Literature Review – Realistic Job Previews

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Literature Review – Realistic Job Previews

Prior to the commencement of any occupation, every potential employee will want to know what jobs/duties they will be expected to undertake. However, how much information should potential employees have and to what degree does giving a realistic job preview translate into staff retention/profit to the business. This literature review will firstly look at what a realistic job preview is and its associated benefits. Secondly, examine some tests that have been conducted to justify its use. Thirdly, analyse issues regarding employee attraction. Fourthly, evaluate what variables affect realistic job previews. Lastly assess how realistic job previews should be administered for the greatest success.

A realistic job preview (RJP) is a concept within selection and recruitment where potential or new employees are made aware of the actual tasks and duties they are likely to perform while undertaking their job. This is a valuable function, as it exposes employees to all positive and most importantly possible negative functions within their roll. However in most cases this is a complex activity for both prospective employees and members within the organisation as Dugoni and Ilgen (1981) explain. ‘Both parties need to gather relevant information on one another, whilst still looking attractive’. Nevertheless, if this is overcome and RJP’s are carried out effectively, they can build trust, minimises the shock associated with starting the new job, build understanding of what is to be expected and as Dean and Wanous (1984) claim, it significantly reduce staff turnover. For example, Dean and Wanous (1984) tested ‘the effects of realistic job previews on hiring bank tellers.’ They studied 249 new hires over 48 weeks and compared their results with two other control groups. These new employees had a specific job preview that clearly and significantly had lower initial job expectations compared to the other two groups. Their results showed that there was no difference in initial attitude towards the organisation or in job performance. However the rate at which turnover occurred was significantly different, with quite a few of the control group leaving after a couple of weeks, compared to the group that had RJP which only started to leave after the twentieth week. Another interesting test conducted to examine the effects of realistic job preview was carried out by Meglino (1988). He examined 533, male and female US Army trainees and the effects of two different realistic job previews with regards to turnover and changes in processing responsibilities. The two RJP’s administered looked at the enhancement of overly pessimistic expectations and reduction of overly optimistic expectations. Their results indicated, “(a) that trainees exposed to the combined previews had significantly (p <.05) lower turnover, (b) that those exposed only to the reduction preview had significantly (p <.05) higher turnover, and (c) that the previews administered in all experimental conditions were more effective in reducing turnover (p <.05) among more intelligent trainees and those initially more committed to the Army” “(a) (trainees) saw the Army as more caring, and trustworthy and honest, (b) were more committed to the Army and more satisfied with their jobs, and (c) experienced less role ambiguity.” These results from both the bank teller and US Army trainees are interesting, as far as both represent completely different occupations, which needed to address vastly different realistic job preview issues. However with effective RJP strategies they were both able to reduce staff turnover.

There are three main theory’s surrounding why realistic job previews reduce staff turnover rates. Firstly as explained by Porter and Steers (1973) “Prior to employment, such subjects apparently adjusted their job expectations to more realistic levels. These new levels were then apparently more easily met by the work...
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