Employers often wonder how they can retain high ability employees for more effective results. Because giftedness is a qualitatively and quantitatively different experience that can lead to higher production researchers wonder whether or not they can find a way to attract and retain such individuals. A study by Siekanska & Siekanska (2006), indicates that gifted workers are actually more satisfied than other workers and less likely to bounce around from job to job. Once such individuals have been attracted it can be easier to retain them.
For gifted individuals, job satisfaction ranks just behind life satisfaction in importance. Individuals seek to create a well-rounded and satisfactory life. As all workplaces include some levels of stress and this stress can be considered a negative draw away from workplace satisfaction. The gifted appear to be able to handle that stress a little more efficiently through adaptation and understanding.
When the gifted can adjust to their job environment effectively, they are considered matched and can begin to have a big impact on their employer. Their nervous system conditions them to certain stimuli that influence their ability to find this match. Their awareness helps them understand the culture and nuances of the workplace faster than others, which can lead to better decision-making.
Likewise, the efficiency of their nervous system can create higher levels of activity, intense work, and more focus on a given problem. They develop an ability to create higher general activity and the ability to overcome difficulties. They are often more eager to work than the general population and can create variability within their jobs to maintain interest.
The downside is that their efficient information processing can also create greater reactivity to stimuli they may consider unfair, shortsighted, or self-seeking. Inexperienced workers may overreact while more experienced workers may control that reaction and use their cognitive abilities to find the most effective solution. This is one of the reasons why giftedness is considered the tragic gift. Heightened intensities that are beneficial to the human species but shunned in society.
The researchers used a group of gifted individuals that have shown past performance and compared them to the control group. They found that job satisfaction can be summed as “work is related to one’s interests, it gives a sense of liberty and independence, and provides an opportunity to display one’s own inventiveness in action.” Jobs that do not offer a level of intellectual engagement and freedom of activity are considered less satisfactory.
Why is this study important? In the fostering of gifted individuals, it is important to match their job to their abilities to foster satisfaction. Once they have come to a level of psychological comfort they will begin to perform better and with greater impact and intensity. The adjustment of job descriptions is not as beneficial for average employees who seek homeostasis when they comparing themselves to their fellow co-workers. Gifted individuals are not seeking prestige as much as they are seeking a match for life satisfaction. This may be one way to help employers retain and maintain gifted individuals for higher performance.
Siekanska, M. & Sekowski, A. (2006). Job satisfaction and temperament structure of gifted people. High Ability Studies, 17 (1).