Changes in Laws May Affect Employment-Related Decisions. This has been a year of sweeping legal changes, most notably Obamacare and recreational marijuana. I guess drug tests don’t mean quite what they did last year.
Growth of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Programs. There is a growing expectation that organizations must “give back” to the community. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but is becoming more obvious as more Millennials enter the workforce. I know I wouldn’t work for an organization I thought was evil, no matter the salary.
Changing Face of Diversity Initiatives. Appearing diverse just isn’t enough anymore – people know what a token hire looks like, and they don’t approve. Instead, diversity must be leveraged for an organizational good.
Emphasis on Recruiting, Selecting for, and Retaining Potential (down from #3 in 2014). In good economies, people like to jump ship, and things are looking pretty good these days. As the effects of the Great Recession continues to dissipate, personnel (industrial) psychologists will be in increasingly high demand; we identify where to look for new talent, how to hire them, and how to keep them.
Increased Need to Manage a Multi-Generational Workforce. GenX, GenY, Boomers and Silents are all at work now, and GenY just keeps getting bigger. The traditional approach to generational differences (i.e., the older folks lament how useless the new folks are, while the new folks grin and bear it until they’re in control) doesn’t work so well anymore. If your GenY employees don’t like your management, they’re happy to just leave and find a new place to work, finding startups especially attractive. Things are getting complicated.
Organizations Will Continue to “Do More with Less” (down from #2 in 2014). No surprise here. Bad economies force belt-tightening, and then upper management realizes that belt can stay tight to squeeze even more profit out of the company.
Increasing Implications of Technology for How Work is Performed (up from #6, #8 and #9 in 2014). Once again, my lab’s specialty gets a prominent place on the list. The Internet of Things, social media, and wearable tech continue to creep into our work lives.
Integration of Work and Non-Work Life (up from #7 in 2014). Closely related to the item above, technology has made us so connected at all times that it’s difficult to disengage. Is this me writing a blog post at 10PM? Why yes, it is.
Continued Use of HR Analytics and Big Data (down from #1 in 2014). Big Data is a tricky topic for I/Os, because a lot of I/Os I’ve chatted with like to think that they’ve been doing Big Data for a long time. They haven’t. Big Data is the art and science of identifying, sorting, and analyzing massive sources of data. And I mean massive – a few hundred thousand cases is a bare minimum in my mind. Imagine sticking an RFID chip on every one of your employee’s badges and tracking their movements every day for a year. What might you do with that dataset? That’s Big Data – a little exploratory, a little computer programming, and a lot of potential.
Mobile Assessments (up from #4 in 2014). The biggest trend this year will be mobile assessments (another of our research areas!). As people increasingly identify and apply for jobs on their phones, their experience is markedly different from that of a desktop or laptop computer. In some cases, they seem to end up with lower scores. The implications of this are only beginning to be understood.
So what else changed from 2014? First, gamification, previously #5 on the list, has dropped off completely. This is probably because gamification has proven to be quite faddish – lots of organizations adopted it without any clue why they were adopting it, and it didn’t do much. In Gartner’s terms, it’s now in the Trough of Disillusionment. But that just means we’re right at the point where reasonable applications of gamification will begin to be discovered. I know I’m doing mypart.
Second, several tech-related items all got smushed into #4, which made way for new items on the list – multi-generational issues, law changes, CSR, and diversity.
In an upcoming issue of Human Resource Management, Baum and Kabst examine the effectiveness of recruitment websites alongside more traditional paper recruitment materials. They conclude that the most effective recruitment is done with a combination of the two.
To determine this, the researchers sampled 284 German university students, primarily business administration majors, brought into a computer lab. All students were exposed to a recruiting message delivered by a large, multinational organization. They were divided into five groups:
Group 1 viewed the printed advertisement, then the website.
Group 2 viewed the website, then the printed advertisement.
Group 3 viewed only the website.
Group 4 viewed only the printed advertisement.
Group 5 viewed neither.
After viewing the recruitment message, the participants completed a variety of surveys. The researchers found:
Printed advertisements alone did not cause increased knowledge, familiarity, reputation, job information, or attraction.
Website advertisements alone did cause increased familiarity, reputation, and job information.
High information recruitment practices (website) have a stronger influence on knowledge and attraction than low information practices (print).
The use of both print and website together have a stronger effect on knowledge than the main effect of either would predict.
The use of both print and website together did not have a stronger effect on attraction than the main effect of either would predict.
Although this is an interesting approach, I am not convinced of the authors’ conclusions for three reasons.
First, they used an actual recruitment website and an actual advertisement. Thus, these two media contained different information. The print advertisement only contained testimonials, information about applying, and some general information about the company. The online website contained more in-depth and interactive elements. There is no way to disentangle these effects – the website may have been more effective simply because it contains higher quality information than the print advertisement does. The effect may have been because the website was more “media rich”, or it may have been because the website simply contained more information. We cannot know from this study alone.
Second, the firm was a big, familiar firm to most of the students – this may have introduced an upward bias and/or range restriction among the students – and thus the information contained within the print advertisement may have already been information familiar to most of the participants. Print may be just as effective – or could be more effective – but only if it is equally informative. This is a major confound.
