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Dr Lucy Bolton

Dr Lucy Bolton is an Assistant Professor in Business Psychology and the Programme Director for the MSc Business Psychology programmes at Heriot Watt University Dubai. Being a Chartered Occupational Psychologist (BPS/HCPC) and a Certified Coach (AC), Lucy lectures on courses in Coaching Psychology, Social and Organisational Change, Diversity and Research Methods at the postgraduate level. Lucy also supervises MSc dissertations on various topics related to Business Psychology and Coaching in the workplace.

Lucy’s research interests include work values, careers, socialisation, change management, workplace design. Socio-technical systems and job design, having worked with a number of global organisations to conduct her research e.g., Rolls-Royce, Bentley Motors, Marks and Spencer, the National Health Service (NHS), REED-NCFE and the UK Government Office of Science. Lucy has published in global academic journals (e.g., Ergonomics, Design Science, Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice) and has presented her research at various international conferences including the British Psychological Society's Division of Occupational Psychology (DOP), Academy of Management (AOM), European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology (EAWOP), Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics (AHFE), MEPA (Middle East Psychological Association), and the International Psychology Conference Dubai (IPCD).

Lucy is a trained Occupational Test User (TUA / TUP) with the British Psychological Society, being certified in Trait, TEIQue and NEO-PR-R, and also being trained to deliver psychometric training. Lucy is very passionate about the field of Business Psychology and Coaching Psychology having been involved in committees and conference organisation in the past, as well as delivering a number of public workshops and careers talks on the field.

‘Reality shock!’: Understanding the socialisation of young people’s work values as they enter the workplace

The aim of this research was to examine, through a mixed methods approach, young people’s work values as they transition into organisations and the psychological factors affecting those values. The transition of young people from full-time education to the workplace is a challenging period, often stressful and uncertain, as young adults take the first steps into their new working lives within a new environment (Lyons et al., 2015; Sullivan & Ariss, 2021; Wray-Lake et al., 2011). Over the years, it has been recognised that this is a critical transitional stage for young people, deserving particular attention in both academia and practice (Busque-Carrier et al., 2021; Johnson & Mortimer, 2011). There are currently contradictory research findings around the work values of young people, with their specific values and experiences not being supported by the large body of empirical research on those of previous generations (Lyons & Kuron, 2014).

38 interviews were conducted with young people working in organisations on a training scheme (e.g., placement, internship), and data thematically analysed. Following this a longitudinal survey was designed, gather data at three time points: pre-entry (n=454), one month into employment (n=229) and four to six months into employment (n=171). Moderated mediation models were run to explore the stability of work values and moderating effects from key variables.

Study findings will be discussed in the presentation session, yet entering an organisation was found to be a challenging time, creating ‘reality shock’ and not always matching high work value preferences. Interestingly social work values were more susceptible to perceive work values, suggesting more social authenticity when desired work values were being met. This research adds insight to the work values theory, particularly from the eyes of young people, and questioning their work values hierarchical structure and meaning.

This presentation links to the conference theme - understanding resilience - from a person-organisation fit and socialisation perspective. Both individuals entering the workplace, as well as organisations, should aim to be resilient when navigating this turbulent time of flux and adjustment. By stabilising oneself after the initial organisational entry period, young employees can adapt to their new environment to enhance their ‘fit’ (Arieli et al., 2020). On the other hand, organisations can support new employees through awareness and flexibility, therefore reaping the benefits of retaining new staff and securing a positive psychological contract (Baruch & Rousseau, 2019).


Arieli, S., Sagiv, L., & Cohen-Shalem, E. (2016). Values in business schools: The role of self-selection and socialization. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 15(3), 493-507.

Baruch, Y. & Rousseau, D. M. (2019). Integrating Psychological Contracts and their Stakeholders in Career Studies and Management. The Academy of Management Annals, 13(1), 84-111.

Busque-Carrier, M., Ratelle, C. F., & Le Corff, Y. (2021). Work values and job satisfaction: The mediating role of basic psychological needs at work. Journal of Career Development, 0(0), 1-16.

Johnson, M. K., & Mortimer, J. T. (2011). Origins and outcomes of judgments about work. Social Forces, 89(4), 1239-1260.

Lyons, S., & Kuron, L. (2014). Generational differences in the workplace: A review of the evidence and directions for future research. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 35(S1), S139-S157.

Lyons, S., Urick, M., Kuron, L., & Schweitzer, L. (2015). Generational differences in the workplace: There is complexity beyond the stereotypes. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 8(3), 346-356.

Sullivan, S. E., & Al Ariss, A. (2021). Making sense of different perspectives on career transitions: A review and agenda for future research. Human Resource Management Review, 31(1), 1-17.

Wray-Lake, L., Syvertsen, A. K., Briddell, L., Osgood, D. W., & Flanagan, C. A. (2011). Exploring the Changing Meaning of Work for American High School Seniors from 1976 to 2005. Youth & Society, 43(3), 1110-1135.

Dr Lucy Bolton
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