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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
A look at current trends and data
Article Type: Research and results From: Strategic HR Review, Volume 11, Issue 5
Identifying workplace mavericks could be key to business success
An analysis of workplace mavericks – the creative, independent thinkers who can be brilliant but troublesome – could help employers to better identify them and channel their talents. This is according to the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the University of New South Wales, Australia (UNSW), which carried out the study of 458 employees from a range of organizations.
The report explains that “recent economic events have seen businesses increasingly more reliant on the skills of internal ‘mavericks’ to keep firms aggressive and competitive in the global market place.” It adds: “Maverick employees have been popularly described as independent thinkers, creative problem solvers, quick decision makers, and goal-oriented individuals. However, despite the apparent value of such individuals to organizations, no formal model explaining this behavior exists.”
Dr Elliroma Gardiner of LSE and Professor Chris Jackson of UNSW analyzed the personality traits and biological and environmental factors that predict maverickism. They identified the following:
People with a preference for using their left ear rather than their right ear are more likely to be mavericks. This is because it denotes a preference for using the right hemisphere of the brain, known as right lateral preference, associated with creative, problem solving activities.
However, the researchers suggest that those with a right lateral (left ear) preference are likely to generate novel, unconventional and creative solutions only when they are also low in anxiety or neuroticism and therefore feel more comfortable to unleash their potential. Lateral preference can be determined by which ear a person would put to a closed door to try to listen to a conversation, or to someone’s chest to hear a heartbeat.
Mavericks are more likely to be extroverts. The study explains: “Although extroversion may seem incongruent with maverickism, we argue that the talent of individuals high in extroversion to be persuasive and influencing is likely to be an advantage when trying to recruit and win others over to their way of thinking.”
Another personality factor related to maverickismis openness to experience, which according to the report encourages “the broad-mindedness of individuals towards the unconventional and fostering of new ideas.”
Mavericks tend to be poor team players and therefore low in “agreeableness.” The report states: “Although individuals high in maverickism have a demonstrated ability to communicate well and influence others, we do not believe that this necessarily implies a positive association with agreeableness. Instead, we argue that for an individual to engage in disruptive and non-conformist behavior, they would need to be antagonistic, egocentric, and skeptical of others’ intentions rather than cooperative.”
The final characteristic found in mavericks is that they are likely to take more risks and are also likely to persevere with risk-taking even after negative feedback.
Those who took part in the study were asked to rate themselves on a seven-item Maverickism Scale, designed to capture only the functional aspects of maverickism in the workplace. The study found that males were slightly more prone to maverickism than females.
The study concludes that it is the first to provide empirical evidence to support the idea of maverickism as a multifaceted construct because the results show that it is related to a number of personality traits, has strong ties to creativity and risk-taking, and is partially biologically based. It says: “More practically, our research also introduces a tool which may be useful for organizations interested in identifying maverickism in their employees. Through finding support for our hypotheses, we present a model of how personality variables predict maverickism […] We hope our research will serve as a platform upon which additional research can build to better define, measure, and evaluate the utility of maverickism in the workplace.”
For more information
The study is due to be published later this year in the British Journal of Psychology. For more information aboutDr. Elliroma Gardiner visit www2.lse.ac.uk/management/people/egardiner.aspx. For more information aboutProfessor Chris Jackson, visit www.asb.unsw.edu.au/schools/Pages/ChrisJackson.aspx.
Stress in the workplace to rise
Job-related stress is a concern for the large majority of the European workforce, concludes the 2nd European Opinion Poll on Occupational Safety and Health. The survey, conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), measured the opinions of over 35,000 members of the general public in 36 European countries on contemporary workplace issues, including job-related stress, and the importance of occupational safety and health for economic competitiveness and in the context of longer working lives.
Eight in ten of the working population across Europe think that the number of people suffering from job-related stress over the next five years will increase (80 percent), with as many as 52 percent expecting this to “increase a lot.” This echoes the findings of EU-OSHA’s ESENER survey on new and emerging workplace risks which found that 79 percent of managers think that stress is an issue in their companies, making stress at work as important as workplace accidents for companies.
