The Value of Decoding Work Outcomes in IT
In the fast-changing field of information technology, there are few things more important than recruiting, motivating and retaining talented employees. Business leaders know how hard it can be to replace a strong employee, even in the best of times.
Retaining that talent means understanding the work outcomes that are important to individuals across the professional pipeline, says Kathryn M. Bartol, the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith Professor of Leadership and Innovation and chair of the Management & Organization Department.
Bartol and co-authors from the University of Cincinnati, the University of Arkansas and Melbourne Business School, in recent research, introduced three work outcomes — extrinsic (e.g., pay, promotion), social (e.g., friendly co-workers, work-life balance) and intrinsic (e.g., creative work, skill development) — as ways to determine how well new IT employees fit in their new jobs, both from a person-to-organization (PO) standpoint and a person-to-job (PJ) standpoint. They then examined how gender might affect the relationships between valuations of different work outcomes and fit perceptions.
They found that the effect of extrinsic outcomes on the person-to-organization (PO) fit varied by gender, with men more likely to cite extrinsic outcomes as relevant to their PO fit perceptions. They found that the effects of social outcomes on both PO fit and PJ fit were moderated by gender, as women were more likely to cite social outcomes as important in determining how well the job fit.
And, finally, they found that intrinsic outcomes influenced perceptions of PJ fit for both men and women.
Bartol, who is also co-director of the Smith School’s Center for Leadership, Innovation and Change, and her co-authors conducted three empirical studies of more than 1,300 entry-level workers and 700 more-senior workers.
They found that social outcomes tended to be more important in determining PJ fit as workers gain experience, suggesting that companies can benefit from placing more emphasis on creating more opportunities for social interaction for incoming IT workers so they can begin building social connections in the workplace. Because Millennials tend to be highly attuned to socialization via Web 2.0 tools, such as social media, organizations may use those tools as a means to boost morale and facilitate easy interpersonal interactions between coworkers.
Given the findings that women more strongly valued social outcomes, IT managers may be able to take particular steps to attract and retain more women. One approach may be to offer flextime, telework and childcare resources that will help women with work-life balance and care for their families. At the same time, mentoring programs, collaborative work arrangements and social work outings or activities can help encourage positive relationships with their coworkers, the researchers say.
In general, IT entry-level workers arrive to the workplace trained in the latest concepts, techniques and tools. But they know they will require constant training and retraining to keep up with the industry.
Experienced workers, meanwhile, bring value to organizations seeking employees with diverse experiences, developed leadership skills and knowledge from competitors. For both groups, providing creative work and continuing opportunities for development is critical to appeal to the intrinsic outcomes that are also important to both men and women in IT.
Read more: Person-organization and person-job fit perceptions of new IT employees: Work outcomes and gender differences is featured in Management Information Systems Quarterly.