“But what employers don’t realize is that some of what their employees learned in previous jobs will end up being a negative.”
While employers have always assumed that it is good for new employees to have prior experience, previous research has not always found such a clear advantage, Wilk said. This study is one of the first that has been able to explain why, by separating the positive and negative effects of prior employment experience on a current job.
Wilk conducted the study with Gina Dokko of the Stern School of Business at New York University and Nancy Rothbard from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Their research appears in the current issue of the journal Organization Science.
The researchers conducted the study with data from 771 employees and job applicants of two call centers for a major U.S. insurance firm. They examined the employees’ job performance evaluations and separate ratings of the employees’ work-related skills and knowledge.
The researchers compared these performance and skills evaluations with the employees’ prior work histories and experience at the current firm, to find any relationships.
In other words, the positive effects of knowledge and skill brought by experienced employees were being at least somewhat balanced by negative factors.
“We found evidence suggesting that experience brings unforeseen costs and well as benefits,” Wilk said. “That’s one reason why previous studies haven’t found prior experience to be the positive that everyone assumed it would be.”
In this particular study, Wilk said the positives that came from previous work experience did outweigh the negatives. However, that may not be true in every workplace, and more research needs to be done to better understand that balance.
So what are the costs that could come with previous experience? Wilk and her colleagues believe that workers brought old habits and ways of doing things from their previous jobs that didn’t necessarily work at their new jobs. The key to success, then, would be for employees to adapt to their new surroundings by accepting new ways of doing things and shedding their old, ineffective habits. Workers without such habits might find this easier to do.
To measure this, the researchers surveyed supervisors at the insurance company, asking them to rate their subordinates on measures of adaptability. They found that workers who scored high on adaptability were less likely to suffer from the negative effects of prior work experience.
Another factor in how well employees do at their new jobs has to do with cultural fit: does their new company have a culture consistent with what workers knew from previous jobs? If so, they will probably have a more positive experience, Wilk said.
The researchers surveyed a subset of employees, asking them how well they fit in with the insurance company’s culture.
Again, employees who said they fit in with the current company’s culture didn’t suffer as much from the downside that generally came from previous work experience.
“If the norms of your new company fit in with your expectations from previous jobs, it will be much easier to become a part of the company and perform well,” she said.
Results also showed that the longer employees were with the insurance company, the less that experience from previous jobs helped with their performance. However, the negative effects from previous experience lingered much longer, according to the findings.
“That was surprising to us,” she said. “That suggests that the rigidities found in some workers are very stable, and that bad habits from previous jobs don’t die easily.”
The results indicate that individual differences in workers’ personality traits – particularly adaptability - may be key in determining how successful they will be in a new job. More research needs to be done to explore these individual differences, she said.
“Employees need to realize that not everything they learned in previous jobs is going to help them in a new job,” Wilk said. “They need to be sensitive to the context of their new organization and be willing and able to adapt to their new surroundings, even if that means unlearning techniques or ways of doing things they have developed in prior jobs.”
As for employers, they may need to re-think how they socialize and train new employees and how much of a premium they are willing to pay for prior experience.
“Managers tend to assume that employees with previous experience don’t need as much guidance and hand-holding as inexperienced workers,” she said. “But experienced workers may actually need more help, because they have to shake off the ineffective habits from old jobs and learn how to best serve their new employer.”Contact: Steffanie Wilk, (614) 292-0311; Wilk@fisher.osu.edu
Steffanie Wilk | EurekAlert!
Study relating to materials testing Detecting damages in non-magnetic steel through magnetism
23.07.2018 | Technische Universität Kaiserslautern
Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...
Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.
When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...
Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.
Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....
Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.
Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...
Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur
What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...
08.08.2018 | Event News
27.07.2018 | Event News
25.07.2018 | Event News
16.08.2018 | Life Sciences
16.08.2018 | Earth Sciences
16.08.2018 | Life Sciences