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Over-qualified employees suffer higher stress levels

 
  • Study found that being a big fish in a small pond can be bad for your career
  • Overqualified employees are unsatisfied with their job and frustrated
  • This leaves them uncommitted to the company and causes psychological strain
  • Young workers who are over-educated and vain are likely to feel over-qualified

Harry Pettit For Mailonline

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Being a big fish in a small pond can be bad for your career and your health, new research has revealed.

Scientists claim that over-qualified employees suffer high levels of stress and are also likely to damage a company with bad behaviour such as bullying or theft.

Workers who are younger, over-educated and narcissistic are most likely to feel they are over-qualified for a role, the research found.

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Being a big fish in a small pond at work can be bad for your career, new research has revealed. A study found that over-qualified employees suffer high levels of stress and are also likely to damage a company with bad behaviour such as bullying or theft (stock image)

Being a big fish in a small pond at work can be bad for your career, new research has revealed. A study found that over-qualified employees suffer high levels of stress and are also likely to damage a company with bad behaviour such as bullying or theft (stock image)

Being a big fish in a small pond at work can be bad for your career, new research has revealed. A study found that over-qualified employees suffer high levels of stress and are also likely to damage a company with bad behaviour such as bullying or theft (stock image)

DANGERS OF BEING OVERQUALIFIED

Psychological strain can stem from employees who do not feel they are rewarded for their efforts because there is an imbalance between their efforts and the reward structure of work.

Professor Harari said: ‘We invest effort at work and we expect rewards in return, such as esteem and career opportunities.

‘For an overqualified employee, that expectation has been violated.

‘This is a stressful experience for employees, which leads to poor psychological wellbeing, such as negative emotions and psychological strain.’

The study found workers who feel overqualified are also more likely to engage in deviant behaviour.

This might include coming in late or leaving early, theft and bullying fellow workers. 

The researchers, from Florida Atlantic University’s College of Business, said employees who believe they are over-qualified are unsatisfied with their job, uncommitted to their company and suffer psychological strain.

This causes them to be angry, frustrated and unlikely to care for the job.

The study team looked at 25 years of research into ‘perceived over-qualification’ – the belief that someone has surplus skills compared to job requirements.

This attitude to work can have negative implications for employees and employers alike, said study lead author Professor Michael Harari.

A feeling of being overqualified occurs when an employee is expecting a job that uses their qualifications, but does not find themselves in such a position, leaving them feeling deprived, the researchers said.

Professor Harari said: ‘That deprivation is what is theorised to result in these negative job attitudes.

‘There’s a discrepancy between expectation and reality.

‘Because of this, you’re angry, you’re frustrated and as a result you don’t much care for the job that you have and feel unsatisfied.’

Psychological strain can stem from employees who do not feel they are rewarded for their efforts because there is an imbalance between their efforts and the reward structure of work.

Professor Harari said: ‘We invest effort at work and we expect rewards in return, such as esteem and career opportunities.

The researchers, from Florida Atlantic University, said employees who believe they are over-qualified are unsatisfied with their job, uncommitted to their company and suffer psychological strain (stock image)

The researchers, from Florida Atlantic University, said employees who believe they are over-qualified are unsatisfied with their job, uncommitted to their company and suffer psychological strain (stock image)

The researchers, from Florida Atlantic University, said employees who believe they are over-qualified are unsatisfied with their job, uncommitted to their company and suffer psychological strain (stock image)

‘For an overqualified employee, that expectation has been violated.

‘This is a stressful experience for employees, which leads to poor psychological well-being, such as negative emotions and psychological strain.’

The study found workers who feel overqualified are also more likely to engage in deviant behaviour, including coming in late or leaving early, theft and bullying fellow workers.

Professor Harari said the more over-qualified a worker feels, the more likely they are to engage in counterproductive behaviours that hinder the workplace.

He said workers who were younger, over-educated and narcissistic tended to report higher levels of perceived over-qualification.

He said: ‘It seems to suggest that there is a need to take jobs below one’s skill level in order to gain entrance into the workforce. We do see that as people get older they are less likely to report being overqualified.’

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