Third, the experiment was conducted on undergraduates sitting in a lab viewing recruitment materials. I’m not as concerned about the use of students for viewing the materials – but there’s a big difference between the motivation of someone sitting in a lab asked to look at recruitment materials for a job in comparison to 1) people flipping casually through a magazine (as if anyone does that anymore) and coming across a job ad or 2) specifically hunting down information on a recruitment website. These are dramatically different situations.
In general, the authors overstate the implications of their study. For example, they concluded, “websites have a significantly stronger impact on employer knowledge than printed advertisements.” Well, maybe. More technically, this particular website designed by a particular well-known organization had a stronger impact than a print advertisement designed by that same organization. There are an awful lot of confounds in this conclusion – with a different website, a different print advertisement, a different industry, a different organizational reputation – these effects may not have appeared. There is absolutely no reason to think that either this print advertisements or this website are representative of print advertisements and websites in general. Interpretation of other observed effects is similarly limited.
When there is a whole universe (statistically speaking) of websites and of print advertisements, finding an effect of one particular website does not demonstrate much.
Baum, M., & Kabst, R. (2014). The effectiveness of recruitment advertisements and recruitment websites: Indirect and interactive effects on applicant attraction Human Resource Management DOI: 10.1002/hrm.21571 [↩]
In an upcoming special issue of Social Science Computer Review, Landers and Callan set out to understand how people actually use social media while at work and how it affects their job performance. By polling workers across a wide variety of jobs (across at least 17 industries), they identified 8 broad ways that people use social media that they believe help their work, and 9 broad ways that people use social media that they believe harm their work. Although the harmful social media behaviors were related to decreased job performance, the beneficial social media behaviors were unrelated to job performance. In short, wasting time on social media hurts you, but trying to use social media to improve your work probably doesn’t actually help.
To conduct this study, the researchers conducted a series of three studies:
In Study 1, 203 workers across 17 industries provided two critical incidents, one describing a situation where they used social media at work that they believed harmed their job performance, and the other describing a situation where they used social media at work they believed to help their performance. The researchers then conducted a content analysis of these critical incidents to develop 9 “good” behaviors and 9 “bad” behaviors.
In Study 2, 204 additional workers completed a questionnaire measured the 18 dimensions developed in Study 1. Confirmatory and exploratory factor analyses were used to improve the measurement characteristics of these questionnaires and refine the theoretical model of social media-related behaviors. One of the “good” dimensions, “Relaxation and Leisure” did not load onto a higher-order factor like the other “good” behaviors and was removed from that measure.
In Study 3, 100 additional workers completed the final questionnaire developed in Study 2 alongside self-report measures of job performance. This provided cross-validation evidence for the measure (reliabilities remained similar between Studies 2 and 3) and also criterion-related validity evidence.
The results of Study 2 (the final social media behavioral taxonomies) are summarized in the following two figures.
Thus, the 8 dimensions of social media behaviors that people think will help their work performance are:
Communicating with existing customers
New customer outreach
Participating in an online work community
Crowdsourcing a problem
As the technical solution to a problem (e.g., for file transfer)
Using factor analysis, it was discovered that these 8 dimensions mapped onto four higher-level dimensions:
Communicating with people outside the office
Communicating with people inside the office
Managing the employee’s or the organization’s online reputation
Trying to solve work problems using social media
The 9 dimensions of social media behaviors that people think harm their work performance are:
Poorly representing the organization
Plagiarism or otherwise stealing ideas and representing them as their own
Saying something that offends someone
Multitasking (doing too many things at once)
Time theft (using social media recreationally on the clock)
Establishing inappropriate relationships with customers and coworkers
Making comments that disparage others
Receiving a friend request, refusing it, and experienced subsequent awkwardness
Using factor analysis again, it was discovered that these 9 dimensions mapped onto four higher-level dimensions:
Harming interpersonal relationships
It was in Study 3 that the relationship between the social media behaviors and job performance was determined. Consistently, negative social media behaviors (e.g., plagiarism, mutlitasking, time theft) were correlated with lower job performance (across task, contextual, counterproductive, and adaptive dimensions). But in contrast, positive social media behaviors (e.g., crowdsourcing a problem, identifying new customers) were not generally correlated with job performance at all.
The researcher then make the following practical recommendation:
These findings suggested that simply granting employee access to social media is unlikely to improve job performance unless a specific plan is in place to take advantage of the capabilities it provides. In fact, permitting employee access to social media broadly may be generally harmful to job performance and cannot be recommended based upon these results.
The validation study is somewhat limited in that the job performance measures were self-report, which relies on people’s ability to self-assess their own job performance accurately. Future research should investigate the scale developed here (the Work-Related Social Media Questionnaire [WSMQ]) with more traditional job performance measures (e.g., supervisory ratings).
This study also examines social media behaviors quite broadly; there are probably specific industries or jobs where social media use would be beneficial or even within job requirements. Future research should investigate such positions in particular.
If you’d like to use the WSMQ in your own research, you can find both the beneficial behaviors scale – the WSMQ(+) – and the harmful behaviors scale – the WSMQ(-) – at http://rlnd.us/wsmq.
Landers, R.N., & Callan, R.C. (2014). Validation of the Beneficial and Harmful Work-related Social Media Behavioral Taxonomies: Development of the Work-related Social Media Questionnaire Social Science Computer Review DOI: 10.1177/0894439314524891 [↩]