Not just for newcomers: Organizational socialization, employee adjustment and experience, and growth in organization-based self-esteem

Donald G. Gardner*, Guo-Hua (Emily) Huang, Jon L. Pierce, Xiongying (Peter) Niu, Cynthia Lee

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    One of the more important responsibilities for HRD professionals is to help employees fit into the organization. This fitting in, or adjustment, to the organization includes the skills to perform one's job, understanding the relationships of one's role to the broader organization, and feeling accepted by one's peers. Onboarding, or more broadly, organizational socialization, is a proven practice that enhances employee adjustment through learning and development. Prior research reveals favorable relationships between organizational socialization (OS) practices and employee adjustment. Much less is known about which aspects of OS the HRD professional should focus on, why employees are motivated to use the knowledge gained from socialization to improve job performance, or whether relationships discovered in past research on newcomers can or should be generalized to more experienced employees. The current research is based on the multidomain, continuous model of OS. Consistent with that model, we found that effective socialization enhances employee organizational adjustment, which subsequently raises their organization-based self-esteem (OBSE), and that OS has stronger relationships with adjustment for less experienced employees than those with more experienced employees. Our results also reveal that adjustment mediated growth in OBSE that accompanied the ongoing process of OS, and that employees who perceived higher levels of socialization had greater increases in OBSE. We discuss the implications of our results for HRD professionals in designing OS programs, particularly as they relate to the targeted employees, and the framing of the communications.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)297-319
    Number of pages23
    JournalHuman Resource Development Quarterly
    Issue number3
    Early online date7 Sept 2021
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
    • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

    User-Defined Keywords

    • employee adjustment
    • onboarding
    • organization-based self-esteem
    • organizational socialization
    • role clarity
    • social acceptance
    • task mastery


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