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Six Types of Employee Attitudes

November 1, 1998
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Shell Oil Co. hired a top survey research firm to study 1,123 Americans this summer on their attitudes about work. The results showed that people generally fit into one of six categories:

Fulfillment Seekers
Do you want to make the world a better place? You’re probably a Fulfillment Seeker. A large majority of Fulfillment Seekers believe 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. Most say they have a career as opposed to a job, and a substantial majority say they are team players rather than leaders.

Fulfillment Seekers are mostly white, married and satisfied with their jobs. You’ll find these teachers, nurses and public defenders in a variety of "rooms": classrooms, emergency rooms and courtrooms.

High Achievers
To pass muster as a High Achiever, plan on laying out a career path; a large majority of achievers say they have followed a career plan since a young age.

Their planning apparently pays off—The High Achievers group is the highest income group, with nearly a quarter earning more than $75,000, and the group with the highest educational achievement. Most are leaders who take initiative, and a majority hold managerial positions and are male. Look for these lawyers, surgeons and architects in operating rooms and law offices.

Clock Punchers
Put on a happy face? Forget about it. Clock Punchers are the least satisfied of any group surveyed, with nearly all of them saying they have a job rather than a career. An overwhelming majority 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. Clock Punchers are predominately female, have the lowest household income (35 percent below $30,000) and are the least educated—half have a high school diploma or less, and fewer than 1 in 5 has earned a four-year college degree. These cashiers, waitresses and hospital orderlies aren’t happy campers.

The High Achievers group is the highest income group, with nearly a quarter earning more than $75,000, and the group with the highest educational achievement.

Risk Takers
Risk Takers have something in common with bank robbers: They both go where the money is. Members of this group are far more willing than others to take risks for the opportunity for great financial success.

They are also the only group that likes to move from employer to employer in search of the best job. This group is young (45 percent are under the age of 35) and largely male. Risk Takers are fairly well-educated and have good incomes (more than 4 in 10 have household incomes above $50,000). Show them the dough: These are software entrepreneurs and car salespeople.

Ladder Climbers
Ladder Climbers aren’t going anywhere—except up. These are "company people" who prefer the stability of staying with one employer for a long time.

A substantial majority prefer a stable income over the chance of great financial success and consider themselves to be leaders rather than team players. Company loyalty matters—4 in 9 say they would change cities to stay with their current employer. They are the opposite of Fullfillment Seekers.

Paycheck Cashers
Planning on a career as a Paycheck Casher? Enjoy the cubicle. Most Paycheck Cashers prefer jobs that provide good income and benefits over ones that allow them to use their talents and make a difference.

Members of the Paycheck Cashers group are young (46 percent are under 35), male and confused: Although a majority say they will take risks for a chance at achieving great financial success, an even larger number want the security of staying with one employer for a long time.

Most work in blue-collar or non-professional white-collar jobs, do not have a college degree, and prefer working in a large company or agency. This group also has the largest representation of minorities: 18 percent African-American, 10 percent Hispanic and 3 percent Asian.

Workforce Extra, November 1998, p. 10.

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