Improving job fit and productivity in New Zealand : a critical assessment of John Holland’s RIASEC Model : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree Masters of Business Studies in Human Resource Management at Massey University, Manawatū, New Zealand

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The impact of employee engagement on productivity and organisational performance is a highly researched subject within organisational and personnel psychology. Gallup (2021) State of the Global Workplace 2021 Report claims that lost productivity of dis-engaged employees equates to 18% of their annual salary. Employee interests and their correlation with job-fit and satisfaction have been the subject of ongoing research in vocational psychology. New Zealand’s Human Resource Management processes, derived from personnel theory, recommend a ‘top down’ approach for employee recruitment and placement; business strategy and performance objectives define required employee strengths, values, skills and disposition for organisation-fit. Vocational theory, specifically Holland’s RIASEC Model, advocates a ‘bottom up’ approach to maximise employee job-fit; employee interests, defined by personal preferences for activities, skill development, problem solving attributes and outlook, are paired with occupations that match employee interests. This study assessed the potential contribution of Holland’s RIASEC Model and Holland’s Self-Directed Search assessment to improve the understanding of employee interests, employee job-fit, and recruitment practice in New Zealand. Results of the study, which used a mixed methods research approach incorporating both semi-structured and structured interview methods, verified research assumptions and demonstrated the usefulness of Holland’s RIASEC Model for understanding and categorising employee interests. Data analysis derived from Holland’s StandardSDS assessment indicated that employee job-fit is Average across the total population of 26 participants, with high level of job-fit at several educational organisations. Participants welcomed the increased understanding of their interests, workplace roles and measurement of their job-fit, which confirmed many are in the ‘right place.’ The results identified leave intentions of 25% study participants and supported management interventions to improve employee engagement. A third of the participants, who act in supervisory roles, expressed an intention to implement the StandardSDS assessment as a recruiting tool and device to support workplace role modification, improved job-fit, engagement, competency, and productivity. The study has contributed to the body of knowledge associated with personnel and vocational psychology in the New Zealand context. The study has exposed a potential gap between personnel and vocational theory regarding employee recruitment, job-fit and productivity modelling, and tertiary Human Resource Management curricula. Recommendations are made for further investigation and research regarding the application of the Holland RIASEC Model to the New Zealand workplace; an expanded version of this study as well as a random-sample longitudinal study to correlate the use of Holland’s RIASEC Model as a recruiting and placement approach with improved employee engagement, retention and productivity.
Table 1.1 and Figures 1 & 2 are re-used with permission.