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Industrial and Personnel Psychology Essay

1. Personal biographical characteristics of note are factors that describe an individual. Factors such as age, gender, marital status and tenure. These characteristics have an impact on the attitudes that an individual may have towards work and dependent variable such as productivity, absenteeism, and turnover and job satisfaction. The relationship between age and job performance is of great importance because it is believed that job performance decreases as age increases. Though not all employers have perceptions of older employees.

From a positive perspective it is noted that older employees have more experience, judgment, ethics and commitment. In addition, with older employees, labour turnover is reduced. Because of their longer tenure within the organization they tend to enjoy increased wages, pension and many other benefits and are therefore less likely to leave. With regards to absenteeism and older employees, the evidence is however mixed. Although there are decreases in avoidable absenteeism rates compared to younger employees, there is an increase in unavoidable rates due to poor health due to age, and longer recovery periods.

However from a negative point it is noted that older employees lack flexibility, there is a decrease in their productivity due to decreased speed, agility, strength and co-ordination and resistance to change in a changing environment. Consequently, organizations are reluctant to hire older employees. In addition, they tend to retrench them first when it comes to downsizing. Gender in job performance has no evidence that it affects job satisfaction. However there is a difference in work schedules because women mostly prefer part time work or work flexibility due to family responsibilities.

With regards to absenteeism women usually have a higher rate of absenteeism than men as women traditionally care for the family. For example when children are sick, it is the mothers who tend to take off work in order to take care of such sick children. Married employees generally have a decrease in absenteeism, turnover and an increase in job satisfaction. This may be due to increased responsibilities. With regards to tenure, there is a positive relationship between seniority and job performance and a negative relationship between tenure and absenteeism.

That is an increase in tenure and seniority tends to lead to better performance and an increase in tenure to lead to decrease in turnover. People are organization’s most valuable and expensive resource, but they are the most difficult element of an organization to manage. Individuals are almost infinitely different, they act differently in different circumstances and are, in many ways, entirely unpredictable. This means that, unlike machines, they are not interchangeable or able to be easily designed to do the jobs required of them.

In terms of the organization, what we are interested in is the way in which people behave at work-that they perform effectively in pursuit of the organisation’s goals. The starting point for this is an understanding of what makes people behave in the way they do. Although psychologists do not agree on a single definition of personality, there is some consensus that it is concerned with characteristics patterns of behavior and modes of thinking that determine a person’s adjustment to the environment (Hilgard et al 1979:108). Two features of the above definition are noteworthy.

In the first place, the word “characteristic” suggests a degree of performance in personality. In the second place, “environment” suggests that personality is displayed in a social and physical context. Beyond this consensus, there is a great deal disagreement over the development, structure and dynamics of personality. The correct interpretation and use of the results of personality measures and tests depends a great deal on the theory or approach on which the instruments are based. Without this knowledge, the description of personality may well be miused.

Personality can therefore be referred to a dynamic concept describing the growth and development of a person’s whole psychological system. It looks at the whole person rather than at the sum of the individual parts. It is the dynamic organization within the individual of those psychophysical systems that determine his or her unique adjustments to his or her environment. An altogether different approach to personality concentrates on identifying and classifying those features that individuals may share. The different categories or types serve to emphasise the similarities within each group and the differences between the groups.

These attempts to classify personality features are often referred to as the type or trait approach. There are a number of personality determinants, namely, Heredity, the Environment, or the Situation. Heredity is the process of transmitting biological traits from parent to offspring through genes, the basic units of heredity. Heredity also refers to the inherited characteristics of an individual, including traits such as height, eye color, and blood type. Heredity accounts for why offspring look like their parents: when two dogs mate, for example, they have puppies, not kittens.

If the parents are both Chihuahuas, the puppies will also be Chihuahuas, not great Danes or Labrador retrievers. The puppies may be a little taller or shorter, a little lighter or a lot heavier than their parents are. Their faces may look a little different, or they may have different talents and temperaments. In all the important characteristics, however—the number of limbs, arrangement of organs, general size, fur type—they will share the traits of their parents. The principles of heredity hold true not only for a puppy but also for a virus, a roundworm, a pansy, or a human.

