Person-Environment fit or PE fit ensures that individual and organizational needs are not in contradiction with each other. To successfully motivate an employee, organizations must understand the dynamics of personal needs that shape their natural tendencies and drive the choice of goals.
As discussed in the Content Approach, universal needs such as the need for autonomy and competence as well as personal needs such as the need for safety and status, determine-which rewards – promotions, power or bonus – we personally find to be valuable and meaningful.
For example, the drive to work for start-ups in today’s millennials can be easily described in the context of PE fit. When asked, most start-up employees claim to prefer more the autonomy and flexibility that comes with the role than financial rewards. Most of them are willing to let go of opportunities offering higher CTC in exchange for increased autonomy.
However, as we explained in the VIE Theory, what rewards we will get as a result of our efforts and hard work is determined by the context of work i.e. the managers, supervisors, team, organizational culture and HR policies. We cannot deny the fact that irrespective of the quality of our performance, whether we will receive the promotion or the bonus depends on our manager’s evaluation of our work. Or, if we are in a strictly hierarchical organization, it is highly unlikely that our need for more autonomy will be met there despite being a high performer. This is where the goals we select become dependent on the context in which the task is performed.
Research says that at the end of the day, the Person-Environment Fit must ensure that any goal that an employee self-selects must help them get what they desire as well as the organizational system (people, policies and culture) must help them to achieve the goal instead of diverting them with other work. When the personal and business needs are in alignment with each other and employees find their job to be personally meaningful, they not only work efficiently, they also make sure to continuously learn and get better at their job.
In short, when the work environment facilitates the effort and ensuing reward which is personally meaningful to the individual, PE fit is achieved leading to increased employee engagement, satisfaction and higher performance.
The following chart successfully shows how ensuring the right PE fit can drive specific desired behaviors, attitudes and lead to favorable consequences for the employees as well as for the organization.
The next obvious question thus becomes, what is the most efficient way to ensure the right PE fit?
PE fit can be studied from various angles – namely values, personality, culture, work goals and interests.
The most obvious way of ensuring a person-job fit is to carefully assess individual and organizational values during the hiring process itself. For example, if innovation or customer experience is of utmost priority to your organization or team, make sure to select someone who shows similar values.
However, it is often tricky to analyze a potential employee on their values during the short and limited recruitment phase due to limited interaction with the candidate and cognitive bias of the recruiter. Which brings us to the second way of ensuring the value-match.
The second approach depends on the organization’s intention and ability to design a work environment for the employees where their individual needs are constantly met. Often these two approaches are used in conjunction with each other to ensure maximum PE fit.
At SuperBeings, we help organizations to keep the person-environment fit in the forefront since the time of onboarding a new employee to every phase of their employee cycle. To do this, we help managers assess the personality of their team members across various parameters using our free personality assessment test (known as Know Your Team) based on the Big 5 model – the most well researched and validated personality model today.
The report helps managers understand their employee’s interests, working styles, natural tendencies, enablers as well as potential blind spots. It also provides managers with necessary guidance to support the employee in their roles. The personality assessment report is absolutely critical for managers to successfully allocate the right goals, provide correct feedback and design meaningful rewards to reinforce positive behaviors.
As mentioned above, the second way of ensuring PE fit is for the organizations to build and continually fine-tuning the right cultural context to meet individual employee’s needs.
When leaders have a clear idea of which cultural dynamics and workplace policies encourage high performance and which ones demotivate employees, they are better prepared to support their high-performers and reduce attrition rates significantly.
Along with the personality assessment, SuperBeings also helps companies and managers understand their organization and team culture using a free culture assessment based on the Competing Values Framework (CVF) – recognized as the top 40 business framework of all times, and one of the few validated frameworks that help organizations quantify their cultural dynamics along 4 quadrants.
CVF maps employee responses along 4 key cultural differentiators –
Collaboration – Do things together
Competition – Do things fast
Innovation – Do things first
Control – Do things right
Thus, CVF allows leaders to become aware of the actual cultural practices within the organization and to stop, continue or modify organizational policies accordingly based on their business needs and cultural necessity.
For example, the skewness of the above CVF diagram depicts a culture high on Competition. The detailed SuperBeings culture report for such an organization might look something like this:
The culture and the personality assessment together provide managers and organizations real-time insights into the areas of individual dissatisfaction within the context of work and lack of motivation due to cultural mismatch. SuperBeings’ AI driven actionable reports and recommendations help leaders work towards bridging the gap at an individual level using the various levers mentioned above – meaningful goals, timely feedback and fulfilling rewards.
The below chart gives an overview of how personality, interests, needs, goals and culture work together.
We understand that it is not easy for organizations to cater to individual needs of all their employees precisely at all moments.
Does it mean that you shouldn’t strive to increase employee satisfaction?
Of course, not.
So far, we have talked about Person-Environment Fit from the perspective of individual needs, it is important to mention here the broader universal needs in ensuring the optimal PE fit. Which means organizations can definitely strive to create a work environment where everyone’s universal needs – such as ensuring fair recognition, challenging work goals, learning and growth opportunities, manager support etc. – are met. Thus, earning the trust of their employees and increasing their overall job satisfaction.
The easiest way to gauge and understand your organization’s ability to meet universal needs is to track, measure and assess employee perception and sentiment on the organizational practices surrounding relevant needs, understanding the gaps and then design organizational policies to meet those needs.
SuperBeings provides a comprehensive employee pulse survey framework which asks questions to assess employee sentiment on various job-related factors, such as organizational climate, manager effectiveness, job design, role clarity, leadership, wellness etc and their corresponding outcomes such as job satisfaction, employee engagement and manager satisfaction.
Based on the survey results, organizations are provided with actionable reports for leaders and HR managers to improve overall manager effectiveness and organizational practices to boost performance and drive retention.
SuperBeings also provides a cultural heatmap for leaders to get a quick understanding of the underlying cultural loopholes at any given moment and take precautionary measures to ensure employee need fulfilment.
Finally, apart from the direct employee feedback received through surveys, various other tools and features on the SuperBeings platform such as performance snapshots and guided 1:1 (and all conversation history), help managers to learn gaps in their approach. This allows them to work on the feedback and work to build better employee-manager relationships, thus fulfilling the universal need for manager support.
For example, many capable and empathetic leaders are also prone to multiple (conscious or unconscious) cognitive biases – such as Recency Bias, Primacy Bias, Halo/Horns Effect etc – when it comes to employee evaluation and appraisal. This error in judgement not only leads to poor employee evaluation and the risk of promoting the wrong person, but also over time decreases manager satisfaction among team members. Leading to poor employee morale and a lowered sense of distributive justice (another crucial universal need).
In such cases, SuperBeings’ approach of collecting all relevant feedback from OKR check-ins, performance snapshots, guided 1:1s and continuous employee pulse to provide managers with learning suggestions and direction for growth, helps organizations to spend their time and resources allocated for manager development on the right areas at the right time.