Fr-SYM-490-3 - A Virtuous Employee In Challenging Human Relations Work - Do The Employees And Their Supervisors Share Their Perceptions?

Ethical issues in Organizational Psychology
1 hour
Ethics and Sustainability
Ethical issues in Organizational Psychology
A virtuous employee in challenging human relations work - Do the employees and their supervisors share their perceptions?
M. Ruokolainen 1,*, T. Ylinen 1, M. Huhtala 2
1School of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Tampere, Tampere, 2Department of Psychology, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
Main Abstract Content: Purpose: This qualitative interview study focused on virtues related to a good employee in social services. It considered both employee and supervisor perceptions and investigated the extent of consistency between them.
Design/Methodology: The study was conducted among social workers working in two Finnish cities in 2016. Altogether, 26 employees and 12 supervisors were interviewed. The interviews were analyzed using data-driven content analysis.
Results: The results showed that the virtuous employees were characterized by five core virtues: wisdom, self-regulation, humanity, justice and teamwork, which comprised of several different character strengths (CS, i.e., qualities that lead individuals to desire and pursue the good). The wisdom included CSs such as knowledge, perspective and open-mindedness, whereas reflectiveness, self-control and stress tolerance were related to self-regulation. Humanity consisted of CSs labelled optimism, compassion and social intelligence. The CSs commonly associated with the justice were fairness and equality, whereas friendliness, openness and citizenship were usually related to the teamwork. The employees reported more often virtues manifested in customer relationships (i.e., wisdom, humanity, justice), whereas the virtues associated with a good employee in general (i.e., teamwork, self-regulation) were more typically brought up by supervisors.
Limitations: The study focused on one occupational sector, which limits the generalization of the findings. 
Originality/Practical implications: This study shed new light on the employee virtues which have been under-investigated in I/O psychology. It also showed that the employees and supervisors do not necessarily share their perceptions of the virtuous employee – a point which should be considered in a virtue-based organizational development.


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