Genetics is the study of how heredity works and, in particular, of genes. A gene is a section of a long deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) molecule, and it carries information for the construction of a protein or part of a protein. Through the diversity of proteins they code for, genes influence or determine such traits as eye color, the ability of a bacterium to eat a certain sugar, or the number of peas in a pod. A virus has as few as a dozen genes. A simple roundworm has 5000 to 8000 genes, while a corn plant has 60,000.

The construction of a human requires an estimated 50,000 genes. Personality characteristics are not completely dictated by heredity however, as otherwise they would remain the same throughout life despite the experiences we have. Environment is referred to all of the external factors affecting an organism. These factors may be other living organisms (biotic factors) or nonliving variables (abiotic factors), such as temperature, rainfall, day length, wind, and ocean currents. The interactions of organisms with biotic and abiotic factors form an ecosystem.

Even minute changes in any one factor in an ecosystem can influence whether or not a particular plant or animal species will be successful in its environment. Organisms and their environment constantly interact, and both are changed by this interaction. Like all other living creatures, humans have clearly changed their environment, but they have done so generally on a grander scale than have all other species. Some of these human-induced changes—such as the destruction of the world’s tropical rain forests to create farms or grazing land for cattle—have led to altered climate patterns.

In turn, altered climate patterns have changed the way animals and plants are distributed in different ecosystems. Scientists study the long-term consequences of human actions on the environment, while environmentalists—professionals in various fields, as well as concerned citizens—advocate ways to lessen the impact of human activity on the natural world. Situation is one of the determinants of personality which influences the effect of heredity and environment on personality. Personality, which is generally stable, often changes in different situations. For example, we may behave very differently at a party with our friends as opposed to how we would do at a social gathering of work colleagues and our managers.

2. Attitude refers to an opinion or general feeling about something. Attitudes are, essentially feelings towards people or things. How people feel, what they believe, what they intend to do, and whether and how they do it may all be connected, and may all be related to the process of perception. To try to reduce the confusion in this area over the use of words and concepts such as “feelings” and “beliefs”, Fishbein (19670 put forward the following hierarchical model.

Beliefs What we think about people, things, relationships etc “My work provides no challenge” Attitudes Affective responses to those people, things, relationships etc. “I see work only as a means to getting money” Intentions Congnitive states “I will look for my challenge in my leisure time” Behavior or Action Observable events “I take up mountaineering” Attitudes are learned. They derive from our personal reaction to information and events, which manifest themselves as beliefs and feelings about a particular subject.

We learn many of our attitudes when we are very young. They are conditioned by those around us and the conditions or situations in which we find ourselves. Some-particularly feelings-are so strong that they stay with stay with us and affect us for the rest of our lives. The range of influences is complex, but it includes the following: * The groups to which we belong-most notably, in early life, the family, but also friendship groups, work groups * Education * Life experiences- particularly the most profound personal ones such as bereavement, etc. but also those experiences which we observe e. g on Tv, or read about. We are aware, too, that our attitudes change over time as a result of the influence of the above factors. For example, it is very often the case that young people have more liberal attitudes than older people, but as they enter work and acquire family and financial commitments and responsibilities they tend to become more “conservative”. One of the key elements of management in organizations is how to modify or change people’s behaviour.

This is central to such features as motivation, securing effective performance, introducing change, etc. whilst as noted above, attitudes do not necessarily condition behaviour, and they are a significant determinant. In organizations, managers use attitude survey to measure and thereby predict behaviour. Managers use information gathered in attitude surveys to guide them in decisions relative to employees. Attitude surveys elicit responses from employees through questionnaires about how they feel about their jobs, work- groups, supervisors and or the organization.

Attitude surveys provide managers with valuable feedback on how workers perceive working conditions, and alert them to problems or employee intentions early so that action can be taken in time. Increasingly, attitudinal surveys are being used within organizations to find out about the potential reactions of staff to particular courses of action (for example, organizational change) or to form judgments about their suitability for particular posts (in a similar way to how personality tests are used).

