Overqualified Employees Less Satisfied & Committed
If a worker is feeling overqualified in their current job, perhaps it is time to move on. This is according to a meta-analysis of 25 years of studies on “perceived overqualification,” published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior.
Researchers at Florida Atlantic University’s College of Business and Florida International University say workers who feel overqualified are less satisfied with their jobs and less committed to the organization. As a result, they are more likely to search for a job which better fits their capabilities.
These workers also have less psychological well-being and are more likely to exhibit “deviant” behaviors, such as coming in late or leaving early, theft, or bullying coworkers.
Essentially, they feel “deprived” because they expect a job that utilizes their qualifications, Michael Harari, FAU assistant professor and lead author of the report, says in a FAU blog post.
“That deprivation is what is theorized to result in these negative job attitudes,” Harari says. “There’s a discrepancy between expectation and reality. Because of this, you’re angry, you’re frustrated and as a result you don’t much care for the job that you have and feel unsatisfied.”
People who perceive themselves to be overqualified also don’t feel like they’re being adequately rewarded for their efforts, according to the report.
“We invest effort at work and we expect rewards in return, such as esteem and career opportunities,” Harari says. “And for an overqualified employee, that expectation has been violated. This is a stressful experience for employees, which leads to poor psychological wellbeing, such as negative emotions and psychological strain.”
These negative emotions and psychological strain tend to be inflicted on the organization and on coworkers, according to the report. The more overqualified an employee feels, the more likely they will also engage in counterproductive behaviors that impair the effective functioning of organizations, Harari says.
Employees who are younger, overeducated, and narcissistic tend to report higher levels of perceived overqualification.
“It seems to suggest that there is a need to take jobs below one’s skill level in order to gain entrance into the workforce,” Harari says. “We do see that, as people get older, they are less likely to report overqualification.”
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