Faculty Research Spotlight: Mike Lewis

What is the sticky employee schema?

My research will discover the core constructs of a sticky employee schema. In its most simple form, sticky has two components, a core and efforts that transform the core into something that applies broadly or has mass appeal (Heath & Heath, 2007). My research seeks the core attributes, ideas, or factors that contribute to Information Technology (IT) employee retention. Restated, the research is an effort to discover the sticky schemas of IT people (including their roles, jobs, or employers/organizations), who choose to stay with one organization for a long time. My guiding question: What is the sticky employee schema?

Heath & Heath (2007) suggest sticky is a collection of attributes, not a formula that can be manipulated to guarantee success. My research will help organizations develop or recognize existing attributes or develop new attributes based on the sticky employee schema in order to create alignment between organization and employee needs as a way of increasing IT employee stickiness (decreasing turnover). If suicide and cigarette smoking can become social norms by modifying the environmental context in which they occur (Gladwell, 2002), creating organization environments that incubate sticky employees (those who stay in one organization for a long time) seems comprehensible.

As a focus mechanism to understand sticky, Heath & Heath (2007) suggest understanding what the idea (thing) is not (e.g., the Palm Pilot is not a full function computer). My primary research boundaries (limits) include the employee type, IT professionals, and the research purpose, discovery. The research results may apply beyond IT workers, but that effort will not be captured in this research effort. Moreover, this research will not test suggestions to apply the sticky employee schema; those efforts may serve as the basis for future research.

Heath, C., & Heath, D. (2007). Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (1st ed.). New York, NY: Random House.
Gladwell, M. (2002). The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

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