My colleagues and I recently conducted some employee research on job performance. Our study sample was employees of a state agency. All of the employees were clerical/office workers, 77% of them were female, and the mean age of the employees that responded to our survey was 44. Employees completed surveys about their job attitudes, personality, and some organizational characteristics. Supervisors rated employees on their performance and interpersonal citizenship behavior.
The value of this type of research to the organization is it gives them a focused understanding of things we know drive employee performance in this specific workplace. Hopefully, some of what we learn about this workplace is generalizable to workplaces with similar characteristics. We can never tell an organization everything that affects performance, but we can give them an idea of a few things we know for certain have an effect so that they can develop some focused interventions.
In this study, we looked at some very established employee attitudes and personality traits. The big attitudes we looked at were organizational commitment (the extent they like working for the organization), job satisfaction (with pay, promotion, supervision, co-workers, and the work itself), and trust in the immediate supervisor. The personality traits we looked at were core-self evaluation (locus of control, self esteem, self-efficacy, emotional stability) and secure attachment (how well people can work autonomously and with others).
In addition to these well established variables, we also looked at organizational climate and something called interpersonal citizenship behavior (ICB). ICB is the extent to which a worker goes above and beyond their normal job description to help their co-workers.
Of all the variables we studied, only ICB was a significant predictor of employee performance in this organization. The only significant predictors of ICB were satisfaction with the supervisor and satisfaction with co-workers. The slides shown above provide the specific questions we used to assess performance, ICB, and satisfaction.
Employee personality was not a direct and significant predictor of employee performance. This was not a huge surprise since personality rarely has a direct effect on performance. The very important job attitudes trust and commitment also did not affect performance in this study, which was unexpected.
In this organization, it did not matter how the employees felt about the organization or the work itself, but it did matter how they felt about each other and their direct supervisor. These interpersonal connections facilitate the employees’ ability to do their jobs.
Here are the recommendations we made to the organization based on our specific findings:
- Encourage employees to help each other at work and recognize/reward them when they do.
- Provide supervisors the training to become excellent leaders. Recognize and reward them for their treatment of employees.
- Focus on selection and promotion systems. Hire employees with a history of helping others at work and ONLY promote to management employees that are good citizens.
- Include interpersonal citizenship in your formal performance appraisal process