Personal values affect proactivity at work
Personal values affect proactivity at work


Personal values affect proactivity at work

Macquarie University alumni recently participated in a survey that may help shape the way candidates are recruited for roles during periods of business uncertainty.

The research, by Department of Psychology Senior Lecturer Dr Ben Searle and student Dylan Fuller, found that when there is uncertainty in the workplace, individuals who value security are less likely to show initiative in improving processes or seeking out solutions to ongoing problems. The finding is unfortunate, because it is in these situations of high uncertainty that proactivity may be most valuable to an organisation.

Traditionally, research on proactive work behaviour has examined either personal or situational influences independently to attempt to discern the drivers of employee workplace initiative.

However, the findings of this study suggest the importance of considering the interaction of both factors operating together to prompt employees to engage in workplace initiative.

Individuals with high security values have more concern for safety and stability, and preserve harmony by protecting the order of things. Workplace uncertainty may seem more threatening to employees with strong security values, prompting them to resist change at a time when proactive behaviour is likely to be needed most.

The results of the study suggest that for an employee with strong security values, reducing workplace ambiguities and uncertainties could stimulate more proactivity.

For managers responsible for selecting new employees for roles that are inherently ambiguous, assessing an individual’s security values in conjunction with other assessment data may help to form a judgement as to whether a candidate is suitable for the role, and an asset in an uncertain and ambiguous work landscape.

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