What is the process for making the transition from “rookie” to “seasoned professional” easier? How do companies use recruiting and socialization to ensure the organization maintains productivity, efficiency, and financial success? Organizational psychology is the study of behavior within organizational settings; it evaluates the recruitment and socialization processes from both the organizational and applicant’s perspective. The simple application of its principles provides valuable answers to these questions.
The Recruitment Process: Organizational Perspective
Organizations employ various methods to attract productive and successful employees. The priority for companies seeking new employees is to locate a large number of potential employees who have a greater chance of success within the organization. According to Steve M. Jex, author of Organizational psychology: A scientist-practitioner approach, the recruitment process includes two crucial steps: recruitment planning and selecting appropriate recruiting methods.
Step 1. Recruitment Planning
This step is focused on identifying the number of applicants necessary, the time frame for when new employees will be required, and the supply of potential employees in the labor market. Organizations must consider these aspects of recruiting in order to carry out the recruitment process effectively. An effective recruitment plan should be aligned with the organization’s strategic plan, which is the company’s overall plan for where the organization is going and how it will accomplish its goals. The recruitment plan should also consider succession planning, which involves predictions about the probability of turnover for various positions. Succession planning is often focused on projected retirements, but can also include short-term/temporary employees or those planning to leave. Succession planning enables organizations to focus recruitment efforts on potential employees who have the qualifications to fill upcoming vacant positions.
During the recruitment process, companies should also conduct a skills inventory of current employees. This enables organizations to assess the abilities of current employees to determine if they are possible candidates for vacant positions. Organizations can benefit from hiring or promoting internally, which provides a cost savings and the added bonus of an employee who is already acculturated to the organization. Internal promoting and hiring is often most popular when companies are faced with the necessity of lay-offs or downsizing.
A final consideration in the recruitment process is an evaluation of the labor supply for specific job categories. Businesses can obtain information from various government agencies and associations about the labor supply within a given profession. This process assists companies in determining whether labor supply is plentiful or scarce and allows the organization to plan for recruiting accordingly.
Step 2. Selecting Recruiting Methods
Once the organization has developed a recruitment plan, methods of recruiting are selected. When determining appropriate recruiting methods, companies must evaluate internal and external sources. Recruiting internally is typically more cost effective, provides motivation for current employees, and requires less training. Recruiting using external sources might provide the company with “fresh” skills as well as a new perspective. Recruiting from external sources often yields a larger pool of qualified potential employees. Recruiting sources used by organizations include: advertising, employment agencies, educational institutions, professional organizations, military, labor unions, career fairs, outplacement firms, walk-ins, write-ins, company retirees, and referral incentive programs. Although recruiting sources vary in cost, walk-ins and referrals tend to be the most cost efficient to the company.
In addition to considering the cost of internal versus external recruiting sources, companies must also evaluate the utility of the various sources. According to Jex, there are two indexes that are commonly used by companies to determine the most efficient recruiting source: yield ratios and time lapse data. Yield ratios are the total number of applicants produced by a recruiting source compared to the number of qualified potential employees. Time lapse data includes estimates of the time it takes to proceed through the steps in the recruiting and hiring process. Ideally, companies want to use a recruiting source that produces a large number of qualified candidates and avoid lapses in time which cause applicants to lose interest before the process is complete.
The Recruitment Process: Applicant Perspective
Job seekers conduct their own evaluations of potential employers to determine whether or not they are appropriate for an organization. Applicants engage in information-seeking activities to ensure the position offered matches their qualifications and values. When evaluating potential employers, applicants want to ensure the best possible “fit” to increase job satisfaction and motivation. During this process, applicants consider how well their skills and abilities match the position being offered. Job seekers also consider the cultural compatibility of the organization with their personality. An organization will cultivate its own organizational culture, which includes the values and general mindset which guides the behavior of its employees. Research has demonstrated that candidates are attracted to, and remain with, organizations whose culture coincides with the candidate’s personality. Applicants also consider whether or not they share common values with a potential employer. From job seeker’s perspective, the recruitment process involves only one crucial step: information-seeking to determine the best fit for their individual skills and values.
According to Jex (2002), organizational socialization refers to the process of transitioning from the role of “outsider” to organizational member. The socialization process consists of various stages a newcomer will face and the tactics they can use to facilitate this process. This process also allows for newcomers to adjust to and make sense of their new environment.
The organizational socialization process is based on six dimensions of learning the culture of an organization and job-related skills:
1. History: Becoming acquainted with an organization’s traditions.
2. Language: Understanding the terminology used within a company that is often only familiar to its members.
3. Politics: Indentifying the unspoken rules that ultimately govern the behavior of organizational members.
4. People: Establishing positive working relationships with existing employees.
5. Goals and Values: Assimilating to the company’s goals and values to make them their own.
6. Performance Proficiency: Becoming a “team player.”
In addition to its dimensions, organizational socialization occurs in four stages:
1. Anticipatory Socialization: The steps within the recruitment phase before the newcomer joins an organization.
2. Encounter: The period of time when the newcomer becomes an official member of the organization; involves adjusting to the new position and the organization.
3. Change and Acquisition Stage: Period of time when employee is relatively comfortable with job related tasks and roles and is becoming acclimated to the organization’s culture.
4. Socialization: Organizations can assess the success of socialization by using behavioral outcomes and affective outcomes. Examples of behavioral outcomes include: job performance, innovation within their position, cooperation with others, and turnover. Affective outcomes might include the employee’s attitudes, motivation, and involvement.
Companies use various methods to assist a newcomer with the organizational socialization process; they may choose to socialize its new members collectively (e.g. in a large group) or individually (e.g. mentoring). Socialization can also occur formally (e.g. formal training programs) or informally (e.g. “on-the-job” training). A company’s tactics for socialization of employees may also be fixed or variable. Fixed socialization tactics involve an expectancy or knowledge about when transitions will occur, whereas variable socialization tactics fail to inform the employee about when transitions will occur. Socialization efforts can be serial or disjunctive; serial socialization tactics occur when experienced employees train new hires to assume specific positions within the company. There are no such role models or predecessors involved in disjunctive methods. Socialization approaches can be investiture or divestiture. Companies that use the investiture approach emphasize the unique skills and values an individual brings to the organization. Divestiture approaches are aimed at molding the employee to align them with the existing practices of the organization.
Providing job skills training is not the sole concern for organizations hiring new members. Companies must also consider retention, which necessitates strategies for ensuring a newcomer feels comfortable and has a sense of organizational identity. Attracting and retaining high-quality professionals is, and will continue to be, imperative to researchers, companies, and organizational psychology professionals. Socialization methods aimed at teamwork, stress management, and career development produce a significant decrease in turnover. Businesses who adjust their socialization tactics by applying the principles of organizational psychology are more likely to create a sense of organizational identity for new employees and increase productivity. If a company creates an environment where the employee’s personal values are aligned with the goals and objectives of the organization, the employee’s commitment to the company and job satisfaction will increase which, in turn, increases the company’s bottom line. Socialization: everyone’s a winner!
Jex, S.M. (2002). Organizational psychology: A scientist-practitioner approach .