information. Tools such as interviews, focus groups, observation, questionnaires, and work diaries all have direct connections to the job-related information content they collect.
  2. Type of descriptor content collected                                                  Job Analysis
    1. Job analysis puts more effort into determining the reason behind collecting specific job-related information. E.g., Focus more on task inventories, or focus more on worker characteristics, or is there a specific mix needed for the purpose of the investigation.
  3. Procedures for developing descriptive content                                  Job Analysis
    1. The descriptor content used to create the models often follows specific procedural steps for job analysis. Using online databases that were systematically developed or drawing from interviews and focus groups provide a data-backed source for your descriptor (e.g., task or KSAO statements) content.
  4. Level of detail of descriptive content                                                 Job Analysis
    1. Job Analysis aims for being as precise as possible about each aspect of a job. Statements are intended to provide exact detail of the portion of the job described rather than broad categories or sections of the job.
  5. Linking research results to business goals                                          Competency Model
    1. Competency modeling is better for linking to overall
      business goals because it examines how competencies
      are linked across job groups and apply to the
      organization globally.
  6. Extent of descriptor content review                                                    Job Analysis
    1. Job Analysis relies on organizational experts to review and verify the accuracy of job-related information and generated content. This process can be utilized by competency modeling but is often left to organizational leadership to determine.
  7. Ranking of prioritizing of descriptor content                                     Job Analysis
    1. Job Analysis provides opportunities to formally rank job-related information on multiple criteria (e.g., importance, frequency, consequence of error) providing a more detailed and nuanced understanding of the work completed within a job.
  8. Assessment of reliability of results                                                     Job Analysis
    1. Job analysis provides opportunities to assess the reproducibility of the model through consistency in job-related information collected and through consistency in ranking of job-related information by experts.
  9. Retention criteria for items and categories                                         Job Analysis
    1. Job Analysis utilizes the ranking and judgments of job content experts to decide if any job descriptors need to be edited or removed from the model. Through an iterative process, the same criteria for including and excluding content is employed for a consistent and detailed approach to developing the final model.
  10. Documentation of research process                                                    Job Analysis
    1. Job Analysis provides multiple opportunities to use the steps of model development to record and retain the key decisions made and the content of the model.

Non-evaluative Criteria

  1. Focus on core competencies                                                               Competency Model
    1. Competency Modeling does best at focusing on the broad sets of abilities that apply across jobs and are needed to be successful within an organization.
  2. Focus on Technical Skills                                                                   Job Analysis
    1. Job Analysis is better at focusing on the nuanced skills and abilities
      that provides an accurate depiction of each job, how they
      are similar and different.
  3. Organizational Fit vs. Job Match                                                       Competency Model
    1. By focusing on abilities and characteristics that are tied to organizational goals and the future development of a job position, competency modeling is better at providing organizational ft versus the fit to a job as it is currently constituted.
  4. Focus on Values and Personality Orientation                                    Competency Model
    1. Through leveraging the input of the highest levels of the organization and taking a top-down approach to the job function, competency modeling provides a better avenue to incorporate company values and personality into the job model.
  5. Face validity of content                                                                      Competency Model
    1. Through its broad encompassing descriptions and organizational content, competency models are often easily recognized as being related to the job and organization just based upon the descriptions.
  6. Training and development applications (needs analysis)                   Competency Model
    1. Through the identification of broad encompassing categories of abilities and skills, competency modeling often provides an outline for potential training and development areas for incumbents and new hires.
      *Job Analysis was rated very similarly for these criteria and can thrive for similar applications.
  7. Selection & Decisions Application                                                     Job Analysis
    1. Job Analysis is better suited for creating selection tools such (e.g., assessments & structured interviews) because of the rigor behind developing the connection between KSAOs and job performance.

The Results

According to scientific experts, Job Analysis tends to have more rigor in its approach to evaluating jobs. Whereas Competency Modeling is more rigorous in its approach to fulfilling the non-evaluative criteria that are important to organizations. One way to interpret this is that Job analysis is really well suited for helping define how jobs are different. For example, when developing selection tools or compensation packages, it is really important to understand how each job differs and is similar so fair and accurate decisions can be made for hiring and compensation purposes.

Alternatively, when your purpose is to identify a broad set of skills or abilities that apply across multiple jobs and tie back to your organization’s values, competency modeling may be the best fit. However, regardless of your intended purpose, you may want to consider studying about how each approach, Job Analysis and Competency Modeling, accomplish each stage of the model build and then use elements from both to strengthen the rigor behind the base of knowledge you are developing for your future employee-related decision making.

