Work Values, Briefly.

Work Values in Four points

If you’ve ever been talking with a coworker and discovered that you hate the very things that they like about your work, you have some idea of how work values operate.  Read on for the summary:

  1. Your work values are like a personal scorecard that you use to rate your work.  They are like a scorecard because they form our basis for making positive/negative judgments about our work.  If you love independence, then Job X would get a high score if it allows for some flexibility.  But if you want heavy structure, you wouldn’t find Job X as appealing.  In this example, “independence” and “structure” are work values.  Work values are personal,  we each can think about them a little differently.  That said, we might expect that people with similar work values might find similar kinds of work appealing.
  2. Work values change, both throughout life and from generation to generation (though not as much as you’d think). Recent research has found that work values follow a predictable pattern of change throughout our lifespan, emphasizing intrisic values like personal growth or autonomy during our college years, seeing extrinsic values (like pay and job security) as more important through our mid 20s, and caring more about status as we enter our 30s.
  3. Interestingly, your relative position stays stable within your peer group even as you enter each new life stage.  What this means is that even though your personal emphasis on extrinsic values will likely increase as you move from your teens to your thirties, your relative position in (for instance) your group of friends will stay the same.  If you were generally a “middle of road” individual in your group of friends in college, you likely still will be in your 30s, though as a group you will all care about status somewhat more than before.
  4. Work values matter to satisfaction. When your work values correspond to to a work context that supports them, we tend to feel more satisfied.

Points 1-3: Jin, J., & Rounds, J. (2012). Stability and change in work values: A meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Journal of Vocational Behavior80(2), 326-339.

Point 4: Dawis Rene, V. (2005). The Minnesota Theory of Work Adjustment. In Career development and counseling: Putting theory and research to work. Brown, S. & Lent, R. Eds.

Owner, primary consultant for MNCC
May 05, 2016

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