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Understanding Personality in the Workplace

A diverse workforce will also include a diverse range of personalities

It is common business to hire like-minded individuals, but it is just as important to understand the value in personality differences. While developing core skills for job-specific tasks is vital to building a great employee, soft skills are just as important. To continue success in a competitive market, businesses should consider evaluating the values and personality traits that will help them establish and retain a loyal, engaged workforce. Understanding personality traits and types can improve your employees’ roles within the organization and set them up for greater successes.


Today, more than 2.5 million people utilize the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator alone.[1]


Here are some common ways to explore personalities in the workplace.


The Big Five


The Big Five was first initiated back in mid-1930 when Gordon Allport and Henry Odbert created a list of 4,500 terms concerning personality traits. From there, many psychologists have narrowed down the list to what is now the commonly used five personality traits used to understand why we behave differently and an opportunity to view situations from different perspectives.


The Big Five is categorized as:


  • Extroversion: Refers to an individual’s tendency to pursue stimulation, specifically attention from others. Those with high levels of extroversion are likely to engage in building friendships, value socioeconomic status, and interest in romance and excitement.
  • Agreeableness: Refers to an individual’s prioritization of others’ needs before their own. Those with higher agreeableness are likely to express greater empathy and enjoy serving others.
  • Neuroticism: Refers to an individual’s response to negative stressors, such as fear, anxiety, guilt, and sadness. For example, someone with high neuroticism is likely to respond with a negative emotion whereas someone with low neuroticism is likely to respond with neutral emotion.
  • Conscientiousness: Refers to an individual’s level of ambition and stamina, i.e., those with lower conscientiousness are typically more impulsive and easily distracted.
  • Openness: Refers to an individual’s range of abstract thought processing, i.e., those who have higher levels of openness are likely to be more creative, adventurous, and intellectual.


The Big Five can provide an employer invaluable insight into how an individual may interact with co-workers and supervisors. For example, someone with high neuroticism may not be the best choice for a client relations position as they are likely to have to handle high-stress situations that require positive, neutral responses. An individual with high agreeableness and low neuroticism might be a better fit.


Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®(MBTI®)


MBTI® is oftentimes used both professionally and personally to help both employers and employees understand their strengths. MBTI® was developed in the 1940s by a mother-daughter duo seeking to identify basic preferences of C. G. Jung’s 1920 personality theory, as well as identify and describe 16 distinctive personality types that result from such basic preferences.[2]


MBTI® is some combination of the four categories listed below:


  • (I)ntroversion/(E)xtroversion: Refers to internal vs external world preference.
  • Intuitive(N)/(S)ensing: Refers to basic information or interpretation and analysis of information preference.
  • (T)hinking/(F)eeling: Refers to preference for logic and consistency or individual(s) and circumstance(s).
  • (J)udging/(P)erceiving: Refers to decision-making or openness to new information and options preference.

Table of the 16 Distinctive Personality Types

To explore the descriptions of each personality type, please click here.


The MBTI® is a certified personality assessment instrument that can be utilized for your team. For a free, non-certified assessment, please visit 16 Personalities.


DISC Model of Behavior


Lastly, the DISC Model of Behavior was developed in the 1920s by Dr. William Moulton Marston. Marston’s theory of self-concept was categorized into four factors:


  • Dominance: Those who are Dominant are typically outgoing and task-oriented and focus on results and resolution.
  • Inspiring (Inducement): Individuals who are Inspiring are usually outgoing and people-oriented and focus on interpersonal connections and adventure.
  • Supportive (Steadiness): Supportive individuals are likely reserved and people-oriented, focusing on maintaining interpersonal relationships and mediators.
  • Cautious (Compliance): Cautious individuals are usually reserved and task-oriented, focusing on facts and structure.


The DISC model is used to understand normal human behaviors and perspectives through two basic drives: motor (pace) drive and compass (priority) drive. The DISC assessment can provide improvement of interpersonal communications, relationships, and introspection to drive personal and professional success.


If you’re interested in taking a free DISC assessment, please click here.


Impact of Personality in the Workplace


Understanding personalities isn’t solely for employee retention and team-building purposes; it’s essential to business efficiencies. Take a moment to explore which personality traits you envision your employees to exhibit and the available tests to provide a more in-depth view of implementing the results into real-world business practices.


If you’re interested in incorporating a personality assessment in the hiring process or as a team-building exercise, contact Human Capital. Our HR service experts have the tools, industry experience, and resources to provide the support you need.





DISC Personality Testing



[1] Business Insider

[2] The Myers & Briggs Foundation

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