Article by By Thomas B. Ayres and Brandon Jordan

Closing the Scientist-Practitioner Gap: The Good, The Bad, And the Unknown About Telecommuting

Gajendran, R. S., & Harrison, D. A. (2007). The good, the bad, and the unknown about telecommuting: Meta-analysis of psychological mediators and individual consequences. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 1524 –1541.

In a 2007 meta-analysis of 46 studies consisting of almost 13,000 remote employees, Gajendran and Harrison found telecommuting to have a moderate but beneficial relationship with key outcomes of the employee experience.

COVID-19 has changed the landscape of the work environment for many organizations. Following recent social distancing policies, a reported 34% of the U.S. workforce shifted from commuting to an office to working from home (Brynjolfsson, et. al, 2020). With the country beginning to lift these policies, many employees are expected to return to the office, but for others, this might not be the case. Many organizations, such as Twitter and Square, are giving their employees the option to work from home indefinitely (Brownlee, 2020).

What Does “telecommuting” mean?

Telecommuting is the performance of work activities outside of the primary or central workplace. It is NOT contractual or freelance work done by self-employed individuals or when employees work after hours at home.

What does a transition to a telecommuting workforce mean for an organization and how will this change impact the employee?

Working from home leaves organizations with some trade-offs. In a recent survey conducted by YouGov in partnership with USA TODAY and LinkedIn, working from home was reported by 54% of professionals ages 18-74 to be a more productive experience, but 51% report increased loneliness during work (Schrotenboer, 2020). To identify these trade-offs in detail, below is a summary of Gajendran and Harrison’s review of “The Good, the Bad, and the Unknown of Telecommuting.” We found that with the right considerations, the shift to telecommuting can be a positive experience for both the organization and the employee.

What are the potential consequences of part and full-time telecommuting?

  • Telecommuting tends to increase job satisfaction and reduce turnover intentions.
  • Working from home can produce less role stress. (i.e. the stress from aspects of a particular role or between the different roles we assume) for employees.
  • Supervisors tend to rate telecommuters more favorably and have better relationships.
  • Telecommuting is associated with higher records of past performance data.
  • Perceived career prospects are unlikely to be adversely impacted by telecommuting.

How does telecommuting lead to these outcomes?

Three conceptual themes emerge as to what mechanisms lead to the consequences of telecommuting:

  1. Psychological control: The perceived autonomy to choose how/when work is performed.
  2. The work-family interface: The interaction of one’s work and family life domains where each area can either positively or negatively impact the other.
  3. Relationship impoverishment: The reduced face-to-face interactions and frequency and richness of communication that is possible.

Autonomy had the most support as an explanation for why telecommuters experience an increase of job satisfaction and supervisor favorability and reduction in turnover intent and role stress. In comparison, work-family conflict and relationship quality only had a modest association and mainly came into play for full-time telecommuters.

What are the differences in consequences between part-and full-time telecommuters?

  • Full-time telecommuters (those working 50% or more out of office) experience less work-family conflict but coworker relationships tend to be negatively impacted.
  • Full-time telecommuters experience less stress than part-timers.
  • Both part and full-time telecommuters have similar levels of autonomy which suggests that giving freedom to work from home can incur the benefits produced by increased autonomy.

Does gender or experience with telecommuting change the outcomes?

  • Female employees tend to experience a greater increase in performance ratings and perceived career prospects.
  • Employees who have more experience with telecommuting may experience greater benefits found with work-family conflict and role stress suggesting a learning curve associated with telecommuting.

What does all this mean for you as an organization and your employees?

  • Maximize the benefits: If your workers are telecommuting, maximize its benefits by allowing telecommuters to spend the majority of their time working remotely. Working 3 or more days from home allows employees to get settled into a balanced routine.
  • Be aware of decreased coworker relationships: As employees increase their time working remotely, management should be aware and work to strengthen and encourage good coworker relationship.
  • Find ways to monitor without removing autonomy: Use trust-based strategies, such as a written agreement, rather than electronic monitoring techniques which can reduce perceived autonomy.
  • Allow employees time to gain experience telecommuting: As with any learning curve, it takes time to see results. When switching employees to a telecommuting schedule, allow them time to adjust and acclimate to the new working conditions.

Article by Juliette Lloyd, Brooke Ackerman & Brandon Jordan