Operational methods for attitude surveys generally seek to measure fire components for each belief. Thus, attitudes to work could be measured as follows: * Strength of feeling about the job itself. The strength with which various attitudes are held about different aspects of the job which are listed, measured on perhaps a seven point scale, from “agree totally” through neutral to “disagree totally”. * Value of job to self. Evaluating various aspects of the job, again, but in relation to its meaning to the individual. * Social factors.

Attitudes and behaviour do not depend on inner perceptions alone, but also upon surrounding social pressures-the person’s perceptions of what others think he/she should do. The social factors must be investigated in order to understand all the factors determining behaviour. * Overall attitude An overall assessment of the respondent’s attitudes to the contex of the job and to work itself, for example, the value and meaning it has in his/ her life. This is a useful measure as it allows more generalized attitudes to the job to be explored. * Intended behaviour

Potential reactions to different scenarios about the job or its context. Although hypothetical, this prediction makes an interesting correlation with actual behaviour. Surveys must have a very clear specification of what they are seeking to measure. Just as with personality tests, there is the ever present danger that the way in which questions are phrased, or the underlying assumptions made, will influence the outcome. Job satisfaction and its opposite, job dissatisfaction, refer to the attitudes and feelings job holders have towards their work.

Morale can be viewed as a state of mind dependent on the dependent on the degree of job satisfaction experienced by an individual or group. There is general agreement that job dissatisfaction can have harmful effects on both job holders and the organization. Research has associated job dissatisfaction with all the indicators of low morale-high labour turnover, skills wastage, absenteeism, high accident rates, poor timekeeping and a lack of commitment to quality. An individual with low job satisfaction may suffer frustration and stress.

Although stress may arise from many quarters, it is the inability to deal with and manage stress that afflicts the individual who suffers job dissatisfaction. Job satisfaction is determined by a number of factors namely, mentally challenging work, equitable rewards, supportive working conditions, and supportive colleagues. Research has shown that employees prefer jobs that give them opportunities to use their abilities and skills. Characteristics such as freedom, feedback and a variety of tasks make work mentally challenging and allow employees to feel pleasure and satisfaction.

On other hand, jobs that are not mentally challenging create boredom, frustration and feelings of failure. Employees want rewards (e. g. pay, promotions) that they perceive as just and in line with their expectations. Satisfaction will occur if pay is seen as based on job demands, skill and community standards. It is not the actual amount of pay that counts, but rather the perception of fairness. Individuals that also perceive promotional decisions as fair will be job satisfied. Employees are concerned with working conditions that are comfortable and that enable one to do an optimal job.

Environmental factors such as temperature, light, noise should not be too extreme. Factors such as proximity to home, cleanliness, technology and adequate tools, help increase job satisfaction. As well as tangible achievements, employees also work for social interaction. Therefore having friendly and supportive co-workers and superiors also lead to increased job satisfaction. On many occasions managers’ interest in job satisfaction centers on its effect on employee performance. Therefore studies have been made to identify the relationships between satisfaction and performance.

Organized studies in particular have focused on the effect of satisfaction on the dependent variables such as Productivity, Absenteeism and Turnover. There is no real proof that satisfaction leads to productivity. The saying “a happy worker is a productive worker” is wishful thinking. Often productivity leads to satisfaction and not the other way around. Productivity leads to increase in rewards, recognition, which in turn increases satisfaction. Satisfaction may lead to productivity on an organization level rather than on an individual level. Dissatisfied workers are more likely to be absent.

This relationship can be affected however by sick leave benefits which might encourage workers to be absent. While satisfied employees are less likely to leave work. This can however be affected by, labour market conditions, expectations about alternative job offers and length of tenure. Level of satisfaction is less important in predicting turnover for superior employees as more effort is made to keep these individuals. Satisfaction-turnover relationship is also affected by the individuals disposition towards life. If two people are dissatisfied the positive one is more likely to leave.


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