Missouri State University

“Fitting” in at work

Most standard applications and interviews consist of questions relating to ability. Are you a good communicator? Do you handle high-pressure situations well? Do you work well with others? These questions are all relevant and necessary, but what if employers’ primary focus should be instead on other characteristics of the employee?

Dr. Wes Scroggins, associate professor of management at Missouri State University, has been researching different ways for employers to approach both hiring new employees and managing overall employee performance.

“One of the big focuses of my research has been the area of person-job and person-organization fit,” said Scroggins. “Person-job fit means fitting a person to a specific job, while person-organization fit is how people fit or match the organization in which they’re employed.”

When companies and business look to hire new employees, they focus on one fit: ability. What if they focused on other types of fit, such as the extent to which the job supplies what the individual values or desires? This is the question that Scroggins focuses on, and he hopes that by bringing it to the forefront of the minds of hiring managers they will begin to practice more effective hiring techniques.

“At least in theory, if there is a good demand-ability fit, then the person ought to be a good job performer,” said Scroggins. “The problem is, though, that often times things such as job attitudes or motivation also indirectly influence performance behaviors and might influence other important behaviors, such as turnover behaviors.”

Dr. Wes Scroggins

Focusing on fits other than demand-ability can lead to higher retention rates, increased productivity and better overall satisfaction for employees. In other words, employees shouldn’t just be good at their jobs — they should enjoy their job and feel as if they belong in the organization as a whole to be truly successful in their position and career.

“In my doctoral dissertation, I proposed a different, third form of person-job fit that I simply called ‘self-concept job fit,’ and I defined that as the extent to which the nature of the work that the person performs in their job really affirms their sense of self, their self-concept,” said Scroggins. “You hear people sometimes say ‘This job is just me. I love it.’ I basically proposed that form of fit would be the form of fit that would most likely produce meaningful, purposeful work in a person.”

This focus on person-job and person-organization fit isn’t just relevant for managers here in the United States. Companies across the world could benefit from these perceptions, and Scroggins hopes to extend his research internationally.

“The question is, across cultures, given cultural differences, do people in other cultures have the same perceptions? Is their perceptual structure, of fit with the job or organization, the same as the folks here in the United States?” said Scroggins.

“I’ve collected a little bit of data from some Dutch workers in the Netherlands. I hypothesized that I would find some significant differences between the perceptual structure of my American samples and the Dutch sample, but surprisingly what my initial results are indicating is that there is a lot of similarity between how people across these two countries perceive fit within a job and organization.”


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