Work-related stress is one of the biggest health and safety challenges faced in Europe, representing a huge cost in terms of human distress and economic performance. The poll additionally found that the large majority of Europeans (86 percent) agree that following good occupational safety and health practices is necessary for a country’s economic competitiveness, with 56 percent strongly agreeing. Views are similar among workers and those who do not work (86 and 85 percent agree, respectively).
For more information
The full results of the pan-European poll can be found at http://osha.europa.eu/en/safety-health-in-figures/index_html;tabs-2
Staff attrition in Asia-Pacific caused by tackling the wrong problems
Rates of staff attrition across the Asia-Pacific region have reached as high as 67 percent per year. But most employers are still taking the wrong actions to retain key employees. That is the message from the latest research from RPO and talent management specialist, Ochre House.
The study involved 30 multi-national corporations operating in the Asia Pacific region and a cross section of their workforce at various levels and found that all of the employers are experiencing excessive rates of staff attrition – anywhere from 25 percent to as much as 67 percent in one case. HR professionals complained that their people always seemed to be chasing a “better” job title – that they were often motivated, as much by the name of a role, as by its actual content. They also worried about how far and how fast bidding races for talent would go and had lost faith in the payment of bonuses as a retention tool. As one respondent put it, “As soon as we pay the bonus, they go.”
The research established the top four ways that companies were trying to tackle staff turnover, which were:
outward status – e.g. size of reporting team; and
career development opportunities.
However the top four identified by individual workers were as follows:
financial reward; and
“The research shows that there is a clear disconnect in terms of managerial and individual perceptions of the ‘churn’ crisis,” says Ochre House’s VP for Asia Pacific, Kieran Scally. “The overall conclusion of both the Ochre House research and our February think-tank in Hong Kong, when it comes to managing retention there is no one ‘silver bullet’ – each organization must devise a tailored solution relevant to its own particular circumstances.”
He says there two key issues that underline the success or failure of any strategy. “The first is pay. Simply pushing it up only creates inflation within a sector. Instead employers need to create something unique that cannot be easily copied, that will not just retain but engage and motivate. And the second is engagement itself. Focusing on what someone thinks when they are in the process of leaving is like addressing symptoms rather than the disease itself. It’s vital to understand what got them to this point in the first place.”
For more information
Growing impact of recognition programs on performance management
More than half of US companies with recognition programs observe higher levels of employee engagement, retention, and productivity. This is one of the findings from the latest Employee Recognition Survey carried out by Globoforce, a provider of employee recognition solutions, and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
The SHRM/Globoforce semi-annual survey examines the current state of HR leaders’ employee engagement and recognition practices and their impact on performance management. Today’s leaders face increasing competition to hire skilled workers and retain top talent – a business’s number one asset. The survey reveals that employee engagement is still the number one priority among HR professionals. The recent survey also uncovers a connection between recognition programs and engagement and retention levels, all crucial elements amidst an awakening job market.
Among the 770 HR leaders who responded to the survey, key insights include:
Employee engagement is the top HR challenge but underutilized. According to the survey, 94 percent of HR leaders say employee engagement is an important or very important workforce challenge they currently face. However, only 42 percent of respondents currently track employee engagement levels, missing an opportunity to address low engagement levels within the organization with targeted, proactive strategies. In fact, among companies that measure engagement (versus those that do not), HR leaders say that more employees feel rewarded according to job performance (69 vs 49 percent); more managers acknowledge and appreciate employees (56 vs 46 percent); and more employees are satisfied with their levels of recognition (37 vs 23 percent).
Employee recognition fills the feedback gap for effective employee performance management. The survey finds that 45 percent of HR leaders do not think annual performance reviews are an accurate appraisal for employees’ work, while 42 percent do not think employees are rewarded according to their job performance. Examining this by companies with recognition programs versus those without, 55 percent of companies with recognition programs say their managers effectively acknowledge employees. Conversely, only 36 percent of companies without recognition programs feel employees are effectively acknowledged and appreciated by managers.
Employee recognition delivers ROI against key HR metrics. Among organizations that measure the ROI of their employee recognition programs, HR leaders observed increases in key metrics. More than half of survey respondents saw increases in productivity, customer/employee retention, employee engagement, return on profit margin, and return on equity as a result of their employee recognition program.
For more information
To download the 2012 SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Report, visit: http://go.globoforce.com/SHRM-winter-2012-report_announcement.html