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When Developmental Job Experiences Are Harmful

Developmental job experiences are tasks that are challenging in nature but assigned to employees to advance their skills. Previous research on developmental job experiences has focused on their benefits such as career advancement, skill development, and positive organizational outcomes. What research has failed to explore is the negative consequences of developmental job experiences.

Research in the Journal of Applied Psychology explored the types of developmental experiences that were helpful and what were harmful. In doing so, they considered “needs-supplied fit.” This term refers to the match between employee needs and job development opportunities. The researchers hypothesized that when there was a mismatch (i.e., too few or too many job opportunities available for an employee), outcomes such as affective organizational commitment (i.e., a strong connection with organization values, willingness to put in effort, and desire to stay in the organization) would decrease and voluntary turnover would increase.

The results revealed that when the developmental job opportunities match the employee’s needs, there was increased affective organizational commitment. This finding was especially true when employees desiring high amounts of developmental job opportunities are actually given high amounts (i.e., “high-high” fit). Higher affective organizational commitment was associated with reduced turnover. The researchers also found that when people considered their careers to be important, there was a stronger relationship between needs-supplies fit and organizational commitment.

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