In recent years, attracting employees has been recognised as a critical success factor by organisations. This so-called “war for talent” can be traced back to different changes. First, there is a change in the age structure. We live in an ageing society, hence, in future, there will be more retired people than younger ones. The consequence is an increased lack of employees. Second, as an increased market completion and product homogeneity lead to increased qualification requirements, we are also faced to economic changes. Third, we observe societal changes, e.g., an increased family and leisure orientation or a value change from duty-oriented values to self-fulfillment values. The same is true for changes in the organizations, such as increasing outsourcing activities or staff reduction plans.
Employers have to consider these changes if they want to attract and retain employees. That is why companies use employer branding activities in order to be perceived as attractive and different from competitors. Employer branding can focus on two kinds of attributes. First, on instrumental characteristics that are objective, physical and tangible attributes such as rewards and development. Second, on symbolic characteristics that are subjective, abstract and intangible attributes, such as image, reputation, innovativeness, and prestige. The use of instrumental factors in employer branding is well established. Everyone communicates great career opportunities or a good pay. Hence, it is no longer possible for companies to generate an employer value proposition with these attributes. That is why companies currently focus on image attributes and the personality of an employer brand. Thus, employees are increasingly attracted by the communicated employer image such as prestige or a glamourous brand personality. However, this trend implies that people choose their employer because of the popularity of the company not because they fit in well. The consequence is that “love at first sight” turns in disappointment, dissatisfaction, fluctuation, and demotivation. This is often the case with people that have recently accomplished their studies. We often see them first enthusiastic of an employer and, then, relatively soon, disappointed with the company they work for. The reason for this development is that these young people are blinded by the company’s popularity and don’t consider the fit between their values and the values of the company.
One way to encounter this problem is to know its own work value profile. Values are highly important as they are relatively stable and deeply rooted in our personality. They guide our skills, knowledge and behavior. Knowing the work values that are important to them, or, in other words, knowing the core of their personality, helps entrants to choose an employer they fit in. This, in turn, has positive consequences for the future work satisfaction, motivation etc.
With our research we tackle this problem. We developed a measurement scale for assessing the work values of employees. We started the research in 2013 with the item generation process. Thereby, we drew on the Schwartz Value Survey of Schwartz (1994) that focused on personal values. The author established ten broad personal values based on universal requirements of human existence and has provided evidence that these values are recognized across cultures. In his circumplex model, the dynamic relations among the ten values (conflict and compatibility) are depicted (see Figure 1). There are two general dimensions of values: (1) Openness-to-change- vs. Conservation value dimension: This dimension opposes values emphasizing own independent thought and action and favoring change (self-direction and stimulation) to those emphasizing submissive self-restriction, preservation of traditional practices, and protection of stability (security, conformity, and tradition). (2) Self-Transcendence- vs. Self-Enhancement dimension: This dimension opposes values emphasizing acceptance of others as equals and concem for their welfare (universalism and benevolence) to those emphasizing the pursuit of one’s own relative success and dominance over others(power and achievement). Hedonism is related both to Openness to Change and to Self-Enhancement.
(Excerpt from Review, Status Quo & Outlook of Work Value Insights, authored by Verena Batt, Benjamin Berghaus, and Markus Kühne)