The Psychographics of Your Employees
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The Psychographics of Your Employees

In recent years, several surveys have attempted to segment consumers in terms of their psychographic characteristics. A new study from Peter D. Hart Research Associates, now seeks to apply that methodology to American workers.

Paul Holmes

In recent years, several surveys have attempted to segment consumers in terms of their psychographic characteristics. A new study from Peter D. Hart Research Associates, now seeks to apply that methodology to American workers, and finds some distinct differences between groups it calls fulfillment seekers, risk takers and paycheck cashers.
Workers were grouped into six categories, each of roughly equal size:
 
·         Fulfillment Seekers: A large majority (87 percent) of this group believes a good job is one that “allows me to use my talents and make a difference” rather than one that provides a good income and benefits.  Fully 88 percent say they have a career as opposed to a job, while eight in 10 prefer both working in a small business and a stable income even if there is little chance of great financial success.  They are mostly white (83 percent) and married (59 percent), though they are almost equally male (49%) and female (51%). A substantial majority (72 percent) see themselves as team players rather than leaders. These are America’s teachers, nurses and public defenders.
·         High Achievers: This is the highest income group, with nearly a quarter earning more than $75,000, and the group with the highest educational achievement (53 percent have a four-year college degree or higher).  Nine out of ten high achievers say they have followed a career plan since a young age. Most (81 percent) are leaders who take initiative, and most (86 percent) believe they have a career rather than a job.  A majority (54 percent) holds managerial positions and a substantial number (47 percent) expect to work for four or fewer employers over their career, while 80 percent say they prefer the stability of one employer.  These are the career planners: lawyers, surgeons and architects.
·         Clock Punchers: These are the least career-oriented of any group surveyed, with 95 percent saying they have a job rather than a career. Furthermore, 96 percent say they ended up in their jobs largely by chance, and nearly three-quarters say they would make different career choices if they could do it all over again.  This group is by far the least satisfied of any, with just 35 percent saying they are completely or mainly satisfied. Clock punchers are predominantly female (59 percent), have the lowest household income (35 percent of them below $30,000) and are the least educated—only 18 percent have a four-year college degree, while half have a high school diploma or less. These are cashiers, waitresses and hospital orderlies.
·         Risk Takers: Members of this group are far more willing than others to take risks for the opportunity of greater financial success (84 percent). They are also the only group that likes to move from employer to employer in search of the best job (76 percent), and most (54 percent) believe the trend toward people holding many different jobs is a good thing rather than a bad thing. This group is young (45 percent are under the age of 35) and largely male (60 percent).  They are fairly well educated, with 43 percent holding college degrees, and have good incomes. These are software entrepreneurs and car salesmen.
·         Ladder Climbers: These workers are “company people,” with 93 percent saying they prefer the stability of staying with one employer for a long time. A substantial majority (78 percent) prefer a stable income over the chance of great financial success; consider themselves to be leaders (86 percent) rather than team players; and say they are inclined to stand up to the boss rather than avoid conflict (94 percent). Four in nine say they would change cities to stay with their current employer. A majority (53 percent) is female and most have significant incomes (48 percent more than $50,000) even though they have modest educational backgrounds. These are corporate middle managers or foremen in skilled blue-collar jobs.
·         Paycheck Cashers: Most members of this group (62 percent) prefer jobs that provide good income and benefits over ones that allow them to use their talents and make a difference. Although 62 percent say they will take risks for a chance at achieving great financial success, 94 percent want the security of staying with one employer for a long time, and 73 percent are team players rather than leaders. This group is young (46 percent are under 35) and male (61 percent). This group also has the largest representation of minorities: 18 percent black, 10 percent Hispanic and 3 percent Asian.  These are factory line workers and employees in small cubicles within large corporations.
 
The survey is the first in a new series of quarterly surveys underwritten by Shell Oil Vompany, which says it hopes to “foster dialogue among Americans about substantive issues, values and lifestyles.” Future surveys will explore other public policy issues, trends and topics raised by Shell customers and the general public.
 
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