Thursday, June 07, 2007

March '07 issue of Journal of Business and Psychology

The March issue of the Journal of Business and Psychology has two articles we should take a look at...

1) A study by Topor, Colarelli, and Han of 277 HR professionals found that evaluations of hypothetical job applicants were influenced by the traits used to describe the applicant as well as the assessment method used to measure those traits. Specifically, candidates described as conscientious were rated highest, as were those assessed using an interview--and the combination of the two was the highest-rated combination. (Other traits included intelligence and agreeableness, other assessment methods were paper-and-pencil test and assessment center)

How does this stack up against known evidence? Could be better. In general (and there are variations depending on the job), intelligence has been shown to be the best predictor of job performance. The value of a particular assessment method, on the other hand, depends not only on the job, but on the nature of the instrument as well as the construct being measured. But the research on measuring personality using interviews is relatively new, and certainly not as established as evidence supporting paper-and-pencil measures of cognitive ability (or personality, for that matter). Another example of HR folk not knowing the evidence as well as they should.

2) A meta-analysis by Williams, McDaniel, and Ford of compensation satisfaction research. The authors looked at 213 samples from 182 studies and came up with some interesting results.

- First, measures of satisfaction with direct pay (e.g., pay level, pay raises) were highly related to one another, while satisfaction with benefits showed only modest correlations with direct pay (suggesting people see direct pay and benefits as distinct compensation categories).

- Second, both the perception of the pay raise as well as the objective amount of the pay raise were important in predicting pay raise satisfaction. This fits well with what we know about the importance of procedural justice.

- Third, a modest, negative relationship was found between employee costs and benefit satisfaction. This suggests benefit costs may not be a particularly important factor when trying to lure candidates. It also suggests that asking employees to pick up more of their benefit costs may be a viable strategy as long as attention is paid to other forms of compensation (which apparently have a larger impact on overall satisfaction).

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