The Pragmatic Advantages of Applying the Big Five Personality Model in Corporate Settings

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Despite the existence of various personality models, the Five Factor Approach has garnered significant attention since the mid-1980s. The big five personality test is freely accessible on the Psyculator testing platform. Fundamentally, the Five Factor Approach posits that human personality can be distilled into just five overarching factors, commonly known as Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism, sometimes referred to as Emotional Stability (Block, 1995, 2001; John & Srivastava, 1999). These broad factors are intricately linked to more specific personality traits, often termed personality facets. The most widely embraced framework is the Five Factor Model (FFM; Costa & McCrae, 1992a), commonly recognized as the Big Five, which encompasses 30 lower-level personality facets (i.e., six facets corresponding to each broad factor). For instance, Neuroticism is associated with characteristics like anxiety and anger; Conscientiousness evaluates attributes such as self-discipline and planning abilities; Agreeableness encompasses traits like altruism and empathy; Extraversion is used to gauge sociability and extroversion, while Openness generally assesses one’s inclination towards embracing new experiences.

A substantial body of research has firmly established that personality can serve as a predictor of job performance. Take Conscientiousness, for instance, considered the most robust predictor of job performance across a wide range of professions; it consistently exhibits predictive associations across various meta-analyses: .18 (Tett, Jackson, & Rothstein, 1991); .22 (Barrick & Mount, 1991); .24 (Hurtz & Donovan, 2000); .26 (Judge, Rodell, Klinger, Simon, & Crawford, 2013). In simpler terms, Conscientiousness accounts for up to 6.8 percent of the variance in job performance. While this might appear modest, it’s important to note that after IQ, which is recognized as the strongest predictor of job performance, the Big Five personality factors emerge as the second most influential predictors for job outcomes. Significantly, personality provides an additional layer of predictive value beyond IQ, indicating that a portion of job performance attributed to personality cannot be solely attributed to employees’ intellectual capabilities.

Even more intriguing is the extensive body of research highlighting that personality can shed light on various critical organizational metrics beyond job performance. Numerous meta-analyses have corroborated the pivotal role of personality in predicting job satisfaction (Judge, Heller, & Mount, 2002), burnout (Alarcon, Eschleman, & Bowling, 2009), absenteeism (Ones, Viswesvaran, & Schmidt, 2003; Salgado, 2002), presenteeism (Johns, 2010; Miraglia, & Johns, 2016), workplace accidents (Clarke & Robertson, 2005; Clarke & Robertson, 2008), organizational commitment (Meyer, Stanley, Herscovitch, & Topolnytsky, 2002), organizational justice (Cohen-Charash & Spector, 2001), and counterproductive workplace behavior (Grijalva & Newman, 2015).

Furthermore, other meta-analytic studies underscore the significance of personality assessments in predicting both positive and negative leadership styles (Bono & Judge, 2004; Eagly, Johannesen-Schmidt, & Van Engen, 2003). Regarding the latter, personality assessments serve as valuable tools for identifying destructive leaders whose actions have adverse effects on organizations (e.g., Babiak & Hare, 2006; Campbell, Hoffman, Campbell, & Marchisio, 2011; Mathieu, Hare, Jones, Babiak, & Neumann, 2013). Importantly, a growing body of organizational research has linked destructive leadership to workplace bullying (e.g., Boddy, 2005, 2010, 2015), with a recent study indicating that in a sample of working individuals in the United States, psychopathic and narcissistic leadership styles accounted for as much as 41 percent and 25 percent of the variance in workplace bullying, and up to 20 percent of the variance in employee depression (Tokarev, Phillips, Hughes, & Irwing, 2017). This carries substantial economic costs, with the organizational costs of workplace bullying in the UK alone estimated to range from four to four and a half billion pounds annually, attributed to lost productivity and legal expenses (Rayner, 1997; Sheehan, 1999). In fact, the issue of workplace bullying is so persistent that Einarsen (1999) asserted that “Bullying at work… is a more debilitating and devastating problem for employees than all other work-related stressors combined” (p.2).”